Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 47 - The Lines, Part 1

Six at the beginning means:
One sits oppressed under a bare tree
And strays into a gloomy valley.
For three years one sees nothing.

When adversity befalls a man, it is important above all things for him to be strong and to overcome the trouble inwardly. If he is weak, the trouble overwhelms him. Instead of proceeding on his way, he remains sitting under a bare tree and falls ever more deeply into gloom and melancholy. This makes the situation only more and more hopeless. Such an attitude comes from an inner delusion that he must by all means overcome.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Beyond the Human Inclinations III: Beyond Dysfunction

Scott Bradley

Chapter Five of the Zhuangzi closes with a dialogue between Zhuangzi and his favorite foil, the 'logician' Huizi, and it is from this that I have lifted the title for this series on that chapter.
Huizi asks, "Can a human being really be without the characteristic human characteristics?"
(5:23; Ziporyn)
I have suggested that a core purpose of Zhuangzi's use of the marginalized of society as exemplars of sagacity is to provide us an opportunity to confront our 'characteristic' tendency to judge between things as acceptable and unacceptable. In fact, his entire project can be seen as an attempt to do just that. The view from Dao is one of freedom from prejudice in which "the mind is released to play" in all things. It is all-inclusive, all-affirming, all-embracing. My words cannot give you this vision, much less make it true for you, any more than they can make it true for me; your participation is required. We need not believe that this is 'true' or even 'right' to at least get an inkling of what this vision is about. Once seen, however, I suspect you will find that the "characteristic human inclinations" that have hindered that vision will at least momentarily fall away.

Huizi refuses to open himself to Zhuangzi's vision, if only as an experimental exercise; it frightens him. He dwells in and derives his sense of self from his rationalizing mind. Or perhaps he feels that to concede a point to his friend will entail a loss to his sacrosanct self. Thus, he questions how a person can still be called human and not possess those behaviors characteristic to human beings.

This question is not without merit, and its implications are profound. It brings us to that fault line between the affirmation of how we are and how we might be different. If prejudices are native to the human expression, and our affirmation of that expression is absolute, how can we speak of the need for transformation? How, in other words, can we both affirm what is and seek its change? Zhuangzi's non-rationalistic answer is that we "walk two roads". There is some point in trying to explain what this means, but in the end it takes seeing the vision to get the sense of it.

It is possible to recognize as dysfunctional many aspects of what is characteristic of human beings without positing a fall from some edenic past. The Great Clump evolves and transforms apparently without moral compass or idyllic end. Dumb shit happens. Yet as human beings we find ourselves in the unique position of being able to improve our condition. We can become less dysfunctional and still be fully human, though we need not say more so.

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

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - So Long, Mom

Performed by Tom Lehrer

So long, mom!
I'm off to drop the Bomb
So don't wait up for me
But while you swelter
Down there in your shelter
You can see me
On your TV

While we're attacking frontally
Watch Brinkally and Huntally
Describing contrapuntally
The cities we have lost
No need for you to miss a minute
Of the agonizing holocaust

Little Johnny Jones
He was a US pilot
And no shrinking violet
Was he, he was mighty proud
When World War III was declared
He wasn't scared
No siree!

And this is what he said on
His way to Armageddon:

So long, mom!
I'm off to drop the Bomb
So don't wait up for me
But though I may roam
I'll come back to my home
Although it may be
A pile of debris

Remember, mommy!
I'm off to get a commie
So send me a salami
And try to smile somehow
I'll look for you
When the war is over
An hour and a half from now!
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 28


When two are at war and a 3rd enters the battle,
what good can happen? Now 3 are wrong.
Peace is lived through peaceful action.
Eat what was not killed,
consume what is renewable,
leave no trace.
The enlightened don’t need telling how to act,
they don’t act.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 19, Part 5

Trey Smith

"When a drunken man falls from a carriage, though the carriage may be going very fast, he won't be killed. He has bones and joints the same as other men, and yet he is not injured as they would be, because his spirit is whole. He didn't know he was riding, and he doesn't know he has fallen out. Life and death, alarm and terror do not enter his breast, and so he can bang against things without fear of injury. If he can keep himself whole like this by means of wine, how much more can he keep himself whole by means of Heaven! The sage hides himself in Heaven - hence there is nothing that can do him harm.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
While drunks do die from incidents that claim the rest of us, there are many recorded examples of a dunk individual who walks away from some horrific situation virtually unscathed. It turns out they they were too inebriated to realize the danger and so, while a sober individual may brace themselves for impact and die because they held their body too rigidly, the drunk escapes because he/she remained loose and fluid.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

I Can't Won't Say

Trey Smith

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reportedly gave its approval last week to an Obama administration plan to provide weapons to moderate rebels in Syria, but how individual members of the committee stood on the subject remains unknown.

There was no public debate and no public vote when one of the most contentious topics in American foreign policy was decided – outside of the view of constituents, who oppose the president’s plan to aid the rebels by 54 percent to 37 percent, according to a Gallup Poll last month.

In fact, ask individual members of the committee, who represent 117 million people in 14 states, how they stood on the plan to use the CIA to funnel weapons to the rebels and they are likely to respond with the current equivalent of “none of your business:” It’s classified.

Those were, in fact, the words Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the committee, used when asked a few days before the approval was granted to clarify her position for her constituents. She declined. It’s a difficult situation, she said. And, “It’s classified.”

She was not alone. In a string of interviews over days, members of both the Senate intelligence committee or its equivalent in the House were difficult to pin down on their view of providing arms to the rebels. The senators and representatives said they couldn’t give an opinion, or at least a detailed one, because the matter was classified.

