liveonearth: (Default)
I have often said "it's a free will universe" as a basis for extolling choice as a power, whether conscious or unconscious, for determining your experience. To "choice" I always connect the concept of responsibility. Responsibility always follows immediately upon choice. Those who tremble before this power of choice may even habitually refuse to make choices, unwilling to take on the responsibility that choice of necessity implies. This is a choice in itself, a pattern of omission and passivity with it's own distinct effects and power to manipulate. All this having been said, what if in fact it's not "a free will universe" after all? The concept of "predestination" also has a long history in philosophical and religious thought and stands as a counterpoint to "free will" with it's own ardent supporters. When I look at an average day, things happen and I respond. Needs arise and I must act. My breath and heartbeat and peristalsis are events occurring to me, gifts freely given from what great source I cannot truly fathom. I won't pretend to resolve here a millennia-long question. And in the face of it, perhaps, at the very least, we might choose with lighter hearts, and enjoy the uncertainty knowing that our every action is effected upon waves of permission from powers greater than our own.
--Gil Hedley, Integral Anatomy
liveonearth: (Default)
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

About Pirsig and his book: I was made to read this book at approximately age 18, when I first started working at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. I was quite moldable, impressionable, unformed at that age. Payson Kennedy was in charge of training and orienting all new staff, and reading this book was his one requirement. What it taught me was a lesson that took many years to sink in, that small details deserve our full attention, that doing your best it the only way to do anything right. Thank you Payson for requiring us to read this book, for it has helped form my perspective for over 30 years since then. I think it may be time to reread it.

This of course was all brought up because Pirsig has died at the age of 88. It's encouraging to note that his book was rejected by 121 publishing houses before someone decided to print it.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/24/525443040/-zen-and-the-art-of-motorcycle-maintenance-author-robert-m-pirsig-dies-at-88
liveonearth: (moon)
Creationism gets treated by religious people as if it were a viable theoretical alternative to Evolution.  They do this in spite of the fact that evolution is broadly accepted by educated people world wide.  Evolution is obviously working on species today, and it is visible to any person with minimal powers of observation and exposure to the natural world.  Darwin was one such person.  Creationism is a myth, a dogma.  It is based on nothing other than a nice fictional book, and promoted by a whole lot of people who need a simple and colorul story to tell about how the world came to be.  Every culture, language and religion has its own creation story.  Creation stories can be spectacular and we love them.  But this does not make them theories in the scientific forum.  This does not make them true.  This just makes them good fiction.
liveonearth: (moon)
I'm feeling particularly unresolved at the moment.  Home sick and I've been sick enough to be unproductive.  Even holding up a book to read is hard work, though I did read about 100 pages yesterday.  I guess I resolve to read another 100 pages today, how's that for a start?
liveonearth: (moon)
The First Wave Extinction, which accompanied the spread of the foragers, was followed by the Second Wave Extinction, which accompanied the spread of the farmers, and gives us an important perspetive on the Third Wave Extinction, which industrial activity is causing today.  Don't believe tree-huggers who claim that our ancestors lived in harmony with nature.  Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving th emost plant and animmal species to their extinctions.  We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of biology.
--Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, 2015, p74.
liveonearth: (old books)
It's been decades since I read Siddhartha but it had a strong effect on me.  In my youth I was a philosophy major and a seeker, trying on different religious and spiritual approaches.  Eventually I arrived at myself, at the now, at the goals of non-attachment, awareness, compassion, adaptability.  I adopted bits and pieces of many philosophies, most notably Buddhism and Hinduism, without becoming a believer in reincarnation, heaven and hell, or any of the other dogmas.  New age religion in the US is very much a groovified hand-me-down from the culture behind these religions, and reincarnation is the most common belief system I encounter among people who pretend that they are enlightened.  More appealing to me is the stark realism of the German philosophers.  "To exist is to be in the way".

In Demian Herman Hesse suggests that the truth is not any of these religious structures, the truth is something far simpler, but harder to live.  It is not easy to go through this world stripped of comforting beliefs.  Hesse says we create gods and then we fight with them.  Many of his ideas are reminiscent of Nieztsche, for whom I've always had a soft spot.  He is the German philosopher who said "God is dead" and pissed off generations of religious people.

The protagonist of Demian is a young man named Sinclair, and his story begins when he is only 10 years old.  He is early at becoming aware.  Demian is a character who helps him, initially simply to avoid a predatorial character, and later to begin to think critically and to trust in himself.  When they are schoolmates Demian suggests alternate interpretations of Bible stories, especially the one about Cain and Able, and the mark of Cain.  By the end of the book I was thinking that I too must bear that mark, because I have never been a joiner, never been willing or able to submit to authority or dogma.

