Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 11:6

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
~ King James version ~

It is the way of wolves to EAT lambs.
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
Each life form has its own way. Wolves are carnivores and, if prey is available, they certainly will try to kill and eat them. Such acts are not the result of malice or evil intent; it is the natural way they act to survive.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 7, Part 1C - Lieh Tzu

Lieh Tzu learned archery and, when he was able to hit the target, he asked the opinion of Kuan Yin Tzu on his shooting.

'Do you know why you hit the target?' said Kuan Yin Tzu.

'No, I do not,' was the reply. 'Then you are not good enough yet,' rejoined Kuan Yin Tzu.

Lieh Tzu withdrew and practiced for three years after which he again presented himself. Kuan Yin Tzu asked, as before: 'Do you know why you hit the target? 'Yes,' said Lieh Tzu, 'I do.' 'In that case, all is well. Hold that knowledge fast, and do not let it slip.'

'Mental and bodily equilibrium are to be sought within oneself. Once you know the causal process which makes you hit the target, you will be able to determine the operation of Destiny beforehand, and when you let fly you will make no mistake.'

The above principle does not apply only to shooting, but also to the government of a State and to personal conduct. Therefore the Sage investigates not the mere facts of preservation and destruction, but rather the causes which bring them about.
~ Lionel Giles translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Lieh Tzu.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Nothing stirs up the American policymaking community like talking about crime. This is understandable when crime skyrockets, but anxiety levels have remained high even as America's crime rate has descended to its lowest level in 40 years.
~ from Why Is Crime in the US at a Historic Low? by Sudhir Venkatesh ~
We live in a very fear-based society. Americans own guns in droves. We install security systems and the well-to-do live in gated communities with their own security personnel. The lead story on almost any local news station is a murder, rape, robbery or some other violent crime, yet, as Venkatesh points out above, violent crime is at a 40-year low.

Americans are scared of all the crime supposedly committed by "illegal aliens," but immigration from the south is a trickle compared to what it used to be. And, of course, we're scared of the next mass terrorist attack, though there hasn't been one of those in a decade.

In many ways, we are scared of nothing more than bogeymen created by politicians trying to scare people enough to vote for them. When a person is frightened, he/she is more apt to hand over power to those they believe can protect them. And so, the corporate/political class has conspired to keep the people -- you and me -- as terrified as possible.

Yes, they have molded us into a gelatinous blob of molten fear!

As long as we barricade ourselves in our homes fearful that the front door will be broken down any second -- more apt to happen from the police than a criminal -- we will continue gladly not to object as more of our basic rights and freedoms are removed for "our safety and peace of mind."

Afternoon Matinee: Walmart - The High Cost of Low Prices, Part 4

This is part of a 10-part documentary. If you find this series disturbing, you might be interested in reading How Walmart Is Destroying America (And the World): And What You Can Do About It by Bill Quinn.

Sign Me Up

Pastor Mike Stahl of the Living Water internet church thinks atheists should be registered.
Brothers and Sisters, I have been seriously considering forming a (Christian) grassroots type of organization to be named “The Christian National Registry of Atheists” or something similar. I mean, think about it. There are already National Registrys for convicted sex offenders, ex-convicts, terrorist cells, hate groups like the KKK, skinheads, radical Islamists, etc.

This type of “National Registry” would merely be for information purposes. To inform the public of KNOWN (i.e., self-admitted) atheists. For example, let’s say you live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, you could simply scroll down (from the I-Net site/Blog) I would have, to the State of Colorado, and then when you see “Colorado Springs”, you will see the names of all the self-admitted atheist(s) who live there (e.g., if an atheist’s name happened to be “Phil Small”). The individual’s physical address, and other known personal information would NOT be disclosed (though, perhaps a photo could be).
~ from Pastor Wants National Registry for Atheists by Ed Brayton ~
While we're at it, why not create a national registry of "Christians Afraid of Heathen Atheists?" Mike Stahl could be entry number one.

Gee, it could be fun creating all sorts of registries of this nature. Here are some of my ideas. If you can think of any, add them in the comments section.
  • National Registry of Pastors Known to Have Committed Sex Abuse, But Weren't Turned In To Authorities by Church Leaders OR Followers (who prayed for them instead)
  • National Registry of Torturers -- Dick Cheney, by his own admission, would head this list
  • National Registry of Banks Involved in Foreclosure Scams (including those who have foreclosed without the legal paperwork)
  • National Registry of Tea Party Members
  • National Registry of People Who Have Received Funding from the Koch Brothers (that might be redundant with the Tea Party list!)
  • National Registry of Republican Lawmakers Who Support "Family Values" Legislation While Concurrently Engaging in Illicit Affairs, Homosexual Trysts & Other "Deviant" Behavior (probably a very large list)
  • National Registry of Lawmakers Who Support Stringent Anti-Immigration Legislation But Employ Known Illegal Immigrants Just the Same

Line by Line - Verse 41, Line 12

Its firmest virtue seems but poor and low;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The strength of Virtue seems frail;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Building virtue appears inactive
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

The greatest strength
looks like weakness.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Following up on yesterday's entry, when we don't spend our energy beating our own drum -- self-promotion -- we come off as being weak. Our society values the go-getter, the type of person that runs over others to claim the prize!

It's an adversarial system. We are in competition with each other and the pearls go to those who will reach out to snatch them.

Those that refuse to play this game -- to seek community and consensus rather than individuality and competition -- are considered frail and pathetic losers.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

The Missed Hurricane

Preparedness with a sense of proportion is always good. It would have saved thousands of lives and homes in New Orleans in the wake of 2005's Hurricane Katrina. But the ratcheted-up rhetoric around Irene, termed a "historic hurricane" by President Obama, spoke less of the state's duty to protect than of inflated pre-election grandstanding complete with cowboy-style gubernatorial warnings to people "to stay the hell off the beach".

This is not to participate in the blame game that has already begun as media pundits denounce and politicians defend their actions. Some superficial queries about "over-reaction" are now being posed. But the real question is what political role such manufactured hysteria plays at a time when ordinary Americans are far more vulnerable to the damage being inflicted on them by their economic and political elites than to individual weather events. (Changing climate patterns are a different matter).

