Posted by: lecubiste | December 3, 2016

This is the Time of Great Sadness

This is the time of great sadness.

Walls topple into oceans and rivers.

Coral reefs die in warm waters.

Nations at war.

Polar Bears starve.

Species going extinct,

And still the humans burn like there’s no tomorrow,

Lost in a world without precedent, without history,

Minds wiped clean by information devices

Selling, selling, selling

Products and propaganda while

The superwealthy retreat into security and isolation

Behind electric gates and cameras.

Beauty everywhere imperiled,

Cultural traditions wiped out by

Ecommerce and beggars,

Sleeping in the streets, in refugee camps,

Killing for religion, but really for angst,

The disquietude and immorality of the masses.

This is the time of great sadness.

Posted by: lecubiste | November 19, 2016

Lessons of Tai Chi

img_1433

I started doing Tai Chi in 1986 in Santa Rosa, California. My teacher was a 65 year old Polish woman, Mivanwy Plank. I have now been practicing for 30 years.

At first I just wanted to learn the moves.  I was looking for an exercise that if done daily would lead to lifelong health. I thought maybe tai chi was the answer.

What I found was that there is so much more going on in the practice than just exercise. It is:

  • A great wakeup. It takes around 15 minutes including a few minutes of warmup. When finished, one is fully awake and alert. It is so relaxing yet innervating even when I have not slept well, that it pulls me out of the cobwebs of sleep and dreams and places me in this world firmly.

  • It is a great exercise for growing older. One learns to move with the knees bent and the back straight. It is not so much the 15 minutes of tai chi that improves health, although it does, but it is more a form of movement therapy. I found myself moving the tai chi way all day long, back straight, moving from one foot to the other rhythmically. At the end of the day I had energy and was getting thing done, much better than before.

  • I practiced breathing with tai chi, inhaling when expanding my body and exhaling while contracting. This has since become an unconscious act.

  • It is self-defense. The slow motion practice includes kicks, punches, and blocking moves that are useful in self-defense.  The slow motion helps one to develop a very calm sense of presence.  This is very helpful for grounding and calm, not panicking or losing control. In the last thirty years I have not been in a fight. I think part of this is because of increased physical confidence and a calmer demeanor.

Now I am realizing some lessons of tai chi that are related to Chinese Traditional Medicine. Part of the experience of doing tai chi is becoming aware of chi, or spirit, inside and around us. As I move now very slowly during my practice, I find that my awareness of the world of chi around us has become more precise. This is the world of Tao, as in the old Chinese philosophy.

As I move I am feeling where there might be any aches or pains in my body. By moving very slowly through the motions of the tai chi postures, I am actually healing those aches and pains. Slow motion uses much less power and is easier on the body. By focusing my mind on the injured parts where the pain is, one directs attention to those parts, and accelerates the healing process.

If one is lucky enough to find a good teacher, learning tai chi can improve one’s life all through one’s life. That’s all for now. Good practice.

Posted by: lecubiste | November 12, 2016

Garrison Keillor Says It All

From the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-voters-will-not-like-what-happens-next/2016/11/09/e346ffc2-a67f-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html

Posted by: lecubiste | November 11, 2016

And so it comes to this…

And so it comes to this…

Newt Gingrich is back in the pitch,

Rudy Giuliani, America’s mayor?

Will these political hacks now be fair

In a Trump Administration? It curls the hair.

No more Muslims? A wall to be built

On our southern border, wrongheadedness to the hilt.

The Supreme Court lost for a generation.

Global warming wreaks havoc across the nation.

Lawsuits pending, no taxes shown,

Conflicts of interest, it cuts to the bone.

Health insurance for the poor, no more

As ignorance runs the Congress, and then there’s war.

The masses are truly terrified

Of where we are headed, it’s suicide.

 

One thing’s for sure – there is a God,

It’s Tao, Brahman, Ahura-Mazda,

Quetzalcoatl, the unity of all,

Spirit and Qi, the breath of St. Paul.

Rumi and Buddha, Jesus and Lao-tzu,

It’s out there, it’s real, let me tell you.

It’s time to demystify the eternal mystery,

God is unfathomable, our true state is humility.

All the lies and deceit must come to an end,

Our fate we must face, onto our knees we must bend.

NBS,  11-10-16,   VOC

Posted by: lecubiste | November 8, 2016

If we knew the history of any person

If we knew the history of any person,

Their trials and traumas, their tribulations,

Their successes and misfortunes,

Their heartbreaks and humiliations,

Their abusers and abusees,

We could see the etiologies

Of their social diseases, the mystery

Of why they lie and cheat and steal.

