Posts Tagged ‘Under The Skin’

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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A view of narratives

Posted: 20/03/2018 by zandtao in BigTech, Finance, Struggle, War
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I hear Russell calling for a new narrative, and such a call might well be what is popular now – I don’t know, Naomi thinks so and that means something. I have in a sense rejected this approach because it could be standard intellectual obfuscation that moves away from a clear class analysis. But perhaps it is a real movement, let me treat it as such.

What is the old narrative, if we want new we have to know what is old and what we want to change?

If we want to understand an old narrative we have to see historical trends. This is so important because if we do not examine trends we can end up with idealisms based on rhetoric imposed on a time-frame. To explain this let’s consider democracy.

In the UK where did democracy come from? There was tribalism, feudalism, monarchy, Cromwell and parliament. There was staggered suffrage. It is worth considering these on a timeline to understand our democracy. Under the monarchy and feudalism people were fundamentally serfs or soldiers with an existence predicated on the landowner. This started to change with money when different people became wealthy and used money to buy power. At this point parliament developed where wealth and land were supposedly two opposing interests. Cromwell was a figurehead in this as he represented wealth as parliamentarians. To develop support parliamentarians encouraged the notion that parliament was for the people, and so began the delusion of democracy. Initially suffrage was very limited but once it was seen that voting confirmed the status quo suffrage was expanded. Democracy as part of the establishment has never been in the interests of the people but has been used as a carrot to delude people into working for the establishment. This is democracy today. Similarly we could examine US history but it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel, look through the eyes of Howard Zinn.

For most people these are not accepted narratives.

Here is a forum for discussions on a new narrative (not necessarily recommended), and here is their presentation of the old narrative:-

“Within this narrative the basic trajectory of life was seen as go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, go to church, work every day until you have saved up enough money, then retire.”

[This I will term the normal narrative].

But what can be clearly seen by those with an enquiring mind is that this version of the old narrative could fit into a view of consumer conditioning. Examine the components of this view of narrative. We get educated to get a job. Nature dictates we have kids but the narrative turns that into house, maybe church, kids getting educated. When we get too old for a job we retire, and this is enabled by the narrative through savings and pension schemes.

This “normal” narrative simply accepts the prevailing system that is based around getting money to bring up a family. That narrative simply accepts that people will consume. This narrative also assumes that society’s method for enabling this narrative is acceptable.

Politically this narrative has been supported by the capitalist system, money is accumulated to create means of production and the profits from sales of consumer items go to the owners of those means of production. Various mechanisms such as the stock market are used to create the accumulation. Intrinsic within the old narrative is the notion that this is just business, and whilst there are some minor problems business works, capitalism works.

So tied in with the old narrative is a capitalist system, and this system has been questioned. Initially this system was questioned by Karl Marx pointing out problems, along with Lenin, Trotsky, Castro, Guevara and others proposing communism as an alternative. Whilst communist alternatives have not been successful criticisms of the way capitalism has developed have increased.

These criticisms perhaps reached a crescendo globally with movements such as Horizontalidad, the Arab Spring, Indignados and Podemos in Spain, and then the Occupy movement. Perhaps most significant in these movements became the recognition of the 1%, new terminology describing Marx’s bourgeoisie and proletariat.

During and since these times has been the rise of the right wing as a response to the globalisation by the 1%. These right-wingers seek a return to the perceived wealth that nationalism had supposedly brought. This emerging right-wing is common throughout the white world (Russell Means’ European) where benefits of the capitalist system had been more pronounced. These right-wingers target liberal movements as the source of the problems. Identity politics seeks to promote non-white races, women and LBGQT communities, and for these people on the right this liberalism has become an enemy.

Automation has completely changed the workplace in the last 50 years. It is now more profitable to increase the use of machines in manufacture being both more reliable mechanically and also able to work 24/7. In the capitalist system that is only interested in profit, much work that needs to be done is not profitable such as caring and the environment. Attempts are made to commodify all these non-manufacture items, and make people pay for them through taxation. So there is some profit-making but high taxation is de-motivating. At the same time a large proportion of taxation is required for defence procurement without which many western economies would fail.

With increased roboticisation there will be less and les jobs under the capitalist model, with profit as the driving force robots will be much cheaper. With less jobs there will be less money in circulation, and without that money there can be no consumerism that maintains the capitalist system.

