TRADITION, EDUCATION, NEW TRENDS IN SCIENCE, AND FINDING A REAL SENSEI

Antique Traditional Books

 

Throught the years I had being a sort of an Iconoclastic, or at least believed myself to be one, there’s this idea that as we grow older we become more conservative in our outlook, and I am not talking politically, as it is mainly understood , since my political views can be seeing by many as too far left, but in the general outlook in life, age bring changes on the understanding of things, and we learn there’s a kernel of truth, on most outlooks, the only thing you got to be faithful, it is to your own realization of what’s true, as you stand right now, regardless of your previous ideas who no longer prove useful for your growth as a better, and more wiser individual.

Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any individual who challenges “cherished beliefs or venerated institutions on the grounds that they are erroneous or pernicious”.

Iconoclasm

Tradition Weighs a Lot

Anyway as we live we learn, the weight of Tradition counts, and it counts a lot, where knowledge it’s first, and weights like a block of lead, that sinks deep.

A tradition is a belief,  behavior, or Knowledge passed down within a group or society with practical, and symbolic meaning of special significance with origins in the past.

Now when it comes to knowledge it acquire an almost indisputable meaning corroborated by experience, and the practices that go along with it, in order to transmit it to future generations through institutions of learning like Colleges, and Universities, and other centers of learning, practical, artistic, or whatever it is taught there.

The scholarly method or scholarship is the body of principles and practices used by scholars to make their claims about the world as valid and trustworthy as possible, and to make them known to the scholarly public. It is the methods that systemically advance the teaching, research, and practice of a given scholarly or academic field of study through rigorous inquiry. Scholarship is noted by its significance to its particular profession, and is creative, can be documented, can be replicated or elaborated, and can be and is peer-reviewed through various methods.

Scholar At Work

My Take, Freedom To be Wrong?

Now, it always surprise me how people who lack proper education, specially now day, dismiss this knowledge like someone’s opinion, and go on arguing things that had been in the past set by Scientist, and Scholars as fallacy, useless, worthless, of little value, or just a waste of time, and how by our belief in Democracy we grant everybody to have an opinion, regardless how wrong they are, and not only that, it baffles me, how more than few people really go on in life, with their wrong assumptions, like if it’s   trifle to remain wrong, and ignorant, about issues that science, and scholars had settled down years ago!

And its when I use a phrase, unfortunately too many times: ‘Yes, you have the freedom to express an opinion and be wrong about it, but being wrong it’s nevertheless wrong!’

And frequently tell people, please; I do not want to hear your argument anymore, go study, and find out by yourself, its out there you can read it easily, just go and ask google, your opinion means nothing, knowledge it’s not a democracy, it’s a meritocracy, and that’s why when you go to school your opinion it’s worthless when you in a test,  give the improper answers to the questions, and the teacher marks them as wrong, and you fail your test, If you want to make the grade you got to study harder, end of the story.

Fails-Examination

Contemporary Outlook

Now, in previous post I had made emphasis in how despite our great Scholar tradition in the West, we keep confusing our democratic political ways, with the right to express the most disparate opinions, beliefs, and ideas we may harbor, with total impunity.

Now I will be the first to say Science, doesn’t have all the answers, or at least not yet, but what they discover to be false, rarely they are wrong, and whatever the issue it’s put to rest, and believe lot of scientist dismiss too easily our subjective Self, forgetting our solpsistic subjective nature.

Solipsism(/ˈsɒlɪpsɪzəm/; from Latin solus, meaning ‘alone’, andipse, meaning ‘self’) is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.

Original Self

Today some Scientist seems to be entering the field of Science Fiction, with concepts like Multiverses, Singularities, Simulation theory, Hologram Universe, a Matrix sort of scenarios, Retroactive Precognition,  etc. Some scientist skeptics are denying the whole thing, or just being  dubious, since they adhere to what you can explain, and prove by testing, and consider those matters more speculative than real, sort of mind games.

One way or another one we have come a long way, it seem the future promise a lot, however most semiconductor industry forecasters, including Gordon Moore, expect Moore’s law will end by around 2025. In April 2005, Gordon Moore stated in an interview that the projection cannot be sustained indefinitely: “It can‘t continue forever. So will see.

Brain Like Computer Technology

My Sensei

Coming back  to my point about knowledge, either you have it, or you don’t, and our Western way of doing things gets on the way many times from acquiring Real, and proper knowledge.

When you do not have knowledge all you got are vague ideas, opinions, and a tendency to idealize, or believe things should be this way, rather as they are, and that in Buddhism, and other Asian ways, are called Maya, or illusion.

I got to confess that for about five years, of my practice of twelve years, with my Sensei, also a Soto Zen priest, I didn’t liked the guy, I mean,  even from the first day, I found him overbearing, autocratic, despotic, and learning under him was a ruthless, demanding task, his only rule was you would do my way, or the highway!

Now you may wonder how come I went with him, instead of someone else?

Sensei in seiza

Well, for years I wanted to practice under a qualified, and knowledgeable Sensei, and looked for a Dojo all over Los Angeles, as soon as I set there over 32 years ago, his Dojo, was the first that by chance I checked out, and left thinking to myself, this is not what I am looking for, in my total ignorance I disliked Sensei, that by misjudging him,  thought as a petty tyrant, even if the Dojo impressed me a lot, by it’s artistic beauty, pulchritude, and discipline, and through the years now, still feel it was a special privilege to be there, and studying with him. And I am sure a lot of my Senpai and Kohai, feel the same way.

Well I checked for the next two weeks many other Dojos, and by chance, and circumstance, Sensei Dojo was the more suitable to my needs, on the way from work, to home, the class schedule was also ideal, classes hours were daily during the evenings, and if you had mornings free, there were also classes early on the morning of every day, and I could come and practice if I wanted for 21 classes on a week, or close to 90 on a month, for the same monthly fee, even if it was a little more expensive than the other Dojos, missing a day wasn’t a big deal, since you could catch up right the next day, unlike many who offered you only 3 classes a week, you miss a class, and well you only get two.

I regret to say I wasn’t one of those who took advantage of such a deal, being happy with practicing six, or seven classes a week at most, sometimes, more, or less, depending if I stayed for second class.

Sensei and Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Now, my late Sensei was old school, an Ushi-deshi of the late Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and he taught us the traditional method passed into him, by his instructors at Hombu Dojo in Japan, many of them World renown Sensei, like Seigo Yamagushi, and many others.

At his Dojo we did Shugyo, that means “determined training that fosters enlightenment”. Its purpose is to “tighten the slack”, toughen the body, and polish the spirit. Dojo is a place where the Do, or “the Way”, is practiced.

At our Dojo, you did not talk, if not addressed by him to do so, you did not ask questions, and you followed his instructions, like if your whole life depended on it, you did not talk to your classmates during class, or even warming up, if it was not strictly necessary, and he was the most demanding of teachers, when it come to the practice, he would not take, or accept an excuse, period.

He ruled the Dojo with an iron fist!

He had at the entrance of our Dojo a sign in Japanese that said: ‘Watch your step’ and we learnt the meaning of those words the hard way.

Well it took me years to appreciate, what he had to offer, and gave to me, why?

Because simply put, I didn’t knew better, my Western education, didn’t prepared me to understand him, I evaluated him accordingly to my preconceived ideas, and didn’t knew the first thing of anything, he was trying to teach us, so earnestly he was dedicated, for us to learn what he knew.

Basically that good things can come to us by our own effort,  at a great cost, maybe painfully, and with hardship, but  ending in losing the fear of not being adequate to the task, giving our utmost effort, without holding back.

Sensei sword

Did I learnt anything? You bet!

And a lot more than good technique, but proper Etiquette, proper behavior, mind alertness, beginner’s mind ( a mind always ready to learn), proper attitude, endurance, perseverance, patience, discipline, courage, and many great teachings, and deep Spiritual values that a good Sensei teach to his disciples. Despite his human shortcomings, as we all have, he dedicated his life to give us the great gift of learning the Wonderful Art that was passed to him, in the Traditional Way he was taught, and even more, giving us his experience, and wisdom, acquired by training as a Soto Zen priest.

Thank you Sensei, I apologize for my lack of talent, and my laziness, and my initial misunderstanding of what you were trying to teach us, indeed, you gave us a precious gift, that I should treasure for life.

Os Sensei!

With Sensei at the New Otani

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ALEXANDRIA LIBRARY, WHY DON’T YOU ASK IT TO YOUR MAGIC MIRROR? AND OTHER REFLECTIONS.

Alexandria Library

Tear down pyramids, wipe out cities!

:40:04

How dare you and the rest of your
barbarians set fire to my library?

:40:10

Play conqueror all you want,
mighty Caesar.

:40:13

Rape, murder, pillage thousands,
millions of human beings.

:40:17

But neither you nor
any other barbarian…

:40:21

…has the right to destroy
one human thought!

William Shakespeare

 Julius Caesar

Alexandria Library Diagram

When young at school in early age I learnt about the Alexandria library, something that as a young reader excited my imagination , and saw  the burning of the library of Alexandria as such a tragedy. It was one of the greatest libraries in human history, holding a vast archive of manuscripts and books from all over the ancient world, and what our ancients would have themselves considered ancient. It was built after the famous Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and acquired knowledge from all parts of the globe. From East to West, the teachings of multiple civilizations throughout human history up to that time could be found in the great library.

The books contained in this library touched upon every subject that concerns humanity, from health, science, and astronomy to geology, philosophy, mysticism, magic, knowledge of the spiritual world, and much more.

Libraries as such were well known to multiple ancient civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Greece, who were very impressed by Oriental knowledge. There is literary evidence of Greek individuals visiting Egypt specifically to acquire knowledge:e.g., Herodotus, Plato (particularly in Phaedrus and Timaeus), Theophrastus, and Eudoxus of Cnidus (as detailed by Diogenes Laërtius in the 3rd century CE).

The Royal Library of Alexandria,

The Royal Library of Alexandria or Ancient Library of Alexandria

Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, with collections of works, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and gardens. Alexandria was considered the capital of knowledge and learning, in part because of the Great Library. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied.

The library was created by Ptolemy I Soter, who was a Macedonian general and the successor of Alexander the Great. Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls. It is unknown precisely how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, but estimates range from 40,000 to 400,000 at its height.

Arguably, this library is most famous for having been burned down resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books; its destruction has become a symbol for the loss of cultural knowledge. Sources differ on who was responsible for its destruction and when it occurred. The library may in truth have suffered several fires over many years. In addition to fires, at least one earthquake damaged the city and the library during this time. Possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria include a fire set by the army of Julius Caesar in 48 BC and an attack by Aurelian in the 270s AD.

Well, as a child I cried the loss of the library, as much as Shakespeare did, and I am sure, as much, as every other bibliophile in history, since so many years ago.

