Archive for the cosmology Category

The Lion’s Roar: Cutting through illusion to the heart of the matter

Posted in analysis, books, common ground, consciousness, cosmology, empowerment, epistemology, freedom, inspiration, must-read, ontology, peace, philosophy, political philosophy, political theory, psychology, quotes, religion, religious philosophy, social theory, spirituality, truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2013 by jtoddring
“There is no difference between theism and non-theism, basically speaking. Declaring an involvement with any kind of ‘ism’ turns out to be a matter of self and other. In fact, the whole question of self and other can then become very important. But if you really pursue any spiritual path, you will discover, surprisingly, that self and other are one thing. Self is other, other is self.”
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Speaking of Silence

It is extremely rare to hear anyone speak of spirituality or philosophy who actually gets to the heart of the matter, and does not merely flit about the surface. Chogyam Trungpa and a handful of others are the exception to the rule. In a sea of noise and dross, confusion and illusion, such voices of basic sanity are profoundly refreshing to hear.

The atheists and the theists are both off the mark – the former probably more so than the latter, admittedly. But that is alright. They will figure it out sooner or later. Reality will dawn on all, eventually.

“The number of minds in the universe is one.” – Erwin Schrodinger

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

More from Trungpa Rinpoche:

GREAT COMPASSION IS PAINFULLY REASONABLE

“With great compassion, because you have developed clarity, you do not have doubts and you are not unreasonable. You realize that the best way to be skillful is to be reasonable. When you are fully reasonable, actually reasonable—and to a certain extent, painfully reasonable—you begin to experience the genuineness of situations and act accordingly, in a way that is appropriate to the situation.”

—The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume Two, by Chögyam Trungpa http://www.shambhala.com/the-bodhisattva-path-of-wisdom-and-compassion.html

The second central truth to all authentic spiritual paths, is that, since self and other are intimately related, interconnected, interdependent, and in truth, one, therefore, love, kindness and compassion are not just nice, pleasant, virtuous or noble, but simply a matter also of enlightened self-interest.

If we are awake, then we will live with compassion. That is the central teaching of all the great religions. It is also the central premise of the Enlightenment – the central underlying value which underpins and is the foundation of the core Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, solidarity and democracy. This is the foundation for an enlightened life, and also, an enlightened society.

J. Todd Ring,
November 13, 2013

For further reading, see Ken Wilber, No Boundary; Alan Watts, The Book; Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy; Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe; Renee Weber, Dialogues With Scientists and Sages; Holgar Kalweit, Dreamtime and Inner Space; Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self; The Diamond Sutra, The Heart Sutra, The Prajnaparamita Sutra, The Uttaratantra; The Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu; The Gospel of Thomas, Marvin Meyers Transl; Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Harvard Divinity School Address; and the writings of Chogyam Trungpa – as a good start.

Are we alone? More importantly, are we even awake?

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, anthropology, books, collapse, consciousness, conservation, cosmology, crash, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, end-game, environment with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2013 by jtoddring

The “man the life boats and head for the stars” answer to our present human dilemmas is simply delusional. We can and should explore space, but if we don’t get our act together here on this planet immediately, we’re dead – extinct: plain and simple.

A recent book seems once again to miss that point entirely, sadly, judging from an interview with the author in The Atlantic, titled, Are We Alone?

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/are-we-alone/280706/

A better question might be, Are we awake? Because at present, all indications are that we are sleep-walking into our own self-annihilation, as David Suzuki, Ronald Wright, Jared Diamond and others have said.

The Atlantic asks, “What are the big intellectual questions today?” Well, we can say this much: the big intellectual questions do not include asking how we can build a space ship to fly a handful of the richest people on Earth to some fantasy space colony and leave behind billions of our fellow species and the vast majority of our fellow human beings to slowly drown in the excrement we have left as our legacy.

Even if this were technologically possible within the remaining time-span before our civilization’s infrastructure crumbles under the weight of our own self-created ecological holocaust – which it is not; it would be grossly irresponsible, inhuman, obscenely callous and cold-hearted, and unethical in the extreme.