With all of these considerations the “normal” narrative described above is not feasible.

Before considering a new narrative it is important to consider criticisms of the old narrative. With the emphasis on profit as the means of maintaining the capitalist system and therefore the normal narrative, critics point out the consequences of this normality. Increased accumulation has led to all sorts of crimes against humanity, beginning with battles for expansion, then colonisation and neo-colonialism. We have now reached a stage in which wars-for-profits are justified as an unspoken aspect of this narrative, and our education system within its hidden curriculum is required to provide the wage-slaves that keep the capitalist system functioning. At the same time we have to recognise that the system could be considered unsustainable. We are using resources without replacing them. Spending functions only in terms of debt both on an individual and governmental level, economies function as fiat economies without public reference to this invention of money. Within the white countries governments have recently promoted austerity agendas yet whilst doing so gaps between rich and poor have widened. And the taxation system is breaking down because transnationals are dodging taxation leaving money for government services short.

With all of its gross consequences capitalism does provide for some a pleasant lifestyle as described in the normal narrative. There are “natural” components within this normal narrative, and these capitalism provides for. Having children is a human necessity – as with all life. Capitalism does ensure that people work for the community in some ways albeit those ways only exist if there is profit for the accumulators, however it has to be noted that community services do not function efficiently because they lack money and resources. This of course has to be the case because such services are not creating profits.

The emphasis on profit is exclusive. In the normal narrative the church is included yet in western countries church involvement is variable. Other than mentioning the church what might be termed values are not included in this normalcy. But of course humans do have values. In general I think it is objective to say that under this normal narrative human development is not a focus, but there is of course development. However this development is driven by profit, research and development is primarily financed by corporations with the ultimate objective of profit and accumulation.

What is not mentioned above that is part of the normal narrative is the rule of law. As with all these questions books can be written on every issue but fundamentally this law protects the normal narrative of which capitalism is integral. The forces of law, police, courts and military protect the normal narrative and at the same time the capitalist system, and there are many cases in which the individual loses out to the interests of the corporation.

When we examine a new narrative we have to understand that such a narrative will meet powerful opposition if it leads to changes in the situation of those who have the accumulation – 1% or bourgeoisie. The rule of law fundamentally protects these people, and a new narrative has no power to overcome such a rule of law. It is in the interest of the powerful to consider a new narrative as they must realise that the way of life of accumulation is under threat as time marches on. There is an immediate conflict that they need to address, that of increasing automation and roboticisation, and the impact of that on consumerism.

For most normal people this immediate conflict is creating fear and violence. With increasing automation the normal narrative doesn’t function, and whilst white people fight to retain this normalcy their fear turns to violence of racism as well as greater acceptance of war – that then enable profits.

So when we ask about a new narrative we are actually questioning our way of life, and this questioning is becoming increasingly imminent. What is needed is for the narrative to evolve, but has the accumulation gone so far that evolution is not possible? Is there any new narrative in which the 1% can actually fit in?

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Indigenous Activist

Posted: 20/03/2018 by zandtao in ONE planet, Struggle
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Interesting conversation between Russell and Naomi Klein.

When I retired it was primarily concerned with the increasing gap between my (spiritual) path and work demands. When I found I could manage financially in Thailand, it was a no-brainer; however I am not so sure my father would be happy to see what half his house is financing. I retired to be Buddhist but after a number of years I knew that for me to be Buddhist I had to be aware of engagement (Engaged Buddhism). This coincided with Occupy, and whilst I have become increasingly conscious of the importance of path I have tried to be consciously politically aware. Of course such activism is limited because of the Thai direction my life has taken. My writing is of course activism of sorts, it is everyone else’s fault they don’t read it!!

Once I became politically aware I discovered that Naomi Klein was ubiquitous always saying the right thing in the right situation. So of course listening to her is worthwhile. I was particularly amused by the length of silence after a Russell rant.

I am going to end this blogpost with Naomi’s narrative because it relates to my consideration of narratives in the next 4 blogs.

I liked her description of zombie capitalism or zombie neoliberalism, it completely describes the way the 1%-system lurches from one crisis to another – however remember these crises are integral to the system and whilst not exactly planned are intended as a means of introducing distasteful policies. I have previously referred to this as an aspect of brinkmanship.

