Archive for the spirituality 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.

Country life, and the glory of silence

Posted in philosophy, spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2013 by jtoddring

I say aloud to myself, “Ahh…it’s so quite here! Thank God I moved to the country!” And the words reverberate warmly through the room, their sound highlighting by contrast the rich, glorious silence which they flow through, like ripples on a shimmering lake, the glint of sunlight reflecting diamonds all around.

Not always am I able to see the majesty and peace that is within me and all around me. A quiet and peaceful place certainly makes it easier, I have found. Some days are stormy; others, serene; and some, simply blissful. Today, there is a quiet bliss – the joy of simply being.

As Voltaire said, “Paradise, is where I am.” It is where any of us can be, if we become inwardly still and present enough to see it. But we have to stop clutching at glass beads long enough to notice that richness and expansiveness of being which is eternally present.

East and West agree – or at least, the sages from both hemispheres are in full agreement. The ground of being is pure and empty – and rich beyond measure: and it is always present, within us, and all around us. Let those who have ears hear; let those who have eyes see.

As a dear and wise friend once said, “Be still, and seek the light.”

Nirvana and samsara are one. The kingdom of heaven is within you.

J. Todd Ring,
October 20, 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

Favourite Quotes

Posted in Buddha, Chomsky, economy, empire, fascism, FDR, Jefferson, Jesus, life, Martin Luther King Jr., Media, Mussolini, philosophy, politics, quotes, spirituality, Thoreau, truth, work on April 13, 2007 by jtoddring


I.

 

While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings. – Thoreau, Walden

If necessary, let us forgo one bridge across the river, go `round a little there, and throw at least one span across the greater gulf of ignorance that surrounds us.

– Thoreau, Walden

 

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

Walden, Henry David Thoreau


There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

– Thoreau, Walden

 

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. – The Buddha


 

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~Albert Einstein

 

 

There is more to heaven and earth than is contained in your philosophy.

– Shakespeare

 

 

It is better to follow one’s own dharma, no matter how imperfectly, than to follow that of another. – The Upanishads

(Dharma in this context means one’s true nature, one’s true path.)

 

 

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

I sometimes despair of getting anything accomplished with the help of my fellow man; you would have to put their minds through a kind of powerful vice first, to squeeze their olds ideas out of them. – Thoreau, Walden


Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living. – Thoreau, Walden

 

 

When I reflect upon the ruts in a road, I am forced to think, how much deeper the ruts of the mind. – Thoreau, Walden

 

 

It is never too late to give up your prejudices. – Thoreau, Walden

 

 

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. – Thoreau, Walden

 

 

Life is rounded by a little sleep.

– Shakespeare

 

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. – Thoreau, Walden

 

I do not wish, when I come to the end of this life, to find I had not lived.

– Thoreau, Walden


We select granite for the underpinning of our houses and barns; we build fences of stone; but we do not ourselves rest on an underpinning of granitic truth, the lowest primitive rock. Our sills are rotten. – Thoreau

 

 

The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything it is very likely to my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well? – Thoreau, Walden


 

In accumulating property for ourselves or our posterity, in founding a family or a state, or acquiring fame even, we are mortal; but in dealing with truth we are immortal, and need fear no change or accident. – Thoreau

 

 

That so many are ready to live by luck, and so get the means of commanding the labor of others less lucky, without contributing any value to society! And that is called enterprise! I know of no more startling development of the immorality of trade, and all the common modes of getting a living. The philosophy and poetry and religion of such a mankind are not worth the dust of a puffball. The hog that gets his living by rooting, stirring up the soil so, would be ashamed of such company. If I could command the wealth of all the worlds by lifting my finger, I would not pay such a price for it. – Thoreau

 

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. – Thoreau, Walden

 

 

Silence is the communing of a conscious soul with itself. If the soul attend for a moment to its own infinity, then and there is silence. She is audible to all men, at all times, in all places, and if we will we may always hearken to her admonitions. – Thoreau

 

The only Zen you find on the mountain top is the Zen you bring with you.

– unknown

 

 

I took my stand in the midst of humanity, and I wept for them, for they came into the world blind, and they seek to leave the world blind.

– Jesus, Gospel of Thomas


 

See what is before your nose and all will be revealed.

– Jesus, Gospel of Thomas


 

The kingdom of heaven is within you.

– Jesus, Gospel of Thomas


 

The kingdom of heaven is spread out upon the earth, and men see it not.

