Archive for the wellness Category

Importing From China: A Virus? Or A Totalitarian Model Of Elite Control?

Posted in American politics, analysis, China, civil liberties, class, collapse, common ground, communism, concentration camps, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, deep integration, democracy, democratic deficit, detention centers, disaster, economic collapse, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, fascism, Feudalism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, health, human rights, imperialism, Mussolini, neo-feudalism, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, propaganda, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized, war on democracy, wellness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2020 by jtoddring

Someone prescient once said, “Those who would sacrifice a little freedom for a little security, deserve neither, and will lose both.” We would do well to remember those words now.

And we are most definitely in the process of losing both, as we speak.

But maybe we aspire to be very healthy, germ-free slaves?

*

A friend said to me the other day, “Do you think China has 700 million people under lockdown for no reason?!”

I replied by saying:

China has been a police state for over fifty years, at least since the start of the “Cultural Revolution” in 1966 – the Chinese government prefers lockdown, for reasons of control: any pretext will do.

The thought of China taking such drastic measures to contain this latest virus surely makes many people assume that the virus must truly be terrifically dangerous. Surely China would not take such drastic or draconian measures if it were not. But we just explained why the Chinese government prefers totalitarian control measures, under any and all circumstances – and any crisis, real or imagined, will do for creating the justification for authoritarian measures. (Disaster capitalism is a globalized game endeavour.)

The entire assumption that the danger must be real if the government response is so extreme, simply falls apart upon examination, or the slightest critical thought.

China now has 600 million security cameras for 1.2 billion people – one camera for every two people, and with ever growing, soon to be total surveillance.

China now has a system of social credits, incorporated into its social control system, which is plugged into its surveillance system, and its economy. If you spit on the sidewalk, or jaywalk, are involved in one of the thousands of protests occurring every day, or, heaven forbid, criticize the government, then, low and behold, you find that you are refused for loans, mortgages, even the purchase of a train ticket. (And Facebook is working hard to introduce a similar system for the West. Good ole’ Zuck.)

China has gone headlong, and willfully, into a very consciously totalitarian system of extreme authoritarian control. What the Chinese government does, should not be taken as a good model for our policies, responses or behaviour: China is a police state.

Not only are China’s actions frequently and utterly unacceptable in a free society; but its actions are frequently motivated, not by concern for public health, for example, but by simple control.

*

What we should be more concerned about, is not the import of a few germs from China, which, so far, are much less dangerous than the flu: but the import of a totalitarian social model which would make Orwell cringe in horror.

But, then again, we in the West now have our own brand of technocracy, corporate fascism, and Orwellian oligarchy. It’s called the ECB, the Fed, the military-industrial-security complex – or simply, the corporate police state.

We needn’t import anything from China, as far as authoritarian social models go. In fact, the elite from East and West might want to swap notes. And I’m sure that Western and Eastern oligarchs have, and are, busily sharing notes.

After all, the Chinese authoritarians are our business partners now. A shared hatred for democracy and freedom, which is common, and nearly universal among the ruling classes of both East and West, simply seals the pact.

China has embraced neo-feudal corporatism. The West has embraced corporatist neo-feudalism. One is the mirror image of the other. The former has the bureaucratic elite in charge of a corporate capitalist economy; the latter has the corporate elite in charge of the bureaucratic and political-state powers. But although they have different inflections, both represent the merger of business and the state, which, as Mussolini said, is properly called corporatism, which is the proper term for fascism.

So, welcome to the Brave New World, germophobes. Wash your hands before kissing the ground before your masters, please.

*

De-industrializing the Western nations, and offshoring production to China and other low-wage regions, was astronomically profitable for the Western business elite. But, it destroyed the middle class at home; destroyed and gutted domestic consumer market demand, thus destroying and hollowing out the economy, which is now ready for implosion and collapse; caused inequality and poverty to soar; has led to a growing backlash and rising social tensions, as well as right-wing pseudo-populist movements of demagoguery and scape-goating (think Trump and co, and even worse); and with the resulting social, economic and political tensions about to erupt, either into revolution, or civil war, as a result. Good plan.

This has been truly great leadership, for the past 50 years. Now, we are reaping the harvest.

Short-sighted would be one word for it. The destruction and collapse of the United States, and the entire Western world, brought on by the greed and egomania, and power-lust, of the Western business and plutocratic elite, would be a more precise and detailed description.

