Archive for the ‘Philosophical’ Category

Climate change and craving a cause

Monday, December 19th, 2011

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16215244

I read this and I think it explains a lot about why folks don’t believe in climate change and why they seem to go for anything and everything that runs against convential wisdom.

I, myself, think there’s a lot that’s bogus and unreliable in the information that surrounds us but I also think that I’m picking and choosing what to accept and what to reject based on reasonable grounds rather than on a one-size-fits-all type of reaction.

Relationships – Fire & Ice

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

The other day, I recounted a discussion between my son, Dan, and myself on the subject of relationships. The subject was relationships in which fighting is a constant component vs. relationships where fighting is a rare part of the day to day.

I found the conversation a thought provoker. Dan’s POV was that people who fight a lot and who stay together must genuinely love each other and must both deeply believe that the relationship is strong enough for everyone to be able to fully air their opinions with out the risk of implosion.

My view is that I don’t understand such relationships and I, personally, prefer a calmer situation with low-key discussions and people giving each other lots of leeway and the benefit of the doubt.

He said that people who don’t care enought to argue may actually just be luke-warm about each other and thus the passiveness of their relationship’s interactions.

I still don’t know what to make of these ideas but I did want to say and acknowledge that it provoked a lot of comments both pro and con from my readers here.

Cheers,

dennis

Slaying The Jabberwock

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

By Clinton Callahan 

The Jabberwock, of course, is the modern capitalist / patriarchal / empire meme-virus that is infecting the global ethnosphere and, in addition to wiping out cultural diversity by putting a 7/11 and a Starbucks on every corner, is threatening to exterminate life on Earth. This article is a mini-handbook empowering global #OCCUPY teams to build nonlinear, interconnected, resilient, leaderless social systems that make the Jabberwock irrelevant.

NOTE 1: Most of what follows I extracted from an astonishing series of blogs and comments (with permission) penned by John Robb posted at http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/ . John is the author of Brave New War.

NOTE 2: If you want to help document #OCCUPY strategies for others to copy, please add them to MiiU. http://www.miiu.org/wiki/Occupy_Wall_Street

AN OVERVIEW

#OCCUPY is not a legal conflict. It is political insurgency.

The bad news is: as the ruling system tries to suppress the insurgency it engages in low-intensity warfare. In other words, we are already at war. The good news is: states don’t know how to win this war. “No state has ever defeated an indigenous insurgency.”   – Jerry Boyle

The Jabberwock is a loose affiliation of psychopathic personalities using single-mind intelligence passing orders down through their hierarchies.

In comparison, #OCCUPY is open-source (leaderless), and uses many-mind (swarm) intelligence, which is nonlinear and which tends to generate an abundance of parallel (unpredictable/uncontrollable) actions. Therefore, if #OCCUPY persists, then the Jabberwock has no chance!

Persistence is enhanced through intelligent understanding of #OCCUPY strategies and technologies, thus, this mini-handbook, in which you will find the following sections:

  1. GENERAL #OCCUPY STRATEGIES
  2. WHAT #OCCUPY IS REALLY ABOUT
  3. SPECIFIC #OCCUPY STRATEGIES
  4. HOW TO DISARM A POLICE OFFICER
  5. AND HAST THOU SLAIN THE JABBERWOCK?
  6. HOW TO MANUFACTURE A TRIBE
  7. RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING

 

1. GENERAL #OCCUPY STRATEGIES

Superempowerment – #OCCUPY increases the ability of individuals and small groups to accomplish tasks through rapid improvements in decentralized decision making, teamwork, nonlinear strategy, and the use of technology to access global networks. Many-to-many collaborations enable small groups to radically increase their productivity in protests. For example, if many small groups disrupt a system by attacking its weak points simultaneously in diverse modalities (such as walkouts, flashmobs, media campaigns, street theater pieces) this can multiply the effectiveness to achieve as much as a 1,400,000 percent return on investment. That is superempowerment.

Open-source warfare – #OCCUPY gains diverse intelligences by remaining leaderless so it can be sourced by the whole swarm rather than by individual leaders. Through self-organizing its nonviolent noncompliance with what-is-not-sustainable, #OCCUPY acts in parallel through a large collection of small, superempowered groups. These small groups can work together to take on much larger foes (usually hierarchies). Open-source organizing enables high rates of wildly diverse innovation, increased survivability among the participant groups, more frequent protests, and an ability to swarm targets.

How is #OCCUPY sourcing a long-term superempowered open-source insurgency? Two steps:

A)  MAKING A PLAUSIBLE PROMISE 

Establish an idea that holds the open-source insurgency together. The plausible promise is composed of:

An enemy . The enemy serves as the target of protests. This enemy can either be perceived or manufactured (any group or organization that can be depicted as a threat, in this case: the Jabberwock.). The enemy can be any group that currently holds and exerts power: invader, the government, a company, an ethnic group, or a private organization. It’s all the Jabberwock.

A goal . This goal animates the group. Because of the diversity of the groups and individuals that join together in an open-source insurgency, the only goal that works is one that is simple and extremely high level. More complex goal setting is impossible, since it will fracture or fork the insurgency.

A demonstration. A successful demonstration proves the viability of the insurgency. People see it is actually possible to win against the enemy. The demonstration deflates any aura of invincibility that the enemy may currently enjoy. The demonstration serves as a rallying cry for the insurgency.

B)   MANAGING ITS FOCO .

Every open-source insurgency is ignited by a small founding group, a foco in guerrilla parlance. The foco sets the original goal and conducts the operation that provides the insurgency with its demonstration of viability. It’s important to understand that in order to grow an open-source insurgency, the founding group or individuals must follow a simple path:

Relinquish. Give up any control over the insurgency gained during its early phases. In practice, this means giving up control of how the goal is achieved, who may participate, how to communicate, etc. The only control that remains is the power of example, the respect gained through effectively serving the goal. If ever a leader attempts to fork the protest by trying to lead it towards an agenda or policy or politics only they care about, they should be immediately ignored / rejected / blocked.

Resist (resist your hidden temptations). This means: stay small. Don’t grow the foco to a size that makes the original group easy for the enemy to target (allow very few new members in the first group). Further, don’t establish a formal collection of groups, a hierarchy of control, or set forth a complex agenda. This will only serve to alienate and fragment the insurgency. In some cases, it will make the foco a target of the insurgency itself. It will also slow any advancement on the objective since it limits potential pathways of innovation that naturally emerge from a large, loose network of self-organized superempowered groups.

Share. Rapidly give away your best resources, ideas, information, knowledge, recruits, etc. to other groups that join the insurgency. Share everything possible that doesn’t directly compromise the foco’s integrity (its operational security or viability). Expect sharing in return.

2. WHAT #OCCUPY IS REALLY ABOUT

#OCCUPY is comparable to what we are seeing in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc. Remember, these are actions that have already toppled governments.

The big difference between #OCCUPY and those other protests is that #OCCUPY is not directed at governments. It is aimed at companies, but not just any companies. It’s aimed at the banks that own and run the global economy. #OCCUPY is replacing the heart of the global Capitalist system with a new human agenda on the planet.

