Why Ideologues & Ideologies Suck Too!

I suspect the Realms will be showing up again many times as this series progresses, but first a note about ideology, a certain type of extremism. The intention right now is to write short pieces which hang, like a single garment, on a single hook, with minimal elaboration, basically offering up a single insight with enough commentary to encourage the reader to consider any wider ramifications on his or her own. With that as preamble:

The essential problem with ideologues and ideologies is that they involve worshipping at the shrine of Idea. Yes, ideas make the world go around, and indeed some might argue that our entire universe is a self-mothering Idea, profoundly brilliant and ever creative. However, being an idea is not the same as worshipping one because any object of worship is regarded as separate from oneself which in turn perpetuates a world where self and other can never be one engendering permanent spiritual bipolarity, if you will.

Furthermore, the act of worshipping involves placing that something outside as higher or greater than oneself. Of course, this can have many benefits, not least of which is putting ego in a rightfully humble place, however the benefits don’t outweigh the harms because at some point one ends up projecting no end of extreme qualities onto the object of worship which in short order becomes a fetish which in turn leads into one becoming what others may rightly call a ‘fanatic.’

‘So what?’ you might say. Well, here’s the rub: by bowing down to the altar of any Big Idea – such as the notion of changing the world by establishing a political or religious Utopia, something which many have and will strive for throughout human history, or finding a perfect mate, making a perfect marriage, a perfect life, a perfect country and so on – even if at first that Big Idea kindles the cockles of the heart, yet it always remains no more than an abstract concept rattling around our internal verbal chatterbox mind space. As the old Chinese saying goes: “words do not cook rice.” Indeed, and nor do Ideas engender true love, true heart, true human feeling.

This is why Ideologues and Ideologies are so dangerous: people at first put their hearts into them and then later find they have lost touch with their hearts in so doing. And when you combine passion and dedication with heartlessness, you are only a step or two away from going off the deep end. And if you add group dynamics* to the mix, well that way lies great social upheaval, which usually involves suffering and indeed even the deaths of millions of ordinary folk.

The hero in V for Vendetta was right that although you might be able to kill the man you cannot kill his great idea but also: no matter how much you believe in it with no matter how much fervor and dedication, you cannot give an idea a living, beating heart. The heart is that aspect of our nature wherein we feel, directly, our essence as a living being. Ideas say they are all about such essence, but in fact they are no more than empty, lifeless abstractions.

This is like a child mistaking a doll for a living friend whose limbs she can easily – and indeed joyfully – tear off should fancy strike. In the larger world, history is replete with examples of how such childishness can lead into truly insane, living horror realms such as the French and Russian revolutions and no end of wars and conquests throughout human history, nearly all of them driven by the cruelty and greed which can rule once we allow our minds and spirits to be taken in by powerful, albeit always only abstract, Big Ideas rather than staying true to our softly beating hearts.

I do not mean to suggest that all forms of war or fighting are necessarily driven by Big Ideas and therefore are always wrong. No, there is a place for self defense on both the individual, the family or the national level. But, generally speaking, most of what we see is not justified and indeed has been driven by various expert propagandists – usually working for our own governments – who are skilled in offering up attractive Big Ideas, first getting us to buy into them and then leading us all down the garden path into no end of unfortunately dismal and deadly realms.

And so it goes!

Why Materialism Sucks!

There is a big little niggle buried, like an engorged tick, in the flesh of the last piece on Humans and Realms, namely the oft-debated killjoy about whether the realms are purely a way of describing subjective as-experienced ‘reality’ or whether they depict actual ‘reality.’ Those holding to the latter view, which is most of us alive today worldwide, tend to believe that we live in a world in which only physical matter is real and everything else is a mental overlay akin to imagination; such overlay feels real to us, but that is just our physical machine’s chemicals, hormones and internal script-writing abilities fooling us somehow. Our feelings and insights, indeed all of our subjective experiences, are like a movie-generated reality show which works for us personally, perhaps, but ultimately lacks any lasting substance, like letters written on water.

This is a reasonable view but also too simplistic. And in being too simplistic it ends up falling into the trap of being extremist, in this case being the extremism of abstraction, and any extremism of abstraction can otherwise be termed ‘ideological’ which is just a very short step away from being fanatic. That’s why I call this issue a ‘big little niggle.’ That small tick burrowing into just a tiny part of a much larger body can end up infecting that body for decades. By applying the right lever at the right spot, a single man can set a large boulder in motion down a hill, flattening buildings in the village below which had been standing there for centuries. Karma is funny that way: from small acorns grow mighty oaks.

Why do I say that it’s too simplistic? Because of what was described in the previous piece, which is so simple and straightforward and in line with ordinary, everyday experience, namely that our attitudes and actions effect the world around us, not just an imaginary ‘subjective’ world, but the actual, physical world too. We see this all the time: people who live ugly lives create ugly environments to live in, whilst those who lead uplifted lives created uplifted environments. Naturally – especially when dealing with human realm beings – things can get a little tricky in that nasty people might be rich enough to buy very nice houses and hire excellent cleaning ladies to keep them sparkling, but there will still be something in the choice of paint, furniture, room layouts, paintings, cooking implements, bedspreads, clothing, the music playing and so on, details which in the outer, physical world express the inner world, or realm, of the inhabitants. Animal body shapes and behaviours reflect their natures and in turn the environment around. Birds are in touch with the heavens and love to sing enlivening and beautifying their habitats – generally clusters of trees. Rats which tend to dwell in low, dank, dirty places generate a low, feral atmosphere, indeed getting too close to them entails risking becoming infected. And so it goes.

So this is a very simple point, one that is generally overlooked though easily verified in our experience, and yet one that contradicts one of the most widespread superstitions – or philosophical fallacies if you prefer – of the modern age, which might be described as the Age of Science – or Scientism? – namely that the only thing which is truly real is that which is physical matter and everything else is some sort imagined overlay or fiction and therefore not to be relied upon in matters involving any sort of truth or fact. The irony in all this of course is that this attitude essentially is itself no more than a belief, a core belief that only the physical matters (pun intended) and thus anything else does not and therefore must be discounted as non-existent, imaginary, fictive.