Put simply, millions more homes will have been lost to bank repossessions than have been damaged by Irene. The storm caused some flooding, but much greater degradation has been inflicted on the US coastline by last year's BP oil spill. A few days without electricity is challenging, but the blow to clean energy prospects posed by the state department's recent approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas coast is more worrying.
~ from Hurricane Irene Could Never Take from Americans What the Banks Already Have by Priyamvada Gopal ~
I already shared one post with you on my belief that a good deal of the mainstream media hysteria over Hurricane Tropical Storm Irene had to do with ratings and profits more than anything else. However, Gopal makes a great point as well. While weather events, sensational trials and celebrity news cause the mainstream media to provide all-out coverage, they show little enthusiasm for covering the corporate robbery that goes on day-in and day-out.

Imagine what the general public would learn if all the mainstream news outfits decided (independently, of course) to provide round the clock coverage of the US Federal Reserve, Goldman Sachs, or the inner workings of Walmart! Imagine if they reported on the home foreclosure crisis with the same kind of zeal. Imagine if they provided feature after feature and hour after hour of investigative information about our government's steadfast refusal to do much of anything to halt or even slow climate change.

But oh no! The mainstream media is more than willing to tell us everything they can dig up about the Casey Anthony trial, yet the corporate and government oligarchs are allowed to run the national and world economy into the ground without so much as a penlight shone their direction.

Chapter 7, Part 1B - Lieh Tzu

Kuan Yin spoke to the Master Lieh Tzu, saying: 'If speech is sweet, the echo will be sweet; if speech is harsh, the echo will be harsh. If the body is long, the shadow will be long; if the body is short, the shadow will be short. Reputation is like an echo, personal experiences like a shadow.

Hence the saying: "Heed your words, and they will meet with harmonious response; heed your actions, and they will find agreeable accord." Therefore, the Sage observes the origin in order to know the issue, scrutinizes the past in order to know the future. Such is the principle whereby he attains foreknowledge.

'The standard of conduct lies with one's own self; the testing of it lies with other men. We are impelled to love those who love us, and to hate those who hate us. T'ang and Wu loved the Empire, and therefore each became King. Chieh and Chou hated the Empire, and therefore they perished. Here we have the test applied. He who does not follow Tao when standard and test are both clear may be likened to one who, when leaving a house, does not go by the door, Or, when traveling abroad, does not keep to the straight road. To seek profit in this way is surely impossible.

'You may consider the virtues of Shen Nung and Yu. Yen, you may examine the books of Yü, Hsia, Shang and Chou, you may weigh the utterances of great teachers and sages, but you will find no instance of preservation or destruction, fullness or decay, which has not obeyed this supreme Law.'
~ Lionel Giles translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Lieh Tzu.

Trolls R Us

The only commodity the troll state offers is fear. The corporate trolls, such as the Koch brothers, terrify the birthers, creationists, militia lovers, tea party militants, right-to-life advocates, Christian fascists and God-fearing red-white-and-blue patriots by proclaiming that unless they vote for Perry or Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann or some other product of the lunatic fringe of our political establishment, the American family will be destroyed, our children will be corrupted and the country will turn socialist. Barack Obama, who they whisper is a closet Muslim, will take away their guns, raise their taxes and bring homosexual couples into kindergartens.

For those, usually liberals, still rooted in a reality-based world, one that believes in evolutionary science, the corporate trolls offer a more refined, fear-based message of impending doom: If you abandon the Democrats we will be governed by Bible-thumping idiots who will make us chant the Pledge of Allegiance in mass rallies and teach the account of Genesis as historical and biological fact in our nation’s schools.

And underneath it all runs the mantra chanted in unison by all the trolls — terror, terror, terror. The troll establishment spins us like windup dolls and laughs all the way to the bank. What idiots, they think. And every election cycle we prove them right.
~ from The Election March of the Trolls by Chris Hedges ~
That last line above is so nauseating...and true. We are the ones who grant the oligarchs their power and, sadly, most people don't even realize it.

I Can't Resist

Scott's post this morning was on the concept of happiness. As soon as I read the title, a line from the film, Last Tango in Paris, came to mind. It is my favorite quote on the subject.
That's your happiness and my hap-penis.
Spoken by Marlon Brando's character
If you haven't viewed this complex movie, then that line probably doesn't make a lot of sense to you. Still, I find it rather humorous AND memorable!


by Scott Bradley

Goallessness is an admirable and necessary attribute in the Daoist vision of freedom. Which does not mean, of course, that we are to be goalless. It means that we have the kind of detachment from our goals which denies them the substantiality by which they would otherwise rob of us of immediacy and spontaneity. This moment is not a means to an end, but uniquely special in itself. Living here and now, one does not sacrifice the moment to the future. One may peel potatoes to have a dinner, but while peeling potatoes, that is what one does — and enjoys.

All this is but a preamble to justify my admission that I have a goal: I would like to die happy. And if I should have the opportunity to linger at death's door, knowing it is immanent, then I would like to die well. At that time, I would like to be able to look back and say, I may have made a mess of a lot of it, but here at the end, I am happy to live and happy to die.

The immediacy of that future moment is, of course, contingent upon the immediacy of this moment now. The present is not expended on behalf of the future. The end is the means.

Ever I have said that, for all this talk of transcendence and mystical rapture, the single normative value that I can espouse is greater happiness. Ultimately, all is as it is, and I follow the natural inclination of my heart and the very contingencies of my existence in affirming in trust that all is well. There is no salvation on offer, because no salvation is required. The value of 'awakening' is that it enhances the quality of one's life. Nothing more.

No doubt there is a name for this philosophical point of view. I don't know what it is, nor do I really care. Such names, if not intended to neuter and negate, effectively do so just the same. The way to understand anything of this nature is to experience it. But this requires that one lay aside the generalizing understanding of 'reason' and accept that one does not 'know'. Chaos. The 'ten thousand things' are, each one, right in themselves. Impenetrable mystery. The innumerable 'hoots, groans and growls' of the trees in the forest are, each one, a legitimate expression of the wind of Reality. Chaos. It cannot be contained.

