Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Osho and Bhagwan

Posted: 10/04/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle
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I am not a fan of Osho. I examined his work several years ago (1 and 2), and I have no reason to change. There are great teachers around for whom there isn’t doubt such as the Buddha, Eckhart Tolle, why take the risk of teachers who present questions about ego.

When I criticised Osho I was not using his history as Bhagwan because I was unable to be certain enough of what I was reading. There was a recent Netflix documentary series, “Wild Wild Country” (6 hours plus of fascination), that gave me sufficient certainty, and there is much that documentary brings into question.

I am not a fan of “following gurus”. In the Kalama sutta the Buddha spoke of not believing him, learn for yourself. I believe the Guru tradition asks followers to trust the Guru completely, I don’t have objections to many Guru’s teachings but I try to learn for myself. I also understand that a Guru has a responsibility for all those s/he teaches. When I look at this documentary series I am always asking when did the Bhagwan take responsibility?

I have the feeling that the series is well researched and accurate, but it is the media so I can never be sure. My first question is why did the community go to Oregon, why did they leave Poona, India, in the first place? The documentary suggests there were doubts about the Bhagwan when he left Poona the first time. But why the inimical community of Oregon?

Was it respectful to establish such a spiritual community in a US backwoods traditional Christian community as Antelope, Oregon? As the US worships the power of the buck, by their terms it was legitimate but I don’t think so. Where should they establish a commune? Don’t know, a very different question.

My interpretation of the series was that there were no doubts that the Oregonians escalated the issues, and then the US legal apparatus continued the escalation. Firstly the Oregonians attacked the community on the land use issue, the response of taking over Antelope was based on this. And then there was the bombing of the hotel that led to arming the Rajneesh community. I have no doubts who were the aggressors. But then the responses – no excuses, especially from a Guru.

The whole documentary was absolutely fascinating. I was alive during all of that and yet I knew none of it.

What struck me so strongly is the love these Sannyasins had, but wisdom – I don’t know, wisdom seemed not to be valued. I rarely meet spiritual people where I live, but those I do are ex-Bhagwans. They have some sense of being lost, perhaps because they never broke the chord of Guru following, I don’t see them as “complete” – one was clearly disturbed. If I had gone East to the Bhagwan just after my upheaval – just starting on the path (never crossed my mind then), I could imagine I would have been completely enraptured as well. A frightening thought, and a warning about such a powerful Guru. I will not pick up an Osho book, I would not know where he would be sucking me the wrong way.

During the documentary there was a movie shown the Christian Oregonians, the sexual practices frightened them. This movie, Ashram in Poona, can be found here 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

I found this movie frightening, throughout I was thinking they were playing with stuff that should come out naturally over time. It is the same feeling I have about LSD and, I think, ayahuasca; it jumps the gun. But this approach was definitely directed spiritually – so risky. Sure there is energy, sure there are emotional blocks, this is part of life and we must find ways of releasing them. But we …. If it is a technique, if it is laying-on of hands (transmission?) then maybe we aren’t ready, aren’t equipped. How many of those Sannyasins were sorted, were able to cope with life? Was the rest of their life just dependent on the Bhagwan experience and that they were always harking back to it rather than moving forward?

In the documentary there was an old white Oregonian saying that the Rajneeshis were just looking for God. Well it’s the same thing. But is the way the restrictive Christian right have found God in America any better? At least the Bhagwan wasn’t funding global war or attacking women.

I have to point at something which is so important in teaching – sila – moral integrity, the backbone of any teaching must be sila. Especially when people are coming from western societies this sila is so important, as the West doesn’t necessarily provide any. Immediately the Oregonians would say the Rajneeshis have no sila because of sexual misconduct (one of the 5 precepts) – their view of the promiscuity. I am unwilling to comment on this because although it appears there was sexual misconduct it does not appear that their sexual conduct was hurting them. But I don’t know. The ex-Bhagwans I know are open to question concerning sexual desire – many expats are in Thailand in the game of mutual exploitation of younger women. The Rajneeshis in Oregon seemed genuinely happy amongst themselves, this does not indicate misconduct. But I wasn’t there, I don’t know.

But definitely spirituality requires a moral backbone – sila, and from what I have seen Osho offered none. That is sufficient for me not to go near Osho’s teachings given so many other alternatives. Energy without sila is dangerous.

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Data mining is the latest tool used by the system to condition us. It is what you might call “bespoke advertising”. OK it’s harder now but years ago I learnt “do not listen to adverts”. What were adverts trying to do? Get me to spend money on items I didn’t necessarily want.

Let’s be clear, I do buy items that are advertised but I don’t buy because of the way they are advertised. I buy a car. From the occasional adverts I do see, is there any information in those adverts that could help me make a better decision? Am I really going to find the woman of my dreams if I buy a Lamborghini?

The political point about advertising is mindful consuming. Mindfully choose. Facebook ads – don’t click. Why am I getting all this spam? Because people click. Mindful people don’t click.

To my mind all of this furore concerning data mining can be strategically overcome by mindful consuming. What does our class control? Consuming. They want us to spend money in a certain way so don’t. If data mining puts an ad on your facebook page, never click. It is simple.

But mindful consuming as a class is far more powerful. Why does the Israeli government spend so much effort fighting the BDS movement? Because boycotting the other apartheid in South Africa contributed significantly to the changes there.

Mindfulness as mindful consuming is an attribute of the path that is beyond conditioning.

Why does this affect liberals? Because they are such avid “liberal” consumers. They want to be free to consume. Where is their sustainability when their “struggle” means being free to consume? Click-bait only works for ill-disciplined minds, be mindful of what you are doing, of how you are consuming.

The above is not contained in this excellent BAR article LINK on Cambridge Analytica. The article is good because it shows that the 1% are into data mining. It shows that what is going on with the Trump strategists is no different to Obama’s strategists, no different to Blair’s strategists, and only a development from Thatcher’s Saatchi and Saatchi.