It’s an increasingly common stance that advocates of open government say undermines the very principle of a representative democracy.
~ from For Congress, ‘It’s Classified’ Is New Equivalent of ‘None of Your Business’ by Ali Watkins ~
I don't know about you, but I certainly say it is hard to a run a democracy if constituents have little clue where their elected representatives stand. This is a very patriarchal and condescending stance to take. It's like saying, "You elected us to take care of the adult business, so go run and play little children."

I Ching: Hexagram 47 - The Image

There is no water in the lake:
The image of EXHAUSTION.
Thus the superior man stakes his life
On following his will.

When the water has flowed out below, the lake must dry up and become exhausted. That is fate. This symbolizes an adverse fate in human life. In such times there is nothing a man can do but acquiesce in his fate and remain true to himself. This concerns the deepest stratum of his being, for this alone is superior to all external fate.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Beyond the Human Inclinations II: Strength Through Weakness

Scott Bradley

One among our many typical human inclinations is to judge things on the basis of their external form. We know this and create maxims to try and counter this tendency ("Beauty is only skin deep." "Don't judge a book by its cover.") and these are worthy efforts. However, they also reveal how ingrained these tendencies are. Philosophical Daoism would, I think, question whether we should judge at all, but we need not open that can of worms in order to appreciate one of the reasons Zhuangzi chose as his exemplars of sagacity men that society would generally have spurned.

There is a sense in which Zhuangzi's entire project could be seen as an attempt to shatter the many self-limiting and self-imposed mechanisms by which our minds have learned to engage the world. Right and wrong, good and bad, beneficial and harmful, affirmable and unaffirmable, acceptable and unacceptable, beautiful and ugly — all these and many more determine our relationship with ourselves, others, events and the world generally. Deconstruction is his constant watchword.

Thus, Zhuangzi would perhaps first have us take a look at how we judge others. But there are other lessons here. How we judge ourselves is ever much as, if not more important. It seems likely, in fact, that most of our criticism of others is an outgrowth of our self-criticism. I am of the persuasion that the greatest part of my anger at injustices in the world, for example, are a projection of my anger toward myself and my fate. This does not mean there is no reason for anger, but only that there is "anger that is not anger" and then there is anger, and these are worlds apart.

Another question Zhuangzi might have us ask is what role the very infirmities of these men had in their having become sages. I am fond of quoting the obscure phrase, "every enslavement is also an ennobling". Those things that challenge us the most, including those which seem the most un-sagacious, are precisely the occasion for our growth. Not in overcoming them. That is the popular wisdom and the cliché. But in breaking the fetters of our attitude to them. In learning in what way they do not matter. In embracing ourselves and them fully. In realizing there never were any conditions we had to meet to be fully affirmed as expressions of Dao. In writing incomplete sentences and not giving a damn. The rest, the change, follows as a matter of course.

One of the convicts, we are told, viewed the chopping off of his foot and all the disgrace and failure that that was intended to covey as no more than a clump of soil falling to the earth. He had realized the view from Dao.

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

DN - Blowing Whistle on U.S. War Crimes is Not Espionage

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 47 - The Judgment

OPPRESSION. Success. Perseverance.
The great man brings about good fortune.
No blame.
When one has something to say,
It is not believed.

Times of adversity are the reverse of times of success, but they can lead to success if they befall the right man. When a strong man meets with adversity, he remains cheerful despite all danger, and this cheerfulness is the source of later successes; it is that stability which is stronger than fate. He who lets his spirit be broken by exhaustion certainly has no success. But if adversity only bends a man, it creates in him a power to react that is bound in time to manifest itself. No inferior man is capable of this. Only the great man brings about good fortune and remains blameless. It is true that for the time being outward influence is denied him, because his words have no effect. Therefore in times of adversity it is important to be strong within and sparing of words.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Very Strange Bedfellows

Trey Smith

If you pay any attention to the news, you know that John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, Eric Cantor, Darrell Issa and Paul Ryan are leading Republican congresspeople who rarely, if ever, have a good thing to say about President Barack Obama. On so many issues, these members of the GOP and others deride the president for being out-of-touch or out-of-step with the American people.  Some of them have even hinted that Obama is a socialist or, at least, a typical tax-and-spend liberal.

Yes, these leading conservatives are completely unable to find common ground with this nation's first black president...except when it comes to war and spying.  Bring up those two issues and you can find the aforementioned Republicans sitting around a campfire with Barack singing Kumbaya!

As has been noted before in this space, President Obama had to look to the leadership of -- not his own party -- but the Republicans to beat back an attempt to place some constraints on one NSA spying program.  Only 40 percent of the members of his own party sided with him, while his policy position was successful due to nearly 60 percent of Republicans backing up him up. 

Did you ever think the day would come when Michele Bachmann would be lauding the president?  (Me neither.)

But that wasn't the only telling aspect of this historic vote.  Jan Schakowsky of Illinois -- considered by many to be one of the most progressive members of Congress -- cast her vote to allow the NSA to continue to spy on Americans suspected of no wrongdoing.  So too did Marcy Kaptur, the woman who defeated Dennis Kucinich during 2012 in a race between two liberal Democrats forced to face off in a gerrymandered district primary.

When it comes to violating the constitutional rights of the people they ostensibly serve, we increasingly are seeing very, very strange political bedfellows.


Conor Friedersdorf has some advice in terms of this vote.  If you consider yourself a progressive, I hope you take it!
Is it appropriate in a free society for government to hoover up and store as much information on everyone as possible? Or should government only spy on Americans reasonably suspected of wrongdoing? Thanks to Tuesday's vote, which wouldn't have happened without Edward Snowden's leaks, voters now have their elected representatives on record about where they stand.