I have also called her an indigenous activist with affection. She is not “indigenous” but recognises that the love of the land that indigenous peoples bring to the struggle is much more positive than the “anti-movement” integral to the western perception of the struggle. To protect the land is an act of love that is integral to the lifestyles of the indigenous. The struggle, the path is also an act of love, but unfortunately most left-wing struggles are based on injustice, greed and intellectual anger based on ideals connected to Marxism etc – especially the more intolerant of the liberals. Of course it is hard to be loving when there is so much legitimate anger about.

Naomi’s narrative is of course connected to the ecology of ONE planet. Hundreds of years ago, enlightenment?, man decided that he could be in charge of the environment as opposed to integrated with the environment – Gaia. Her narrative was based on 3 factors:-


Scientific Revolution

Technology – steam engine

For her the sense of this narrative is that humanity feels it is beyond nature, beyond Gaia. This narrative is integral to her view of climate change which she sees as Gaia fighting back. Perfectly reasonable.

For her this narrative is outdated and is being replaced by an integral ecological outlook ( – ONE planet or Gaia); for her this is a return to an indigenous oneness. I don’t know whether a return to an indigenous love of the land is feasible given the increased accumulation, but loving Gaia does not require an indigenous passport. The path is love, it is compassion, insight and creativity, and whilst it is much easier to attain if one is close to nature I am not so sure it is exclusively so. Being sustainable, being in harmony with nature, are of course essential characteristics of the path, and some describe the path as going back to nature. In Russell Means’ terms you can love and be European, Europeans can follow the path.

The key of course is path, indigenous or otherwise.

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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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Philosophy – BigTalk

Posted: 16/03/2018 by zandtao in Insight
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Simon Critchley is talking with Russell about philosophy – it is not a talk I recommend. This talk to me typifies the worst aspect of Russell’s involvement with academia.

Simon began by saying that the questions they are asking are the same as the time of Socrates. This tells me philosophy is a waste of time yet genuinely there is nothing better than enquiry. We cannot accept what we are told, we cannot accept our conditioning, we must ask what is conditioning, how are we conditioned, we must have genuine enquiry.

This is enquiry with a purpose not discussion for the sake of it.

In Buddhist terms I classify discussion for the sake of it as sankhara – verbalising mental proliferations. It is normal human interaction to have conversation for conversation’s sake but that is not learning – not enquiry.

Why is it that understanding has not developed through centuries of asking questions? Has the answer for truth or justice changed over the years? There is a temporal component but primarily truth is permanent. It is known when people speak the truth through insight. Understanding could have developed but there are factors working against a greater understanding.

Primarily it is because philosophy is part of academia which is part of a system that is not looking for truth justice or any of the usual concepts of philosophical understanding. In a 1% system where are they looking for justice? Such justice would have to be critical of the 1%. Enquiring after the source of human problems, we have to answer in part the source of injustice is the 1%. In the same way as not all conditioning is the 1%-system, some human suffering stems from human conditioning that would exist in a non-1%-system. Is it just to have any suffering because of a 1%-system? If philosophy cannot answer yes to this, it is not seeking answers – it is not enquiring.

Is there a path, a way of going beyond conditioning? Anyone who has gone beyond conditioning – transcended, says yes. Intellectuals stuck in conditioning and sankhara says there isn’t a path. Because there are more of those intellectuals and they want the academic system (for jobs etc.), it becomes a consensus, and academia does not accept there is a path.

In the same way all those who go beyond conditioning say there is insight. Intellectuals stuck in the conditioning of sankhara do not have insight so it is not accepted.

All people who have experienced compassion by transcending see compassion as the essence of humanity, intellectuals stuck in sankhara have not experienced that compassion so are unable to draw appropriate conclusions.

Genuine creative people have transcended, their relationship with the muse has taken them beyond. Intellectuals stuck in sankhara cannot know what creativity is – they just talk about it. So academia talks about creativity, and is not creative.

When people sit still and look inside their heads their minds are swirling. When meditators look inside their heads their minds are not swirling. As philosophy is concerned with mind, does it accept this? No because intellectuals in academia do not meditate. This swirling is an observable representation of sankhara – mental proliferations. Sankhara can be observed by all, intellectuals and the state of mind of meditators before meditation. In view of this, should intellectuals stuck in sankhara be making judgements of states of mind they have not experienced?

