Mettā (Pali) or maitrī (Sanskrit) is benevolence,[1][2] friendliness,[2][3][4][4][5] amity,[3] friendship,[4] good will,[4] kindness,[3][6] close mental union (on same mental wavelength),[4] and active interest in others.[3] It is the first of the four sublime states (Brahmavihāras) and one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism. Mettā is love without the suffering that arises from attachment (known as upādāna).

The cultivation of benevolence (mettā bhāvanā) is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. In the Theravadin Buddhist tradition, this practice begins with the meditator cultivating benevolence towards themselves,[7] then one’s loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers, enemies, and finally towards all sentient beings. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this practice is associated with tonglen(cf.), whereby one breathes out (“sends”) happiness and breathes in (“receives”) suffering.[8] Tibetan Buddhists also practice contemplation of the Brahmavihāras, also called the four immeasurables, which is sometimes called ‘compassion meditation’.[9]

Almost everything there is to know about compassion in a multimedia eBook!

What is the difference between empathy and compassion? Is it possible to train compassion? Can it be measured? How useful is compassion training in schools, clinical settings, and end-of-life care? Can the brain be transformed through mental training?

The free eBook: Compassion. Bridging Practice and Science by Tania Singer andMatthias Bolz describes existing secular compassion training programs and empirical research as well as the experiences of practitioners. The state-of-the-art layout of the eBook includes video clips and a selection of original sound collages by Nathalie Singer, and artistic images by Olafur Eliasson.

In addition, the film Raising Compassion by Tania Singer and Olafur Eliasson brings together workshop participants in a remarkable exchange between science, art, and contemplative practice.


A Critique of Permaculture, Cleaning Out the Stables by Peter Harper [2003]


Cleaning out the stables.

Peter Harper

Centre for Alternative Technology


[Introductory remark: This is a slightly modified version of an article originally written for

the Permaculture magazine in the late 90s. You have to make allowance for its age and the

passage of time, but I would stand by most of what is written].

In Crash on Demand, David Holmgren not only updates Future Scenarios (2007) work but also builds on his essay Money vs Fossil Energy: The battle for control of the world (2009), as a running commentary on the rapid changes in the big picture context for permaculture activism, especially in the Australian context.  It assumes understanding of these previous works and, of course permaculture.  ‘Preaching to the choir’ it may be, but hopefully it contributes new perspectives to keep permaculture activists ahead of the game.

Permaculture teaching and activism have always aimed to work with those already interested in changing their lives, land and communities for the better, rather than proselytising the disinterested majority.  Over many decades, idealistic youth have responded positively to the ‘can-do’, personal empowerment of permaculture design, but it has also attracted more experienced citizens disillusioned with top down mainstream environmentalism’s failure to stop the juggernaut of consumer capitalism.  Similarly, disillusioned social and political activists are just starting to recognise permaculture as a potentially effective pathway for societal change as 20th century style mass movements seem to have lost their potency.

David’s argument is essentially that radical, but achievable, behaviour change from dependent consumers to responsible self-reliant producers (by some relatively small minority of the global middle class) has a chance of stopping the juggernaut of consumer capitalism from driving the world over the climate change cliff.  It maybe a slim chance, but a better bet than current herculean efforts to get the elites to pull the right policy levers; whether by sweet promises of green tech profits or alternatively threats from mass movements shouting for less consumption.

Crash on demand (2Mg pdf)

Solar water disinfection

Water can be disinfected and in this way made drinkable using the rays of the sun. “Solar water disinfection” – SODIS for short – thus offers a solution for preventing diarrhoea, one of the most common causes of death among people in developing countries.

Clean drinking water in 6 hours

The SODIS method is ideal for treating water for drinking in developing countries. All it requires is sunlight and PET bottles. How does it work? Clear PET bottles are filled with the water and set out in the sun for 6 hours. The UV-A rays in sunlight kill germs such as viruses, bacteria and parasites (giardia and cryptosporidia). The method also works when air and water temperatures are low.

People can use the SODIS method to treat their drinking water themselves. The method is very simple and its application is safe. It is particularly suitable for treating relatively small quantities of drinking water.


Many scientific studies confirmed the effectiveness of the SODIS method. It kills germs in water very efficiently. The method has even been shown to improve the health of the population. Research into training strategies gave insight about which communication methods are most suitable. It has also been proven that the use of PET bottles in the SODIS method is harmless.

Solar water disinfection is a type of portable water purification that uses solar energy to make biologically-contaminated (e.g. bacteria, viruses, protozoa and worms) water safe to drink. Water contaminated with non-biological agents such as toxic chemicals or heavy metals require additional steps to make the water safe to drink.

There are three primary subsets of solar water disinfection:

  1. Electric. Solar disinfection using the effects of electricity generated by photovoltaic panels (solar PV).
  2. Heat. Solar thermal water disinfection.
  3. UV. Solar ultraviolet water disinfection.