I won't attempt to define happiness. What purpose would it serve? Happiness is not found in the pursuit of happiness, and a definition would but encourage the chase. Like love, you know it when it happens to you.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

No Mercy (and No Shame)

A goodwill dinner planned for Ramadan at the Catholic Mother of Mercy High School in Cincinnati has been cancelled after an outcry from parents. The wonderful interfaith gesture to the Muslim community ended in sectarian prejudices as parents objected it was too close to the 9-11 anniversary and “sent the wrong message.” My favorite quote came from one parent who said “I’m glad it’s canceled; it wasn’t a good thing . . . It would have really given Mercy a bad name.” Yes, Mercy now stands for something entirely different.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr wrote a letter to the school in response to letters from parents, asking for the cancellation. Some parents criticized the association with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has long been a target of critics. CAIR insists that it has always denounced terrorism. Moreover, if the parents wanted other Islamic groups to take the lead or to participate, I am sure that could have been arranged.

The closeness to the 9-11 anniversary only heightened the significance of this gesture. The dinner could have shown unity and fellowship between religions — and a rejection of the petty prejudices that divide the country.
~ from Giving Mercy A Bad Name? Catholic School Cancels Goodwill Ramadan Dinner by Jonathan Turley ~
And Christians (whatever their denomination or affiliation) wonder why people like me often have such a low opinion of them? Here's Exhibit #4,569,093!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 10:1-2

Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
~ King James version ~

Why do the people think so little of death?
Because the rulers demand too much of life.
Therefore the people take death lightly.
~ from Verse 75 of the Tao Te Ching ~
We are each responsible for our own conduct, but a nation's or society's leaders exert an impact as well. If the leaders direct the people down the wrong path, the weak and gullible will follow their directions. It takes a strong individual -- one of Supreme Virtue -- not to allow external forces to knock you from the path of Tao.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 7, Part 1A - Lieh Tzu

In the course of Lieh Tzu's instruction by Hu-ch'iu Tzu-lin, the latter said to him: 'You must familiarize yourself with the theory of consequents before you can talk of regulating conduct.'

Lieh Tzu said: 'Will you explain what you mean by the theory of consequents?'

'Look at your shadow,' said his Master, 'and then you will know.'

Lieh turned and looked at his shadow. When his body was bent, the shadow was crooked; when his body was upright, the shadow was straight. Thus it appeared that the attributes of straightness and crookedness were not inherent in the shadow, but corresponded to certain positions of the body. Likewise, contraction and extension are not inherent in the subject, but take place in obedience to external causes. Holding this theory of consequents is to be at home in the antecedent.
~ Lionel Giles translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Lieh Tzu.

From 1984 to We

While performing some research on George Orwell's, 1984, I read that a book that inspired him was Yevgeny Zamyatin's 1924 novel, We. In Orwell's estimation, "Zamyatin's intuitive grasp of the irrational side of totalitarianism -- human sacrifice, cruelty as an end in itself -- makes We superior to [Aldous] Huxley's Brave New World."

I didn't hold out much hope that I would find this old Russian dystopian novel in my local library system, but I looked anyway. To my utter surprise, not only were there several copies available, but one of those copies was housed at the Raymond Public Library. (Since Raymond is but 4 miles from South Bend, I went over there this afternoon and snatched up the book.) I even learned that one of the Assistant Librarians is fascinated by dystopian literature and had just finished reading We. So, you should expect to see several posts from themes in that book.

For now, I am putting 1984 aside. Below I will list all the posts to date that were focused on various aspects of Orwell's classic novel. I am certainly not saying this represents the end of this miniseries. I have no doubt that I will add a few more posts in the future.

Afternoon Matinee: Walmart - The High Cost of Low Prices, Part 3

This is part of a 10-part documentary. If you find this series disturbing, you might be interested in reading How Walmart Is Destroying America (And the World): And What You Can Do About It by Bill Quinn.

New Voices Along the Path XXV

I noticed that it's been over 6 months since I introduced you to some of the links that have been added to the right sidebar. So, without further ado, here is a brief introduction to some more of the Taoist blogs and websites I've found.

A Taoist Journey to the Stars (added on 3/24/11)
Taoist Rose writes: I am a wandering Taoist who is trying to find her way in life. I am currently pursuing a Master's degree in Psychology and just published my first book on

Confessions of a Tai Chi Snob (added on 4/14/11)
Studying the art of Tai Chi and sharing my thoughts on the journey. I do not claim to be an expert, nor will you learn anything from this blog. It is hoped that you will add some of your own experiences and comments about Taiji Quan. A journey of a single step begins the search for the perfect form!

TaoChow (added on 2/10/11)
This is a space for an ad-hoc study of The Tao Te Ching as "reacted" to by David Weber. David began posting his responses to each Chapter of the Tao on his blog, The First Morning, and then also shared the notes on his Facebook wall. A few of us who are David's Facebook friends wished for a study group of sorts, so thanks to Wikispaces, here we are!

Tao-How (added on 7/1/11)
I'll be posting lots of old Taoist, and Zen fables. Okay, maybe they're just plain, good advice. Maybe they're teachings that are still relevant today? I don't know. Some are succinct and brilliant. Some are so paradoxical in their logic and method that a headache is bound to follow. Some are just weird. I will be embellishing these tales to give them some length, but the moral, and the point of these stories will not be changed.

Sometimes I'll add my own commentary after each one. I'll be talking through them, sharing my thoughts and explaining the meanings of some of them while at the same time realizing I have no idea what I'm talking about. One thing I'm always certain of is that I'm never 100% certain of anything. Wait that's contradictory. Yeah, welcome to Taoism.

Tao Trucker (added on 6/17/11)
I'm a former Optometry student and a current truck driver. I’m trying to find my voice and share all the new things that I learn either while I’m on the road or while I’m in my hometown of Bloomington.

The Feng Shui Institute (added on 5/6/11)
An international resource and research centre for the promotion of Traditional Chinese or Classical Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology. Showing the difference between traditional Chinese Feng Shui and new age superstition.

The Secular Sadoo (added on 2/10/11)
Sadoo Pipher lives in an artist colony with 2 cats, a home theater, and no job or money. While he has had fat salaries as a banking executive and professor, while he has been extensively trained in the sacerdotal ways of the Judeo-Christian god, while he has lived with 3 beautiful women in sexual caprice and erotic mayhem, he prefers being poor, profane, and celibate. Why is this? What can't you do about it? And why is his life so interesting? In The Secular Sadoo, Pariah Pipher explores all.

