Validity

Augury is an ancient Roman method of prophecy by studying the flight of birds. Signs from birds were divided into “alites” from the flight, and “oscines” from the voice. The alites included region of sky, height and type of flight, behaviour of the bird and place where it would rest. The oscines included the pitch and direction of the sound.

The augur was a priest and official in ancient Rome. His main role was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds, whether they are flying in groups or alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they are. This was known as “taking the auspices”.

Observation conditions were rigorous and required absolute silence for validity of the operation. The effectiveness of augury could only be judged retrospectively. The divinely ordained condition of peace was an outcome of successful augury.

The individual that best represents augury is Attus Navius. One day he lost one of his pigs and promised the gods that if he found it he would offer them the biggest grapes growing in his vineyard. After recovering his pig he stood in the middle of his vineyard facing south. He divided the sky into four sections and observed birds. When they appeared he walked in that direction and found an extraordinarily large grape.

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Evaluation

The Summerland is the name given by Wiccans and other earth-based religions for their conceptualization of an afterlife. The common portrayal of the Summerland is as a place of rest for souls in between their earthly incarnations. Some believe that after one experiences life to its fullest, and has come to know and understand every aspect and emotion of physical human life, usually after many reincarnations, their deity will allow them to stay in the Summerland for an eternal afterlife.

Another common element is that the soul has little, if any, recollection of the Summerland once it arrives on the mortal plane again. The Summerland is also envisioned as a place for recollection and reunion with deceased loved ones.

As the name suggests, it is often envisaged as a place of beauty and peace, where everything people hold close to their hearts is preserved in its fullest beauty for eternity. It is envisioned as containing wide fields of rolling green hills and lush grass. In many ways, this ideology is similar to the Welsh view of Annwn as an afterlife realm. However, the Summerland was also viewed in traditions of Spiritualism, where Wicca got the term itself.

The essence of the Summerland is that it is a resting ground where souls can reflect on the life they led, see if they learned the lesson they had intended on learning, and then try again in due course. The Summerland is not seen as a place of judgement, but rather, as a spiritual self-evaluation where a soul is able to review its life and gain an understanding of the total impact its actions had on the world. Some may believe each particular lesson and life is chosen and planned out by the soul itself while in Summerland, whereas others may believe that lessons are planned by an external party such as deities or spirit guides.

Everything

Sunyata is a characteristic of phenomena arising from the fact, as observed and taught by the Buddha, that the impermanent nature of form means that nothing possesses essential, enduring identity. In the Buddha’s spiritual teaching, insight into the emptiness of phenomena is an aspect of the cultivation of insight that leads to wisdom and inner peace. The importance of this insight is especially emphasised in Mahayana Buddhism.

The teaching on the emptiness of all phenomena is a core basis of Buddhist philosophy and has implications for epistemology and phenomenology. It also constitutes a metaphysical critique of Greek philosophical realism, Abrahamic monotheism and Hindu concept of atman. Moreover, contrary to widely misconceived equation to the doctrine of nihilism, grasping the doctrine of sunyata is seen as a step to liberation.

Sunyata signifies that everything one encounters in life is empty of absolute identity, permanence, or an in-dwelling self. This is because everything is inter-related and mutually dependent – never wholly self-sufficient or independent. All things are in a state of constant flux where energy and information are forever flowing throughout the natural world giving rise to and themselves undergoing major transformations with the passage of time.

This teaching does not connote nihilism. In the English language the word emptiness suggests the absence of spiritual meaning or a personal feeling of alienation, but in Buddhism the realization of the emptiness of phenomena, at basic level, enables one to realise that the things which ultimately have no substance are trivial and not worthy of worry, conflict or antagonism. Ultimately, true realisation of the doctrine can bring liberation from the limitations of form in the cycle of uncontrolled rebirth.

One potent metaphor for Sunyata, often used in Tibetan art, is the sky. As the sky is the emptiness that offers clouds to our perception, so Sunyata is the space in which objects appear to us in response to our attachments and longings. The Japanese use of the Chinese character signifying Shunyata is also used to connote sky or air.

Assumption

Segmented sleep, divided sleep, and interrupted sleep are modern Western terms for a sleep pattern found in medieval and early modern Europe and many non industrial societies today, where the night’s sleep is divided by one or more periods of wakefulness. This is particularly common in the winter.

