Friday, September 30, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 30:27-28

Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire: And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.
~ King James version ~

Man follows Earth.
Earth follows heaven.
Heaven follows the Tao.
Tao follows what is natural.
~ from Verse 25 of the Tao Te Ching ~
The Christian God is an entity filled with desire and emotion. Tao is desireless and, thus, emotionless. God often becomes angry and indignant, but Tao simply is.

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

Chapter 2, Part 24 - Confucius

The Master said, "For a man to sacrifice to a spirit which does not belong to him is flattery.

"To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daring to Stand Outside the Box

There's a vast and growing apparatus of intimidation designed to deter and control citizen protests. The most that's allowed is to assemble with the permission of state authorities and remain roped off in sequestered, out-of-the-way areas: the Orwellian-named free speech zones. Anything that is even remotely disruptive or threatening is going to be met with aggressive force: pepper spray, mass arrests by highly militarized urban police forces, and aggressive prosecutions.
~ from What's Behind the Scorn for the Wall Street Protests? by Glenn Greenwald ~
I'm glad to see that Greenwald wrote about a particular pet peeve of mine: so-called free speech zones. In many of the various protests I helped organize and/or participated in, it irked me to no end that the police and local officials wanted to cordon off our rights of free assembly and free speech -- usually far enough away from whatever our target was.

When we held a week-long protest and demonstration at the Port of Grays Harbor (Aberdeen) over military shipments to Iraq, the police decided to make the so-called free speech zone in a swampy field. We reluctantly complied for the first few days, but on the day of the main protest march, we refused to go into our "cattle pen." We lined up one-by-one on the shoulder of a public street across from the main entrance to the the port.

This upset the local and state police forces which, by the way, outnumbered the 100 or so peaceful protesters by, at least, a 2 to 1 margin. The police became very aggressive and antagonistic. They tried to force us back into the pen, but we didn't budge. At one point, I feared the police were set to attack the front of the column -- egged on by the state police and Homeland Security personnel -- but, to the credit of Aberdeen's local police force, it didn't come to that. There was a lot of yelling from both sides, but the police eventually relented and we stayed on the shoulder of the street.

The protesters in New York's Financial District are facing these same tactics right now. Their supposedly free speech zone is in a park a few blocks away from the hallowed Wall Street. As long as they mill around their zone, the police aren't hassling them too much. However, when they march up the PUBLIC streets to Wall St itself, that's when the police become overtly aggressive and abusive.

Hey, we don't want the captains of finance troubled in any way as they continue to cannibalize the nation and planet!! Having to deal with or answer protesters might upset their delicate dispositions!

Afternoon Matinee: Touching The Void, Part 10

Oh, We Pay Alright

In this age of afflicting the poor and comforting the rich — a favorite pastime of the tea partiers and the new Republican Party they’ve helped shape — there’s a popular myth making the rounds on the Internet that nearly half of working Americans don’t pay taxes, and isn’t that an outrage?

...But the truth is that every working American pays taxes. Before they even get a chance to cash their paychecks, 6.2 percent has been deducted for Social Security and another 1.45 percent for Medicare. (This year the Social Security payroll tax for everyone has been temporarily lowered to 4.2 percent as part of President Obama’s stimulus program.)

In other words, they’re contributing just as big a percentage of their income to the two major federal budget programs as do the CEOs of major corporations. In fact, because people don’t pay Social Security taxes on income over $106,800, the poor actually pay a higher percentage than the wealthy.

Everyone also pays sales taxes, property taxes if they own property or indirectly if they rent, gasoline taxes to build those roads Bachmann thinks they’re driving on for free, and fees to visit national parks and license their cars, just for starters.
~ from It’s a Lie That Working Poor Don’t Pay Taxes by Dave Zweifel ~
There's an area just west of South Bend that is made up of fields and [mosquito] ponds. For years, it's been a popular place for area residents to take their dogs on a run. The dogs can run down the trails and romp in the brackish water, while the people can take in the scenic beauty and birdwatch.

I've noticed over the past 2 or 3 months that I rarely see humans and canines in that area anymore. My wife and I have been puzzled as to why this once-popular spot is no longer popular. We discovered the reason a few days ago.

The land is owned by some state agency and, as of July 1, you now have to pay either a $10 daily fee or a $35 yearly fee to tromp through the weeds and muck!! It is because the state budget is so ravaged and the fund for state lands has been so decimated that the state is now charging residents to utilize supposedly PUBLIC land.