The Tao of Autism (added on 1/15/11)
I'm not generally as serious and thoughtful as this blog may make it seem. In fact, if I were, I don't think I'd be a very good Taoist. If you want to contact me, do so in the comment section of my blog! If you would prefer, however, you can contact me on GMail under the same name (please don't expect me to reply right away, though).

Xing Shen Zhuang - RO (added on 4/14/11)
A site about Qi Gong and Taoism from Romania. It's not written in English.

Line by Line - Verse 41, Line 11

And he has most whose lot the least supplies.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

A wealth of Virtue seems inadequate;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Encompassing virtue appears insufficient
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

The deepest thoughts appear shallow.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
People who think a lot of themselves exude arrogance. It permeates whatever space they occupy. While we say that arrogance is a vice, we often wish that we could exhibit the same degree of complete self-confidence because of its robustness. Yes, the arrogant person can be quite annoying, but they tend to get what they want and who among us doesn't wish that their ego-based desires would always be satisfied?

The humble person stands in the background -- they don't stick out. They seem to lack ambition and you never see them out promoting themselves. As a result, they lack this sense of robustness that our society, unfortunately, idolizes!

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

1984 - Enemies

Oceania is in a perpetual state of war. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia...except when its the other way around! Whichever enemy is named is the enemy for all-time...except when it's not. Simple, isn't it?

It's nice always to have an enemy to direct your citizens to hate. If you can keep the people focused on the soup du jour, then they'll stay out of the kitchen! They will never know that you're using roadkill as your base ingredient.

When I was a young lad the "communists" were the sworn enemy of the United States. The commies were the reason we had to stockpile nuclear weapons and all sorts of chemical and biological agents. The reds were the reason we had to have military installations all over the globe and why we had to send the CIA to Central and South America to overthrow democratically-elected governments.

The big Red Menace was so evil and diabolical (their people were ugly too!) that we couldn't let down our guard for even a nanosecond lest they sweep over the world and ultimately defeat us. We had to protect ourselves and the world from them.

But then an odd thing happened. The USSR fell apart. The enemy we had spent the better part of 4 decades hating with a blind passion dematerialized before our eyes. There was still China, but, at that time, their army and military might was no match for ours and we knew it.

The powers that be went into panic mode. They had been able to divert the public's attention away from the shenanigans they had been up to behind the proverbial curtain for so long; with no sworn enemy for the people to focus on -- egads -- the public might begin to figure out that the corporatists were stealing the country blind.

And so, they needed to create a new Public Enemy #1 and they needed to do it damn fast. What they came up with were the Muslims. The Muslims, they told us, are bloodthirsty terrorists. They hate our freedoms so much that they want to destroy the US of A.

To insure that the public would embrace the Muslims as our new sworn enemy, the government set out to provoke as many Arab nations as possible. They employed every trick in the book and, in time, they began to provoke violent responses. A few disaffected Muslims committed some violent acts and so the deal was sealed. Muslim terrorists slid seamlessly into the place that had been occupied by the dirty commie Russians.

Our new sworn enemy has provided our corporatist state with the political cover to attack a wide variety of Muslim nations. If they possess a natural resource we're interested in (oil) or we simply don't like their ruler (Libya), our government can go blow up their country to smithereens and the majority of the public will give them a big thumbs up because they are killing and maiming the people we've been conditioned to hate.

Just like Oceania, our leaders always will have enemies for us proles to despise. Once we've dispatched with the Muslims, a new group of vile miscreants will be ushered in to take their place. Who knows! Maybe the Red Menace will return in the form of China.

This series of posts based on George Orwell's novel, 1984, will be rather avant-garde. My focus will not be to explain Orwell's premises or what HE meant -- it is more about what his prose stirs in me, often in relation to the way I view the world today. Some of my observations may fall in line with Orwell's intent, but others will go off in a wholly different direction. To read my intro to this series, go here.

Chapter 6, Part 4 - Lieh Tzu

There was once a man, Tung-mên Wu of Wei, who when his son died testified no grief. His house-steward said to him: 'The love you bore your son could hardly be equalled by that of any other parent. Why, then, do you not mourn for him now that he is dead?

'There was a time,' replied Tung-mên Wu, 'when I had no son, yet I never had occasion to grieve on that account. Now that my son is dead, I am only in the same condition as I was before my son was born. What reason have I, then, to mourn?

'The husbandman takes his measures according to the season, the trader occupies himself with gain, the craftsman strives to master his art, the official pursues power. Here we have the operation of human forces.

'But the husbandman has seasons of rain and seasons of drought, the trader meets with gains and losses, the craftsman experiences both failure and success, the official finds opportunities or the reverse. Here we see the working of Destiny.'
~ Lionel Giles translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Lieh Tzu.

What We're Afraid Of

The Los Angeles Times examines the staggering sums of money expended on patently absurd domestic "homeland security" projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of "9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret" to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles. All of that -- which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all -- is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat:
"The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It's basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year," said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.
Last year, McClatchy characterized this threat in similar terms: "undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism." The March, 2011, Harper's Index expressed the point this way: "Number of American civilians who died worldwide in terrorist attacks last year: 8 -- Minimum number who died after being struck by lightning: 29." That's the threat in the name of which a vast domestic Security State is constructed, wars and other attacks are and continue to be launched, and trillions of dollars are transferred to the private security and defense contracting industry at exactly the time that Americans -- even as they face massive wealth inequality -- are told that they must sacrifice basic economic security because of budgetary constraints.
~ from The Decade's Biggest Scam by Glenn Greenwald ~
Scam is the correct word. Not only are the number of Americans killed by terrorists small, but violent crime has gone down by a lot too.

It is informative that our leaders -- just like the Party in George Orwell's 1984 -- spend so much time and energy scaring their own citizens by employing this bogeyman and that. They have committed to this strategy, of course, because scared citizens generally are far more willing to give up some basic freedoms for increased security.