– Jesus, Gospel of Thomas


 

The priests are like dogs that lay in the manger, for they do not eat, and they do not let the cattle eat. – Jesus, Gospel of Thomas


 

I have never met a man who was fully awake; if I did, how could I look him in the eye? – Thoreau, Walden

 

 

 

 

 

II.

They are busy, as an old book says, laying up treasures that moths and rust will corrode, and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool’s life, as they will find out at the end of it, if not sooner. – Thoreau, Walden


 

Our lives are frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify!

– Thoreau, Walden


 

Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul. – Thoreau

 

 

Most men are engaged in business the greater part of their lives, because the soul abhors a vacuum, and they have not discovered any continuous employment for man’s nobler faculties. – Thoreau

How trivial and uninteresting and wearisome and unsatisfactory are all employments for which men will pay you money! – Thoreau

… I do not need the police of meaningless labor to regulate me…. – Thoreau, Life Without Principle (LWP)

Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now. – Thoreau (LWP)

The ways by which you may get money almost without exception lead downward. To have done anything by which you earned money merely is to have been truly idle or worse. If the laborer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself. If you would get money as a writer or lecturer, you must be popular, which is to go down perpendicularly. Those services which the community will most readily pay for, it is most disagreeable to render. You are paid for being something less than a man. – Thoreau (LWP)

The community has no bribe that will tempt a wise man. You may raise money enough to tunnel a mountain, but you cannot raise money enough to hire a man who is minding his own business. An efficient and valuable man does what he can, whether the community pay him for it or not. – Thoreau (LWP)

If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage. I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. All great enterprises are self-supporting. The poet, for instance, must sustain his body by his poetry, as a steam planing-mill feeds its boilers with the shavings it makes. You must get your living by loving. – Thoreau (LWP)

It is remarkable that there is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting a living; how to make getting a living not merely holiest and honorable, but altogether inviting and glorious; for if getting a living is not so, then living is not. One would think, from looking at literature, that this question had never disturbed a solitary individual’s musings. Is it that men are too much disgusted with their experience to speak of it? The lesson of value which money teaches, which the Author of the Universe has taken so much pains to teach us, we are inclined to skip altogether. As for the means of living, it is wonderful how indifferent men of all classes are about it, even reformers, so called- whether they inherit, or earn, or steal it. I think that Society has done nothing for us in this respect, or at least has undone what she has done. Cold and hunger seem more friendly to my nature than those methods which men have adopted and advise to ward them off. – Thoreau (LWP)

If a man has spent all his days about some business, by which he has merely got to be rich, as it is called, i.e., has got much money, many houses and barns and woodlots, then his life has been a failure, I think; but if he has been trying to better his condition in a higher sense than this, has been trying to invent something, to be somebody, – i.e., to invent and get a patent for himself – so that all may see his originality, though he should never get above board – and great inventors, you know, commonly die poor – I shall think him comparatively successful. – Thoreau

 

A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. – Thoreau, Walden

(TV is perhaps the most ugly, pathetic and vacuous example, next to heroine. – JTR)

 

 

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. – Thoreau, Walden

 

 

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. But it is uncharacteristic of wisdom to do desperate things. – Thoreau, Walden


 

It’s not enough to be busy. The question is: What are we busy about?

– Thoreau, Walden


 

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. – Thoreau, Walden


 

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.

– Thoreau, Walden

 

 

 

No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true today may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields. – Thoreau, Walden


 

Public opinion is a weak tyrant, compared with our private opinion–what a man thinks of himself, that is which determines, or rather indicates his fate. – Thoreau, Walden


 

The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly. – Thoreau, Walden


 

 

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. – Thoreau, Walden

 

Ultimately, men hit only what they aim for; therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim high. – Thoreau, Walden

III.

I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. – Martin Luther King Jr.

 

I have to believe the American people are the most systematically lied to people on earth – if I didn’t, I would believe they were the most evil.
– Former foreign minister for Nicaragua

 

 

Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the media.

Noam Chomsky


 

I think we can be reasonably confident that if the American population had the slightest idea of what is being done in their name, they would be utterly appalled.

Noam Chomsky

(The same could be said for the people of any of the “leading” industrial nations.)

 

 

I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have…..But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

– Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience

 

 

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. – Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience

 

 

Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? – Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience

 

 

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others, as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders, serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. – Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience

 

 

 

 

IV.

All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counterbalance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. – Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience

 

The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer. – Henry A. Kissinger

 


Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad. – Henry A. Kissinger (One of the 90%.)

