John Paul II meets the Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand
35 years later....
Francis meets the Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand
Keeping up the fine tradition of Novus Ordo apostasy.
China and Morales destroyed Bolivia. It’s not a coup when people #resist
China and Bolivia. In the beginning…
In 2006, Prior to assuming the Bolivian presidency, Evo Morales traveled to the Peoples Republic of China where he publicly declared himself to be a great admirer of Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.
In the early years of Morales’s presidency, China made loans to the Bolivian state for the direct purchase of strategic products like military aircraft and weapons.
Some purchases were notorious, such as a set of drilling rigs sold by CAMC Engineering to YPFB (a Bolivian State owned energy company) that proved to be defective, and barges commissioned from a Chinese shipbuilder that have yet to be delivered.
In 2014, China overtook Brazil as Bolivia’s principal source of imports, supplying half the country’s clothing imports as well as cars, motorcycles, cell phones, computers, and other domestic electronics that feed the growing consumerism of Bolivia’s burgeoning middle class. The cost of these value-added Chinese products significantly exceeds what China pays Bolivia for Bolivia’s commodity exports, resulting in a 2016 bilateral trade deficit of $4 billion for Bolivia.
By 2017, the Bolivian government owed more than $700 million to Chinese banks (Export-Import Bank of China and Chinese Development Bank), constituting 9.2% of the country’s total foreign debt.
China has pledged a new $10 billion line of credit for strategic government projects.
- 9 major road segments
- Construction of the 600 mw Rositas hydroelectric plant
- Expansion of the Viru Viru airport into a regional hub
- Development of the El Mutún steel plant
- China has pledged additional bilions to fund the Bolivian Bioceanic Railroad
This doubles Bolivia’s foreign debt and China will be Bolivia’s largest creditor.
All projects financed by Chinese loans must be awarded to Chinese companies, which come with their own materials, equipment, and technology, and often their own labor.
It is asymmetrical, The logic is not to develop Bolivia’s productive capacity, but to provide outlets for expansion of Chinese capital, generating profits for Chinese companies through energy and infrastructure development as a pathway to more lucrative extractive ventures and a permanent Chinese foothold in the region.
These megafirms have become the largest government contractors in Bolivia, winning awards for major public investment projects on a “sole source” basis, or through invitation-only solicitations to a limited number Chinese firms.
In transportation and energy, Chinese companies like Sinohydro, CAMC Engineering, Sinopec, and China Railway are engaged in the construction of multiple government projects, many of which have been plagued by labor, environmental, and feasibility problems. After repeated protests by workers over exploitative conditions, retaliatory treatment, and disproportionate hiring of Chinese nationals, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pledged that China would comply with Bolivia’s labor norms. Morales government has inadequately enforced this commitment.
In the manufacturing sector, Chinese companies have built industrial facilities for the state that, to date, have made limited contributions to the national economy. A paper mill inaugurated three years ago by Shenzhen Vicstar has yet to turn a profit. A sugar refinery is barely operational due to faulty planning around sugar harvests and infrastructure.
In mining, Chinese companies began by building zinc refineries and a tin processing facility for Morales, but are now positioned to play a more significant role. Sinosteel was recently awarded a $450 million contract to develop the El Mutún steel processing plant. This is the first phase of a multi-stage undertaking aimed at catapulting Bolivia into the global steel market, which could provide significant investment opportunities for China.
Lithium reserves. Chinese companies, under contract to the state, have developed a small lithium extraction facility, a pilot lithium battery plant, and a potassium salt refinery in the Uyuni salt flats, all with Bolivian funds. In September 2016, China received Bolivia’s first lithium export: 15 tons of lithium carbonate, delivered at a substantially below-market price. Elsewhere, projects like Mutún and lithium extraction in Uyuni pose major ecological challenges—which Chinese firms, with their global track record of environmental abuse, and the Morales government, with its criminally lax enforcement will not resolve.
Meanwhile, the transnational China Natural Resources is moving forward with plans to develop and operate its own copper smelting plant in Uyuni. which has also acquired mining interests in Madidi National Park, gateway to the Bolivian Amazon, where it has been carrying out operations without an environmental license.