The New Library

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The idea of reviving the old library dates back to 1974, when a committee set up by Alexandria University selected a plot of land for its new library, between the campus and the seafront, close to where the ancient library once stood. The notion of recreating the ancient library was adopted by other individuals and agencies. One leading supporter of the project was former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; UNESCO was also quick to embrace the concept of endowing the Mediterranean region with a center of cultural and scientific excellence. An architectural design competition was organized by UNESCO in 1988 to choose a design worthy of the site and its heritage. The competition was won by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural office, from among more than 1,400 entries. The first pledges were made for funding the project at a conference held in 1990 in Aswan: USD $65 million, mostly from the Arab states. Construction work began in 1995 and, after some USD $220 million had been spent, the complex was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2002.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trilingual, containing books in Arabic, English, and French. In 2010, the library received a donation of 500,000 books from the National Library of France, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The gift makes the Bibliotheca Alexandrina the sixth-largest Francophone library in the world. The BA also is now the largest depository of French books in the Arab world, surpassing those of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, in addition to being the main French library in Africa.

Bookshelves in bibliotheca Alexandrina

Building and library features

The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 20,000 square meters (220,000 sq ft) on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory. The library’s architecture is equally striking. The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-paneled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 m in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts.

The collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina were donated from all over the world. The Spanish donated documents that detailed their period of Moorish rule. The French also donated, giving the library documents dealing with the building of the Suez Canal.

Bibliotecha Alexandrina Inside

Why don’t you ask it, to your Magic Mirror?

Ironically in the course of my life, since the days I felt sadness as many before me, for such loss, now day things have changed to the point, where libraries are not even fashionable, and some may question their value, as a public service, since we live in the digital age, with computers, and the Internet, libraries are mainly museums to the past, despite being one, of the now rapidly diminishing amount of people, who prefer to hold a paper book in my hands, rather than a tablet, or read it on my computer screen.

Which take me to another issue, the many times, I have to remind people who carry the library of my childhood dreams, at the tip of their fingertips, and still ask me all sort of questions, and I remind them often with these words:

Why don’t you ask it, to your Magic Mirror?

You got no idea, the many puzzlement faces I got to see, until, suddenly they catch my meaning, and reach for their phone!

Like Magic, doesn’t it?

The magic Wonder, of wonders, who, could have told me then?

The wondrous Magic mirror, of the evil Queen, Merlin’s amazing crystal, gazing ball, right there, at the fingertips, of every Tom, Dick and Harry, all these, numberless, absent minded people, who use it for trivial things, like chatting, texting, exchanging jokes, and some no better, than the evil Queen,  as a mere vanity tool, instead of a new depository of wisdom like the ancient Alexandria library of yore.

To each his own…I guess.

Asking to the Magic Mirror

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Library of Alexandria, Cultural Attitudes, History, Impermanence, Knowledge, On Reading, Progress, Science, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 73 Comments

AMERICA THE LAND OF WEIRD POLITICS, EXCEPTIONALISM, AND OF COURSE, THE REST OF US, AND THOSE WHO WHO SUFFER IT

Statue ofL liberty

Everything that everyone is afraid of has already happened: The fragility of capitalism, which we don’t want to admit; the loss of the empire of the United States; and American exceptionalism. In fact, American exceptionalism is that we are exceptionally backward in about fifteen different categories, from education to infrastructure.

James Hillman

American exceptionalism? Exceptional at what? Waging wars against innocent people for fake reasons? Exceptional at what? Being addicted to pharmaceutical drugs that have people’s minds wasted? Exceptional at what? Eating more junk food and becoming the most obese nation on Earth?

Gerald Celente

American exceptionalism is the recurring character in the nation’s narrative.

Ron Fournier

It is not that I am not a fan of American exceptionalism. That is like saying I am not a fan of the moon being made out of green cheese-it does not exist. Powerful states have quite typically considered themselves to be exceptionally magnificent, and the United States is no exception to that. The basis for it is not very substantial to put it politely.

Noam Chomsky

The conservative version of American exceptionalism has become a password of sorts for candidates who want to prove their credentials to a right-wing America.

Russ Feingold

[American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

The idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional.

Maureen Dowd

There are also fundamental issues related to what the current leader, President [Barack] Obama, said. I am referring to his idea about American exceptionalism. I am skeptical about this idea.

Vladimir Putin

Christian nation mythologists pump themselves up with narratives of American exceptionalism and Christian domination. But sooner or later even their most devoted followers should begin to see that also depicting it as vulnerable to non-existent threats undermines the myth itself.

Sarah Posner

I think where [Donald Trump] loses most hawkish republicans is when he talking about how much he likes [Vladimir] Putin. That should make any person who believe in the American exceptionalism, incredibly uncomfortable.

John McCain

655470145AA00520_Republican

People get tired of talking about American exceptionalism, but I think this is an extraordinary thing about the United States, that we are a nation of immigrants, first of all, that is built upon a pluralistic society of native people that were here to begin with. The issue of diversity is really with us from the beginning.

Diana L. Eck

We have had a long held myth of American exceptionalism.

Lisa Ling

American patriotism is now jingoism. American Greatness is made fun of. The concept of “Make America Great Again” or American exceptionalism is lampooned. It is impugned. It is attacked. The effort to globalize our society and make us feel, as many of us as possible, that there’s nothing special about being an American, that we ought to think of ourselves as citizens of the world, and in that context America is a problem because we have too much, we’ve done too much, we owe too much, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Rush Limbaugh

It’s a deft trick to turn American exceptionalism into an exceptional political tactic.

Ron Fournier

We are going to lead once again by being the best. We’re gonna lead economically. We’re gonna lead technologically. We’re gonna go back to the Moon, we’re gonna do whatever we’re gonna do. We are going to lead by engaging in American exceptionalism and this is going to inspire others to come along with us. We’re not shrinking away from anybody. We are reengaging. That’s what Trump is, and that’s what Democrats don’t see.

Rush Limbaugh

“Well, I learned a lot….I went down to (Latin America) to find out from them and (learn) their views. You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries.” President Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

 

America a great Nation

Now there’s no doubt in my mind, America it’s a great Nation, build on new ideas, new principles, like all men are equal, freedom, the constitution, our Founding Fathers, men of great vision, with a great past, and great accomplishments to be proud of.

However we can’t go on living from past glories, just the way we cannot live from the money we inherited from our grandfathers, when we  spend it already.

Each generation has the moral duty to be great, we can’t go on living in what we were, but in who we are now, and what we got, already we have spent our capital, things have changed, and it’s time to begin again.

Founding Fathers

 

My Experience

I got to confess before coming to America  my experience in politics was one of abstention, and skepticism when it come to politicians, and knew nothing of American politics.

Well, that had changed a little bit, still need to learn a lot, but my skepticism about politicians and the value of their word, remain unchanged.

As an anecdote when looking for quotes about exceptionalism, not surprising Rush Limbaugh had many,  a character with a lot of followers in America, but plagued by a lousy reputation for veracity, and accuracy, basically an ideologist of the far right.

“I Used To Think It Was Funny: Before the Right Wing Media Supplanted Moderate-Conservativism, Created an Ideological Monopoly, and Became a De-facto Propaganda Arm for the Extreme Right’s Agenda.”

Tim Fearnside

Limbaugh -Trump

When I first got here, I was baffled about the difference between Republicans, and Democrats, to me, they didn’t seem that different, today even less! And what I gather, it’s that the Democrats with the years, in the effort of pleasing the jingoistic masses, and Capital, had lost their old values and become closer to the right way of  thinking, as opposed to their traditional left views of being there for the little guy, in a country where the word Left, no longer means what it used to be, but become a vilified word by the media, who of course paid by big money works tirelessly to make it so. And why not say it, Democrats leaders had abandoned those ideals, courting the almighty dollar, and become too fond of realpolitiks as defined by the dictionary:

‘A system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.’

It is often simply referred to as pragmatism in politics, e.g. “pursuing pragmatic policies”. The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are perceived as coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian.

Hillary Clinton In Defeat

On the other side

Most people who follow politics are aware that something unusual is going on in the Republican party — unusual relative to major conservative parties in other developed democracies and unusual relative to American history. GOP leaders no longer appear in control of their own agenda. Instead, they are being dragged from crisis to failure to embarrassment and back to crisis by the most extreme elements of their coalition. The far right has captured the party.

Here are some opinions of what’s going on in a forum:

‘They are becoming too intrusive and extreme like the far right did in Germany.

They are doing what Nazis did and taking control of peoples private rights (women’s reproductive rights). They are forcing their religious values by making laws based on them. They are intolerant of anyone that is NOT white. They spread lies and propaganda just like the Nazis. They are trying to destroy government and take over with privatization and a feudal system of economics. They pledge oaths to unelected politicians (Grover Norquist/a Muslim sympathizer, married to one). They are isolationist. They are taking dictator-type control over cities in states like MI and their rights to elect who they want. Election Rigging and they are very scary. They want to destroy education and want to rid the country of the elderly and poor and non-white people.’

‘Yes the Republican Party are acting more and more like fascists

They don’t listen to what anyone has to say. It is their way or the highway. They believe it is fine to disrespect the President and office of the Presidency. They feel that the old way is the glory way. They long to go back to a time where women were subservient and stayed home and had babies. They act as though they are the only game in town. They are bigoted, hypocrites that want you to do as they say not as they do. They would love to turn the world back to the 1950’s where the women wore pearls and only said perky things. And Father only knew best. They have done nothing positive for anyone but themselves since they have been in power. We can only hope they go the way of the dinosaur.’

‘The extreme right of the Republican are not conservatives, they are Fascists.

Fascism of any shade has certain common core characteristics:

1. Nationalism

2. Sexism and Misogyny
3. Strong mixture of state and religion
4. Militarism
5. Protection of the cooperate class
6. Disregard of Human rights when deemed necessary
7. Fraudulent elections through use of powerful monied interests, gerrymandering, and voting suppression and intimidation.’

Protest-no-pubic-option

Comparisons are Hateful, but Necessary, the fact America it’s no longer Number one.

I kind of smile at the duplicity of our media, every so often, there’s an article on the newspapers where Norway it’s listed as: Norway ranked as the best place to live in the United Nation’s annual Human Development Report. It ranked the highest out of nearly 200 countries, forgetting to mention to the many readers, what was our actual rank, most people write comments indignant believing we are naturally the second behind Norway, by omission (not mentioning our rank) they lie of course, maintaining the illusion we are right behind when in fact in 2017 ranked in the eleventh place!

The Human poverty Index we are rated even lower; seventeen.

Quality of life Index: Sixteen

For many decades throughout the 20th century, the United States was recognized as having the highest standard of living in the world. Per capita income is high but also less evenly distributed than in most other developed countries; as a result, the United States fares particularly well in measures of average material well being that do not place weight on equality aspects.

In other words, if based on an individual count, rather than on an average of the highest, with the lowest, we will rate even far lower, which means a lot of people actually live way far below of sixteen, sad but true,  it’s a fact our cities had deteriorated, their infrastructure, as well as our jobs, and living standards, we still live pretty well if compared to so named third World countries, but we no longer can claim top honors.