And by the way, if the scientists who are star-struck and mesmerized by these dreams of escape into space from a world we are actively destroying, think for a moment that their seat on the grand interstellar lifeboat is secure, they had better think again.

Firstly, space colonization is, by all reasonable assessments, 50 years off, if we are wildly optimistic, and more realistically, 100 to 200 years away: but, by World Bank and other estimates, at our present pace of ecological destruction, we will be extinct in 50 years – and our civilizations infrastructure, including our capacity to build or utilize advanced technology, will have collapsed quite some time before that. So it is pure fantasy to begin with.

And second, even if this somehow did magically come to fruition, there would only be a few seats available, in all likelihood – and they would, of course, go to the super-rich who will fund such projects and who can afford the seats. The rest of us may get lip service, but will simply be left to go down with the ship. And the scientists will be shoved out the door when their job is done, have no doubt; and will be left behind like the rest of us – were such fairy tales ever to become reality at all.

But let’s return to the first point: the basic facts as to our present capacity for colonizing space.

Firstly,do we remember the project to build a self-contained and self-sustaining miniature ecosystem on earth? I forget what it was called, but it is forgotten, and not mentioned, and the reason is, that it was a complete failure. We have no idea how to set up a self-sustaining ecosystem that would support even the simplest forms of life, much less human beings.

As geneticist and environmentalist David Suzuki has said, our understanding of life is still very rudimentary. Optimism is great, but if it is not grounded in reality, in an honest assessment of where we presently stand, then it is not optimism at all, but sheer foolishness.

We are far from having the knowledge to create the life-support systems that would replicate another earth. So all such talk is grand speculation, and such feats are at least generations away, even if they are possible or desirable.

Secondly, the study of other earth-like, potentially habitable planets, or exoplanetology, is in its infancy. We are at least decades away, in all likelihood, from even discovering a potential candidate for a new planet to call home – to say nothing of finding the means to get there, and then, to successfully colonize it.

Thirdly, even if we somehow found what appears to be a perfect candidate for a second home on some distant earth-like planet, we are a century or more away, if we are lucky, from developing the means even to travel there, much less to live there.

So we are really talking science fiction here, and would be better off watching Star Trek, and munching on popcorn, than devoting serious time and energy to such things, when we are approaching impact with a civilization-shattering and possibly species terminating ecological cataclysm of our own creation.

At least if we are watching Star Trek, we are not distracting or misguiding anyone with our drivel about how we’re going to save humanity by such ungrounded fantasies of colonizing space before the ship of our civilization is sunk by our own hands.

No, if we are to have lifeboats, as we wisely should, they must be earth-bound. We need contingency plans, fall-back plans, but they will be earth-based, or they will be merely whimsical, and based in sheer self-deceit and illusion.

I would say that we have a better chance of being beamed up and rescued by friendly aliens than we have of building a starship and colonizing space in time, before our civilization collapses and such questions are mute, as the technological capacity for them has been laid to waste, even if the theoretical know-how is achieved.

Dream of the stars, but live on the earth. We will go to the stars one day, most likely, but not in this generation, and not for several generations to come – and no human beings will live to see it unless we get our act together and learn how to live on this planet, and in very short order.

The big questions today do not revolve around grand schemes of techno-fantasy and the colonization of space. They are grounded in the real world, here on planet earth.

The big questions today – aside from the perennial questions, the deeper questions, of who we are, what is real and what is the true nature of our own being – the most pressing of questions today, are these:

1. How do we survive the next 25 to 50 years without going extinct?

And,

2. How do we live in justice, harmony and peace on this small, fragile, beautiful planet we call home?

If we fail to answer these two questions, and answer them in practice, and not just in theory, then we will have failed our children, our grandchildren, and all of our fellow human beings – not to mention the rest of the living beings we share the planet with.

And if we insist upon obsessing about other, ultimately more trivial matters, then we are either sleep-walking toward our collective suicide, or else, we are sociopathic, or simply mad.