Why their heart seems not to feel,

Their indoctrinations and false beliefs,

Their psychodramas and narratives,

The scripts that play in their minds,

That end in destruction half the time,

Their world views and unmet needs,

That cause those crimes and evil deeds.

Then we would surely sympathize

At the corruption of innocence,

Are we not all vulnerable in the same sense?

There but for the grace of God go we.

No one perfect, none of us completely free

From the vicissitudes of Mother Fate.

 Do we not yet sometimes hate?

 

NBS

11-8-16

VOC

 

Posted by: lecubiste | November 2, 2016

Thirty Ravens

Thirty ravens were sitting on a fence,

Crowing and cawing and trying to make some sense.

‘Hilary,’ says one. ‘Trump’ says another.

‘I was voting for Bernie’, says his brother.

‘This blamed campaign is screwier than corn.’

‘This election makes me wish I’d never been born.’

‘Russians hacking Podesta’s email?

Wikileaks dumping it, and Assange in jail.’

‘The KKK just endorsed Trump.’

‘This whole thing’s starting to smell like the dump.’

‘Mosul just about to blow.

Duterte cussing, says he’ll stop the show.’

‘Global warming’s starting to take its toll.

Migrants on boats, across the Mediterranean they row.’

‘Comey steps on his Weiner,

I can’t hear any mo’.

‘Two candidates in controversy,

Neither one shows any mercy.’

‘Hang the cost, it’s DC or bust.

CNN and Fox News,

And not a shred of trust.’

‘Debates and conventions, ads on TV.

I’ve had my fill of punditry.’

‘The polls keep changing from one day to the next,

The middle keeps shifting from right to left,

And back again, what a pain in the neck!

‘The Donald is captured on a mike on a bus,

Now out of the woodwork come women yelling ‘Bust!’

‘Hilary’s emails, can we take anymore?

It’s enough to make you want to burn down the store.’

‘Gary Johnson can’t remember his own name.

Jill Stein, who’s that? Some Greenie wants some fame.’

‘Naw, Caw, caw, I can’t stand it, I’m finished.

This whole election has diminished

The US of A, even anti-Semitics

Get their day in the sun in this travesty of civics.’

‘I’m going back over to that there pecan tree,

See if I can’t find some nuts for the Mrs. and me.’

‘Yeah’, says his friend, ‘it’ll soon be winter.

I’m hunkering down til we see who’s the winner.’

‘What winner?’ says another,’ The winner is Putin.

I’m just waiting for Trump to open his mouth and put his foot in.’

NBS

11-2-16

Dia De Los Muertos

VOC

 

Posted by: lecubiste | November 1, 2016

Watch This Movie, then Pass It On!

Posted by: lecubiste | October 28, 2016

Addiction and Religion in the Modern Era

 

‘Desire is the cause of suffering,’ the Buddha said.  It is certainly one of its causes, along with poverty, ignorance, and egocentrism.

Addiction is a failure of the will. There is no rationale that supports addiction, but here’s the thing. Given that addiction is an irrational failure of the will giving into an impulsive and habitual desire, addiction comes in many forms. Chemical dependency can mean external drugs including opiates amphetamines, etc…; and the non-drug drugs such as sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol all of which fool the nervous system. There are also internal drugs such as endorphins released in the brain by exercise, sex, anger, and other habitual behaviors that equally cannot be justified by rational arguments. Too much of any good thing becomes a bad thing, and toxic behaviors are forms of addiction.

So what is the answer?  The Buddha gave a formula:  the eight-fold path. These eight areas of life can be developed as skill sets and adopted in healthy ways. Through the acceptance of the eight-fold path one can learn to moderate desire and balance behavior.

The eight-fold path caught on in China much more than in India, where Gautama lived.  This is because the Ba Gua, meaning the 8 directions, had been a basic tenet of Chinese culture for more than 3,000 years when Buddhism arrived in China. The I Ching or Book of Changes, the 64 times of life based on the Ba Gua, had been around for more than 500 years.

When a prophet, an ascended human being, comes along, a Gautama or Mohammed, it is the energy of that being that is most recognized at the time, but it is the structure of the philosophy that they leave behind that is remembered.  That is the genius of the prophets, that they develop a system that can outlive them to serve as a guide for future generations.

