Infinite Consciousness and the Multidimensional Soul

Its All in the Vedas

The ancient Vedas revealed that soul is infinite. Our consciousness is designed to occupy multiple dimensions. Vedanta states that the spirit/soul is comprised of sat-chit-ananda, or eternity, complete knowledge, and bliss. Sat, the eternal quality of the self, is much deeper than most people think. When we look at the definition of “eternal”, we find the term, “infinite”. The consciousness is not just immortal but infinite. Though we are encumbered by our material condition, once the veil that separates us from our transcendental reality is pierced, we gain the ability to access higher realms.

Set on the Path of the Spiritual Warrior

I’ve been a practitioner of meditation since five, when my parents sequestered me in Buddhism. We recited, before the altar of the Gohonzon (object of worship), the Lotus Sutra and chanted the mantra: Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, twice a day for at least one hour per session. I acquired an early taste for meditation and greatly enjoyed our family practice. The harmonics of the mantra elevated me into states of bliss, and realization, through my studies, gave me great rapture. During meditation, images would flash through my mind of the times of Shakyamuni in India and the life of the sage Nichiren during feudal Japan. The more I read the Gosho, the canonized collection of correspondences Nichiren’s disciples bound into scriptures, the clearer my visions of those time became. I maintained a rigid posture when seated on my knees, and the recitation of the mantra regulated my breath. It was very easy for me to enter a trance state. I quickly developed a strong astral-body, and began traveling in and out of time and space. This was all before ten.

When I turned 11, my parents enrolled me into the Seiki Shingaki Shorin Ryu Karate Dojo, under the tutelage of Shingaki Seiki, third generation Grand Master of this family dojo. At that age, I was unaware of the world-wide renown, of my Karate School. Shingaki Seiki was apparently famous for tenaciously sticking to traditional Okinawan techniques and forms. In his dojo, you were transported back a half a millennia of Shorin Ryu traditions. I had few direct contact with the Grand Master, but in our private discourses, he instructed mostly about harnessing the mystical power of Ki. His deep instructions on Ki or Chi, directed my mind towards the study of mysticism and mystics. Seiki sensei set my feet firmly on the path and established me as a young mystic.

When my father got stationed to Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station, in Hawaii, I was devastated with depression until I found Rich Richards’ Sho Bu Kan Karate Dojo, less than mile away from my home in the base, in the recreation center. I enrolled under Sensei Richards and donned my newly purchase gi (martial arts uniform), proudly tying the white belt around my waste. During the class, I noticed that the warm-up followed a similar pattern used in my old school in Okinawa. Though there were a few variations in his Kata, they were essentially doing the same forms I practiced in the Seiki Shingaki Shorin Ryu Karate Dojo, and had no problems following every pattern.

After my first class, Sensei Richards approached me and said, “You’ve obviously done this before. May I ask where you studied?”

“I studied Shorin Ryu in Futemna, Okinawa.” I replied.

“Who was your sensei?” Rich Richards inquired.

“Seiki Shingaki”, I replied, after-which I received a deep bow and a respectful, “Ousu!” verbally. Richards spoke reminiscently of his years of study in my dojo while stationed in Okinawa. He asked my what my last rank was, and that if I brought my certificate, he would advance me to that level in his school. I informed him that my rank was Ikkyu, or first Kyu brown belt, the highest rank an Okinawa minor can achieve. In Okinawa it was illegal to issue black belts to minors. Rich Richards had a five-year-old son with a black belt and even offered to give me the test, but after having such a rigid traditionalist for a sensei, I couldn’t take the offer seriously. But he used me a lot during demonstrations before the class, citing that my excellent balance and extreme focus gave him a challenge. I even broke George Lauler’s record for breaking 10bricks, by breaking 11 bricks while being one year his junior in High School.

Sent Adrift in the Phenomenal Ocean

Shortly after my High School graduation, I was asked by my seniors in Buddhism, to seek another path. I had been pestering them with theistic questions whereas Buddhists are essentially atheistic. For two years, I sampled every religion I could, from Christianity, to Bhagwan Srii Rajnees, and even Scientology. I had partnered in a Jet-Skii rental tour business. One day I herniated two disks in my lower lumbar, over-lifting to hitch the trailer to the truck, a two-man job, while my partner refused to wake from his slumber. The next day, I was in the hospital being informed by my doctor that I wouldn’t walk for at least three months. While laid up in bed, I used breathing techniques to maximize my ki, and was on my feet, almost pain free, in just a few weeks. But even after a year of recovery, I noticed an uncomfortable click in my back whenever I tried to kick. My Karate was no longer a viable system to stay in shape. I started studying yoga.

Om Om on the Brain

I was introduced to yoga through the book by Baba Ram Das, Be Here Now. I was studying the four Vedas and the Upanishads though the translations by Oxford Press. I enjoyed these studies immensely as they opened doors to new dimension for me. At the time I held three jobs: a clerk in Tower Records, a night club singer, and a weekend DJ for KSSK FM radio. The more I delved into the Vedas, the more I felt how frivolous and insignificant my life was. At the height of my depression, through a mystical series of events, landed at the door-steps on New Navadvipa, the Honolulu temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or ISKCON. During discussions with the devotees of the temple I revealed how burnt out I was with mundane occupations and I was searching for a spiritual occupation through yoga. I was immediately admitted to the society that night, with the kind words, “Welcome home.”

From 21 until my current age of 55, I have been a Vedantist. During these 34 years, I lived a grand total of 20 years as a monk sequestered in temples. Despite the humiliation I’ve born by obvious mental patients, of which comprised the masses, it was to gain unrestricted access to translation of scriptures such as: Sri Brahma Samhita, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata and too many more books to name here, that kept me going.

In Conclusion

A traveler on a journey requires maps and guides to get him safely to his destination. The above mentioned books, with their description of the spiritual realms, are like portals to other dimensions. The clearer our vision of other realms the more one can interact, rather than merely witness. Fixed in meditation, one can manifest here, while simultaneously manifesting in the multiple realms in the transcendental world. Vigorous study and deep meditation is the key to multiple-dimensionality. This is the key to directing your destiny and manifesting with your mind your heart’s desire.


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BitstreamCowboy Design Fall 2017/Winter 2018 Price Guide

BitstreamCowboy Design
Fall 2017/Winter 2018 Price Guide

Net Presence Services

  • Open E-mail account
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  • Open social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

$6.99 each


Web Hosting

E-Commerce Design

Build your store for $29.99/month. Process all major credit cards. Hosting fees as little as $3.49/month. Enterprise solutions from $19.99/month. The latest Responsive Technology for your personal or E-Commerce site. We have over 23 years of experience in Web Development and On-line Marketing. You have the freedom to build your own site with several options of site builders such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, GoCentral, and many more. Or code your page from scratch, using your favorite HTML editor, and manage your files via FTP. Or, if you prefer, we can custom design your site, to your specifications, at a fraction of the current market.

The Lowest Prices in E-Commerce Setup

Build your store for as little $29.99/month. Process all major credit cards. We offer a Responsive Store-front Interface, so that your customers can view your beautiful store and products on their smartphones, and tablets as well as desktops. Unlimited storage allows for infinite expansion, with room for unlimited categories and inventory. Process all major credit cards transaction through PayPal or Stripe. Many template designs to get you started, with full customization capabilities.

We offer site design service, graphical content generation such as, animated banners, Vector Graphic Logo Design-for unlimited scalability to use for your letter-head or a building-sized banner, and the photography of your inventory, provided you are in Los Angeles.

Store-front configuration, up to 20 products: $250.00

Store-front configuration, up to 50 products: $350.00

Store-front Configuration, over 50 products:  $350.00 + $3.00 per page above 50

The Store-front Interface Includes All the Standard Features on Sites Such as Amazon.com

Inventory Tacking, automatic Tax and Shipping calculator, Instant Alerts of transaction to your email and phone. Customer info and credit card transactions maintained at an SSL Encoded, secure site. Ample page expansion to display your business information and promotional flyer designs.