First things first. End wars and empire. Restore or create authentic citizen’s democracy, with freedom and human rights for all. End poverty and injustice. (There is more than enough money and resources to accomplish this – it is simply a matter of will, and resource distribution.) And find ways now to live on this earth without destroying the basis of all life on the planet.

By this time, we really would have to be wilfully ignorant, if not simply self-deluding, to believe that there are other, more pressing issues – or any way around these issues, than to confront them directly.

Time to wake up.

We have run out of time for daydreams and technophilic fantasies. We need to learn how to live in peace and ecological balance on this planet, right now.

The writing is clearly on the wall. We have run out of time for obfuscations, reality-avoidance, or waiting to see what happens. It is time for decisive and clear-minded action.

Now.

J. Todd Ring,
October 18, 2013

 

The Key of Keys

Posted in analysis, books, Buddha, Christianity, common ground, consciousness, cosmology, empowerment, epistemology, freedom, inspiration, Jesus, must-read, Nag Hammadi, ontology, peace, philosophy, psychology, quotes, reading, religion, religious philosophy, resources, science, spirituality, theology, truth, wellness, world religions with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2013 by jtoddring

Egoless divine pride: the most glorious concept I have ever heard – from Tibetan Buddhism. The Uttara Tantra elaborates:

There once was a prince, who lost his memory and forgot who he was. Lost in forgetfulness and confusion, he wandered aimlessly, and became a homeless beggar. Years later, a minister to the king came across him, and recognized him in his dirty rags and filth. He exclaimed, “My prince! Your father has been worried sick about you! What are you doing? You must come home at once!”

The Upanishads tell a similar story. There once was a god who dreamed he was a pig. For years he wallowed in the muck and the mud, oblivious to who he was. After a long time, the other gods became pained by his confusion and his delusion, and called out to him: “You are not a pig – you are a god! Stop this madness, and remember who you are!”

Or again, from the Uttara Tantra: There once was a poor farmer, desolate in his impoverishment and despair. Daily he ploughed his fields, eking out a meagre existence, never knowing there was a great treasure buried right beneath his house.

Or as Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”

Or as Meister Eckhart, the 13th century German Christian mystic, the archetypal Western mystic said, “There is nothing I can point to that is not God. God is within me, and God is all around me.”

Or as Lao Tzu phrased it: Return to the source – return to your original nature. There you will find peace, joy, liberation, the ultimate happiness, and your authentic self – your true nature.

Or William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is – infinite.”

This is the perennial wisdom. It has surfaced in all cultures in all times. It is the timeless wisdom. It is the voice of wisdom leading you home to yourself.

Know thyself. You are not less than you think you are, but inconceivably more. Your being is commensurate with the universe itself. Awaken!

Don’t be absorbed in yourself. Everyone has pain; everyone suffers. Life is full of suffering, as well as beauty and joy. Shift the focus from your own happiness to that of others. If you do, you will be surprised, maybe even amazed – and you will find happiness.

It is not always easy, no doubt: it takes effort, and practice, but it is worth it, and it pays off. And it pays off the most when you seek nothing and expect nothing. Love others, and peace and joy will come flowing in. It is a matter of a subtle shift of perspective – that is the entire answer to everything: a subtle shift of perspective. Parallax is the word. Shift the perspective, and everything becomes clear.

And remember, the yin – to use the Eastern terms  – that is, the receptive, is in certain important ways superior. The yang, the assertive principle, is useful, and also essential, vitally essential; but the yin is the foundation.  Knowing and opening to the yin, the receptive, will allow you to harmonize with others, and with life and nature: and that is the basis of relative happiness, ordinary happiness.

Deeply opening to the yin, the receptive, is the gateway to true knowledge, to prajna, to wisdom, to knowing who you are, and to returning to the source, the true nature of your own being.