This belief is a type of ideology, and ideology, as shall be discussed in the next piece, also sucks! Big League!

Of Realms & Humans

Of Realms and Humans

“As we go along from moment to moment, day to day, life to life, awareness and our thoughts keep shaping the life we lead. Cumulatively, the effect is tremendous. We can create for ourselves a tunnel lined with rags and deprivation or an open world of wealth and genuine communication – dark worlds, bright worlds, moderate worlds – so many different worlds can be created based on karma we keep creating through our thoughts and projections.” p 66 Entering the Stream, Shambhala Publications.

According to a very old Vedic template, we all live in ‘The Realm of Desire.’ Simply put, we are sentient beings who favour pleasure and avoid pain meaning that the main qualifier of our sentience, which involves intelligence and feeling, both physical, emotional and mental, is the degree to which our experiences over time provide satisfaction or distress. This is the underlying existential foundation of our entire realm whose fundamental reality is thus regarded as possessing more a spiritual, or experientially subjective, nature than being a solely objective, matter-based phenomenon in which any sense of sentience is mere illusion, a trick of sense perceptions and hormone-based chemical reactions in a physical organism.

In subsequent short pieces, I may go over what these ancients called ‘The Six Realms,’ which briefly put include Gods experiencing seemingly eternal bliss on the upper extreme, and Hell Denizens experiencing seemingly eternal torture on the lower extreme, with four realms in the middle, namely Jealous Gods, or Titans, just beneath the Gods and Humans just beneath them, and Hungry Ghosts just above the Hell Denizens with Animals just above them. The point there is that you have extreme pleasure on one end of the spectrum and extreme pain on the other, with everything else falling in-between, the three lower realms being generally more painful, and the three upper being generally more pleasurable, albeit all have aspects of both pain and pleasure.

But this little article is about one particular aspect of the Human Realm that is especially interesting, well expressed in the quotation at the top which describes how we essentially create the various realms of experience we live in. Perhaps you find the notion of creation going a bit far; if so, let us say that no matter what room we are given to live in by the Creator, we end up decorating and arranging it in our own particular way, and in turns it reflects back our particular style of being, be it elegant or messy, confused or enlightened, joyful or wretched. Our lives create the emotional realms we live in which in turn manifest in the outer world we navigate through and share with many other beings, including those in the other realms such as animals and so on.

As such, humans possess incredible, god-like power, the power both individually and collectively to fashion the qualitative nature of the realms we live in and journey through. Moment to moment we all actively participate in creating the reality we all share. As human beings we can go through an extraordinary range of different realms in a lifetime, a year, a month, a day or an hour. Consider how much we enjoy watching entire lifetimes play out in the form of stories which might take only an hour or two to tell. As we listen to such stories, we travel in our imagination with the various characters therein, feeling their ups and downs, their victories and defeats, their hells and heavens and all in between.

So as humans we are exposed in our lifetimes to a wide range of realms, journeying through various phases similar to how we journey through such stories, and we also have the extraordinary ability to effect how such realms are, how they feel and look and taste and smell. Humans are artists, developing various tribal and civilizational cultures, cuisines, languages, modes of dress, rituals, revelations along with dark crimes, degradations, deprivations, even bloody murder and genocide. There is no limit to what we can come up with, what we can create that we then journey through.

Therefore being born as a human presents each of us with an extraordinary opportunity not only to experience a wide variety of such realms, but also to learn how we contribute to their ongoing creation, how to participate in the ongoing art of creation in this perpetually self-mothering universe we all share making herself up as she goes along from moment to moment, being to being, situation to situation, realm to realm.

In the Buddhist tradition, it is said that the Human Birth is the most precious because only there can one find fully Enlightened Buddhas. And that is because humans, by experiencing so many ever-changing ups and downs and thus different atmospheres of inner and outer realms, can become aware that all such are the result of choices we make, actions we take, words we speek, attitudes we bring to any given situation. We can learn that reality is plastic, malleable, an artistic creation in which we are active players. In short, we can learn, and because we can learn, we can learn to be wise rather than foolish, kind rather than cruel, patient rather than impulsive, generous rather than selfish. We can choose to develop noble rather than ignoble qualities. We can create realms which foster valuing such learning and character development, and thus which value the brief time we have on this earth together as human sentient beings in this mutually engendered realm rather than frittering away such precious time as we have in idle or harmful pursuits.

The human realm is the one with the most choice and therefore by far the greatest opportunity for developing virtue and wisdom. This is no small thing; indeed, this is a Great Treasure. With that in mind, perhaps the initial quotation is worth considering again:

“As we go along from moment to moment, day to day, life to life, awareness and our thoughts keep shaping the life we lead. Cumulatively, the effect is tremendous. We can create for ourselves a tunnel lined with rags and deprivation or an open world of wealth and genuine communication – dark worlds, bright worlds, moderate worlds – so many different worlds can be created based on karma we keep creating through our thoughts and projections.” p 66 Entering the Stream, Shambhala Publications.

(because I read these pieces to my Spanish-speaking Mexican wife, here is the Google Translate Spanish version:)

De reinos y humanos

“A medida que avanzamos de un momento a otro, de un día a otro, de una vida a otra, la conciencia y nuestros pensamientos siguen dando forma a la vida que llevamos. En conjunto, el efecto es tremendo. Podemos crear para nosotros mismos un túnel lleno de harapos y privaciones o un mundo abierto de riqueza y comunicación genuina – mundos oscuros, mundos brillantes, mundos moderados – se pueden crear muchos mundos diferentes basados ​​en el karma que seguimos creando a través de nuestros pensamientos y proyecciones “. p. 66 Entering the Stream, Publicaciones Shambhala.