Confront people, make them mindful, make mindful consuming a political startegy. Data mining only works with the conditioned. If we are a class in struggle then we don’t wimp out with feeble-minded click-baiting. Let facebook waste its money giving me a BAR advert ….

Or skin-lightening cream??

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Desire, self and ego

Posted: 27/03/2018 by zandtao in Freedom
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There is much that is confusing about Eastern religions, this is not surprising as they can help people find the path that is beyond conditioning

Most significant on this path is desire, the more we desire the more potential there is for control. We want drugs, we need to buy them, we get addicted. We want alcohol, we need to buy drink, we get addicted. We want a house, the more money we need the more work we need to do, we get addicted. However deep the addiction the more we become conditioned, the less control we have.

The key to all of this is desire. Buddhism is distinct from most religious practice in that its primary purpose is to end suffering. To achieve this its two most significant dogmas are the 4 Noble Truths and paticcasamuppada, both of which are concerned with desire. It depends on which branch of Buddhism how much emphasis is placed on these dogmas.

The 4NT put simply say that there is suffering, suffering is caused by desire that leads to clinging. To end suffering we need to end clinging and there is an 8-fold path to achieve this. Paticcasamuppada looks at the situation differently by considering self and conditioning. It says self starts in ignorance. Desire attaches to an event that develops into clinging which becomes part of the conditioned self. Removing ignorance and not attaching to desire ends conditioning, ends self.

Russell’s next talk is with Frankie Boyle. The conversation is personal and professional as they are both comedians, if you like that sort of thing listen. Throughout many of his talks I hear from Russell a continued desire for addiction but a strength that says I will abstain. This abstinence is commendable but is not the solution. The solution is when there is no desire, no desire, no addiction. I don’t know whether the 12 steps contains any consideration of this.

Desire is a biggie.

However it is written down, in dogma whatever, ending desire is just so hard. But abstinence is not an end, it is an end to substance abuse but it still leaves the desire and therefore leads to some form of conditioning.

The phrase that many use is “letting go”. When the desire comes let go of it. Unfortunately the desire comes back so with substance abuse you need an additional abstinence approach. But that still leaves desire. But when desire comes back let it go again; over time the desire reduces.

Now there is additional knowledge that can help. In Russell’s case with substance abuse he has seen what it produces so that is a deterrent. Russell has seen addiction causes suffering, knowing that suffering can return is the deterrent. But desire is also part of addiction (coming before clinging), there is greater peace without desire. And it can begin to happen if when desire comes you let go.

Ayahuasca interests Russell. Buddhism has a precept that says to avoid substances that affects the mind. Russell is interested in ayahuasca because it has apparently helped people on consciousness. I suppose because of my own substance addiction, I don’t want such substances. But I trust in the path and aspects of Buddhism that help. I trust that the path will guide me so I don’t want consciousness-altering substances.

At the same time I have a feeling that such mind alteration has possible repercussions. I do feel that too much acid adversely affected some 60s people.

But I trust enough in the path and its discipline meditation.

I have desires, I am still addicted to self. But I know addiction means conditioning, and I want freedom, control so when desires come I try to let them go. It doesn’t always work but it gets better.

The second issue that distinguishes Buddhism from Hinduism has been touched on already – anatta – no self. Hinduism has a belief in reincarnation, in Buddhism reincarnation has a mixed reception. The teacher I follow, Buddhadasa, does not believe in anything, and because he cannot experience reincarnation he does not believe in it. He explains the Buddha’s teachings as existing in a milieu. The Buddha was teaching Hindus and trying to revise Hindu teaching. As such he used the same words but the concepts at times were different. Samsara can be seen as birth and death of self (paticcasamuppada) without considering reincarnation and transmigration of souls. The Buddha never tried to “explain karma”, the workings of kamma are beyond the understanding of humans. Hinduism sees reincarnation as coming back with a better lot as a reward for a previously exemplary life. This better lot is often associated with wealth and the perceived ease of life for the wealthy, and equally the difficult life of the untouchables. I am not sure of the theory but is the heinous caste system connected to reincarnation? With Buddhadasa only trusting experience and for him there being no reincarnation, kamma becomes something that can be managed. Past life trauma need not weigh us down through this if we look at kamma as something that can be detached from.

Self in Buddhism is distinct from self/Self in Hinduism. Buddhist self is a broader concept than ego but is still temporary, ego is an issue Russell knows he has to deal with, perhaps he could extend ego to self if he considered attachment to khandhas and anatta. But it is very difficult for him because of his career. Even though I like his books Revolution and Recovery, I don’t like his stage persona. My main reason for calling him a dickhead earlier was the Andrew Sachs thing, and whilst he didn’t explain in this podcast apparently it was a misunderstanding. But I still don’t find his stage persona funny. It is narcissism – ego. But that is a stage act, it is his professional career – income.

Teachers have ego leading to “better than me”. Teachers are known for “teaching” in their personal lives – it is their ego. Once I stopped teaching that ego can also disappear – although not completely as I have just alluded to. How much does Russell cling to his ego because it is his professional persona? And here is the big question, does he need the money? Does he need to cling to the ego? Could he become the Russell Brand of Revolution and Recovery? Could Under The Skin podcasts not contain all his ego-rantings, be more considered …. and perhaps Naomi would not have to pause so often? Apologies if there is judgementalism. These are not issues for me to judge, but only for me to ask questions?

But here is the rub. The ego of teaching held me back, of course wage-slavery – the world of work and its impositions – held me back far more. Being freed from that slavery gave me a chance to become who I am as I had sufficient money to survive. It must be hard for Russell to decide on this – with all that goes with it. I wonder whether there would ever be answers for him with this baggage he carries around?