Therefore, protect and nurture the yin, just as you respect and embrace the yang. Harshness will damage the yin, as the Taoists have rightly remarked. Beware of aggression, which is the exaggeration of the yang principle of assertion – either in others, or especially in yourself. Be gentle with yourself as well as others. There are times for firmness, and times even for fierceness; but gentleness is the best general rule.

With gentleness as the general rule, not only will you avoid harming others, not only will you avoid the blowback and negative repercussions that come from harming others, but you will avoid harming yourself – and avoid harming your vision, which is most important. To sow your own suffering is tragic, ill-advised and unwise. To cut out your eyes and perpetuate your own blindness, is worse by far.

Don’t rush, and don’t hesitate. Rushing is an imbalance toward the yang, and leads to aggression and strife, as well as stress, strain and exhaustion. Hesitation is an imbalance toward the yin, an excess of yielding or receptivity which creates a collapse into passivity, which leads to self-disempowerment and a loss of vitality, as well as a loss of satisfaction and joy. Find the middle way. Not too tight; not to loose. When in doubt, be gentle, and pay attention: the cues to action will reveal themselves in their own time.

Remember also, as the Zen saying goes: Before enlightenment, the dishes. After enlightenment, the dishes. The little things matter. Show care in all you do. And enjoy the journey.

Seek. Contemplate. Combine method and wisdom, effort with seeing – like the two wings of a bird, which give it flight. Then glimpse. Taste. Meditate. Know. Understand. Have confidence. And abide in your true nature, which is the infinite ground of being itself, commensurate with the entire cosmos in all its vastness, emptiness and glory. There is no more to be said. This is the key of keys.

J. Todd Ring

Sept 16, 2013

(See Lama Yeshe, Namkai Norbu or Sogyal Rinpoche for further reading, along with The Power of Myth, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, the Heart Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, the Prajnaparamita Sutra, the Uttara Tantra, The Mother of the Buddhas, The Gospel of Thomas (Marvin Meyers, transl.), The Perennial Philosophy, The Divinity School Address, Ken Wilber’s No Boundary, Michael Talbot’s The |Holographic Universe, Holgar Kalweit’s Dreamtime and Inner Space, Joanna Macy’s World As Lover, World As Self, and Alan Watts’, The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.)

The schizoid nature of the Western world: Overcoming the root paradox of Western civilization – and our own minds

Posted in analysis, anthropology, Buddha, Christianity, common ground, consciousness, cosmology, empowerment, freedom, history of Christianity, inspiration, life, peace, philosophy, Plato, political philosophy, political theory, psychology, quotes, religion, religious philosophy, resources, science, social theory, sociology, spirituality, theology, truth, world religions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by jtoddring

The Western world is still trapped in a paradox and a self-contradiction of our own making: we are schizoid with regards to the body, the material world and to our physicality. On the one hand, we have, as people of the modern world, embraced our physicality, and even gone headlong into a love-affair with it, and are absorbed and engrossed in physicality, materialism, consumerism and the sensuous – fascinated and engrossed by the mere surface of things. On the other hand, we still retain the legacy of more than two thousand years of Judeo-Christian distrust, contempt, fear and loathing of the physical, and seek to avoid, escape transcend or be rid of the physical and all its perceive evil and limitations. Again, we are entangled in a paradox and a self-contradiction of our own making. To resolve the paradox and end the war that rages within us, and that we inflict outwardly upon the world in our confusion and pain, we must go to the roots, and reflect deeply.

Because we are not fully at home with either the spiritual or the physical, there is a pervasive alienation and gnawing discontent across the modern world – we are in a perpetual state of exile, always unconsciously nostalgic for paradise lost, longing or home, and always searching, restless, uneasy and hungry within. This alienation and inner hunger in turn drives the consumerism, voyeurism, escapism and quiet despair which plagues the modern world, and which in turn creates and underlies the ecological imbalance and devastation, injustice and war that is tearing the world to pieces, and threatens to extinguish all hopes for a bright future for humanity – or any future at all. To resolve this deep-seated paradox that lies at the heart of Western and Westernized civilization, and also within ourselves, is not only to heal our own fractured souls, but to begin to heal the world. But if we are to resolve the paradox, the internal contradiction, the war within, we must first understand it.