Examples:

  • Moses’ 10 Commandments

  • Ouspensky’s Psychology of the Possible Evolution of Man

  • The Seven Deadly Sins

  • Lao-Tse and the Tao Te Ching (Treatise on the Value of the Way)

  • Gautama’s 8-fold path

  • Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

  • The Crest Jewel of Discrimination by Sankara

  • The Ba Gua of Ancient China

  • King Wen’s I Ching or Book of Changes

  • The Holy Trinity of Christianity

The origin systems of all religions came from founders who had risen to the level of divine revelation.  Scientists have a hard time with this concept. Why? Science was a development of the reason that arose as an alternative to superstition and ignorance. Unfortunately science has developed an unhealthy hubris about itself, an arrogant attitude that it explains everything, or if not, that it is the only division of human civilization capable of explaining things in nature and life.

Science has taken the point of view that those things that cannot be proven to exist by empirical means do not exist. Here science mistakenly rejects some basic inductive reasoning when it comes to religion. That which is universal to human civilizations both in time and geography, which religion is, probably indicates the existence of something real. A scientific analysis of the spiritual phenomena that have led to the creation of religions would have to begin with an open mind and the ability to use systems of analysis that can deal effectively with phenomena not in direct evidence.

That is because spiritual phenomena are apparent only to a small number of individuals. It is tempting and easy to reject the claims of this small number that there is a world beyond the one of the five senses. It was the modern spiritual savant Pandit Gopi Krishna of Kashmir who wrote extensively about the development of a new sense, a sixth sense if you will. He described its physiology drawing on ancient writings and his own personal experience.

Krishna wrote that the evolution of a sixth sense reveals a world beyond the other five.  He wanted to see the initiation of scientific research to examine his beliefs. He knew of this other world because he sensed it, as we might see a flower or a bee. This is the equivalent of sight to a blind man. It was what Carlos Castaneda wrote of as ‘seeing’ in his many books explaining the ancient religion of Mexico and Central America.

What are the characteristics of one who has activated this sixth sense?

  1. A quantum increase in mental power

  2. The sensing of and ability to obtain information from a previously unsensed world

  3. A feeling of energy flow from the sacrum to the cranium and around the body

  4. The sudden emergence of artistic and scientific abilities

  5. Intense feelings of both pleasure and despair, as seen in nearly all geniuses

Krishna wrote about this as “The biological basis of genius and religion.” Designing a research project that could establish the existence of this sixth sense is a challenge for sure.  Studying the lives of geniuses and religious founders can provide some empirical data for an analysis.

Deductive reasoning and deterministic models are preferred in science.  When Kepler observed patterns in the motion of planets, the laws of motion were not understood.  It took Isaac Newton to postulate a deterministic model, Newton’s Laws of Motion, to understand not just how the planets move but why. Einstein invented E=MC2 to describe a still more refined pattern of motion at high velocities and over great distances, and to quantify the equivalence and conversion of light and matter. Yet the cause of this motion has still not been formulated into laws that explain why.

Heisenberg developed his Principle of Uncertainty to suggest that no deterministic model of the atom could be arrived at.  He developed quantum mechanics, a purely probabilistic model that led to statistical thermodynamics, but not to the equivalent of Newton’s deterministic models and equations of his Laws of Motion. Einstein said of this, “God does not play dice with the Universe.” He spent his last years looking for the ‘Unified Field Theory’ and developed a series of equations but in the end admitted that he could not come up with it. I would suggest that the Unified Field Theory can and will only be derived after the human race proves itself worthy of such a deep understanding.  Otherwise sheer madness would result as the nations of the world competed to see who could develop a new superweapon first. A cursory look at the world’s current military situation clearly demonstrates this. Wars in Syria, Iraq, Africa, and trouble across Asia and elsewhere show that the human race is not ready for such knowledge.

The reason I explain this is that science has no problem with a purely statistical and probabilistic model of the world when it has a practical and materialistic use. No problem at all. If a similar approach to religion was taken, models could be developed that show the factors that lead to the founding of religions.  Factors of history, culture, and societies combined with genetics and the environmental conditioning of certain rare but nevertheless existent individuals can be shown to result in the emergence of Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and all the others. There would be laws that could predict when and where new religions would materialize. This can be combined with the physiology of geniuses and prophets as Krishna explained.

In the scientific domain religion would become the domain of sociology and anthropology without reducing it to the status of a mental problem. Controversy often squelches such research because those who believe in religion fear the loss of their followers if it was shown that all religions are essentially based on the same principles.  How could their theory of theological monopoly be supported if they had no special status in “The eyes of God.”

Thus we return to the recurrent theme of the modern world: How can we bring human civilization into the modern world? In economic and politics, the recurring nagging problem is: how to integrate societies and get cooperation – building bridges instead of walls.  The same is true of philosophies and religions. In the Middle East we see the clash inside Islam between Shiites and Sunnis. Today we see the Pope speaking to Lutherans, trying to heal the wounds of Christianity caused by the conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism.