De acuerdo con una plantilla védica muy antigua, todos vivimos en ‘El Reino del Deseo’. En pocas palabras, somos seres sintientes que favorecen el placer y evitan el dolor, lo que significa que el principal calificador de nuestra sensibilidad, que involucra inteligencia y sentimiento, tanto físicos, emocional y mental, es el grado en que nuestras experiencias a lo largo del tiempo proporcionan satisfacción o angustia. Este es el fundamento existencial subyacente de todo nuestro reino, cuya realidad fundamental se considera que posee más una naturaleza espiritual, o experiencialmente subjetiva, que un fenómeno exclusivamente objetivo basado en la materia en el que cualquier sentido de la sensibilidad es mera ilusión, un truco de percepciones sensoriales y reacciones químicas basadas en hormonas en un organismo físico.

En breves piezas posteriores, puedo repasar lo que estos antiguos llamaron ‘Los Seis Reinos’, que brevemente incluyen a Dioses que experimentan una dicha aparentemente eterna en el extremo superior, y los Habitantes del Infierno que experimentan una tortura aparentemente eterna en el extremo inferior, con cuatro reinos en el extremo inferior. en el medio, es decir, dioses celosos, o titanes, justo debajo de los dioses y los humanos justo debajo de ellos, y fantasmas hambrientos justo encima de los habitantes del infierno con animales justo encima de ellos. El punto es que tienes un placer extremo en un extremo del espectro y un dolor extremo en el otro, con todo lo demás en el medio, los tres reinos inferiores son generalmente más dolorosos y los tres superiores son generalmente más placenteros, aunque todos. tienen aspectos tanto de dolor como de placer.

Pero este artículo trata sobre un aspecto particular del Reino Humano que es especialmente interesante, bien expresado en la cita en la parte superior que describe cómo creamos esencialmente los diversos reinos de experiencia en los que vivimos. Tal vez encuentres que la noción de creación va un poco lejos; Si es así, digamos que no importa en qué habitación el Creador nos dé para vivir, terminamos decorándola y arreglandola a nuestra manera particular, y a su vez refleja nuestro estilo particular de ser, ya sea elegante o desordenado, confundido o iluminado, alegre o desdichado. Nuestras vidas crean los reinos emocionales en los que vivimos, que a su vez se manifiestan en el mundo exterior por el que navegamos y compartimos con muchos otros seres, incluidos los de otros reinos, como los animales, etc.

Como tal, los seres humanos poseen un poder increíble, parecido a un dios, el poder tanto individual como colectivamente de moldear la naturaleza cualitativa de los reinos en los que vivimos y por los que atravesamos. Momento a momento somos participantes activos en el acto de crear la realidad que todos compartimos. Como seres humanos, podemos atravesar una extraordinaria variedad de reinos diferentes a lo largo de la vida, un año, un mes, un día o una hora. Considere cuánto disfrutamos viendo cómo se desarrollan vidas enteras en forma de historias que pueden tomar solo una o dos horas para contar. Mientras escuchamos esas historias, viajamos en nuestra imaginación con los diversos personajes que la componen, sintiendo sus altibajos, sus victorias y derrotas, sus infiernos y cielos y todo lo demás.

Entonces, como humanos, estamos expuestos en nuestras vidas a una amplia gama de reinos, viajando a través de varias fases similares a cómo viajamos a través de tales historias, y también tenemos la extraordinaria capacidad de afectar cómo son esos reinos, cómo se sienten, se ven y saben. y oler. Los seres humanos son artistas, desarrollando diversas culturas tribales y civilizacionales, cocinas, idiomas, modos de vestir, rituales, revelaciones junto con crímenes oscuros, degradaciones, privaciones, incluso asesinatos sangrientos y genocidio. No hay límite para lo que se nos ocurre, lo que podemos crear y por lo que luego viajamos.

Por lo tanto, nacer como un ser humano nos presenta a cada uno de nosotros una oportunidad extraordinaria no solo para experimentar una amplia variedad de tales reinos, sino también para aprender cómo contribuimos a su creación en curso, cómo participar en el arte de la creación en curso en este perpetuo yo. -Universo materno que todos compartimos haciéndose ella misma a medida que avanza de un momento a otro, de un ser a otro, de una situación a otra, de un reino a otro.

En la tradición budista, se dice que el nacimiento humano es el más precioso porque solo allí se pueden encontrar Budas plenamente iluminados. Y eso se debe a que los humanos, al experimentar tantos altibajos en constante cambio y, por lo tanto, diferentes atmósferas de los reinos internos y externos, pueden tomar conciencia de que todo eso es el resultado de las elecciones que hacemos, las acciones que tomamos, las palabras que decimos, las actitudes que tomamos. llevar a cualquier situación dada. Podemos aprender que la realidad es plástica, maleable, artística creación en la que somos actores activos. En resumen, podemos aprender, y porque podemos aprender, podemos aprender a ser sabios en lugar de tontos, amables en lugar de crueles, pacientes en lugar de impulsivos, generosos en lugar de egoístas. Podemos optar por desarrollar cualidades nobles en lugar de innobles. Podemos crear reinos que fomenten la valoración de dicho aprendizaje y desarrollo del carácter y, por lo tanto, que valoren el breve tiempo que tenemos en esta tierra juntos como seres humanos sensibles en este reino engendrado mutuamente en lugar de malgastar el precioso tiempo que tenemos en actividades ociosas o dañinas. .
El reino humano es el que tiene más opciones y, por lo tanto, la mayor oportunidad para desarrollar la virtud y la sabiduría. Esto no es una cosa pequeña. De hecho, este es un gran tesoro. Con eso en mente, quizás valga la pena considerar nuevamente la cita inicial:

“A medida que avanzamos de un momento a otro, de un día a otro, de una vida a otra, la conciencia y nuestros pensamientos siguen dando forma a la vida que llevamos. En conjunto, el efecto es tremendo. Podemos crear para nosotros mismos un túnel lleno de harapos y privaciones o un mundo abierto de riqueza y comunicación genuina – mundos oscuros, mundos brillantes, mundos moderados – se pueden crear muchos mundos diferentes basados ​​en el karma que seguimos creando a través de nuestros pensamientos y proyecciones “.

p. 66 Entering the Stream, Publicaciones Shambhala.