Bolivia’s hydrocarbons sector has been almost entirely handed its projects and management to Sinopec, already well-established in Bolivia through its road construction projects, and BGP, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Company, to undertake exploratory activities in the Bolivian Amazon, on protected national reserves which are also indigenous territories.
Yet…the Bolivian government bears the full financial risk for these precarious enterprises.
For Bolivian workers, Chinese companies have re-introduced authoritarian and exploitative practices that undermine hard-won labor protections, while diverting jobs to foreign nationals, despite Bolivia’s abundant available workforce and scarcity of formal employment. The government’s failure to strictly enforce labor norms against Chinese contractors raises questions about the goals of Morales’s state-led development project.
Also hard hit are domestic construction companies, which can’t compete with Chinese megafirms and are precluded from bidding on Chinese-financed projects in any case. Many Chinese companies end up subcontracting with local operators, such as truckers, through exploitative arrangements that lead to community conflicts.
Indigenous small and medium sized domestic producers are being squeezed out by cheap Chinese imports.
Over the past 5 years, Bolivian imports of Chinese furniture have cut domestic production in half, adversely affecting some 50,000 Bolivian carpenters. Six textile firms have recently shut down, along with Enatex, the state textile company.
Even the fabric to make the ruling MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) party’s banners and whipalas, the indigenous flag, is imported from China.
Chinese-built and financed megaworks, with their attendant deforestation, soil degradation, and ecological disruption, are imposing significant environmental costs on communities and regions already suffering the effects of climate change. Hardest hit are indigenous peoples, whose homes and livelihoods are directly threatened, especially in the Amazon region where so many infrastructure projects are located. .
China’s $10 billion credit pledge increases Bolivia’s foreign debt to more than 50% of GDP a likely insurmountable hurdle at a time when commodity prices and export revenues are falling. Bolivia is mortgaging its long-term future for domestic infrastructure, not for production which contributes to economic expansion.
China’s presence in Bolivia has helped to foreclose opportunities for alternative development grounded in local and regionally-based sustainable production that could point towards resolution of the country’s deep-seated economic, social, and political conflicts.
And, that’s why the protests. #NotACoup
China and Morales destroyed Bolivia. It’s not a coup when people #resist, Adam Townsend, 23 November 2019.
HISTORY IS MADE TODAY! ✨
This is Sandra Gering, a dear community member and student who seven years ago gave @davidghiyam, her Kabbalah teacher, a donation to translate the Tikunei haZohar into English. She said that her dream was that when it was finished she would donate the Tikunei haZohar to all major museums in the world and hand deliver it to the Pope, himself. The first volume of Tikunei haZohar set was published this past month.
Today, on the New Moon it Scorpio, which according to the Zohar is the most powerful day of the year, Sandra personally gifted the Pope the first English translation of the Tikunei Zohar published by The Kabbalah Centre! ♥️✨
Instagram, Zohar Project, 30 October 2019The Zohar in the hands of Pope Francis from earlier today.
This is Sandra, a dedicated student of the Kabbalah Centre, who sponsored the translation and printing of the Tikkunei Zohar in English for the first time in history! (Available soon in our bookstores)
Thank you @sandrageringinc for your tireless efforts and desire to be a beacon of Light. Your support of bringing the Tikkunei Zohar to the world - and to the Vatican - is nothing short of a miracle✨✨✨
‘The Repair of the Zohar’
The Pave the Way Foundation has presented a replica of the Tikkunei Zohar to the Vatican Library. On hand for the special ceremony on November 4, 2019, were Gary L. Krupp, the organization’s founder and president, and board member Vincent D. LeVien, as well as the replica’s creator, artist Sandra Gering. The Tikkunei Zohar was written in Aramaic and loosely translates as “the repair of the Zohar,” with the Zohar itself translating as “splendor” or “radiance.” concerning the mystical aspects of the Torah and provides the basis for the study of the Kabbalah. Ms. Gering describes the text as “70 corrections to soul must journey through life to reach the highest level of love and unity with all mankind.” Her replica prints the words of the Tikkunei Zohar on silver paper bound into a book, which she considers to be a manifestation of the sacred text. Bringing such an object to the Vatican, where it will remain close to the gap between religions and conflicts through cultural, technological and intellectual exchanges.