The average web designer charge from $3,000.00 – $5,000.00 for an E-Commerce setup. Look it up. No matter how much the cost, we promise to build your On-Line Store for well under four digits.

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Economy Web Hosting beginning at $3.49/month, to feature your personal Home Page, Business Site, Product Listing and Sales. Build your Website using browser based generators, such as: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and many more. Select from templates then modify the interface to suit you. For the code savvy, use your favorite editorDreamweaver CC, CoffeeCup, Microsoft Visual Studio, etc., and manage your files via FTP.

$3.49 Economy Web Hosting includes 100 MB data storage. Plenty of options available to scale to the size of your data needs.

Get unlimited storage, unlimited websites and unlimited sub-domains with our Deluxe Web Hosting for our current promotion of $4.99/month.

Handle the most complex and traffic-heavy sites. Our Ultimate Web Hosting. Includes: Deluxe features, plus 2x processing power & memory, Free SSL Certificate – 1 year ($69.99 value), Free Premium DNS ($35.88/yr value), all starting at $7.99/month.

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We Offer Custom Web Designs to Fit Your Individual Taste and Needs

We offer high quality, professional Web Development Service for your personal Home Page or your Business Website, at a fraction of our competitors. Depending on your preference, we can develop your site using browser based programming options offered free with a host account, or we can hand craft a custom coded design using Dreamweaver CC, Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, In Design CC, After Effects CC and many more of the latest applications for 2017. We specialize in Bootstrap, Responsive design, Web Pages – which automatically scales to the size of the viewing device; smart phone, tablet and desktop, dynamically, without the need of additional code.

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Responsive Web Design for Your Home Page, Business Site, and On-Line Store to Insure Maximum Visibility to Your Clients

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Thanks to the Bootstrap Front-end framework and CSS, it’s no Longer Required to Code Multiple configurations to Fit the Viewing Screens of Your Client’s Devices

We need no longer code an m.index.html file to view your page on mobile devices. Bootstrap, using breakpoints and media-queries, allows for the creation of dynamically scalable configurations for various device screen sizes, all in one unified design. My Business Home Page – BitstreamCowboy Design was hand crafted in Dreamweaver CC 2017, incorporating dynamic scaling for use with all viewing devices. Even my Blog, The Bit Stream , utilizes responsive design, displaying a striking interface, on the smallest mobile devices. The jQuery plugins facilitates the generation of search queries using form content within your design. Bootstrap and jQueries greatly increases the options for creating dynamic, form-rich websites.

We Are at the Forefront of HTML 5, Bootstrap and jQuery Standards

When we design your site, you can feel assured, that your design will incorporate the latest in Web Development Technologies. Sample Bootstrap, by opening my domains in a minimized window, then dragging the browser borders inward, until you’ve approximated the view-screen of a smart phone. Examine how the elements resize themselves to give you attractive access to the data contained in the website.

Showcase your personal or business files, blog entries or product information securely, knowing that your clients will have a dynamic, and attractive view, through their mobile devicesResponsive design is our current standard and there are no additional fees for Responsive coding.


Custom Graphics

  • Standard Photograph $3.00 each
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Production

Video and Audio production – $45.00/hour labor*

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Limited Edition Exotic Poster Prints Available on BitstreamCowboy Design

Limited Edition Poster Prints

In the summer of 2017, I created a series of posters on Adobe Illustrator CC 2017, using a digital pen and tablet. I made two collections: The Beauties and Beasts Series 1, and The French Collection Series 1.

Beauties and Beasts Series 1 

Incorporating Magnificent Beasts and Beautiful Models in a multi-layered collage. Below is the print titled: Tiger and Lily in the Clouds, which is a perfect example of a multi-layered collage.

Limited to 300 prints each, the artwork featured here and on my domain, will never be printed again in this format. Each piece of the Beauties and Beasts Collection measures a giant 39″x 22″, and is printed on 120 lbs acetate free archival quality card stock. The paper alone is nearly $9.00/sq. ft. The posters are cut out of 8 sq, feet of paper. Each piece is hand serialized and signed by me, the Artist. Each piece can be purchased separately, for $120.00, which includes Tax and shipping within the 50 United States. You can order directly from BitstreamCowboy Design under the menu option Posters , or order the complete set of three plates for the discounted price of, $250.00. I accept: Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover Card and PayPal. Currently PayPal is offering a promotion for Financing.

 

The French Collection Series 1

Suzette w/Rings, plate 5 of The French Collection Accents Motif

The French Collections features five actual French Models drawn in Vector Graphic Design using Adobe Illustrator CC 17 and a digital Pen/Tablet.

The French Collections is a series of five plates offered in three Motifs: Black & White, Accented and Full color.

The French Collection in Black and White Motif

The French Collection in Accented Motif

The French Collection in Full Color Motif

Each Plate in the Collections measures 33″X 22″. Limited to 300 prints, each plate is hand serialized and signed by me, BitstreamCowboy, to give it value as a Collector’s Item. Purchase all five plates in any of the three motifs for the discounted price of $425.00. Financing offered through PayPal.

For More Information or to Order

Head to my domain https://bitstreamcowboy.com  and select Posters  from the top menu bar, or use these links supplied earlier in this section. A link for Posters  is also supplied on the menu bar of my Blog—The Bit Stream. As my appreciations for patronizing BitstreamCowboy Design and The Bit Stream, I am offering everyone a free copy of my book, “Yoga for Beginners”. claim your copy NOW by clicking the following link: FREE BOOK!

Please take an opportunity to examine my artwork to determine if the purchase of original, Object de Arte is right for you!


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Xbox One X, “The Most Powerful Gaming Console”, Debuts Tonight, Midnight

Even the Sony Ponies have hushed up, and it seems Video Game enthusiasts all over, are waiting with baited breath for the midnight release of the Xbox One X Console, the latest and most powerful in the Xbox Family of Consoles. Midnight release openings are scheduled in stores all over the country. The long awaited, “Most Powerful Gaming Console”, finally lands in the hands of hardcore gaming enthusiast as soon as the clock strikes November 7, 2017, 0000 Hours

Xbox One X

During its E3 2017 press conference, Microsoft unveiled Xbox One X, a high-end version of Xbox One which will be released on November 7, 2017. First teased at E3 2016 under the codename “Project Scorpio”, Xbox One X features upgraded hardware that is designed primarily to play games at 4K resolution, and supersampling to provide graphical improvements on high-definition displays. Xbox One X will also provide performance gains for existing Xbox One titles; for example, Halo 5: Guardians, which uses a scaling system that dynamically lowers the game’s resolution when needed to maintain a consistent frame rate, was able to run at its native resolution with no scaling on Xbox One X.

Xbox Boss Explains Why Backwards Compatibility Is So Important

“As players, it’s nice to be able to understand how our artform has progressed.”

One nice feature on Xbox One is backwards compatibility support for Xbox 360 games (and original Xbox games soon). If you own older titles on-disc or digitally, you can play a growing list of these on Xbox One at no extra cost, which is a pretty nice option to have. Even if you don’t use it all that often, it’s nice to know it’s there.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer told Wired recently that one reason that backwards compatibility is so important to Microsoft is to allow for the preservation of games for new audiences. It’s an enticing and potentially lucrative business opportunity for publishers to be able to sell older titles to new players but that’s just one element of it.

“I see games as an art form,” Spencer said. “Console games can get lost when hardware generations go away. It can become more challenging to play the games of our past,” Spencer said. “There’s something to be learned from experiencing what I played as a kid. There’s good business there for the content owners, but as players, it’s nice to be able to understand how our artform has progressed.”

There are currently more than 400 Xbox 360 games that play on Xbox One through backwards compatibility. Just recently, four Halo games joined the catalog, and there are quite other few high-profile titles in the library such as Red Dead Redemption and many Call of Duty games.

Xbox One X, previously known as Project Scorpio, is Microsoft’s 4K UHD console coming Tonight. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about the new system including its specs, price, games and more.

Microsoft has fully spilled the beans on the Xbox One X, and it looks like it has been worth the wait. Tonight it will finally be in the hands of the public.

