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Assembling a motorcycle from memory
December 17, 2004
1:05 pm
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workinonit
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Well here it is Tez. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Something Will Save Us
by Thom Hartmann

But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving?…Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God?
— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Wendy Kaminer wrote a brilliant book titled I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional. In it, she pointed to the pervasive assumptions of dysfunction inherent in the self-help movement, and the increasing obsession with emotional and psychological pathology in our culture. At the end of the book, she didn’t offer any specific solutions: she had only defined the problem. (Although one could argue that her solution was really the most elegant of all: see the problem for what it is, and refuse to dance the dance. In this, she argued forcibly for people reclaiming their own inherent power and emotional health.)

Interestingly, after publication of the book, Kaminer received numerous letters from people indignantly demanding solutions to the problems she identified. She pointed out this irony in a later edition of the book: it was as if the people writing wanted her to suggest the creation of a self-help group or book to help those addicted to self-help groups or self-help books.

Some of the initial responses to the early editions of this book were curiously similar. I received letters, emails, and calls from people telling me with great certainty that the only solution to the problems outlined in the first third of this book would be found in smaller families, cold fusion, coaxing the flying saucer people out of their hiding, a worldwide conversion to Christianity (at least a half-dozen different people suggested, too, that only their particular sect of Christianity could bring this about, and all other Christians must ultimately recognize the error of their ways) or Islam or some other religion, or the immediate institution of a benevolent one-world government. The letters ranged from amazement to outrage that I’d failed to see and support their perspective.

But these are all Something-Will-Save-Us solutions. This kind of thinking is a symptom of our Younger Culture — and fighting fire with fire is only rarely successful: usually, it just produces more flames. As Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated, often the most powerful and effective way to "fight back" against the pathological kings and kingdoms is to walk away from the kings: see the situation for what it is, and stop playing the dominator’s game.

But that involves a shift of perspective that some people find very difficult. There are, for example, those who point to the foundational belief of our culture (and, particularly, to European-ancestry citizens of the United States) that we can solve any problem if we just put our minds to it. Some even argue that the exploding human population is a good thing, because the more people there are, the greater the possibility we will find among them the next Edison or Jefferson or Einstein, who will figure out how to get us out of this mess. It is, of course, a simplistic, and ultimately cruel, notion, but one that has been used for years, usually to advance a dominator religious or economic agenda.

In fact, it’s somewhere between unlikely and impossible that children born into in the contemporary slums of Islamabad or Haiti, or even Baltimore or East Los Angeles, will grow up to change the world or solve our problems. They may become very competent: any corrections officer can tell you there are geniuses among our cities’ gang members and in our prisons. But grinding poverty and pervasive violence — born of overcrowding, and a lack of resources and security — rarely produce more than a surfeit of ingenious criminals and competent jailhouse lawyers.

On the other hand, Jefferson was a member of the land-owning elite, what we would today call the "very wealthy." Translated into today’s dollars, nearly every signer of the Declaration of Independence was a millionaire or multi-millionaire. Einstein was never truly poor, and mostly lived a life ranging from comfortable to wealthy. And even Edison, penniless when he ran away from home at age 15, entered a world with a total population that was a fifth of what it is today, rich with cheap natural resources and virtually limitless opportunity for ambitious white young men who spoke American English. If any of them were to be born into the modern-day sewers of Bogota, they may end up being hunted for sport — but it’s unlikely that they’d ever have access to the resources necessary to create lasting and meaningful changes in the world.

True change is not a simple process
There is, of course, no shortage of do-this-and-everything-will-be-ok solutions proffered in the press and other books. The more commonly touted include worldwide birth control, strong controls on corporate exploiters and polluters, five-dollar-a-gallon (or more) taxes on gasoline and oil products, doubling or tripling of the cost of water and electricity by increased taxation, worldwide destruction of weapons of war, more money for environmental remediation, and the creation and empowerment of new political parties not beholden to corporate powers. I even dance around the edge of such solutions in the chapter about using our current oil supplies to create non-oil-consuming energy sources such as solar; I also, however, make it clear that this is nowhere near a full solution, but merely a stopgap.

But those who are concerned that this book doesn’t emphasize technological or political solutions have — if I may say it gently — missed the point.

Missing the point of a book like this is quite easy to do, because this book makes a radical departure from the normal fare of self-help and environmentalism. It presents the problems, delves into the cause of the problems, and then presents as a solution something that many may think couldn’t possibly be a solution because it seems unfathomably difficult: change our culture, beginning with yourself.