These divisions exist in virtually all major religions. There are different kinds of Buddhism and Hinduism.  We see ancient conflicts between the three Abrahamic religions – Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.  We see Islam and Hinduism at conflict in Kashmir, again. In China religion is virtually banned while Buddhism survives in small isolated enclaves. Tibet is under special Chinese military rule.

Is it possible that all this is simply militaristic nationalism alloyed with local religion, operating under tribal allegiance to a people and a national boundary?  In other words, perhaps religion is like gravity, a natural aspect of the world that can be understood by science. Perhaps religion is as natural to societies as rain is to the jungle. All religions in this view are just different versions of the same phenomenon in human societies.

This approach will eventually prevail if societies are given a chance to weigh all this in the light of reason. Perhaps Jesus and Gautama are the same as Moses and Mohammed, the same as Sankaracharya and Zoroaster, Socrates and Quetzalcoatl, all prophets. They come and go leaving in their wake religions and philosophies.

In our modern time the isolationist and egocentric view that any of our societies is somehow unique and a special case in the eyes of the Great Spirit cannot survive. Removing this obstacle from relations between civilizations on the world today would free us to embrace our human condition, and not to condemn so many of our fellow humans. One can hope and try.

Posted by: lecubiste | October 22, 2016

How Can Trump Get Away with His Many Outrageous Statements?

56a16d84dce11-image

Here are some of the shocking things Donald Trump has said while running for President:

  1. Referring to his opponents with insulting nicknames – Lying Ted, Crooked Hilary and others.  This technique was so surprising that 16 Republicans had no defense.  They couldn’t believe that he would resort to such elementary school age talk, or that voters were OK with it.

  2. Blocking all Muslims from entering the US – this idea is racist and a violation of the US Constitution’s freedom of religion.  In  the history of our country we have never done this. We passed laws against entry from many countries, we interned Japanese US citizens during WWII, and  African-Americans were enslaved before the passage of the 13th Amendment, but freedom of religion has been with us from the beginning.

  3. The Access Hollywood tape in which he admits to sexually assaulting women. He now denies the events that he confessed to ever took place. This makes him at best a braggart and a liar, and at worst he should be on trial for sexual assault.

  4. His reference to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers.  Ironically he is currently being sued for rape by a woman who says he raped her when she was 13.

  5. His statements about women’s looks – everything from beauty pageant contestants to depicting Megyn Kelly as having menstrual blood coming out of her, to Rosie O’Donnell. This includes stating that some women who have accused him of sexual assault aren’t good looking enough for him to have assaulted. At first we thought that we must have misunderstood, but no, that’s what he meant.

  6. His statement that African Americans have “nothing to lose” by voting for him and that they live in Hell.

  7. His statement that John McCain was not a war hero because he was a POW. How can any soldier vote for him?

  8. His exhortations to his followers at his rallies to beat up protesters at those rallies.

  9. His statement that he won’t necessarily defend our NATO Partners.

  10. That maybe Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea should obtain nuclear weapons.

This is an abbreviated list but you get the idea. In any other election year any one of these comments would kill a campaign. Trump knew it was different this election when he said he “… could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”. How is this possible?  What has happened?

How is it that these inane views can pass muster with any section of the electorate? Other statements add to the list of juvenile, conceited, misogynist, racist, and utterly self -centered ideas expressed by this socially retarded man. He appears to have been a rich and spoiled child that never grew up and is used to always getting his way.

As I pointed out in a previous post, the freedom to say whatever you want in the media without being corrected or without even any alternative point-of-view spawned hate radio and now hate TV. A large part of the Republican Party, formerly known as the Tea Party and now known as the Freedom Caucus, has disconnected itself from any allegiance to American traditional political values including civility and loyalty to the government. These values have been replaced by libertarian free market fanatics and evangelical extremism when it comes to the Supreme Court.

This group has identified Donald Trump as their spokesperson. The real Libertarians of the Republican Party, the Bushes, McCain, Paul Ryan, and other mainstream politicians have rejected Trump and his values.  Yet this is so far having little effect on the Freedom Caucus. 

We should thank Trump in a way for exposing this ulcer on the American body politic.  It shows how much work must be done to heal our society. Bernie Sanders also tapped into the angst of America, but Sanders played by the rules, and he and Clinton have made peace. It is clear that Ms. Clinton will side with the Democratic core values of equal rights and freedom of choice.

After the election, assuming that Trump loses, there will be much work to be done to clean up this mess. If a Republican Congress or a majority in either house can obstruct government from doing business, such as blocking budgets and/or Supreme Court nominees, then the election of 2018 will be fought over obstruction. This year’s election heralds the beginning of something, not its end.