The root problem is a perceived duality or division between spirit and the flesh, or mind and matter, consciousness and the material world. Such a duality does not exist – other than in the fantasy world of our own imaginings. To redress the imbalance that we live under and within, we cannot simply go to one side, and reject one half of the infinite knot of interdependence which is the ground of being and the nature and fabric of existence. We have tried that for over two millennia, and that method has failed, and failed miserably and utterly. We cannot reject one half of our existence and ever hope for peace, for wisdom, for joy, for happiness, or even for basic sanity. Body and mind are one. Spirit and the flesh are not separate. Consciousness and the material are not two, but inseparable. When we begin to realize this, we will begin to be free, and we will begin to live in peace, and in the fullness of our being. Jesus and the Buddha, Shankara and the Kabbalah, and all of our greatest sages, prophets, mystics and visionaries have seen this, and have tried to rouse us from our disturbed and discordant slumber, but we have not yet listened, have not yet had ears to hear.

“We may therefore regard matter as being constituted by the regions of space in which the field is extremely intense… There is no place in this new kind of physics for both the field and matter, for
the field is the only reality.” – Einstein

“The perception of a division between self and other is a kind of optical delusion.” – Einstein

“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form;
form is not other than emptiness, emptiness is not other than form.”
– The Heart of the Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom

“When the two become one, then you shall see.” – Jesus

How do we proceed to rectify the situation, to restore wholeness, peace, basic sanity and clear vision? There are many ways we can approach the question, the essential paradox of not only our civilization, but of being itself, but ultimately, we must realize this: if we wish to transcend the physical, we can only succeed by embracing it; and if we wish to fully embrace the physical, it will not be possible until we have realized its transcendent nature. When the two become one, then you shall see.

If we wish to embrace the physical and live with a richness of sensory experience – which, it would seem, a majority of people in the modern world, both East and West, North and South, now wish to do, and passionately so – then we shall have to realize the true nature of the physical: which is the true nature of being. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. If you believe that things are concrete and inherently existing “out there,” separate from yourself, then you are living in an illusion, and only pain can come from illusion. We are still dwellers of the cave of shadows, to use Plato’s analogy. It is time we ventured out into the light of day.

Unity and diversity are inseparable – they are two sides of the same coin: this is the union of opposites which is the heart of being, and the very fabric of existence. “Things” and beings are not two but one. When it is realized that the two are one, then the physical can be embraced without risk of getting lost in grasping, confusion, and the pain and suffering that inevitably arises from attachment and clinging, which in turn arises only from the illusion of duality, the illusion of separation. Until the unity of being is discovered, any attempt to embrace the physical or the sensory, material world, will be fraught with suffering, anxiety and fear. “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things shall be added unto you.” Find the real within the heart of being, and the world is transformed from a mixture of pleasure and pain, fear and delight, into a paradise of open-hearted, unqualified joy – the peace that surpasseth all.

Until the non-duality of being is seen and realized, it is wise to live with as little clinging and grasping attachment as possible, and instead, cultivate a simple appreciation for what is, along with an open heart and a presence of mind. These qualities or states of mind will not only allow for much more happiness and peace, but will open the door to wisdom, and to seeing. Life can be enjoyed. And it will be enjoyed much more when delight replaces craving, and appreciation replaces attachment. Until the wisdom of directly perceiving the non-dual nature of being dawns in our minds, this is the course of the wise, or simply the sane path of life: the path of peace.

Alternately, if we wish to transcend the material and the physical, and find solace or salvation, illumination, peace or joy in the transcendent realm of the spirit, then we will have to sooner or later come to terms with the body and the material, for the two are one, and to reject the one is to miss the other. Peace is not found or attained through war, and the war within is what prevents us from seeing, and therefore from experiencing and knowing and being peace.