Such a solution is among the most perplexing to grasp because culture, at its core, is invisible. Like the air we breathe and walk through, its presence is only felt when it’s resisted: at all other times it’s part of the nothing-around-us that we rarely consider and almost never question.

The idea of cultural change is also often unpalatable because any sort of real, individual, personal change in beliefs and behaviors is so difficult as to be one of the rarest events we ever experience in our own lives or witness among those we know. It’s easy to send ten dollars off to the Sierra Club; it’s infinitely more difficult to reconsider beliefs and behaviors held since childhood, and then change your way of life to one based on that new understanding, new viewpoint, or new story.

But if such deep change is what we really need, I see no point in pretending that something simpler will do it.

The Something-Will-Save-Us Viewpoint
We are members of a culture that asserts humans are at the top of a pyramid of creation and evolution. In our radio-talk-show naiveté, we reveal our fatal belief that anything we have done — for better or worse — can also be undone. We tend to think that every problem, including man-made ones, has a solution.

"Don’t worry," our sitcom culture tell us: "Human ingenuity will save us." In the deus ex machina ending in Greek plays, the hero inevitably finds himself in an impossible situation. To close the show, a platform is cranked down from the ceiling with a god on it who waves his staff and makes everything well again. Similarly, we today have an ultimate faith that somehow things will turn out ok.

From this perspective, we envision that our salvation will come from new technologies, or perhaps the rise of a new leader or political party, or the return/appearance of ancient founders of our largest religions. The more esoteric among us suggest that people from outer space will show up and either share their planet-saving technology or take us to another, less polluted and more paradisiacal planet. The Christian "rapture" envisions the world’s "good people" being removed from this mess we’ve created and relocated to a paradise created just for them. Among the New Age movement, a popular notion is that just in the nick of time the Ancient Ones, now only available in channeled form through our mediums and psychics, will make themselves known and tell us how to solve our problems. And, of course, there is no shortage of "just follow me, worship me, do as I say, and you’ll be happy forever" gurus.

Whatever form it takes, our culture whispers in our ears daily, "Something or someone will save us."

This is what I refer to as Something-Will-Save-Us thinking.

It’s built into our culture, at the foundation of our certainty about how life should be lived, how the world works, and our role in it. It originated, most likely, as a way for dominators in emerging Younger Cultures to control their slaves: "Just keep picking that cotton and praying, and you’ll eventually be saved. It may be after you die, but it’ll happen, don’t worry about that. But, in the meantime, don’t stop picking that cotton!"

And, far from being the solution, Something-Will-Save-Us thinking is the root of our problems.

Younger Cultures and Something-Will-Save-Us beliefs
Something-Will-Save-Us beliefs are at the core of Younger Cultures, but startlingly rare among Older Cultures. This is not to say Older Cultures don’t have spirituality, belief in deities or spirits, elaborate ritual, offerings or oblations to gods or spirits, personal mystical experience, and so on. But Younger Culture Something-Will-Save-Us beliefs require two essential elements which are lacking from most Older Cultures:

The belief there is only one Right Way To Live (which, of course, is "our" way), and that when everybody on the planet figures this out and lives our way, then things will be good. Conversely, this belief says that if we fail to convert everybody to our way of life, we will be punished by the deity (or, for secularists, the science/technology) who defined this one right way of life.
The punishment may be personal or it may involve the destruction of the entire planet. But in either case, those who fail to conform to the dominator’s way will suffer, and the only way to be saved from doom is to conform.
The belief that humans are essentially flawed, sinful, damned by a specific deity, or intrinsically destructive, and, therefore, they (we) can and must be "saved." According to this belief, this personal (and, thus, worldwide) salvation process can only happen by either intense personal effort and devotion to a particular program (yoga, rosary, prostrations, good deeds, psychotherapy, jihad, Prozac), or through the intervention of a divine being or beings who reside in a non-Earthly realm (aliens from space) or non-physical realm (gods, saviors, angels, prophets, gurus, channeled Wise Ones).
The most secular among us believe we will find, among our own human race, people who will save us from ourselves. Historically, this was the basis of the rule of dominator kings: they had to have absolute power over their people, to save the people from themselves. This is also a core belief found among modern people who treat either politics or science as a Something-Will-Save-Us religion.
Because members of Older Cultures assume there are many Right Ways To Live, each unique to a particular place, time, and people, they avoid evangelism. Instead, they respect other cultures and beliefs (even when they disagree with them): in fact, most carefully protect their ways and beliefs from outsiders, and accept "converts" only in the most rare of circumstances.