But this ego is not self, self builds up from khandhas. Russell has a self that is beyond his ego that he has attached to through his conditioning. But his ego is so huge because of all the baggage that he carries with his ego, wouldn’t it be too difficult to see self? And then difficult to detach from self? It is worth considering what the khandhas are to see how we can become addicted to self. My worst is sankhara. I have always tended to overthink so was loved in academia. I was attracted back to academia to write an M Ed in my 40s, and now I wake up with a blog in mind that I must write. Yet the natural state of mind is peace, stillness and calmness. There is a place for khandhas, we cannot live without them, but as Buddhadasa promotes “remove the I and mine from the 5 khandhas” – no attachment. Am I paying too much attention to the khandhas:-

Rupa -body
vedana – feelings
sanna – memory and perceptions
sankhara – mental processes and proliferations
vinnana – consciousness (attaching to be I or not attaching to be free to follow the path?)

Do you recognise the possibility of being addicted to self? Addicted to khandhas?

When I retired early I accepted less money because I was so far from the path when working. But Russell has to be attached to far more and the decision is far more difficult. But Russell, the path is always better.

Perhaps I should be selfish, would all the good guests he attracts for Under the Skin be there if it was not the public persona of Russell Brand?

Just a final note on Frankie, my knowledge of whom is far more limited than my limited knowledge of Russell. I remember comedian Bernard Manning whose career might be described as built on racism and sexism. He was unapologetic because he was funny – most people found him funny. Frankie draws back the barriers of comedy by being shocking. I get the feeling that he would say anything if he thought it was funny – though he is correct about racism, sexism and LBGQT. Should that be enough? Especially when teaching I have found myself saying things that I shouldn’t have said because I was trying to be funny. I still do that a bit. Humour is an amazing gift, laughing is an amazing experience, should the boundaries be considered? Personally – although it doesn’t matter – I like most of Frankie’s humour but sometimes it was too much. That is of course a personal view and matters not one iota.

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[Warning – the theme of this blog u-turns.]

We are a long way from most people following the path. As a political strategy I have proposed “following the path”. All those that follow the path will not be subject to conditioning, and such freedom will be increasingly recognised as the natural human freedom.

But that will take time, and meanwhile the need for a narrative is glaring. The dilemma of automation is upon us. How can we live in a consumer society in which the 1% accumulate based on consumerism when people don’t have money. Robots have no desires, they have no self, no conditioning, they do not consume, and therefore the powerful cannot continue to accumulate.

Therefore we cannot continue with profit alone. But we cannot just make demands when we have no power. The power we have is in consuming, and that is because the powerful allow us to work, earn money and become consumers. We agree to that conditioning, and that is the normal narrative:-

If we are not working because the robot is doing our job, there is no consumerism.

1%, people know this, they are not stupid. They might knee-jerk, make stupid decisions like Trump and blaming immigrants because it is easier, but they know if the 1% don’t change and the 1% continue with the profit motive there will be no jobs no consumerism and society will implode.

If there is no consumerism then there is no wealth, where will your power be? You will continue using your wealth as society slowly withers. You will continue to pay your security, the robots will make your products, the military will fight off the 99%, and then your wealth ends you cannot pay for military, you cannot pay for robots, you wither and die.

1%, if you don’t join in the new narrative you will wither and die. Davos there is no future for you in isolation. Davos, you have to know you need consumerism. Davos you have to know you must involve people not sycophants. You want consumerism, you want profit and you want automation. It just doesn’t work.

End your addiction before it is too late for us all.

Serious disappointment. In meditation there came a neo-narrative that works.

For a narrative to work there needs to be consuming, expansion and accumulation. In the current narrative expansion and accumulation are enabled through fiat mechanisms – unsustainable currency, it is the imaginary economy that is creating new accumulation. It has been a long time since money was connected to available resources even the gold standard was not sustainable, and even that minimal protection has long since gone. Money as exchange has long been surpassed, and now money is printed that just disappears into the accumulation – as apparent wealth. We now have crypto-currencies which are completely unsustainable, and even have no pretence at sustainability; they exist purely on the basis of confidence. But then much of our economic system is an act of faith – ask Yanis.

There is a traditional illusion in our current narrative that money is connected to productivity but there is no reason for faith in that illusion to continue. With robot automation there is no need for productivity only the skills for maintenance and creativity for development. Most people would be allocated “entitlement” probably chip-based (RFID). This entitlement would have two properties – survival and choice. The survival entitlement would provide a certain amount of stability, money flowing into government paying rent etc. Then there would be choice to enable crime (enterprise?).

Entitled people would live in ghettoes (projects council estates) that would be intentionally divided to create tension and division – probably based around race but these ghettoes would include white people; deplorables LINK know they are heading there. Crime would be a way out of these ghettoes for a few. Miseducation (conditioning) would ensure the continuation of these ghettoes (in much the same way that wage-slavery is continued now), but there would be a way out for the creative; that would be the secondary purpose of this miseducation – to find the creative and enable their escape.

They would escape to the middle-classes – Liberals. These would be the people who would enable production through the maintenance of automation. They would be rewarded with greater entitlement and greater choice over their money – probably still RFID-based. These middle-classes would provide the enterprise and expansion and therefore increased consuming that would enable the continued accumulation.

There will of course be wars. These wars would be resource-based such as with the Congo and Middle East now. And with the increased ghettoisation will be targeted on “other” ghettoes. Whilst there would be continuous Liberal outcry at these wars, this will just be rhetoric as the Liberals will continue in their separate middle-class enterprise habitats.

The accumulators will have their enclaves protected by private security.

This neo-narrative can be conditioned and is not significantly different from our current narrative.

There will always be the path, and there will be far-off places – communes where people on the path can take refuge. Many on the path would of course work to improve humanity (as they do now) but to what avail? As now.