Homeless Patriot

The Homeless

The number of homeless people grew in the 1980s, as housing and social service cuts increased. After many years of advocacy and numerous revisions, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 1987; this remains the only piece of federal legislation that allocates funding to the direct service of homeless people. Over the past decades, the availability and quality of data on homelessness has improved considerably. About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. Homelessness in the United States increased after the Great Recession.

I guess depends much where you live, to be a witness, and feel the effect of it, at least visually, and worst, if you are one of the ones suffering it, but in the big cities it’s just another fact of life.

Homeless on Train ride in Los Angeles

Now, I am not talking out of my liberal heart, as some may think, just to criticize how bad the homeless problem is, I did ride three of the mos busiest bus lines, and the metro Red line in the city of Los Angeles, and I can tell you horror stories a mile long about the problems of sharing a ride with many of the homeless, that by the way, have free unrestricted access to the services, and rightly so, many times they use it as a home, or shelter, and some misbehave greatly, creating mayhem, and inconveniencing many other riders, few even dangerous, a daily reminder of what is wrong in America.

Some personal friends of mine, at work would patiently listen to my ‘Baba’s’ stories, as  named by them, (like in India graciously name mendicants ) about my daily rides, and laugh about my adventures, it was fun for them to listen, but I assure you, most of the time, it wasn’t fun for me, or the many riders who just wanted a peaceful, and uneventful ride to work, or back home after a day of toll at work. The idea of writing a chapter on a book   dedicated to the encounters, and many incidents I witness over those twenty two years, had crossed my mind, a close friend even got the idea of making a coffee table book with the pictures, and the many stories, with a title like: Meetings with Remarkable Babas!

Homeless Veteran

And to the surprise of the many European tourist, and the many following conversations, I had with them about the disparity between the wealth of the surroundings, and the sad scenes witnessed by them on the rides, and in the streets, of some of our wealthiest communities, their expression usually was: ‘Such a shame.’

And I will not touch on this post mass shootings, and gun control issues, a great tragedy, but also a fact of life in America.

Yes, I agree, a real shame.

Rows of Homless on many streets

 

 

The late George Carlin

May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008

Posted in A World in Crisis, American Hubris, Crisis of Values, Critical Thinking, Criticism, Cultural Attitudes, Democracy, Disillusion with Capitalism, Exceptionalism, Homeless, Uncategorized, Urban Decay | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

SEMANTICS; WHAT IT ALL MEANS? AND OTHER WAYS OF KNOWING

Viktor-E-Frankl-Quote-Man-s-search-for-meaning-is-the-primary

“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.”

Michael Pollan

“It is not what you meant to say, but it is what your saying meant.”

Walter M. Miller Jr.

Faith is a continuum, and we each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point where we entirely miss the obvious – that is, that we are all trying to decipher life’s big mysteries, and we’re each following our own paths of enlightenment.

Dan Brown

Initially I studied Philosophy, because it claimed to give you answers to the meaning of existence, but it didn’t, it was basically a semantics game.

Talulah Riley

A major gap between many people to agree, stems from how  to define some of the most basic terms, such is  the importance of Semantics, and meaning.

B.A.

Searching for meaning

The structure of concepts

Cognitive semantics has sought to challenge traditional theories in two ways: first, by providing an account of the meaning of sentences by going beyond truth-conditional accounts; and second, by attempting to go beyond accounts of word meaning that appeal to necessary and sufficient conditions. It accomplishes both by examining the structure of concepts.

I will not go too much in depth to the current state of the study of Semantics, since it will be too long, and I am afraid boring to many of the readers, but I will encapsulate some basic concepts, forewarning the reader that Semantics it’s a big field, with many having something to say that is important, but it’s not possible for this post to mention everything.

Frame semantics, developed by Charles J. Fillmore, attempts to explain meaning in terms of their relation to general understanding, not just in the terms laid out by truth-conditional semantics. Fillmore explains meaning in general (including the meaning of lexemes) in terms of “frames”. By “frame” is meant any concept that can only be understood if a larger system of concepts is also understood.

Same Word different frames of reference

First, it has been noted that word meaning is an extension of our bodily and cultural experiences. For example, the notion of restaurant is associated with a series of concepts, like food, service, waiters, tables, and eating. These rich-but-contingent associations cannot be captured by an analysis in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, yet they still seem to be intimately related to our understanding of “restaurant”.

Cognitive linguistics (CL) an interdisciplinary branch of linguistics, combining knowledge and research from both psychology and linguistics. It describes how language interacts with cognition, how language forms our thoughts, and the evolution of language parallel with the change in the common mindset across time.

What words mean?

Semantics is the study of meaning in language. When one is disagreeing with another person it can sometimes be the case that it is just a matter of semantics.

This means the people disagreeing may have a disagreement only because they ascribe different meaning to a particular word(s). Once a common definition of the word is agreed the disagreement may then be resolved.

A common one between USA and UK citizens is the word socialism. I have often heard USA citizens describe the UK as a socialist country because they have universal healthcare. Meanwhile the UK citizens  don’t consider it a socialist country as we have a capitalist economy and universal healthcare is considered every citizen’s right. To argue it is a socialist country would be a matter of semantics.

She said He said

Misunderstanding as a fact of language.

With all these, by now I figure you are getting the point, language, as in words have a meaning, and it’s variable as to the frame of mind of a particular individual, in relations, to those words, that may hold different values to the other person in an argument.

Rather than blame it on the other person, blame it on the nature of Language!

And on our own frame of reference, in order to organize concepts, and meaning, that by force of a particular frame (our own) will be necessarily different to other people frames, therefore a matter of disagreement, before I used to get frustrated, when someone stubbornly stick to his frame, now day realize my own stubbornness to try to stick to mine!

Recently when I pointed to a fellow blogger, it was useless,  to elucidate the issue a mile long of responses, in the post, where arguing with words and concepts, since the topic is basically inexhaustible, and in my opinion useless to take one approach, or another one, and why wiser individuals, rather remain silent, or call it a Mystery.

the_neverending_dreamer_by_parablev

And that in itself language wasn’t a reliable tool to capture Truth, and he used as a reply to my point that everything could be explained with a fancy theological word, that I would omit, since it’s no relevant to the point I want to make. So I  mentioned: ‘The word you are using, it’s just that, a word with meanings, and concepts attached to it, that in itself is no proof of it’s validity, although personally, sympathize with what you say.’

Without even thinking  he replied instantly with different words, with a more mundane frame, believing it will make me change my mind, about my skepticism on the value of words, to capture Truth!

I didn’t reply, reasoning he never got the message I was trying to communicate, that basically Truth it’s not an experience we can elaborate with words, where actually Silence, and Contemplation it’s more meaningful..!

The value of Parables,  Metaphors and Symbols

The word parable comes from the Greek παραβολή (parabolē), meaning “comparison, illustration, analogy.”[5] It was the name given by Greek rhetoricians to an illustration in the form of a brief fictional narrative.

Parables are often used to explore ethical concepts in spiritual texts. The Bible contains numerous parables in the Gospels section of the New Testament (Jesus’ parables). These are believed by some scholars (such as John P. Meier) to have been inspired by mashalim, a form of Hebrew comparison. Parables also appear in Islam. In Sufi tradition, parables are used for imparting lessons and values. And in General, they are common to Sacred texts to diverse Religions, some today named as Mythologies, however possessing pedagogic qualities to explain meaning, or moral as a noun, through a story.

Jesus Carried up to a Pinnacle of the Temple (Jésus porté sur le pinacle du Temple)

A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly refers to one thing by mentioning another for rhetorical effect. It may provide clarity or identify hidden similarities between two ideas. Antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy and simile are all types of metaphor.

Aristotle said in his work the Rhetoric that metaphors make learning pleasant; “To learn easily is naturally pleasant to all people, and words signify something, so whatever words create knowledge in us are the pleasantest.

Sonja Foss characterizes metaphors as being “non-literal comparisons in which a word or phrase from one domain of experience is applied to another domain”.[ She argues that since reality is mediated by the language we use to describe it, the metaphors we use shape the world and our interactions to it.

Gustav_Klimt Danae

Jung distinguished between a symbol and a sign. Insignia on uniforms, for instance, are not symbols but signs that identify the wearer. In dealing with unconscious material (dreams, fantasies, etc.) the images can be interpreted semiotically, as symptomatic signs pointing to known or knowable facts, or symbolically, as expressing something essentially unknown.

The interpretation of the cross as a symbol of divine love is semiotic, because “divine love” describes the fact to be expressed better and more aptly than a cross, which can have many other meanings. On the other hand, an interpretation of the cross is symbolic when it puts the cross beyond all conceivable explanations, regarding it as expressing an as yet unknown and incomprehensible fact of a mystical or transcendent, i.e., psychological, nature, which simply finds itself most appropriately represented in the cross. [Ibid., par. 815.]

Whether something is interpreted as a symbol or a sign depends mainly on the attitude of the observer. Jung linked the semiotic and symbolic approaches, respectively, to the causal and final points of view. He acknowledged the importance of both.

Psychic development cannot be accomplished by intention, and will alone; it needs the attraction of the symbol, whose value quantum exceeds that of the cause. But the formation of a symbol cannot take place until the mind has dwelt long enough on the elementary facts, that is to say until the inner, or outer necessities of the life-process, have brought about a transformation of energy. [“On Psychic Energy,” CW 8, par. 47.]

The symbolic attitude is at bottom constructive, in that it gives priority to understanding the meaning, or purpose of psychological phenomena, rather than seeking a reductive explanation.

Hieronymus_Bosch,_The_Last_Judgment

Direct Transmission of Wisdom

Śākyamuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) transmits direct prajña (wisdom) to the disciple Mahākāśyapa. In the original Chinese, the story is Niān huá wéi xiào (拈華微笑, literally “Pick up flower, subtle smile”)

In the story, Śākyamuni gives a wordless sermon to his disciples (sangha) by holding up a  flower. No one in the audience understands the Flower Sermon except Mahākāśyapa, who smiles. Within Zen, the Flower Sermon communicates the ineffable nature of tathātā (suchness) and Mahākāśyapa’s smile signifies the direct transmission of wisdom without words. Śākyamuni affirmed this by saying:

I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle [D]harma [G]ate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahākāśyapa.

Carl Jung and Kerényi demonstrate a possible in intent between the Flower Sermon and the Eleusinian Mysteries:

One day the Buddha silently held up a flower before the assembled throng of his disciples. This was the famous “Flower Sermon.” Formally speaking, much the same thing happened in Eleusis when a mown ear of grain was silently shown. Even if our interpretation of this symbol is erroneous, the fact remains that a mown ear was shown in the course of the mysteries and that this kind of “wordless sermon” was the sole form of instruction in Eleusis which we may assume with certainty.