To emphasize the spiritual over the material, or consciousness over the purely physical, is the safer and also the more direct and more intelligent path to the resolution of the paradox and the solution to life’s riddle, generally speaking, although there are always exceptions, depending on the particular psyche of the individual and what works best for him or her. But to embrace and pursue or dive deep into the life of the mind and the spiritual is not necessarily to reject, banish or despise the physical and the material. To have contempt and disdain for the material and the physical is to miss the truth entirely, and to be forever at one end of a yo-yo, trying to maintain that precarious position through sheer will, when that position is artificial and impossible to sustain, since it is based in delusion: the delusion of duality. It is like trying to find your nose by cutting off the rest of your head. It doesn’t work. (The analogy is poor, for that which we are seeking, which we do not yet understand, is that which is All in all, and not merely a part among other parts – but the violence we do to ourselves by denying one half of the inseparable unity of being is accurately, if in an understated way, represented here.)

If we want to transcend the physical and material limits of time and space, our bodies or the world, then we shall have to embrace these, and not flee them. This is the fact. You can hypothesize and theologize `till you’re blue in the face, lacerate yourself with infinite cuts from the lash and your own self-flaggellation, lay on beds of nails and eat nothing but a grain of rice for eons, but you will not find the truth, nor will you find true transcendence or the depth or heights of the spiritual with such a deluded, dualistic and one-sided view. Contrary to the maxim of Orwell’s nightmarish depiction of our possible future, war is not peace, and neither does war lead to peace. War neither leads to wisdom, and war is what we have been practicing for some millennia now.

If we wish to transcend the physical, we shall have to embrace it – not by chasing after it, nor by clinging desperately and fearfully to it, but by simply allowing it to be, with openness, compassion and a calm abiding that can begin to see through the illusion of duality, division, alienation and separation. (The exile from paradise exists only in our minds. It is our forgetfulness of what is real that is our banishment, and we did that ourselves – so long ago, that we have forgotten the act which we even then misunderstood. Genesis is what we may call, a parable. It is not to be taken literally!)

Only that which we embrace can we transcend. Yes, we may be afraid of getting lost in that which we embrace, and that is a risk, but to shun or hate that which we wish to transcend will only lead us into a defensive and paranoid mode of being, in which neither the truth nor the depth or height or breadth or reality of spirit or being can be seen or found.

That which is rejected is secretly clung to, for to push away is to grasp and attempt to throw, but the grasping remains the central and underlying fact, as all zealots and Puritans and fundamentalists should some day come to realize. To reject is to be reactionary, and when we are reactionary, we are not free or transcendent of that which we are rejecting, but tied to it through our reaction to it, like Pavlov’s dog, who is ever bound to the spell of the bell. It is a conundrum that cannot be solved by the same kind of thinking that created it, to paraphrase Einstein. This koan, like all koans or paradoxes, must be resolved by discovering a deeper, broader, higher or more subtle way of seeing, so that the paradox is no longer an entanglement, but naturally resolves itself. When the bubble of our illusions burst, we may cry, or we may feel afraid, but if they burst at a deep enough level, and we see they were merely illusions, then laughter and joy will arise, and there will be a great and indescribable relief. At the very least, bursting the bubble of our illusions, however we may respond to it, removes more layers of fog from our minds, and opens the doors of our minds to a deeper and richer experience of reality and of life. The piercing of the clouds of illusion is the entirety of the path. Let us not be addicted to our illusions, but be glad to be rid of them.

To transcend the physical we must embrace the physical: and we do so, not by clinging to things, but by a simple openness of heart and an appreciation and compassion for what is. In that open space – which we do not create, but merely acknowledge, and allow to be – there is the ground of being, and there is the ground of our awakening. There, and there alone, will we find the path to peace, to transcendent joy, and to the ultimate truth. There is no path, in actuality, but only an opening to what is. In that opening, the truth is seen. And when it is seen, it is realized that it has ever been, that it has always been present, and that we could not have been separate from it for a moment, but only forgetful of it.

The truth is here. Open the heart and find it. Set yourself free. The truth is the key. And you hold that key, for you hold the key to your heart, and none other.