For starters, the Xbox One X will be fully backward-compatible with Xbox One games – and offer improved performance on these titles to boot.

On the technical side, there was some new information about the specs. The processor is cooled using a liquid vapor chamber, a technique that’s becoming more common on more compact devices. There’s also a brand-new power-management system for the most efficient delivery of electricity seen on an Xbox console.

Microsoft have fully unveiled the new Xbox One X – the world’s most powerful (and expensive) games console. So what’s new and should you upgrade when it launches tonight for $499?

First, let’s look at the headline Xbox One X specs before moving onto how this will affect gaming resolution and performance.

The One X uses an eight-core processor, likely from AMD although not officially stated, running at 2.3GHz. Seasoned PC gamers might not think this sounds like a lot and, indeed, it isn’t. But keep in mind console processors are packed into an incredibly tight space, and more GHz means more heat. This is still a substantial boost over the Xbox One, whose eight cores ran at 1.75GHz.

In the graphics department, the One X will get a GPU with 40 compute units running at a seriously impressive 1172MHz. Even more startling is the massive 12GB of GDDR5 memory, which is a handy combination of more and faster memory. This 12GB will be shared by the whole system, so some will be reserved for the CPU with the rest going to the GPU.

You’ll get a 1TB hard disk inside your Xbox One X, along with a UHD Blu-ray player.

Xbox One X Performance: How does it stack up against its rivals?

The biggest way performance has been boosted over the current-gen Xbox One S is the GPU (graphics processing unit). Up from 12 compute units at 914MHz, we now have 40 cores running at 1172MHz. Cores and clock speeds don’t mean everything, so you’re not getting ten times the performance here.

But what you are getting is impressive 4.6x performance multiplier. This opens up a huge number of possibilities for developers, with ultra-high-resolution textures and 4K resolutions now a core part of the game development process.

For PC gamers who want a rough comparison to a GPU currently in the wild, the 6TFLOPs (trillion floating point operations per second) figure bandied around when the Scorpio was announced is roughly akin to Nvidia’s GTX 1070, a card that can handle 1440p and UHD gaming at a push. But there’s much more to graphics power than TFLOPs, and consoles are always much more efficient at making use of hardware than PCs.

Digital Foundry was shown a single stress test running on One X hardware, so we don’t have any information on how real games will actually run, but Microsoft has revealed a lot of details on how it will support different resolutions and graphics settings.

Still, the stress test, which is based on Forza Motorsport, ran at Ultra HD resolution at 60fps, which is an enticing prospect when you consider the One X, apparently, was only using 70% of its graphical might to do this. Microsoft then turned up the heat to higher graphics settings, and DF says the console ‘didn’t break a sweat’. What this means in reality we don’t quite know, but it all sounds very promising.

This isn’t just a console for 4K TV owners, though. Games developed for Xbox One X will have customisable graphics settings for all types of displays, so even if you only have a 1080p TV you’ll still be able to ask your One X to render everything in UHD and then downscale it to 1080p for the sharpest gaming experience you’ve ever seen. Or, for better performance, you could just amp up the graphics settings but keep the resolution at 1080p.

In other words, this is a PC in console’s clothing

The One X will run all current Xbox One games and should improve performance, whether or not they have been updated for the new console. It runs on the same software as Xbox One, so you won’t have to buy all your games again.

Xbox One X is VR-capable, but…

The Xbox One X is capable of running games in virtual reality, but Xbox boss Phil Spencer isn’t yet sold on the technology.

Speaking to Stevivor, Spencer says that while he’s a fan, he doesn’t feel the tech or games are quite there yet, and that will affect its availability on One X.

“I love the technology behind VR. I have an HTC Vive; I have an Oculus Rift. I’ve I’ve used the PlayStation [VR] device a lot in demos and stuff,” he said.

“I think VR will find its spot in gaming; I would make that bet,” he continued. “We designed Scorpio as a VR-capable console. Whether that happens this year, next year or the year after… like I said, I still think the creative community has to get its arms around what are these new tools, and this new feeling – this new immersion.

“What experiences do you put in people’s hands to have a long-term engagement? Most of these things I’m playing now feel like demos and experiments, which I actually think it’s absolutely the right thing to have happened. That’s not a criticism at all. But I think it will take time.”used the PlayStation [VR] device a lot in demos and stuff,” he said.

Spencer believes that in order for VR to become a mainstream success, it needs to be wireless.

“In the long run, we need untethered solutions. You need to have the compute capability to not be wired to the display that’s on my head. That means I either have some kind of high-bandwidth wireless HDMI or I have compute here.

“With the HoloLens we’ve chosen to put compute in the HMD itself, so it’s right there. The other thing I think most people who look along in this technology is a mixed reality world, where I have a head-mounted display that can go from a fully enclosed, opaque world that is VR to a fully transparent one where I’m seeing augmentation in my world. I should have one device that spans both.”

One major VR title we’re expecting to see on Project One X is Fallout 4, which is currently in development at Bethesda. Due to launch in 2017 for HTC VivePete Hines recently gave Hip Hop Gamer an update on the project, and it sounds pretty damn exciting.

“Fallout 4 VR is the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen in your life. You can’t even imagine what it’s like, playing in VR and how realistic it looks and everywhere you turn your head. It is going to blow your mind. It is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen,” game director Todd Howard told Hines.

No mention of this game was made during Microsoft’s 2017 E3 event though, so we’re not sure exactly what’s going on.

Will you be waiting to buy an Xbox One X? Let us know in the comments below.


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If you enjoyed my post, please help out by giving it a LIKE and a SHARE. Buttons located conveniently below. Please SUBSCRIBE for instant email updates. It really helps a great deal. Thank you for your patronage of The Bit Stream and I love you very much!


 

Microsoft Shifts Focus to Game Development with to the Release of Xbox One X

During the R&D phase of Project Scorpio, finances were tied up in hardware development. Now that the Xbox One X, “The most powerful Gaming Console”, is debuting tonight at Midnight, Microsoft is revealing their new vision.

Phil Spencer, Quoted in this Morning’s Bloomberg Article

Microsoft Shifts to Make More of Its Own Video Game Software, by Bass

Phil Spencer:

“We need to grow, and I look forward to doing that,” Spencer said. “Our ability to go create content has to be one of our strengths. We haven’t always invested at the same level. We’ve gone through ups and downs in the investment.” Microsoft on Tuesday will start selling the Xbox One X, a high-end console targeted at hard-core gamers.”

….and…..

“While software and services are becoming more important, the console isn’t near death yet. It’s still best for gamer enthusiasts and the top games, and will remain so for quite some time. But Microsoft will probably debut a streaming service that doesn’t require a console for some types of content in the next three years. A 2012 trial of such a service inside the company was too costly and never made it to the market, but Microsoft’s progress in Azure cloud services over the past few years is changing the economics and quality level, he said.”

A Positive Direction for Microsoft with Spencer

Phil has lead Xbox in a positive direction and if bringing some studios under Microsoft’s umbrella secures excellent gaming opportunities for the future, then I’m all for it. Certainly, it’s demonstrable that studios brought under the larger game company umbrellas (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) and given both proper funding and creative license develop some of the most memorable and notable games out there. Halo, Gears of War, God of War, Uncharted, Bloodborne, Zelda, Mario….these are just a few examples of games or IP’s being published with console exclusivity that were better off for having done so.

Leaving Behind The “Scale-Back” Years

“Historically some of Microsoft’s biggest sellers for Xbox have been games the company published itself, including the “Halo” and “Gears of War” franchises, but in recent years it has scaled back some in-house development”, said Spencer

In September, Spencer was promoted to report directly to Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and now sits on the senior leadership team. Restoring gaming to the forefront at Microsoft required winning over Nadella and the board. As Microsoft’s Xbox devices continue to be outsold by rival Sony Corp.’s PlayStation, the Redmond, Washington-based company is also changing the way it measures success in the Xbox business away from console revenue and unit shipments toward more closely watching sales of games, subscriptions and related services.

“This means fundamentally rethinking how we measure progress in gaming,” Nadella said on a conference call with analysts last month.