Believing in the flawed or "fallen" nature of humanity allows people to rationalize the various genocides, past and present, committed against humans and non-humans. According to this world-view, people are essentially evil and cursed; it logically follows that some of us will act out what we all agree is basic "human nature" (whether it’s biologically caused as the neo-Darwinianists suggest, or a curse from an upset god as some religions suggest) and commit all sorts of crimes against the human and natural world.

But if evil is fundamental to human nature, how could it be that it doesn’t exist in all cultures?

Few ever pause to question whether the evil or dysfunction may be in the nature of our culture, rather than the humans who are in it.

If we could just find the right lever
Something-Will-Save-Us beliefs — whether rooted in technology or religion — suggest that our problems are always solvable by new and improved human actions: they’re things we can control and manipulate, if only we have the right levers/science or can figure out the right prayers to motivate the right god(s) or space aliens.

The Technological Something-Will-Save-Us believers say that we haven’t yet mastered the technology of efficient and non-polluting energy use, equitable economic and/or political systems, simple and widespread methods of food or birth-control (or distribution of them), better medicines, or efficient communications. "If only there was more of…" or, "If only everybody would…" the Something-Will-Save-Us refrain always begins, followed with the particular doxology of the particular solution being recommended.

Religionists say we just haven’t yet mastered the technology of pleasing the particular god of their sect: if every last tribe is found and converted to a particular institutionalized religion, or if all the ancient prophecies are fulfilled, or if enough people would meditate with the right technique, then we’ll be saved from doom. But we haven’t yet gotten that system perfect, they feel, so we need to work harder on it.

Older Cultures and the Synergist world-view
The true problem we’re facing is a result of our Something-Will-Save-Us way of viewing the world — a natural and predictable result. The problem is the stories we tell ourselves, what we see and hear and feel as we move through the world. The true problem is our disconnection from the sacred natural world. The problem is our insistence on quick-fix/external-to-us solutions to natural-world crises which we ourselves created.

Because our world-view is so much a part of us, subtly programmed into us since birth and reinforced a thousand whispered times every day, we take it for granted. We assume that the worldview we live with is inevitably, unchangeably real. Most of us can’t even imagine what it would be like to live with a different world-view from our own. (We do, though, keep getting glimpses, most often in the words of our "enlightened ones" — and we usually ignore those glimpses because, being Older Culture wisdom, they’re so inconsistent with our way of life).

Essentially, the Younger Culture Something-Will-Save-Us perspective says, "Something/somebody outside of us will save us," whereas the Older Culture perspective looks within the individual and the local culture for solutions.

The Younger Culture says, "Grab all the gusto," or, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may be dead." It hopes that no matter what we do or how bad we screw up, somehow we’ll be saved from it, either in this life or the next. Who cares what our children’s children will inherit: that’s their problem, and they can work out their own salvation just as we must work out ours.

The Older Culture perspective says, "We’re here, now, and must deal with the practical realities of this life. And, most important, any decisions we make must consider their impact on our grandchildren seven or more generations from now."

I find value in many of the Something-Will-Save-Us technological suggestions people are exploring and promoting worldwide, and many must ultimately play a role in the transformation of our world if we are to avoid utter disaster. But none attacks the problem at its core.

We must begin to live a sustainable, egalitarian, peaceful way of life.

The solution is not hidden from us: people have been doing it for over a hundred thousand years. A dwindling few million still do, to this day.

These are not secrets: Older Culture people have been shouting them at us since we first began our genocide against them 7000 years ago. Most of them are still trying as hard as they can to tell us, but we’re just not capable of hearing, because our culture has plugged our ears to their message.

Here is their message:
"Return to the ancient and honest ways in which
humans participated in the web of life on the Earth,
seeing yourselves and all things as sacred and interpenetrated.
Listen to the voice of all life,
and feel the heartbeat of Mother Earth."

Living from this place, all other decisions we make will be appropriate.

The good news is that this is a very clear solution, embodying, as it does, only a single issue and a single change in a single culture (ours). The bad news is that that single issue is the most difficult and wrenching change I can envision…but we must begin, now, to take the first steps toward the changes necessary.

