It grabs the head

Posted: 04/10/2012 in Education, Insight
Tags: , ,


Beware – 3400 words

I had been thinking about writing this blog for a number of days, but I woke up early today and have started to write it. I have had a really difficult problem recently that I wanted to note. It is mundane, not supposedly spiritual but its effect has been spiritual – at least I think it has been contributing to my poor meditation lately. I bought a new quality motor-cycle helmet at the beginning of August, not top of the range but certainly safer than many of the token gestures worn here(required by law). As required by law I have worn a helmet since I started on a motor-bike 6 years ago. Once I learned that most that are worn here are token, I bought the best quality Thai brand, Real; a Thai expert said that was sufficient for touring on the road – essentially the conditions I ride in. I decided it was time to buy a new one, and as I was going to Bangkok I decided on an upgrade. I didn’t know what I was doing, and they gave me a helmet to try an – I said it was fine. Then the assistant said “mai dai” and became flustered, called someone over, and they tried to explain that the helmet didn’t fit me. They measured my head – 57 cm, and told me size M. The size for my Real was XXL! I realised that the Real helmet was not providing great protection. The M helmet was not comfortable but I was told I would wear it in.

Fine story! I wore the helmet, it was tight but I liked the design and persevered. After a couple of weeks I asked my Thai masseuse to help with my head because of the helmet. I saw an expert friend who called me a fool for not being prepared when I went to buy it, and he said it was too small. The cheek and ear pads – combined one left one right – could be removed, and my friend said soak them and clamp them to see if the foam will become thinner. At this point I stopped using the helmet and after 3 days had an amazing headache. Clamping did not work so then I went to see if the pads could be cut and found someone who was able to do that. I removed about 2/3 of the cheek pad and rode like this for two weeks. Monday I woke early and my cheeks were paining me, and it felt like a headache was coming. I completely removed the cheek pad just leaving a pad behind my ear. Yesterday I wore it and I think it was fine although the helmet itself moves too much – not as much as the Real XXL moves.

I checked the internet, everything about the size the shop said was born out, but I think my cheeks are particularly sensitive. My friend thinks the M is too tight, but with the cheek pads removed it is too loose. He said I should choose by comfort, but then comfort is XXL and I am not sure what protection that offers. Maybe I have reached the optimal answer but I am still not sure that there aren’t more headaches to come. Despite all recommendations, shop and internet, I think I will choose L next time, but that will still not resolve the cheek problem – I will still have to cut the foam.

So for two months I have had a problem with my head. Inside my head is not as clear as I would like, it could be this helmet issue – but then with meditation the excuses are so devious. As well I have had the stress of part-time teaching that started in July.

Talking of teaching my mid-term holiday started today although contractually it started at the end of September but I went in yesterday as well. My principal was pushing for me to come in today, but she couldn’t tell me too. She made it difficult but I have to stand up to her without causing a confrontation – I set a precedent by volunteering so maybe she now feels she can pressure me to work outside contract hours.

I went in yesterday to return the test papers, and to begin work on the public-speaking competition. This has been another stresser – she asked me to help with it last year as a volunteer. The top student must give a public talk. There are two or three pages of rules in Thai, and at lunch a week ago she asked me to do it. The rules that I got were that the students were to write 6 essays of 1200 words on 6 areas of interest – remember these are Thai students in a second language, and then in the public speaking they have to choose a topic at random and then after 5 minutes give a 3 minute talk in English – at age 11. I was angry at being asked to do this, but I did not refuse. After some discussion later the students will be required to write 1200 words on the 6 topics combined, and then somehow I will work out a way of minimising the damage to the students of the 3-minute random talk. Basically the competition requires 11-year-olds to be bilingual for 3 minutes on 6 different topics, it makes absolutely no educational sense to me. Mind you it makes no sense to me why I am teaching most of the student English anyway. Pre-school??? I like it and the kids love it as well, so therefore that gives it educational meaning. But 4-year-old Thai kids learning English doesn’t seem to have educational merit to me. Yes children, in bilingual situations become bilingual but schools are not bilingual.

Yesterday just after lunch I had a couple of questions about the Thai. She answers them and the conversation developed. And I said that if I met the director of Trat I would tell him how unsound educationally the competition was. She told me that it was not the Trat director but the Ministry in Bangkok, so I said well I will tell him how educationally unsound it was. And she lowered her head and started to cover her ears, basically showing she didn’t want to hear such sacrilegious talk. Now this was not the King, I could imagine someone covering her ears if Farangs spoke against the King but the Ministry ….. Anyway if I anger one of the teachers who were present they can report the conversation, and they won’t offer me a new contract. End of stress!! Perhaps I should do more of this, I am not happy at being this token dummy Farang that is dragged out to give her publicity. I want to be polite but I don’t like being a performing seal, if I insult one of these interminable pen-pushers the problem is over ….

But none of this is what I got up to write about. There were some interesting intellectual reactions that occurred in a recent online thread. Now the first one concerns being Jewish. This intellectual has a mother who grew up in Israel. As an intellectual spiritual he had withdrawn from any Jewish influence in his background – so he thought. His comments began following this clip:-

Now I mostly agree with this clip, but there are some extreme comments that indicate Jewish complicity everywhere. It is almost as if the 1% and Jewish are the same. Obviously some bankers are Jews but the Jews synonymous with the 1% – can’t accept that.