Śākyamuni gives a wordless sermon to his disciples (sangha) by holding up a white flower. No one in the audience understands the Flower Sermon except Mahākāśyapa

Posted in Buddhism, Critical Thinking, Cultural Attitudes, Education, Human Nature, Knowledge, Language, Metaphors, Mythology, Parables, Subjective, Symbology, Symbols, True Teaching, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

COUNSCIOUSNESS, AND THE HUMAN CONUNDRUM

Golden mannequin head with an explosion of pastel light above

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”  Nikola Tesla

Reality is not what it appears — the ancients knew it, pioneering physicists of the early 20th century knew it, and current leading edge scientists are proving it.

All is mind.

Scientists don’t know where the brain ends and the mind begins. Are they the same thing? What about souls? Are these located in our brains? What is responsible for all of the unique thoughts and feelings that make us who we are? Everyone from philosophers to physicists has taken up this question of consciousness and come up empty.

For a long time, the study of consciousness was considered too far out to study. How do you scientifically study something so subjective? How can what one person feels become something that another person can quantify? But now, in their relentless pursuit to understand every single thing about the world, scientists are trying to figure out what exactly is going on with consciousness.

Though deep metaphysical questions about the nature of a soul, a mind and brain leave questions as to whether this issue is in the realm of scientists, the brain is likely involved in some way with our conscious thoughts. With the help of brain imaging, scientists can watch different parts of the brain light up, and they know they can alter the brain and our consciousness with surgeries or chemicals. But what scientists don’t know is at what stage of the process a firing neuron becomes a conscious thought. The things that make up consciousness may be scattered all over the brain, with different cranial parts responsible for different pieces of a person. But, as we’ve mentioned, there are tons of other brain mysteries about how these parts might work together.

Firing Neuron

The Fundamental Questions

Throughout the ages, Mankind has been trying to answer the big questions — What is the nature of existence and reality, what are we, and why are we here?  In the World of today, with the ascendance of the ideology of scientific materialism, we have a strong tendency to reject anything that doesn’t fit our materialistic paradigm and label it as “mystical”.  We have become mesmerized by the material world.  Materialism and consumerism run rampant in our society. Lured by the apparent success of the reductionist method that we have used to analyze and understand our world, we have come to view the universe as purely a physical system, working something like a great machine, and with matter being the fundamental substance of reality.

Our scientific analytical methods have certainly been successful and have led us to understand the inner workings of matter well enough to create many useful technologies.  But these successes have erroneously led us to conclude that our materialistic view of the universe must be correct and reject other ideas as “mystical” and backward.

The materialistic paradigm persists in the popular and scientific thought despite plenty of evidence that it is indeed not true.  The Theory of Relativity and Quantum Physics have both shown that energy is more fundamental than matter.  Quantum physics in the early 20th century: Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein,  Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Paul Dirac, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Erwin Schrödinger, Richard Feynman, and many others all came  if not to the same conclusion, inclined to believe that everything is energy and that somehow consciousness is intimately intertwined with it.  And yet this insight seems to have been lost since then.  Physicists are still chasing the fundamental “particle”, and focusing on material phenomena rather than focusing on what energy is, how it forms matter, and what other forms can it take.

The Many faces of Counsciouness

‘The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter… we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.

Sir James Hopwood Jeans

Therefore to treat Consciousnesses as a mere derivative of matter, well, it speak more of our age and it’s materialistic, antiquated views, married to a Materialistic view of existence, regardless of the mysterious way things work regarding consciousness.

Space seems to be limitless, despite we know it’s not, but ever expanding , however, all but few,  will acknowledge, or dare to say that the Universe, more than a place it’s a conceptual space, a realm of ideas, and imagination, which makes it inherently unbounded.  What it can create is only limited by its imagination, and it’s imagination is boundless.

Limiteless Imagination

The Kingdom of God Is Within You

I do respect religious beliefs, and those who believe in Jesus, or any of the Prophets, my greatest respect, but Christ is not a person. It is a consciousness that a person achieved. The same potential exists for each of you when you go beyond limited beliefs. You do so upon connecting to your heart, and acquiring Consciousnesses, and Wisdom. ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.’ John 14:12 King James. ‘Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.’ Luke 17:21 King James.

‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seekethfindeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Mathew.’ 7:7-8 King James.

Simply put, the true essence of your being cannot be seen, touched, heard, tasted, or smelled because these are all third dimensional qualities. You’re a spirit that incarnated into your body to have a human experience. Jesus Christ realized this and tried to share it with the masses.

Heaven is Within

The Return of Metaphysics

Thomas Nail a philosopher in it’s essay: Revolution and the Return of Metaphysics, argue that “the real revolution it’s an eternal future politics “to come” beyond the state, party, or market. The revolution is always potential, but never actual. Metaphysics~ and revolution thus share a similar disrepute: it is no longer possible to believe in the real without the mediating forces of language, culture, party, and state. Against this disrepute, this chapter argues that we are witnessing the return of metaphysics and revolution without mediation and political representation. But if this return is not a mere repetition of classical metaphysics and revolutionary statism, what is it? “

I will not go into his convoluted philosophical arguments between Alain Badiou, and Deleuze, about Being, event, and revolution, since in my view revolution, and event, are no longer about political, or social mass forces, as historically conventional we understand them, as a war of political factions, with different views, but about their obsolescence as beneficial forces of change,    and more about individual transformation, that by the weight of it’s numbers eventually will tip up the scales, and will bring  the change needed, without institutionalized hierarchical values, be this democratic, or imposed by power, in other words it will be a matter of people to be transformed by consciousnesses itself, a rapture of sorts, as when the early Christians were possessed by the Holy Spirit. Of course in a more subtle, symbolic way, not in a literal religious iconography, as some of the images here may misguide you.

And I do not imply there will not be struggle, or very hard work ahead of us to bring the change, because it’s implicit in every change.

Too idealistic you may say, but I will paraphrase Karl Rhaner: The people of the future will be either mystics, or saints, or they will not be any humans left at all.

Andrea-Pozzo-San-Ignazio

Posted in A World in Crisis, Being, Capitalism, Christ, Counsciousness, Crisis of Values, Cultural Attitudes, Disillusion with Capitalism, Future, Government and Free Markets, Imagination, Inspiration, Karl Rahner, Materialism, Metaphysics, Mysticism, New Values, Obsolete Government, Plutocracy, Politics, Quantum, Science and Belief, Social Criticism, Transformation, Uncategorized, Values, Western Ideals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

WE LIVE IN EDEN, BUT WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH IT?

Raibow Mountains Gansu, China

So many times I’ve photographed stories that show the degradation of the planet. I had one idea to go and photograph the factories that were polluting, and to see all the deposits of garbage. But, in the end, I thought the only way to give us an incentive, to bring hope, is to show the pictures of the pristine planet – to see the innocence.

Sebastiao Salgado

 

As much as I gree with Mr. Salgado my idea it’s one of   contrast, by showing the beautiful sight of Mother nature, and the ugly, destructive, and sinister side of Men.

Exxon Valdez oil spill workers recover and clean birds soiled by crude oil spilled when the tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, April 6, 1989. (Photo by Bob Hallinen/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images)

There’s not two ways about it, no conservation efforts, rapacious rape of Mother Earth in the name of progress, and profit, or every effort to keep pristine ecological systems in place?

Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable.

 

My question is, can we find a solution to this mess we are in?

The Glory of Autumn

Hardly a day go by when we do not hear of an ecological disaster of one type or another one, in their absence, at least doomsday predictions of more to come!

“We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere… can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.”

Elon Musk

“Our globe is under new dramatic environmental pressure: our globe is warming, our ice caps melting, our glaciers receding, our coral is dying, our soils are eroding, our water tables falling, our fisheries are being depleted, our remaining rain forests shrinking. Something is very, very wrong with our eco-system.”

Richard Lamm

 

“It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.”

David Attenborough

Hurricane Harvey disaster

“If you’d rather live surrounded by pristine objects than by the traces of happy memories, stay focused on tangible things. Otherwise, stop fixating on stuff you can touch and start caring about stuff that touches you.” Martha Beck

“The most important thing about global warming is this. Whether humans are responsible for the bulk of climate change is going to be left to the scientists, but it’s all of our responsibility to leave this planet in better shape for the future generations than we found it.”

Mike Huckabee

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”

Jacques Yves Cousteau

“A very Faustian choice is upon us: whether to accept our corrosive and risky behavior as the unavoidable price of population and economic growth, or to take stock of ourselves and search for a new environmental ethic.”

E. O. Wilson

Waterfalls

“The planet’s biggest problems have to do with sustainability, environmental decline, global poverty, disease, conflict and so forth. Really, they’re all interconnected – it’s one big problem, which is that the way we’re doing things can’t go on.”

Alex Steffen

“We assume that everything’s becoming more efficient, and in an immediate sense that’s true; our lives are better in many ways. But that improvement has been gained through a massively inefficient use of natural resources.”

Paul Hawken

Published scientific studies have found that mountaintop mining has serious environmental impacts that mitigation practices cannot successfully address. A high potential for human health impacts has also been reported. Not to talk about the massive destroying of the natural environment, and wildlife, and surrounding communities.

 

Mountain removal

“What obligation is more binding than to protect the cherished, to defend whoever or whatever cannot defend itself, and to nurture in turn that which has given nourishment? I’m reminded of words written by John Seed, an Australian environmentalist. When he began considering these questions, he believed, “I am protecting the rain forest.” But as his thought evolved, he realized, “I am part of the rain forest protecting myself.”

Richard Nelson, The Island Within

“I love being immersed in nature, going to places in the world that are pristine and untouched by man. It’s almost a religious experience when you go to a place like the Amazon, and there’s no civilization for thousands of miles.”

Leonardo DiCaprio

Pristine Amazon Forest

“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”

Henry David Thoreau

“At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rain forest. Now I realize I am fighting for humanity.”

Chico Mendes

Now my question to you, do you think like Chico Mendes? Who was murdered in December 1988 fighting to save you, and Humanity?

Amazon Forest Destroyed

“Meat is a mighty contributor to climate change and other environmental problems. The amount of meat we’re eating is one of the leading causes of climate change. It’s as important as the kind of car you drive – whether you eat meat a lot or how much meat you eat.”

Michael Pollan

“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The Wasteland was an empty car park behind a long abandoned pub. Minah like it because she said it reminded her of the permanence of concrete in stark contrast to the entropy of humanity. Harrison had dubbed it the Wasteland after the TS Eliot poem, because it was full of disillusionment and despair.”

Lili Wilkinson, The Boundless Sublime

Urban Decay

“The County Jail looked like a tall, forbidding elementary school. Seven stories of dirty brown brick, one hundred years old and now operating at 330 percent of capacity.”

Richard Price, Clockers

“Automation provides us with wondrous increases of production and information, but does it tell us what to do with the men the machines displace? Modern industry gives us the capacity for unparalleled wealth – but where is our capacity to make that wealth meaningful to the poor of every nation?”

Robert Kennedy

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

Mother Teresa

Homeless Everywhere

“Life is now a war zone, and as such, the number of people considered disposable has grown exponentially, and this includes low income whites, poor minorities, immigrants, the unemployed, the homeless, and a range of people who are viewed as a liability to capital and its endless predatory quest for power and profits.”