In any case, to import China’s model of authoritarian, Orwellian, and totalitarian social control – based on the full and active cooperation of the new tech giants, and the Western corporate and governmental powers, is, quite simply put, disastrously insane.

We are importing a dark age. And everyone is worried about a few bugs.

Smart thinking.

JTR,
March 9, 2020

Reflections On Stillness & Action

Posted in activism, analysis, consciousness, empowerment, epistemology, freedom, healing, health, inspiration, ontology, people's movements, philosophy, political philosophy, political theory, psychology, religious philosophy, social theory, sociology, spirituality, sustainability, the world's other superpower, theology, truth, Uncategorized, wellness on February 25, 2020 by jtoddring

We need stillness and action – both, and urgently so. This should be becoming perfectly clear.

I’ve travelled through 20 countries, but still I find stillness the greatest adventure, and most rewarding, enriching journey of all. Going to the mountain top is exceedingly worthwhile, but going deep within is what makes it worthwhile. Reading thousands of books and travelling the world has been extraordinarily enriching and illuminating; but simply being still, and simply being, with gratitude, simplicity, wakefulness and attention, opens doors that cannot even be found, in any other way. As a dear friend said, “Be still, and seek the light.” I heartily agree! Action is required in order to heal our world, and urgently so. But stillness is required if our actions are to be sufficiently thoughtful or clear-minded to be a positive success.

 – J. Todd Ring,

 Author of Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium, and The People Vs The Elite

Degeneration, Collapse, and Rebirth

Posted in activism, anthropology, carbon, climate change, collapse, common ground, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, ecology, elite, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, health, neo-feudalism, people's movements, police state, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, social theory, sociology, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, Uncategorized, war on democracy, wellness on February 18, 2020 by jtoddring

What we are facing is systemic degeneration: ecologically, culturally, spiritually, intellectually, psychologically, socially, and biologically in terms of degenerating health and shortening life spans. This is the slow-motion collapse of a civilization. What is needed is not to self-medicate or mask the symptoms, or to manage the symptoms of degeneration, or to slow the degeneration, but to halt and reverse it, and begin the process of regeneration and renewal: at the global, national and local levels, the societal, the ecological, the cultural, and the individual. It is time for rebirth. It is time for renewal. It is time for a new renaissance.

JTR,

February 17, 2020

 

US government shutdown, and other fairy tales and examples of political theatre

Posted in American politics, analysis, banks, Barack Obama, Canada, Canadian politics, Chomsky, collapse, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, crisis of democracy, debt, deficit, democracy, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, far right, fascism, fascist, fiscal conservative, freedom, geopolitics, health care, imperialism, money, neo-feudalism, neocon, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, Obama, police state, policy, political economy, politics, propaganda, psychology, Republican, Republican Party, right, right wing, sociology, the right, truth, U.S., war, war on democracy, wellness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by jtoddring

I’m not sure what to make of the hoopla going on in the US right now. I’m inclined to think it’s all just political theatre, as Gerald Celente calls it, designed to distract the people from the real issues – the central one being, who controls the government and the nation? Wall Street, the big banks and largest corporations, or the people? After all, both of the major parties are controlled by the same six big banks, the private banking cartel which is the Fed, the military-industrial-security complex, Wall Street and the biggest 500 corporations on the planet, so what is this charade really about? As Celente said, it’s WWF – the World Wrestling Federation: it’s all scripted; it’s all political theatre. They all work for the same people.

Some Americans, mainly on the right, and mainly the rich, want to shrink government and abolish social programs that help and protect the poor, as well as the middle class – and half of Americans are now living below, at, or just above the poverty line, so that means 50% of the American people would get badly shafted, and far more would be badly hurt.

Some Americans – the overwhelming majority, well over 70% – favour public, universal health care, such as Canada, Britain, Europe and most of the civilized world has. But Obamacare is nothing of the sort. Obamacare is Romneycare – Obama simply took Romney’s package and made it his own. Obamacare, like Obama’s entire presidency, is designed to appease and sooth the masses and post-pone real political action, popular uprising or social unrest, while continuing the facilitation of the rape and pillage of the nation and the world by the largest corporations and the wealthiest 0.01%. What is amazing is that more people do not yet recognize these facts, although a great many, and a growing number do. The Obamacare package averts public, universal health care, which the people want, props up a crumbling private, massively subsidized for-profit health care system, and will put even more money into private, for-profit health insurance and health industry corporations, with dubious benefit to the people, if any. So the entire debate is dishonest to begin with, and radically out of joint with reality.