That is a vital thing in a democracy! Don't like the position they've taken? The next election is coming up in 2014. Personally, I'd like to see every last elected official who voted against this attempted reform ousted from office. I don't care if they're beat by primary challengers or in a general election. It seems to me that the American people should send a message to the NSA apologists: The U.S. has managed to flourish for decades without spying on all its citizens, and it should continue to do so. (emphasis mine)

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier

Performed by Tom Lehrer

The heart of every man in our platoon must swell with pride
For the nation's youth, the cream of which is marching at his side
For the fascinating rules and regulations that we share
And the quaint and curious costumes that we're called upon to wear
Now Al joined up to do his part defending you and me
He wants to fight and bleed and kill and die for liberty
With the hell of war he's come to grips
Policing up the filter tips
It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier!

When Pete was only in the seventh grade, he stabbed a cop
He's real R.A. material, and he was glad to swap
His switchblade and his old zip gun
For a bayonet and a new M-1
It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier!

After Johnny got through basic training, he
Was a soldier through and through when he was done
Its effects were so well rooted
That the next day he saluted
A Good Humor man, an usher, and a nun

Now, Fred's an intellectual, brings a book to every meal
He likes the deep philosophers, like Norman Vincent Peale
He thinks the army's just the thing
Because he finds it broadening
It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier!

Now, Ed flunked out of second grade, and never finished school
He doesn't know a shelter half from an entrenching tool
But, he's going to be a big success
He heads his class at OCS
It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier!

Our old mess sergeant's taste buds had been shot off in the war
But his savory collations add to our esprit de corps
To think of all the marvelous ways
They're using plastics nowadays
It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier!

Our lieutenant is the up-and-coming type
Played with soldiers as a boy, you just can bet
It is written in the stars
He will get his captain's bars
But he hasn't got enough box tops yet

Our captain has a handicap to cope with, sad to tell
He's from Georgia, and he doesn't speak the language very well
He used to be, so rumor has
The Dean of Men... at Alcatraz
It makes a fellow proud to be
What as a kid I vowed to be
What luck to be allowed to be a soldier
(At ease!)
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 27


I can’t fight against war – as then I’m at war.
I can’t make rules for politicians – as then I’m being political.
For peace the only action I may make is to be peaceful.
Note that these rules are for conceptual people
as the true I is not split so in no position to act at all.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 19, Part 4

Trey Smith

Master Lieh Tzu said to the Barrier Keeper Yin, "The Perfect Man can walk under water without choking, can tread on fire without being burned, and can travel above the ten thousand things without being frightened. May I ask how he manages this?"

The Barrier Keeper Yin replied, "This is because he guards the pure breath - it has nothing to do with wisdom, skill, determination, or courage. Sit down and I will tell you about it. All that have faces, forms, voices, colors - these are all mere things. How could one thing and another thing be far removed from each other? And how could any one of them be worth considering as a predecessor? They are forms, colors - nothing more. But things have their creation in what has no form, and their conclusion in what has no change. If a man can get hold of this and exhaust it fully, then how can things stand in his way? He may rest within the bounds that know no excess, hide within the borders that know no source, wander where the ten thousand things have their end and beginning, unify his nature, nourish his breath, unite his virtue, and thereby communicate with that which creates all things. A man like this guards what belongs to Heaven and keeps it whole. His spirit has no flaw, so how can things enter in and get at him?

~ Burton Watson translation ~
If we look at our constituent parts -- the basic elements that make up all things -- we hold more things in common than we tend to recognize. If a human, chair, rosebush and iguana are burned together in a hot fire, the result is a big pile of ashes.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

It Began Quite Some Time Ago

Trey Smith

Back in the early 1990s, programmer Phil Zimmerman released his “Pretty Good Protection” (PGP) encryption code first in book form and then on the Internet. According to U.S. News and World Report, that move was met with Justice Department-led grand jury investigation “for possible violation of federal arms-export laws” Why? Because encryption was viewed by the government as a weapon and once it was on the Internet, the magazine noted it meant Zimmerman’s “‘cryptography for the masses’ has slipped out of America.”

At the time, a U.S. intelligence official justified the harassment of Zimmerman by bluntly stated that the government was concerned not about Americans’ privacy, but about the fact that PGP would allow more people to guarantee that privacy.

“The ability of just about everybody to encrypt their messages is rapidly outrunning our ability to decode them,” the official told the magazine, lamenting that “it’s a lot harder to eavesdrop on a worldwide web than it is to tap a cable.”

For his part, Zimmerman explained his decision to publish PGP as a response to the threat of congressional efforts to effectively outlaw secure encryption – efforts led by none other than now-Vice President Joe Biden.

That’s right, back in 1991, Biden inserted language into an omnibus crime bill that “providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications.” Zimmerman says that if the language “had become real law, it would have forced manufacturers of secure communications equipment to insert special trap doors in their products, so that the government can read anyone’s encrypted messages.”

Though the three-year grand jury investigation ended up with no charges against Zimmerman, and though Biden’s language was removed from the final bill, it was the beginning of an ongoing campaign by government officials to try to ban, restrict or otherwise undermine truly secure, privacy-protecting encryption.

That campaign has now culminated in the Obama administration’s heavy-handed push for Internet-wide skeleton keys. It is a classic — if abhorrent — political workaround. Unable to convince rank-and-file members of Congress to openly vote against privacy and pass legislation outlawing secure encryption, anti-privacy/pro-surveillance ideologues have resorted to circumventing the democratic process by convincing the executive branch to try to simply bully tech companies into submission.