Henry Giroux

“The world has a very serious problem, my friend’ Shiva went on. ‘Poor children still die by their millions. Westerners and the global rich — like me — live in post-scarcity society, while a billion people struggle to get enough to eat. And we’re pushing the planet towards a tipping point, where the corals die and the forests burn and life becomes much, much harder. We have the resources to solve those problems, even now, but politics and economics and nationalism all get in the way. If we could access all those minds, though…”

Ramez Naam, Crux

Children living in a dump

“Where there is poverty, there will be destruction and exploitation by the corporations and governments benefiting from destroying our rain forests and trafficking wildlife.”

Eileen Anglin

“Life is now a war zone, and as such, the number of people considered disposable has grown exponentially, and this includes low income whites, poor minorities, immigrants, the unemployed, the homeless, and a range of people who are viewed as a liability to capital and its endless predatory quest for power and profits.”

Henry Giroux

“If I could go back to a point in history to try to get things to come out differently, I would go back and tell Moses to go up the mountain again and get the other tablet. Because the Ten Commandments just tell us what we are supped to do with one another, not a word about our relationship to the earth. Genesis starts with these commands: multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it. We have multiplied very well, we have replenished our populations very well, we have subdued it all too well, and we don’t have any other instruction.”

David Brower

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”

Walt Whitman

Wonderful Verenda

“We are being called upon to act against a prevailing culture, to undermine our own entrenched tendency to accumulate and to consume, and to refuse to define our individuality by our presumed ability to do whatever we want.”

Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness

“To save our dying earth, any government which is not environmentalist must go because on earth there are thousands of governments but there in only one earth! Continuing with the eco-traitor stupid governments means an environmental suicide! Enemies of nature are real barbarians and there is no place for these savages in our civilization!”

Mehmet Murat ildan

Deepwater-Horizon

“If you want to save the humankind, you should first take care of Nature.It’s the legacy that we leave behind,That brings us hope, that’s for sure!”
Ana Claudia Antunes, The Fairies of the Four Seasons: The Dance of Time

“Somebody has to be tireless or the fast buck operators would asphalt the entire coast, fill every bay and slay every living thing incapable of carrying a wallet.”

John D. MacDonald, Where is Janice Gantry?

“The future of the next generation relies on astronomers obtaining a full understanding of the rapidly changing human environmental conditions and the halting of biologically toxic corporate government policies. The overloading of the electromagnetic environment is one of these disastrous policies that must stop.”

Steven Magee

“Yes sir, yes madam, I entreat you, get out of those motorized wheelchairs, get off your foam rubber backsides, stand up straight like men! like women! like human beings! and walk-walk-WALK upon our sweet and blessed land!”

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire.

Red sea on the forest

“Extinction, the irrevocable loss of a species, causes pain that can never find relief. It is an ache that will pass from generation to generation for the rest of human history.”

Callum Roberts, The Unnatural History of the Sea

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest

“Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain, For strip-mined mountain’s majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.”
George Carlin

Kuwait oil fields on fire

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”

Ban Ki-moon

“Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”

Evo Morales

“The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth.”

Marlee Matlin

“Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues.”

Bernie Sanders

Bottom Line

Now my point is, which of the two Worldviews you prefer to live in?

Maybe there may be a few odd ones around there, who may choose the wrong view, for whatever personal selfish, twisted reason, but I already know most of you want to look at a rainbow color future picture, than one of destruction and degradation.

So, go out there and fight for it, with all your might, as best as you can, otherwise there will not be any future rainbow picture left for us.
The view over the rainbow

Posted in A World in Crisis, Consciousness, Corruption, Crisis, Disillusion with Capitalism, Doomsday, E.O. Wilson, Ecological Crisis, Ecology, Environment, Extinction of Species, Future, Globalization, Obsolete Government, Over Consumption, Things To Come, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 101 Comments

A POSSITIVE NOTE FOR A NEW YEAR, FOR A CHANGE

 

Aquarius, Ganymedes the water bearer

A good tune, and  nice Rhymes, do not make a song True.

Most astrologers claim that Jesus commenced the Pisces age and most people believe the Age of Aquarius commenced in the 1960s and 70s.  However how can both these facts be true if ages are at least 2150 years in length?  Most projections of what we can expect in the Age of Aquarius is a paradisaical age free from all the problems that have encumbered the world in recent millennia.  Are your Aquarian friends perfect?  Do they stand out as superior to the other 12 signs of the zodiac?  Why should the Age of Aquarius be more positive than any other age?

The Age of Aquarius has become an urban legend ever since the theatrical production of Hair proclaimed “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius ….”  Most newspapers and comments on blogs clearly relate the dawning of the Age of Aquarius to the 1960’s and 70’s when Hair first appeared.  Many people are so disappointed with the direction the world has taken since those inspiring times (for some) of the 60’s and 70’s to the point where the sentiment has become `where is the goddamned Age of Aquarius anyway?’  Some journalists even state that the Age of Aquarius was a 20 year phenomenon applying only the 1960s and 70s and has now died an ignoble death.

The Age of Aquarius” or “Let the Sunshine In

Astrologer Neil Spencer denounced the lyrics as “astrological gibberish”, noting that Jupiter aligns with Mars several times a year (which doesn’t make sense either, since Mars’ orbital year is 687 days) and the moon is in the 7th House for two hours every day. These lines are considered by many to be merely poetic license, though some people take them literally.

Hair singing

In truth there seems little to be positive in our future, All we got to do is to listen, or watch the news, to put us in a somber mood.

Good news stories don’t sell so this list is almost guaranteed to get next to no views. But, despite the deluge of bad news stories that hit us every day there is plenty to be positive about and we think it’s worth putting something out there that challenges the medias bad new bias.

The world is very different in this Aquarian age to date compared to the known historical events of any other age. No other age has seen the human population anywhere near current levels. In no other age could humans light up the world at night (with Aquarius electricity) so that it is observable from space. In no other age could some people fly, watch TV and have all the labor savings devices available in this modern Age of Aquarius. In no other age has any human walked on the Moon.

What is noticeable to date from the Aquarian age is that the benefits seem much greater compared to previous ages and the problems see much greater compared to earlier ages. This in itself satisfies the Aquarian archetype that it must be somehow fundamentally different to other ages.

The Age of Aquarius is not going to save the world. The Age of Aquarius it may rise your consciousness, it may not. The future of the world depends upon the sum of all the people in the world. It is what all the people in the world do that will make things happen. Judging by its track record to date, the problems and benefits in the Age of Aquarius will be much greater than previous. However, there is every reason to believe from the evidence provided by astrology that in this age of uncertainty, there is a much higher chance than normal that the world is heading for a mini-golden age associated with the Libra age-decan of the Age of Aquarius that will be firmly in place as the years, slowly but surely advance, hey I am old enough to remember the sixties!

In astrology, a decan is the subdivision of an astrological sign (zodiac sign). … Each sign is allocated a triplicity, consisting of three of the four classical elements air, water, earth or fire, and is therefore subdivided into three equal parts of 10 degrees each; these parts are referred to as decans or decanates.

And a man’s life it’s brief!

Zodiac map with Aquarius

Uranus Ruler of Aquarius

Uranus had been observed on many occasions before its recognition as a planet, but it was generally mistaken for a star. Possibly the earliest known observation was by Hipparchos, who in 128 BC might have recorded it as a star for his star catalogue that was later incorporated into Ptolemy’s Almagest.]The earliest definite sighting was in 1690, when John Flamsteed observed it at least six times, cataloguing it as 34 Tauri. The French astronomer Pierre Charles Le Monnier observed Uranus at least twelve times between 1750 and 1769,including on four consecutive nights.

Sir William Herschel observed Uranus on 13 March 1781 from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England (now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), and initially reported it (on 26 April 1781) as a comet. Herschel “engaged in a series of observations on the parallax of the fixed stars”,using a telescope of his own design.

Herschel recorded in his journal: “In the quartile near ζ Tauri … either [a] Nebulous star or perhaps a comet.” On 17 March he noted: “I looked for the Comet or Nebulous Star and found that it is a Comet, for it has changed its place.” When he presented his discovery to the Royal Society, he continued to assert that he had found a comet, but also implicitly compared it to a planet.

Although Herschel continued to describe his new object as a comet, other astronomers had already begun to suspect otherwise. Finnish-Swedish astronomer Anders Johan Lexell, working in Russia, was the first to compute the orbit of the new object. Its nearly circular orbit led him to a conclusion that it was a planet rather than a comet. Berlin astronomer Johann Elert Bode described Herschel’s discovery as “a moving star that can be deemed a hitherto unknown planet-like object circulating beyond the orbit of Saturn”. Bode concluded that its near-circular orbit was more like a planet than a comet.

Uranus

This planet (as well Neptune and Pluto) are associated with the unseen aspects of life. Uranus’ domain is akin to that of future-forward Aquarius, the star sign that rules scientific inventions, electricity, innovation and technology. These are all things that require us to stretch beyond our vision and lean in to belief. For example, we might not be able to prove the Uranian, but we feel a certainty about its existence. Even the Internet—which is Uranus’ domain—is a form of virtual reality, if you think about it.

In mythology, Uranus is known as Father Sky who bore children with Gaia, aka. Mother Earth. This is the planet that rules outer space and aeronautics and shows where we want to fly free—without restriction! (Gravity…what’s that?!)  Given these liberated vibes, it’s no surprise that parenting did not come naturally to the Uranus of lore. Legend has it that Father Sky was cruel to his children, burying some in the earth and banishing others. Saturn, one of his sons, even castrated Uranus out of revenge, and Venus was born out of the sea, were Uranus testicles were tossed.

Boticelli, The birth of Venus

What it’s there to be positive?

Well, after unabated bad news, a bad economy, if you are not part of the infamous 1%, and I seriously doubt that, despite a total unenlightened political leadership, almost worldwide there it seems very few things you may feel worth to be happy to celebrate a New year.

But I said we will end in a positive note, and that I will do!

First we are still alive, second all the bad stuff hasn’t sip out my will to live and keep fighting, for whatever it’s just, and wise, regardless of the odds, and if you are reading this, right now you are probably in better shape I am, and I am willing yet to put a fight,  hopefully, so do you!

There are people like us all over the world. You can find your ‘family’ online.

There is always a way. Always.

If you haven’t find it , keep looking!

We have been through a lot of hard times, and somehow we still standing, there’s no reason that if we keep the fight, things would go always the wrong way, finally our day of victory will come up, if you have not giving up, the fight it’s not over, period.

God loves you no matter what! With that knowledge, there is always hope!

There’s still Kindness, Joy, Grace, Love, and Mercy, go there find it, or give it out to someone, spread the good stuff.

My best wishes to you all, you deserve a great New Year!