Furthermore, for those who want to cut government debt and spending, it should be noted, and made clear, that one of the best ways to do that, along with ending war and de-funding the massive military-industrial-security complex, the imperial storm troopers, the goon squads and the surveillance state, is to switch to a public health care system. (See Chomsky for a clear-headed and honest analysis of these points.)

The for-profit private health care system of the US has been shown repeatedly to cost far more than the public, not-for-profit health care systems of Canada, Britain and Europe. So once again, the debate is a farce; is filled with deceit; and again, radically out of sync with reality.

In the face of all of this, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I tend to worry greatly for the American people, as I do for human beings and all life on earth generally; but I trust they will resolve these problems. In the meantime, I pray, and will do all I can to seek out and share the best information and ideas I can find – from the left, right, centre, and anywhere I can find them.

Will the government shut down? Hardly likely, it seems to me. If it does, it will be disastrous for millions of people – even though the US government is the biggest criminal syndicate on the planet, next to the billionaire oligarchs who control it, along with virtually every other nation and government on earth. But a shutdown of the US government probably would not last long in any case, and the big bureaucratic machine of the state will restart again, if for no other reason, than because the people who control it – the super-rich, the corporate and banking elite, rely on it as a cash cow, a welfare state for the rich, a constant source of dizzying subsidies, bail-outs and forced wealth transfers from the people to the ruling plutocrats (they call it a “stimulus” package); and as a protective hired thug which can be, and is being used to keep an increasingly unruly rabble and frustrated populace subdued and under control, so that the great global looting spree can continue unabated.

The US government has handed the biggest banks and the global banking elite $14 trillion since the economic crisis of 2007-2008 erupted – enough to pay off the mortgages of every American, and every student debt and credit card debt, and all personal debts in the US, with approximately $13 trillion left to spare: which is enough to eliminate global poverty many times over, or, enough to eliminate global poverty, and create the global infrastructure for a truly sustainable society. Other corporate sectors are receiving smaller sums, in the range of a mere few tens or hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in regular subsidies, bail-outs and props. The six biggest banks now control a huge swath of the US economy, yet they are now fully dependent on on-going government subsidies just to survive. Their profits now are roughly equal to what they are receiving in regular government “stimulus” moneys, meaning, they would be forced out of business if they had to go without massive public funding from the government. This is to say nothing of the giant military-industrial-security and surveillance complex and its over $1 trillion annual cash flood coming from Washington and the Federal budget. Do we really believe that the same people who fund and control both of the two major parties want this gravy train to end? Think again. Not on your life.

No, the true rulers, the global business elite, need the US government, and will not let it be shutdown for long, if at all. So again, I am inclined to view all of this melodrama and hyperbole as so much theatre: bread and circuses, my friends, bread and circuses.

Keep the people divided – divide and conquer being rule number one for any good power-monger; and feed them bread and circuses to keep them distracted while their pockets are picked, and to keep their eyes diverted from the shackles and chains around their necks, wrists and legs. And sometimes, soap operas, sit-coms, “reality tv,” sports and celebrity gossip are not enough – political theatre is also needed; and so, it is provided.

The reality is, there are far too many pigs that are neck deep with their heads in the trough for the government to shut down for long. The ruling oligarchs simply won’t allow it, so let’s be real here, and keep such facts in mind while the hysteria mounts.

If the US government, or either of the major parties was truly interested in reducing the debt and deficit, then the on-going wars of empire would be ceased immediately and sworn off, all foreign US military bases would be closed, the military-industrial-security complex would be radically de-funded and the global surveillance and police state apparatus shut down, with savings of close to $1 trillion a year – which would mean that were is no more fiscal crisis.

If, in addition to this, universally accessible, publicly funded not-for-profit health care was brought in, further enormous cost savings would be made, and there would be a windfall of money available for real economic recovery, job creation, infrastructure and urgently needed environmental programs.

But none of this is on the agenda, none of this is even open to discussion, for the simple reason that the ruling class of plutocrats and corporate tsars and robber barons don’t want this, because that wouldn’t benefit them.

This is the real story; the rest, a mere charade.