And that is certainly what has been going on this country for quite some time.


by Scott Bradley

Zhuangzi's philosophy, it seems to me, might be summarized as a call to unfixed living. Nothing is known. There are no sureties to which to anchor our existence. Every foundation is "peculiarly unfixed". We are, in effect, adrift. Indeed, we are this drifting; for we are not ourselves a fixed vessel upon an unfixed sea, but the very source of the drifting. It is out of the nature of our existence that unfixed-ness arises. Nothing is known, yet knowing seems prerequisite. This is about us. We are not describing Reality as it is, only our experience of it.

The road parts here. Some philosophies suggest there is a fixed-ness beyond our unfixed-ness which we can, through various methods, attain. Zhuangzi, on the other hand, suggests no such solution; he stays resolutely on the unfixed path. "The Radiance of Drift and Doubt is the sage's only map."

It is the natural inclination of the human to moor itself to something because it is only thus that our identity can be assured. We first anchor ourselves to ourselves as a fixed identity. I am. And because I am this finite, yet fixed identity — a fixed vessel on an infinite and unfixed sea — I must find yet another mooring. Religious belief is this quintessential mooring. But our every other purpose, possession, hope, and manufactured meaning serve us nearly as well.

Zhuangzi would rather have us realize and embrace our essential unfixed-ness. He would have us let go all this clinging to castles made of sand and instead enter the unfixed flow of existence. He would have us realize that we are that flow, not a fixed entity within it. We needn't become something different, but only be what we 'are'.

Zhuangzi has one of his characters describe this release as "roam(ing) in the far-flung unconstrained paths of wild, unbound twirling and tumbling". There is a forbidding quality to this particular description which serves to remind us that there is a price to be paid for this ticket to roam. And that, of course, is our precious identity. To roam unfixed is to abandon ship altogether and realize "no-fixed-identity".

Consequent to having no-fixed-identity is the ability to "follow along with things", to allow each thing and event to be itself, and thus to be in harmony with all things. Having nothing which can be lost, there is nothing which can threaten us. "Death, where is your sting?"

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Karl, Not Groucho

Policy makers struggling to understand the barrage of financial panics, protests and other ills afflicting the world would do well to study the works of a long-dead economist: Karl Marx. The sooner they recognize we’re facing a once-in-a-lifetime crisis of capitalism, the better equipped they will be to manage a way out of it.

The spirit of Marx, who is buried in a cemetery close to where I live in north London, has risen from the grave amid the financial crisis and subsequent economic slump. The wily philosopher’s analysis of capitalism had a lot of flaws, but today’s global economy bears some uncanny resemblances to the conditions he foresaw.

Consider, for example, Marx’s prediction of how the inherent conflict between capital and labor would manifest itself. As he wrote in “Das Kapital,” companies’ pursuit of profits and productivity would naturally lead them to need fewer and fewer workers, creating an “industrial reserve army” of the poor and unemployed: “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery.”

The process he describes is visible throughout the developed world, particularly in the U.S. Companies’ efforts to cut costs and avoid hiring have boosted U.S. corporate profits as a share of total economic output to the highest level in more than six decades, while the unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent and real wages are stagnant.

U.S. income inequality, meanwhile, is by some measures close to its highest level since the 1920s. Before 2008, the income disparity was obscured by factors such as easy credit, which allowed poor households to enjoy a more affluent lifestyle. Now the problem is coming home to roost.
~ from Give Karl Marx a Chance to Save the World Economy by George Magnus ~
It's hard to fathom, but I found this column on!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
~ King James version ~

The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.
~ from Verse 42 of the Tao Te Ching ~
Some Christians point to verses like this one as prophecies of Jesus the Savior, the special Son of God.

In a manner of speaking, all things are children of Tao. If you accept the notion that all being comes from the mysterious Way, how could one being be more Tao (or God) than the next?

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 6, Part 3B - Lieh Tzu

'Condemned to a hard life on earth, you would have had no time, I warrant, for brooding over death. Again, how did you yourself come to occupy this throne? By a series of successive reigns and removals, until at last your turn came. And are you alone going to weep and lament over this order of things? That is pure selfishness. it was the sight of these two objects -- a self-centered prince and his fawning attendants -- that set me quietly laughing to myself just now.'

Duke Ching felt much ashamed. Raising his goblet, he fined himself one cup, and his obsequious courtiers two cups of wine apiece.
~ Lionel Giles translation via Terebess Asia Online
~ Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Lieh Tzu.

Not Really Free

If you listen to fiscal conservatives -- including all those that currently are vying for the Republican presidential nomination -- the "free market" needs to be set free. The reason our national economy is so anemic and corporations aren't hiring workers is that regulations stand in the way. If only we would pare back or eliminate regulations the economy would soon be humming and our economic woes magically would disappear.

If I thought this was an honest position, I would still disagree with it, but I would be able to take these people seriously. However, as Ha-Joon Chang points out in 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism, fiscal conservatives simply don't like some regulations, while they eagerly embrace others!
Wages in rich countries are determined more by immigration control than anything else, including any minimum wage legislation. How is the immigration maximum determined? Not by the "free" labour market, which, if left alone, will end up replacing 80-90 per cent of native workers with cheaper, and often more productive, immigrants.
You see, here's the rub. By and large, the politicians who say they are against regulations that place fetters on the so-called free market are the very same people who favor these stringent regulations to limit illegal immigration! If they truly believed in what they preached, then they should want to open the immigrant floodgates which would boost profits through the roof and quickly pull Corporate America out of its [nonexistent] tailspin.

In a truly free market, business wants to pay as little as possible for labor costs and immigrants from south of the border will work for practically nothing and they also possess few legal rights to boot. For a genuine free market believer, it's a match made in heaven!

So, why don't fiscal conservatives embrace wide-open legal AND illegal immigration?

Afternoon Matinee: Walmart - The High Cost of Low Prices, Part 2

This is part of a 10-part documentary. If you find this series disturbing, you might be interested in reading How Walmart Is Destroying America (And the World): And What You Can Do About It by Bill Quinn.

1984 - Rats

"You asked me once," said O'Brien, "what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everybody knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world."