Solar disinfection using the effects of electricity generated by photovoltaics typically uses an electric current to deliver electrolytic processes which disinfect water, for example by generating oxidative free radicals which kill pathogens by damaging their chemical structure. A second approach uses stored solar electricity from a battery, and operates at night or at low light levels to power an ultraviolet lamp to perform secondary solar ultraviolet water disinfection.

Solar thermal water disinfection uses heat from the sun to heat water to 70-100 °C for a short period of time. A number of approaches exist here. Solar heat collectors can have lenses in front of them, or use reflectors. They may also use varying levels of insulation or glazing. In addition, some solar thermal water disinfection processes are batch-based, while others (through-flow solar thermal disinfection) operate almost continuously while the sun shines. Water heated to temperatures below 100 °C is generally referred to as Pasteurized water.

High energy ultraviolet radiation from the sun can also be used to kill pathogens in water. The SODIS method uses a combination of UV light and increased temperature (solar thermal) for disinfecting water using only sunlight and plastic PET bottles. SODIS is a free and effective method for decentralized water treatment, usually applied at the household level and is recommended by the World Health Organization as a viable method for household water treatment and safe storage.[1] SODIS is already applied in numerous developing countries. Educational pamphlets on the method are available in many languages,[2] each equivalent to the English-language version.[3]

LifeStraw personal water filter

Published on Jan 7, 2014
Krik of Black Owl Outdoors shows you the LifeStraw personal water filter. Light, compact and inexpensive; the LifeStraw is perfect for camping, hiking, and backpacking.

Published on Jun 5, 2013
See the LIFESAVER bottle in action with Michael Pritchard, drinking directly from the river on the move!

Gravity-Driven Membrane (GDM) technology

Inadequate access to microbiologically safe drinking water continuously threatens the health and well-being of more than a billion people, primarily in developing countries. In many areas worldwide the central water infrastructure is not available at all, or not reliable, leading to unsafe water at the tap. In such cases, decentralized water treatment can be used.

Ultrafiltration is an effective technology to treat water and in principle can be applied on a decentralized scale. Most ultrafiltration membranes have pores which are smaller than the size of bacteria and viruses. Thus, water filtered through these membranes is microbiologically safe.

During dead-end ultrafiltrtion all macro- and microorganisms, particles and colloids accumulate on the membrne surface and a fouling layer is formed. Backflushing or chemical cleaning are usually used during conventional ultrafiltration to remove fouling layer. This prevents the membrane from clogging, which is expected to occur during filtration on a long term. However, backflushing or cleaning results in complex and maintenance-intensive systems, which are difficult to operate on a long term in developing countries.

Sustainable Diets

Understanding Sustainable Diets: A Descriptive Analysis of the Determinants and Processes That Influence Diets and Their Impact on Health, Food Security, and Environmental Sustainability1,2,3

The confluence of population, economic development, and environmental pressures resulting from increased globalization and industrialization reveal an increasingly resource-constrained world in which predictions point to the need to do more with less and in a “better” way. The concept of sustainable diets presents an opportunity to successfully advance commitments to sustainable development and the elimination of poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, and poor health outcomes. This study examines the determinants of sustainable diets, offers a descriptive analysis of these areas, and presents a causal model and framework from which to build. The major determinants of sustainable diets fall into 5 categories: 1) agriculture, 2) health, 3) sociocultural, 4) environmental, and 5) socioeconomic. When factors or processes are changed in 1 determinant category, such changes affect other determinant categories and, in turn, the level of “sustainability” of a diet. The complex web of determinants of sustainable diets makes it challenging for policymakers to understand the benefits and considerations for promoting, processing, and consuming such diets. To advance this work, better measurements and indicators must be developed to assess the impact of the various determinants on the sustainability of a diet and the tradeoffs associated with any recommendations aimed at increasing the sustainability of our food system.

The Chicago Council8 found in its study, Bringing Agriculture to the Table, that diet-related noncommunicable diseases are on track to rise by 15% by 2020 if current trends in the global commercialization of processed foods continue to be overconsumed by an increasingly less active global population (1). Currently, the global food system is estimated to contribute to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs). With the global population expected to rise to 9 billion or more people by 2050, the Foresight Project9 found that rising demand to transport, store, and consume the most resource-intensive food types (namely dairy and meat) in developing economies will further increase the contributions of food and agriculture to environmental degradation and climate change (4). At the same time, the Livewell Project10 found that UK diets could in fact be rebalanced in line with the government’s dietary guidelines (the Eatwell Plate) to achieve GHGE targets for 2020 by substantially reducing meat and dairy consumption (19). However, looking to GHGE targets for 2050, researchers noted that changes would be needed in both food production and consumption to reach these longer-term targets (7). Recent analysis of the new Nordic Diet found that improvements in GHGEs and other environmental wins could be achieved by improving production, reducing transportation, and changing food types (20). Similar recommendations followed an analysis of dietary shifts in France (21).