J. Todd Ring,
September 30, 2013

The deeper reasons for the “war on drugs”

Posted in 9/11, activism, Afghanistan, American politics, analysis, banks, Chomsky, CIA, civil liberties, class, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, detention centers, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, fascism, fascist, freedom, geopolitics, Global War on Terrorism, globalism, globalization, health, human rights, imperialism, Iraq, jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., Middle East, money, must-read, neo-feudalism, oil, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, politics, politics of oil, propaganda, sociology, sovereignty, truth, U.S., war, war crimes, war on democracy, War on Terror, wellness, work with tags , on September 30, 2013 by jtoddring

There is a deeper reason for the war on drugs, which is the central reason for the policy, even outweighing profits from private prisons and seizure of property by law enforcement officers, both of which no doubt are also significant and strong motivations for keeping the “war on drugs” going.

Nearly thirty years ago, Chomsky said that the US and other leading industrial nations are being “third-worldized” – they are being turned into third world nations, where a tiny elite owns and runs the country, a small privileged class serves the ruling few, and the rest live in a sea of poverty and destitution.

He pointed out that with the advent of corporate globalization, which began in earnest in the 1970’s, and with the off-shoring of production as well as profits – which is the central fact and pattern of globalization, of course – what used to be a large middle class work force became superfluous and obsolete.

Millions of people who used to have decent jobs would now become unemployed or join the ranks of the desperate working poor as factories closed and moved to Mexico, Indonesia, Russia, India or China. What used to be the middle class of North America are now just a bunch of discontent people who are no longer needed, and who are not only disposable, but in the way – and a threat to the ruling powers, since they are rightfully unhappy about being driven into poverty and insecurity.

“What are you going to do with them?” Chomsky asked, then answered his own question. “Well, one thing you can do is to put them in prison. Then you have what amounts to slave labour, because you can make them work for essentially nothing. I think that is what is happening.” (Sorry, I haven’t heard this clip of him saying that for over twenty years, so I may be paraphrasing somewhat, but that is the gist of it.)

So what is the real reason for the so-called “war on drugs”? To remove large segments of the population, especially discontent youth, who may turn to serious political action – following in the footsteps of the Black Panthers, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr., for example – and put them in prison, where they can be more easily controlled, and where they can be made to do forced labour for fifty cents and hour, or something like that – probably less in most cases – and in this way, make extra profits for the big corporations that are increasingly relying on prison labour, while keeping the rabble in line. It is a brilliant plan – if you’re a sociopath, and the ruling elite truly are that.

What does the future hold? Detention centres and prison labour for many more people, I am afraid, unless the ruling corporate elite are deposed and thrown from power.

Note also that keeping drugs illegal keeps street prices high, and this is a part of the real motives for the war on drugs, as Gerald Celente has pointed out. It’s not in order to benefit the small-time dealer on the street corner – it’s for the benefit of the big traffickers, like the CIA.

Illegal drugs are a $500 billion a year industry world-wide, and the CIA controls the bulk of the cocaine and heroin traffic. One of the main reasons for the war in Afghanistan, along with oil interests and a certain pipeline, was to return control of opium production to the CIA, after the Taliban had burned the crops, which instantly turned them from an unofficial friend into an official enemy. After the US invasion of Afghanistan, the opium was replanted and global heroin sales resumed, with the CIA firmly in control of this giant money-making machine (See Michael Ruppert, Peter Dale Scott and others.)

The entire US economy is now propped up by drug money, as are Wall Street and the big banks, who rely on the daily flood of liquidity from drug money laundering. (See Catherine Austin Fitts and Max Keiser.)

If we want a more sane, just and health-promoting policy on drugs, and not the present one, which destroys millions of lives, fuels organized crime, gang activity, violence and wars, and imprisons millions for non-violent “crimes” of possession of criminalized substances, then we will have to take on the new empire of global corporate rule, and defeat it. This may sound like a large task, and it is, but the tide is turning, and this is entirely possible.

We have a choice: throw the plutocrats, the corporate elite from power, or watch the continued third-worldization of the formerly wealthy nations, the continued drive toward a global neo-feudal world order, the continued growth of prison populations and prison labour, the continued drive toward a global police state, and the continued war on democracy, freedom, civil liberties and the vast majority of the people by the stratospherically rich, who, by the way, only seem to know one word, as Chris Hedges has said: and that is, “more.”