The dawning of a New Age

Posted in Age of Aquarius, Astrology, Axial Precession, Consciousness, Cosmology, Counsciousness, Crisis of Values, Critical Thinking, Cultural Attitudes, Cynicism, Democracy, Determinism, Disillusion with Capitalism, Ecological Crisis, Economy, Education, End of materialism, Enlightenment, Environment, Future, Ganymede, Historical Evolution, New Age, New Values, Precession of the Equinoxes, Progress, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 46 Comments

IGNORANCE, THE HUMAN CONDITION.

Ignorance

“It is not conflict of opinions that has made history so violent but conflict of belief in opinions, that is to say conflict of convictions.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human.

When in my late teens, the books of Friedriech  Nietzsche started to circulate with those students between us who undeservedly,  thought ourselves, at such young age as ‘intellectuals.’

I smile now at our arrogance, and ignorance,  at such young age, but vividly remember using the title of Nietzsche’s book, Human, All Too Human: A book for free spirits.’ Very often with condescending ironic tone, and a smile, when we heard, or  witnessed,  some stupidity, or act of ignorance, committed by whoever, or whatever event provoked us, empathizing the words; Human all too Human!

In accordance with the old Latin Proverb: Errare humanum est. ‘To err is human, but to persist in error (out of pride) is diabolical.’

Sadly, we never had to wait too long without having a chance to use it!

Cafe Philosophy

It’s common knowledge now day to see our World as chaotic, and a mess out of control, and we despair at the thought Mankind may not be around for too long if we persist to be ignorant of the problems we are constantly creating, and that have global repercussions, with few solutions in sight.

We even wonder what is at the root of these problems, and some of us we even choose far fetch reasons of our choosing, according to our own weakness, and proclivities, as our beliefs in opinions as Nietzsche’s quote above.

In the classic movie my dinner with Andre(1981) the following conversation took place:

”I think it’s quite possible that the 1960s represented the last burst of the human being before it was extinguished, and that this is the beginning of the rest of the future now. That from now on, there will simply be all these robots walking around – feeling nothing, thinking nothing, and that there will be nobody left almost to remind them that there once was a species called a human being with feelings and thoughts, and that history and memory are right now being erased and that soon nobody will really remember that life existed on the planet.”

Andre, My Dinner With Andre

My dinner with Andre

Our Many Maladies

There’s hundreds of people who have compiled lists with titles as: 50 reasons why Humans are too stupid to survive, or a 100 reasons, and have little faith Men will accomplish anything but annihilation not only of the Human race, but of the World we all live in , as well.

Reasons too long to list here, and redundant, all we got to do in the morning when we wake up is to turn on the news, and a good reason why for many years I now do not care to follow the news, but occasionally, and not very often, you could say I pick, and choose+ the events I care to watch.

Also occasionally I am baffled by some new idea of why we are all walking like lemmings to our doom, when talking to particular individuals with wacky ideas, or even bright, and intelligent but with far fetch  reasons, they read here, or there, some even as bold to be the creators of such idea. No need to say more; if like me you are exposed to talk with all sort of people, I am sure you have heard it all, and as the days roll along, more keep coming!

Fire and Brimstone

What it’s rare, are those who have anything positive to say, and we may even look at them as people with good intentions, but too naive.

As to why  we seem unable in almost every place, and age in time to learn from History lessons baffle many of us, and therefore the multiple explanations people come with.

Occam’s Razor

Ockham’s razor; Latin: lex parsimoniaelaw of parsimony“) is a problem-solving principle attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian. His principle states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic guide in the development of theoretical models, rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable.

In few words Occam’s razor, is not infallible, but it has become a very reliable tool to cut the B.S. out of  Science. When investigating a theory, and the feasibility of it, as a fact, Occam’s razor it’s hard to beat.

A simpler explanation, most of the time comes to be the  correct answer.

And the great thing about it, is that the solution to what it seems subjective, and complex issues of sometimes unfathomable nature, they posses a simple explanation.

Dylan Safford-William of Ockham

Giving Up

For a brief time in History, it seems to be periods of greatness, and enlightened men who guide us through the stormy Oceans of life, just to fade into oblivion and we are faced with new, and never ending problems of many kinds., and most people wish  new champions, or at least one, a giant between men, a Messiah may arise, and like a bridge over troubled waters may guide us to safety.

Abdicating in that way on our personal responsibility, at the state of affairs of the World, true, you can be a very nice guy, or gal, but you rather have someone else doing the job for you, of cleaning up the mess!

Carl Jung

Ignorance

If we look for a culprit, we no longer need to look for specifics, we are in the state we are thanks to our collective ignorance.

Unfortunately Darwin’s theory of Evolution explain  our biological evolution, but has little to do with our Human condition as social individuals, who require to be taught since the moment we are born to become decent, and useful citizens of the community, or place we live in.

We know now that about one child in a thousand, however, is born with no ability to hear whatsoever. Years ago such people were called deaf-mutes. Often they were considered retarded, and in a sense they were: they’d never learned language, a process that primes the pump for much later development. The critical age range seems to be 21 to 36 months. During this period children pick up the basics of language easily, and in so doing establish essential cognitive infrastructure. Later on it’s far more difficult. If the congenitally deaf aren’t diagnosed before they start school, they may face severe learning problems for the rest of their lives, even if in other respects their intelligence is normal.

And so my argument is we need to learn our social skills, and to be virtuous, like almost everything else, since it’s not a given!

Learning it’s consilient, we build like a wall with bricks, through our life, since early childhood, to old age.

Learning it's consilient

And the reason why Humanity never seem to progress historically speaking, since every individual regardless has to start from zero, and learning it’s a process that it ends with death, not with certain age, and I do need to tell you this, you all know it, some people it’s more ignorant than others, because what the individual has learned through his/her life. And society it’s as good as the sum of it’s Wisdom, a poor amount of wise individuals over a majority of ignorant people, do not reflect good at the state of society, period.

Jim Rohn

Knowledge and Wisdom

Knowledge it’s acquired with teaching, and schooling,  Wisdom it’s shown by our behavior, in how we apply what we have learnt.

We want a better World, we need a better society, we want a better society, equals  better individuals, we want better individuals, they need to be taught, more education, less evils, like violence, war, poverty, crime, and less ignorant people.

And we cannot slack on it, as we are currently doing, and no, it’s shouldn’t be about money, and a privilege for the few, but about the right of the individual to have an inalienable right to education, at all levels, and World governments around the globe should be hold responsible, and accountable of doing so.

Even with a great education, I do not believe we will be free of problems, however I know we will be a lot better.

Acquiring Knowledge, and Wisdom should be a priority of our existence, like in the Greek word Arete, or moral virtues, Knowledge, and Wisdom are the sinequanone in all Sacred Paths, I have talked about that abundantly in many past posts, so I would not do it here.

Athena - Greek Goddess of Wisdom

Posted in Arete, Consciousness, Criticism, Cultural Attitudes, Human Nature, Ignorance, Inspiration, Knowledge, True Teaching, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , | 72 Comments

ON LEARNING HOW TO LEARN, THE ART OF EMPTYING THE CUP

 

Pouring tea in to the cup

“Once, a long time ago, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them in the way of Zen. He seldom turned any away.

One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master. “I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment.” The tone of the important man’s voice was one used to getting his own way.

The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man. Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?”

The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. “You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.”

Beginner’s Mind.

This teaching it’s so famous, and well known, that now it’s almost trivial, and yet the opportunity to be applied in today’s World at large, is practically endless!

A less well known phrase is Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese Martial Arts.

The well known Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki said:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Suzuki

Changing People’s Minds

The famous french woman writer Anais Nin once said: “we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” To see things as they are, instead of how we are, it requires leaving preconceptions behind, a receptive open mind, quieting of the ego, and a cultivation of the beginner’s mind.

We live in a political system known as democracy, even if it’s just a name, not a reality, and we feel,   are entitled to our own opinions, and we see fit free to express it, regardless if we cannot add  a single thing that can make any sense, or if it’s needed, when out of politeness people do not say nothing to avoid confrontations, despite the stupidity a particular individual may show.

One of the greatest tasks you can ever start, it’s to change people’s mind regarding any subject, a thing most of us avoid at all cost, we rather avoid the person in question than trying to set him straight.

We have made phrases of wisdom like: ‘Never argue about politics, or religion.’

Politics-Religion

Therefore our conversations are mainly trivial stuff, who almost nobody really cares, specially with those you got to deal not out of friendliness, but by duty, like family, or people you work with, specially if they are above you in rank. If you really want to talk about something important you go to a like minded friend, who you know he/she will not challenge you but confirm, and share your ideas, after all who needs a bad time confronting someone? In fact we choose friends more based on comfort, and ‘friendliness,’ instead of choosing people who can have a positive influence on us, and teaching us good things, despite the difficulties of being corrected, and told we are wrong.

On True Learning

Well, our focus, it’s not about our ideas, and how we see the World, but about our readiness to learn new things, so pardoning the digression above, just to show the rigidity of our minds, and how we are use  to live with our preconceived ideas about almost anything, regardless of how little we may know about it.

Contrary at what most people’s think, learning it’s not difficult, actually what’s really difficult it is to change our attitude!

Perhaps it’s better today, I wonder, but reflecting, and being honest, even as  children most of us with few exceptions granted,   we went through school, as a duty, and found it a drudgery, only dissipated by the ring bell telling us recess was next, and it was time to play with friends, or it was finally time to go home!

95829136

Attitude, The Key Element To Learning

We know things, or we do not know, or maybe we know a little, but not enough, we have not even an idea, or we think we know better, but in reality  it’s common to know nothing.

Humbleness it is a key to learning, admitting we do not know a subject it’s essential to learning, so to look for a qualified teacher to teach us, is the first step we need to take. A teacher can be many things, a person, a book, and above life, is the best teacher, by being humble we are accepting we are in lack of knowledge and we desire to improve, so we set to the task at hand which is to learn what we are in need to.

Now, observe we do not ask children to know if they approve, or desire to go to school, or not, children are in most countries obligated to attend school, some countries even penalize parents who do not take children to school.

As adults we are the ones who have to self motivate ourselves, and there is no way around it. Therefore our attitude to learn is primordial, otherwise it’s a no go situation, we are stuck!

How-To-Change-The-Situation-Toward-Advantage

Once we change our attitude, we are ready to, for whatever it’s necessary in order to learn, all these things may seem self evident, but if they are, how come so few people pay any attention to them?

There is a Hispanic saying: ‘Desde que se inventaron las excusas se acabaron los idiotas.’

An equivalent will be: ” Inventing an excuse, eliminates looking like an idiot.”

Excuses are just a way, to avoid changing our attitude, and they not remove the the obstacles for learning.

And therefore emptying the cup it’s a total change of attitude, and a preparation to open our senses, and our attention, and be ready to learn.

Now, pay attention and be ready to listen, and do the right thing, be alert!

Alertness

Quotes

Now in a lighter tone a long list, of random quotes on foolishness, and stupidity:

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.

Albert Einstein

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity. Arthur Schopenhauer

Stupidity is a talent for misconception.