#OCCUPY ignores governments and standard political processes because:

  • Governments are much weaker than the global economy (they are bankrupt hollow shells of what they were at the end of the Cold War).
  • Governments are too ineffectual and/or corrupt to change anything even if they are coerced (see the US, Ireland and Greece for recent examples).
  • Too little will change even if the government changes parties (see the US for how lame politics and politicians have become).

What’s the real goal of #OCCUPY? It’s a recognition that the center of world power doesn’t reside in Washington or London or Moscow or Beijing anymore. It’s in the executive suites and luxury resorts behind the global corporate hegemony. This protest dispenses with the middle men (governments) and goes straight after the real power to divest it of whatever credibility it still tries to claim.

The reason we are seeing this movement right now is because Capitalism, the last great ideological system, is in crisis. This isn’t merely a crisis of outcomes (economic depression, financial panic, etc.). It’s a crisis of BELIEF. While people generally believe in the idea of capitalism, a critical mass of people now think that the global capitalist system we currently have is so badly run, so corrupt, so terrible at delivering results that it needs either A) a complete overhaul or B) to be replaced with something new (which equates to the same thing, because the Jabberwock cannot be overhauled. Don’t fool yourself! A Japperwock cannot become anything other than a Jabberwock.).

3. SPECIFIC #OCCUPY STRATEGIES

There is no difference between a person and their absolute responsibility for the consequences of their actions. The concept that a person’s responsibility is subsumed by the corporation they work for (corporate personhood) or the government they serve (national laws, or the customs of the bureaucracy) is a false paradigm. Believing in this false paradigm leads to global suicide.

How do you know you are thinking in the false paradigm? You can catch yourself if you are:

  1. Assuming you must ignore social and environmental consequences in your decisions because they seem too expensive to consider.
  2. Strategizing ways to externalize costs so that the general public, future generations, or third world countries pay to deal with your toxic wastes.
  3. Thinking you can manufacture a product without including its recycle costs in your manufacturing and pricing.
  4. Thinking you can cut old growth forests in Borneo, make products in China, and sell them through Ikea or Walmart.
  5. Thinking that you can follow orders from a superior and kill people with robot planes in Afghanistan.
  6. Thinking you can manufacture, sell, transport, or fire depleted uranium weapons.
  7. Thinking that it does not matter if you consume false-paradigm products. (If most people stopped using Shell Oil or McDonald’s hamburgers for two weeks these firms would be bankrupt.)
  8. Thinking you can be pissed off at your neighbor without changing yourself.
  9. Thinking you can order someone else to stop a third party from creating a better world and not face the personal consequences…

For example, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg thought he could have the owners of Zuccotti Park –Brookfield Properties – shut down #OccupyWallStreet early in the morning of 14 October using the ruse of “cleaning the park.” He thought he could avoid the personal consequences of this decision. He was thinking inside the false paradigm.

#OCCUPY perceived the cleaning order as:

– Bloomberg vs. #OCCUPY.

   – One Mind vs. Many Minds.

   – Linear Thinking vs. Nonlinear Thinking.

From the very beginning Bloomberg had no chance. (This is true for whatever authority figure tries to subdue or suppress the people united. Meshwork meeting technologies far outpower hierarchical intelligence. )

How did #OCCUPY do it? #OCCUPY took immediate actions to delegitimize Bloomberg’s complaint that the park was dirty and unsafe. #OCCUPY reorganized itself and brought in power-washers, brooms, and mops. They deep-cleaned Liberty Square. They hired their own dump truck. They even offered to let cleaners into the square to clean 1/3 of it at a time!

With the Mayor’s complaint de-legitimized, #OCCUPY went on the offensive. It personalized the eviction move. It located Bloomberg. He was at a gala dinner at Ciprianis (a Wall Street restaurant!). They surrounded the restaurant and tried to enter it to deliver a petition with 310,000 signatures. Bloomberg hid, departed from the rear. In short order the deputy mayor announced that the eviction was cancelled!

Remember, every situation is unique, but general group intelligence strategies apply.

Here are some guidelines:

Go straight for the man . Maximize the taint of an authority’s actions on his personal brand. Blame him personally. Pierce his shield of bureaucratic impersonality. For example, #OCCUPY branded the park eviction with the name: BLOOMBERG. This is a global stage. Let’s use it. The reputation of the president /mayor /CEO /general /police chief may not matter much to you, but it certainly matters to him.

Confuse him . Respond to his attack with lots and lots of flashmobs. Go for non-violent system disruption. Shut down bridges and major streets. Overwhelm the system with actions of unprecedented speed and unpredictable volume. As soon as the police arrive in force, disperse and reassemble at new locations. Bikes plus Kids. Disrupt, disrupt, disrupt. More flashmobs equals more disruption. As long as you are under attack in one place, keep the city tied up in knots at other places. NOTE: If they lock down your area, flashmobs are the best way to participate. (Plus, as an added benefit, in running from location to location you get some needed exercise!)

Connect with more people than him . Best way to do this: Eyes in the sky. Get cameras above your action, for example. Stream the feed. The better the quality the more impact it will have. It will play across the world. Think about how important AJs video feed over Tahrirwas when things got hot. Better yet, get AJ to cover it and stream it.

Success story. The flashmob tactic was tried in Panama a couple of years ago by the SUNTRACS construction workers union. With very small groups pre-planted all over the city they drove the police absolutely crazy. Police would show up at location A, the mob would disperse immediately, two text messages and then flashmobs would simultaneously block streets at locations B and C. This worked very well and with much fewer people than #OCCUPY has available. Encourage multiple #OCCUPY flashmob teams to self-organize and operate in parallel!

Continue to exist. Logistics are important. Think ahead. Cold weather is coming fast freezing food, water, everything in a few weeks. #OCCUPY will get tough, impossible with snow blowing. Instead of slowly giving it up and going home with frostbite, consider abandoning the parks. Why not do the “very small groups pre-planted all over the city for flashmobs” all winter long from warm apartments? Print an apartment hospitality directory, or put it online, like the Mennonite Your Way Directory www.mennoniteyourway.com/ It’s time for tribal living.

Become Lady Randomfactor. Many random events that are out of control will wear down and use up the Jabberwock’s resources.  With such a disproportionate cost ratio between your actions and the Jabberwock’s reactions, the Jabberwock is nonviolently bleeding itself to death.

Then become Lord Critical Mass. Except, instead of every Friday, pick one random, unpredictable day (or a couple days) each week to #OCCUPY with a critical mass of people (meaning, enough people to attract attention and cause an impact). Five hundred police come out on Monday expecting the crowd from Sunday to still be there, but people have mysteriously vanished and downtown looks like a Police State. By Wednesday there are only fifty police left, and then suddenly thousands of #OCCUPYers show up there, warm, fed, showered, shaved, and feeling quite chipper, even in the middle of winter.

4. HOW TO DISARM A POLICE OFFICER

These are notes from a video taken October 11, 2011, featuring Chicago lawyer Jerry Boyle of National Lawyers Guild giving a street workshop to #OCCUPYCHICAGO. It contains valuable legal and strategic information for protesters everywhere. It’s an hour long, but completely engaging and well worth watching. It is posted at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/17807926by Linda Ross.