“So if you already have an Xbox, the good news is that your games library is going to come right over, your accessories are going to come right over, and it is going to play better from day one. I’ve experienced this myself. We’ve had the early development kits at home now for a couple of months, and it was pretty amazing. I was able to basically pull my HDMI cable out of my Xbox One S, put it in the back of my One X. I resynced my controller. I took my external hard drive, which I store all my games on anyway, and I plugged it into the USB port. And in five minutes I was off and running. I was playing with my son, but I obviously hadn’t told him what machine he had in his house. He said, ‘Dad, why is everything quicker? Why does it look better?” [laughs]

“So that promise of everything not just working but playing better is a nice safety for people who are considering the upgrade, I think. If you put a premium on true 4K, so not just 8 million pixels on screen but HDR (high-dynamic range), a wide colour gamut, spatial audio like Dolby Atmos… If you put a premium on those things you can tell the difference. And even if you don’t have a 4K TV at home yet, we still do things like automatic supersampling to make sure that in 1080p the output from an Xbox One X looks great. So if you’re an existing Xbox One user, I think whenever you’re ready to make the jump, developers are going to take advantage of the high-end capabilities of it. We think it’s a compelling combination of power, performance, compatibility, and also design. By the way, it’s the smallest Xbox to date – that will really pull customers in. Some of them will be new to the Xbox family, as well, which I think is great.”


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Principles and Details: The Quest for Faith

Our beliefs are the foundation of who we are.  Yet, beliefs are when someone thinks something is reality, when they have no absolute verified foundation for their certainty of the truth or realness of something. Any type of belief or “-ism”; where -ism used as a productive suffix in the formation of nouns, denotes action or practice, state or condition, principles, doctrines, a usage or characteristic, devotion or adherence, etc.  To fully understand what beliefs are, we must also understand an important synonym—doctrine.  A doctrine is a belief, or set of beliefs, held and taught by a church, political party, or other group: viz, creed, ideology, teaching, dogma, etc.  Most of everything we think we know is based on what have been taught to us.  Our perception of the world is based on our indoctrinations, the shared beliefs of our community and what we receive via media.  We see videos of rocket launches, views of and from the International Space Station, and we perceive that we are living on a round globe floating in space.  Because of mass perception, we accept that the world is round—but, the majority of us, have no actual experience of this.  I am not about debating whether the Earth is a globe or a disc, I am just pointing out that most of our knowledge is based on doctrines for which we have little or no physical experience with.

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” said Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism.  A belief becomes a principle when a factor is shared commonly due to its adherence to reason and common sense.  A doctrine is a collection of knowledge based on a set of principles.  Dogma is action based on a doctrine for the sake of principles, with little or no attention paid to reason and common sense.  Yet, all of those, are synonyms of the same word—belief.  When all is said, and done, we common folks have very little empirical knowledge of anything.  Our knowledge is based mostly on principles, the deepest of which, are shrouded by details.

There are two ways of acquiring knowledge:  deductively and inductively.  In the initial stages of our lives, we gathered knowledge deductively—sensations experienced through our sensory organs; nose, mouth, ears, skin and eyes.  Our minds catalogued sensations through mental imagery.  Though we knew not what they were yet, we knew that certain objects were associated with specific sensations that were either pleasant or painful.  As we started mastering the linguistic patterns of our parents we began learning inductively, i.e., this certain object which brought great pain when touched is called “fire” and that pain we felt meant “hot”, via the tutelage of our parents or guardians.   In school, we were drilled in concepts; those who digested and internalized these concepts well advance quickly, while those who didn’t, were relegated as low-grade students.  The lower a student’s grade the farther that student is barred from higher knowledge.  But not all low-grade students are unintelligent, take for example, Albert Einstein.  Albert Einstein did not test well in school, especially in basic arithmetic—yet through the actuation of his own genius he developed the Law of Relativity.

By nature, we are information gatherers.  We are all, also, inherently pleasure seeking.  And we have the intelligence to achieve the highest sights.  To this point, we have gathered data, both deductively and inductively and achieved our current status.  We can evaluate our progression so far by asking ourselves what we see before us:  a wall, a window, a door, a road, a mountain, the sky or beyond.  Where do you fit in this picture?  And are you happy?

Those who have relied heavily upon deductive reasoning feel immense pride in themselves but often have difficulty with faith.  But inventively, the empirical thinker must surrender to faith.  There is no way for a common person to know for sure whether the earth is a ball or a flat disc.  We must put faith in the claims of those who have been to outer space.  At points, we must commit to the knowledge of others or we are forever boxed into a world of walls.  A sage knows that we, as mere humans, we have four defects:  we are bound to error, prone to illusion, have the propensity to cheat, and we have imperfect senses.  So, deductive reasoning alone is incomplete.

Inductive knowledge comes from a source.  If we want to become a doctor, we must go to med school, and accept the indoctrination.  We may wish to fly but, most of us will only experience flight through our imagination, unless one rides a plane piloted by a sufficiently indoctrinated individual.  Or leap further still and take to the indoctrination flight school and become a pilot.  Because inductive knowledge comes from a source, we must be wary of the integrity of such a source.  Most sources are compiled by lineages of masters but even masters, are in possession of the same four defects mentioned previously.

We are shaped by our beliefs.  We are identified by our credo.  And often, we separate ourselves from whole groups of people, due to our dogmas.  Thus, we come face to face with the wall; what is truth?  We can only see reality when we dare exit our comfort zone, confront facts, which are the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.  The dullness of sleep will fade when we wrestle out of the cocoon of our ideals and see the world anew, with pure eyes and a brain that absorbs.  This awakening, i.e. enlightenment occurs when we come in tune with nature and give thanks for the miracle of existence.  Oneness with the universe is first opened through gratitude.  Meditating on shedding the beliefs heaped upon us and experiencing pure gratitude will open a channel to the source of creation from which direct knowledge descends.  One who achieves this state is a true mystic.

I have, since age five, been involved in the study of mysticism through the grace of my mother.  I was due for birth in October but came out premature in August of 1962, in the town of Futenma, Okinawa prefecture, Japan.  I was a very sickly baby.  The doctor attending my birth said that it would be a struggle but, if she could manage my health until I made it to five, I would be okay.  My mother used to carry me daily to the seven shrines in our village, and made offerings and prayed for my health.  My earliest memories are of shrines, temples, and monks.  She managed to see me through to age five, and in gratitude to the spirits, she had me formally inducted into Buddhism.  During my induction ceremony, which was a mass initiation for an audience of thousands, the presiding monk who was walking among the rows of new inductees while reciting sutras, stopped in front of me.  He paused the ceremony and ask out loud, “Who is his parents?”  Both my mother and father raised their arms.  The reverend laid his right hand upon my head and announced, “Care for this one.  He will be a great leader.”

I was inducted as a Layman, same as my parents, thus we held our practice in our home while attached to the temple.  Even before my initiation, my mother had me kneeling beside her, at the altar, reciting the Lotus Sutra, and chant the Nichiren mantra, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.  At my pace, the recitation of the Sutra alone took forty-five minute; after which follow chanting one hour of the Nichiren mantra.  But after having been instructed by the Reverend at my induction ceremony to groom me, she took great care in instilling me to sit in proper posture and painstakingly pronounced each syllable of the Lotus sutra precisely.  And every evening we knelt before the altar again and recited the Lotus Sutra, with the recitation of certain passages omitted, in a shortened version which only took thirty minutes to recite, and thirty minutes of chanting.  This was the minimum daily practice.  On top of this, we could further extend our practice by adding more hours of chanting and study.  We would hold meetings in our home, also attending the meeting in the homes of other members—Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.  During the weekends, we would gather at our local community center or temple for communal prayers and activities.  I spent a great deal of my early youth beating the streets with my mother and others, proselytizing the virtues and benefits of practicing Nichiren Buddhism and chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”.  Thus, by virtue of early practice in meditation and devotional service, I achieved trance state, and was mindful from a very early age.  This routine stuck with us all the way through my High School years.