Of course, politicians call this new charge a fee, not a tax, but it's just semantics. The poor and middle class are drowning in taxes and fees. We have to pay and pay and pay for almost anything we want to do, including going to a state park for a picnic with the family!

Line by Line - Verse 45, Line 6

Thy greatest art still stupid seem,
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Great intelligence seems stupid.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Great skill seems unrefined
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

The most skilled people
come off as clumsy.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
It is not uncommon that the brightest or most skilled people don't feel the need nor desire to show off their expertise. They are available to help, if asked, but they don't force their ideas on others.

John Heider makes a good observation in his book, The Tao of Leadership,
Perhaps it looks as if the leader is only sitting there and has no idea what to do. But it is just this lack of needless intervention that permits the group to grow and be fertile.
To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Sometimes the Name Fits

The gratuitous brutality on display by New York police during a Saturday march that was part of this Wall Street Occupation action, and the hundreds of wrongful arrests, the excessive police presence, the countless beatings of young people who are doing nothing but expressing their disgust with the nation’s economic ruling elite, the battering of people with cameras who try to exercise their First Amendment right to videotape police officers abusing others, the spraying of toxic chemicals into the eyes of young women who are just standing behind police lines doing nothing, that went on that day and through the night, and the automatic justifying of all these atrocities by police authorities and the office of the mayor, are, to put it gracefully, the actions of pigs.
~ from Heroes to Pigs: The Shapeshifting of New York's Cops Took Only 24 Hours of Porcine Behavior by Dave Lindorff ~
As Lindorff aptly points out in his essay -- I urge you to read it in its entirety -- he's certainly NOT saying that all police officers are pigs; just a good number of them. That charge is not borne out of this one incident. There are examples in the press almost every week of the year and the reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg.

Having worked closely with the police when I was a state child abuse investigator, I understand it's not an easy job. It is when officers letdown their guard that they often are placed in harm's way.

As a mitigation investigator, I worked a case in which an Oregon state trooper failed to pat down 2 of the 3 suspects he placed in the back of his patrol car. One of those men had a handgun and, while the officer was in the front seat filling out paperwork, the suspect shot him at pointblank range in the back of the head. The officer's failure to follow procedure AND commonsense, sadly, led to his own death.

So, I understand why the police often feel it is better to be more aggressive than passive, but I also know that a lot of brutes go into police work because they get a kick out of abusing people from behind the badge. It is these kinds of police officers who give all police a bad name.

The worst part of this whole situation is that these brutes KNOW they stand a good chance of getting away with almost anything they do. Since the police wield so much power in any given community, most politicians don't want to mess with them -- they don't want the police to scrutinize or hassle them. So, it's not uncommon that the politicians and civil authorities end up rubber stamping the most grievous offenses and mumbling about doing things differently in the nebulous future.

When cops brutalize people and yet don't face any serious recriminations, it makes them feel empowered AND untouchable. It grants them a license to be more brutal in the future.

Chapter 2, Part 23 - Confucius

Tsze-chang asked whether the affairs of ten ages after could be known.

Confucius said, "The Yin dynasty followed the regulations of the Hsia: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. The Chau dynasty has followed the regulations of Yin: wherein it took from or added to them may be known. Some other may follow the Chau, but though it should be at the distance of a hundred ages, its affairs may be known."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Collaring Yourself

The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade -- much of it valid -- but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots. Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out -- only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.
~ from The FBI Again Thwarts Its Own Terror Plot by Glenn Greenwald ~
The obvious questions these manufactured criminals/crimes lead to are: 1) If the FBI must spend all this time and money creating bogeymen for them to arrest, does that mean there really aren't people out there plotting to do in America? and 2) If real bona fide terrorists DO exist, is the FBI simply to inept to find them?

Just wondering.

Step Back

Step Back
by Scott Bradley

Step back on your own to look into reality long enough to attain an unequivocally true and real experience of enlightenment. Then with every thought you are consulting infinite teachers.
~ Yuanwu ~
Sometimes I wonder why I read about Zen at all; I don't believe the half of it. And often times the half I don't believe seems to be the most essential bit. Still, there is something there with which I sense a deep affinity. I just have to edit where I must, and learn to not be put off by that which goes beyond what I can truthfully embrace. This puts me well outside the faith — “half drunk and half sober", as Yuanwu says elsewhere — but that is nothing new.