This book would make excellent reading for a teen who is beginning to sort out a path through all the competing authorities.  It does not provide a blueprint, but it does say that you must find your own path, and that it won't be easy or comfortable.  When Hesse first released this small book in 1919 it was in pieces in a magazine, and anonymously.  Why didn't he want his name attached?  Why didn't someone recognize his voice and thoughts, when they are so distinctly his?  Perhaps it is because Demian is also a commentary on the sadness of war, on the fruitlessness of giving lives for some shared ideal which might be bunk.  Some of the things he writes harken to the Jungian concept of collective consciousness, for example the shared premonitions of the onset of world war one.  Do we really share a consciousness, or do we simply share some of the same inputs, and arrive at some of the same intuitive conclusions?  Jung and Hesse did.

The most fruitful thing a person can do is to become themselves, I agree with Hesse on this point.  To be with people who are also themselves, this is a very satisfying thing.
liveonearth: (penguin types)
I just read that the elder Bush president has a few choice remarks for Cheney and Rumsfeld in his autobiography.  It takes having a senior president own these sentiments to bring them into the light of Republican day.  About time.

In particular, he objects to how Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reacted to 9/11. He feels they were too hawkish, taking a harsh, inflexible stance that tarnished America's reputation around the world.

"I don't know, he just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with," Bush told Meacham. "The reaction [to 9/11], what to do about the Middle East. Just iron-ass. His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East ..."

The elder Bush believes Cheney -- who had been his own defense secretary back when he held the White House -- acted too independently of his son. "The big mistake that was made was letting Cheney bring in kind of his own State Department," Bush said, apparently referring to the national security team that the vice president assembled in his office.

SOURCES
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/us/politics/elder-bush-says-his-son-was-served-badly-by-aides.html
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/11/05/exclusive-hw-bush-jabs-at-cheney-rumsfeld-in-new-book/
liveonearth: (moon)
Just finished this novel last night.  I don't read a lot of novels, but I have a few on my shelf which have always come to me strongly recommended by someone I trust.  I don't remember who gave me this one.  It might have been B.  She is very much into all things native.

The book is excellent.  It also was a 1984 bestseller and got a book critics circle award for fiction.  It was Erdrich's first novel, and I am sure that many of the subplots in it are bits and pieces from her upbringing as a half-Chippewa in North Dakota.

What strikes me about it, first, is the variety of perspectives the author is able to take.  She writes from first and third person perspectives of male and female characters, young and old.  She takes a hard look at alcoholism, and PTSD, at our legal system, at the rivalries and drama of siblings and marriages and humanity.  In the end I was lifted by her compassion, by knowing that there is a person out there who sees the love inside of troubled people and can write about it.

The book tells tales on Lulu Lamartine throughout the book, but you don't get to hear about the world from her point of view until the very end.  I liked Lulu, and many of the other characters.  Lulu took pleasure in life, in men, in her many sons.  She saw the beauty in things.  She forgave.  She kept her secrets.  There are those who would judge her for her sexuality, but there were many in the tribe that didn't, because they participated in it.

Another striking thing about this book is the way the stories unfold over time as each chapter tells another point of view.  The stories gradually work from long past to present, but sometimes in the present the truth is buried, instead of revealed.  Other stories come to light and make a difference for someone.  One of the most basic stories is that of a person's origins.  Who are your parents?  Where did you come from?  Do you know?  In a world full of illegitimate children, it's not a given.

I have a copy here to give away.  I recommend it.  
liveonearth: (moon)
...is worth overdoing. That was their mantra.

Completely Recommend.
is worth overdoing. )
liveonearth: (moon)
Having a relaxed mind is very useful in meditation. Relaxation is the foundation of deep concentration. When the mind is relaxed, it becomes more calm and stable. These qualities in turn strengthen relaxation, thus forming a virtuous cycle. Paradoxically, deep concentration is built on relaxation.

A similar mechanism works in the practice of mindfulness. I found lightness to be highly conducive to mindfulness. Lightness gives rise to ease of mind. When the mind is at ease, it becomes more open, perceptive, and nonjudgmental. These qualities deepen mindfulness, which in turn strengthens lightness and ease, thus forming a virtuous cycle of deepening mindfulness.


--Chade-Meng Tan in Search Inside Yourself; The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), (a 2012 book on meditation by an emotionally intelligent Google engineer), page 69.
liveonearth: (Where the wild things are)
The environment we're used to is designed to sustain us. We live like fish in an aquarium. Food comes mysteriously down, oxygen bubbles up. We are the domestic pets of a human zoo we call civilization. Then we go into nature, where we are least among equals with all other creatures. There we are put to the test. Most of us sleep through the test. We get in and out and never know what might have been demanded. Such an experience can make us even more vulnerable, for we come away with the illusion of growing hardy, salty, knowledgeable: Been there, done that.
--Laurence Gonzales in Deep Survival, page 133.
liveonearth: (House religion psychosis)
We are all, to some extent, crazy. If you come to know any human being well enough, you eventually gain access to the basement where the traumas and wounds and deprivations are stored; rummage in there for a while, and you begin to understand the neuroses and fixations that shape his or her personality. The successful, reasonably happy people I've known are nuts in a way that works for them. Those who struggle and suffer fail to turn their preoccupations to some meaningful use. Next week, the American Psychiatric Association release the latest version of its bible of mental illnesses, the DSM-5, which catalogs about 300 categories of crazy. Critics of all kinds have lined up to assail this dictionary of disorders as subjective and lacking in scientific validity--assembled primarily to justify the prescribing of pills of dubious value.