It’s the same problem the prophets of old wrestled with: their core message was most often, "Change your way of seeing and living in the world, because the path you’re currently walking will lead to disaster." As secular and Bible history both show, such prophets were almost always ignored…at least until the predicted (and inevitable) disasters struck. (And even then, the responses to the disasters were reactive: more animal sacrifices, building bigger temples, developing new medicines, drilling deeper wells, seizing distant and more fertile lands, etc.)

The world-view of Older Cultures rarely brought them to the inevitable and cyclic crises Younger Cultures have faced since their first eruption 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Because people in these Older Cultures assumed that humans were intrinsically good, emphasis was placed on nurturing and healing, rather than controlling and punishing. Because they believed that humans and natural systems were not separate but, instead, interpenetrated and interdependent — synergistic — they developed cultural, religious, and economic systems which preserved the abundance of their natural environment and provided for their descendants generation after generation.

So what are the easy answers to difficult problems?
Unlike many of our self-assured gurus, ecologists, and technologist Something-Will-Save-Us believers, I don’t claim to know the exact details of our future. What I do know is that if we are to save some part of this world for our children and all other life, the answers won’t simply rest in just the application of technology, economy, government, messianic figures, or new religions/sects/cults.

Instead, true and lasting solutions will require that a critical mass of people achieve an Older Culture way of viewing the world: the perspective that successfully and sustainably maintained human populations for hundreds of thousands of years.

Because I’m so firmly convinced that our problem is rooted in our world-view, the third section of this book is devoted to ways we can change that world view, rather than the technological/political/economic details which may emerge from that new perspective. The concepts of this third section flow from a few simple assertions:

1. History demonstrates that the deepest and most meaningful cultural/social/political changes began with individuals, not organizations, governments, or institutions.

2. In helping to "save the world," the most important work you and I face is to help individuals transform their ability to perceive reality and control the stories they believe — because people do tend to live out what they believe is true. This has to do with people taking back personal spirituality, finding their own personal power, and realizing that most of our religious, political, and economic institutions are Younger Culture dominators and must be transformed.

3. Then, out of this new perspective, we ourselves will come up with the solutions...in ways that you and I right now probably can’t even imagine.

In the reality and experience of an Older Culture perspective, the mystical and life-connected world-view, we find a life rich and deep with wisdom, love, and the very real experience of the presence of the sacred in all things and all humans. A world that works for every living thing, including our children’s children’s children.

December 17, 2004
6:22 pm
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Workinonit.

Thanks. I have downloaded the article and will peruse it carefully whilst off line. I'll get back with my impressions after having done that.

Chao for now.

December 18, 2004
6:40 pm
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Workinonit.

Thanks for the article by Mr. Thom Hartmann.

I read it very closely.
Whilst agreeing with much of what he expounded, I did not find much depth in the article. But, since I haven’t read the rest of his book, I may be a little premature in making this remark as well as what follows.

It seems to me that Mr. Hartmann is doing the very same thing that he accuses other ‘gurus’ and ‘religionists’ of doing. In fact I see him as another ‘guru’ with the same message that the ‘back to naturists’ push. That is: ‘If we do the right thing by her, then Mother Earth will save us from ourselves and nurture us.’

In fact Hartmann, it seems to me, is pushing forward yet another ‘means of salvation’, albeit a regurgitation of the ‘Permaculturist’ doctrine. In recent times Mr Bill Mollison from Australia fathered this excellent yet mostly unworkable doctrine, given that people refuse to give up their desire for their creature comforts. Permaculture has since spread very thinly indeed throughout the world - rather unsuccessfully by and large. From my first hand ‘up close and personal’ observations, the Permaculture Movement in Australia has ‘withered on the vine’. At best it seems to be stagnating.

Another observation that I make is that Mr. Hartmann accuses others of not attacking the problem “at its core”. He says:

“But none attacks the problem at its core.”

I agree wholeheartedly with Hartmann; but … he follows up with the ‘solution’ that:
“We must begin to live a sustainable, egalitarian, peaceful way of life.”

True, but our failure to do this is hardly the core of the problem but rather a symptom of our greed that is driven by our unconscious fears. What causes our fears?? That is a subject that will require much more space and time to discuss than is available to me in making this response. I fear that the cause of our failure to live “a sustainable, egalitarian, peaceful way of life” is rooted much deeper in the human mind than Mr. Hartmann seems to realize. This is, what I suspect based only upon this brief article. So I am very willing to admit that I could be wrong about Hartmann in this instance.