Police are trained to think within five legal definitions of force:

  1. Physical presence — a show of force is equal to the use of force.
  2. Verbal direction — instructions and commands.
  3. Empty hand control — no weapons. Physical contact.
  4. Intermediate weapons systems — pepper spray, baton.
  5. Lethal force.

In an interaction with police, you have the power to determine to what degree of force the situation escalates. For example, if an officer speaks to you and you ignore him, you force him to escalate his force. He must speak louder or get angry to get your attention.

Therefore, in non-violent #OCCUPY actions, you can de-escalate force by looking police officers directly in the eyes. Most police officers already sympathize with the goals of #OCCUPY. You can demonstrate compliance with their physical presence and verbal direction by acknowledging them, listening to what they say, and repeating back what you understood. You do not necessarily have to do what they say, but if you stay in relationship with them, acknowledging them, listening and speaking with them (perhaps even being kind to them) then there is a good chance the force can be kept at the verbal level.

You can also determine whether or not you will be arrested. If you do not wish to be arrested then create it so interactions stay within the first two levels of force. By the time an officer goes to empty hand control and grabs you by the arm, you are being arrested.

Police may be tired, angry, scared, or overwhelmed. They may regard dealing with street protests as a distraction from their true work of dealing with criminals. Being frustrated, they may (unconsciously) wish to escalate the level of force in an interaction so that if they do go to the trouble of arresting you, you will be charged with a higher crime. For example, police are trained in pain points. If an angry police officer grabs you he may intentionally apply pressure at a pain point causing you to automatically flail about, which on a video would be hard to distinguish from resisting arrest or attacking the officer, an automatic felony charge for you. Your flailing is also a good excuse for him to use pepper spray, a knee, or his club on you.

Some people recommend that if you are grabbed you should go limp, but if you do, you will likely be trampled or dragged around and might get hurt. If you already know a police officer might grab you in a pain point you can prepare yourself to not react aggressively no matter what. Often, these days, to avoid escalation of force, white shirt police do the actual arresting, with blue-shirt police as their backups.

To disarm a police officer, use the first three levels of force on him before he uses them on you.

For example, at level one: physical presence, to maximize the apparent show of force at a scene, the police may be outfitted in riot gear, head to toe armor, shields, batons, helmets, etc. This is the police officer’s power costume.

Well, you can wear a power costume too.

Consider this, if you wear a suit and tie, the police will have a very difficult time hitting you because blue-shirt police take their orders from people wearing a suit and tie. If you wear a pink bunny suit, it will look very bad on TV seeing a police officer beating on girls dressed in pink bunny suits. If you wear a V mask with your suit and tie they don’t know what you are. This is powerful.

Using the first three levels of force (presence of force, verbal direction, and empty hand control) on a police officer before he uses it on you disarms him. It can look like this: When the police arrive, you scan the group and locate the highest ranking officer. Then, in your suit and tie you smile professionally, make eye contact, hold out your open hands, walk enthusiastically up to the him, shake hands and introduce yourself, “My name is David Applebee. I am a possibility manager. If there are any problems here, let me know what I can do for you. I’ll be right over there.” Physical presence, verbal direction, empty hand control. Sweet.

5. AND HAST THOU SLAIN THE JABBERWOCK?

There’s no question that the #OCCUPY groups have done a great job with constructing a foundation for resilient communities in the heart of many of our most dense urban areas.

People are already considerate with each other, despite personal discomforts. They pitch in to work. Food gets served. The area gets cleaned. There is entertainment. There’s innovation (circle meetings, improvised tech solutions, creative workarounds). There is education (lots of seminars being taught). There is open, leaderless, participatory governance with consensus decision making. There is s treaming media 24x7x365 (interviews, opeds, confrontation scenes, theater pieces). There is legal support for dealing with the complexities of congregating and living in an urban, public space.

A permanent camp in each location means that there is a gathering point for HUGE protests in the near future (quick responses to shocks/events/etc.). These are seed crystals for protests that span hundreds or thousands of cities simultaneously.

All of this is great and this experience will definitely pay off over the next decade as the global economy deteriorates, panics, and dissolves. It will make building resilient communities easier (there are lots of ways to build a resilient community, we’re trying todocument all of the ways how on MiiU).

However, is this experience building a next-culture tribal identity? A global #OCCUPY tribe? Something that can go beyond protest and build something new? A tribe that is woven tightly enough to create new resilient economic and social networks that step into the breach as the current models fail?

6. HOW TO MANUFACTURE A TRIBE

How do we manufacture a resilient community that protects, defends and advances the interests of its members? We build a tribe. Tribal organization is the most survivable of all organizational types, being the dominant cultural form for 99.99% of human history. Like a cockroach, it has proved it can withstand the onslaught of the harshest of environments. Global depression? No problem. (for more, see: Tribes!)

To build a tribal #OCCUPY identity, we will need to manufacture fictive kinship amongst ourselves, that is, we will need to tell each other and the world the story of who we are together. That kinship is built through the following (see Ronfeldt’s paper for some background on this):

  • Story telling. Shared histories and historical narratives.
  • Rites of passage to authentic adulthood (not just a driver’s license and the right to drink and vote) (for more on this see Of Water and the Spirit by Malidoma Somé, and Secrets of the Talking Jaguar by Martin Prechtel). There are rituals of membership and life transitions. Membership is earned, not given due to the geographic location of your birth, or who your parents happen to be.
  • Obligations. Rules of conduct and honor. The ultimate penalty being expulsion.
  • Egalitarian and often leaderless organization. Sharing is prized.
  • Multi-skilled. Segmental organization (lots of redundancy among parts).
  • Two-way loyalty. The tribe protects the members and the members protect the tribe. If this isn’t implemented, you don’t have a tribe, you have a Kiwanis club.

As the #OCCUPY tribe we seem to be building a stable and recognizable identity. We are experiencing in certain moments the bondedness fictive kinship. Our relationships and commitments to each other, and to our future together, are deepening. As the 99% we are regaining our individual and tribal voices. We are taking back our authority after 6,000 years of patriarchal servitude.

Going to an occupy location and helping out is a rite of passage. There are rules of conduct (growing from a shame culture to an appreciation and personal development culture). #OCCUPY is definitely egalitarian and leaderless. It’s spread out over different geographies. Given the efforts put in to keep the #OCCUPY locations intact, it appears that people have become loyal to the tribe. The only question is whether the tribe truly protects the members. Is the loyalty two way?

How to slay the Jabberwock? Use your innersword of clarity to establish and live within a set of distinctions that are not contained inside the Jabberwock. Then the Jabberwock dies of attrition.

Deeply enjoy the benefits of the #OCCUPY culture. Keep sharing your new distinctions and the ways you got them. Soon you become a bridge to sustainable culture that other people can also cross. We can only go there together.

7. RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING

Self Observation by Red Hawk

Tribes! by Seth Godin

Creating by Robert Fritz

Directing the Power of Conscious Feelings by Clinton Callahan

Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez

And articles by Paul Chefurka, especially World Energy and Population

www.nextculture.org

Clinton Callahan, originator of Possibility Management and Expand The Box trainings, author of Radiant Joy Brilliant Love and Directing the Power of Conscious Feelings, founder of Next Culture Research & Training Center in Germany, committed to (more…)

What men can learn from women about leadership in the 21st century

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

A new Northwestern University meta-analysis, an integration of a large number of studies addressing the same question, shows that leadership continues to be viewed as culturally masculine. The studies found that women experience two primary forms of prejudice: They are viewed as less qualified or natural than men in most leadership roles, and when women do adopt culturally masculine behaviors often required by these roles, they may be viewed as inappropriate or presumptuous.

When generalizing about any population segment, especially such large and diverse segments as male and female leaders, there is bound to be a degree of inaccuracy and stereotyping. Still, research finds that predominantly communal qualities, such as being nice or compassionate, are more associated with women; and predominantly agentic qualities, such as being assertive or competitive, are more associated with men.

For a long time, these agentic qualities have been culturally associated with successful leadership. But the 21st century is seeing the combination of new employees, new technologies and new global business realities add up to one word: collaboration. New workers are demanding it, advances in technology are enabling it, and the borderless organization of the future is dictating that future productivity gains can only be achieved by creating teams that are networked to span corporate and national boundaries.

These new business realities usher in the need for a new leadership model, one that replaces command and control with transparency and inclusion. This will increasingly highlight the value of a more feminine approach. Where in the past communal behaviors naturally favored by women may have been obstacles to leadership success, in a collaborative future they may well become an edge.

Women employ a more participative leadership style, are more likely to share information and power, and have strong relational skills that make them seem empathic to their staffs. In both laboratory studies and observations of real leaders, the opposite was often found with men. Male leaders tend to be more transactional in their business dealings, favor a more hierarchical and directive approach, and appear more typically to convey formal authority.

– More…

 

What Are We Capable Of – THIS IS ANONYMOUS!

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

 

Anonymous

Anonymous

– The other day, I posted what Truthout is all about.  I liked what they identified as the problems we’re facing.

Anonymous is another favorite of mine.   I’m not sure if they can carry off their aims but the truth is that I’ve become pretty discouraged that anyone else is going to rise up and try to put things right.   Big Pharma’s not going to give up their obscene profits, nor are the multinationals that profit from war.   The U.S. government is not going to turn the clock back to the Jimmy Stewart and “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” period.   It just isn’t going to happen.   The powerful rarely, if ever, give up their power and privileges voluntarily.

– But we still need something to change desperately.   We’re gambling our ecology away, we’re gambling away the futures of our children, we’re allowing vast numbers of people to live in systems where the good of profits trumps the good of people – and that’s simply not right.

– Maybe Anonymous has a way forward.  I’m willing to take a look.

– Check out this video.   There’s a lot more like it on YouTube.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Click –> here <–

– Also, check this out, while it’s still on-line…

– Research thanks to Mike S.

 

Maslow’s Pyramid Gets a Makeover

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

– I was very gratified to see this article.   It makes a point regarding basic human drives (see Biological Imperatives) that I have thought was central for a long time.

– I expect to see this view of things begin to inform discussions of why human behavior is so maladaptive with regard to our environment.

– At some point, I hope, a perception will grow that we cannot understand our irrational and maladaptive behaviors vis-à-vis our environment until we understand how those behaviors were shaped by evolutionary pressures.

– Then we will begin to see why we believe nearby events are more significant than remote ones; in both space and time.  Why we seek to acquire things long past any conceivable need for them.   And why concrete ideas seem more real to us than abstract ones.

– Within these, as well as other insights from Evolutionary Psychology, lie the seeds of our destruction or of our redemption.

– I suspect that the SETI Search for Extra -Terrestrial Intelligence has found the stars to be so silent because correctly responding to these understandings requires an act of transcendence so profound that most species, having just evolved into their technological adolescences, simply cannot process the insights and their implications before they’ve destroyed themselves by ruining the cradle environment under their feet.

– See this poem for another view of this idea.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

What are the fundamental forces that drive human behavior? A group of evolutionary thinkers offer an answer by revising one of psychology’s most familiar images.

Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs is one of the iconic images of psychology. The simple diagram, first introduced in the 1940s, spells out the underlying motivations that drive our day-to-day behavior and points the way to a more meaningful life. It is elegant, approachable and uplifting.

But is it also out of date?

That’s the argument of a team of evolutionary psychologists led by Douglas Kenrick of Arizona State University. In the latest issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, they propose a revised pyramid, one informed by recent research defining our deep biological drives.

Their new formulation is intellectually stimulating, but emotionally deflating. “Self-actualization,” the noble-sounding top layer of Maslow’s hierarchy, in their model has not only been dethroned, it has been relegated to footnote status. It has been replaced at the top with a more mundane motivation Maslow didn’t even mention: “Parenting.”

The new pyramid is based on the premise that our strongest and most fundamental impulse, which shapes our day-to-day desires on an unconscious level, is to survive long enough to pass our genes to the next generation. According to this school of thought, backed by considerable — though not irrefutable — evidence, all our achievements are linked in one way or another to the urge to reproduce.

In other words, aside from our powerful brains, we’re pretty much like every other living creature.

Given that we humans like to think of ourselves as special, this new pyramid will surely encounter strong resistance. But it could also become a shorthand way to clarify the often-misunderstood concepts of evolutionary psychology, which, its advocates insist, are not as meaning-denying and ego-deflating as we might think.

– More…

– Research thanks to Kael

Unitarian Universalists

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

– I don’t publish much that I tag as “Religion – The Right Way” but this piece will be one of those.

– I’ve attended the Unitarian Universalist Church a few times in my life and liked what I saw there.  Most recently, I’ve gone to services here in Christchurch, New Zealand.

– The most recent time I attended, a paper written by a man named Peter Ferguson was read out and I really liked what was said.  I asked for a copy and I’ve republished it here in its entirety.

– Conventional religions, for the most part, leave me cold.  But this paper and what it expresses is, for me, of a higher quality.  It’s worth reading and thinking about both as a statement of principles and as an historical analysis.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

The Iron Bed of Procrustes

The Sacred Heresies of Unitarianism against the Iron Bed of Christian Orthodoxy
Peter Ferguson, 4 October 2009

Procrustes, the son of the sea god Poseidon, is a figure from Greek mythology.  His stronghold was in the mountains.  There he would offer travellers his hospitality, telling them about his magic bed that would adjust exactly to the size of the person who slept in it – no matter how tall or short.  Once inside, however, Procrustes would force them onto the bed and make them fit it.  If the guest was too tall, the legs would be amputated; if the victim was too short, he would stretch them out to fit.  The Iron Bed of Procrustes has become a symbol of enforced conformity.  The doctrine of conformity is central to the belief systems of both Christianity and Islam with the notable exception of Unitarianism.

Firstly, we shall look at the Procrustean demands of Christian orthodoxy which has its own iron beds in which all members have to fit.