The human circadian rhythm controls a sleep cycle of wakefulness during the day and sleep at night. Superimposed on this basic rhythm is a secondary one of light sleep in the early afternoon, such as a siesta, and quiet wakefulness in the early morning.

The two periods of night sleep were called first sleep and second sleep in medieval England. In French, the common term was premier sommeil or premier somme. There is no common word in English for the period of wakefulness between, apart from paraphrases such as first waking or when one wakes from his first sleep and the generic watch.

The period of wakefulness was highly valued in medieval Europe as a time of quiet and relaxation. Peasant couples were often too tired after a long day’s work to do much more than eat and go to sleep, but they would wake later on to talk and socialize. People would also use this time to pray and reflect, and to interpret dreams, which were more vivid at that hour than upon waking in the morning, and even to visit one another. This was also a favorite time for authors and poets to write uninterrupted.

There is evidence from sleep research that this period of nighttime wakefulness, combined with a midday nap, results in greater alertness than a single sleep wake cycle. The brain exhibits high levels of the pituitary hormone prolactin during the period of nighttime wakefulness, which may contribute to the feeling of peace that many people associate with it. It is in many ways similar to the hypnogogic state that occurs just before falling asleep.

The modern assumption that consolidated sleep with no awakenings is the normal and correct way for human adults to sleep, leads many to approach their doctors with complaints of insomnia or other sleep disorders. Their concerns might best be addressed by assurance that their sleep conforms to historically natural sleep patterns.

Context

Human development theory is a theory that merges older ideas from ecological economics, sustainable development, welfare economics, and feminist economics. It seeks to avoid the overt normative politics of most so called “green economics” by justifying its premise strictly in ecology, economics and sound social science, and by working within a context of globalization.

Like ecological economics it focuses on measuring well being and detecting uneconomic growth that comes at the expense of human health. However, it goes further in seeking not only to measure but to optimize well being by some explicit modelling of how social capital and instructional capital can be deployed to optimize the overall value of human capital in an economy, which is itself part of an ecology. The role of individual capital within that ecology, and the adaptation of the individual to live well within it, is a major focus of these theories.

The most notable proponent of human development theory is Amartya Sen, who asked, in Development as Freedom, “what is the relationship between our wealth and our ability to live as we would like?”

This question cannot be answered strictly from an energy, feminist, family, environmental health, peace, social justice, or ecological well being point of view, although all of these may be factors in our happiness. If tolerances of any of these points of view are violated seriously, it would seem impossible to be happy at all.

Accordingly, human development theory is a major synthesis that is probably not confined within the bounds of conventional economics or political science, nor even the political economy that relates the two.

Peace

Peace is a term that most commonly refers to an absence of hostility, but which also represents a larger concept of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, safety in matters of social or economic welfare, and the acknowledgment of equality and fairness in political relationships and world matters.

It is a state of balance and understanding in one’s self and between others where respect is gained by the acceptance of differences, conflicts are resolved through dialogue, other’s rights are respected, and everyone is at their highest point of serenity without social tension.

In the Great Lakes region of Africa, the word for peace is kindoki, which refers to a harmonious balance between human beings, the rest of the natural world, and the cosmos. This vision is a much broader view of peace than a mere absence of war.

Wolfgang Sutzl of the Innsbruck School of Peace Studies states that some peace thinkers have abandoned any single and all encompassing definition of peace. Rather, they promote the idea of many peaces. They argue that since no singular, correct definition of peace can exist, peace should be perceived as a plurality.

These thinkers also critique the idea of peace as a hopeful or eventual end. They recognize that peace does not necessarily have to be something humans might achieve some time in the future. They contend that peace exists in the present, we can create and expand it in small ways in our everyday lives, and peace changes constantly. This view makes peace permeable and imperfect rather than static and utopian.

Followers of some religions, such as Jainism, go to great lengths to avoid harming any living creatures, including insects. Pacifists, such as Christian anarchists, perceive any incarnation of violence as self perpetuating. Mahatma Gandhi’s conception of peace was not as an end, but as a means: “There is no way to peace; peace is the way.”

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually to notable peacemakers and visionaries who have overcome violence, conflict or oppression through their moral leadership. The prize has often met with controversy, as it is occasionally awarded to people who have formerly sponsored war and violence but who have, through exceptional concessions, helped achieve peace.