Posted by: lecubiste | October 12, 2016

Trump? Why is this Happening!!??!! Seriously…

trump20rage

How can we explain this election cycle and the phenomenon that is Donald Trump?

Let’s start with the rise of conservatism in the time of Carter and Reagan. This was a time when deregulation began to catch on, starting with the deregulation of the airlines under Carter. A novel experiment in pure market economics, it has led to the bankruptcy of over 100 airlines (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airline_Deregulation_Act). With the onset of conservatism under Reagan, deregulation sounded like a good idea.  In 1987 the FCC under Reagan eliminated the “Fairness Doctrine”, which required media outlets to offer equal time to alternative viewpoints.

If there was an editorial opinion on CBS radio for example, the station had to offer an alternate viewpoint by a representative of groups advocating that alternate view. With the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, fairness in media was gone.  Not all outlets dropped the alternate view practice, but in 1988 Rush Limbaugh began what was to become known as “hate radio”. Limbaugh was soon syndicated all over the country.

In 1994, following the failure of health care reform under Hilary Clinton’s leadership, a Republican majority was elected in the house, in the wave election led by Newt Gingrich.  The polarization of America had begun. In 1996 Fox News, owned by the tabloid newspaper owner Rupert Murdock, began its biased and one-sided coverage of news along the lines of Rush Limbaugh, with the slogan “fair and balanced.”

 Fox News was neither fair nor balanced. Hate radio morphed into hate TV. Eight years of Clinton culminating in a ghastly impeachment and trial of Clinton was followed by the election of George W. Bush, a born-again Christian.

The election of Bush in 2000 had led to the splitting of the Supreme Court along partisan lines. As the Bush Administration went forward conducting the war in Iraq, within the Republican Party something was stirring. In a new era of transparency online, no requirement for fairness, and cable television news, the old style of politics that had always dominated the parties began to disappear, replaced by uncompromising ideological extremism.  This manifested in the Republican Party as the Tea Party.

During the presidency of Barack Obama the Tea Party began to take over the Republican Party. Ideological extremism combined with post-Civil War racism as the Republican Party finished its takeover of the South and the Bible Belt. The Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated by a Tea Party member in his own primary in 2014, and finally last fall John Boehner was forced to retire to make way for a Speaker acceptable to the Tea Party.

In this chaos emerged Donald Trump. Trump promoted the “Birther” movement, something that clearly appealed to the racist elements in the Tea Party who rejected the idea of a first Black President. Along with Fox News and hate radio, Trump slowly gathered steam. Hate radio and hate TV personalities perpetuate a kind of conspiracy-theory fantasy world, one that was both plausible to its listeners, largely uneducated white men, and frightening enough if believed to cause near panic in enough listeners and viewers that extreme views and actions resulted.

White nationalism began to appear, and Trump fed the fire with fuel by pushing the immigration issue.  Muslims and Mexicans were both favorite targets of the white nationalists, and soon after came the traditional African-American prejudice and the racist trifecta was complete. This was soon followed by violence advocated by Trump and carried out by his followers at rallies. The comparison with the rise of National Socialism in Germany under Hitler in the 1920s and 30s bears a resemblance, and similarly with Fascism under Mussolini in Italy during the same time. Nationalism, racism, absolutism, violence to suppress one’s political rivals, are all hallmarks of the rise of dictators.

Trump’s extremism and bullyboy tactics are reminders of previous eras. He appeals to America’s extremist elements that have slowly come to dominate the Republican Party. It is only the real-time news and the modern tendency to record everything, even when the mike is supposedly off, that has tripped up Trump.  The Internet has similarly dogged Hillary Clinton through emails and hacking, though Clinton’s offences are less important or extreme.

Donald Trump understands Reality Television and the importance of sex tapes in garnering media attention.  After all, who are Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian but reality television stars whose fame goes back to “leaked” sex tapes? When Trump wanted to denigrate Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe who exposed his Boorish nature, of course he invented a non-existent sex tape for her. This is his milieu, his subculture, of Howard Stern sex talk shows and name licensing of products from pizzas to steaks to wine and golf courses to real estate school a la Trump University.

This election is an odd mix of modern communication technology, the increasing polarization of America due to the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, and a Republican Party that cannot any longer control its members. Trump has nearly completed his party takeover, just as the whole kluge goes flying over a cliff. Oddly enough, if Trump loses the election he still wins the takeover of the Republican Party. The next question will be, does Trump start his own news empire? Even if he does, it will most likely fail as most of his business enterprises have. He is still in the middle of several law suits over Trump University.

Vote!

Older Posts »

Categories