Chances are that most of us are with the Unitarians because we couldn’t fit into the iron beds of the orthodox mainstream. We found Unitarianism a more attractive alternative where you are encouraged to form your own views about life.  For example, to be an Anglican, a Catholic or a Baptist, you need to believe in the Trinity: That there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  The Father sent his Son who had existed with him and the Holy Spirit from all eternity to planet Earth to be born of a virgin, to live a perfect life, die a sacrificial death, rise again two days later and ascend into heaven.

The Athanasian Creed remains in the very latest Anglican prayer book as the statement of faith, proclaiming that those who don’t believe in the Trinity will suffer punishment “in everlasting fire”.  The Roman Catholic Church has given its followers even more impossible things that you have to believe in before breakfast every day: such as the infallibility of the Pope, and the bodily assumption to heaven of Jesus’ mother, Mary.  If you disagree with the cardinal dogmas of the mainstream churches you will be labeled a heretic.   The word heretic comes from the Greek “haeresis” meaning one who chooses.

Countless are the men and women who have been punished, banished and sometimes executed for not believing in the Three Person Godhead.

Peter Ferguson currently serves as president of ANZUUA.  When he left the Anglican Church about ten years ago, his Archbishop wrote him a very nice letter thanking him for his contributions over the previous 40 years.  Then came the sting in the tail of the Archbishop’s letter.  He stated that if Peter abandoned his Unitarian belief, he would be welcome back in the Trinitarian fold.

For us heresy is sacred:  choosing for ourselves is all about our rights as human beings.  The mainstream churches regard Unitarianism as a cult.  As proof of this Unitarian churches have consistently been denied membership to the World Council of Churches and their affiliated bodies around the world.  A cult is a system of religious beliefs that replaces your beliefs with its own.  A cult is a religious movement that gives legitimacy only to its own teachings.  If you cannot or do not conform you are excluded.  By this definition all the mainstream churches are cults: the Roman Catholic Church being the largest and most successful of them all.  Each member has to conform and fit the denominational bed.

Secondly, we shall look at how all this came to be.  To do this we need to have a look at the origins of Christianity.  What follows is a very condensed overview of  the history of the Early Church.

After the death of Jesus, his brother, James, became the leader of the group who had been Jesus’ followers.  There are four clear references to James after Jesus’ death :

a) The Jewish historian Josephus, describing his sadness at the execution of James at the hands of the Sadducees in the year 62 CE, refers to James,  as “the brother of Jesus called the Christ”.

b) In his letter to the Galatians 1:20, Paul, having visited Jerusalem, wrote “I only saw James, the brother of the Lord.”

c) In the Gospel of Mark 6:3 “This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses and Jude and Simon ?  His sisters, too, are they not with us.”

d) The letter of James bears a striking similarity to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as it stresses the importance of Jesus’ ethical teaching rather than Paul’s Christ of faith. “My brothers!  What good is it for a man to say, ‘I have faith’ if his actions do not prove it? Can that faith save him?  Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat.  What good is there in your saying to them, ‘God bless you!  Keep warm and eat well!” – if you don’t give them the necessities of life ?  This is how it is with faith: if it is alone and has no actions with it, then it is dead.  James 2:14-17.

After the death of Jesus, James and the original followers of Jesus continued to live in Jerusalem, still worshipping within the Temple and observing Judaism.  In time they became known as the Ebionites, the Poor Ones.  From the Book of the Acts, we read, “The many miracles and signs worked through the Apostles made a deep impression on everyone.  The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed.  They went as a body to the Temple every day but met in their houses for the breaking of bread: they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God and were looked up to by everyone.”  Very soon, however, the situation was to change and within a few short years the belief that Jesus had risen from the dead spread rapidly and gained followers from across the Roman Empire: proof of this being Nero’s blaming the Christians for the great fire of Rome in 64CE.

Paul arrived on the scene after a dramatic visionary encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road.  He soon redefined the life and person of Jesus.  It is interesting to note that Paul came from Tarsus which was a centre for the worship of Heracles.  The similarities of Paul’s Christ and the Greek demigod are truly amazing.  Heracles was the son of Zeus and the virgin, Alcmene.  He was of royal lineage and destined to rule the world.  He gathered around him followers and performed extraordinary feats and miracles.  He suffered a cruel death and descended into the underworld.  He rose again and ascended into heaven.  His disciples looked forward to his return in glory.

Many scholars believe that Paul’s Christ was a product and amalgam of various figures from Greek mythology including Mithras, Dionysus and Isis.  Paul saw Jesus’ death as part of a divine plan and referred to Jesus as Jesus Christ as if Christ was his surname.  Paul made it easy for his converts to become Christians and permitted them to discard practices such as circumcision and eating of pork and other unclean animals even though during the Maccabean wars thousands of Jews died to defend those two particular laws of the Torah.  Time does not permit us to go deeper.  Suffice to state that Paul was engaged in bitter rows with the original Jewish disciples for the rest of his life.

For its first 300 years the Church was anything but a monolithic unity.  The proliferation of Christian groups was a mind blowing phenomenon in the first three centuries.  The proto-orthodox Paulinist Catholic Church was the largest.  The Ebionites rejected the virgin birth and the pre-existence of Jesus and stressed the humanity of Jesus and the essential oneness of God.  The Docetists believed that Jesus was a heavenly being.  The Montanists practiced speaking in tongues.  Marcionites appointed women as bishops and priests.  Carpocratians enjoyed good food and wine and taught that Jesus had a normal parentage.

They endured several severe persecutions from various Roman emperors till the early years of the 4th century.  In 312, on the eve of battle, the Emperor Constantine had a dream that was to change the course of history forever.  He saw a sign in the sky with the words “Hoc signo victor eris” which translates as “By this sign you shall be the victor”.  He saw it as a good omen and he gave orders that this Christian sign, the letters “Chi Rho”, be painted on every soldier’s shield.

Constantine’s army triumphed at the battle of the Milvian Bridge and thus captured Rome and became sole emperor.   Constantine immediately introduced religious toleration to all the religions of the Empire but gave special favours to the Christians.

In a shrewd move motivated by politics and military strategy, Constantine then called a meeting of the various Christian leaders in his Empire.  Contrary to common belief the Christians at that time had no centralized leadership.  There was no one Pope ruling the Christian world.  A meeting took place in Nicaea, modern day Turkey, where Constantine had his palace.  Delegates came from every part of the Empire.  One of the main purposes of the gathering was to decide whether Jesus had been God from all eternity or simply a divine being.  Constantine, who was not a Christian, presided over the Council and ruled in favour of those who believed that Jesus Christ was of one substance with the Father – God the Son.

Those who refused to consent were banished.  The rest of the delegates were invited to stay on and attend Constantine’s 20th anniversary celebrations.  Several of the signatories wrote to Constantine afterwards.  Eusebius of Nicomedia wrote to Constantine stating, “We committed an impious act, O Prince, by subscribing to a blasphemy for fear of you.”  But it was too late and there was no turning back on the decisions of the Council of Nicaea.

Jesus, the Jewish teacher, had been declared truly God from all eternity.