Hartmann did say: “Because I’m so firmly convinced that our problem is rooted in our world-view, the third section of this book is devoted to ways we can change that world view, …”

Again I agree with Hartmann; yet our “world view” is underpinned by much deeper, largely unconscious perceptions regarding the self. This again is a whole topic for another day. Maybe this is addressed in "the third section" of Hartmann's book. Is it?

Hartmann also says:

“In the reality and experience of an Older Culture perspective, the mystical and life-connected world-view, we find a life rich and deep with wisdom, love, and the very real experience of the presence of the sacred in all things and all humans.”

It seems to me that this is fanciful thinking on Hartmann’s part. He seems to presume that, like the biblical genesis fable, we started out in the Garden of Eden and worked our way down to our present dilemma. How would he know what life was like in ancient cultures? From my meager understandings of it, generally speaking old cultures were pretty violent and the majority of people had very short life spans due to disease, poor nutrition, predations and wars!! Even the bible, and I don’t regard that book as an authoritative work, has its share of smiting, violence, slaying, blood sacrifices – especially in the ‘old testament’ - based upon books of the Hebrew scriptures.

Even though I see nothing new, really powerful or life-changing in them, thank you again for giving me the opportunity to read Hartmann’s views.

December 23, 2004
2:07 pm
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Tez, I am reading your response and thinking about my own. Better to be thoughtful!

It has been very hectic on my end with the holiday approaching. Life is very different for me in comparison to last year when I was still living with my recent ex. I am happier but there is a bittersweet quality to it all.

How are things in your relationship? I believe this is one you recently mended fences with? I could be wrong. I hope you have an excellent holiday and I wish you peace.

December 23, 2004
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Workinonit

You said:

"How are things in your relationship?"

My relationship is going well at the moment. Both of us are puttin in the effort to make it work. The foundations of this effort are 'honesty and open communications' combined with 'awareness of our emotional states and what is driving them'.

You also said:

"I believe this is one you recently mended fences with?"

Yes - we broke up, went our separate ways and reunited after about 6 months apart.

I wish you much self-awareness and emotional stability.

I wish you insight into the tricks the ego plays on us all.

I wish you the wisdom to see the relationship between thoughts and emotions.

I wish you much compassion in the process of accepting yourself and others for who they are.

I wish you 'Oneness' with the boundariless 'All'.

December 24, 2004
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I want these things too!

Happy Holidays to YOU!
Thanks for the thought provoking interchanges.

December 24, 2004
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Mj.

Thanks for your thanks and your best wishes at this time of the year that I find a little difficult.

December 24, 2004
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You have been there for me in a very dark time. If I can be there for you, I am.

December 25, 2004
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I am here as always on Christmas Day!!!!

I wish everlasting love and hope for you all.

I wish living in the moment for you all.

I wish peace on this earth and a living goodwill toward all.

I wish Tez's wishes for me do come true and thank you..........

(I'm on my way Tez. Looking forward to having a bit of time to converse!)

December 25, 2004
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Workinonit.

Thanks for all your wishes and good will.

I notice that your good will persists throughout the year, not just at Chrissy time. 'Good on ya' in 'strine' language.

December 25, 2004
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Twinks.

Thanks for your best wishes.

You said:

"Our disagreements came about because you helped me to realise once again that I can think."

I can't for the life of me remember the exact nature of "our disagreements", as you put it.

I simply vaguely remember your determination to persist with your then attitude towards your ex.

Of course, I completely acknowledge your absolute right to choose whatever attitude that you wish towards anything, as it is mine. However, it is our attitudes to people places, events and things that determine our emotional states. We choose and we either benefit or pay, either now or later.

Of course I can clearly remember totally disagreeing with your completely untenable diagnosis of my 'personality disorders'. After studying psychology both formally and informally over very many years, I think that I both know and understand my personality disorders reasonably well. I therefore felt qualified in thinking that your conclusions were so far out in left field that to respond to them would have been in my estimantion both non-productive and highly time consuming. I chose not to respond; that way no "disagreement" was possible.

In instances when I suspect that I may be in the process of being 'set up', I find it in the best interests of all concerned to simply not respond - as is also the right of all other contributors on this site. After all it does take 'two to tango' in the dance of the egos; and I am so fond of dancing as you know. 🙂

Have a good holiday break.