Pave the Way Foundation Presents Replica of Tikkunei Zohar to Vatican Library, Zenit, 4 November 2019
...“I never studied art,” Gering tells artnet News. “I just have a gift to be able to see 10 to 20 years ahead.”
Last summer, after more than 25 years in operation, the venerable gallerist closed her brick-and-mortar space. But unlike other gallery closings, the decision wasn’t motivated by finances (the gallery was doing as well as it ever had) or real estate, nor was Gering retiring per se (she still works, though not as much as she once did). Instead, she wanted to refocus her time on other, more spiritual aspects of her life.
Today, at age 75, she is as active as ever. A practitioner of yoga for more than 50 years, she stands on her head “every single morning, no matter what.” In 2013, she appeared in Jay-Z’s “Picasso Baby” music video, dancing with the energy of a young child while an impressive mishmash of art world cognoscenti looked on.
And now she’s in the throes of what, for her, is her most important undertaking yet: a special edition of the Tikunei haZohar—a 4,000-year-old kabbalist text, written in Aramaic, about the 70 corrections that a soul must make before they reach nirvana.
What’s more, she tapped some of her closest artist friends to help out. The manuscript will be encased by two interlocking tablets created by artist and designer Ghiora Aharoni. Underneath the text will be a drawing done by Ryan McGinness. And Leo Villareal, one of the many major artists Gering helped lift to fame, created the cover, a tree of light illuminated by 70 small LEDs—one for each correction.
The book, set to be produced within the next year, will be an edition of four and is dedicated to women around the world. One has already been accepted into the collection at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan. Gering hopes to place the other three with the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Ethnological Museum at the Vatican, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
“I want it to be about plurality of religion,” she explains. “And that we’re all the same soul and that we all need to reach this particular point, and do the work that we are supposed to do on this earth.”
Gering, who was raised Jewish but never identified with the ritualistic side of the religion, has long identified as a spiritual person. She realized it at an early age.
“When I was three, I had a dream that I had to bring all peoples together,” she says. “I was on a beach alone, and from that time on, I was I felt that I was connected to some universal force. Throughout my life, I’ve always listened and done what my heart tells me to do.”
That’s what makes the Tikunei haZohar project—a first-class artist’s book, essentially—so special. It perfectly symbolizes Gering’s achievements in the two most important facets of her life: art and spiritualism...”
Why Sandra Gering Closed Her Gallery to Take On an Even More Ambitious Project: Reaching Nirvana, ArtNet News, 18 July 2018
The Tablets reconceives the traditional idea of the reliquary as contemporary sculpture, a commission to house a hard-bound edition of the Tikkunei Zohar (an appendix to the Zohar, the writings central to the Kabblah). The sculpture’s form draws from the intricate, allegorical essence of the ancient, sacred book of spiritual corrections within, and employs one of Aharoni’s signature constructs—the use of text as a medium—to translate the spiritual import of book’s writings into the visual narrative of an artwork.
The form of The Tablets evokes ancient Cuneiform tablets or the original tablets brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses, and its letters—sculpted aluminum extending from the front through to the back and curving with its rounded form—manifest a fluid, transcendent energy that collapses the distance between the ancient and the contemporary into an intersection of spirituality and artistic expression.
The exterior structure of the work is formed from Hebrew text taken from the beginning of the Book of Genesis. The raised letter, which seem to be separated by voids, might be read as an allegory of humanity’s topography of corrections. However, the sculpture’s typography of conjoined letters creates an interconnected entity of text circumscribed by one continuous, flowing space—creating a parallel contemplation between what exists and what is absent in both the metaphysical and the material.
The Tablets begins with the Hebrew word “b’reishit”—both the first word of Genesis and the subject of the 70 commentaries within the Tikkunei Zohar. B’reishit also begins with the Hebrew letter “bet,” which has a numerical value of two—an allusion of a state of dualities, be it the twin forms of The Tablets that are perceived as one, or a parallel realm where dichotomies have the potential to be unified.