These are all examples of philosophical questioning, questioning that benefits from not having answers for intellectuals who keep jobs by not having answers.

There are plenty of things that the path does not have answers for. There is much that needs to be learnt about humanity, transcending, going beyond conditioning, how to go beyond, etc. All of these are important philosophical questionings but such enquiry cannot exist because the 1% and the intellectuals have not gone beyond questioning. With what they do to humanity, the 1% cannot go beyond – cannot transcend.

All of the above is usually rejected by academic philosophy because it is vague – path muse is not defined. Words like insight creativity have a meaning beyond the rational yet there is an unwritten academic assumption that there is nothing beyond the rational. Perhaps they can discuss that of course. Genuine enquiry, Campbell’s quest?, gets buried in words and circular arguments. What if I had a stake up my arse would I or perhaps I wouldn’t maybe as if I suppose.

“Death is in the mouth” reminded me of Castaneda’s “death is always over the left shoulder”. If death as a constant presence provides motivation and determination it is useful. Death is, why discuss it? Death gives motivation and determination, why discuss it? What happens after death, do we know? Why discuss it?

During the interview they had a conversation about football – personal, and a conversation about humour – professional. Personal and professional conversations must happen, when a teacher I just rabbited on – only of interest to teachers – and then only some. Philosophy needs to be about learning and wisdom ie the path and not conversations. But as explained above it won’t happen. Philosophy is just professional discussion for philosophers.

Russell can have interviews about philosophy, but it has very little to do with learning at any level. This interview with Simon to me demonstrates all that is wrong with philosophy. A significant proportion was spent discussing football “in a philosophical way”, and at the end they only just touched love. Russell was into the diversion as much as Simon. Maybe Simon has more to him than this, but as a philosophy prof he could be just a conquistadore of sankhara.

Russell, intellectualism is an addiction – addiction to the self of sankhara. Intellectualism is not learning, it is circulating around mental proliferations. Learning is the path scything through these proliferations and coming up with internalised truth. There is a case for studying the intellectual ideals so that you have the tools with which to discourse, but remember that discourse without purpose – without internalising – is simply verbalising the proliferations.

Russell, you have a huge advantage over most intellectuals. Through the 12 steps you connected with the path – with the power that helped you fight through your addiction. Intellectualism per se does not know this power, in fact conditionality (which includes the intellectual) is afraid of that power, of the truth that scythes through meandering rationales. Remember the path, do not get sucked back into the world of intellectual addiction because you respect “profs”.

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Spirit of the Prison Break

Posted: 15/03/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle

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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Here you can listen to Sharon Salzberg’s insight in her discussion with Russell Brand. I hadn’t realised that the Buddha’s times were considered disputatious, for me that just means verbalising mental proliferations (verbal sankhara) – 5 khandas.

This podcast is well worth listening to for insight.

Beyond conditionality there is insight, and this is where Sharon Salzberg is at – or tries to be at (for her to decide). When you are beyond conditionality there is no gender; listening to Sharon has decided that for me. Whilst there might be aspects of reformist feminism I might argue with for its liberalism, revolutionary feminism is beyond conditioning in the realm of insight (compassion and creativity). It was no great surprise when I searched I found Sharon linked with bell hooks.

Because of my life I sadly have only met the reformism but at least I can listen to feminism that is beyond conditioning when I listen to Sharon and bell.

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Uncreative creative

Posted: 27/02/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight

I have listened to Raoul Martinez’ TED talk, and am not sure where he is going with regards to “creative freedom”.

I have a sense of nihilism similar to Yuval but for different reasons. Firstly I completely agree with the premise on the conditions – with proviso. The lottery of birth applies conditions – causes and effects – that lead inevitably to a life with actions that respond to the cause and effects. Theresa May is who she is due to conditions, as is Joe Nicked and Mary Twouptwodown. Given this where is responsibility? Nihilism says that the responsibility lies completely with society. According to Raoul our morality, responsibility and therefore blame are completely driven by conditions. His talk seems to be suggesting this.

I want to compare this with the conditionality that I understand from Buddhism, and the Buddhism is important because it answers more questions than Raoul throws up. Consider my Buddhadasa meme:-

What is different firstly is that Buddhism describes the constitution of a human through the aggregates, the 5 khandas, rupa – body, vedana – emotion, sanna – perception, sankhara – mental proliferations, all activated through consciousness – vinnana. This begins with causes and effects from birth. Through attachment by consciousness repeated patterns of behaviour start to formulate a self, and through repeated conditions a self is formed, and this self, built from responses to conditions, is what we call I. Ignoring the dogma I come from conditions, this is exactly what Raoul is saying.