For Constantine, it was probably a matter of no great importance: after all he had his own father, Constantius, deified.  He, himself, would be deified after his death.  Was Constantine a true follower of Jesus?  Judge for yourself.  A year after Nicaea, Constantine ordered the execution of his son, and then instructed that his wife be boiled alive while taking a bath – surely a far cry from the teachings of the carpenter from Nazareth.  Constantine, however, was baptized on his deathbed to ensure that all his sins would be forgiven and that he would gain immediate entrance into heaven!

It proved to be a conclusive victory for the Paulinist proto-orthodox party and to this day the Nicene Creed remains the central doctrine of the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches.

Within a hundred years of so after Nicaea the many varieties of Christianity had been consigned to the rubbish bin of history.  Gone were the Ebionites, the Gnostics, the Carpocratians – the whole lot !  The Church closed down the centres of Greek philosophy – the famous schools of Plato, the Aristotelians, the Stoics, the Skeptics, the Epicurians and the Hedonists – all gone !  The temples of the pagan gods and goddesses of the mystery religions, Isis, Mithras, Venus were all rooted out of existence by the triumphant Constantinian Trinitarian Church.  The dark ages of Procrustean conformity lasted for more than a thousand years.

The now dominant Catholic Church supported by the power of the Roman State promptly set about imposing its doctrines upon the citizens of the Empire.  The Jewish communities were one of the first targets.  Heavy penalties were imposed upon anyone who converted to Judaism.  Mixed marriages were punished by death.  In the next century their synagogues were confiscated and converted into churches.  Forced expulsions, pogroms and other atrocities were leveled at the Jewish communities throughout the years and culminated in the Holocaust.

The Church came down heavily on any deviation from the teachings of the Roman hierarchy.  The tri-theistic doctrine of the Trinity was not seriously challenged until the Enlightenment and Renaissance.

Now for the story of Michael Servetus who was born Miguel Serveto on St Michael’s Day 29 September 1511 in Aragon in north east Spain.  A child prodigy by the age of 13 he could read French, Greek, Latin and most significantly Hebrew which was considered dangerous and subversive by the church.  For Servetus, the Trinity was a contrived teaching and Christianity could never be purified until it was stripped away.  As long as the Trinity was its central teaching, any outreach to the Jews and Muslims who were monotheists would be futile.  He had a dream of the Christian Jews and Muslims being as it were “under one umbrella”.

He decided to write a book “On the Errors of the Trinity”.  He was a teenager 19 years old at the time.  The book was a sell-out – 1000 copies sold immediately and it became a best seller.  However, he had become a marked man both to the Inquisition and the Protestant reformers.  Like Salmon Rushdie, Servetus was soon to discover that underestimating one’s religious opponents can be very dangerous.  He was sentenced to death in absentia by the Spanish Inquisition.

Not only the Catholics but the Protestant reformer Calvin were now equally furious.  Servetus wisely changed his name and identity and studied in mathematics and medicine at the University of Paris under the name of Michael Villeneuve.  A brilliant mind he described the pulmonary system of the blood 75 years before the British physician, William Harvey, made the same observation.  Harvey was accredited with the discovery but actually it had been Michael Servetus.

In 1553 his cover as Dr Villeneuve was blown and he fled from the Inquisition to Geneva, ruled over by Calvin, arriving there on Saturday 12 August staying at a safe place in the Inn of the Rose.  The following day he attended church and was recognized and arrested and thrown into a lice-infested cell.  At his trial Servetus bravely defended his belief in the absolute unity of God.

The obedient lackeys of Calvin were unanimous in their condemnation of him.  And so on 27 October 1553 at the age of 42 Michael Servetus was led to the stake, an iron chain wrapped around his torso and a thick rope wound several times about his neck.  A crown of thorns and leaves filled with sulphur was placed upon his head, and his book “The Errors of the Trinity” were lashed to his arm.  Green wood was placed around the stake to ensure his death would be slow.  The fire was lit.  It took him half an hour to die.  He did not break down and was heard to say, “Oh, Jesus, son of the Eternal God, have pity on me.”  So even in death he had remained true to his faith otherwise he would have said, “Oh Jesus eternal Son of God …”

Thirdly, we look at the history of the defamation and suppression of women by the Church. It has its roots in the New Testament.

In 1 Timothy 2:11, we read “Let a woman learn in silence with complete submission.  I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man.  She is to keep silent for Adam was created first then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she shall be saved through childbearing.”  Saint Jerome (c. 347 – 420) who was responsible for the Latin translation of the Bible, described women in these words, “… the gate of the devil, the way of evil, the sting of the scorpion, in a word, a  very dangerous thing.”  Much later St Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274) described woman as a “failed man”.  “Woman was created to help man but only in procreation.  She should not be permitted any equality in the Church or civil society.”

The suppression of women reached a horrifying climax in the witch hunts which resulted in several million women being tortured and tens of thousands being burnt at the stake from the 13th to the 18th century.  Martin Luther (1483-1546) claimed that the man was the lord and master of his wife and had the right to beat her.  “If they become tired or even die, that does not matter.  Let them die in childbirth – that is why they are there.”

As we enter the 21st century women are still being debarred from ordination in about 90% of Christendom.  Recently the Pope placed a ban on any discussion about the ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood.  Conservative Christians, Catholic and Protestant also oppose pro-choice legislation and a woman’s right to have control over her own body.  Both Islamists and the Catholic Church ban the use of contraception in a world where over-population is a major issue.

There is an astonishing similarity between conservative Christians and Islamists and the fact that they share the same detestation for liberal values.  One of the reasons why ayatollahs and imams from around the world have called upon their followers to wage jihad was because the liberal and permissive values of the USA and the West were seen as a threat to Islam and undermining the faith that was brought to them through the prophet Mohammed.  These are some of the things that both Islamists and conservative Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, abhor :

– the emphasis on individual freedoms
– the laws that have given women equal rights in our society
– liberated women and all that symbolizes them.
– the fact that women should have the right to decide whether they will have children.
– homosexuality and gay and lesbian lifestyles

Both groups claim for their authority the infallible Word of God – the Bible or the Koran.

Summing up, as we reflect on the religious practices and beliefs of our own times, scholars have noted the fact that conservative Christians and Islamists share the same prejudices.  Scholars are beginning to understand that nearly all of the leaders of these groups are alpha males who are simply defining the boundaries of their territories.  These are perfectly normal and natural behaviours which they share with all sexually territorial animals.  The males set and enforce the rules, the females obey the rules and raise the children.

When the Pope or the Aytollah state that they are simply following the word of God or Allah, they are actually seriously underestimating the weight of their position.  The real authority behind this way of behaviour is millions of years older than all the religions and all the concocted gods and goddesses that there has ever been.

This form of behaviour, however, is completely unsuited for the world that we now live in.  It’s the recipe for destruction.  It was fine when we first came out of the trees, walked on two legs and lived in small groups.  In our contemporary world natural alpha male behaviour is incapable of the flexibility needed to structure human societies in a humane way.  It is too small to do justice to the complexities of the 21st century.

The iron bed of alpha male orthodoxy is not a comfortable resting place for free thinkers and those who think outside the square.  We are fortunate to be living in an age when we are no longer forced to believe irrational ideas.  It’s much better to be a free spirit.

