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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Love is all you need

One of my favorite stories from my time as a guru disciple is the tale of the great King Janaka and the sage Vashishta in ancient "India." Of course, when the term "ancient" is used, we are talking about myth. King Janaka may or may not have existed, but the story is a great one, and has far-reaching implications for our current predicament.

The king is described as wise, benevolent and just, he lived in a lavish palace, was served sumptuous meals, attended by many servants, and had great wealth and power. The way the story was told by the guru was that King Janaka would enjoy his kingdom, but when he slept he would have a vivid dream that he was alone in a forest, starving and miserable, covered in filth, lost and wandering.

Janaka would have this dream repeatedly, and became distressed, wondering which was real, the dream or the waking state. He summoned the great sage Vashishta, told him about the dream, and asked him, "Oh, sage! Which is real, the dream or the waking state?"

The sage Vashishta answered him, "Oh, king! When will you wake up? Neither is real." A more elaborate rendition is given at the website Atmapress: "'King Janaka, neither of these two roles is true. You alone are true. You, yourself, are the truth. The you who was present as the witnessing conscious in both the dream state and in the waking state; that you who witnessed both these states, is the true reality. Life during the daytime is a day-dream; during the night it is a night-dream. They are both illusions. They are filled with defects and flaws because they constantly change from one thing to another; so they cannot be real. Only you who remain unchanged in all these states are real, free of all change and illusion.' This was also emphasized in the Gita, where Krishna pointed out the important truth that the world is constantly changing and that the Self alone is real and ever unchanging."

This story has stayed with me over the years, and it continues to provide a calming perspective on the events and noise of modern life. I am not a king, and I have both enjoyable and not-so-enjoyable dreams. I do live reasonably well, though, and like anyone else in "America," am bombarded with stimuli from the physical world on a daily basis. Much of that stimuli is from the various mass communication media: radio, television, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, books and even pamphlets and flyers.

Another way of putting it is to quote the great statement from the Upanishads of Vedanta scripture: "jagan mithya" - the world is false. Only Brahman, absolute consciousness, is real.

Somewhere in my studies I remember reading or hearing about how there is a continuum between the material level and the absolute level of reality, with the material level being the least real, or most unreal. One of these days I'll have to study the topic more in depth, but for now, the important thing is what this insight says about life on this plane of consciousness.

Polar bears taking a break. They depend on our good will for their survivalIt is at its core false. It will end for each and every one of us. There is nothing permanent about physical reality, our desires, our fears, our pains and pleasures, and our beliefs about them. Failure to recognize this inevitably leads to false methods of being on this plane, and various ploys and deceptions on ourselves and others in order to make the unreal real.

A very simple example of this occurred a couple of Saturdays ago, when I was listening to the news on National Public Radio (NPR). I couldn't find it in the archives, but reporter Julie McCarthy referred to the "Pakistani Taliban" as "Al Qaeda backed militants." The assumption and implication of this statement is twofold: that "Al Qaeda" exists to the degree that it can "back" an army of "militants" or "terrorists," and that said "militants" would not be doing what they are doing without the "backing" of "Al Qaeda."

This is not a small or insignificant example. A relationship between the now mythical "Al Qaeda" and the "Pakistani Taliban" has been established, not by demonstration of fact, not backed by evidence, but by conventional wisdom. This is from the most credible established news source in the country, National Public Radio.

Continuing with National Public Radio, Bush criminal regime strategist Karl Rove was interviewed on Fresh Air on March 17. Rove was quizzed as if he had something real and valuable to say, when his entire adult life has been consumed with the pursuit of criminal means to gain and abuse power.

Many people posted comments to the show, disagreeing with Rove on several points, and I of course had my own take, seen on this page:

The power behind the throneIt is a testament to how far we have fallen as a people that Karl Rove would be considered a legitimate guest on the country's most credible interview program. By any objective standard the Bush regime was the most criminal in the nation's history, and the most serious threat to the planet ever.

Rove, filling the intellectual vacuum presented by Bush, was the mastermind of this criminal operation, at least to the degree that what was purveyed could be called mastery of anything. Thankfully, this criminal operation ultimately failed, though it is far from finished with its scheming.

First in the attempts to re-legitimize the Bush criminal regime is to re-legitimize Karl Rove. This scheme began with his ascension, in a manner of speaking, Charles Manson, relatively small-time criminalto a position at the mob-incitement network known as Fox. Then, to expand the encroachment, Fresh Air. Next, who knows?

I just think for balance other great criminals should have their say on Fresh Air. How about Charles Manson? Richard Allen Davis? Rodney Alcala? John Albert Gardner? If you don't like the comparisons, I have a few questions. Are you happy with the elections of 2000 and 2004? Are you happy with the invasions and occupations of "Iraq" and "Afghanistan?" The economy? Torture? 911?
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 8:43:25 PM
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An even better example of this penchant for falsehood is the Obama Administration. Elected on a wave of hope for the future and revulsion for the criminal regime he was replacing, Obama took office with the expectation that he would usher in a new era of peace, harmony, economic recovery, and justice for all.