Though unstated, the government’s presumption in its anti-encryption crusade is that Americans should have no right to access technology that cannot be infiltrated by law enforcement agencies.
~ from Is Online Privacy a Right? by David Sirota ~
I've shared a longer snippet than usual just to provide you with a better picture of what is going on here. Not only does the federal government want the capability to listen in to and read all of our communications, but they want to make it illegal for any of us to try to protect our own privacy!

As Sirota also reports, the Obama administration is working to compel all communications companies to turn over to them each company's encryption keys. What this would mean, for example, is that if you use Google or Microsoft tools to encrypt your online communications, the NSA easily could decode it. So, these big corporations will continue to run ads bragging about their privacy features, while, in actuality, such privacy features already are being subverted by government spooks.

It would be like me inviting you into my home to allow you to use the restroom. I would tell you that you can be assured of complete privacy because I have covered up the windows and made the walls five feet thick. But unbeknownst to you, while you are in there doing your business, there is a concealed camera being utilized by "intelligence analysts" who can watch your every move and listen to any sounds you might make.

If you somehow figured out there was a hidden camera and listening device, wouldn't you be outraged? Would you accept my explanation that a) I couldn't tell you about the hidden camera and microphone because the government has sworn me to secrecy and b) the reason these things are there is for your safety! We wouldn't want you accidentally to drown if you fell face first into the toilet.

I Ching: Hexagram 47 (K'un)


The lake is above, water below; the lake is empty, dried up. Exhaustion is expressed in yet another way: at the top, a dark line is holding down two light line; below, a light line is hemmed in between two dark ones. The upper trigram belongs to the principle of darkness, the lower to the principle of light. Thus everywhere superior men are oppressed and held in restraint by inferior men.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Beyond the Human Inclinations I: Beyond the Physical Form

Scott Bradley

Thus, where Virtuosity [de] excels, the physical form is forgotten. But people are unable to forget the forgettable, and instead forget the unforgettable — true forgetfulness!
(Zhuangzi 5:20; Ziporyn)
The fifth of the Inner Chapters is populated by a cast of characters intended to shock us out of our cultural prejudices. Here we meet "Humpback Limpleg the lipless cripple", several "one-footed ex-convicts", "Toeless Shushan", and "Horsehead Humpback". That these men are all sages makes it all the more mind-bending.

It may be difficult for us in our time to appreciate how counter-intuitive such a presentation of spirituality was in Zhuangzi's time. We, at least, have a sense of the political correctness of looking beyond physical disabilities to the inner person. We even speak of there being no shame in mental illness. And if we twist the screw tight enough, we might even force ourselves to look past someone's having served 'time'. But no such niceties ruled in Zhuangzi's time. A significant part of the Confucian ethic was the responsibility to preserve one's physical form and societal standing 'whole'; to fail to do so was to disgrace one's family and ancestors.

When the ex-con "Toeless", mutilated as punishment for a crime, came to 'Confucius' hoping to receive instruction, the latter at first turned him away, declaring it to be too late; the deed had been done and was beyond redemption. Toeless, apparently further along toward the view from Dao, reprimands him for his bondage to cultural prejudice, and leaves despite Confucius' apologies. Later, when relating this to Laozi who suggests helping Confucius toward a more Daoist view, Toeless declares that since it is "Heaven itself that has inflicted this punishment upon him", it is Confucius who is beyond redemption.

What are we to make of this? Though Toeless has forgotten the forgettable, Confucius has forgotten the unforgettable, namely the equality and sanctity of all things, the view from Dao. Confucius' prejudices are a punishment inflicted by his own character upon himself. (For 'Heaven' is what is.) But is he beyond redemption?

Are there incurable illnesses? Is there incurable insanity? Are there those who, like Zhuangzi has Confucius declare of himself elsewhere, cursed to “stay within the lines” of cultural norms and the typical human inclinations? Of course; life is not a fairy tale; but the view from Dao sees a happy ending for every character, prince, princess and ogre alike whatever their bondage.

Another word from Laozi would have been nice, but Zhuangzi leaves the last word with Toeless. But if I were to have Laozi speak, I’d have him say, “Well, let’s give him another chance; let’s see.”

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

TYT - How Goldman Sachs Robbed You Of Five Billion Dollars

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 46 - The Lines, Part 6

Six at the top means:
Pushing upward in darkness.
It furthers one
To be unremittingly persevering.

He who pushes upward blindly deludes himself. He knows only advance, not retreat. But this means exhaustion. In such a case it is important to be constantly mindful that one must be conscientious and consistent and must remain so. Only thus does one become free of blind impulse, which is always harmful.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Attempting to Rewrite History

Trey Smith

While the 10-part 2013/1984 miniseries is now in the rear view mirror, it is not like I plan never to make reference to Orwell again! I have spent the past few days ruminating about how the rhetoric from the NSA apologists during the brief debate about the Amash amendment in the US House last week reminded me of the chief function of Oceania's Ministry of Truth: Rewriting history.

The centerpiece for those who sought defeat of said amendment was that putting a halt to the NSA's indiscriminate vacuuming up of telephonic metadata -- particularly the data of millions of innocent Americans -- would leave the US open to another terrorist attack like 9/11. Without this valuable tool, they argued, we would once again become sitting ducks.

It sounds like a plausible argument...IF you neglect the facts concerning the months before the 2001 attack. As it turns out, both the FBI and CIA -- using intelligence methods already in place -- had tried to warn the Bush administration of the growing threat. Both agencies had picked up quite a bit of intelligence that indicated that an attack -- utilizing airplanes as weapons -- was in the offing, possibly within the borders of the US itself.