Shortly after entering middle school, my parents enrolled me in a very prestigious Karate Dojo in my home town of Futenma, under the ninth-degree Grand Master, Shingaki Seiki, where I formally studied Shorin Ryu, Okinawan Karate.  From a weakly child, I suddenly became robust and very strong.  Between the philosophy of my Buddhist teachings and the application of it in martial arts I felt One with the flow of the universe.  From the earliest stages of my meditation I was taught to visualize my goal.  And from an early age, I found out that whatever I visualized would come to pass.  By the time I reached High School, Buddhism and Martial Arts had shaped me into a capable and enthusiastic individual.  Having gone through military school part of my elementary period, and all through intermediate school, I marched into public High School ram rod straight, like a little soldier.  I felt none of the awkwardness of being an underclassman.  People were attracted to me and I was always quick to come to the defense of my friends.  I looked very mature for my age and I always tried to act fairly—exhibiting as much class as my Japanese upbringing demanded.

 

I remember the first time I felt depression though.  It was back in the sixth grade.  No one had mentioned the word bastard to me since the fourth grade, since I kept my origin a secret as of then, and my mother had yet to reveal the truth about my father.  But I knew “Dad” wasn’t my father and a secret was being kept from me.  We had a lovely family day, and we were hosting my aunt as a guest who had just given me a thousand Yen; I should have been elated!  But as I entered my room alone, tears started streaming down my cheeks and I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach.  I couldn’t breathe, my room was spinning around me, and I just curled into a ball against my wall and cried.  Who am I?  Where do I come from?  Why am I here?  These questions circled my brain until I was sobbing mess.  I saw no answers to my questions and cried for hours.  It was daylight when I had entered my room.  It was night time when my mother found me crying in the dark.  She asked me, “What’s wrong?” and I didn’t have any words to utter.

Though depression was new to me, I was well acquainted with dire forebodement—that sense of choking dread, from a very early age.  As I have stated earlier, I was born two months premature.  Having been ill since infancy, I was self-aware due to the discomfitures; having memories going back before three.  I remember drinking breast milk and baby bottles and the pain of wretching afterwards.  I still can recall the stench of my own diapers.  I remember faces—lots of faces.  Having been born premature required me to stay forty days in an incubator.  And since release from the hospital, I was required to return weekly for shots.  The financial burden on my mother required her to work two jobs and leave me for weeks and months at a time with nannies or extended families.  Between birth and three I saw very little of my mother as she would labor, day and night, to pay my bills and accommodations.  This constant separation from my mother caused in me a rollercoaster of joy upon seeing her and gut wrenching dread upon seeing her leave.  This all changed when I turned three.  Around my birthday my mother came to look in on me after having left me with my nanny for several months.  When she entered my nanny’s home, she found it empty.  She left the house to walk around the village in hopes of finding us.  Not far off she encountered a ruckus.  She saw the backs of a group of children jumping and jeering and shouting foul things while throwing rocks.  As she edged closer, she found me in the center of the uproar sitting with my eyes closed, cross-legged, and leaning against a banyan tree.  When she told me this story later in my life, she said I had the serene look of the Buddha—but immediately as she thought this, my head turned and I opened my eyes square to hers and let out a blood curdling scream.

She immediately put me in a cab and whisked me away north to the city of Nago and her older brother, my late uncle Tetsu.  There, I stayed with my four elder cousins who pampered and played with me with gentle love.  With his aid, they secured an open lot in the native village of Klan Kinjo, Kin.  I remember going to the lot and watching as, in one day, carpenters from the village erected our new home.  It was more like two wooden storage containers, one large and one small, constructed jointly.  It had a pad locked, hinged door, for an entry, and the structure had no windows, plumbing but it did have basic electric wiring.  After my mother filled it with furniture, a large bed and her beautiful mother-of-pearl and abalone inlaid dressing stand and mirror, it was a beautiful first home.  The main structure with the door was rather spacious and served as our primary living quarters while the adjoining substructure served as our storage, wardrobe and dressing room.  We even had the obligatory pair of silk dolls, separated by individual glass case; a samurai and his consort, which symbolized both our prime ancestors and the personifications of the masculine and the feminine potencies of the creative force.  From the outside our house was just two wooden boxes but the inside featured all the traditions of our neighbor’s homes.  For water, we had a hand pumped well, right beside our home.  For baths, my mother and I would take to the streets nightly, with our wash towel and soap in a pail, and walk to one of several public bath houses close to our home.  For food, my mother would either bring something home or we would eat out in one of several restaurants in the village.  When we were together, everyday seemed like a celebration.  We would still have periods of separation, mostly only weekends, and when she left, she kept me in the charge of my sitter.  I don’t remember her name.  She was about High School age with a beautiful face and long, silky, black hair.  She used to hold and coddle me often and I still remember the deep sensation of love I felt for her.  I was no longer passed around from household to household.  I now had the security of the home my mother made and the affection and association of my mother.  Though I was still sickly—retching my guts out several times a night, I got stronger in that year.


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The Life Air: Holy and Mystical

 

The Life Air

Breathe.  This is your life. Be conscious of the breaths you take for it is written in the original law of Vedanta that we have a limited amount of breaths in our lifetime.  Make each breath count and make each vibration you utter a thing of beauty.

Stress is a daily factor we cannot avoid.  My best weapon to combat stress is Yoga, and it begins with the science of breathing—Pranayama.  Western sources ascribe Patanjali, the mystic sage who wrote the Yoga Sutra, in 120 BC. Patanjali begins his treatise on Yoga with Pranayama.  In my native Okinawan culture, Karate is compulsory training for young children.  Even in Karate, we are taught first how to breathe.  When I took up singing as a musical course at the University of Hawaii, the first thing in the course—the science of breathing.

Being conscious of our breaths opens the gateway to our inner universe; from which we can manifest our thoughts onto the physical plane.  In deep meditation, where the breath is still, we become aware of our heart beats, liver function, digestion, etc.  In mediation, we control the secretions of our endocrine glandular system.  And by meditating in our third eye, we stimulate the pineal gland, which unlocks the upper 90% of our brains that we normally don’t use in standard activities.

In the Bible, God breathed life into Adam’s nostril.  So, air is God’s subtle energy, which we tangibly interact with, in a critical function.  No air, no life.  The life air is what we take in, and it should be felt throughout the whole body—not just the lungs.  The life air is a holy and mystical.

When we expel out air we breathe out food for vegetation in the form of nitrogen dioxide.  We are in symbiosis with our environment.  Just by breathing, we feed our planet.  So how truly holy and mystical our lives are, that is until we start vibrating sounds.  Our sound vibrations reveal our intentions.  Our sound vibrations reveal the frequency of our thought patterns.  People who only speak about eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, are vibrating at the lowest frequency.  This is not a human being.  This is an animal in human form.  All our partying and dining out, luxuriating in our domiciles, enjoying fabulous sex, and fearing about thieves, tax collectors, the government, etc.—eating, sleeping, mating, and defending.  Vedanta states that animals enjoy these things to the same level we do.  There is a fifth factor which must be embraced before we can even come to the platform of a human being:  inquiry into the nature of our spiritual being.  Without this, the Vedas state, we are no better than common animals.

An artist is a mystic.  Whether by staffs, canvas, marble or even voice, the artists accumulate energy in the form of wealth, by plying their skills.  With this energy, they manifest lavish homes, cars, clothing, etc.  Artists harvest money out of thin air just by doing what they love most.  The most coveted artists are the ones who project beauty into the hearts of others through their medium.  Anyone can become a professional artist by employing their main medium, their mouths.

Going back to the life air: Make each breath count and every sound you utter a thing of beauty.  The whole world will maintain you for you would be a gift.