Edgar Allan Poe

In politics stupidity is not a handicap.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity.

Michel de Montaigne

You know when you’re young, you have this unbelievable stupidity and arrogance and ignorance all mixed in?

Christopher Guest

People’s ignorance really pisses me off. Stupidity is when you can’t help it -ignorance is when you choose not to understand something.

Sarah McLachlan

Never attribute to malice, that which can be reasonably explained by stupidity.

Spider Robinson

I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.

Herman Hesse

Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.

Euripides

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.

Søren Kierkegaard

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

George Carlin

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

Harlan Ellison

Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.”

William Faulkner

Irony is wasted on the stupid

Oscar Wilde

Beauty fades, dumb is forever.

Judy Sheindlin

When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

Jonathan Swift

If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.

Jalaluddin Rumi

Never ask to for guidance to those who do not know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Alchemy, Buddhism, Consciousness, Critical Thinking, Cultural Attitudes, Education, Ego, Inspiration, Learning, Teaching, Transformation, Transmutation, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , | 73 Comments

THE SUBJECTIVE REALM, A KINGDOM OF THE IMAGINATION, POST-STRUCTURALISM, IBN ARABI, DANTE, AND MIND BENDING MOVIES

Way Back On Dream Time

The world is an illusion; it has no real existence. And this is what is meant by ‘imagination’ (khayāl). For you just imagine that it (i.e., the world) is an autonomous reality quite different from and independent of the Absolute Reality, while in truth it is nothing of the sort’…. Know that you yourself are an imagination. And everything that you perceive and say to yourself, ‘this is not me’, is also an imagination. So that the whole world of existence is imagination within imagination.

Ibn Arabi

What’s Reality?

I like to point out to anyone who may want to listen, that the world we live in, and we consider an indisputable fact of existence, it’s not so, contrary from what most of us think, we do not live in the World, the World lives into our subjective consciousness.

When we go to sleep the world we know, disappear totally, and if we dream ( We all do, some of us just do not recall the dreams, or are easily forgotten.) a new reality emerge during our dreams, were images, colors, ideas, emotions, and actions acquire a confusing atmosphere, of incomprehensible, or unintelligible gibberish, completely meaningless, sometimes with flashes of profound intuitive insights, that are totally mysterious in nature, but appear as some sort of connection, or an ethereal  link to our particular everyday reality.

There is nothing new to this fact, except our ignorance about the subject.

The strange reality of dreams

Mind Bending Movies

Artist, like novelist, movie directors, aware of this fact had produced all kind of films were our basic principles about reality are questioned like The Matrix, Dark City, What Dreams May Come, The thirteen Floor, and others.

The Matrix draws from and makes reference to numerous cinematic and literary works, and concepts from mythology, religion and philosophy.The Matrix also makes reference to the ideas of Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism dualism,  Hinduism, and Judaism. The Matrix‘s premise resembles the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Andrew Godoski from Screened.com observed Neo’s “virgin birth”, his doubt in himself, the prophecy of his coming, along with many Christianity references. In The Matrix, a copy of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation is visible on-screen as the book used to conceal disks, and Morpheus quotes its phrase “desert of the real”. The book was required reading for the actors prior to filming. Baudrillard himself said that The Matrix misunderstands and distorts his work. Check my post MANICHAEISM, AN ONTOLOGICAL, DUALISTIC VIEW ON THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE March 2017

Simulacra

The Matrix Simulacra

Baudrillard’s published work emerged as part of a generation of French thinkers including Gilles Deleuze,  Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan who all shared an interest in semiotics, and he is often seen as a part of the post-structuralist philosophical school. In common with many post-structuralists, his arguments consistently draw upon the notion that signification and meaning are both only understandable in terms of how particular words or “signs” interrelate. Baudrillard thought, as do many post-structuralists, that meaning is brought about through systems of signs working together. See my posts:

DELEUZE, WESTERN PHILOSOPHY AND THE ENDLESS REVERSING OF THE SOCK. April 2013)

LANGUAGE AND CONSCIOUSNESS February 2013

The Matrix

One can make a connection between the premise of The Matrix and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave; once one accepts that The Matrix is an illusion, then the allegory of the cave becomes clear. The allegory is related to Plato’s theory of Forms, (Archetypes) which holds that the true essence of an object is not what we perceive with our senses, but rather its quality, and that most people perceive only the shadow of the object and are thus limited to false perception. See my post:

THE WORLD WITHOUT DUST, GEOGRAPHICAL ARCHETYPES OF THE SOUL March 2012

Morpheus of the matrix paraphrases the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi when he asks Neo, “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you weren’t able to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference from the real world and the dream world?”

I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.

In the movie Inception (2010) the character Dom Cobb says: ‘Well dreams, they feel real while we’re in them, right? It’s only when we wake up that we realize that something was actually strange.’

Inception

Khayāl-The World of Creative Imagination

“Now in a dream, our mind continuously does this, we create and perceive our world simultaneously and our mind does this so well that we don’t even know it’s happening.” –Cobb

One of the most important concepts in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writing, which Inception illustrates beautifully, is a term called khayāl, which scholars translate as “imagination” or “imaginal faculty” to separate it from the illusory or derogatory connotations of the word “imaginary.” The world of khayāl is imaginary in that it the same stuff which dreams are made of, but this stuff is real, at least partially so. For example, most of us spend our lives in this imaginal world, not only during dreams, but also during our ordinary, everyday lives. When we see a color, or smell perfume, or feel an itch, our minds/souls are actually creating these sensations out of physical stimuli. We don’t see electromagnetic radiation with a 700 nm wavelength, we see red. Our minds “imagine” the sensory reality in which we live, simultaneously creating and perceiving these experiences, much like how Cobb described the process of dreaming to Ariadne during her first shared dream. In fact, Ibn ‘Arabi writes that one of the purposes of dreams is to alert us to this aspect of our existence, writing that “The only reason God placed sleep in the animate world was so that everyone might witness the Presence of Imagination and know that there is another world similar to the [everyday] sensory world.” For Ibn ‘Arabi, this imaginal world encompasses all human experience, and the imaginal faculty of ours gives form not only to physical but also metaphysical realities or archetypes. If you’ve ever written a melody or a poem, or drawn a picture, you’re already familiar with the magical process of imagination, the process of giving tangible forms to intangible ideas, concepts, and emotions. This is the function of the imaginal faculty, to bring together “pure ideas” and meanings and clothe them in sensible forms. But what of the reality of these  things behind their imaginal forms, and what of reality itself? Most of us take these sensory, imaginal forms to be our reality, and are happy living out our days in this seemingly solid world. But Ibn ‘Arabi takes a different stance. Quoting the famous Prophetic tradition, “People are asleep, when they die, they awaken,”

Awakening into the Eternal

It doesn’t matter if the top is spinning or not Before I continue, a quick aside about the much-debated end of the film is in order. I take the position that the film’s end is meant to be ambiguous and ambivalent, and I am completely uninterested in the director’s intentions or if, at the end, Cobb is “really” in a dream or back to reality. Part of the point is that the film is a dream, a phantom, a story, an illusion, so there is no “what really happens” on that level of reality. Dreams, like good movies and literature, are ambiguous and resist being pinned down to simple, literal descriptions, and this is simply the nature of all imaginal reality (more on this later). For the purposes this essay, I will take the perspective that whether or not the top stopped spinning, the film ends with Cobb still in a dream state, and in fact, Cobb has been in a dream state throughout the entire film. The entire action of the film takes place in a dream, the impossible dream technology with all of its logic-bending features, all the characters, everything, is part of a dream. In short, even if the top falls, he’s still dreaming because the top we see only ever existed in a dream.

The Top Spinning

Imagination and the limits of reason One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of Ibn ‘Arabi’s work for modern readers is his critique of reason. As Ibn ‘Arabi is fond of pointing out, one of the Arabic words for “reason,” ‘aql, 64 comes from the verb ‘aqala which means to “bind” or “fetter.” In this sense, reason is useful in that it allows us to get a handle on things and deal with them conceptually. However, in doing so, reason necessarily distorts reality by trying to delimit, define, and “bind” it in its rational schemas. Reason cannot deal with paradoxes and seeks to resolve ambiguities into “either/or” relations, while the worlds of imagination are characterized by the relations of “neither/nor” and “both/and.” But for Ibn ‘Arabi, reason and imagination are not opposed to each other; rather, they are complementary. Reason is critical and analytic, while imagination is creative and synthetic. A balance of both is needed to achieve the correct view of things, which Ibn ‘Arabi calls “seeing with two eyes.” The eye of reason distinguishes the real from the unreal, and the eye of imagination sees the images, reflections, and dreams that make up our world as simultaneously real and unreal. This formulation is particularly apt, because you need two eyes in order perceive the third dimension correctly, just as you need both reason and imagination to understand the metaphysical dimension of the world. With the eye of reason, we can discriminate things from each other and see the multiplicity of the world, and with the eye of imagination, we can see the many things as one. Ibn ‘Arabi argues that in order to understand things properly, we have to see both ways at once.

Inception, Eames and Arthur

In Inception, Eames represents the pole of imagination, while Arthur represents that of reason. Eames calls Arthur a “stick in the mud,” and during a gunfight, tells him, “you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling,” before mysteriously producing a grenade launcher. Their friendly rivalry in the planning stages of the mission, in which Arthur demands “specificity,” while Eames calls inception a “subtle art,” teases Arthur for his condescension, and declares, “to perform Inception, you need imagination,” wonderfully illustrates the creative tension between imagination and reason. The ensuing fantastical fight scenes and Arthur’s ingenious (and wonderfully shot), gravity-free “kick” vividly depict the process of “seeing with both eyes,” of thinking simultaneously inside and beyond a given dream level. The team’s ability to think both vertically and horizontally, to “see with both eyes,” is what allows them to navigate the labyrinth of dream worlds. Similarly, for Ibn ‘Arabi, “seeing with both eyes” is what allows people to navigate the labyrinth of the imaginal worlds that make up our existence both before and after death. Unaware of the various levels of reality, the unimaginative projections are bound to one level of reality and its rules, while with the aid of imagination, Cobb and his team jump from level to level, bending and breaking the local laws of logic as they go. Reason is a tool and like most tools, works best in conjunction with others. In fact, pure reason has to be coupled with imagination and insight in order to work at all.65 This fact, and the limitations of reason, can be somewhat difficult for us to grasp today, because we live in a world that undervalues insight and imagination, and is simultaneously irrational and corroded by over-rationalization. Turned against imagination and insight, instead of working in conjunction with them, modern reason has tried, and then given up on addressing issues it can’t handle on its own, such as metaphysics, ethics, and teleology. For this reason, fundamental questions such as “What is real?”, “What is right?”, and “What are we here for?” are often better engaged by artists (such as filmmakers) than by scientists and academic philosophers.

Inception-Building-curve

What Dreams may come

The title comes from a line in Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be…” soliloquy, namely, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, / Must give us pause.” The plot outline in the novel contains several allegorical references to Dante Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy (1308–1321).