The war on drugs, like the war on terrorism, is part of a broader campaign of class warfare being conducted by the world’s ruling billionaires and their criminal friends in high places, against the other 99.99% of the population. If we don’t understand this, then we really don’t understand the matter at all.

The “war on drugs,” and the “war on terror,” have nothing to do with their stated objectives of controlling drugs and protecting the people from terrorism. As Chomsky said, if we want to stop terrorism, there is an easy way to do it: stop participating in it. What he meant was that the US is the leading terrorist power in the world, dwarfing all others combined. Official terrorism accounts for 20,000 deaths a year. Unofficial terrorism, meaning, the kind that we do, by waging murderous illegal wars around the world, for example, has accounted for over a million deaths in Iraq alone. There is simply no comparison. It’s like comparing a small-time local thug or neighbourhood bully with the Godfather.

Abolish the CIA (do we really need this criminal goon squad, in addition to sixteen other known US intelligence agencies?); shut down the CIA detention centres and black sites; close the School of the Americas – which has been the world’s leading terrorist training camp for decades, located on the Fort Benning US military base in Georgia; and stop arming, supporting, training and funding terrorist organizations and local thugs, dictators and war lords around the world. Then you will see terrorism decline to levels that are a tiny fragment of what they are now. But of course, the ruling business elite and their political allies don’t want to do that, because the present arrangement benefits them handsomely, and they are making a killing.

Likewise, if you want to reduce harm and deaths from drug use, stop letting the CIA flood the world with crack, cocaine and heroin; and put bankers in jail for laundering drug money on a daily basis and a giant, global scale.

The “war on drugs” and the “war on terror” have nothing to do with their publicly stated intentions – they are a conscious and very deliberate war on the people, on civil liberties, democracy and freedom, by the ruling few who profit from these actions greatly. They are also a part of the grand plan of turning the world into a feudal society and a labour camp – a giant pyramid, with the astronomically rich at the top, ruling over all; a few privileged ones loyally serving them, like courtesans or well-paid prostitutes; and the rest abandoned to a sea of poverty, or corralled and contained in prisons to be kept under control or used as slave labour.

End the empire of corporate rule, or watch the world go into a very dark age. These are our two, and only two real choices now.

J. Todd Ring,
September 30, 2013

Reflections on tumblr, facebook and social media

Posted in alternatives, analysis, anthropology, Chomsky, consciousness, empowerment, inspiration, journalism, life, Media, media analysis, net, NSA, propaganda, psychology, reading, resources, social theory, sociology, sound-bite, Uncategorized, web, wellness with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2013 by jtoddring

Going from specifics to depth and breadth, and from particularities to universals, here are some thoughts for your consideration, for anyone who may be interested.

I’ve come to love the social networking / blogging community / window onto the web which is called tumblr. That being said, tumblr is largely what you make of it. I like the basic format of tumblr, and within that format or structure, I’ve created a flow of beautiful, interesting and thought-provoking feeds. I love the stream of art, gorgeous nature photography, science, literature, quotes, history, politics, spirituality and philosophy which flows through my tumblr window on the world daily.

I could have picked feeds on celebrity gossip, or cats doing amusing things, but I didn’t. The content I’ve chosen to let in is either beautiful or thought-provoking, or both – not trivial tripe and banality. So I am daily fascinated, or at least uplifted, by what flows through this portal onto the world – or as often as I open it up, which is more occasional than daily.

Facebook is good for providing another means of connecting or staying connected with friends and loved ones – meagre and thin as that connection may be, or as superficial or illusory – but facebook has a number of glaring faults, in my mind.

First, facebook provides data mining and surveillance aid to the NSA – how disgusting and truly revolting is that?

Second, facebook hits you in the face with obnoxious ads every time you look at it – revolting offence number two.

Third, facebook’s layout and formatting is visually ugly, boring and banal, and crudely utilitarian compared with tumblr.

Four, facebook gives you tiny little boxes of content posts, unlike tumblr, which gives you large size posts, so you can really get much more of a feel or an impression from a photo, piece of art, political poster, cartoon or other image, which is largely lost on facebook, unless you take the time to click on the image and go to a larger version.

I find the formatting of twitter even more annoying. Who can say anything meaningful in 140 keystrokes or characters? Hyper-concision gone mad – that is twitter. See Chomsky on the dangers of a strictly enforced concision.

All in all, I’d say social media is a horrible waste of time and a surrogate for real relationships and real life. However, it can be used in ways that are useful, and even uplifting and life enriching.