But a key concept of Buddhism is anatta – no self. We have a self built up from conditions, so what is no-self? This comes from the understanding that through meditation and detachment we can unlearn the conditioning, and live according to nature. Through meditation and mental discipline we can control our minds so that there is no attachment, and by doing this we can “connect” with sunnata – this is “no-self”.

This of course is a big difference to the nihilist position that there is only conditionality. But what are the implications of this for Raoul’s conditionality?

Now Raoul talks of morality and responsibility being a product of conditions, but the question is then “how much is this affected by sunnata?”

At the same time if we say that the individual is the one who applies mental discipline to self to achieve the connection with sunnata, then we are back to the position where the individual is being blamed for moral decisions and irresponsibility.

In fact I think the position is balanced.

In societal terms it is unclear what enables people to develop the mental discipline to connect to sunnata. Through Buddhism and paticcasamuppada we learn how we cling to the conditions forming selves. But in this clinging there is little choice, choice coming from overcoming ignorance and applying oneself at the point of contact (phassa) to avoid attachment and clinging.

But what does this mean politically and socially? If we are ignorant of the social process of conditioning, we will be unable to detach from it. If we don’t develop the abilities of detachment we cannot see beyond conditioning.

But so far Raoul has not considered this. By accepting the nihilist conditioning position, he is arguing that society is unjust by treating people as if their conditioning is an “equal burden”, and that because of this equal burden we should all be responsible for our actions. Jeanette Dumpedoin and Theresa May have equal burdens and should be equally responsible. This is an acceptance of privilege that I feel is totally unjust, yet it is society’s approach at the moment.

The situation is more serious because of course heavy burdens produce social consequences that impose on others in society such as criminality leading to imprisonment.

Because most people do not address the issue of conditionality, the issue of “burdens of birth and upbringing” or in reverse the issue of “privilege”, all people are treated with equal responsibility, and crime and judgment is evaluated based on actions and not “burdens or privilege”. This is unjust.

There is a clear way out that will never be accepted – end of accumulation. I have a view of nature that if other factors were equal nature could provide for us all. Whilst there would always be varying levels of burden based on different personal factors and abilities, those levels would not provide the same unmerited burdens that exist for some in our unequal society. Based on my experience as a teacher I have no hesitation in saying that burdens are not merited, many moral people are poor and equally immoral people are rich, there is no relationship between wealth and morality, equally between wealth and compassion, and the same with any other virtue. Wealth is based solely on “having money” whether from birth or from accumulation in life, and such possession has no virtuous component. In fact if wealth is not inherited there is a good chance that wealth has not been gained through virtue but avarice. Ending accumulation means some form of redistribution, and that is not likely to happen.

Education might help. This education would make people aware of the conditionality and helps people with the mental tools, discipline and detachment to go beyond the burdens. But society is far from accepting the Buddhadasa meme and its consequences.

So what are Raoul’s solutions? He discusses the possibility of creativity in part 3 “The Fight for our Freedom” in his book Creating Freedom. In Ch 8 on p493 of 1107 he says:-

I find this a dead end. In this description there is no creativity that is beyond conditionality. The important attributes of value and creativity come from the conditions of identity and choice. In other words Raoul sees creativity as part of conditionality, and that there is nothing beyond conditionality. This is a complete tie-breaker for me.

I have an idea that this view of conditions without a “beyond”, without an essence that is in some way distinct from conditions is similar to the existentialism of Sartre, but I don’t know enough about both to be sure. I mentyion this because it is an aspect of division that I have hated throughout my life. Because of my upheaval and emergence on the path I have always recognised the requirement of some spiritual component, I now use the Buddhist description sunnata – I could use essence. Whilst I feel that essence is compassion and therefore socialist, the division caused by the intellectualism that describes “religion as the opiate of the masses” only meant that spiritual and socialist did not work together. I remember a recent Buddhist meeting in which I described existence of suffering, the first Noble Truth , as part of the political system, and was told that was not the way it was usually taken. Whilst I agree it is not usually taken that way, that is a limitation Buddhists place on their approach, all conditions contribute to our suffering including the political system we are a part of. An unnecessary division. Whilst the roots of all major religions are caring, the mainstreams of those same religions have been diverted from socialism, a system at whose roots is caring for all. As with all divisions the only people who benefit are the 1% because whilst we argue they continue to accumulate.