Dualism Illusion: The Slave Mentality

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Dualism Illusion: The Slave Mentality

Most of us are familiar with the Yin and Yang symbol.  It is everywhere these days.  The symbolism is of Harmony—the dynamic balance of feminine and masculine energy.  In Western philosophy, we have the concept of Dualism—the division of something conceptually into two opposed or contrasted aspects, or the state of being so divided.  This is binary cognition, programmed into us, by a system which has indoctrinated and enslaved people for past millennia.  It is an archetype projected into our minds continuously through scenes of epic battles and even invoked in minor conflicts, i.e., “If you are not with us, you are against us.”  This is pure binary programming.  With this and fourth grader grammar set as the upper limits of our curriculum, Maritime Admiralty Law—virtually unknown to the public, has reduced us to chattel and made us the collateral with which they gamble on the stock exchange.

The Yin and Yang symbol, as innocuous as it appears, is a program developed in Asia, to riddle the minds of their subject and seek authorities for clarification—clouding their minds from the truth.  It is a mind control device manufactured specifically to infuse binary cognition into their subject, ultimately making them confused and malleable.

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If we look at the creation, though, we can see clearly that is beyond duality.  It is not just creation and destruction.  There is a period of maintenance.  So clearly life is non-dual.  What does this mean?  Binary cognition is incomplete to grasp the even the foundation of life, what to speak of its true nature.

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The Avadhuta, Sri Dattatraya, composed a grammar which shattered Duality. He titled it the Avadhuta Gita. The Sanskrit is completely illuminating, and I recommend a study of it to everyone.  The essence of Sri Dattareya’s philosophy, encapsulated, in one stanza is: “There is light, and there is dark, and there is that which is neither light nor dark.”  This aphorism is the realm of trinary cognition.  Evaluate the creation: If it was just the creator and the created, viz Duality—it would merely cancel its self out.  The whole impetus behind the creation is God’s pleasure potency.  It was the Lord’s will to be not alone, thus he expanded his unlimited energies into the Spiritual Realm; to experience pleasure with an abundance of souls.  The inconceivable part is that this realm is eternal—always has been, always will be.  To complete the creation God needed at least one witness to appreciate it all.  Thus, the creation is, the creator, the field of activities, and the witnesses. The mathematical meaning behind all of this is that the least common denominator is not 2, as in Dualism, but 3.  We must grasp trinary cognition were we to ever free our minds of enslavement.

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Thus, we have learned that behind all things is a third object to resolve in calculation.  For example, a fight: we may see only two parties fighting but there is a third factor, the impetus.  In the back of the mind of at least one of the fighters is a third party instigating him.  It could be a personal hero, an unfaithful wife, a manipulative grifter, a superior in his occupation, etc.  In every fight, there is the victim, the victimizer, and a person for whom he is inflicting his aggression.  Taken deeper, this third party can be so deeply inflicted in the mind of a subject that it takes on a life of its own in the form of an ingrained mental construct, constantly influencing the subject decades after contact.  This often induces psychosis.

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Even in procreation.  There is the procreating couple, but the procreation is not complete until the birth of a child.  Even in the individual; there is the self, the lower self, and the higher self.  These are three distinct mode of existence.  In the Vedic pantheon, there is the Tri-murti, the trinary regulators of creation: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.  Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer, and Shiva the destroyer.  Because the cosmic phenomenon consists of three modes—creation, maintenance, and annihilation; each mode is deified.

I digress for a moment here to clarify the position of Shiva, the presiding Deity of destruction.  He is NOT Satan.  Satan is the Jewish god of Evil.  The Christians often equate Shiva to Satan but, I ask you, which came first, Shiva or Satan?  Or even more succinctly, which came first, Judaism or Vedanta?  The Vedas has archeological evidence of its existence dating back over a million years whereas the Christian Bible was first conceived of in Rome, 325 AD, during Constantine’s Council of Nicaea.  The Bible describes Satan as the King of Lies whereas the Vedas describe Shiva as the destroyer of ignorance.  The two scriptures do not reconcile, thus, this notion that Shiva and Satan are the same has been disproved.

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Getting back to my point, Dualism is a slave’s mentality.  To reach our unlimited spiritual potential, we must elevate our thinking to the transcendental level.  Transcendence is to see beyond illusion of the phenomenal existence to the eternal, spiritual platform.  Without transcendence, we are on the same level as a kept cat.


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Legalese, International Banking, Knights Templar, and Admiralty Law

US Supreme Court

Legalese, International Banking, Knights Templar, and Admiralty Law

le·gal·ese

NOUN
1. informal: the formal and technical language of legal documents that is often hard to understand.

Dealing With The Law

When we deal with the police, lawyers and courts, we must be aware that they are not speaking the same language we are.  They use “legalese”—the formal and technical language of legal documents that is often hard to understand. For example, if a police officer asks, “Do you understand?”, you are not being asked if you comprehend.  You are actually being asked, “Do you stand under my authority?”, or in other words, “Do you relinquish your authority to me?”  Depending on the situation at hand, answering in the affirmative may have dire consequences.

Legal English is the type of English as used in legal writing.

It has been referred to as a “sublanguage”, as legal English differs from ordinary language in vocabulary, morphology, syntax, and semantics, as well as other linguistic features. A specialized use of certain terms and linguistic patterns governs the teaching of legal language. Thus, “we study legal language as a kind of second language, a specialized use of vocabulary, phrases, and syntax that helps us to communicate more easily with each other”.

The term legalese, on the other hand, is a pejorative term associated with a traditional style of legal writing that is part of this specialized discourse of lawyers: communication that “lay readers cannot readily comprehend”. This term describes poor legal writing that is cluttered, wordy, indirect, and that includes unnecessary technical words or phrases. Historically, legalese is language a lawyer might use in drafting a contract or a pleading but would not use in ordinary conversation. For this reason, the traditional style of legal writing has been labeled reader-unfriendly. Proponents of plain language argue that legal “writing style should not vary from task to task or audience to audience…; whatever lawyers write must be Clear, Correct, Concise, and Complete”. These 4 Cs describe “characteristics of good legal writing style” in the United States.

There are different kinds (genres) of legal writing: for example, (a) academic legal writing as in law journals, (b) juridical legal writing as in court judgments, and (c) legislative legal writing as in laws, regulations, contracts, and treaties. Another variety is the language used by lawyers to communicate with clients requiring a more “reader-friendly” style of written communication than that used with law professionals.

For lawyers operating internationally, communicating with clients and other professionals across cultures requires a need for transnational legal awareness and trans-cultural linguistic awareness. Whatever the form of legal writing, legal skills and language skills form a vital part of higher education and professional training.’

Legal English has particular relevance when applied to legal writing and the drafting of written material, including:
* legal documents: contracts, licences, etc.
* court pleadings: summonses, briefs, judgments, etc.
* laws: Acts of Parliament and subordinate legislation, case reports
* legal correspondence

Legal English has traditionally been the preserve of lawyers from English-speaking countries (especially the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, and South Africa) which have shared common law traditions. However, due to the spread of Legal English as the predominant language of international business, as well as its role as a legal language within the European Union, legal English is now a global phenomenon. It may informally be referred to as lawspeak.

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Importance of studying International Business

The international business standards focus on the following:
* raising awareness of the inter-relatedness of one country’s political policies and economic practices on another;
* learning to improve international business relations through appropriate communication strategies;
* understanding the global business environment—that is, the inter-connectedness of cultural, political, legal, economic, and ethical systems;
* exploring basic concepts underlying international finance, management, marketing, and trade relations; and
* identifying forms of business ownership and international business opportunities.

By focusing on these, students will gain a better understanding of Political economy. These are tools that would help future business people bridge the economic and political gap between countries.

There is an increasing amount of demand for business people with an education in international business. A survey conducted by Thomas Patrick from University of Notre Dame concluded that bachelor’s degree and master’s degree holders felt that the training received through education were very practical in the working environment. Business people with an education in international business also had a significantly higher chance of being sent abroad to work under the international operations of a firm.

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International Finance 

International finance (also referred to as international monetary economics or international macroeconomics) is the branch of financial economics broadly concerned with monetary and macroeconomic interrelations between two or more countries. International finance examines the dynamics of the global financial system, international monetary systems, balance of payments, exchange rates, foreign direct investment, and how these topics relate to international trade. Sometimes referred to as multinational finance, international finance is additionally concerned with matters of international financial management. Investors and multinational corporations must assess and manage international risks such as political risk and foreign exchange risk, including transaction exposure, economic exposure, and translation exposure.