Take, for example, this quote above. Once I have cut the heart out of it, it inspires me greatly. "Step back on your own to look into reality," I read, "then with every thought you are consulting infinite teachers." It's not that I don't think "an unequivocally true and real experience of enlightenment" is possible, but simply that I don't know that it is and thus it is something I would have to import. Yet, stepping back on my own to look into reality implies, for me, a leaving behind of imported interpretations of the world. And somehow I think this is more in the spirit of Zen than to simply buy into the Buddha-package.

Zen must constantly be purged of Zen, as Zen frequently proclaims.

For some time I was inspired by the statement in the Zhuangzi to the effect that, if your heart is your teacher, who can be said to be without a teacher? It was only when I read Brook Ziporyn's translation and comments that I realized that the statement was probably intended as a negative criticism of bondage to the deliberating mind ("heart"). And though opinions continue to vary, I think that within the context of Zhuangzi's argument, Brook got it right.

Yet, there is another sense in which this this statement is true. It all turns on the meaning of mind. For Zhuangzi it usually means the 'understanding consciousness", that which attempts to grasp reality through reason and cannot go beyond itself. But there is also that human faculty, the 'heart' in a different sense, which can, in fact, go beyond the purely cognitive and touch the inexplicable roots of one's existence. This is the "that which moves me", the "Numinous Reservoir" out of which all experience flows.

Zen likewise sees mind as both a hindrance to the direct experience of reality, and, paradoxically, reality itself. In the first case it is bounded intellection, and in the latter, boundless awareness.

So, step back on your own to look at reality, and you will have infinite teachers. Only look with that human faculty which has no use for cognitive boxes, imported or domestic, and is able to open itself to the boundless. All experience speaks, but has no words.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 28:15

Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
~ King James version ~

A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.
~ from Verse 76 of the Tao Te Ching ~
No one needs to make "a covenant with death"; it naturally comes to all things. The most and least virtuous man ultimately meets with the same fate. It may take different forms and come at different times, but we each will face it alone.

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

Chapter 2, Part 22 - Confucius

The Master said, "I do not know how a man without truthfulness is to get on. How can a large carriage be made to go without the crossbar for yoking the oxen to, or a small carriage without the arrangement for yoking the horses?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Anonymous 3B

Anonymous 3B
a response from Scott Bradley

In the companion post to this one, I have made what amounts to a negative critique of a comment made on this blog. Here, I hope, amounts to something of a qualifier:

Perhaps I am only engaging in projection here. For it is true that this is precisely how I often approach what I read and hear (with a predisposition to find fault and a preconception of intended meaning). I am guilty of these things which I suggest you might have brought to this discussion. I don't feel any great dread in sharing this because, frankly, it is little more than a confession of being 'human'. The task, as I see it, is to understand this through personal inquiry, and to grow beyond what passes for 'normalcy'.

Here is some more projection. I picture your egoic hackles going up as soon as I reference your comments in a negative way. Mine certainly would. Absolutely. All I can say to this is that this is the very edge where growth can take place. This is the 'face' in the coal mine of our selves where the hard work is done. And it is hard. And I have as much work to do, if not more, than you or anyone else.

I feel ambivalent about getting personal (though for all practical purposes you remain anonymous to me as, I presume, I am to you), but it somehow seems, in this case, like a helpful thing to do. I do, however, apologize for this 'bully pulpit' where I get to pontificate from above while others must content themselves with a little box for comments. It hardly seems fair. Perhaps it would be possible for some of you to submit summations, in 'document' form, of your paths, or parts thereof.

We are, after all, Rambling Taoists.

[Note: Guest posts are welcomed at The Rambling Taoists. If you'd like to submit something, send it here.]

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

Afternoon Matinee: Touching The Void, Part 9

What's It To Ya?

Last October I penned 4 posts concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of meteorologist Matt Hughes of the Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers program. I didn't think much of anything about these posts...UNTIL...the November night his death was announced on the show and my blog traffic increase exponentially (thousands of visitors per hour for a nearly 5-hour period).

Since that time, searches for various information about Matt's death (by suicide) have landed people here. There is, however, another query related to Storm Chasers that has landed people here as well: Is Reed Timmer gay?

Reed is one of the main stars of the program. I may have mentioned his name once or twice in passing. I have written absolutely NOTHING about Reed's personal life, including his sexual orientation! I don't care about his sexual orientation one way or the other; that's his business.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why that particular search criteria would point to this blog.

Strange how these search engines work.

The No-Win Election

Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama’s personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. Indeed, only a few days after he took office, the Nobel committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize without his having a single accomplishment to his credit beyond being elected. Many Democrats were, and remain, enraptured.

It’s almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama’s position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him.