Of Leaders and Followers

Just as our world presents a primordial order of sky above and earth below, so do all groups present a similarly primordial order of leaders and followers. Consider: if the world were all sky or all earth, there would be no way for us to live in it, so this fundamental polarity is a self-existing symbiosis permeating all aspects of reality including human societies wherein we always find leaders and followers.

Another norm is that leaders are the few – indeed often being only one – whilst followers are the many, be they in small tribes or huge nations. Perhaps this has something to do with how decisions are made: two or more people can rarely agree on anything entirely, let alone do so at the same time. That moment of decision on behalf of the larger group is much easier to arrive at when taken by a designated individual or committee than by thousands or millions scattered about in place and time.

Another twist: every community has plenty of leaders such as strong mothers, business owners providing employment, government officials, teachers or doctors who provide needed leadership to those within their particular spheres of influence. However, nearly all such strong local leaders find themselves veritable sheep in any vaster, national context. The masses can never come together to organize as well as the much smaller leadership groups because they are in so many different places and situations at any given time. This is why even strong local leaders find themselves part of an all-too-easily manipulated flock in far larger, non-local contexts.

Then there is the no less primordial ‘it takes two to tango’ law: there can be no leaders without followers nor any followers without leaders, for each mutually creates the other and is an equal partner in that dance. Essentially therefore, followers are not merely those who are passively ‘being led,’ they actively choose to follow their leader – referred to in constitutional contexts as ‘the consent of the governed.’ Indeed, such consent is what empowers any leader to serve them in that capacity.

Now it stops being a dance when leaders seek to impose their notion of order on followers without such consent. That said, no tyrants can last for long as such without the consent of their followers. Although such consent may have initially been granted out of fear or from having been hoodwinked, ultimately people as a whole know what’s what and at some point will refuse to cooperate if what is being demanded goes against their bedrock nature.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. If leaders try to impose a gulag archipelago reality which goes against our basic nature and needs, ultimately they will fail, like all Saurons and Sarumans, just as ultimately all such totalitarian nightmares – vast and frightful as they may seem – can be brought down by noble-hearted individuals remaining indomitably true to their hobbit-like human spirit.

So during times of encroaching totalitarianism and ‘techno-feudalism,’ we must not lose faith in our underlying basic nature, spirit and fundamental decency. Indeed, the more we reflect such things in our actions, speech and mind, the less likely it is that the perverted spells of those who believe themselves our upper echelon masters will succeed in fooling or cowing us into offering them our consent in the fifst place.

In short: let us not all dance in lockstep to their evil, deceitful tunes!

Of This & That & the Cheering on of Hobbits!

After a long hiatus due to injury and general intellectual paralysis brought on by the dystopian onslaught of our times, here comes a slightly longer-than-usual piece which hopefully will clear away most of the previous year’s detritus and make way for some more regular – and ideally far shorter – contributions.

The Interconnection Theory of Birth and Aging

I read years ago that every seven years every cell in the body has been replaced including the bones. Now I gather this may not be quite accurate, but it’s true for most of the body. So that’s the premise for the following playful, if slightly hard-to-explain hypothesis, a theory I’ve read absolutely nowhere else. So with that caveat, another caveat:

I’m just going to lay it out as simply as possible without references and arguments. This is a summary of a hypothesis, if you like, basically with no data to back it up. I hope you find it interesting, though…

Before discussing our birth and death cycle, first we must consider some aspects of what or where all this is happening. Simply put, we live somewhere in time and space, with a multitude of lifeforms and one clear, identifiable constant: everything – every single thing – is in a state of constant motion and, therefore, change. No two things, situations or moments anywhere have been, nor ever will be the same. That means that everything from microscopic to macrocosmic is constantly moving in relation to everything else. One’s position in the universe is constantly changing relative to all stars, planets and galaxies, all of which are part of whatever scenario we are now in. Even on our own domestic level, like in our living room, nothing stays the same from one second to another because all takes place on the spinning planet. And if we get out the microscope, on the quantum level we just see endless rivers and streams of energy flowing around and through all seemingly solid, stable entities, like rocks or tables, things we think never move. They may not move relative to other objects sharing a similar space-time field for now, but within that field, everything is continuously on the march. So that’s the first point: change is a constant. There may be other constants of course, but that’s the only one on offer right now. It is the scaffold upon which the rest of the following hypothesis is built.

Let’s take this change phenomenon as applied to the human body. A quick search threw up the following two diagrams.

Basically, it seems that, varying from one part of the body to another, we are on a continuous regeneration schedule wherein nearly every part is regularly refreshed. The intestine of a 65 year old, for example, is made of cells that are only a year or so old even though its landscape may feature folds and kinks developed slowly over those years, and even though it may contain traces of things that got stuck in there during childhood – like cherry pits and other things we won’t examine!

But even though our cells are constantly changing and nearly all the ones in our bodies right now are only a few years old – many far less according to these charts – clearly we are all ageing and the effects are obvious over time. We have never seen a seventy-year old, for example, who looks like a seventeen-year old. Yes, some people age better than others, but really, if we are straightforward about it, everyone is ageing steadily and this is reflected steadily over time as is our appearance as it changes accordingly. But if we are regenerating regularly, why don’t we regenerate and look the same, why do we look older? Here’s the answer:

When we are born, a certain constellation of phenomena is in place, to each of which we are to a greater or lesser extent connected. Scientists have found plants that are attuned to one particular planet or star via radio waves (See The Secret Life of Plants made in the 1970’s). But on the more human level:

You have your mother, your father, your other relatives including maybe siblings, the hospital or home or field or town or city or street or neighbours, the region, the country, the language, the culture, the decade, the war, the peace, the plenty, the famine, the fruits, the vegetables, the trees, the flowers, the birds, the bees and on and on and on and on. Let us consider a core group of things you are connected with without which you could not have been born, a chain of causation if you will. This could go on to include every single thing in the universe, but let’s keep it simple:

You have your parents who had their parents without whom your parents wouldn’t exist and without your parents you wouldn’t exist. Those are obvious. But also, there is the food they have eaten, where it comes from, where it came from as they were growing up, the farmers who worked to produce them, the animals who gave their lives for their steaks and hamburgers, the soil microbes, the sunshine from the sun, the moonlight from the moon, the waters that nourish all these many creatures (including your parents!), the wind that blows over them and so on – all of which were essential for your existence. Then you have the cultural infrastructure and language and so forth, including deep emotional ties to your family and best friends growing up. No need to repeat everything from the previous paragraph: this is just a different emphasis, how there are things in your immediate ‘matrix of interconnectivity’ without which you most definitely could not have been born. Let’s leave it at that.