The call is still:-

Accumulators, end your addiction before it is too late for us all. But sadly that call has no immediacy as I had hoped for when I first started this examination of a new narrative based on the robot imperative.

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I have previously described the path as going beyond conditioning, I have also described it as the path of compassion, insight and creativity. It is not narratives we need to understand, follow the path.

So far I have looked at narratives and have seen that the manipulators of the 1% can condition based on any narrative. A narrative is a set of ideas describing a situation. Finding a new narrative is not a revolutionary act because it is simply a set of ideas – khandhas. What matters is the power. For conditioning of the narrative to happen there needs to be power, and that power provides an object of desire. People desire that object, maybe money from a job, they become addicted to that desire – because of what the money can buy, and we have the conditioning that can be recognised in any description of paticcasamuppada or the 4 Noble Truths. Addiction – desire and craving – is at the basis of this Buddhist dogma, I am simply describing how this conditioning is developed in daily life. But it is the same dogma, the same description, the same process; addiction .

In this addiction blog, I have gone into detail with addiction and how it can be understood in terms of the two Buddhist dogmas paticcasamuppada and 4 Noble Truths. Overcoming addiction is not easy but it can be done, but the first step is to recognise there is a problem. In this same blog I discussed addiction to self, few would see this as a problem, but that is the nature of addiction and the first step is recognising we are addicted to self.

To reiterate here is a short description of the process of being addicted to self. I start with what I call the Buddhadasa meme:-

Now body and psyche refer to the khandas. Body – rupa, and psyche – feelings (vedana), perceptions (sanna) and mental constructs (sankhara); with consciousness (vinnana – also a khandha) these are the basis of human ontology. Events can fit into these categories. Conditioning is a natural process. An event happens and consciousness attaches to it. Babies like (desire) suckling and enjoying mother’s milk. Adults like (desire) having money to buy a house. Conditioning is not a process that is inherently evil, it is natural.

But when we are considering narratives, there is a process that is human – how the powerful give their power to the narrative. This is a function of the desire of the powerful. This power is nature’s power but it has accumulated through wealth to a few, and they decide when to give power to the narrative.

It is relatively easy to understand addiction because we know of and have seen many examples of addiction to substances. But we do not understand addiction to self. In part this is because we do not understand the formation of self. And this comes back to the khandhas again. As we like different events, that like becomes part of who we are. As a baby we like suckling, we desire suckling, we cling to the mother’s breast. At that time suckling mother’s milk has become who we are – as a baby we selfishly want mother’s milk. Then the power, mother, says enough is enough, and no more self. We don’t question this analysis of self, but we don’t recognise that this process of desire-clinging-becoming self is the natural process that applies to all events. And more importantly we don’t realise that we can be weaned off this addiction to self. Babies don’t choose to dump the breast, power decides for her/him.

When we consider the human self of the adult, where is the power that decides? Consciousness. Consciousness can decide to form self or break away from self. But that consciousness is not “on its own”. Always sunnata is with us, always the path is with us, but if our consciousness is always stuck in the body and psyche then we just continue to create self – we are addicted to self. The word for consciousness not being stuck in body and psyche is awareness. Somehow consciousness recognises that it does not have to stay attached to the body and psyche, attached to self, and it starts to follow the path. We could visualise that awareness is when consciousness becomes attached to sunnata but that visualisation is confusing if we take it literally as that sort of attachment can never exist.

It is much better to talk of this as following the path, the path of compassion, insight and creativity, and as it is a path that is not addicted to self it is a path that is beyond conditioning.

Let us consider the new narrative again. Naomi describes the situation at the moment as having a potent vacuum, as an indigenous activist I accept her judgement – with my age and where I live I cannot judge. The essential word here is potent meaning power, and power governs ideas.

I surmise that the need for a new narrative is being driven by the realisation that automation will drastically reduce employment thus ending the essential of consumerism – the consumer. The zombie idealism of the current consumerism will continue to lurch for as long as it can because the accumulators will not relinquish power. What will replace it will be some compromise that will enable their continued accumulation – they have more invested in there not being an apocalypse than most people.

Hopeful people, Naomi, want a new narrative but with narratives having no power in themselves such narratives will simply be the “same old same old” conditioning as they have been since tribal times. The powerful want a narrative that allows them to continue accumulation. They will then give power to this narrative, conditioning will follow, and “same old same old”. If a new narrative can give them the same accumulation their desire would be happy, and they would give power to the narrative. Is there such a narrative?

But remember narrative is a khandha – sankhara. We attach to a set of ideals, it becomes part of self and we become addicted to it. As an activist, of course you must engage with the process of changing the narrative in the hopes of participation enabling a better narrative. But narrative is part of the addiction, narratives create the conditions, the process is conditioned, and the conclusion will be conditioned. Because of addiction that is how we all, including the powerful fit, into the narrative.

For people the real hope lies in going beyond conditioning, following the path. Following the path does not mean the end of making better changes of the narrative, but it gives greater power, it gives resolve, it gives strength and conviction, and it avoids the attachment and disappointment of windmills.

It is pleasing to see Naomi as an indigenous activist talking of oneness, similarly with Russell, but the best thing for progression in all human movement is the path that includes recognition of oneness. Naomi you have grasped this because you describe indigenous movements as being driven by love – indigenous love of the land. This love of oneness is being sunnata, it is Gaia, and indigenous culture is much closer than the miseducated “European” culture. But love is not restricted to indigenous movements, love is the path.

Despite the potential “hippy” labelling the best way forward in terms of the narrative is not to promote a new narrative but to promote following the path. This is not some loose airy-fairy impractical naval introspection because it is the path that goes beyond conditioning. However the narrative is resolved, following the path will enable people to deal with the conditioning that results from any new narrative.