"...In your case," said O'Brien, "the worst thing in the world happens to be rats."
~ from 1984 by George Orwell ~
As I was reading this section of the last part of the book, I was thinking about what I was most scared of. As it turns out, Winston and I are morbidly afraid of the same thing -- rats! In fact, it doesn't have to be a rat; I'm deathly afraid of mice too! Little rodents give me the heebie-jeebies.

The torturous method by which Winston would be introduced to the rats would set a person's hair on edge. His head was to be placed inside of a contraption that looked like a fencer's mask and the [sewer] rats were in an attached cage separated only by a door. All O'Brien needed to do was press a switch and the door would open. The hungry rats would then attack (i.e., eat) Winston's defenseless face.

Just the thought of this turns my stomach!

However, once I climbed away from the sheer horror of this form of torture, something struck me. Supposedly, victims meet up with their greatest fear in Room 101 (e.g., drowning, being burned to death, etc.), but who wouldn't be terrified of being eaten alive by rats? I bet that someone who had domestic rats as pets and who loved the general species would be just as terrified of two sewer rats attacking their face as anyone else.

I'm not suggesting that this represents the ONLY dastardly way to kill someone slowly and painfully, but I would think that every single person on the face of the earth would be horrified at this prospect.

Wouldn't you be?

This series of posts based on George Orwell's novel, 1984, will be rather avant-garde. My focus will not be to explain Orwell's premises or what HE meant -- it is more about what his prose stirs in me, often in relation to the way I view the world today. Some of my observations may fall in line with Orwell's intent, but others will go off in a wholly different direction. To read my intro to this series, go here.

Line by Line - Verse 41, Line 10

Its greatest beauty seems to offend the eyes;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Great purity seems sullied;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Great integrity appears like disgrace
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

Those who are most pure
seem to be grubby and soiled.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
When a person isn't out there hawking themselves, they have no need to be on airs. They aren't concerned with the latest hip fashions and they see no purpose in name-dropping. They are not consumed with amassing great wealth, being seen with the right people or forcing their agenda on anyone else.

They simply follow their path in a humble way.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Like a CEO

We have all seen this before. It is announced that a new CEO has been hired by a major corporation. He (or she) makes a lot of promises during the initial press conference. The company will be better and stronger. We will become more competitive. The CEO promises that the corporation will return to the top of the ladder and shareholders are filled with high hopes.

But things don't go as promised. The new CEO lays off a significant chunk of the workforce and sells some underperforming divisions. He convinces the shareholders to buy up a few competitors for a staggering amount of money. But the new purchases don't help the firm's sagging market prices long-term. In fact, in a short amount of time, though the company is doing worse than before, we read that the CEO has been rewarded with a new compensation package worth gazillions of dollars.

What is the typical response of the public, in general, and progressives, in particular? They stomp their feet, gnash their teeth and say, "Is this company crazy? The CEO should have been fired, not rewarded!"

Yet, the same progressives who decry the way the corporate world is run plan to use this same rationale to convince others to reelect Barack Obama!

Like the CEO, Obama made oodles of promises that he has failed to keep. Like the CEO, a good chunk of the workforce has received pink slips under his watch. Like the CEO, Obama wants to sell off public assets that he says the "private sector" can manage better. Like the CEO, he has showered corporations with gobs and gobs of taxpayer dollars, yet the national economy has shown little, if any, improvement.

If you really believe the CEO deserves the boot, shouldn't the same be said for the president?

Chapter 6, Part 3A - Lieh Tzu

Duke Ching of Ch'i was traveling across the northern flank of the Ox-mountain in the direction of the capital. Gazing at the view before him, he burst into a flood of tears, exclaiming: 'What a lovely scene! How verdant and luxuriantly wooded! To think that some day I must die and leave my kingdom, passing away like running water! If only there were no such things as death, nothing should induce me to stir from this spot.'

Two of the Ministers in attendance on the Duke, taking their cue from him, also began to weep, saying: 'We, who are dependent on your Highness's bounty, whose food is of an inferior sort, who have to ride on broken-down hacks or in creaking carts--even we do not want to die. How much less our sovereign liege!'

Yen Tzu, meanwhile, was standing by, with a broad smile on his face. The Duke wiped away his tears and, looking at him, said: 'To-day I am stricken with grief on my journey, and both K'ung and Chü mingle their tears with mine. How is it that you alone can smile?'

Yen Tzu replied: 'If the worthy ruler were to remain in perpetual possession of his realm, Duke T'ai and Duke Huan would still be exercising their sway. If the bold ruler were to remain in perpetual possession, Duke Chuang and Duke Ling would still be ruling the land. But if all these rulers were now in possession, where would your Highness be? Why, standing in the furrowed fields, clad in coir cape and hat!
~ Lionel Giles translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Lieh Tzu.

All Around

It depends on who is reporting, but there are widespread reports of atrocities being committed in Tripoli. From the perspective of NATO and the US, Col. Gaddafi's forces are the ones responsible. From the perspective of others, the chief aggressors are the rebels.

I have no doubts that many of these stories are pure propaganda. These accounts are being exaggerated or outright fabricated. But I also have no doubts that many of these gruesome stories are true and there are far more of them that no one is reporting or even knows about yet.

War is a dirty business and people caught up in the throes of war do nasty things. With the adrenaline pumping amidst the emotions of fear, uncertainty, vengeance and hate, people can commit acts that they most likely wouldn't commit otherwise.

Each side will blame the other for the worst atrocities, but the innocent blood tends to stain all hands...including ours.


by Scott Bradley

"Who can free himself from achievement and fame,
Descend an be lost amid the masses of men?
He will be like Tao, unseen.
He will go about like Life itself, with no name and no home."

I have often quoted this adaptation of Zhuangzi by Thomas Merton (The Way of Chuang Tzu; "The Empty Boat") and do so now from fallible memory. It never fails to inspire me, word-perfect or not.

When we think of achievement we tend, most likely, to think of small successes. A diploma. A good job. Promotion. Wealth. Prestige. Or, if we have an artistic bent, we might think of creative accomplishments. If our focus is 'spiritual', then we might somehow measure 'attainments' in that sphere along with the designations of sage, reverend, roshi, or guru. We are to free ourselves of attachment to all these achievements.