So now we get into the growing and ageing business at the heart of this enquiry: as already noted, along with the passage of time comes regular regeneration as old cells are retired and new ones grown to take their place, all using our extraordinary genetic code to provide the templates for each and every one of various billions of individual, custom-made cells for no end of different body areas and functions – way beyond any supercomputer’s capability. Minute after minute, day after day, month after month, year after year. So that is an ongoing process.

But meanwhile, the outer situation is also changing minute by minute, hour by hour, year after year. And those things upon which you are causally dependent both change even to the point of actually ceasing to exist at all. Not just death in terms of parents and relatives and old school friends; but also objects and situations including buildings, streets, nations, languages. And although a scientist might object to this, there are so many emotional ties in the mix as well, some arguably more important than which farmer is growing which particular batch of tomatoes or broccoli any given time you go shopping for some in a supermarket.

Consider the following; you are born in America but at age three move over to France. How many connections cut there? And then you are born with a particular mother and father but there is a death or divorce and many of those original, foundational connections are severed. Or a war comes so even if you stay in the same country with the same parents, not only are many people killed in that war but many move away to different towns never to return; or maybe the country is conquered and new language, new diet, and new ways of being are imposed. How many of your emotional and cultural connections are severed when this happens? If you are old enough, perhaps you have revisited a place where you grew up as a child but haven’t seen in years, and remember just how different everything feels, and also how different you feel looking around at it all. Buildings from before have moved; entire streets have been re-shaped; shops have changed; the food is different; family farms have sold out and instead there are suburbs. Or something still there from the old days now looks old and out of place, or doesn’t feel the same way as you remember. The old lady in the store when you bought candy is long gone and you don’t recognise anyone behind the counter. And they don’t know you. And on and on.

So the hypothesis is simple: as we lose the connections we were born with, especially the ones most vital to our having been born at all, gradually we age and fade. This is why our older bodies, though clearly still belonging to the same person, the same ‘me,’ start to look like different versions of ourselves. At first we grow and strengthen until around 25 to 30 or so, and then things stay more or less the same for a while, albeit always with small, steady changes, but then once the sixties hit, things change more rapidly and you begin to look more and more like an old person, which is sort of like a rubbed-out and faded version of the previous person. And in many cases, this is as true on the inside as it is on the outside.

Why? Because the connections there at your birth, a sort of multi-faceted, multi-dimensional karmically interconnected force field, are dropping away steadily and as they do, vital causes and conditions present at your creation, are slowly fading away. Where at first you had, say, a million such connections, by the time you reach your eighties there are only a hundred thousand, which is still very many, more than enough to sustain life, but not in the same way as you started, for every time an original connection fades away, so does a part of you.

This is why we age the way we do, gradually fading, gradually blurring.

A little family story which proves nothing but resonates: the last time I visited my 92-year old grandfather, one evening he answered the phone, said only a few words, put down the receiver, and then started to cry softly. He was a man born around 1900 and so brought up not to show too much emotion, but when you get very old, often you become more childlike in many ways. I waited until he stopped crying, which wasn’t very long, and then he looked up to explain:

“You know, the only time the phone rings now is for a call like this. But I don’t have to worry about it any more; this is the last one.”

“What do you mean, Grandfather?”

“It only rings when someone calls to tell me that another old friend has died. But that was my last old friend, the last person in this world who I knew when I was growing up, or during my business years. I’ve now outlasted them all. So there won’t be any more such calls.”

Now of course there were many younger people with whom he had connections, like myself, like his son my father, and many others. But in terms of his contemporaries, they were now all gone, including his wife two years earlier. And he was visibly shrinking, barely able to see over the steering wheel of his car which only three years earlier he could easily drive around. And now when driving, he was finding it hard to remember either where he was or where he was going or how to get back home once he got there, even after living in the house for twenty years. One can explain it as lost brain cells, senility, depression or whatever, but also one can consider that this degeneration is occurring simply because he was losing connections with his contemporary reality. One year later he died.

Anyway, that’s my hypothesis. I hope you find it interesting to contemplate. No matter how you get there or why, seriously contemplating change is always worth doing.

So: why do we age the way we do even though our cells are constantly regeneration? This theory postulates that we lose seminal connections and interconnections that were an essential part of our creation and as they change and disappear, so gradually do we.

Postscript: I think this theory is both provocative, reasonable but also unprovable. The scientific method has limitations. A scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable (because either it can be proven true, or such proofs can be shown to be wrong). But this theory involves so many variable that it simply cannot be put to any sort of test at all. Frankly, that is true for pretty much anything in reality, for everything in reality takes place within a living, ever-changing matrix of infinite interconnectivity. So this inability to falsify may indeed be a criticism of this hypothesis, but at the same time it points out that science itself cannot answer every question or explain every phenomenon, and it would be good, frankly, if more scientists and those who write about what scientists regularly throw out at us, were cognisant of this, humble and honest about it, and explained things more forthrightly to all of us on a regular basis. (My little rant at the end!)