I am disappointed that Raoul does not include “beyond” in his approach to conditionality, an approach that has been established for 2500 years and includes far more people than the few who are aware of Raoul Martinez.

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Path – a lottery?

Posted: 24/02/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, ONE planet

Throughout his talks Raoul Martinez (with Russell) (TED, RSA and others) considers the lottery of birth. People are born in certain conditions, and through conditionality of genes and environment their life happens. This is an assumption. And that assumption has the scientific limitation of genes and environment, this leads to the question “is there more than genes and environment?”

I believe Raoul might well touch on this with creativity, but I want to pre-empt this by considering path – I am not a good reader and might not get through his book!! Understanding something about path makes the question moot. The best way to understand path is to define it as that which goes beyond conditionality. Whilst this means a great deal to me, it is a somewhat redundant definition. If you don’t believe in path then all is conditionality – genes and environment, if you believe all is genes and conditionality then there is no path. And path is not scientific – subject to measurement by machines, so cannot be verified that way.

Path might however be observed empirically because many on the path behave the same way, there might be mileage in empirically observing those on the path. But I suggest most such would probably turn their noses up at such an experiment, why be interested in scientific verification? I have a similar attitude to scientific verification of meditation, because science through its limitations is straitjacketing the scope of meditation through its definitions of meditation as that which science can measure.

Path is a spiritual “approach” that lacks definition. Anyone who has considered spiritual descriptions will see regular phraseology such as descriptions are beyond language, phrases that science loves .

I have already described an aspect of the path, it is the mental discipline that enables connection with sunnata – anatta no-self. This is a tad Buddhist. However genuine creativity is beyond conditioning. But so is insight and wisdom, all are beyond conditioning.

I suggest that Raoul’s primary purpose in considering conditionality is to debunk the myth that the wealthy are there by merit, and therefore attacks the myths of responsibility and blame attached to the burdens of impoverishment. I have no disagreement with criminality being a consequence of conditions, and call for a social awareness of this and demand that society accepts its responsibility in this. I know they won’t because society is part of a 1%-system, and they have no intention of releasing their accumulation.

My description of path does not per se go against Raoul’s non-assignment of blame. Path would however provide social development if society respected the path and those who are on it, of course society does not – nor does science – nor does the 1%.

Whilst I would have nothing against a “path-meritocracy” – I know society would benefit, I also know that a path-meritocracy has no connection with the prevailing wealth-meritocracy. With a small proviso the wealthy have no different access to the path as the less wealthy. The proviso is this, because of their wealth the rich have the time to consider spirituality, the poor because they are always searching for a buck don’t have such a luxury. But time without proper mental discipline does not lead to spirituality, and being rich does not provide this discipline – so I use the word proviso and nothing stronger.

Access to the path can just happen. In discussions of path here there is no clarity as to when someone will access the path. Buddhism amongst others points to meditation as a method to access the path but for some meditation does not seem to work – although meditators tend then to say “they are not doing it right”.

Within spirituality there are descriptions such as Divine Plan that claim to go beyond Raoul’s conditionality. I tend to have leanings towards a Divine Plan although I would not use such a term. However Divine Plan is typically the prerogative of a religion – usually Christianity, and that exclusivity I have no time for. Whilst there might well be Christians on the path, the correlation between path and Christianity is no greater than with any other religion; there might well be a correlation between the path and esoteric aspects of any religion. With the Buddhist emphasis on path (the 4 Noble Truths) and meditation, I would have to suggest that Buddhism would enable more people to find the path, but when Buddhism is a state religion and Buddhism is a form of worship there is little connection to the path.

Genuine artists have access to the path as the muse is connection to sunnata.

Such artists often discuss the path as being part of their creativity. It is possible that this is where Raoul is going with his book, but if so it is limiting if it does not open up to all aspects of the path – not just creativity.