About 50 percent of the population, the APA admits, will have one of its listed disorders at some point in their lives. Shy, like Emily Dickinson? You have "avoidant personality disorder." Obsessed with abstractions and numbers? You have "autistic spectrum disorder," like Isaac Newton. Suffer form "narcissistic personality disorder," with some hypersexuality thrown in? You must be a politician. To be skeptical of these neat categories isn't to deny that minds get broken, stuck, or lost, and need help finding their way out of misery. But psychotherapy remains an art, not a science; there is no bright line between nuts or not. If you're an old lady who lives amid piles of newspapers and personal treasures, you have "hoarding disorder." If you're a CEO who exploits sweatshop labor to pile up countless billions, you're on the cover of Forbes.


--William Faulk (editor-in-chief) in The Week, May 24, 2013 issue.
liveonearth: (flower and bird)
Idle words are characterless and die upon utterance. Evil words rankle for a while, make contentions, and then die. But the hopeful, kind, cheering word sinks into a man’s heart and goes on bearing fruit forever. How many beautiful written words—words in book and song and story—are still inspiring men and making the world fragrant with their beauty! It is just so with the words you write, not on paper, but on the hearts of men. I wish there were room to mention here the testimonies of great men to the power of some hopeful, encouraging word they had spoken to them in youth and in the days of struggle. But every autobiography records this thing. Booker T. Washington tells how the encouragement of General Armstrong saved the future for him. I know a young man who is to-day filling a large and useful place in the world, who was kept to his high purpose in a time of discouragement by just an encouraging word from a man he greatly admired. That man’s word will live and grow in the increasing influence of the younger man. This world is full of men bearing in their minds deathless words of inspiration heard in youth from lips now still forever. Speak hopeful words every chance you get. Always send your young friends from you bearing a word that they will take into the years and fulfill for you.
--from The Enlargement of Life (1903) by Frederick Henry Lynch
liveonearth: (moon)
http://www.ted.com/talks/jon_ronson_strange_answers_to_the_psychopath_test.html

He speaks to the fact that all of us have some characteristics that are present on the diagnostic checklists for mental illness, and that we exist on a continuum. He has written a book with the subtitle "A Journey Through the Madness Industry".
liveonearth: (333 only half evil)
Most humans exist somewhere on that line between enslavement to destructive habits at one end and total consciousness and nonattachment at the other. In exactly the same way, freedom of choice can be represented as a continuum. Realistically, very few people could ever be found operating at the positive extreme, truly conscious and consistently free.
--Gabor Mate, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, p305.
liveonearth: (old books)

The Guru Papers
Masks of Authoritarian Power

by Joel Kramer and Diane Alstad

This book was particularly formative for my thinking.  I believe the first time I read it was about a decade ago, though it's been out longer.  I've recently loaned it to a friend and every time I pick it up I run across another awesome thought.  Basically it starts out looking at gurus, who they are and what they do, and why.  The tail end of the book is about authoritarianism, and the nuts and bolts of how people fall prey to bosses that don't even pay them.  It was partly this book that programmed me to be hyper-aware of the word "should".  I'm ready to re-read it, soon as I get it back...and have the time.
liveonearth: (moon)

What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and, especially important, to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument. The question is not whether we like the conclusion that emerges out of a train of reasoning, but whether the conclusion that emerges out of a train follows from the premise of starting point and whether that premise is true.
--Carl Sagan in his Baloney Detection Kit
if you want more )
liveonearth: (Default)
If you go home with somebody,
and they don't have books,
don't fuck 'em!

--John Waters
liveonearth: (stone face)
What survivors do...dissociate from the body and withdraw into the head.

Cut off from the body, one doesn't feel vulnerable. By identifying the self with the ego, one also gains the illusion of power. Since the will is the instrument of the ego, one truly believes "where there's a will, there's a way" or "one can do whatever one wills." This is true as long as the body has the energy to support the ego's directive. But all the willpower in the world is no help to a person who lacks the energy to implement the will. Healthy individuals do not operate in terms of willpower except in an emergency. Normal actions are motivated by feelings rather than by the will. One doesn't need willpower to do what one wants to do. There is no need to use the will when one has a strong desire. Desire itself is an energetic charge which activates an impulse leading to actions that are free and generally fulfilling. An impulse is a flowing force from the core of the body to the surface, where it motivates the musculature for action. The will, on the other hand, is a driving force that stems from the ego--the head--to act counter to the body's natural impulses. Thus, when one is afraid, the natural impulse is to run away from the threatening situation. However this may not always be the best action. One cannot always escape a danger by running. Confronting the threat may be the wiser course, but this is difficult to do when one is frightened and there is an impulse to run. In such situations mobilizing the will to counter the fear is a positive action.

--Alexander Lowen, MD, in Joy; The Surrender to the Body and to Life, page 81-82.

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