Why women have long hair

Roman Style

I find the differences between masculine and feminine forever fascinating. Certainly, as a married man time spent with my wife every day is an ongoing contemplation of the nature and manifestation of womanhood, femininity. My wife has her own way of moving through space which, although unique to herself just like everyone else, nevertheless is also marked with it being most assuredly a feminine way of moving, a woman’s way. And although my wife is the woman I most observe, in fact this sort of appraisal is ongoing with every encounter, however fleeting, of both women and men.

We all have an idea of what is meant by the terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ but rarely do we pause to contemplate them, and yet I suspect we are all pretty much the same: we instantly notice various masculine and feminine characteristics in anyone we encounter. Being instinctive, automatic and constant thus this forms part of our cognitive, intellectual and emotive being, indeed a core element of that which makes us human. Just for fun, and briefly, let’s explore this a little….

All over the world, wherever you go, generally one of the marks of womanhood is having long hair. It is different in most African tribes, but they have a wiry type of hair which doesn’t lend itself so easily to growing long – although it is indeed powerfully splendid when allowed to do so – remember those 1970’s Afros?! But otherwise, whether you are in the Amazonian city of Iquitos or ultra-modern Tokyo, women tend to sport long hair. Older women tend to cut theirs shorter at some point, but nearly all young women in all cultures wear their hair long, and indeed many start doing so from an early age. We often see a six year old girl walking down the street with long hair already flowing all the way down her back.

Now: men have long hair in many cultures and it looks masculine on them, so is male hair somehow different? Perhaps, but I think masculine and feminine presence are different, so let’s leave it at that for now rather than getting too deep into abstract weeds.

Let’s drill down a little further: what is it about long hair that is especially feminine? First: what is feminine? The feminine is soft, gracious, friendly, supportive, vulnerable, lovely, kind, nurturing, protective, delightful, gentle (for starters!). There are many similar things in nature which echo femininity without being feminine per se, like soft billowing cloud formations, leaves, flower petals, bird feathers – the list is endless. But the feminine quality being discussed here is essentially that of a human woman. We all recognise it; girls are different than boys. There is some quality of radiating softness, sensuality, appeal, attraction – it’s not about words but instant perception and feeling.

Second: what is hair? Hair comprises thousands of individual strands, each with its own place, movement, shape, aroma making hair

an atmospheric matrix of infinitely interdependent particulars.

Lady Godiva. Hair this long shows how it’s not just a visual field experience on offer, but also perfume, touch. Either way, there is a process involving tuning into particular sense perceptions within a feminine presence field.

This sense of the particular, especially here in the realm of the sense perceptions, is perhaps what we are getting at here, because each strand radiates femininity since it’s part of the overall feminine atmosphere package any woman walks around with. So with these thousands of particularities bundled into a reasonable compact unified field known in shorthand as ‘hair’, perhaps we can say that long hair on a woman is:

a ‘feminine presence force multiplier!’

This is a completely original thought since it yields 0 results on a web search, so let us leave it at that. (Either this is brilliant or beyond contemporary comprehension!) Obviously, one could write many books about this, but whether one would say all that much more than the above is debatable. We all know the difference between masculine and feminine; we could try to carve out complex, insightful ways of presenting it, but none of them will improve on our innate, direct, instinctive perception. Now we come to the lacquering of the finger nails!!

Women were ladies not so long ago – note the all-white fabric field of infinite particulars; and many particular highlights in the hair

Although not comprising thousands of particulars like strands of hair, nevertheless it does highlight ten different particulars on two hands, so the ‘interdependent particularity principle’ is again in play as is the ‘feminine presence force multiplier principle’ which applies to all make-up, including lacquered nails and indeed all physical features of a woman’s body, makeup being just a way to create certain flourishes. More generally, make-up serves to create a highlight of sensual perception, so the gaze draws the mind into dwelling on that object of perception, which in this case radiates the presence of femininity. If you look at the lace Lucille Ball is wearing above, another classically feminine type of fabric choice, you can again see the an atmospheric matrix of infinitely interdependent particulars in play. In allowing the mind to be captivated by any such particular, the viewer thus immerses himself in the atmosphere of that particular woman, an initial sensory type of intercourse, if you will, as the mind of the man through the medium of sight touches the awareness field of the woman who is passively being gazed upon and providing all these tantalizing, highlighted particulars encouraging you to do so. This is all very intimate – as is nearly anything to do with women in any personal situation – even though most of us do a good job of pretending to ourselves and everyone else, especially in public, that this isn’t so!

The main points have now been made. The intention with this piece is to treat a very vast and deep topic in a simple fashion, but hopefully the core insights will ripple in the mind of the reader.

Particularities without hair or nails. Also demonstrating how much like Gods we Humans can be!
The Japanese are cultural masters of particularity fields, with so deft, delicate and multi-layered a touch more about perception itself than the underlying female body – Dressing Up Mind!

Let’s end with a nice little spontaneously composed poem, shall we?

You go your way and I’ll go mine

In this universe of infinite meetings and partings

Let me touch your heart with homely whimsy

Or woo you to rest with siren serendipity.

Weaving your web of feminine field particularities

You have highlighted your luscious way into all perception of depth

So here I lie,

Plunged down deep,

Drowned, swooned, landed, beached, whaled and engolloped by

your coquettishly tantalising particulars,

oh so crisp and clean and colourful and

never accidental


just so

where I will see them

and become lost yet again,

gazing at pink cherry blossoms as they fall gently to earth.

Notes for further exploration, perhaps in a subsequent piece:

  • Paying attention to atmosphere via the medium of the physical is feminine.
  • More about feminine lineage in Asian philosophical theory.
  • Marina’s point about hair as antenna.
  • No need to get definitive answer: contemplating the issue is interesting enough
  • Gazes, smiles, holding hands, intercourse – the four levels.

Instant Meditation Method


4-Step Instant Meditation Technique

Years ago – when teaching a large number of children meditation during a one-week residential program – I developed a stripped-down way of explaining it. To my surprise, it has stood the test of time and I find it often far more effective a way of teaching basic sitting practice than any other. I’m not saying it’s better practice, but it’s a great way to get people started on the right track – at least from the perspective I gained from my particular training decades ago.