You could say the same thing about youtube or TV – most of it is garbage, or worse than garbage: toxic sludge; and you have to be extremely selective to make it worthwhile, or even to avoid being poisoned by it.

(I hate TV, and haven’t had one in my home for years. I watch what I want from TV, when I on rare occasions I do watch it, either on Netflix or youtube, or I buy videos of the TV shows I like, and watch them  any time I want, commercial-free.)

But as far as comparing social media in their ability to handle truly life-enriching content with a minimum of commercial bastardization or constrictions, the structure and formatting of tumblr makes that easier to obtain that on facebook, I would say – and I simply like the formatting of tumblr far better than facebook – as well as the lack of ads.

I post interesting items to facebook, but I never “read” or follow it, because it’s just far too annoying. tumblr, I actually enjoy spending time on, and I learn more about art, science, history and the world while I relax and enrich my mind with beautiful images of paintings and photography at the same time.

But again, tumblr, like all social media, or the internet in general, or any media, is almost entirely what we make of it – as with life itself. If we want to obsess over celebrity gossip and sports trivia, we can do that. If we want to listen to the media presstitutes, as Gerald Celente rightly calls them, mouth the words that their corporate owners dictate to them – um, sorry, bosses, is the preferred term I suppose… or Johns – we can do that.

If we want to degrade or dumb down our minds, we can do that – and we are facilitated greatly, and eagerly encouraged by the corporate driven mass media to do just that. The Pied Piper plays daily and continuously, the sirens call, and the sleep-walking masses drool and respond in Pavlovian reaction, like obedient dogs, or sheep; as if they were well-oiled and carefully controlled machines, or puppets on a string.

We are free to fashion our own mind-forged manacles, as William Blake called them – and we can pretty them up with lace and garlands, or paint them with our own personal flourishes and filigrees, so they look ever so lovely; and we can show them off to all our friends and family, and be so proud, as we drown our minds in a tsunami of confusion, illusions, lies and deceit, or simply wander aimlessly in the wasteland of a civilization (sic) lost in a dark age – bewildered, alone, in pain, and not even knowing we are lost, much les where we are, where we have come from, or where we are going. Or, alternately, if we want to uplift, enrich and illuminate our minds, hearts and spirits, and our lives, we are free to do that.

Unfortunately, it seems that the vast majority of people want to squander their lives, and degrade their minds and themselves, rather than enrich, uplift or ennoble them. But that is their choice. I’d rather spend my time differently. Wallowing in a sea of excrement is not my idea of a good time. But to each his own.

Some people choose to spend their time “engaged” with media, listening to Fox News, CNN or Billow O’Reilly. Some would rather spend their time listening to the thoughts of Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf, Gerald Celente or Matt Taibbi – or listening to the words of the greatest scientists, sages and true luminaries of all time and all the world. You can choose to spend your time watching cockroaches mate, or something on a level barely above that; or you can sit at the feet of the wise, and listen and learn, and be truly enriched by it. It is your choice. There are different mental worlds we can choose to live in, and they are truly worlds apart.

Some people want to live in Disney Land; some prefer the real world.

For myself, I’d like to stick as close as I can to the real world; and within that scope, which is vast, I’d prefer to mix the bracingly real and honest, with the beautiful and uplifting. To me, anything else would either be a distraction and a diversion from what is most important in life; or worse, a degrading, mind-numbing, soul destroying descent into the darkness of a world lost in confusion and pain.

Choose wisely, I would say.

There is a difference between honey, saccharine, and arsenic. Learning to distinguish which is which, is the first step toward nourishing yourself – and also, the first step in ceasing the self-poisoning which now daily occurs, and has become routine: a banality of evil, as well as an epidemic.

Life is precious. What we do with it matters. Reflect on this, I would urge you. Or not, as you like. We are free to rise to great heights, or to sink to the lowest depths. That is entirely up to ourselves to decide. For me, I’d rather choose an upward path, however winding, seemingly slow, or at times arduous or lonely, than choose the slide down the cliff-side which has become the pervasive and profoundly abnormal norm. Life is worth more than this. And I will live it, and not simply drift through it, like a speck of foam on a great river.

Social media can be grand. It can be sordid. Or it can be simply banal. Like life, it depends on what we do with it.

J. Todd Ring,

September 25, 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.)

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