December 27, 2004
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If I may, you two are some of the most insightful people I have "met" on this board. From an outside, slightly slanted point of view, you are both right. I think you both need to examine this and remembver where you started. As unknowing people, reaching out to each other for help, guidance and friendship.

Sorry for the Pollyanna but, it's all I have!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

December 29, 2004
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Tez, Thanks for yopur response on the article I posted. This has, in fact, caused much reflection on my part.

I have not read this book. I did, however, read the article and it caused me to pause. I agree with these standards. In my opinion, there are many who cling to nebulous beliefs of salvation simply because someone has stated it many years ago. Now, if we could have paid attention to the thoughts and deep implications of native americans (for instance) would we have a better understanding of earth issues? Maybe!

Yes, biblical references are sadistic at best. But, this does not by any means encompass all "old cultures". It is my feeling, that many barbaric cultures misinterpreted the tenets set forth by their ancestors. Again, this is my interpretation.

How are we to solve the dilemma that now is upon us? Are we to believe the doomsday prophecies? What of the Tsunami? Where does this fit into the pictur? If we can agree that the earth is a living being, we have done wrong as a human race. Do you agree with this?

I, for one, see much coming our way as far as disaster and pain are concerned. But, the point is not this! The point is, what can we do to change our way of thinking even if it is too late? I know it is an illusion but, it is one to grow from.

I would so love to hear more of your thoughts on this topic.

P.S. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!!!! 2005 is a 7 year in numerology! Spiritual growth and study can happen this year on a global scale!

December 30, 2004
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Workinonit.

You wrote:

"If we can agree that the earth is a living being, we have done wrong as a human race. Do you agree with this?"

In terms of minimizing our future suffering and that of most other living things on this planet, I agree that we all have acted and continue to act inappropriately.

The problem is that most of us are driven by what we erroneously believe to be in our own best interests. We think nothing of hopping into our motor cars and driving off to work etc. We buy or rent homes filled with 'nice' things, therein increasing the demand for factory made products that pollute our environment. When our grass grows to an untidy height, we start our lawn mowers up and pollute without a thought whatsoever for this contribution to the pollution levels. We switch on and consume electricity that is generated by coal burning steam generators that drive the giant alternators in our power houses. When we toast our bread in an electric toaster do we ever think of how we are contributing to the pollution? No, very few of us do, I suspect, myself included. If we do, we usually dismiss the contribution as being 'insignificant'. We are all hypocrites who want the other guy to minimize his contribution to polluting the planet without considering our own.

Mainland China, India, et. al. are making significant technological advances without implementing the very costly pollution controls recommended by affluent countries. Now that the third world is coming up the economic ladder with the attendant ability to pollute, we want to constrain them as we never did constrain ourselves! The bloody hide of us! It goes something like this: "Don't do as I do - do as I say. I've had my way for so long and now I am continuing to indulge myself. But you shouldn't. That's different. You are you and I am me. My interests come first."

Getting down to the nitty gritty, greed and self-centredness underpin the dilemma in which we find ourselves. I am no exception!! I want what I want and I generally get it one way or another sooner if not later. Why? That is the question. I bullshit to myself that I need to have this or that in order to be happy. You even have it enshrined in your American constitution - the right to 'the pursuit of happiness'! At any cost, it seems to me.

That is why I meditate, reflect, contemplate and muse upon: who, what and where is this 'I' or 'self' that demands such a high standard of living?; what is it that this 'I' really needs to be happy??

As I grow older, I find myself needing and wanting less and less. My feeling of wellbeing is increasing proportionately.

What this 'I' owns, owns 'him'; what 'I' need to control, controls 'me'; what 'I' demand, makes demands on 'me'. It all starts and finishes with the 'mind' - and this isn't egomania, narcissism or any other distracting, red herring -ism, it just 'is'.

From my view point, fundamentally we have two choices: to 'turn without' for the causes of and solutions to our perceived dilemmas or alternatively to 'turn within'. Humanity seems always to choose the former and what a downward spiralling mess we seem to have made as a result!!!

January 1, 2005
4:58 pm
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The right to the pursuit of happiness.............