The technique has four elements which have to be explained one at a time, but they are done simultaneously, and once you have learned them, you can put them together in a matter of seconds and off you go. I’ll go through them with a little explanation, but then present them in their final form – the words in italics during the initial explanatory section. You can say the words yourself to learn it or in a group situation. The whole thing takes just a few seconds to launch. Up to you for how long to do it, but most find 2-10 minutes enough. For longer meditations, different techniques (mentioned at the bottom) tend to work better.

4-Step Meditation – Explanation

1. “Sit Up.” Take your seat with upright, comfortable posture. Have a sense of lift, lightness, wakefulness. A traditional analogy is ‘like a child watching a movie show.’ The back should be straight but not stiff, neck easily carrying the head without being rigid. Head is aligned so face is looking straight out – not up or down – and the gaze can be straight ahead or slightly down. Hands palm down on knees or in lap. Most people find it best to sit on a dining room chair. The idea is simply to be sitting up and alert.

2. “Sit Down.” Feel your weight going down through your body into the ground, feel stable, balanced, solid. Feel the weight in your sit bones. Feel both ‘up’ and ‘down’ together.

3. “Pay attention.”* Simply pay attention to where you are, the immediate situation. If you are outside, be aware of the surrounding, the view, the sky, the trees, the breezes, traffic sounds, birdsong, whatever. So first you sit – up and down – and now you pay attention.

4. “Relax.” Along with paying attention, you let go. You tighten and loosen at the same time. By doing both simultaneously you remain in a well-tuned middle. This is just like sitting up and down at the same time. So here we pay attention, but without fixating. We can pay focus but at the same time let go, being aware of the larger space. This is effortless effort if you will – again a little like a child watching a movie.

So now you know the drill, all you have to say to actually do it is:

1. Sit Up.

2. Sit Down.

3. Pay Attention.

4. Relax.

Question: what happens when my mind wanders and I realise I’ve been daydreaming?

Answer: Just start over. Don’t harangue yourself but don’t make excuses either. Just feel yourself back in the room or situation, then instantly put together the 4 aspects. Sitting down and up is the body, both done at same time. Focusing and letting go is the mind, again both done at same time, also at same time as the body. It is just instantly being present in body and mind.

Caveat: as mentioned above, this technique might be too minimalistic for people wanting to sit for 30-60 minute (or longer) stretches, in which case I recommend a more involved technique which works with an object, like the out breath. In that case, when you notice you have spaced out, just label the whole thing ‘thinking,’ neither condemning nor indulging it, and return to the technique. You could add labelling to this stripped down one if you want (especially if doing it for more than 5-10 minutes), but really it doesn’t matter: just come back and start over with all four simultaneous elements, again and again.

Very simple! Enjoy!


*Traditionally in Buddhist meditations there is something called an ‘object,’ which is something you place your mind on, something you pay attention to. Sometimes this is an object like a stone or stick or natural feature in the landscape, a painted circle, a buddha statue, a stick of incense, or something imagined like a bright sphere, a deity, Buddha or whatever. These are all using the visual field. The more popular object is something that changes continuously and is not visual, rather physical, namely the breathing. In my school we pay attention, or identify with, the out breath, so every time we breath out, we go along with it and also with the sense that it goes out and dissolves into the environment around, be it a small room or a large valley view with expansive sky above (as in our case these days); during the in breath we just stay out, so to speak, or rest, so there is no sense of trying to stay on point every second without any pause, that would be too intense.

Going with the out breath is an example of something to focus on, but this technique is stripped down, so what I have been recommending is simpler, but also perhaps too subtle if you are going to practice for more than a few minutes, namely: just pay attention to where you are, the immediate environment or space. More simply: Be Present!

The first two are body instructions (Sit Up, Sit Down). The second are mind instructions: “Pay Attention” and “Relax.”

(If anyone has any questions, feel free in the comment section…)


The book-burning is underway – Stefan Molyneux


Stefan — whom I don’t listen to partly because I find a single talking head on a screen tedious and his videos too long — after having his account locked down by Youtube without warning, says that he has become a target because as a philosopher he has consistently been urging people to seek the middle rather than any extreme. A reasonable middle, you see, is what ‘they’ don’t want because they are into fomenting conflict so that everyone on one extreme is battling everyone else on the other extreme, thereby making anathema any peaceful middle — for by definition the middle is where dwells the majority.

But just before learning about Stefan, I read an article about Stacey Abrams, the losing gubernatorial candidate in Georgia who gracelessly turned her defeat into a badge of honour by insisting her loss was due to systemic racism.


“ Abrams was asked what she would tell the leaders of social media companies in a one-on-one meeting if she had the chance.

“That their platforms do not exist in a vacuum and their content doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” she said during a discussion on “Social Media Disinformation and Election Interference” organized by George Washington [sic!] University. “Our democracy is in a very precarious position. We know that we are in the midst of an authoritarian rise around the world that begins often with democracies that have fallen into the thrall of populist authoritarians and that this is not ancient history. This is recent history.”

“Look no further than Turkey, the Philippines, India, Hungary, what may or may not be happening in Poland, what we see happening in Brazil and in this moment, the obligation is to the truth,” continued Abrams, who’s on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s shortlist as a running mate. “We may choose as a nation to abandon our democracy, but that should be a choice made knowingly and with full information.”

…Abrams said she would ask Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to “look to who they are and their context in the role of history that it is more than simply about profit, and more than about the number of participants; it is about how they are situated in the democratic experiment that is the United States and in a moment of reckoning, we need them to reckon with their choices and to do right by our people.” [end excerpts]

Of course she doesn’t mention Trump but for sure he’s on that list of populist authoritarians. And therein lies the rub, a glaring hypocrisy, namely that she is essentially calling for social media giants to censor conservative political speech because she deems it overly ‘authoritarian,’ to ‘reckon with their choices and do right by our people.’ No doubt she would heartily approve of Stefan’s removal because although he never has advocated for violence or deception nor indeed I suspect for any political party (?), his voice is a threat to Stacey’s notion of ‘our’ people because he encourages his listeners to use critical intelligence to form their own opinions, plus he frequently critiques the Liberal Establishment with its many progressive tentacles squeezing so many societal pressure points. So she hypocritically feels justified in demanding that Big Tech censor ‘authoritarian populists’ (who want smaller government) so that her own brand of authoritarian populism (pushing for far more government) wins out.