The problem was NOT that these spy agency were hamstrung because they lacked the necessary tools to figure out what was going on -- the problem was the lack of political will to act on the intelligence information already gathered!  In other words, even though the program being debated in the US House last week [supposedly] did not exist at that time, our intelligence community still was close to being on top of the situation.

But these facts did not undergird the position of the naysayers, so they threw them aside.  They sought to rewrite history so that it bolstered their political agenda.  The mainstream media played its trusty role by amplifying this historical rewrite by not pointing out that the history involved pointed in the other direction.

In the coming weeks and months, the NSA apologists will utilize this historical rewrite again and again.  In time, if we don't challenge them, history itself may become rewritten.  If we allow them to lie long and loud enough, it won't matter what is true because most people will come to accept the falsehood as a historical fact and today's Ministry of Truth will have accomplished its main objective.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - We Will All Go Together When We Go

Performed by Tom Lehrer

When you attend a funeral
It is sad to think that sooner o'
Later those you love will do the same for you
And you may have thought it tragic
Not to mention other adjec-
Tives, to think of all the weeping they will do
(But don't you worry.)
No more ashes, no more sackcloth
And an armband made of black cloth
Will some day never more adorn a sleeve
For if the bomb that drops on you
Gets your friends and neighbors too
There'll be nobody left behind to grieve

And we will all go together when we go
What a comforting fact that is to know
Universal bereavement
An inspiring achievement
Yes, we all will go together when we go

We will all go together when we go
All suffuse with an incandescent glow
No one will have the endurance
To collect on his insurance
Lloyd's of London will be loaded when they go

Oh we will all fry together when we fry
We'll be french fried potatoes by and by
There will be no more misery
When the world is our rotisserie
Yes, we will all fry together when we fry

Down by the old maelstrom
There'll be a storm before the calm

And we will all bake together when we bake
There'll be nobody present at the wake
With complete participation
In that grand incineration
Nearly three billion hunks of well-done steak

Oh we will all char together when we char
And let there be no moaning of the bar
Just sing out a Te Deum
When you see that I.C.B.M.
And the party will be "come-as-you-are."

Oh we will all burn together when we burn
There'll be no need to stand and wait your turn
When it's time for the fallout
And Saint Peter calls us all out
We'll just drop our agendas and adjourn

You will all go directly to your respective Valhallas
Go directly, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dolla's

And we will all go together when we go
Ev'ry Hottenhot an' ev'ry Eskimo
When the air becomes uranious
And we will all go simultaneous
Yes we all will go together
When we all go together
Yes, we all will go together when we go
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 26


“a book”
is already 5 letters too long in explaining anything.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 19, Part 3

Trey Smith

But why is abandoning the affairs of the world worth while, and why is forgetting life worth while? If you abandon the affairs of the world, your body will be without toil. If you forget life, your vitality will be unimpaired. With your body complete and your vitality made whole again, you may become one with Heaven. Heaven and earth are the father and mother of the ten thousand things. They join to become a body; they part to become a beginning. When the body and vitality are without flaw, this is called being able to shift. Vitality added to vitality, you return to become the Helper of Heaven.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
For me, it's not so much that we need to abandon everything -- we wouldn't survive very long doing THAT. It's more than we need to abandon the world we've conjured up in our heads. The world controlled by our egoic self typically doesn't match up well with the reality that surrounds us.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

The [Incompetent] Searchers

Trey Smith

One of my favorite John Wayne westerns is The Searchers. Just before he returns home from the Civil War, an Indian raid results in the death of his brother and the kidnapping of his niece. The majority of the film concerns his long search for this young girl.

This may seem like an odd preface for the news snippet below, but hey, I'm an odd guy who often views things from a different perspective!
The NSA is a "supercomputing powerhouse" with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture.

But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees' email? The agency says it doesn’t have the technology.

"There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately," NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

The system is “a little antiquated and archaic," she added.
Now imagine if John Wayne's character had reacted like the NSA. He would have said there were numerous things he could search for, but not his niece! "Sorry," he would have said. "That's way beyond my capabilities."

The film that runs almost 2 hours would have been over in the first 10 minutes or so!


It defies credulity to think that our key spying agency could thwart terrorist attacks IF they can't even figure out how to conduct searches in their own system! That would be like me claiming that I am unable to find text files on my own computer.

How stupid does the NSA think we are?

I Ching: Hexagram 46 - The Lines, Part 5

Six in the fifth place means:
Perseverance brings good fortune.
One pushes upward by steps.

When a man is advancing farther and farther, it is important for him not to become intoxicated by success. Precisely when he experiences great success it is necessary to remain sober and not to try to skip any stages; he must go on slowly, step by step, as though hesitant. Only such calm, steady progress, overleaping nothing, leads to the goal.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Six Daos

Scott Bradley

I find it helpful to distinguish between at least six meanings for the word dao. For the most part, these meanings are not based on a scholarly understanding of the evolution of the term within Chinese philosophy, but upon a personal response to Daoism generally.

The first meaning is metaphysical. Dao in this sense stands for the Ultimate. Though suggested as necessary, this Reality is utter Mystery and remains for us entirely inaccessible and ungraspable. It is not understood as acting in the world, though all action, as well as all else, is Dao. Dao is not only in all things, as Zhuangzi suggests, but is all things. Metaphysical Dao is a vastness toward and into which we open ourselves as to Mystery without objectifying it.

The consequence of this openness is Dao as a point of view. This is the second meaning of Dao. "The view from Dao" is Dao. Dao in this sense is a way of being in the world. Among the attributes of such a point of view is an all-embracing and all-affirming equanimity toward all things and events. It is a freedom from fear and prejudice which allows one to wander at ease in the world. It is this that is the philosophical Daoist's highest vision; metaphysical Dao takes care of itself.