The euphoria lasted a few months, but is long gone. Obama appointed and reappointed some of the key players in our economic collapse to top positions in his cabinet and the Federal Reserve System (Chairman).

There is no change in our economic order, and no intention to change it.

Health care reform is now known as "Health insurance reform." It reforms nothing, but will bring billions more in dollars to the insurance companies. Obama has been campaigning around the country, but given his toothless "reform" plan, the campaign is really for his presidency.

Fleeing “Afghani” civiliansWe are still bogged down in two "wars," which are technically "military campaigns" waged without declarations of war against anyone or any country. Our various forces are attacking unarmed civilians on a regular basis in "Afghanistan," and are busy doing something or other in "Iraq." After seven years in "Iraq" and eight plus in "Afghanistan," one would think something meaningful would have been accomplished by now. Maybe next week.

Guantanamo prisoners being “processed”The prison in "Guantanamo Bay," "Cuba," is still operating.

Obama has backed off on trying "Guantanamo" prisoners in civilian courts, reverting to the military tribunals of the Bush criminal regime.

The domestic spying system set up by the Bush criminal regime is still in place.

Obama's "Race to the Top" education "reform" is doomed to failure. The very name "Race to the Top" means some win, most lose. What kind of education system is it that makes it official policy to establish a division of its students between "winners" and "losers?"

More can be gleaned about the Obama regime's backtracking on its vision at a recent Democracy Now, where longtime analyst Noam Chomsky is interviewed.

We have been deluding ourselves. We would be better off if we had political candidates who promised to do very little, would work to keep the system going, and would serve whatever interest that would pay the most for what it wanted. At least it would be a little more honest.

Or does it matter? If the world is false, so what? This level of reality is inherently unreal - temporary, illusory, relative, limited, subjective, and a vast ocean of suffering.

Love is all you needIt matters. There is something real in this world. Love is real. Compassion is real. All else that is true flows from this fundamental reality. The Beatles were right. All you need is love.

I have been lucky. Lucky to be alive, for one thing, after a number of close calls. Lucky to leave Catholicism when I found it lacking (And, I might add, lucky to have flunked out of being an altar boy.). Lucky to have served in the U.S. Army without killing or being killed. Lucky to have more formal education than most people dream of attaining. Lucky to have worked skillfully in numerous occupations, not being enslaved by any of them, able to maintain my dignity, and free to walk away when conditions warranted. Lucky to have nearly free medical care when so many others have no care whatsoever. Lucky to have reached retirement age with at least some semblance of a livable income in the offings.

The chakras in the human subtle bodyBut the one thing I am most lucky to have availed in this life is the state of love. It has been a gift from the Divine realm. I did not know what love was until 1976, though I thought I did. It took an awakening, Shaktipat Diksha, at the level of the heart, or Anahata Chakra in yogic terms (I wrote about the experience a bit in Altered states and I love a parade.). I used to believe it came from my erstwhile guru, Swami Muktananda, but now I'm not so sure. I was staying at a Sikh ashram right here in Madison, Wisconsin, and the awakening may have been due to the various difficult Kundalini Yoga exercises I was doing.

The chakra system explainedOr it may just have been a reward for my intense study of yoga philosophy at the time. Whatever the reason, the experience of love has been the overriding meaningful experience of my life, and the guiding principle.

This does not mean that I am an expert by any means, or that I have attained anything. It also does not mean that I don't have to make an effort to be a better person, or that I can stand by while others are suffering.

Quite the contrary. Love is what motivates me to write this blog. It motivates me to send money here and there to make the world a better place (It's not much money. I don't have much.). It motivates me to fight, or more accurately, to contend, where assumed power assumes too much. Sometimes that contention is for my own survival on this planet, and sometimes it is for the well-being of others. In the immortal words of that great sage Kenny Rogers, sometimes you have to fight (or contend) when you're a man. You just have to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em; know when to walk away, know when to run.

All you need is love was ridiculed when the Beatles introduced it in 1967. "Right wingers" would certainly find the notion ridiculous today. "Left wingers" aren't such beacons of love either, but the energy state (not emotion - that is only a lower manifestation) is more likely to be found in people who advocate the things "leftists" favor.

As we move in time towards increasing severity of the problems of climate change, the unsustainability of our economic system, the breakdown of our social order, and of mass paranoia, it should be pretty obvious that the only thing that will get us out of this mess is love, and its correspondent energy of compassion. If we fail, it will be a failure of being.

All the hysteria about Obama's near-meaningless health care bill is failure of being. Failed human beings, fueled by hatred of nothing, are consumed with loathing of Obama because he is perceived as "black."
Barack Obama in Photoshop
It is a made-up projection of fear, murderous in intent, based on the nothingness of "race." There is no such thing as "race."