We are mortal and we don’t know if anything awaits us after death and so we should see life as a wonderful source of joy as we live each moment.  At the same time we serve humanity and dream of trying to make the world a better place for ourselves and others including those who are not human.  The ideal of our faith community is to provide an atmosphere of freedom.  We are at our very best when we provide an environment where it is safe to voice one’s beliefs whether religious, moral, social or political.  One is not made to feel a second class person or a candidate for hell and damnation if one’s views and ideas are not mainstream.

We freely admit that we don’t have the answers or even the right questions to all of life’s problems.   Our vocation is to live ethically, to show true concern for those around us,  keeping in mind always the fact of the transience of our own lives, and our friends and loved ones.  We should practice kindness.

As free thinkers we are the final arbiters of what is good and evil.  Sam Harris puts it very well,

“The only angels we need to invoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty and love.  The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human mind: ignorance, greed, and blind faith which is surely the devil’s masterpiece.”

– My thanks to John A. of the Unitarian Universalists of Christchurch, New Zealand for both reading out this paper and for sharing a copy with me.

‘Let go and let Love’…. why did no-one tell me it’s so simple?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

– It’s odd how one thing leads you to another.  John Micheal Greer over on The Archdruid Report mentioned in a post, as an aside, that one of his pet peeves was that people frequently misspelled Mathatma Gandhi’s name as Ghandi.

– This lead me to scan this Blog for such misspellings and, indeed, I found and corrected several.

– One of the misspellings was associated with a post I’d made back in February of 2007 referring to a beautiful post over on Life 2.0 entitled,

‘Let go and let Love’…. why did no-one tell me it’s so simple?

– As I made my correction, I began to reread the ‘Let go and let Love…’ post and was deeply captivated again by it.   So much so, that I want to re-post it here in it’s entirety.  It’s a very beautiful and timely piece and I encourage you, if you like it to visit Life 2.0 and explore for more of the same.

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First up, an explanation of sorts.  There’s been a continued ‘enlightenment’ theme to recent posts.  Maybe it’s because I try not to plan what I write that posts here tend to follow a path of their own, I don’t really know.  All I can say is that I have a load of ideas around entrepreneurship, creativity and life hacks that I’d love to share with you too.  But whilst we’re still on this subject, and just so you have a little perspective as to ‘where I’m coming from’, I’ll tell you about my own journey so far:

I guess we all come to the recognition of Truth in our own way and in our own time,  and that’s good.  My way seems very strange though.  I was one of the so called lucky ones – I had my very own ‘burning bush’ experience.. but what I did with that beggars belief.  I very, very subtly (so that I wouldn’t even notice I was doing it) turned and walked away from it.
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The burning bush
Some years ago, after a lifetime of being determined to find out ‘how things really worked’, and having studying  A Course in Miracles for a year or so, I was out walking my Labrador on the hill behind my home.  After I had gotten tired of throwing sticks for Ben I sat down on a stile to watch the world go by for a while, and the dog curled up under my feet. In the next few minutes I came to see my whole life in a completely new light, totally reframed and everything fitting perfectly together – like adding the last few lines to a ‘join the dots’ picture where suddenly you see what it is all about for the very first time.  I thought I had been building businesses, raising my children, trying to be all the things I wanted to be.  I had no idea that totally unbeknown to me, life had had a completely different agenda.

This ‘secret’ agenda had been working through everything I had ever thought, spoken and done, through every so called failure and success and through every traumatic or blissful moment in my life.  I saw so clearly that everything that had happened since the day I popped onto this planet had been orchestrated to bring me to this place where I was now sat and was able to see the perfection and beauty of it all.  It all was suddenly so clear, every single part of my life fitted together faultlessly, with not one piece missing or to spare.  Enlightenment had been going on all the time…. perfectly.

Here’s what I now knew:  After all my efforts to understand, to ‘get it’ and then to walk the path, the path has been walking through me all along.  We had always been the vehicle for enlightenment, we just didn’t see ourselves as doing that, and certainly didn’t see ourselves as being in the driving seat.  There was one beautiful purpose to life and my expression of that had been played perfectly by me all along, and this was true for everyone.  Suddenly all concept of right and wrong and guilt and doubt disappeared completely.  And there was no place for  regrets anymore, only this one vast, all encompassing Love….. and it had only been my desire to find happiness in this life that had blinded me to seeing it was already here.
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Good intentions gone wrong
I knew from that moment on that my life was changed because there could be no forgetting this.  By some form of grace I had glimpsed Reality and all I wanted or needed to do was find a way of helping the rest of the world see the same thing. And that’s where I started to lose the plot again.

The more I tried to explain this, to myself or others, the more distant it seemed to become.  All I wanted do was to help and yet the more I tried, the more this epiphany turned into a distant memory.  What I didn’t see then was that the very act of trying to understand was the act of denial of what I had so clearly seen.  By trying to understand I was separating the one who was trying to understand from that which he was trying to understand.  By attempting to reconcile God and Life and Love and Enlightenment and ‘Who I am’, I was denying that they are all the same thing….. this Oneness that I had been so fortunate to experience.

It’s only when I imagine there is more than one thing, like when I put the little word ‘my’ in front of the word ‘life’, that there arises the concept of an under-stander and an under-stood and then the need to understand.  Oneness can only ever be experiential because it is all inclusive.  Reality can only be known, because there is no-one separate to understand it. It’s only the mind that obfuscates this feeling of Love and connection that we already exists in.  And anything I can imagine to do to come to this realisation, can also only be part of my denial of this feeling of Love that is constantly trying to seep into our conscious awareness.  As Thomas Aquinas one said:

Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”

Awakening was life’s role not mine.  I had forgotten that our part is only to allow it to happen.
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Wising up
So little by little I’ve come to accept there is nothing I can do to awaken because life itself is the process of awakening.  It’s a process of accepting what already is and that requires no doing and no effort, just a surrender to what is already here in this moment.  Life delights to set us free, to make us happy.. and everything we need to fulfill that purpose comes to us, perfectly.  When we really accept that we don’t know how to wake up then a miracle happens.  Instead of not-knowing being the problem, not-knowing becomes the answer – our whole way, because ‘not-knowing’ is the clean and empty slate on which Love will write a different story through our lives.  It is in the invitation and the opening to grace.

I suppose we could paraphrase the whole process of life down to this one thing:  A process of letting go of our resistance (in a multitude of ways) to the Love that Is.  This is all that is really going on here.  And so we come home to Truth, to the knowing of our true Self, simply by allowing it to happen – by allowing ourselves to become non-resistant to everything.

At the end of the day the choice is this:- we can either be true to Truth of our own experience or true to the latest idea of what is still needed.  This is seen so clearly in the way the great religions keep us in chains by lowering expectations and by promising freedom some time in the ‘future’.  And so we end up settling for being Christians instead of Christs and Buddhists instead of Buddhas.  Didn’t Jesus once say, “Greater things than these things shall ye do”.  Adyanshanti says it well in this essay entitled  ‘You are the Buddha’.