This clip he described as biased propaganda although the explanation following wasn’t too bad. In his intellectual balance he says “I’m not for or against Israel.” But then he says ” It is also a very similar thing on the side of the Muslims who don’t want Israel to exist and many who don’t want Jews to exist.” This is straight out of Zionist propaganda. Is it Muslims in Indonesia or Malaysia or is this Arabs because of the Palestinians? The conflict between Israelis and Arabs over Palestine is being obfuscated by the propaganda with the religions of Judaism (Jews?) and Islam.

He later says “If you watch the NOVA special you will see that what they found has nothing to do with who funded the documentary about it. It just shows that a people called the Israelites lived in what is now known as Israel, and that some of the stories in the Bible are based in fact. These people we now call Jews have lived in that same area for over 3000 years, and on top of that they also spread out to many other countries.” I don’t know if this is true, and I got the feeling that this clip refuted this a little:-

I argued against the NOVA special because I discovered that the NOVA channel was funded by the Koch brothers. I explained influence but he still promoted it as evidence. I concluded that it fit his world view which I believe was unduly propagandised by his mother and her origins. He did not appear to be questioning the root of his bias.

His intellectual idealism is “We need globalisation and a bigger context than country, culture and religion. People must put humanity above ancient customs and beliefs. Borders must be abandoned.” Is this pragmatic? So when discussing a pragmatic problem, what is the point of nailing your sail to the mast of this idealism? At least with this idealism I don’t think anyone gets hurt, not like the way that libertarianism has been used by the 1% to deregulate and oust homeowners for bankers’ profits. But libertarians gloss over this. In this case if you want an ideal, let’s have a Jewish homeland for humanitarian rather than historic reasons. It is the biased views of history masquerading as fact that is fuelling the struggle, and history can never be proved.

There is also the intellectualism of balance. The Zionists seek expansion, this guy feels he is not like them but believes in a lot of the propaganda masquerading as facts the establishment puts out (the NOVA history). But fighting a war to change back the situation of populations and peoples is not a sound recognition of the passing of time – of evolution. By participating intellectually in the historical discussion there is a participation in the Zionist agenda. Recognise the humanitarian right and focus on the violence that has been perpetrated since the start of this Zionist Israel. Negotiate for the rights of the Jews and Arabs to live in harmony within accepted international boundaries, end settlements, and use international money to make reparation for the damage to all the peoples and families who have been hurt in this war. Stop using the international money to support war and killing.

The other intellectual position that is more interesting grew out of a discussion concerning the 1%. Earlier he said “Some people would side with various groups, be it Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. I was saying I prefer not to side with any group.” There is an intellectual position that allows him to be outside groups. But in practice we are in groups because we are part of life. I am English. That is my country of origin, my passport etc. Does that mean I identify with all English stereotypes? Absolutely not, but am I English? I was born in England so it does. Am I white? Yes Do I subscribe to the racism that certain groups of white people ascribe to? No. Am I Arab? This starts to get unclear, not because a description might be less valid but simply that making such a description is more confused by definition. In Saudi-Arabia there maybe easily traced back generations of Arab people that make such a description valid. What about Palestinian? Now this is less clear as well because that means a person from Palestine, and the definition of the country Palestine has been obfuscated intentionally by those with power and influence. My dictionary describes a Jew as a person descended from Jacob. I have no idea how that can be proved, I am sure there has to be some connection for me but I don’t call myself Jewish. The issue is not the description but how I act and how I let myself act as governed by the collective “Jews”, “Arabs” etc. If I am an Israeli I am conscripted, this is an action that causes death. How much choice is there in it? But by accepting the definition and collective imposition I am killing. It is not the label but the actions that we make.

But the label that really got to him was 1% and its relationship to peace. It began with “Saying “peace begins with me” offers personal happiness but suggesting in this world that it will bring significant changes? I am not so sure. It allows us the space to find peace despite what the 1% do, in my view it does not give us a collective peace to confront the 1%.” Someone else suggested that all with personal peace will bring collective peace. I do not accept that. Let me define the 1%. This is neither a number nor a percentage, it is a description of people of influence who use that influence to increase their power by increasing their money and manipulating society for their own benefit, in Marxist terms, the bourgeoisie. This is not a description I would want to be a part of. By this description I recognise that currently these people are the major cause of suffering in the world and whilst these people continue to manipulate the way they are doing there is little the rest can do. This is all part of my description, and based on this description I am prepared to invest action as part of the remaining 99%.