This is a loaded statement. Let's decide first, upon our interpretations of happiness. When i left my first husband, I left a four bedroom home, hot tub, two incomes, great yard! etc.etc,etc. I moved into a small two bedroom apartment where I was never happier!!! Ok, I did not have the dishwasher, the laundry, the wall to wall carpeting but, I had my life back. That was all I needed for true happiness. Don't get me wrong now, everything wasn't roses but the decisions were now my own and not dictated, the music was my own, the money I brought home paid for the bills for myself and my kids and we all look back on that apartment as the happiest year!!!!

Pursuit of happiness, to me, suggests being free in my mind to allow what I want to happen to take place. I realise though, not everyone thinks this way. Which brings us full circle! What are we too do to save this home away from home? How are we to heal the wounds created by a negligent group of non-paying boarders? How can we ever raise the awareness of human beings on this planet to release the comforts they have and work together to regain the balance so necessary to our own existence as well as the earth's??

This is the bottom line don't you think? This is the scary part to me.

Then Tez, you said, "What this 'I' owns, owns 'him'; what 'I' need to control, controls 'me'; what 'I' demand, makes demands on 'me'. It all starts and finishes with the 'mind' - and this isn't egomania, narcissism or any other distracting, red herring -ism, it just 'is'." ----- I agree!! It seems as if the mind does not grasp the real issues and branches off into many different self-defeating patterns. And, as you said, it just "is". Again, what is going to bring this back to center? What is going to help the world and it's inhabitants heal?

Remeber, it is a 7 year!! Many possibilities will be thought about this year. I for one, hope some of us get started!

January 1, 2005
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Workinonit.

"Pursuit of happiness, to me, suggests being free in my mind to allow what I want to happen to take place."

Firstly "free in my mind" implies free of inner conflicting desires. In this first instance, to be free from inner conflict entails having achieved a deep understanding of the mind and its delusions. Then after all delusions are discarded, the ensuing clarity of vision and peace of mind would facilitate what comes next.

Secondly, "what I want to happen" implies having:

1. the belief that I know what is in 'my' best interests and those around me.

2. some level of motivation or 'will' in order to have the drive to do something about bringing about "what I want happen to take place."

And you posed the questions:

"Again, what is going to bring this back to center? What is going to help the world and it's inhabitants heal?"

All of the above relies heavily on having sound knowledge of the 'interbeing' nature of the 'self' in relation to 'other, combined with compassion and the abovementioned wisdom.

Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote a powerful book that contains the path to achieving all that you want and an infinite amount more. The very readable and enlightened work is called ‘The Heart Of The Buddha’s Teachings’(1998). ISBN 0-7126-7003-3

Extract from the ‘The Heart Of The Buddha’s Teachings’:

“In the year 255, Vietnamese Meditation Master Tang Hoi taught that our consciousness is like the ocean with the six rivers of our senses flowing into it.

Our mind and our body come from consciousness - they are formed by ourselves and our environment. Our life can be said to be a manifestation of our consciousness. Because of the food that our consciousness consumes, we are the person we are and our environment is what it is. In fact, the edible foods we take into our body and the foods of sense-impression and intention all end up in our consciousness. Our ignorance, hatred, and sadness all flow back to the sea of consciousness. We should know the kinds of food we feed our consciousness every day.

When ... ...consciousness ripens, it brings forth a new form of life, nama rupa (mind/body). Rupa is our body or physical aspect, and nama is our mind or mental aspect.

Body and mind are manifestations of our consciousness, and our consciousness is made of these kinds of food.

We have to look at the Five Aggregates (skandhas) in us - form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. They are nama rupa. The first of the Five Aggregates is rupa [the body - sic], and the other four are nama [mind - sic]. They are all products of our alayavijňana, our store consciousness.”

---------------------------------------

Our pre-conditioned unconscious ( alayavijňana) is what ultimately drives us. Unless we study our mind at depth, understand, realize and inculcate what makes us 'tick'(nama/rupa) we have no hope of affecting any change in ourselves let alone anyone else. I think that studying the above book carefully is a very good start in the direction in which it seems to me you want to go.

However, no matter how much I discuss, plan for, fantasize over, or desire to go on a journey sooner or later I have to make the first step if I want to arrive at my destination.

The interesting thing about this 'destination' of being "free in my mind" (as you say) is that we are already there and don't know it. All we have to do is shed the delusions that imprison us to see and to know this first hand.