So we are at a crossroads. I look at it as an easy crossroads. We may choose to descend into raging fear and hatred, but the longer the rabble-rousing continues at Fox News and other mob-incitement media, the more precarious and desperate it becomes. It is an energy that has to go to more extreme levels of falsehood and hysteria in order to sustain itself. Unless the dupes of hysteria are able to reach superhuman levels of fanaticism, they will fall ill and die in large numbers. They tend to be older, so it is unlikely that these superhuman levels will be seen.

Lest we forget, we recently emerged from this. We can go back to it, or worse, or we can move forward.

In other words, the times, they are a changin'. Soon, I believe, our energies will shift. We can start by putting a little love in our hearts.
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The Beatles Let it Be album cover, 1970Here are a few more Beatles songs that fit the theme: I want to hold your hand, And I love her, She loves you, Love me do, I saw her standing there, You've got to hide your love away, Words of love (a Buddy Holly song, great version), Eight days a week, Dear Prudence, Rain, Across the Universe, Within you and without you, In my life, Act Naturally, Tomorrow Never Knows, Flying/Blue Jay Way, Dear One, Here comes the sun, and Let it Be.

Sai Baba of ShirdiThis is for anyone I have ever loved. (A couple of alternate versions can be seen here and here. Click here for chords and lyrics. Full text of lyrics is here,and here if you want an easy copy and paste.) The picture at 0:48 is of Sai Baba of Shirdi, a renowned Sufi saint of "India." The video was pretty obviously filmed in Rio (de Janeiro), but curiously, there is a wall there with pictures of holy beings of "India." At the end of my time in "India" in 1978, Muktananda sponsored a tour of sacred cities of the "Maharashtra" state of "India." One of them was Shirdi. I had one of my most, er, powerful experiences there, while sitting on a bench across from where Sai Baba meditated. According to legend, where I was sitting was the spot Sai Baba's guru sat watching him while he meditated. (Here's some info about the creator of the song and video, Michael Franti.)

Another aspect of the video worth mentioning is that the men dressed in white who look like they are break dancing are actually practicing Capoeira, a dance-martial art form developed by "African" slaves in "Brazil." By disguising the fighting style with dance and music, the slaves were able to avoid suppression of the practice by plantation owners. There's a Capoeira group that operates in Madison, and one at the University of Wisconsin as well.

The snake at 1:11 in the video appears to be a young "Brazilian" python. If you can stand to look at snakes, this site shows pictures of the variety of snakes in "Brazil."

"Eterna Paz Para A Comunidade" painted on the wall at 3:38 of the video is "Portuguese" for "Eternal Peace for the comunity."
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Postscript:
Tonight (March 24) I went to a talk given by Vandana Shiva, a world leader in the movement to return to sanity. Whatever you might find lacking in what I have written will easily be filled in by this very smart, courageous, and strong woman from "India." The emphasis of her work is agriculture, and you can find out more at her website, Navdanya.

In the question and answer period after her talk an audience member, who appeared to be a retired professor of either Biology or Agriculture (of the industrial sort), asked a loaded question, which was really not a question, about how it is that the "Green revolution" has been so successful in feeding people.

She answered him eloquently, concisely, to the point, and explained that the supposed statistics of success are selective and faked, that there is more starvation worldwide as a result of the "Green revolution," and that rampant world population growth is also a result of the "Green revolution." The guy went cringing away, stunned by her knowledge and strength. The UW student newspaper The Badger Herald did excellent coverage of the event, including a video of the audience questions.
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I missed the talk on campus by economist and author Jeremy Rifkin in December, but a synopsis can be read here.
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This interview with author Naomi Wolf is worth reading.
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I started following this blog today, only to find out the author died earlier this month. It's still worth checking out.
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Dan Ariely, behavioral economistHere's a short reading list:

Economics without illusions

Freakonomics

Predictably Irrational

Towards a Steady State Economy
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In the realm of Hip-hop music, one would be hard-pressed to top this classic. Knowing the words got me through many a day of substitute teaching.
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I also post these musings at Smirking Chimp, which has a lot of other useful items to read. I post them here and here as well, but these sites are pretty obscure. The Obama blog is for campaign supporters. A little free speech will do them good.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbeknownst to most people, The Beatles were satanic.

Video's discussing satanism in the entertainment industry-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00W93kE-ZE0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50ZedImnF0c

4/14/2014 7:31 AM  
Blogger John Hamilton said...

Gee, that's really serious. More interesting is the type of people who find and obsess about such silliness. I suspect it is rooted in a need to feel "better" than others. What better way to feel superior to someone than to spread the rumor that he, or they, are satanic? If your music talent is low, hey, just say the Beatles are Satanic and you are automatically better than talent.

And let's not forget Robert Johnson, who met the Devil at "the Crossroads," and made a deal - best bluesman in the world in exchange for his soul. Here's a song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7ZzfjRzZuk This too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd60nI4sa9A

Here's an album written and performed by well-known Satanists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdUVn1OmQtc

5/05/2014 9:03 PM  

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