But none of these is "achievement". Achievement in the singular is something far more fundamental than its fruits. Its roots go to the very depths of what motivates us. Or, looking from the bottom up, achievement is a vivid expression of our relentless endeavor to become someone. And this is why, to be free of it, is to be "lost amid the masses of men". It is to be "unseen", "with no name and no home". It is to be nobody.

Merton ends this chapter thus: "Such is the perfect man; his boat is empty."

I intended this post to follow-up on the previous one in which I spoke of our reality being Reality and thus of the folly of believing we must change to be it. Achievement is this belief. We are It. Now. There is nothing to achieve.

Perhaps it's too violent an expression, but it keeps rising up: Break the back of these tyrannies: the tyranny of right and wrong, the tyranny of reason, the tyranny of the need to become. The view from the other shore is incomprehensibly different from that ruled by these tyrannies.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 8:5-6

The LORD spake also unto me again, saying, Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;
~ King James version ~

Tao is beyond speech.
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
It's a good thing Talk Radio hadn't been invented back in the day. God spends a lot of his time talking to people and, if Talk Radio had been around, you can bet he would have been a frequent caller!

Words -- whether written or spoken -- can be very problematic. Though there are established definitions for words, we each understand them differently. Tao is beyond words and speech. You can hear Tao with every breath...if you listen.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 6, Part 2B - Lieh Tzu

The sons, however, did not understand, and finally called in three physicians, Dr Chiao, Dr Yü and Dr Lu. They all diagnosed his complaint; and Dr Chiao delivered his opinion first: 'The hot and cold elements of your body,' he said to Chi Liang, 'are not in harmonious accord, and the impermeable and infundibular parts are mutually disproportionate. The origin of your malady is traceable to disordered appetites, and to the dissipation of your vital essence through worry and care. Neither God nor devil is to blame. Although the illness is grave, it is amenable to treatment.'

Chi Liang said: 'You are only one of the common ruck,' and speedily got rid of him.

Then Dr Yü came forward and said: 'You were born with too little nervous force, and were too freely fed with mother's milk. Your illness is not one that has developed in a matter of twenty-four hours; the causes which have led up to it are of gradual growth. It is incurable.'

Chi Liang replied: 'You are a good doctor,' and told them to give him some food.'

Lastly, Dr Lu said: 'Your illness is attributable neither to God, nor to man, nor to the agency of spirits. It was already fore-ordained in the mind of Providence when you were endowed with this bodily form at birth. What possible good can herbs and drugs do you?

'You are a heaven-born physician indeed!' cried Chi Liang; and he sent him away laden with presents.

Not long after, his illness disappeared of itself.
~ Lionel Giles translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Lieh Tzu.

Afternoon Matinee: Walmart - The High Cost of Low Prices, Part 1

This is part of a 10-part documentary. If you find this series disturbing, you might be interested in reading How Walmart Is Destroying America (And the World): And What You Can Do About It by Bill Quinn.

1984 - Not So Far Away

As you can see, I'm not leading with a quote from the book this time (there will be more of that in subsequent posts). I went to bed much later that I had planned last night because I couldn't stop reading the last part of 1984 until I had finished it. When I closed the book, it left me with a very disquieted feeling.

As Winston's torture continued, O'Brien made it very clear that Big Brother and the Party could not be defeated or overthrown. With every ploy or strategy that Winston offered, O'Brien showed how it would not and could not work. In the end, no matter how he fought this eventuality, the only avenue left for our protagonist was to succumb.

While many would say that Orwell's book is one of fantasy, we're not so far away from this point today.

Over the last decade or so, the United States has started one imperialistic war after another and, while many oppose these acts of wanton aggression, we are powerless to stop them. No amount of lobbying or protests has even so much as slowed the machine down. Does anyone doubt that Syria, Iran or who knows where else will be next?

The straitjacket of the police state grows tighter around our necks each day. On the one hand, we are losing any semblance of a right to privacy. The state can intercept phone calls, text messages and letters. The state can film us for any reason they see fit. They can infiltrate our groups and associations, even when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing or criminal acts. They can look over every library book we check out and, in this computerized age, they can even get a list of every almost every item we purchase and they can plumb the depths of our medical/mental history.

On the other hand, we can't find out what the state is up to because more and more information is being cloaked in "state secrets." It is becoming harder and harder to turn our cameras on the government -- citizens are being threatened, beaten, arrested and their cameras/cell phones smashed for trying to document abuse at the hands of the state.

Our judicial system has declared over and over again that the corporation is a person -- a precursor to the perpetual Party -- and this "person" is bestowed with far more rights than the rest of us combined. This "person" can injure, maim and kill us, yet not be held personally responsible. If we withhold something that the corporate person declares is rightfully theirs, the full force of the state comes down on our necks!

What is the most alarming to me about the vision of 1984 is that we are on the road toward making Orwell's fantasy a reality. It is a very undramatic process. It happens little by little -- the increments are so small that we aren't even aware of them.

One day -- in the not so distant future -- a generation will awaken to the fact the process is complete. Big Brother and the Party will be in total control. Of course, they will have different designations, but the bloodline will be the same.

This series of posts based on George Orwell's novel, 1984, will be rather avant-garde. My focus will not be to explain Orwell's premises or what HE meant -- it is more about what his prose stirs in me, often in relation to the way I view the world today. Some of my observations may fall in line with Orwell's intent, but others will go off in a wholly different direction. To read my intro to this series, go here.

Line by Line - Verse 41, Line 9

Its highest virtue from the vale doth rise;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The highest Virtue seems empty;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

High virtue appears like a valley
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

Those with the most virtue
seem debased.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
We live in a world of self-defined gurus, sages, and motivational coaches. They dazzle us with books, dvds, retreats, seminars and websites. Far too many of them spent a good deal of time shining a light on themselves screaming, "Look at me! Look at me!" They will tell you that if you follow x number of simple steps that have worked for them, you might just end up lucky enough to be half as enlightened as they believe they are.

The true sage stands in the background and has no need nor desire for self-promotion. They aren't out there trying to "sell" you salvation. They peddle no gimmicks for self-realization.

If you asked a true sage if he or she is, in fact a sage, the most likely response will be, "Who me?"

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.