There is talk of revolution. In Marxist terms revolution means change of ruling class from bourgeoisie to proletariat, in non-Marxist terms revolution can just mean a change of government created by violence. Violence is not the answer. We live in a world that is controlled by violence. The powerful have not only accumulated money, their power also means control of violence through the military, even more so with the privatisation of security. To seek revolution through violence is now self-defeating and akin to suicide of ordinary people by the oppressive violence (cf suicide by cop). Do not seek suicide by the powerful, there is no future for anyone there. The revolutionary path is to go beyond conditioning. If you don’t accept the conditions they offer, what can they do. If they take away your house you go somewhere else you still have your path. When your path gives you strength in adversity people will see, and then they will see that the path s what they must follow. The path itself is revolution, and is not violent.

A political maxim:- detach from desire and follow the path.

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Conditioning the narrative

Posted: 20/03/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle
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Look at this video.

I am not interested in shaming anyone. The people on this video appear perfectly happy with what they have done. I would love to hear that they have become ashamed of this, and will be happy to take it down.

The point of this blog is conditioning. 4 years ago these people would not have made this video. The video and actions have been enabled by a change of conditions – simplistically a move to the right. People who understand conditioning, the manipulating branch of the 1%, would know that such actions would happen with the changing conditions that are happening now in the US; they might not be able to predict who but such events are so eminently predictable. That is conditioning.

Are these people any less conditioned?

When manipulators want a narrative the conditioning happens. And the point about conditioning is that most people are unaware of it. Political activists call it indoctrination but they are unaware of the extent of conditioning especially of themselves. I have a friend who recognises there is brainwashing. He is satisfied with this recognition and is unaware of his own conditioning in accepting this; apathy is an integral part of political conditioning.

Political conditioning always produces people who reject conditioning, but that rejection is part of the conditioning – a more aware part but still a part. To reject the narrative is part of the narrative. This is best understood through Marxism. Marx for his time produced an excellent analysis of the economic system but it was primarily concerned with what was economically wrong. It was a rejection within the narrative. This was pointed out by Russell Means (his talk and a blog), an indigenous activist. For all of his sound analysis Marx was part of the conditioning. Within the narrative it is always important to recognise that the way forward is through class unity, but it is also important to recognise that this is part of the conditioning.

And here is the point about conditioning, we somehow have to learn to go beyond it. Follow the path. And this is where the political response within the narrative is limiting. The narrative is primarily economic and many responses are equally economic. Economics is a religion (Yanis) whose human value is greed, somewhere within any economic adherence whether 1% or socialist (communist) the narrative is concerned with people getting more money. As 1% or socialist we are accepting a “greed” narrative, and we are conditioned to do this. Following the path goes beyond this.

The conditioning process happens with narratives. At the moment many people are looking for a new narrative. Naomi talks of a potent vacuum that now sadly is starting to be filled by the right. In my description of the old narrative it is not only progressives who are concerned with narrative, the 1% are concerned. With increasing automation there is less “reason” to pay someone and that is the end of consumerism, and that is the end of the existing 1%-system. Their accumulation demands automation yet automation means the end of consumerism – the basis of the normal narrative:-

Who is driving the narrative process? Progressives see an opportunity to respond to the normal narrative with a progressive narrative. But whatever narrative replaces the normal the 1% will not relinquish their power. Any new narrative that will be formed has to be for the benefit of the powerful, and once they can see a way of resolving their consumer dilemma they will start a new conditioning process that they can so easily manipulate. A narrative is a description, a set of ideas, it has no power – only intellectual appeal; a narrative becomes the narrative only when power is attached to it. Once that power has been attached then conditioning is applied because the power has attached the carrot giving the people something they desire.

Detach from that desire and follow the path.

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Wolfie had a list of who he was going to put up against the wall. Who are they now? The Koch brothers? Robert Mercer? Donald Trump? Maybe Wolfie would have blown up the computers that ran the City but with blockchain even that potentially-viable target has gone. With the advanced weapons technology fewer soldiers are needed, now we only need the occasional brain-washed to play video games. And with the military going private, the 1% pay for private security and their money controls – not even a pretense of moral integrity any more, simply power controlled by the accumulated money of the few. Now we don’t even know who Wolfie should put up against the wall, worse than that a few people up against the wall is not going to make a change as the problem is systemic and not just the few bad apples mentioned above.

What is the analysis for Wolfie’s wall? Unity. Through awareness the comrades will rise up in unison, and the oppressors, the 1%-system, will just disappear because of the masses. Where can this happen? Now there is intended confusion. Yanis talks of the real opposition, the Deep State or 1%-system, and the false opposition – the nationalist xenophobic internationale – funded by the Deep State (Dark Money Network – Koch Brothers, Mercer etc) yet delusorily considering they are actually fighting the Deep State. Where is Wolfie’s wall in all this confusion?

To unite the mass movement was always a pipedream. Even though this pipedream was never a possibility it was the right strategy, the right thing to do, to work together for unity, and that work needs to continue even though there can be no ultimate success – unity. Time has turned any approach based on Marx’s analysis into a pipedream, and this is beacuse the mass movement have lost power. In the 19th and for most of the 20th century the mass movement had the power of withdrawal of labour, but with increased globalisation global labour competes for work that is intentionally limited and the strike is not effective. Consumer power is now the only weapon but in a consumer society that power rests more with the wealthy – senior puppets. So now Marxism is only able to win a battle of awareness, and there seems little chance of that happening.

Marx’s analysis is sound, and the ultimate result of that conditioned analysis is the mass movement creating Wolfie’s wall. But Marx’s conditioned response can never happen because of the very conditioning it is a part of – sankhara. Ideals have no power, people have power. Making people aware is not sufficient despite Yanis‘ human spirit. Increasing awareness helps but with advanced technology the rich can buy the military – as opposed to the military belonging to the nation state.