The third meaning of Dao is of a course of study, a philosophy by which to realize the mind of Dao. The way of Zhuangzi is such a Dao. There are many others as effective if not perhaps more so. Ziporyn consistently translates Dao as "Course", and it is this meaning that he has in mind. I find this problematical simply because it fails to convey the other meanings.

Fourthly, I suggest that Dao speaks of that 'spiritual' way unique to each one of us. Whatever general way, Daoist, Zen or other, that we choose as our springboard, our own responses to it will necessarily be our own and individualized. We all have our own Dao.

Fifthly, there is that Dao which is the natural expression of each thing being itself. This Dao is unchosen and unavoidable since however each one expresses itself is an expression of itself. There is the Dao of trees and the Dao of this particular tree.

Finally, there is the Dao of the art of doing something well, of doing something so skillfully as to go beyond skill. This Dao, too, can be a practice and point of entry into the mind of Dao.

All these meanings appear within the texts of Daoism and seldom is there any reason for our confusion unless we insist there only be one usage.

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

DN - Detroit Goes Bankrupt: Will Unelected Manager Pit City's Needs Against Rights of Pensioners?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 46 - The Lines, Part 4

Six in the fourth place means:
The king offers him Mount Ch'i.
Good fortune. No blame.

Mount Ch'i is in the western China, the homeland of King Wên, whose son, the Duke of Chou, added the words to the individual lines. The pronouncement takes us back to a time when the Chou dynasty was coming into power. At that time King Wên introduced his illustrious helpers to the god of his native mountain, and they received their places in the halls of the ancestors by the side of the ruler. This indicates a stage in which pushing upward attains its goal. One acquires fame in the sight of gods and men, is received into the circle of those who foster the spiritual life of the nation, and thereby attains a significance that endures beyond time.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

2013/1984, Part 10 (Final)

Trey Smith

Julia, Winston Smith's love interest in Nineteen Eighty-Four -- a fellow thoughtcriminal -- sums up in one word the greatest fear of Big Brother and the Inner Party: love. The powers that be in every generation fear love, in all its various manifestations, more than anything else.

Why is love so anathema to authoritarianism? It is because when people truly love they embrace a sense of wonder and community. They want to help others become the best they can be and, most importantly, it is that much harder to motivate such people to hate.

Hate is a crucial component to any top-down system. Certain groups of people are chosen to be demonized and scapegoated. The populace is manipulated to view this demonized group (or groups) as the source of their own lack of success and security. Your life would be so much better, the leaders shout, if not for these miscreants who are messing things up for everyone.

The sad irony, of course, is that it is the leaders themselves who are insuring that the majority of the populace lacks the ability to be secure and successful.  Behind the scenes, they are crafting a system where all the benefits flow to them, but no else.  They connive to impoverish their own people and then use that impoverishment as the whip to get the people to focus their anger and desperation on the demonized groups.

This gambit works time and time again.  That's why the elite keeps employing it.  And it will continue to work until we can learn to cast aside hate for love.


For all the talk of Christian fundamentalists in this nation -- both in politics and in "private" lives -- it seems to me that love is THE missing component.  I thought this was the central message of the ministry of Jesus, to love your enemies as yourself.

But you wouldn't think that listening to these people!  They talk about mistrust, fear, loathing, punishment and hate far more than they talk about love.  Even when they mumble the word, their actions don't match up at all with its meaning.


If you love people, you don't spy on them! You don't try to rip away their dignity and privacy.  

I understand that, in this modern world, some forms of surveillance are a necessary evil, but this necessary evil should be reserved SOLELY for people who you believe have ill-will towards you.  It should be reserved for those individuals of which you have a strong suspicion that they mean to do you harm.

Spying indiscriminately on everyone says that you don't trust anyone.  Trust is a necessary component of love.  If you can't trust people, then you can't love them and, if you love no one, then you can't even love yourself.

That's not the kind of world I want to live in.  In fact, I refuse to live in it.  So, regardless of what the talking heads say, I choose to continue to love.

What about you?

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - All U Can Eat

Performed by Ben Folds

Son, look at all the people in this restaurant
What do you think they weigh?
Out the window to the parking lot
At their SUV's, taking all of the space

They give no fuck
They talk as loud as they want
They give no fuck
Just as long as there's enough, for them

Gonna get on the microphone down at Wal-Mart
Talk about some shit that's been on my mind
Talk about the state of this great nation of ours
People look to your left, yeah, look to your right

They give no fuck
They buy as much as they want
They give no fuck
Just as long as there's enough, for them

Son, look at the people lining up for plastic
Wouldn't you like to see them in the National Geographic
Squatting bare ass in the dirt eating rice from a bowl
With a towel on their head and maybe a bone in their nose

See that asshole with a peace sign on his license plate?
Giving me the finger and running me out of his lane
God made us number one 'cause he loves us the best
Well he should go bless someone else for a while and give us a rest

(They give no)
Yeah, and everyone can see
(They give no)
We've eaten all that we can eat
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 25


About aged 2 you learned this word “why” and started using it.
It is time to stop asking why.
Never say or ask why again.
There is nothing to be explained,
nothing that could be any other way.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 19, Part 2

Trey Smith

He who wants to avoid doing anything for his body had best abandon the world. By abandoning the world, he can be without entanglements. Being without entanglements, he can be upright and calm. Being upright and calm, he can be born again with others. Being born again, he can come close [to the Way].
~ Burton Watson translation ~
The last I checked, it's really not possible to abandon the world. It is something we must live in...until we aren't living anymore.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

2013/1984, Part 9

Trey Smith

In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the world is divvied up amongst three superstates -- Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia -- who spend all their time fighting over the "disputed territory", predominantly Africa and the Middle East. At any given moment, Oceania is allied with one of the two superpowers against the other, but this alliance changes frequently. Not unlike the current USA, Oceania is in a perpetual state of war.