‘THE TABLETS’ Enters The Permanent Collection of THE VATICAN, Ghiora Aharoni Design Studio, accessed 5 November 2019
During his lifetime, Rav Brandwein continued to write the commentary on the Zohar after the death of his teacher, Rav Yehuda Ashlag, and also began to write a commentary on the Tikunei haZohar entitled Ma’alot haSulam (“Ascents [rungs] of the Ladder”).
For the first time, Kabbalah Centre Publishing has the merit to publish an English translation of Rav Brandwein’s translation and commentary on the Tikunei haZohar for those whose hearts yearn to taste of the Tree of Life of Rav Shimon bar Yochai. Tikunei haZohar Volume 1 is the first in this series of commentaries.
Tikunei haZohar contains seventy different interpretations (tikkunim) by Rav Shimon bar Yochai of the Hebrew word beresheet, the first word of the Torah. Rav Shimon had fled the government that had issued an edict to kill him. While he and his son Rav Elazar hid in a cave in Peki’in for thirteen years, they were taught the entire Tikunei haZohar from Elijah the Prophet and Moses. There were no other disciples present, except these two, which is why there are no conversations among the disciples in the Tikunei haZohar like there are in the Book of Zohar and in Zohar Chadash. It is known that the Tikunei haZohar will help to hasten the coming of the Messiah and is related to, and was put aside, until the Messianic era.
TIKUNEI ZOHAR (ENGLISH-ARAMAIC) VOL 1, The Kabbalah Centre, accessed 5 November 2019
Dear young people of Scholas Occurrentes gathered from so many nations of the world, I celebrate with you the end of this meeting. I want to stop there. I wish to dwell on this: the end.
What would become of this encounter if it did not have an end? Perhaps it wouldn’t even be an encounter. And what would become of this life if it did not also have its end?
I know some will say: “Father, don’t put on a funeral face.” But let us think this through. I know from a good source that you kept the question of death burning throughout this entire experience. You played, thought, and created out of your differences.
Good! I celebrate and thank you for this. Because, you know what? The question of death is really a question about life. And keeping the question of death open, perhaps, is the greatest human responsibility towards the question of life.
Just as words are born out of silence and return to it, allowing us to hear their meanings, so it is with life. This may sound somewhat paradoxical, but… It is death that allows life to remain alive!
It is the end goal that allows a story to be written, a painting to be painted, two bodies to embraced. But watch out, the end goal is not found only at the end. Perhaps we should pay attention to each small purpose of everyday life. Not only at the end of the story – we never know when it ends – but at the end of each word, at the end of each silence, of each page that is being written. Only a life that is conscious of the fact that this exact instant will end works to make it eternal.
On the other hand, death reminds us that it is impossible to be, understand, and encompass everything. It comes as a slap in the face to our illusion of omnipotence. It teaches us throughout life to engage ourselves with mystery. This gives us confidence to jump into the void and to realize that we will not fall, that we will not sink, and that there is always Someone there to catch us. Both before and after the end.
The “not knowing” part of this question results in fragility that opens us to listening to and meeting other people. It is that rising above the commotion that calls us to create something, and urges us to come together to celebrate it.
Lastly, the question of death has driven different communities, peoples, and cultures to be formed throughout the ages and throughout all lands. These are stories that have fought in so many places to stay alive, while others were never born. That is why today, perhaps as never before, we should touch on this question.
The world is already formed, and everything is already explained. There is no room for open questions. Is that true? It is true, but it is also not true. That is our world. It is already fully-formed, and there is no place for unanswered questions. In a world that worships autonomy, self-sufficiency, and self-realization, there seems to be no place for the other. Our world of plans and infinite acceleration – always speeding up – does not allow for interruptions. So the worldly culture that enslaves also tries to put us to sleep so we forget what it means to stop at last.
But the very oblivion of death is also its beginning. And a culture that forgets death begins to die within. He who forgets death has already begun to die.
That is why I thank you so much! Because you have had the courage to confront this question and to pass – with your own bodies – through the three deaths that, by emptying us, fill us with life! The ‘death’ of every instant. The death of the ego. The death of one world gives way to a new one.
Remember, if death is not to have the last word, it is because in life we learned to die for one another.
Finally, I would like to thank especially World ORT and each one of the people and institutions that made possible this activity in which the culture of encounter has become tangible.
I ask each of you please, each in his own way, each according to his own convictions: don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you.