He said ” Peace can neither be created nor destroyed. It is ever present. All we need to do is begin to recognize the ever present peace within ourselves, and act from that place. If we act from a place of deep inner peace instead of division, then peace manifests outwardly in our lives and in all that we do. If we act from division, then division manifests and spreads through and from all that we do. What we give our attention to grows. It isn’t so much a matter of reasons, because there really are no reasons. It is a matter of recognizing what is true, the whole, the self, the love, the peace. Peace is our nature, and to act from that place of authentic peace is no different than being whole and natural. It is the same pointing as all authentic spiritual teachings. We can say it in many different ways, but it all comes down to the same thing. Move from the heart, the soul, the truth within. To do otherwise no matter the reason leads to more destruction. Find it and live from that place. The rest will fall into place naturally.” In this there is a great deal of truth in this, but this was not the contention.

For me the issue really began when I said this “Peace in the world begins with the personal. But our world has become so distanced from its Path of peace because of the appropriation power and influence of the 1%. Without recognising this and thinking that world peace will come simply when everyone develops that inner peace is just a heartbreaker. Recognising reality is part of that peace. Recognising the limitations the 1% place on humanity helps on our Paths because it can point to what we do. It is the avoidance of this recognition that gives the 1% a significant amount of their power. Why we avoid it is a significant question.” I then criticised NOVA saying I couldn’t trust it because it was financed by the Koch brothers and I didn’t know enough of the subject matter.

I got this reply “Bill, the findings of the documentary are pretty unbiased. I don’t think that the Koch brothers made an ancient Egyptian stone describing their conquest over the Israelites in 1200 BC, or ancient scrolls with Jewish prayers, or kingdom ruins in Jerusalem and other nearby cities. Think what you like though, but it seems to me that you blaming the so called 1% isn’t peace. Remember, when you come from a divided place, you can only spread division. Wars aren’t started from peace, they are started because one side blames another, or at least believes themselves to have rights over another. Blaming anyone is the same thing. You can’t be at peace until you make peace within yourself, with all those who you hold accountable for anything. It isn’t the 1% who is at fault. We are ALL in this together. The best thing any of us can do is to stop taking sides, stop blaming, find peace within ourselves, and act from the place of peace. Acting from peace does not mean outwardly doing nothing. It can actually produce far greater results when we don’t spread our own inner division. When we act from a place of deep inner, authentic peace, we unify, support and strengthen. We must act for the truth, for peace, for love, instead of against anyone or anything. Violence begets violence, and blame is violence. The 1% isn’t at fault, it’s the whole system that needs to change, starting with each individual. We can’t have a peaceful world without peaceful people, and we can’t not have a violent world as long as people hold onto divisive blame, which is violence. So I would hope that you can understand this, find peace, and live from that place. It isn’t the 1% that needs to change, it’s each and every single one of us, the 100% that needs to change. 1% change won’t do much good, so change 100% of yourself towards peace, and then you will see peace everywhere, and all your actions will lead to peace.
If you want to enlighten all of the world, enlighten all of yourself.”

This is an attack couched in non-emotive terms, some of which I have already discussed. the real issue is that he has taken the spiritual position and turned it into an idealism – a common intellectual approach. Peace inside, peace inside, peace inside. That is enough. But discussion of the world is not just peace inside, it is peace inside then ….. social response. There is a value judgement that if I don’t follow his peace ideal then I cannot be enlightened . This is intellectual idealism.

I gave a long reply, and he then said “the cause of any one thing is every other thing in existence. So even if the 1% seems to be causing this or that manipulation, the real cause is the 99%, you and me, and everything else. That is why the only real solution is not looking outward at anything, but looking within to your own full, authentic peace. The two are actually at odds. You can’t hold onto belief about something external and be at peace within. You can’t divide humanity into parts, and be whole within yourself. You can’t say some are at fault, and claim that you are innocent without being at war.
All the spiritual teachings say the same thing. Let go of belief, let go of the external, let go of blame, of pointing fingers, of judging, of deciding who is right and who is wrong, and turn that same energy towards yourself. As long as you are keeping your attention on something external, you will not have all the energy to be at peace. You will be divided between internal reality, and external illusion. That is not peace. Division leads to division. However, if you sincerely seek peace, you will find your way. And with that, I wish you peace! :)”

Again this is intellectual idealism. I answered “Emotions arise in ourselves for a purpose – a recognition of not being at peace, and they are not caused by the other. We are one people but some have lighter skins. That is not division unless the light skins choose. It is not division within the person who described it either.”

To me his comment is more of the same intellectual idealism, what matters is only inside. But who we are inside acts, we are not just inside but we are outside as well. And it is based on the falsehood that because I recognised a 1% division I could not be at peace inside. He is intellectually standing outside I am not 99% or 1% so he is not part of the 100%. Meditation observes but not from outside from inside, that is a wonder of meditation. But intellectually we cannot be outside. He says “let go of belief” but his intellectual idealism is boxing him in. And then he said the 1% are not at fault we are. This is an ideal. If all 99% practised peace the 1% would go away, but that can never happen. Any use with 50%. No they have control. First and foremost right-minded people need to recognise the enemy then make their personal choice as to action.

In my final answer I tried to show him that the issue was not labelling and then I was trying to point out that he was emotional because a nerve had been hit, but he considers himself a teacher so will not think about it. I have seen this intellectual spirituality in him and in others before, holding onto his ideals when telling others not to hold onto theirs. An easy fault, this idealism does creep up on you. You need to continually ask questions.

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