Let us look at Trump briefly in this context. Say or think what you will about the man, but rarely has the White House had such an energetic occupant. But also rarely has it had such an embattled one with so little support, the Administrative State including the Intelligence Community, the Military, Congress, the Courts, the Press and about half his own Party being all against him all the time. One would be hard pressed to name a less authoritarian Chief Executive in US history. He has been vilified and thwarted at every turn since Election Day, denied any traditional honeymoon after Inauguration, and everything he has tried to do has had to run the gamut of spitefully mendacious press coverage, relentless Court challenges and no end of treasonous backstabbing by legions of hostile minions embedded in the ‘Deep State’ set into action by the previous President. In short, he is FAR from the sort of authoritarian tyrant that his adversaries ceaselessly decry, indeed he is arguably one of the weakest, unsupported Presidents in the post Civil War era – despite his personal energy and confidence.

However, he DOES represent a clear and present danger to the extreme views espoused by Stacey Abrams who pushes for a ‘populist authoritarian’ system whilst herself posing as a minority victim. As I listened to her speech this morning before Stefan’s, I was ruminating both about this blatant hypocrisy and also about how she uses very similar talking points which those on the right use — ‘saving democracy’ and so forth. The big difference is that though Democrats like Abrams may decry authoritarian strong men, in actuality they are advocating for authoritarian-cum-totalitarian systems and culture. Her goal is to eradicate all opposing views so that only her extreme one is left standing, an all-victorious, uncontested Brave New Totalitarian Reality.

But even though they often use similar terms and the traditional Parties are indeed essentially one UniParty, I further ruminated about how it’s time to take sides. We are now in uncharted waters, a form of ‘global civil war.’ [A civil war is a war between two or more sides within the same nation; ‘global’ means that it is a worldwide phenomenon.] This global civil war is now manifesting as multiple national civil wars happening simultaneously, some more ‘hot’ than others.

Or more simply put: globalism versus nationalism.

One side wants a one-size-fits-all approach to world governance, and the other side wants each nation, along with each region, state, city, family and individual, free to pursue their own destiny on their own terms – aka ‘national sovereignty.’ Although previous empires like the Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Chinese and British tried to establish a one world rule, modern technological advances make it much more attainable, perhaps even inevitable. And although this involves a worldwide struggle, there’s an important twist: the nationalist ‘side’ is not organized as such because it manifests as each nation state on its own battling the same globalist behemoth suitably disguised in each nation as home grown discontent – such as BLM and ANTIFA in the USA.

And so, strangely, it’s no longer appropriate for voters to hold their noses and complacently pull the lever for one or the other wing of the same UniParty fowl (pun intended!). Now there really is a choice, a fork in the road, one that preserves the American Republic with its intelligent, egalitarian Constitution, versus one intending to tear it down without specifying exactly what they intend to replace it with afterwards.

So although I thoroughly applaud Stefan’s reasonable Middle Way approach, I think he is tactically misguided. At this juncture, we all have to take a side. Either we are for the one world order system which must eradicate national sovereignty to exist, or you are for national sovereignty. You cannot be for both since they can no longer co-exist. And it’s because things have finally got to the point where they cannot coexist that we have the current global civil war.

Stefan is no doubt wise in terms of attitude and emotion: demonizing one’s enemies hurts oneself on many levels and remaining dispassionate is far better for all concerned; true, but also we must stand up to those who threaten to or actually infringe on our fundamental rights and liberties; we must decline their offer, say ‘No!’ firmly, even fighting back physically as a last resort. For those in the Reasonable Middle – aka the majority – it is precisely in order to avoid extremes that we must cut through misinformation and globalist views, and rather stand firm for that Middle, and thus manifest ourselves as the actual (versus all too often silently hidden) majority, and not allow ourselves to be cajoled or bullied out of that Middle into any sort of extreme on either side. In other words, being in the Middle can no longer mean being complacent or disengaged, because in the face of the destruction of civil society, a reality we are now facing at this historic juncture, we have to make a stand, to resist.

Paradoxically, to remain in the middle we have to take a side, in this case the side against extremes, against deception, hypocrisy, violent overthrow of existing civil order, and against any authoritarian one-world systems favoring surveillance state mechanisms including biased social media censorship cancelling out Stefan Molyneux’s YouTube channel.

Interestingly, this process resembles how our immune system deals with disease: first you have to expose yourself to it, breath it in, let it into your system; then your system relates with it for a while, trying various approaches until it hits on the right one, and then antibodies are generated and all is well (or not!). The extremists trying to overturn the American Republic right now are similar to a virulent virus. As such, they deserve our respect and we need to hear the urgency of their manifestation in the body politic, to feel them deeply, but not necessarily by going along with their surface logics and theatrics, including vicious criminal behaviors. Then we may find ourselves digging deeper into our own reservoirs of natural vigor and health, emerging stronger and healthier than before, perhaps a little wiser, a little changed for the better.

So the country is at a very interesting, as well as extremely challenging, juncture. But one thing is for sure: we are each and every one of us going to have to take a side – and that side is the Middle! Let us hope enough of us choose to stand together as a country, aligned with its bedrock principles and practices, for even though clearly much has been corrupted the past few decades, that foundation is still what brought us to this point, it is that which has been corrupted, so we have to dig down to reconnect with its bones, then respond accordingly in the flesh and sinews of the present situation, and by doing so we will in turn be forced to make long overdue changes in order to bring things back to health and balance, indeed to Stefan’s recently canceled Middle.


Baron Ash

Date: June 30 2020