Intended funded confusion could be seen as the current response to Occupy, look how effective the Dark Money Network is. If there were ever the possibility of Wolfie’s wall there would be so many counter-measures not a brick would be built.

Wolfie’s wall is a conditioned response, and that is why it was not likely to succeed. Marxism is an analysis, an intellectual system, and whilst it is fundamentally correct it is never an understanding that will be accepted by the mass movement as a whole because of the power of conditioning

The target is wrong. The target needs to change from a sankhara, an ideal, an intellectual system to that of going beyond conditionality. Conditionality is what enslaves us, we are not enslaved when we go beyond conditionality. This is the freedom that humanity needs to strive for.

What is beyond conditionality? The path, the path of compassion, insight and creativity. This path has strength and conviction. Even though people on the path are forced to work for money to survive, where and how they work undermines who and what they work for – simply because they bring compassion, insight and creativity to every workplace. Wherever they are the path shines through and people know that there is something better – the path.

The path induces guilt in the conditioned. The path makes the conditioned doubt their own conditioning. The path is the future of change. It is not a future of confrontation, it is Gaia’s future – a future of evolution, slow, sure and effective. Meanwhile there seems little hope.

Where is the path now? There are a few spiritual teachers. There are revolutionaries such as Yanis who see the path, human spirit, as the raison d’etre of struggle. There is Eckhart whose approach has galvanised Oprah America into some form of spirituality. There are still the modern-day Sharon Salzberg’s going East in search of the path. But this is so amorphous.

For the Path to be a movement that can change humanity, move humanity beyond conditionality, there has to be an understanding of where path comes from. In his intro to Power of Now [pp21-26 of 383], Eckhart discusses his breakthrough after depression and potential suicide. This is not enough.

Ajaan Buddhadasa found his path. There appears to have been no upheaval, enlightenment, his revolutionary understanding appears to have just happened.

In the life of the Buddha there was an awakening after seeing all the suffering. Is that the education we need? Making people aware of the suffering they cause through their fear, delusion and lack of responsibility.

Eckhart claims there is a new consciousness, I hope there is. Is the only way to bring this about talking?? Or can more be done to bring about path awareness? There needs to be path education, an investigation of path – path science, a methodology to create the conditions for the path to evolve. Why? HHDL, rather than playing science’s token game of accepting meditation (mind-life institute) invest in path science. Zen, isn’t there more to path awareness in the west than trying to knock hell out of the western ego?

The path is Gaia’s way of evolving change, without the path conditionality that produces accumulation and its consequences will continue to drive the planet, Gaia, into oblivion. Path needs to be studied not simply accepted through happenstance. Path science.

Make the path real through path science, organise the path.

Then we must ask how will path make a change, where is the power of the path, is it not simply awareness?

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Spirit of the Prison Break

Posted: 15/03/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle
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This is Russell talking with Yanis Varoufakis. Yanis has a clear understanding and this talk was excellent. It was good to hear the hope in his voice, hope that there is still a chance. Syriza sounds like a demonstration for change that was exhilarating, it is worth listening to his hope.

But for me the most important part of Yanis’ view was his focus on the human spirit; his analysis was sound but was based on the power of the human spirit.

I didn’t follow what happened with Greece as deeply as I should, but for me it was a beacon of hope for a while. Greece should never have been allowed to join the EU because their currency wasn’t stable – there are apparently EU criteria that need to be met. It was the EU pushing for increased membership to add to the US-EU economic detente – the bigger the better. As usual in these situations power-brokers discuss with leaders, and leave the taxpayer to pay; any problems with the EU and the affects of an unstable currency, drachma, would be forfeited by the Greek people.

The Greeks had got sick of the EU exploitation and how it was affecting their way of living, so they began to vote in Syriza who were demanding an EU exit – a Grexit. At one stage there was a Greek leader, George Papandreou who called for a referendum as to EU membership; it was stopped. This referendum was the last thing the EU wanted but they didn’t have the money until Obama turned up at a G# conference, and soon a deal was offered. Yanis didn’t want it but someone got bought off. A new loan was made that the Greeks will eventually have to pay back. Russell described it as Yanis being fucked over, and Yanis described that as a succinct way of putting it. “Worst aspect was the backstabbing of his own comrades.” Now he has a national treason charge against him, the charge is undermining Greece’s position in the European Union.

The Greeks had organised many strikes, and their economy was in such a state that people began again with a barter economy. This was making strides until the EU loan (backed by Obama) was made.

Now the Greek government have sold out, and are cap-in-hand with the EU. The people are rising up again but what can they do?

I didn’t know that it had begun with a demonstration in constitution square against the loans (with their austerity and conditionality) which were coming from the Conquistadores – IMF World Bank GATT etc; what Yanis calls Deep State. When that was squashed the people went back to their communities, reorganized and voted in Syriza.

The worst form of slavery is one volunteered into – creating alienation. The idealism of the authoritarian is reproduced in the oppressed, they agree to it for some reason, and there is alienation. This is comparable to the agreement of fear, delusion and responsibility amongst the British white middle-classes; afraid they will lose their house they accept the delusions of the economic right wing, and abdicate any responsibility for war and wage-slavery.

Then he talks of the human spirit, he has faith in the human capacity to be good. Is this faith? He is a Buddhist meditator. So in his meditation he finds compassion, the compassion that all meditators find. Therefore is it faith? He experiences compassion in meditation, he knows that others also experience it so it is logical to infer that all humans have this compassion of the conditions are right. It is not a faith or belief that he cannot substantiate. But that is not the way he expresses it, he uses the word “faith” – I am interested in this small point because I wrote “Don’t believe” today. I have the same “faith” as Yanis, if the conditions are not exploitative then humanity will be good – compassion.

