We live today in a world so divided by religious ideas that there is a very real possibility that we won't survive these differences.
In a desire to get beyond religious misconceptions of basic spiritual concepts, many thoughtful people have followed one of two divergent philosophical paths of inquiry concerning the universe and our place in it.
Science and spirituality both seek the answers to this most fundamental question. While never quite at physical odds with each other, proponents look askance at each other for the other's naive understanding of reality. Yet a few individuals in both camps have been able to take a "quantum leap" of understanding and realize that science and spirituality should not just "agree to disagree".
Mani Bhaumik is one of these "leapers", whose early life happened to be suffused in mystical Hindu traditions. Yet, his talents for science and mathematics allowed him to escape the poverty and ignorance endemic to his community.
After he arrived in America, he used Hindu meditation as a method primarily of remaining calm and centered in the high-flying academic and business worlds he was now part of.
But when he began to ask whether "this is all there is", he wanted to explore the deeper realms of reality found through mediation; those spoken of in the Gitas, the sacred writings of his religious tradition.
As a man with one foot in science and one foot in mystical Hinduism, he came to realize that it was perhaps his dharma to create a bridge between the two.
The result is the narrative of a wonderful, poetic journey through his own life before he begins the even more fantastic journey into the realms of quantum theory and sublime mystical states.
Mani Bhaumik's journey is a model for our own journey through life. What I've found is that the most amazing thing about this journey is that once a stepping stone is reached, another one appears almost magically.
And it's only one step away.
Not an American textbook, however. Instead, this enlightening and disturbing book relates a history of the world since World War II that demonstrates how the United States has become a new kind of Empire. This Empire is based not on military might -- although as we see in Iraq, this is always an option -- but on the power of giant U.S. engineering, construction and oil corporations to induce nations around the world to borrow heavily from entities like the World Bank and USAID for economic development. Once these nations join the list of debtor nations, these staggering debts are used to get them to accede to a variety of U.S. political and corporate interests.
"Confessions" is John Perkins' personal account of how, as an "Economic Hitman" or EHM, he and others like him spearheaded this new kind of imperialism. The corporations EHM's worked for are almost quasi-governmental and have supplied our government with officials like Dick Cheney (Halliburton), George Schultz and Caspar Weinberger (Bechtel) and Geoge H.W. Bush who started in oil, became a Congressman, U.N. Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President, President and is now associated with the highly-influential Carlyle Group.
But it is the close association of all these people, agencies and corporations with events of history that is so striking. It was the corporatocracy that wanted the legally elected democratic leaders in Guatemala, Iraq, Chile, Panama and Equador assassinated. Their sins? They wanted the profits from the oil, minerals and produce from their countries to help advance the standard of living of their own people. The corporatocracy felt otherwise, as maximum profits are its only raison d'etre.
But it is the story of the corporatocracy's relationship with Saudi Arabia and the House of Saud and that is most revealing. World events will not be seen in the same light after reading this book.
This isn't an American textbook, but should be required reading for all Americans.
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