~ from Obama and the Decline of the American Civil Liberties Movement by Jonathan Turley ~
The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be a no-win situation for voters. The two main choices look to be a Democratic incumbent who, for the most part, supports conservative Republican policies and a Republican challenger who, most likely, will be beholden to the Tea Party and evangelical Christian movements. It will be like choosing your own method of execution -- disembowelment versus crucifixion!

One thing is becoming certain, though. Conservative policies will win out, regardless of which candidate garners the most votes. In a manner of speaking, the choices will be between a moderate Republican (Obama) and a reactionary Republican (whichever zany the GOP settles on). Bona fide progressives, liberals and leftists won't have a candidate to vote for.

Most people who are left-of-center will hold their noses to vote for Obama, in the belief that it's better to deal with the devil you know as opposed to the one you don't know. People like me will refuse to vote for either devil because, in my book, voting for a devil means you approve of a devil!

I don't like the choices being offered and so I refuse to pick between them.

Line by Line - Verse 45, Line 5

Do thou what's straight still crooked deem;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Great straightness seems twisted.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Great straightness seems bent
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

The straightest line looks crooked.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
This line speaks to me loudly. I don't what it is about me, but straight lines often look crooked and crooked lines look straight!

Rulers are of no help whatsoever. No matter how I try to measure things out and then line them up, my so-called straight lines always seem a bit off-center. Ironically, I can draw lines that seem off-center to me, but others will tell me it's perfectly straight!

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

Anonymous 3A

Anonymous 3A
a response from Scott Bradley

Someone anonymous has asked whether the statement "The surest sign of un-taoish-ness is pointing out the un-taoish-ness of others" is not itself un-taoish in that it points to what is un-taoish in others. I would like to respond.

The context of this statement was, as I remember it, an attempt to express the implications of the teaching of a Zen master. It did not, in fact, point at any 'other'. Nor was it intended to do so. Nor was its purpose to provide a measure by which to judge the taoish-ness of others. Its purpose was to provide us, each one individually, with a measure for personal inquiry. I cannot speak for others, but my task is to understand myself so as to better facilitate personal growth. Not only is the judgment of others a distraction relative to this task, it is also an active means of avoiding that task. As one of my latest mantras says: Every problem I have with others is really my problem.

I am assuming that most of you, if you are reading all this ridiculous talk of taoish-ness and un-taoish-ness, are also in some way engaged in this same task. There is a long queue of these posts already written and among them are many which address this issue, so I will not further elaborate my opinions on the subject here.

I would, however, like to address Anonymous (Shawn) in a more direct way. When re-reading the aforementioned statement I see no exhortation to the judgment of others. This does not mean that it could not be used to do so. And it is this fact that I think you may have imported to the discussion. Perhaps you have arrived with a predisposition to find fault and a preconception that statements such as this are necessarily self-condemning.

It is as if, having entered a kitchen and seeing a knife, you ask if it is not a lethal weapon. Well, yes, it could be ...but that is not its intended purpose. Why would one bring it up? I realize that you did not actually say this statement was self-condemning (that it is itself un-taoish), but only implied by your question that it might be. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the question arises out of the aforementioned predisposition and preconception. Did this positively add to the discussion? Yes, if we let it.

This post has a companion (Anonymous 3B) which I hope you will likewise read, if you have read this.

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

Chapter 2, Part 21 - Confucius

Some one addressed Confucius, saying, "Sir, why are you not engaged in the government?"

The Master said, "What does the Shu-ching say of filial piety? 'You are final, you discharge your brotherly duties. These qualities are displayed in government.' This then also constitutes the exercise of government. Why must there be THAT-making one be in the government?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

I May Have Lost My Whey

As I have shared with you many times before, one very important aspect to my life is patterns. Once I establish a certain routine, I tend not to deviate from it unless circumstances force me to. This trait is VERY common among people with Asperger's. We need a particular order to our lives -- even when or if that order doesn't seem to make sense to anyone else! :-)

Back before I had all my teeth removed and switched to dentures, I started a routine of having a fruit smoothie for brunch (my combined breakfast/lunch) everyday. Due to my dental issues, chewing had become problematic and so the smoothie guaranteed needed nutrition in a liquidized and tasty form.

Upon having my teeth removed and taking several months to get used to my plastic replacements, the smoothie routine become embedded in my everyday life. Despite the fact I have finally gotten to the point in which I can chew almost anything now, I continue to have my morning smoothie.