*

If we wish for happiness, to be of benefit or help to others, or to know the truth – that is, if we wish for richness of life, quality of life, fullness of life, a meaningful life, joy or peace; or if we want to be truly effective in helping others, and bringing them peace and happiness and freedom from suffering; or if we simply wish to know and understand the true nature of life, the world or our own being – then we must come to understand that these four elements are the keys: compassion, feeling, reflection and openness. With these four, all doors open, sooner or later – that is, all doors that are worthwhile to open – and not only are joy and peace found, but also the empowerment to be of greater help to others, and the wisdom of knowing the true nature of things. In this short meditation I have emphasized openness, but all four elements are needed to bring us to the capacity to realize and achieve these goals.

End the war now. Open the heart to what is and to all beings, and realize who you are.

Emptiness is the ultimate key. Emptiness is the doorway to fullness. It is only by being empty that we can become truly filled. Voidness is truth: and voidness is the infinite; and the infinite is the very ground of being itself – the nature of who you are, and the nature of all things. Form and emptiness are one. Neither can be reduced to the other, as the materialists and the world-rejecting spiritualists have presumed. Clinging to worldly things, or rejecting and hating worldly things, clinging to the transcendent or clinging to the material and the physical: these are two sides of the same coin, and they both represent the illusion of duality, and reaffirm the illusion of duality. Simply be, open the heart, and see what is. Let compassion and joy move you, and be not afraid. There is nothing real that can be threatened, and there is nothing unreal that exists. Open the heart, embrace life, and see.

The truth is not only close at hand, not only within you and all around you: it is all that exists.

We have been sleep-walking for some time. It is time to awake.

JTR,
September 13, 2011

Earth 101: Essential Reading

Posted in alternatives, analysis, anthropology, books, cosmology, epistemology, history, ontology, philosophy, politics, psychology, reading, religion, resources, science, sociology, spirituality on April 13, 2007 by jtoddring

So many good books, so little time……..…but so few truly great books.

Here’s a short list – author’s picks: some of the best books and articles for both breadth and depth of awareness.

Essential readings for early 21st century human beings on this small blue speck in space.

38 books, 9 essays – one hell of a tour of human existence.

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” – Henry David Thoreau

J. Todd Ring

April 2007

Links to all texts not online are listed below

Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau – full text

Necessary Illusions; Thought Control in Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

The Dispossessed – Ursula Leguin

Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance – Ronald Wright

The Chalice and the Blade – Riane Eisler

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

Roads to Freedom – Bertrand Russell

Escape from Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

The Corporation – Joel Bakan

A History of God – Karen Armstrong

The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell

No Boundary – Ken Wilber

Dialogues With Scientists and Sages – Renee Weber

Dreamtime and Inner Space – Holgar Kalweit

The Holographic Universe – Michael Talbot

Mysticism and the New Physics – Michael Talbot

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Buddha Nature: The Mahayana Uttaratantra with Commentary – Jamgon Kontrul and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso

The Mother of the Buddhas – Lex Hixon

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Sogyal Rinpoche

The Gospel of Thomas – Marvin Meyer, transl.

Tao Te Ching – Jane English, transl.

Chuang Tsu: The Inner Chapters – Gia-Fu Feng, transl.

Ralph Waldo Emerson – The Harvard Divinity School Address

Thoreau’s Walden

Tao: The Watercourse Way – Alan Watts

The Way of Zen – Alan Watts

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are – Alan Watts

Psychotherapy East and West – Alan Watts

The Art of War – Sun Tzu (Shambhala Dragon Edition – translation matters!) The classic text on both strategy and conflict management: decidedly anti-war.

A Short History of Progress – Ronald Wright

Ancient Futures – Helena Norberg-Hodge

The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies – Richard Heinberg

Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance – Noam Chomsky

Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War – Christopher Simpson

The CIA’s Greatest Hits – Mark Zepezauer

The Threat of a Good Example – Chomsky Example Odonian

A Marxist Threat to Cola Sales?