Yasmine Mustafa (TED talk) claims that you are not limited to conditioning if you “define who you are”. This goes part way to the path, and therefore there is an aspect of what she says which is beyond conditioning. But if the definition is merely a rehash of the results of genes and environment, then it is not path and merely a different form of conditioning. In my interpreting the description of her life, I would suggest that Yasmine has used insight and wisdom in parts of her life, and it is these path-aspects which “define her”.

I propose that nature has a plan for us, but this needs explaining. It is necessary to understand nature as what I call Gaia to comprehend this plan. Gaia as described by James Lovelock presents a holistic view of the integrity of the planet. In his description there is an interconnectivity on a non-human level, possibly including animals in that interconnectivity. There is however a different expanded notion of unity, a complete interconnectivity of all life connected with earth including humans and the earth itself; this complete interconnectivity I describe as a single organism, Gaia.

Consider a human being it is made up of organs. Mostly those organs function adequately, and a human is not conscious of organs in this state. If there is a heart attack, a human needs to alter their behaviour to cope with the weaker heart. For a human to function properly there are times when that human is conscious of aspects of their being to help that proper functioning. Gaia as an organism also has a “plan” for proper functioning of itself as an organism. Gaia “enabled” the Buddha to deliver wisdom to us all because, maybe, there was a wisdom gap. God sent Jesus Christ to earth to save mankind. Please excuse my ignorance but I understand that in Islam the Prophet Muhammed, Peace Be Upon Him, was also sent to earth to help humanity and to receive the teachings of the Quran. In no way am I suggesting that these great religions accept the above notion of Gaia, but I am suggesting that these aspects fit in with an interconnected Gaia.

What I am saying to Raoul is that Gaia has a plan to survive. In this plan Gaia allocates paths that we can follow. But I do understand that Raoul could say genes and environment are nature’s plan, and so that doesn’t necessarily refute his conditional approach. With or without the Gaia construct, the difference is path where Gaia is path and conditionality, and for Raoul there appears to be just conditionality.

Understanding path as being beyond conditioning enables freedom by following the path.

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Power and Brad Evans

Posted: 23/02/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Struggle

I need to be very critical of Brad Evans (throughout the Martinez’ podcast discussed here with link) and his use of the word power. Power is a useful word in academia because it does not pinpoint the powerful. When the word power is repeatedly used we are left feeling powerless, and in the end that can also become part of the blame game – blaming the powerless. There are those with power and those who are powerless. Without determining the factors that lead to power, it is quite possible to assess that it is out of weakness that someone is powerless.

Undoubtedly we are powerless but that powerlessness is not because of our weakness. It is because the powerful have appropriated the power of others, and disempowered them in the process. This is the power relation that needs to be stressed. The powerful have intentionally made the non-powerful powerless, it is not an inherent weakness in the powerless. Although Brad does not state this I suspect there would not be any disagreement, my apologies if I have misinterpreted; I would even go so far as to suggest that Brad would assume this without stating this every time.

But this is not my point, and here I am far less certain about accord. Who has the power? The 1%. Does Brad agree? He never states this. Where does this power come from? An economic system which ensures that they (the 1%) accumulate wealth. Once they have the wealth, then that wealth is used to purchase (and take away) the power of others. The most obvious example of this purchase of another’s power is in the US where the lobbying process in government, along with legislation such as Citizen’s United, enables politicians to be bought. At this exact time this ability to purchase power by the NRA is being scrutinised by the students of Stoneman Douglas school in Florida. In the UK the revolving door between the City and the Civil Service serve the same purpose.

Power as a concept is strong but amorphous, it is not explicit who is the target. But if you start to examine how the capitalist system creates wealth for the 1% who then intentionally disempower the 99%, it makes the whole understanding of power completely different. We are not weak because we are powerless, we are powerless because that power has been taken from us by the 1% through the capitalist system. Without the system and the accumulation the 1% have, we would not be powerless. Whilst details of how that powerlessness manifests are often examined, the important reality is that 1%-accumulation through the capitalist system intentionally disempowers.

Some might argue that my language is inflammatory (more likely simplistic), but I feel that the use of the word power, and by implication powerless, does not adequately explain the intentional nature of the disempowerment of the 99%. I assess, based on my experience in schools, that the use of the word power, and by implication powerless, would have been acceptable, but the use of the term 1% and their intentional disempowerment of the 99% would have been grounds for a disciplinary warning. I suspect similar in academia.

I assume that this is a compromise that Brad is willing to accept.

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