Of course shedding our delusions, like harvesting potatoes, requires firstly picking up a hoe. Thich Nhat Hanh's works make pretty good hoes. But that's all they are - pointers to the means to the end. It is up to each and every one of us to start our own individual 'journey' before we can invite others to join us. Of course enticing others to do so will require setting a first class example first as did the Buddha, JC, and many other great masters.

January 1, 2005
9:29 pm
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workinonit
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Much of what you've written in this post I have heard of before though I have not read the Heart of the Buhdda. I would like to and will look forward to getting a better idea of these concepts.

I suppose the idea of integrating all into the one in order to accomplish a final understanding for human well being seems too difficult to me. The way you have written this sounds impossible. I equate it to the concept that a codependent is a codependent in totality. Well, what is codependence? To be a degree of anthing at least allows you to feel an understanding rather than knowing nothing at all. So, if a person is at least aware that there is a space of being which allows us to be free of human encumbrances,the battle may be half won. This awareness can at least bring about a "faith" to believe in something that can affect a change and the belief that change is necessary.

This statement is interesting to me. "Our mind and our body come from consciousness - they are formed by ourselves and our environment. Our life can be said to be a manifestation of our consciousness." I grew up Catholic and there was much emphasis on "original sin". I have postulized for myself that original sin is nothing more than the environment we are born in to. Similar. But, I also feel, creating concepts for physical manifestation can be accomplished through sheer mind force combined with faith or belief. Original sin is nothing more than the obstacles chosen for growth and enlightenment. Overcoming orignal sin and seeking enlightenment is our ultimate goal.

I would ask you also Tez, are you the same person now that you were 5 years ago? I think your answer would be no. If this is so, how can you not note your growth and enlightenment? How can anyone? I think if a person does not grow and change, "Shame on them" But, of course, a person still has to be aware that there is change to be had! Just like picking up the hoe!

January 1, 2005
9:31 pm
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workinonit
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Tez, if you do not mind I would like to do your numerology. I would only do this if you so desired but I would find it enlightening and will share with you.

I need your full birthdate if you are interested.

January 2, 2005
6:54 pm
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Molly
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Tez, happy New Year wishing the best to you.

January 3, 2005
3:44 pm
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bel
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Workin, would you do mine?
01/01/50

Thanks
Bel

January 3, 2005
5:02 pm
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Workinonit.

"... so, how can you not note your growth and enlightenment? "

You make an interesting point here. I had a great mate years ago who was very 'enlightened' in lots of ways. He contracted Alzhiemer's disease and despite a lifetime's 'growth' regressed in a very short time to a 'vegetable'. I pondered the concept of 'growth' as a result. What is it that 'grows'???

It seems to me that "growth and enlightenment" entails 'losing' not 'gaining'. What do we lose? We lose all the delusions that cloud our ability to see what 'is'. Except for the 'enlightened ones' amongst us, we all view everything, ourselves included, through the 'filters' of preconceived ideas, beliefs etc. These filters have been and are being conditioned by our perceptions that in turn were dependent on the state of prior filters. To break free of all filters and to see things anew is to be born again only this time with a 'tabla rasa'- a blank slate mind.

If we only 'recondition' the mind with another -ism whether it be Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam or whatever, then we are only adding further delusion.

It seems to me that wiping the 'storehouse consciousness' clean of all preconditioning is 'enlightenment'. However, if this was achieved, no sense of an independent, separate, individual 'self' would remain as a reference in our daily 'I-Other' experiences. The All would be aware of all being the boundariless All. How the ego ferociously fights against even recognizing the desirability of such an outcome let alone starting the embarkation on such a journey! 🙂

January 3, 2005
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Molly.

Thanks, mate. Happy New Year to you too.

It's bloody hot here at the moment - 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and going higher.

But I guess that it could be much worse for all of us with these Tsunamis being generated by our planet reacting to the 'status quo'.

January 3, 2005
5:15 pm
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Workinonit.

You said:

"Tez, if you do not mind I would like to do your numerology. "

Firstly, I have to tell you that I am not a numerology adherent. However, I have absolutely no inhibitions in stating the date of the presentation to the world of the 'interbeing' labeled Tez as being the 25th May 1942.

January 3, 2005
5:23 pm
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Bel.

G'day - I hope all is well with you in 2005. How the years fly bye, eh!

January 3, 2005
6:10 pm
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bel
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Nice to hear from you Tez, Im doin alright!

Thanks for asking! 🙂

Bel

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