Quite generally, international affairs have more than a slight resemblance to the Mafia. The Godfather does not take it lightly when he is crossed, even by a small storekeeper.” – Noam Chomsky


“The Constitution is just a piece of paper” – G.W. Bush

“It is impossible to understand the current U.S. policy if the real scope of September 11 is underestimated. The attacks perpetrated at that moment were a coup d’état. The war on terror is based on a myth and has become a compulsory state religion since such developments took place. The only way to fight against neoconservatives is by destroying this myth.” – U.S. journalist Webster Tarpley

In many regions of the world, democracy, freedom and human rights are seen as cynical slogans, Orwellian double-speak, mouthed by those who want oil and other natural resources, and the strategic pathways, such as Afghanistan, that lead to these resources.

– James Laxer

The so-called war on terror is really a struggle in which the United States and its allies are attempting to impose their hegemony on a large part of the world.

– James Laxer

 

 

I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians) which live without government, enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under the European governments. Among the former, public opinion is in the place of law, and restrains morals as powerfully as laws did anywhere. Among the latter, under pretense of governing, they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves and sheep. I do not exaggerate…Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind; for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor. – Thomas Jefferson, 1787

 

 

What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment and death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment, inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose. – Thomas Jefferson

 

 

I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies. – Thomas Jefferson

 

 

This country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institution and monied incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy. – Thomas Jefferson, 1816

 

 

The bank mania…is raising up a monied aristocracy in our country which has already set the government at defiance, and although forced at length to yield a little on this first essay of their strength, their principles are unyielded and unyielding. These have taken deep roots in the heart of that class from which our legislators are drawn, and the sop to Cerebus from fable has become history. – Thomas Jefferson, 1817

 

Once a nation parts with control of its currency and credit…all talk of the sovereignty of Parliament and democracy is idle and futile. – Mackenzie King, 1935

 

I hope we shall…crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country. – Thomas Jefferson, 1816

 

 

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism

because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

– Benito Mussolini

 

“Private enterprise cannot be maintained in the age of democracy; it is only conceivable if the people have a sound idea of authority.”

– Adolph Hitler, speaking to a key meeting of Germany’s business elite, 1933.

 

 

The next election will be “the last one for the next 10 years, probably even for the next 100 years.” – Goering, following up on Hitler’s statement above, at the same meeting.

 

 

“We’re Philip Morris. We’ve got more money than God.”

– Guy Smith, Philip Morris executive.

 

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism: ownership of a government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

“Society must take every means at its disposal to defend itself against the emergence of a parallel power which defies the elected power.” – Pierre Elliot Trudeau

Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.
Mohandas Gandhi

Socialists think profits are a vice; I consider losses the real vice.

– Winston Churchill

 

If you take all these bills together, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that what we have here is a road map for, essentially, I am not exaggerating, a military junta, really in the hands of four cabinet ministers who can delegate right down to the ground. That what’s happening. If you look at, and there’s no argument against this if you look at the legislation, it is so offensive…The last point I want to make about this globalization and the militarization of that agenda is that if you look at the definition of terrorism, what they have done is very reptilian, very slippery…how broad the net has been cast.

– Canadian constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati on the post-9/11 “anti-terrorism” laws


 

The tragedy of modern war is that the young men die fighting each other–instead of their real enemies back home in the capitals. – Edward Abbey


 

“It should not be denied any longer: America is hurtling along the road to full-fledged fascism. To recognize this is the necessary first step in deflecting the juggernaut and creating the possibility of more peaceful tomorrows. It is legitimate and also necessary to correctly employ the power of naming.” – Barry Zwicker

 


If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. ~ James Madison

We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction. (…)

In the face of this situation we would be better off to dispense now with a number of the concepts which have underlined our thinking with regard to the Far East. We should dispense with the aspiration to “be liked” or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and—for the Far East—unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.

– Preeminent post-war long-term strategic planner for the U.S. National Security Council, George F. Kennan, from the formerly top-secret, now de-classified 1948 State Department Brief: NSC 68


 

 

“The U.S. has routinely destroyed democracy throughout the globe while its leaders spout words about spreading democracy.

“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism….

“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

“During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

– Major-General Smedley Butler, 1933.

 

If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest. – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 3rd American President

 

 

V.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

– Martin Luther King Jr.


 

The future holds ominous portent, and signs of great hope. Which result ensues depends largely upon what we make of the opportunities.