Many evangelical Christians don't seem to think much of science. Evolution? A misguided theory. Climate Change? The jury is still out. Earth is millions of years old? Not according to the Bible!

Time and time again you can find fundamentalist preachers extolling the evils of the scientific method. It was developed by secularists to try to discredit God. Why study science when you can find all the answers you need to life's questions in God's book!

Yes, these conservative Christians have no need for science...except when it comes to modern conveniences, medicine and war.

Scientists in various fields played a huge role in the creation of the internet, modern transportation and all the little doohickeys that fill our homes and businesses. I find it highly ironic that a person who would deny climate change/global warming does so on the internet. Do such people believe that the world wide web fell from heaven like manna?

Or how about the person who claims evolution is a quack theory, yet, when diagnosed with cancer, turns to medical science in the hopes for a cure? While hooked up to chemotherapy, such individuals will tell everyone in earshot that they only need to look to God for answers.

And what about all those folks who dismiss science out-of-hand, but are strong supporters of this nation's military apparatus. Don't they understand that all of our various weapon systems were created, in part, by scientists? Ya know, the major work to develop the atomic bomb was undertaken by world-renowned physicists!

Hello, is anybody in there?

Chapter 6, Part 2A - Lieh Tzu

Yang Chu had a friend called Chi Liang, who fell ill. In seven days' time his illness had become very grave; medical aid was summoned, and his sons stood weeping round his bed. Chi Liang said to Yang Chu: 'Such excess of emotion shows my children to be degenerate. Will you kindly sing them something which will enlighten their minds? Yang Chu then chanted the following words:

'How can men be aware of things outside God's ken? Over misfortune man has no control, and can look for no help from God. Have doctors and wizards this knowledge that you and I have not?'
~ Lionel Giles translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Lieh Tzu.

The 24/7 Driver

On one 24-hour news channel, a correspondent described the calm before hurricane Irene as the calm before a B-movie zombie attack. One anchor proclaimed the storm to be “as big as Europe.” Elsewhere, the hurricane was touted as the storm of a lifetime.

Storm hype is of course nothing new, neither is saying overwrought things when trying to fill up hours of airtime.

But as the hurricane approached, the fever pitch of the Irene coverage took on a life of its own, with government officials leading a chorus of caution even as closer watchers of the weather, especially on the ground in North Carolina, grew increasingly convinced that Irene would not strengthen, but steadily weaken instead into something closer to a massive tropical storm.
~ from Hurricane Irene: Why Hurricane Hyperbole Never Goes Out of Style by Patrik Jonsson ~
Having been through a hurricane-like storm -- winds up to 120 mph -- I certainly understand the importance of a good warning system and the need for caution. We didn't receive adequate warnings in 2007 and our storm caught a lot of people completely off guard and unprepared.

But in this world of 24/7 information, there is a temptation by the mainstream media to oversell storms and other major news events to drive ratings through the roof. Bigger ratings mean bigger market share and bigger market share means bigger profits.

Take, for example, The Weather Channel. Not surprisingly, their bread-and-butter focus is on...the weather! Catastrophic weather events are good for ratings. If the storm peters out, then ratings (and profits) go down. So, it makes sense that The Weather Channel would play up any potential major weather event even when they realize the risk may have faded somewhat.

The same is true for a 24 hour news channel like CNN. When there is little news of any import, they still must babble on. Again, it makes sense for the company to play up ANY news story they can get their hands on. If CNN can create controversy -- even where none initially existed -- they attract more viewers.

I am not suggesting that Hurricane Irene is a piddly news event. People have already died as a result of the storm, electric power is out for millions and there is certain to be millions of dollars in property damage. All I am saying is that this singular event -- like so many others before it -- was made to sound far worse than it actually is turning out to be.

Part of the shrillness of the reports most likely is due to being overcautious. However, I think that lurking behind the scenes is the ever-present profit motive. A storm advertised as bigger than one could imagine is a surefire strategy to convince people to tune into your TV channel or website.

Closer to Reality?

Closer to Reality?
by Scott Bradley

"Buddha-nature transcends all human statement....Hence one will have to make efforts to come as close as possible to reality. This is best achieved by stating [quoting Dogen, quoting Kandadeva] the "openness and vastness, emptiness and lucidity of Buddha-nature." (Dumoulin; Zen Enlightenment)

I find this statement very curious in many ways. Yet, when at first reading I completely misunderstood what was meant by coming "close to reality", it greatly impacted me. I took it literally. We must come closer to Reality — should we wish to experience It to the fullest.

But if Reality is all that is—including all that we are, think and do — how could we get any closer than we already are? We are It. Only in experientially realizing this identity with Reality do we get "closer" to It. But this is not "closer" at all. There is no getting "closer" to what is, just as there is no getting "closer" in definition to what is Buddha-nature, as the above quote seems to suggest.

The impetus to "achieve" absolutely permeates our world view. The belief that we must change, become something better, ever manifests itself in our 'spiritual' endeavors. Yet, to realize Reality as what we are, as we are, is to break the back this dualistic tyranny. You are It. All is well. "That art Thou".

I quote the classic Indic formula, but I do not wish to imply any content to "That". "That" is utter Mystery and what the implications of being "That" are, I have not a clue. Perhaps It's Cosmic Consciousness. Or maybe It's Zhuangzi's Great Clump. It makes no difference.

When I mis-read Dumoulin's "get as close as possible to reality", I experienced something of the reality of being Reality. I find this curiously instructive. What if a woman was walking down a forest path, and upon seeing a snake, suddenly realized in fear the folly of fear, and in that realized release into Vastness — only to subsequently discover the 'snake' was only a stick? It would not matter. She has awakened. And this is what I mean when I say that we do not need to 'get it right' to get It. It has nothing whatsoever to do with objectively knowing anything about the Truth of Reality.

There was a man
Who saw a rat
And realized Unity.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 8:1

Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.
~ King James version ~

Tao is beyond words.
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
Do you ever get the impression that this God fellow is nothing more than a frustrated writer? With the possible exception of the Ten Commandments, he doesn't write much, but he's always directing others to write for him!

Tao doesn't need words to convey the message of existence. It instead is written in the clouds of the sky, the brook in the meadow, on the wings of a moth and in our own hearts.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.