Or are they?

Since the Inner Party controls all information, there is no way independently to judge if Eurasia or Eastasia actually exists! From time to time, supposed prisoners of the then-opposed superpower are paraded through the streets, but these could be nothing more than faceless Proles from within Oceania's own borders. There are frequent missile attacks on the city, but it is unclear to the reader if the attacks originate from an outside power OR they are simply staged by the Inner Party to keep the population terrified. This intentional ambiguity leaves readers unsure of what to think.

A recent article at ProPublica, Who Are We at War With? That's Classified, shows that citizens in the US today live under a similar type of ambiguity.
In a major national security speech this spring, President Obama said again and again that the U.S. is at war with “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.”

So who exactly are those associated forces? It’s a secret.

At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.

The Pentagon responded – but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department’s “answer included the information requested.”

A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause “serious damage to national security.”

“Because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces’ can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list,” said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory. “We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks.”
In other words, we Americans know little about these purported enemies. I'm not suggesting that none of them exist, though it IS possible. All we think we know about them is based on the purposely nebulous descriptions from political leaders.
Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law who served as a legal counsel during the Bush administration and has written on this question at length, told ProPublica that the Pentagon’s reasoning for keeping the affiliates secret seems weak. “If the organizations are ‘inflated’ enough to be targeted with military force, why cannot they be mentioned publicly?” Goldsmith said. He added that there is “a countervailing very important interest in the public knowing who the government is fighting against in its name."
Like the citizens of Oceania, these individuals, groups and "forces" regularly are brought to our attention by our leaders in order to heighten our sense of fear and uncertainty. It is these faceless and often unknown enemies that are used as a justification for the evisceration of our rights, liberties and freedoms.

We genuinely don't know if these enemies constitute a bona fide threat to our nation.  Heck, we genuinely don't know if some or all of these enemies are real or not!

I Ching: Hexagram 46 - The Lines, Part 3

Nine in the third place means:
One pushes upward into an empty city.

All obstructions that generally block progress fall away here. Things proceed with remarkable ease. Unhesitatingly one follows this road, in order to profit by one's success. Seen from without, everything seems to be in the best of order. However, no promise of good fortune is added. It is a question how long such unobstructed success can last. But it is wise not to yield to such misgivings, because they only inhibit one's power. Instead, the point is to profit by the propitiousness of time.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

Finding the Empty Room VI: Stillness

Scott Bradley

Good fortune comes to roost in stillness. To lack this stillness is called scurrying around even when sitting down. Allow your ears and eyes to open inward and thereby place yourself beyond your mind's understanding consciousness.
(Zhuangzi 4:12; Ziporyn)
If I recall correctly, I have thus far avoided the question of whether this passage about "fasting of the mind" is an appeal to meditative practice in the Buddhist or yogic sense. This is because I do not have such a practice and thus to address the question seems somehow hypocritical (as if the rest were not), or at least academic.

It seems to me that this passage and many others do suggest a form of meditation, but falls far short of any preconceived idea we might have of what form that might take. Those who advocate formal meditation are quick to impose this opinion upon it. Some have even suggested that the Inner Chapters were meant to be accompanied by a 'how to' manual, now lost. Personally, I think this to be a ridiculous assertion that subverts the spirit of the Zhuangzi. Because for many in the 'spiritual' community meditation has become an almost all-consuming and absolute necessity, they assume it must likewise have been for anyone else on a similar path. I would suggest, however, that if Zhuangzi did not see fit to articulate a precise form of meditation — how to sit, where to focus the eyes, which hand should be placed upon the other, how to breath — then it was because he was not fixated on such a practice. It is significant to his entire message that he did not advocate any method.

All this having been said, there is no reason one should not pursue such a practice if he or she so wishes. For my part, I practice what I call imaginative meditation which seems self-explanatory enough. When Zhuangzi suggests we "release the mind to play", I imagine doing just that. Whether it is as effective as more formal meditation I cannot say, but I don't see myself as engaged in some 'spiritual' competition in any case. Nor have I been particularly impressed, quite frankly, with the supposed spirituality of many long-term meditators that I have met. Nor do I think it matters all that much in any case.

The passage above suggests we turn our attention inward to that which lies beyond our rationalizing minds; however we might attempt to do that is a matter for us to work out for ourselves.

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

TYT - Establishment Goes Crazy to Protect NSA Spying

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 46 - The Lines, Part 2

Nine in the second place means:
If one is sincere,
It furthers one to bring even a small offering.
No blame.

Here a strong man is presupposed. It is true that he does not fit in with his environment, inasmuch as he is too brusque and pays too little attention to form. But as he is upright in character, he meets with response, and his lack of outward form does no harm. Here uprightness is the outcome of sound qualities of character, whereas in the corresponding line of the preceding hexagram it is the result of innate humility.
Translator of this version of the I Ching is Richard Wilhelm. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the I Ching label below.

2013/1984, Part 8

Trey Smith

I could stretch out this miniseries for several more days, if I wanted to, but I've covered the main points I wanted to address...with three exceptions: one being the telescreens and the other two of which I will address in tomorrow's posts. These television-like devices figure prominently in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and, surprising as it might seem to many, this is one aspect of his dystopian tale that we are moving toward at breakneck speed.

Telescreens are mounted everywhere in Oceania, including in the homes of members of the Inner and Outer Party. Not only are they equipped with the ability to see and hear everything in the vicinity of each screen, but Big Brother (in the form of an unknown representative) can instruct or threaten people when they don't behave in the proper manner. For example, if an individual smiles, sings, laughs or expresses warmth towards another person, you can be sure that the voice on the telescreen will tell you to "cut it out" or else!