Rollback

Drain The Swamp And There Will Be No More Mosquitoes – Chomsky

The Responsibility of Intellectuals

Scientific American Mind: The Samaritan Paradox

Their Libertarianism And Ours

Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior – Chogyam Trungpa

Where to find them:

full links below, or search with these tools

Powell’s Books

Alibris: Used, Rare & Out-of-Print Books

AbeBooks: New & Used Books, Textbooks, Rare & Out of Print Books

The Internet Classics Archive: 441 searchable works of classical literature

Internet Sacred Text Archive

Earth 101: Essential Reading

Who or what are we?

Cosmology, epistemology, ontology, philosophy
(don’t let the terms scare you)

Alibris: Dialogues with Scientists and Sages: The Search for Unity – Renee Weber

Amazon.com: Dreamtime and Inner Space: Books: Holger Kalweit

Amazon.com: The Holographic Universe: Books: Michael Talbot

Amazon.com: Mysticism and the New Physics (Arkana): Books: Michael Talbot

Amazon.com: World as Lover, World as Self: Books: Joanna Macy

Powell’s Books – The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

Powell’s Books – Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, the – Revised Edition: New Spiritual Classic from One of the Foremost Interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism by Sogyal

Buddha Nature

Amazon.com: Mother of the Buddhas: Books: Lex Hixon

The Gospel of Thomas – Marvin Meyer, transl.

Amazon.com: Tao Te Ching, 25th-Anniversary Edition: Books: Lao Tsu,Gia-Fu Feng,Jane English

Amazon.com: Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters: Books: Gia-Fu Feng

Amazon.com: Tao: The Watercourse Way: Books: Alan Watts,Al Chung-liang Huang

Amazon.com: The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are: Books: Alan Watts

Amazon.com: The Way of Zen : Books: Alan W. Watts

Amazon.com: Psychotherapy East and West: Books: Alan W. Watts

Amazon.com: No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth: Books: Ken Wilber

The Harvard Divinity School Address, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Amazon.com: The Portable Emerson: New Edition (Viking Portable Library): Books: Ralph Waldo Emerson,Carl Bode,Malcolm Cowley

Amazon.com: Walden: (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau): Books: Henry David Thoreau,J. Lyndon Shanley,John Updike

Amazon.com: A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Armstrong, Karen): Books: Karen Armstrong

Human Society: Understanding the Basics

Anthropology, social theory, political philosophy

Amazon.com: Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Dover Thrift Editions): Books: Henry David Thoreau

Amazon.com: The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future: Books: Riane Eisler

Amazon.com: The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy: Books: Murray Bookchin

Amazon.com: Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism & Syndication: Books: Bertrand Russell

Amazon.com: Escape from Freedom: Books: Erich Fromm

Ancient Futures


Understanding Human Society – part two:

History, sociology, political economy

(The categories over-lap of course, both within these sections and between sections: phenomenon are non-dual, interdependent – categories are a function of thought, not actual boundaries in reality. “Naming is the mother of the ten thousand things.” – Lao Tsu)

Amazon.com: Year 501: The Conquest Continues: Books: Noam Chomsky

Amazon.com: Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies: Books: Noam Chomsky

Amazon.com: The Dispossessed: A Novel (Perennial Classics): Books: Ursula K. Le Guin

Amazon.com: The Power Elite: Books: C. Wright Mills,Alan Wolfe

Amazon.com: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power: Books: Joel Bakan

Amazon.com: The Art of War (Shambhala Classics): Books: Sun Tzu

Amazon.com: Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas: Books: Ronald Wright

Amazon.com: A Short History of Progress: Books: Ronald Wright

Amazon.com: The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies: Books: Richard Heinberg

Amazon.com: Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project): Books: Noam Chomsky

Amazon.com: Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War: Books: Christopher Simpson

Amazon.com: The CIA’s Greatest Hits (The Real Story Series): Books: Mark Zepezauer

Amazon.com: Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior: Books: Chogyam Trungpa