This is what the Buddha did.  He didn’t say, “I’ll try.”  He didn’t say, “I hope I’ll find the Truth.”  He didn’t say, “I’ll do my best.”  He didn’t say, “If not in this lifetime, then maybe next lifetime.”  He came to the point where he didn’t look for anyone else to tell him the Truth or show him the Truth.  He came to the point where he took it all on himself.  He sat alone under the Bodhi Tree and vowed never to give up until the Truth be realized.

The power of this very simple, yet unshakable intention and absolute stand to be liberated in this lifetime propelled him to awaken to the simple fact that he and all beings are liberated—that all beings are freedom itself.  Pure awakeness.

The Buddha was no different from you.  No different. …..

Adyanshanti also says “What we serve we cannot lose”.  True enough, but even this idea of ‘serving Truth’, at least for a  bear-of-little-brain like me, is too much.  I have seen that we already do this and I have seen that in spite of appearances, everything we have ever done has served Truth.  We were just mistaken, and thought there was something else going on here.  And so when I attempt to serve Truth there is this very human tendency that arises in me to judge how I am doing, and then I lose my way again – lose sight of the fact that we already do this perfectly – that we are already awake and perfectly creative, and just don’t see it yet.
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Homeward bound

So for me at least, I need to finally let go of trying to live it, of trying to serve it, and simply  allow It to live and serve through me – become nonresistant (‘surrender’ if you like) to this Love that we call life that already flows through us.

There’s a huge freedom in this tiny change of intent because now there is no cause for stress or concern.  When we replaces all the reasons ‘why’ we do things (especially all those spiritual or do-goody reasons) for this single ‘why’ of allowing Truth/Love/Life/Joy/*your own term here* to express itself through me, then there are no worries any more.  Life makes no mistakes….. ‘mistakes’, ‘problems’ – that’s all mind stuff.  Success in this is always certain, but now we come to  know it is so.

So perhaps I finally am ‘getting it’:  Just surrender to life…..let life flow through me un-resisted…. and see what happens.  ‘Listen and allow’…. as my friend  Jodee Bock tells me to do.

What a release not to have to do or understand anything anymore …. just enjoy the ride.  No worries, no cares, it’s not up to me now… not my problem.  And what problems could there be once their cause, my resistance, has gone.  Trusting instead, that when we are just being who we Are, in harmony with Universe, everything just works out fine.

Love Is…. what more could we do than simply let it be?

To let go and let Love……Why did no-one tell me it’s this simple?

Or perhaps they did and I just wasn’t ready to hear. 😉
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Life as celebration
So what to do, now that I know that anything I try to do to bring about enlightenment blinds me to the recognition that it’s already here?

How about just doing whatever it that makes us happy and trust life to take care of all the rest?  Hard as it is to shatter the egos belief in unworthiness and sacrifice and struggle, it’s only in the path of our happiness that we find what we have come here to learn.  Life has only one agenda: –  that we be happy, now.

And what better way to strengthen this realisation than to see it everywhere, take joy in everything that comes our way and share it freely?  It’s this what we came for.

So to me, our greatest role models and teachers are not the obvious ones.  Not the ones that lecture or hold retreats, but those who know how to squeeze the juice out of life and then invite you to dine with them.

Evelyn at  Crossroad Dispatches and Tittin at  Backtracking Slowly Forward spring immediately to mind.  Click over there and you’ll find a pot-pourri of art, raw life and insight……. and you’ll perhaps also discover what  George Bernard Shaw meant when he said,  “The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time.” (we can forgive him the gender bias of those times).  But like any good feast, the best times to go there are when you are little hungry and when you have a little more time than you need… so you can savour and enjoy all the different flavours.

– To the original post on Life 2.0

Biological Imperatives – first sighting

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

If you are a regular reader of this Blog, then you will know that a central point I am often ‘on’ about concerns the Biological Imperatives – which I believe are the deep root and cause of much of why humanity seems so maladapted to long term survival on this planet.

I’ve just finished reading The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin D. Yalom – a brilliant book which I highly recommend.  Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy, as you might expect from the book’s title weaves its way deeply throughout the novel’s plot.

Bit one bit of Schopenhauer’s thought that I noted with particular interest is illustrated in the following quotes:

It has often been noted that three major revolutions in thought have threatened the idea of human centrality.  First, Copernicus demonstrated that Earth was not the center about which all celestial bodies revolved. next, Darwin showed us that were not central in the chain of life but like other creatures, had evolved from other life-forms.  Third, Freud demonstrated that we are not masters in our own house — that much of our behavior is governed by forces outside of our consciousness.  there is no doubt that Freud’s unacknowledged co-revolutionary was Arthur Schopenhauer, who, long before Freud’s birth, had posited that we are governed by deep biological forces and then delude ourselves into thinking that we consciously choose our activities.

and

…Schopenhauer two centuries ago understood the underlying reality; the sheer awesome power of the sex drive.  It’s the most fundamental force within us — the will to love, to reproduce — and it can’t be stilled.

Schopenhauer may have been the first to name and describe I call the Biological Imperatives.

Of course, it wasn’t until much more recently, with the advent of Evolutionary Psychology, that we can begin to connect his observations into the greater cloth of hard science vis-a-vis what E. O. Wilson called Consilience in his book of the same name.

Readings from on the road

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

“What if there is no holy life?” asked Buddha.  …  “You see,” said Buddha, “even holiness has become food for your ego to feed on.  You want to be different.  You want to be safe.  You want to have hope.”

“Why is that wrong?” asked Assaji.

“Because these things are dreams that lull you,” said Buddha.

“What would we see if we weren’t dreaming?”

“Death.”

“The five monks felt a chill pass over them.  It seemed pointless to deny what their brother said but hopeless to accept it.   Buddha said, “You are all afraid of death, as I was, so you make up any story that will ease your fears, and after a while you believe the story, even though it came from your own mind.”   Without waiting for a reply, he reached down and picked up a handful of dust.  “The answer to life and death is simple.  It rests in the palm of my hand.  Watch.”

He threw the dust into the air, it remained suspended like a murky cloud for a second before the breeze carried it away.

“Consider what you just saw, ” said Buddha.   “The dust holds its shape for a fleeting moment when I throw it into the air, as the body holds its shape for this brief lifetime.  When the wind makes it disappear, where does the dust go?  It returns to its source, the earth.   In the future that same dust allows grass to grow, and it enters into a deer that eats the grass.   The animal dies and turns to dust.   Now imagine that the dust comes to you and asks, ‘Who am I?’  What will you tell it?   Dust is alive in a plant but dead as it lies in the road under our feet.   It moves in an animal but it is still when buried in the depths of the earth.   Dust encompasses life and death at the same time.  So if you answer ‘Who am I’ with anything but a complete answer, you have made a mistake.

I have come back to tell you that you can be whole, but only if you see yourself that way.  There is no holy life.  There is no war between good and evil.   There is no sin and no redemption.   None of these things matter to the real you.   But they all matter hugely to the false you, the one who believes in the separate self.   You have tried to take your separate self, with all its loneliness and anxiety and pride, to the door of enlightenment.  But it will never go through, because it is a ghost.

– from Buddha by Deepak Chopra