Some examples of key concepts within international finance are the Mundell–Fleming model, the optimum currency area theory, purchasing power parity, interest rate parity, and the international Fisher effect. Whereas the study of international trade makes use of mostly microeconomic concepts, international finance research investigates predominantly macroeconomic concepts.

The three major components setting international finance apart from its purely domestic counterpart are as follows:

  1. Foreign exchange and political risks.
  2. Market imperfections.
  3. Expanded opportunity sets.

These major dimensions of international finance largely stem from the fact that sovereign nations have the right and power to issue currencies, formulate their own economic policies, impose taxes, and regulate movement of people, goods, and capital across their borders.

Banking

A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates credit. Lending activities can be performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Due to their importance in the financial stability of a country, banks are highly regulated in most countries. Most nations have institutionalized a system known as fractional reserve banking under which banks hold liquid assets equal to only a portion of their current liabilities. In addition to other regulations intended to ensure liquidity, banks are generally subject to minimum capital requirements based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords.

Banking in its modern sense evolved in the 14th century in the prosperous cities of Renaissance Italy but in many ways was a continuation of ideas and concepts of credit and lending that had their roots in the ancient world. In the history of banking, a number of banking dynasties  – notably, the Medicis, the Fuggers, the Welsers, the Berenbergs and the Rothschilds  – have played a central role over many centuries. The oldest existing retail bank is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, while the oldest existing merchant bank is Berenberg Bank.

The history of banking refers to the development of banks and banking throughout history, with banking defined by contemporary sources as an organization which provides facilities for acceptance of deposits and provision of loans.

The first prototype banks were the merchants of the world, who made grain loans to farmers and traders who carried goods between cities. This began around 2000 BC in Assyria and Sumeria. Later, in ancient Greece and during the Roman Empire, lenders based in temples made loans, while accepting deposits and performing the change of money. Archaeology from this period in ancient China and India also shows evidence of money lending activity.

Many histories position the crucial historical development of a banking system to medieval and Renaissance Italy and particularly the affluent cities of Florence, Venice and Genoa. The Bardi and Peruzzi Families dominated banking in 14th century Florence, establishing branches in many other parts of Europe. The most famous Italian bank was the Medici bank, established by Giovanni Medici in 1397. The oldest bank still in existence is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, headquartered in Siena, Italy, which has been operating continuously since 1472.

The development of banking spread from northern Italy throughout the Holy Roman Empire, and in the 15th and 16th century to northern Europe. This was followed by a number of important innovations that took place in Amsterdam during the Dutch Republic in the 17th century, and in London since the 18th century. During the 20th century, developments in telecommunications and computing caused major changes to banks’ operations and let banks dramatically increase in size and geographic spread. The financial crisis of 2007–2008 caused many bank failures, including some of the world’s largest banks, and provoked much debate about bank regulation.

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The Knight Templar and the Vatican

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), also known as the Order of Solomon’s Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers), the Knights Templar or simply as Templars, was a Catholic military order recognised in 1139 by papal bull Omne Datum Optimum of the Holy See. The order was founded in 1119 and active from about 1129 to 1312.

The order, which was among the wealthiest and most powerful, became a favored charity throughout Christendom and grew rapidly in membership and power. They were prominent in Christian finance. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, developing innovative financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.

The Templars were closely tied to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the order faded. Rumors about the Templars’ secret initiation ceremony created distrust, and King Philip IV of France – deeply in debt to the order – took advantage of the situation to gain control over them. In 1307, he had many of the order’s members in France arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and burned at the stake. Pope Clement V disbanded the order in 1312 under pressure from King Philip.

The abrupt reduction in power of a significant group in European society gave rise to speculation, legend, and legacy through the ages. The appropriation of their name by later organizations has kept the name “Templar” alive to the present day, while helping to obscure its origin.

Although the primary mission of the order was militaristic, relatively few members were combatants. The others acted in support positions to assist the knights and to manage the financial infrastructure. The Templar Order, though its members were sworn to individual poverty, was given control of wealth beyond direct donations. A nobleman who was interested in participating in the Crusades might place all his assets under Templar management while he was away. Accumulating wealth in this manner throughout Christendom and the Outremer, the order in 1150 began generating letters of credit for pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land: pilgrims deposited their valuables with a local Templar preceptory before embarking, received a document indicating the value of their deposit, then used that document upon arrival in the Holy Land to retrieve their funds in an amount of treasure of equal value. This innovative arrangement was an early form of banking and may have been the first formal system to support the use of cheques; it improved the safety of pilgrims by making them less attractive targets for thieves, and also contributed to the Templar coffers.

Based on this mix of donations and business dealing, the Templars established financial networks across the whole of Christendom. They acquired large tracts of land, both in Europe and the Middle East; they bought and managed farms and vineyards; they built massive stone cathedrals and castles; they were involved in manufacturing, import and export; they had their own fleet of ships; and at one point they even owned the entire island of Cyprus. The Order of the Knights Templar arguably qualifies as the world’s first multinational corporation.

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It was between the Knight Templar and the Vatican that the princlples of Maritime Admiraty Law and International banking was established.

In 1305, the new Pope Clement V, based in Avignon, France, sent letters to both the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and the Hospitaller Grand Master Fulk de Villaret to discuss the possibility of merging the two orders. Neither was amenable to the idea, but Pope Clement persisted, and in 1306 he invited both Grand Masters to France to discuss the matter. De Molay arrived first in early 1307, but de Villaret was delayed for several months. While waiting, De Molay and Clement discussed criminal charges that had been made two years earlier by an ousted Templar and were being discussed by King Philip IV of France and his ministers. It was generally agreed that the charges were false, but Clement sent the king a written request for assistance in the investigation. According to some historians, King Philip, who was already deeply in debt to the Templars from his war with the English, decided to seize upon the rumours for his own purposes. He began pressuring the church to take action against the order, as a way of freeing himself from his debts.

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Admiralty law or maritime law is a distinct body of law that governs maritime questions and offences.

It is a body of both domestic law governing maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private entities that operate vessels on the oceans. It deals with matters including marine commerce, marine navigation, marine salvaging, shipping, sailors, and the transportation of passengers and goods by sea. Admiralty law also covers many commercial activities, although land based or occurring wholly on land, that are maritime in character.

Admiralty law is distinguished from the Law of the Sea, which is a body of public international law dealing with navigational rights, mineral rights, jurisdiction over coastal waters and international law governing relationships between nations.

Although each legal jurisdiction usually has its own enacted legislation governing maritime matters, admiralty law is characterized by a significant amount of international law developed in recent decades, including numerous multilateral treaties.

History

Seaborne transport was one of the earliest channels of commerce, and rules for resolving disputes involving maritime trade were developed early in recorded history. Early historical records of these laws include the Rhodian law (Nomos Rhodion Nautikos), of which no primary written specimen has survived, but which is alluded to in other legal texts (Roman and Byzantine legal codes), and later the customs of the Consulate of the Sea or the Hanseatic League. In southern Italy the Ordinamenta et consuetudo maris (1063) at Trani and the Amalfian Laws were in effect from an early date.

Bracton noted further that admiralty law was also used as an alternative to the common law in Norman England, which previously required voluntary submission to it by entering a plea seeking judgment from the court.

Islamic law also made major contributions to international admiralty law, departing from the previous Roman and Byzantine maritime laws in several ways. These included Muslim sailors being paid a fixed wage “in advance” with an understanding that they would owe money in the event of desertion or malfeasance, in keeping with Islamic conventions in which contracts should specify “a known fee for a known duration.” (In contrast, Roman and Byzantine sailors were “stakeholders in a maritime venture, inasmuch as captain and crew, with few exceptions, were paid proportional divisions of a sea venture’s profit, with shares allotted by rank, only after a voyage’s successful conclusion.”) Muslim jurists also distinguished between “coastal navigation, or cabotage”, and voyages on the “high seas”, and they made shippers “liable for freight in most cases except the seizure of both a ship and its cargo”. Islamic law “departed from Justinian’s Digest and the Nomos Rhodion Nautikos in condemning slave jettison”, and the Islamic Qirad was a precursor to the European commenda limited partnership. The “Islamic influence on the development of an international law of the sea” can thus be discerned alongside that of the Roman influence.