– Noam Chomsky

 

 

It aint’ over `till it’s over.

– Yogi Beara

 

 

The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences… – Winston Churchill, on facing the threat of fascism (the first time)

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance of our neglect. “The moving finger write, and having writ moves on …”
We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

Martin Luther King, Jr, April 4, 1967


 

The coward will ask is it safe?…Vanity, is it politically expedient or popular? But conscience will always ask, is it right?

– Mahdi Bray

Those who would trade a little liberty for a little security, deserve neither. – Benjamin Franklin

Hope is not for wimps; it is for the strong-hearted who can recognize how bad things are and yet not be deterred, not be paralyzed. – Frances Moore Lappe

 

“Just because you bury your head in the sand doesn’t mean the headache will go away.”

– Italian saying

 

 

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. – Thomas Jefferson

“Liberty demands responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” – GBS

 

 

There is more day yet to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden


 

If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.

– Emma Goldman

 

 

Despite everything, I still believe people are basically good at heart.

– Anne Frank

 

 

The unity of the race of man, not only in its biology but also in its spiritual history…has everywhere unfolded in the manner of a single symphony, with its themes announced, developed, amplified and turned about, distorted, reasserted, and today, in a grand fortissimo of all sections sounding together, irresistibly advancing to some kind of mighty climax, out of which the next great movement will emerge.

– Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.

– Indian writer Arundhati Roy,
World Social Forum, 2003

 

 

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

– Geothe

 

 

 

 

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

Thomas Merton: My Favorite Monk "If you’re afrai…

Posted in Martin Luther King Jr., philosophy, spirituality, Thomas Merton on December 3, 2006 by jtoddring

Thomas Merton:
My Favorite Monk

“If you’re afraid to write something that might offend someone, why write anything at all.”
– Thomas Merton

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness…[W]e are in the same world as everybody else, the world of the bomb, the world of race hatred, the world of technology, the world of mass media, big business, revolution, and all the rest …. This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud …. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
– Thomas Merton

“[The] real sense of our own existence, which is normally veiled and distorted by the routine distractions of an alienated life, is now revealed in a central intuition. What was lost and dispersed in the relative meaninglessness and triviality of purposeless behavior (living like a machine, pushed around by impulsions and suggestions from others) is brought together in fully integrated conscious significance.”
– Thomas Merton

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.”
– Thomas Merton

And one of my greatest heroes:
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. I think the cause that we represent is right. But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now. I’m faltering. I’m losing my courage. And I can’t let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage they will begin to get weak. And it seemed at that moment that I could hear an inner voice saying to me, “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And to I will be with you, even until the end of the world.” …Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared.”
– Martin Luther King

A Hidden Wholeness:
Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Recognition of the interrelatedness of all persons, they claimed, lays upon all people of good will the radical obligation of compassion. Beyond barriers of race, nationality, and religion, we must identify ourselves with the poor, the oppressed, the wretched of the earth. It is our calling to become the voice of the voiceless, the face of the faceless, to an unheeding and uncaring society. For ultimately, according to King and Merton, there are no aliens, no enemies, no others, but only sisters and brothers. However, this kind of identification, if it is to be authentic instead of merely sentimental, requires suffering. Love in reality, unlike love in dreams, is a harsh and dreadful thing (as Fr. Zossima and Dorothy Day remind us). Compassion requires kenosis, self-emptying sacrifice. kenosis might take the shape of solitude and silence as it did for Merton — the lonely self-emptying experience of nothingness that opens out into frightening darkness. Or, kenosis might take the form of altruistic activism, as it did for King – the daily burden of exhausting dedication to the schedules, needs, and demands of others. In either case, the cross must be born. Compassion demands it. As both men knew well, the pattern had been set long ago by the person they tried to follow: “Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).

“In the end, Merton’s path and King’s, the contemplative way and the activist way, met at the symbol of reconciliation, agape, and compassion — the cross. Their lives bore complementary witness to the profound meditation of an earlier disciple upon that same cross:
We know what love is by this: that he laid down his life for us so that we ought to lay down our lives for others. But whoever possesses this world’s goods and notices his brother in need and shuts his heart against him, how can the love of God remain in him? Dear children, let us put our love not into words or into talk but into deeds… (I John 3:16-18).

Albert J. Raboteau: A Hidden Wholeness: Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.

IDEAS – HERETIC BLOOD: THE SPIRITUAL GEOGRAPHY OF THOMAS MERTON