He describes organised religion usually being at the side of the oppressor, the guy in the sky with a beard is directly connected to the oligarch. Further he points out that economics is not a science developing through deduction (eg physics) but is an organised religion with equations; superstition. We need to study the superstition, reading, engage and then overcome it. Economics is like a cat chasing its own tail. If Yanis is a stock market expert and predicts something, the market will follow. Economics without heart cannot work. There needs to be the human capacity for the transcendent in economics.

Throughout the problem is commodification, everything is commodified. We decommodify by recognising that the only thing that matters is the spiritual life we lead – the path, Yanis. Yanis wants a unity of spiritual and mass movement activists, and resents those of the mass movement who reject believers. He spoke of a religious teacher talking of the crucifixion. Yanis asked, in a time machine would we see the crucifixion? The teacher replied it doesn’t matter because my belief allows me to experience in a far better way. And Yanis thought there is nothing to divide us. The only thing that can unite us is the transcendence – my words, going beyond the conditionality. Alienation kills the human spirit.

Since being ousted Yanis has been working on Diem25, a peoples’ movement of Europe – a transnational approach. Yanis is a patriot but is not a nationalist. It is easy to convince people if you are clear, but it is not so easy if you are a politician trying to persuade when all they are doing is trying to propagate their salary.

How do we cope with the ego in power? You need mechanisms. When all around are against him he remembered the homeless guy who had lost everything yet wanted Yanis to fight for those who still had something. Anarchist in Land and Freedom, the black in the flag to remind us of the darkness in our souls. Yanis was never powerful, he was in office, and he saw the powerful are just puppets – the smart ones know they are puppets. He describes a Marxist critique in which all are condemned. The capitalist is so afraid of being the wage-slave he treats his own wage-slave badly, the capitalist is also a slave to his means of production. Spirit is the only way out.

Who is the enemy?

The parties and nationalists are false opposition. Deep establishment, City, Wall Street, large corporations. We know who they are (1% ). Deep establishment is a conspiracy without conspirators, people working for their own greed creating a network. There is also a nationalist xenophobic internationale (false opposition) who are the right-wing fascists against finance sector, against establishment, but in the end they only serve the interests of those they claim to be against. Yanis says they unwittingly serve these interests but fails to note that the Dark Money Network finances this internationale.

He campaigned against Brexit and for his audiences this seemed ironic considering what the EU did to him. But he campaigned to be in to work against it. Activists must have self-confidence to get in there and fight but need not know the answers; democracy is the answer with its crowd-sourcing solutions – mass movement. He has abandoned optimism but embraces hope.

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To end addiction you need power. In the Christian 12 Steps you get that power from God, here is where Russell [Recovery p 68 of 444] got his power to overcome addiction:-

I became an alcoholic because being middle-classed I had no power. Equally I was fortunate with my addiction because of my middle-class powerlessness, that needs explaining. The essence of being middle-classed is that you have no power to make decisions, decisions are made for you by the culture you are in. The nature of this culture is conformism, you are expected to confirm to the decisions the culture makes for you. These decisions are primarily education – to get qualifications to get a job (not real education). There is no freedom to make different decisions as is evidenced by the family uproar caused if someone chooses not to follow education.

I remained middle-classed until I hit bottom. University was a sense of freedom for me as evidenced by the first night where I was completely drunk, puking and unaware of anything by 8.00pm. University followed the course of few lectures, exam resits, return to the parents during vacation where I became completely middle-classed again. At the end of 4 years – I did one year of a two-year M Sc course, I got on the required middle-class rung.

At this point being middle-classed (hetero) ought to mean that I had played at university, I’d got a job, would find a woman in the office, get married and procreate within the culture – create a new generation of middle-classed. But the conditioning was failing me, I am not sure why – it was not a failure process I was conscious of. In part it was the drink, it could also have been the discipline of having to work all day long at something I didn’t want to do. At uni I never wanted to do the maths but being middle-classed I wanted the degree so worked for the exams. In the job what was there to work for? Personally I had never made any decisions. I went to school – not my decision, I went to uni – I chose which one not whether I went; it never crossed my mind not to go. Going to uni and getting a degree was the totality of being middle-classed – the only ambitions I had. By the time I was sitting my finals I was a well-disciplined student. I was in a hall of residence – a good place to get middle-classed. There were varying levels of playing throughout the 3 years but the ethos was pass your finals. Starting as a complete drunk I emerged as a well-conditioned member of the middle-class with sufficient control of the drink to get a degree. The next year, postgrad year at uni, was more of the same although I met social studies people who thought and we discussed a lot – I can’t remember about what. Maybe this was the beginning of the upheaval.

When I started work there was the usual pub-oriented work culture that I was well trained to join in. But I did not have discipline. Once the discipline of the exams had gone I had nothing. Exams had been the motivation, I did not know how to hold down a job. But in my first job there were interesting people, and for some reason the interesting people liked me. At work there were the careerists and the people who had a life outside the career. The careerists soon lost interest in me, and the others took me under their wing. But I only played, they played and knew how to hold down a job. At the end of the year the firm pushed me out, giving me a token wage increase – I was lucky I wasn’t sacked.

Someone introduced me to the second job. He played up the job as having all the things I thought I wanted – all the things a good middle-classed would have wanted (I had that in the first job). But the job paled in comparison as did the people. And I drifted to the bottom in 3 months.

When I got sacked I ran home, it seemed the natural thing to do. But I didn’t run home to the warmth and comfort of a loving family, I ran home to the repression – to a place where all the decisions were taken away from me. A place of powerlessness.