Admiralty law was introduced into England by the French Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine while she was acting as regent for her son, King Richard the Lionheart. She had earlier established admiralty law on the island of Oleron (where it was published as the Rolls of Oleron) in her own lands (although she is often referred to in admiralty law books as “Eleanor of Guyenne”), having learned about it in the eastern Mediterranean while on a Crusade with her first husband, King Louis VII of France. In England, special admiralty courts handle all admiralty cases. These courts do not use the common law of England, but are civil law courts largely based upon the Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian.

Admiralty courts were a prominent feature in the prelude to the American Revolution. For example, the phrase in the Declaration of Independence “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury” refers to the practice of Parliament giving the Admiralty Courts jurisdiction to enforce The Stamp Act in the American Colonies. Because the Stamp Act was unpopular, a colonial jury was unlikely to convict a colonist of its violation. However, because admiralty courts did not (as is true today) grant trial by jury, a colonist accused of violating the Stamp Act could be more easily convicted by the Crown.

Admiralty law became part of the law of the United States as it was gradually introduced through admiralty cases arising after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1789. Many American lawyers who were prominent in the American Revolution were admiralty and maritime lawyers in their private lives. Those included are Alexander Hamilton in New York and John Adams in Massachusetts.

In 1787 John Adams, who was then ambassador to France, wrote to James Madison proposing that the U.S. Constitution, then under consideration by the States, be amended to include “trial by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land [as opposed the law of admiralty] and not by the laws of Nations [i.e. not by the law of admiralty]”. The result was the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Alexander Hamilton and John Adams were both admiralty lawyers and Adams represented John Hancock in an admiralty case in colonial Boston involving seizure of one of Hancock’s ships for violations of Customs regulations. In the more modern era, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was an admiralty lawyer before ascending to the bench.

Jurisdiction

In theory, any general jurisdiction court may hear cases involving admiralty law. Courts of limited jurisdiction, for example, small claims courts, may not hear maritime law cases.

Applicable law

A state court hearing an admiralty or maritime case is required to apply the admiralty and maritime law, even if it conflicts with the law of the state, under a doctrine known as the “reverse-Erie doctrine.” The Erie doctrine, derived from Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, directs that federal courts hearing state actions must apply state law. The “reverse-Erie doctrine” directs that state courts hearing admiralty cases must apply federal admiralty law. This distinction is critical in some cases.

For instance, U.S. maritime law recognizes the concept of joint and several liability among tortfeasors, while many states do not. Under joint and several liability, where two or more people create a single injury or loss, all are equally liable, even if they only contributed a small amount. A state court hearing an admiralty case would be required to apply the doctrine of joint and several liability even if state law does not contemplate the concept.

Federal law is the body of law created by the federal government of a country. A federal government is formed when a group of political units, such as states or provinces join together in a federation, delegating their individual sovereignty and many powers to the central government while retaining or reserving other limited powers. As a result, two or more levels of government exist within an established geographic territory. The body of law of the common central government is the federal law.

The United States Constitution provides for a federal government that is superior to state governments with regard to its enumerated powers. These powers include the authority to govern international affairs, interstate commerce, the currency and national defense. After the American Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment applied the Constitution’s Bill of Rights to state governments. Legislation passed by Congress, an Executive Order of the President, or a decision of federal courts pursuant to the Constitution are federal law.

Through the system of checks and balances, it is the Supreme Court makes final decisions regarding federal laws regarding specific cases brought before them. United States federal laws are codified in the United States Code.


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Self-Realization 101: What is Consciousness?

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Self-Realization 101: What is Consciousness?

In the simplest philosophic term, consciousness can be described as the symptom of life.  A body with consciousness is alive, active and dynamic.  A body without consciousness is a dead lump of flesh, putrefying with every passing moment.  Another way of describing consciousness is awareness—that state of knowing that “I am”.  We can further describe it as being the dominant quality of the soul.

Whenever a new student comes to me seeking illumination, the first approach I take is to clear up any misconceptions regarding the soul.  My first question, invariably is, “Do you have a soul?”  It is a very important question as it is intended to evaluate an individual’s perspective.  About 80% of the people I question respond to the affirmative while about 20%, knowing they will be tricked, respond with, “I don’t know.”

My response to this line of inquiry is, “You do not have a soul.  You cannot possess a soul because you are the soul.  You are the soul, you are consciousness, and you are the symptom of life.”

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The Vedas, spoken in Devanagari—the oldest language known to human kind, describes very scientifically, the nature of the soul.  The soul is comprised of three qualities: it is eternal, complete in knowledge, and is ever blissful—sat-chit-ananda.

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The soul, being eternal, was never created and can never be annihilated.  If God was a jewel, we would be one of the many facets, that appear with His presence.  Eternal means, always has been and always will be.  The Vedas describe the three worlds: the hellish world, this middle world and the heavenly planets.  Beyond the three worlds is the transcendental realm of the supreme Godhead.  Everything in the three worlds is contained within the material creation, and is subject to constant rebirth, old-age and death.  Just as the material creation is constantly re-created and destroyed in an eternal cycle, our eternal souls, encumbered by our material coverings, is bound by this same rule.  Though our bodies go through cycles of birth, growth, procreation, entropy and death, throughout it all, the soul remains the same.  The mind changes, but the mind is not the soul.  Nor is the intelligence.  These, with the false ego, are coverings of the pure soul so that the living entity can interact with material nature.  This composition is called the subtle body.  On top of this we don the sensual body with the five senses; sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch.  This physical body is comprised of the five sense organs; eyes, nose, tongue, ears and skin.

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The less conscious an individual, the more their propensity to commit in over indulgence of food and drink, acts of unrestricted sex, slaving for income and slumber.  These are the very same activities of lower animals; eating, mating, defending and sleeping.  Most people are content in their rut, living through their routine, hoping nothing disturbs the balance.  But a sage knows that nothing lasts forever.  No occupation is secure, no home will endure without change and the streets are a jungle.  For the less conscious individual, pink slips, are death warrants.  And many do commit suicide over them.

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Those who are truly conscious—aware, have some kind of mystic approach to life.  They believe in an order, be it the universe, a religion, philosophy or transcendentalism; and that faith gives them knowledge and the strength to endure.  The conscious busy themselves in cultivation through religious practice, spiritual studies, meditation, yoga, etc.  This spiritual cultivation is the fifth factor which elevates the living entity above the animal kingdom.

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There are many paths to spiritual cultivation, every path leads up to a certain level of awareness.  But if one goes so far as to study the pre-history of all religions, one finds inevitably that they are rooted in the foundations of the Vedas.  The philosophies of the Greeks: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were inspired by their studies in the East.  The pre-Hebrew religions were rooted in the mysticism taught by Eastern traders and scholars.  Modern historians are accepting of the notion that Abraham and Sara is an homage the Vedic god and goddess, Brahma and Sarasvati.  Even Gautam Siddhartha, the prince of a kingdom, was verse in Vedanta before he took off on his own path to becoming the Buddha.  Christian scholars believe now that Jesus studied mysticism in the Himalaya region.  Curing of blindness, raising the dead and walking on water; these motifs appear many times in the Vedas, enacted by mystic yogis.

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For these reasons, and many more, I’ve concentrated almost four decades of study of the Vedas.  I’ve found almost every school of thought mirrored in the Vedas.  Practically every philosophical point of view is expressed somewhere in the Vedas.  There is nothing new beyond the recasting of the same ancient motifs.

The Vedas is vast, and most of it unintelligible but to the most ardent scholars.  A great place to start is with the Upanishads—most specifically, the Gitopanishad or the Bhagavad-Gita.  It is the literature most accepted as the primer into Vedanta.  Hosted on this website is a 1995 graphic eBook of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, for your viewing pleasure.



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