The prologue is narrated by a man telling of his visit from a psychic woman, who gives him a manuscript she claims was dictated to her by his deceased brother Chris. Most of the novel consists of this manuscript.

Chris, a middle-aged man, is injured in an auto accident and dies in the hospital. He remains as a ghost, at first thinking he’s having a bad dream. Amid a failed séance that ends up reinforcing his wife’s belief that he didn’t survive death, an unidentified man keeps approaching Chris, telling him to concentrate on what’s beyond. Chris disregards this advice for a long time, unable to leave his wife Ann. After following the man’s advice, and focusing on pleasant memories, he feels himself being elevated.

He awakens in a beautiful glade, which he recognizes as a place where he and Ann traveled. Understanding now that he has died, he is surprised that he looks and feels alive, with apparently a physical body and sensations. After exploring the place for a while, he finds Albert, his cousin, who reveals himself as the unidentified man he had been seeing.

Albert explains that the place they occupy is called Summerland. Being a state of mind rather than a physical location, Summerland is practically endless and takes the form of the inhabitants’ wishes and desires. There is no pain or death, but people maintain occupations of sorts and perform leisure activities. The book depicts Summerland at length, through Chris’s eyes.

Walking on water in What Dreams May Come

Divine “Imagination” and the Intermediate World: Ibn ‘Arabî on the Barzakh.

For centuries after the time of the Andalusian mystic Ibn ‘Arabî, his remarkable discussions and conceptions of the “Imagination” (al-khayâl) were elaborated by Islamic philosophers, poets, artists and critics in order to explain, interpret and justify the full range of artistic and creative activities carried on within later Islamic cultures, as far away as India and Indonesia.1 Modern western students of Ibn ‘Arabî writing on such themes have tended to focus on the development of those ideas in his celebrated Fusûs al-Hikam (“The Bezels of Wisdom”) and its long line of traditional philosophic commentaries.2 But another major source of those classical Islamic understandings of the Imagination was in the Shaykh’s many discussions of the eschatological “Barzakh” or “intermediate world” of the divine Imagination–as well as his accounts of his own striking experiences and decisive spiritual encounters there–which are scattered throughout his magnum opus, al-Futûhât al-Makkîya (“The Meccan Illuminations”). One of his most extensive and widely influential discussions of the Imagination/Barzakh, in all its humanly relevant dimensions, was in the set of five eschatological chapters (61-65) within the long opening section of the Futûhât–chapters first brought to the attention of a wider Western audience in the famous studies by Asin-Palacios of Islamic themes in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

See my post:

EROS SUBLIMATED , THE MUNDUS IMAGINALIS April 2013

Dante's Divine Comedy-Granger

Ibn Arabi

Now there are some people who perceive this imaged-object (al-mutakhayyal) with the eye of the (physical) sensation, and there are others who perceive it with the eye of imagination. Of course I’m referring here to (our perceptions) in the waking state, since during sleep (everyone) definitely perceives with the eye of imagination. So if a person wishes to distinguish between (those two modes of perception) in their waking state, whether in this world or at the Day of Resurrection, they can determine (which sort of perception it is) by looking at the imaged-object. Thus if [a] the states of what one is looking at continue to change as it changes its shape and characteristics, even though you can’t deny that it is still the same thing, and [b] the fact of observing it does not stop it from changing its shape and formation–as when a chameleon, when you observe it, stops changing its colors–then that is undoubtedly (being seen) with the eye of imagination, not with the eye of the senses. For you perceive what-is-imagined (al-khayâl) with the eye of imagination, not with the eye of (physical) sensation.

Indeed few of those who lay claim to the unveiled vision of spirits, whether of fire (i.e., jinn) or of light (angels), really understand how this is. When (those spirits) take on the image of perceptible forms, (most people) don’t know whether they are perceiving them with the eye of the imagination or with the eye of (physical) sensation–since both sorts of perception involve the sensing activity of the eye. That (inner sensing activity) is what presents the perception through both the eye of imagination and the eye of (physical) sensation. So this is a subtle form of knowledge: I mean the knowledge of the distinction between the two “eyes,” and between the sensing activity of the eye and the eye of (physical) sensation. One can know that (what one perceives) is indeed sensible, not imaginal, and that one has perceived it with the eye of sensation, not the eye of imagination (by the following conditions): [a] when the eye perceives the imaged-object and, without being distracted, sees that its shape and characteristics don’t change; [b] when it doesn’t see that imaged-object in different places at the same time, assuming it is definitely a single reality; and [c] that imaged-object doesn’t become changed or transformed into different states.

This is how you should understand how a human being can perceive their Lord–may He be exalted!–in a dream, even though He transcends any form or image, as well as how that perception of Him takes place and its limitations. And through this you may understand what has come down in the sound report (of the famous hadith) concerning the Creator’s “manifesting Himself (to souls at the Resurrection) in the most unlikely of forms among those in which they saw Him,” and concerning His “transformation into a form which they knew (before then),” after they had been denying Him and taking refuge from Him (in more agreeable forms of His manifestation).

Taking refuge from Him in more agreeable forms of His manifestation.

So you should know with which eye you are seeing Him! For I have already let you know that (the divine) Imagination is perceived either through itself–I mean through the eye of imagination–or through the (physical) vision. And which of those two is the sound one on which we should rely?! Regarding that we (wrote these verses): When my Beloved appears to me, with which eye do I see Him? With His eye, not with mine: for none sees Him but Him! (This is only) in accordance with the transcendence of His Station and confirming His Words, since He says: “The gazes do not perceive Him, [but He perceives the gazes…]” (6:103), and He did not specify any particular Abode (of this world or the next), but sent it as an Verse unrestricted (in its applicability) and as a definite, confirmed matter. For none other than Him perceives Him, so it is with His eye–may He be praised!–that I see Him, as in (the famous divine saying in) the sound hadith-report: “…I (God) was his gaze through which he sees.” So wake up, you who are asleep and heedless of all this, and pay attention! I have opened up for you a door to forms of awareness and inner knowing that thoughts can never reach, though intellects can come to accept them, either through special divine Providence or by “polishing hearts with dhikr and recitation (of the Qur’an).” Then the intellect accepts what the divine Self- manifestation (tajalli) gives it and knows that that (imaginal revelation) is beyond its own power with respect to its thinking, indeed that its thinking could never give it that. Therefore (that person) gives thanks to God–may He be exalted!–Who created their constitution (nash’a) so that it could receive things like that: this being the constitution of the (divine) Messengers and prophets and those among the saints who are the recipients of special divine Providence. This is so that (such a person) may know that their receptivity (to what is bestowed by God) is higher and more noble than their own thinking. So realize, o my brother, from now on Who it is that is manifesting Himself to you from behind this door (of the imagination)! For this is a prodigious matter, where even the innermost hearts become bewildered.

Even the innermost hearts become bewildered.

Dark City

In a world of darkness, controlled by time, images and roles shift and change in an ongoing nightmare as if part of a mad experiment. Everyone seems under the spell of sleep and forgetfulness, just vaguely remembering a distant memory of light and home, but unable to remember how to get back there. When the plan of darkness, attack thoughts and projection is finally uncovered and exposed, the upside-down world is turned right-side-up and bathed in the light of innocence—the present moment. There is no memory of a past. The games of fear and guilt are ended in the light of true love. In the light, Christ is recognized anew, as if for the very first time with no memory of the past.

John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he is wanted for a series of brutal murders. The problem is that he can’t remember whether he committed the murders or not. For one brief moment, he is convinced that he has gone completely mad. Murdoch seeks to unravel the twisted riddle of his identity. As he edges closer to solving the mystery, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of ominous beings collectively known as the Strangers.

Dark City Strangers

The Strangers bring Murdoch to their home beneath the city and force Dr. Schreber to imprint Murdoch with their collective memory, believing Murdoch to be the final result of their experiments. Schreber betrays them by inserting false memories in Murdoch which artificially reestablish his childhood as years spent training and honing his psychokinetic skills and learning about the Strangers and their machines. Murdoch awakens, fully realizing his skills, frees himself and battles with the Strangers, defeating their leader Mr. Book in a psychokinetic fight high above the city.

After learning from Dr. Schreber that Emma’s personality is gone and cannot be restored, Murdoch exercises his new-found powers, amplified by the Strangers’ machine, to create an actual Shell Beach by flooding the area within the force field with water and forming mountains and beaches. On his way to Shell Beach, Murdoch encounters Mr. Hand and informs him that the Strangers have been searching in the wrong place—the mind—to understand humanity. Murdoch turns the habitat toward the star it had been turned away from, and the city experiences sunlight for the first time.

He opens the door leading out of the city, and steps out to view the sunrise. Beyond him is a pier, where he finds the woman he knew as Emma, now with new memories and a new identity as Anna. Murdoch reintroduces himself as they walk to Shell Beach, beginning their relationship anew.

Shell Beach is back

Ibn Arabi The Horn of Light

Hence the imagination (as indicated in many familiar hadith) sees knowledge in the form of milk, or honey and wine and pearls; and it sees Islâm in the form a dome and pillars; and it sees the Qur’an in the form of butter and honey; and it sees Religion in the form of a bond; and it sees God (al-Haqq) in the form a human being and in the form of light…. As for this “horn” (of the Barzakh/Imagination) being made of “light” (according to the hadith mentioned above), that is because light is the immediate cause for (things) becoming unveiled and clearly appearing, since without light, vision would perceive nothing at all. So God made this Imagination as a “light” through which could be perceived the Bringing-into-form (taswîr) of every thing, whatever that might be, as we’ve already mentioned. His Light passes through the absolute nothingness so that He might shape it into the forms of being. Hence the Imagination is more deserving of the (divine) Name “the Light” (al-Nûr) than all the created things ordinarily described as “luminous,” since Its Light does not resemble the (created) lights and through It the divine Self-manifestations are perceived.

Reflections of Paradise above

And It (or ‘He’) is the Light of the eye of imagination, not the light of the eye of sensation. So understand this! For if you understand how (the divine) Imagination is Light, and you know in what way it is (always) correct, then you will have an advantage over those who don’t know that–the sort of person who says: “that is only a false imagination!” That is because such people have failed to understand the perception of the light of imagination which has been given them by God. This is just like their saying that our senses are also “mistaken” in some of their perceptions, when in fact their sense-perceptions are sound, while the judgment (regarding the meaning of those perceptions) belongs to something else, not to the senses themselves. It is the judgment that is false, not the sensation. Likewise the imagination perceives with its light whatever it perceives, without passing judgment. The judgment only belongs to something else, which is the intellect, so the error can’t be attributed to the imagination. Thus there never is any “false imagination” at all–indeed all of it is correct!

The deepest aspect of your being resides in the inseparable, formless dimension of Eternal Presence.

Excerpts from:

Inception and Ibn Arabi by

Oludamini Ogunnaike.

Divine “Imagination” and the Intermediate World: Ibn ‘Arabî on the Barzakh.

James W Morris

 

Higher Self

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