More than anything else, it is the telescreens which allow Big Brother and the Inner party to rule with such an iron fist. When the populace is under constant surveillance and the expectation of any degree of privacy has been cast aside, the powers that be are in complete control. They can snuff out any opposition or rebellion before it even begins. The moment they perceive the smallest incongruity, they either can intimidate people back into line or, if the "problem" appears more serious, they can send their thugs to arrest the recalcitrant individual.

While we don't have such telescreens in the world today, our government is utilizing a number of strategies to accomplish much the same thing. As I have written about before, the number of ways we are being spied on keeps growing. Phone calls are no longer private. Neither is any form of internet communication. Our letters are being photographed and the information stored. License plate readers and cameras of all sorts are being used to track our comings and goings. In-vehicle communication and safety features can now be used to listen into our conversations while we are in our vehicles and to remotely-control those vehicles without our knowledge. And domestic drones are flying overhead in many locales collecting who knows what!

Remember what I wrote above -- it is one of Orwell's central points -- When the populace is under constant surveillance and the expectation of any degree of privacy has been cast aside, the powers that be are in complete control. This is where we are headed, notwithstanding any of the gobbledygook that President Obama or Congressional leaders try to feed us. They can talk all they want about safeguards and protections, but this is the rational and logical conclusion of such strategies.

No government needs this vast amount of information from individuals not suspected or accused of any wrongdoing UNLESS they plan to utilize it in some way. These programs have little to do with protecting us from so-called terrorism and far more to do with setting up the apparatus of absolute elite control.

If we don't fight these efforts today in every way we can, the day will arrive soon when opposition will be virtually impossible. The government will know about our displeasure almost from the moment we write, say and think it. We will be silenced and/or whisked away before we can "infect" other people.

Big Brother then will reign supreme.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Some Heads Are Gonna Roll

Performed by Judas Priest

You can look to the left and look to the right
But you will live in danger tonight
When the enemy comes, he will never be heard
He'll blow your mind and not say a word

Blinding lights, flashing colours
Sleepless nights
If the man with the power
Can't keep it under control

Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll

The power-mad freaks who are ruling the earth
Will show little, they think you're worth
With animal lust, they'll devour your life
And slice your world to bits like a knife

One last day, burning hellfire
You're blown away
If the man with the power
Can't keep it under control

Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll

Know what it's like
When you're taken for granted
There goes your life
It's so underhanded

If the man with the power
Can't keep it under control

Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll
Some heads are gonna roll

Some heads are gonna roll
No, no
No, no
No, no

Some heads are gonna roll
No, no
No, no
No, no

Some heads are gonna roll
No, no
No, no
No, no
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 24


Embrace war and evil.
Sounds odd, yet to embrace them will aid in their removal.
If you oppose them, you enforce them.
Take them on board, consider them.
It was someone who was against something who brought about war.
So only those who embrace all can put an end to it.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 19, Part 1

Trey Smith

He who has mastered the true nature of life does not labor over what life cannot do. He who has mastered the true nature of fate does not labor over what knowledge cannot change. He who wants to nourish his body must first of all turn to things. And yet it is possible to have more than enough things and for the body still to go unnourished. He who has life must first of all see to it that it does not leave the body. And yet it is possible for life never to leave the body and still fail to be preserved. The coming of life cannot be fended off, its departure cannot be stopped. How pitiful the men of the world, who think that simply nourishing the body is enough to preserve life! But if nourishing the body is in the end not enough to preserve life, then why is what the world does worth doing? It may not be worth doing, and yet it cannot be left undone - this is unavoidable.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
Wealth does not bring immortality. It doesn't matter how much material stuff we amass in life because, as the old saying goes, you can't take it with you.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

2013/1984, Part 7

Trey Smith

The last ministry featured in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is the Ministry of Truth. As with the other three ministries, its purpose is the exact opposite of its title. Instead of dispensing truth, its whole purpose is to spread propaganda through the distortion of facts, disinformation and outright dishonesty.

In the US government, you can find these same principle at work in a number of ways, including the misleading names given to federal legislation. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act purposely leaves a lot of children behind! The US Patriot Act has very little to do with the subject of patriotism and almost everything to do with providing the federal government with the legal framework to spy on innocent Americans.

Remember the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009? As it turned out, it helped very few families save their homes. Almost every act in the last few years that includes the word "jobs" in it has done very little to create or protect jobs. If the word "reform" appears in the title of an act, you can be very confident that it doesn't include much substantive reform and basically maintains the status quo.


The protagonist in Orwell's story is Winston Smith. He works for the Ministry of Truth. His job is to rewrite history so that whatever current political perspective dominates at any given moment is reflected as being true, right and just in historical documents. This premise is explained in this Wikipedia entry as follows.
For example, if Big Brother makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, the employees of the Ministry of Truth go back and rewrite the prediction so that any prediction Big Brother previously made is accurate. This is the "how" of the Ministry of Truth's existence.
The current US government is not so brazen, but you can still see shadows of it. When Barack Obama came into office, he immediately stated that his administration would neither investigate nor prosecute any criminality of the previous administration. Not only did he handle these crooks with kid gloves, but he has adopted many of their most insidious characteristics. He has turned what was once considered renegade interpretations of law into somewhat legitimized ones. What he once opposed, he now embraces.

Though the mainstream media supposedly is independent and not a branch of government, it often is difficult to discern this fact. More often than not, they serve as a megaphone for government talking points without critically examining the veracity of those very points.