Five Similarities Between Religion and Spirituality

When we were children we were asked, Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If we based our answer on the creation story in the Bible, we would answer, Chicken. But if we based our answer on our experience in raising chickens, our answer would be, Egg.The same can be said of the answer to the question, Which came first, Religion or Spirituality?In terms of our experience with religious books and discussions, religion came first. It is only now that more and more people are talking about spirituality and writing about it. In terms of the origin of the reality behind those words or in terms of the object of our understanding, spirituality came first. The spirit was there before there was any religion. God was there before there was anybody to worship him.We can even say that spirituality is an offshoot of religion. For many centuries people professed religion. Some of them fiercely opposed religions other their own. Christians for many centuries opposed paganism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any other religion. This has happened also with paganism, Islam, and the rest with respect to the other religions. They too opposed other religions.

But more and more people discover that mere religion cannot answer their deeper yearning for a better experience of life. So, they turned to something deeper and better than religion. They found this in spirituality.Because spirituality in a sense is an offshoot of religion, there is bound to be some similarity between them, just like the similarity between the egg and the chicken.First, both believe in a higher power of some kind. Religion believes in God the Father or Jesus, or Allah, or Brahman, or Tao. Spirituality believes also in this God or it may conceive of God as a universal or primal energy. Both believe that such being possesses power higher and greater than what we have.Secondly, both religion and spirituality desire to have a relationship with this higher power. Although the nature of the relationship is different in religion than in spirituality, the desire for this relationship is there. Religion connects with this higher power with fear and trembling. Spirituality connects with this higher power with love and affection.Thirdly, both religion and spirituality have rituals and practices which deepen one’s religiosity or spirituality. Religion usually has sacred rites or sacraments. Spirituality has meditation or yoga sessions.

Fourthly, both have respect for the sacred, the other worldly. This is not just respect for God. This is respect for the reality that is beyond our senses and reason. When religion pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes superstition. When spirituality pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes religious spirituality.Fifthly, both have fear of failure. In religion this failure is punished by hell fire or repetition of existence or some other worse fate. In spirituality this failure is the inability to realize one’s true worth or value and the destiny of a life of meaninglessness. Hell, repetition of existence, non-existence, meaninglessness are forms of punishment for failure, either in religion or in spirituality.

What Is the Relevance of Technology?

“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.What is Technology?Merriam-Webster defines it as:1a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge 2: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge 3: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor Wikipedia defines it as:Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.Technology is an enablerMany people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.Technology as a competitive advantage?Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.Technology’s RelevanceThis article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.

Beauty and Botox – Face Forward Tips for 2006!

Did you know that BOTOX injections are one of the most popular procedures in cosmetic surgery today? In fact, Botox injections far out number breast augmentation and rhinoplasty (cosmetic surgery on the nose), as the most preferred aesthetic surgical procedure?As you may agree, in western culture attractiveness is closely wedded to youthfulness. The appearance of wrinkles on the face is a source of anxiety for millions of women and men.The search for a miracle drug to help us appear younger presently fuels a multi-billion dollar beauty and cosmetic industry.The related industries of weight loss and health are just as robust. There is stiff competition between beauty companies constantly trying to sell youth and beauty in a jar.If you have the money you can opt for the more invasive (and ostensibly more effective) procedures to help you look younger. This where BOTOX followed by its more permanent cousin, plastic surgery may fit the bill.A nutritious and balanced diet, accompanied by a rigorous exercise regimen can make your body look years younger. Unfortunately there’s no such workout to tighten your face.Your face starts reflecting the passage of time the soonest, and most visibly. Studies indicate wrinkles appear on our skin as early as the age of 27.

If it is our face, which betrays our age the first, no wonder it the focus of so much anxiety. This is why we want age-defying intervention.BOTOX, as of now, appears to be the answer to some people’s prayers. Younger and firmer looks seem to be just a few small injections away.BOTOX is actually short for Botulinum Toxin Type A. It is a highly toxic substance and one of its milder side effects is food poisoning.It is actually a protein complex, which is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. What is used in cosmetic surgery is an injectible form of this toxin.This form of the toxin is purportedly sterilized and purified.Some consider BOTOX a poison. They feel this way because it is injected in small doses under the skin. It is reported to work by deadening the underlying muscle, preventing any further movement and thus smoothening out the skin.BOTOX is said to interfere between muscle and nerve interaction. Some feel small doses of this chemical effectively prevent the release of acetylcholine by the nerve cells.This neuro-chemical transfers signals to muscles, determining their contraction and relaxation. When injected into selected muscles, BOTOX stops them from contracting.Therefore, any present frown lines are ironed away. In fact, within a week they become almost invisible.In the April of the year 2002, the FDA approved the use of BOTOX injections as a treatment for the reduction of frown lines. Since then, it has come to be regarded as the fastest growing anti-aging cure in the country.Keep in mind that the FDA cautions against using Botox more than once in 3 months. Also it recommends that the lowest possible effective dose to be used in a session.There are other, more permanent, options available – if you are inclined towards cosmetic surgery. Procedures like an eyelid tuck (blepharoplasty) and a bow lift (also called a forehead lift) last about 30 to 90 minutes.They are outpatient operations, so you can leave for home the same day. Another option is the face lift (or rhytidectomy) – a slightly longer operation which can go on for 2 to 4 hours.Patients are advised to stay overnight at the clinic. Although none of these procedures can reduce wrinkles, they very distinctly tighten up a sagging face by literally cutting away any extra bits of facial skin. The recovery period can last from 7 days to a month depending upon the extent of the operation.

However, at the end of it you may be rewarded with a much younger and firmer facial appearance.Given the risks associated with Botox facial treatments like Rejuvinol(TM) deserve a serious look. We have heard that Rejuvinol(TM) available from Amazon and is a product that uses helps give a younger appearance by appearing to smoothing out wrinkles. It’s makers say that it contains the universally recognized Argireline® from Lipotec S.A. The active ingredient in Argireline® is acetyl hexapeptide 3 (AH3), a deep penetrating, powerful amino peptide that helps to relax the intensity and frequency of facial muscle contractions. It just may be a less expensive and invasive way to put your best face forward.Kamau Austin is a health and fitness enthusiast and advocate.He writes on a regular basis on timeless health and fitness tips at the Fit After Forty Blog. See more useful health and fitness news and tips at…