Of that time (3-4 weeks) I remember only one day. It was just before Xmas and I was walking the streets of Manchester – it was not unusual for people of middle-class Sale to go into Manchester (I have had many conscious days doing that since). I just wandered around as one does, and I passed a pub in which there was an office party. I listened to the enjoyment, and just thought “that’s not for me”. I cannot remember any of the other decision making processes that were going on then, but early January I went back to London. Thinking back I am amazed at the craziness of my plan. I had nowhere to live. I got off the coach, went into a job agency, and they sent me to a boring cobol programming job in Hounslow. I went there, got the job, found a B and B in Hounslow, the next day got a room in Chiswick – a room that became important to me. Considering how weak I was at the time I am amazed at my fortitude. But I had made a decision and it was the end of being middle-classed.

At Chiswick I empowered myself although I never thought of it as that. That empowering was concerned with the experiences, and was so helped by the wonderful people I got to know. If any of this means anything to you, if you are lost like I was, find good people – or even write to me; without finding people for whom the path means something you might not have the strength or power to stay on the path. And you will regret that all your life.

Overcoming being middle-classed was essential to what happened with my alcohol addiction. Following the path I had become empowered even though I was foolish enough to waste that power in the booze for so long. I teetered along a way of life which included the path and addiction for 12 years until I eventually stopped.

I keep saying I was fortunate with my addiction. I was an alcoholic by the time I stopped but because I had been on the path part of the time I was sufficiently empowered to stop. The decision to stop wasn’t mega-tortuous. I had been going to an acupuncturist for migraines, and he told me that the treatments were helping, I was then getting drunk and drinking away the healing. He told me to make a decision and I did. I can remember withdrawal symptoms, on Fridays I was mentally weakest and had to be careful. I was doing Tai Chi, and my route to the practice passed a pub, and I remember it being difficult not to go in. Until it wasn’t, I felt certain after 6 months.

I had the ability to stop because being on the path some of the time had given me sufficient power. If I had still been middle-classed I don’t know where the power would have come from.

It is the power of the path that enables you to overcome the addiction to conditioning, whatever the conditioning, whatever the substance I presume. There are very interesting questions as to how we connect to our path that need to be examined, but it is the power of the path that enables people to overcome addiction. And that power had to be enabled individually, it is not belief but power, strength, and it is the individual who acts wherever they consider the power comes from.

I was fortunate that the conditions that led to the path and alcoholism were middle-class repression. I was fortunate that I had found the path during my fight with the addiction of alcohol so that I had sufficient power to overcome that addiction. But I have not overcome addiction, and need to make more effort to follow the path.

But please remember, the greatest fortune was not that I found the path so that I could overcome addiction. The greatest fortune was that I found the path, and the joy that the path has brought me in life. I don’t question the way the path has taken me because it has given me that joy. I have great joy now in writing retrospectively about the way the path took me. The critic in me says why didn’t I embrace the path 100% throughout my life rather than indulging the weakness of alcohol. But I accept the critic, I learn from the critic, but I enjoyed the path.

Maybe I had two childhoods, maybe there were times that careerism and profiteering wore me down whilst teaching, maybe I could have done more to help others about the path, but the path brought me joy. That can never be forgotten. The path beyond conditioning, the path that overcomes addiction, the path of compassion, insight and creativity has great joy. Always remember that when considering the path, it has great joy. The path is what Gaia gives us to overcome suffering. Natural joy.

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Russell’s 2nd Questions

Posted: 10/03/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle, Uncategorized
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These questions are taken from Step 2 of Recovery p77 of 444

He’s gone mad with the questions at this step, I’m not bothering with them all.

Do I believe that I need to change? Yes I do although my ego is ambivalent. My ego steps in and thinks that I am following the path to some extent, isn’t that enough? And the answer to that is no because I am still addicted to self for the “rest”. This ego aspect of apathy is something to be watched out for, but remember self-criticism does not mean “beat myself up”.

Do I accept that change means I must think/feel/act differently? Primarily act differently. In the past I know I should not be addicted to self, but I have allowed it to happen.

Is this change likely to be easy and driven by the ideas I already have, techniques I already use and support system that I already have access to? Such changes are never easy, but the issues are meditation and determination. I know that these are sufficient but I also know addiction takes me back. So as they are they are not sufficient. Things are better today but then tomorrow they may not be.

Here is a change that might help. Timeout. Every time I am going to start a self-activity, I must take timeout and ask “Do I really have to do this?”

What is my conception of a power greater than me? The power greater than me I call Gaia, the unity of the planet’s life and all life on the planet. Buddhadasa calls Gaia the God of Buddhists, Idappaccayata – sunnata. I believe Thay calls it interbeing, and Lao Tse used the word, Tao. Gaia does all kinds of things I can have no knowledge of such as kamma, etc. Gaia “decides” on the path and conditions of my life.

In terms of addiction it is necessary to understand that it is through my power that I change, and to understand where that comes from I use this meme:-

At birth there was no self. During my earlier life through instinct my consciousness attached to the khandas resulting in the self that I called my identity. As this self there was addiction to alcohol, and now there is addiction to selves that I indulge so that I am not always following the path. When I am following the path, I am not being conditioned, I am not addicted to self. When I am free from that conditioning, sunnata empowers me (presence), this sunnata could be called Gaia, Idappaccayata, Interbeing, Unity etc. It was sunnata that guided me on the path, gave me the power to overcome alcoholism, gives me (or not) the power to overcome addiction to self. Sunnata is ever-present but it my failure to overcome addiction to self that disempowers me.

That “power” sunnata is ever-present. It is a “power” far greater than I could imagine or have access to, but there is greater “power” that I could have access to if I could be assed. That “power” is not me, that “power” is sunnata, and if I were not addicted I could have access to it. But that “power” is beyond comprehension and cannot be measured, it is however there for me to access if I follow the path, if I can be bothered to remove addiction.

Do I have doubt about this “power”? None. That is why it is so senseless that I am sometimes addicted to self. There is no excuse. It is mind in life.

Mantra:- Don’t let the ego addict you, follow the path.

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