This liquid concoction is not a typical smoothie, however. It starts with one banana and I rotate between frozen blueberries and frozen strawberries. Next, I add one individual serving of the appropriate flavor of non-fat yogurt. At this juncture, the supplements get added to the blender. These supplements include: 1 heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast, a healthy dose of a fiber source (choices are wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ or Metamucil), and one tablespoon of dried sweet whey. Before the liquid goes in, I add 8 - 12 oz. of nonfat frozen yogurt.

The liquid is then added. In the old days, I used skim milk. I now use Rice Dream Enriched Vanilla. If I have some on hand, I may also add a small amount of Coconut Dream (Unsweetened).

These varied ingredients are blended together and then 6 ice cubes are added using the ice crusher setting on my blender. The frosty mixture is poured into one of two large mugs, at which point, the final supplement -- one heaping tablespoon of ground flax seeds -- is stirred in. I then drink my smoothie slowly over the next 1 - 2 hours, often while sitting here pecking out blog posts.

I follow this routine day-in and day-out. I only deviate from it on those days when I must leave the house early and, for most of those days, the smoothie is consumed as a late lunch or supper.

Here's my problem. The health food store in Aberdeen no longer sells sweet dry whey! (They told me it had something to do with availability.) Yesterday, while in Astoria, OR, we went to their health food co-op and they don't sell whey either. I only have enough whey for another 6 or 7 smoothies and then I'm out. This is generating much anxiety.

There may be a way for my whey, though. My local grocery stores carries a lot of products from Bob's Red Mill (a quasi-local company located in the Portland Metro area) and Bob's sells sweet whey. So, I'm going to see if I can special order it.

It's just one ingredient among many, but, for this Taoist, it is a critical one. I like to think of it as the Whey of Tao!

Suicide: What a Chuckle

Suicide: What a Chuckle
by Scott Bradley

I heard a program on NPR the other day about suicide. I honestly don't know if, in relating it here, I can make it apropos to philosophical Taoism or not, but we'll see.

The program began with an account by a former Christian missionary in the jungles of the Amazon. He was there to learn, alphabetize, and translate the Bible into a tribal language. And to bring them to Jesus, of course. In the pursuit of this latter, he was telling a large group of these 'primary people' about how the suicide of a relative so saddened him that he came to Jesus. When he had finished, they all broke out in laughter.

Imagine. Someone killing themself. What a laugh! For these people, nothing could be stranger or funnier. They did not do it. Life was too good and full. In fact, this missionary became so challenged by the happiness of these people — more than he had ever seen among Christians — that he abandoned his faith altogether.

It is not that these people were somehow dancing painlessly through life. Infant mortality was something like thirty-percent. And I'm sure all those wonderful tropical diseases were a part of their adventure. Indeed, Hobbes might have rightly pointed at them and proclaimed that "life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." But Thoreau would have had to keep his "lives of quiet desperation" to himself.

I am not one for romanticizing the lives of primary peoples, those indigenous peoples who still live in a close, symbiotic relationship with their environment. But surely, they have much to teach us. If nothing else, the immediacy of their lives, and their acceptance of themselves as but part of the great cycle of life and death at work all around them, would seem to suggest another possibility for ourselves.

We live in a world full of alienation, dread, despair, angst, and a bunch of other cool words which describe our fundamental discontent. There are far too many of us to don leaves and descend upon the few remaining wilds, and we'd only bring all those aforementioned ailments with us. But perhaps there is a way we could discover a renewed primacy, be re-integrated with what is primary within us.

That is essentially what all this Zen- and Tao-talk is about. Or so it seems to me.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 26:9

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
~ King James version ~

There is no greater sin than desire,
~ from Verse 46 of the Tao Te Ching ~
Christians seem to have a love-hate relationship with desire. In general, it's b-a-d -- unless your desire concerns God, then it's g-o-o-d.

From the Taoist perspective, desire isn't good, regardless of what or whom we are desirous of.

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

Chapter 2, Part 20 - Confucius

Chi K'ang asked how to cause the people to reverence their ruler, to be faithful to him, and to go on to nerve themselves to virtue.

The Master said, "Let him preside over them with gravity; then they will reverence him. Let him be final and kind to all; then they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach the incompetent; then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous."

~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Ever Stepped in a Carrot Pie?

Cows are terribly destructive creatures, especially in arid climates. Livestock are considered by a quorum of scientists as the No. 1 cause of species extinction, topsoil loss, deforestation and desertification in the American West. They muck or stomp or gorge out of existence streams, whole watersheds, rare grasses and shrubs, entire ecosystems in micro. Their big heavy hooves trample the soil, eroding it often beyond repair.

Just as the cow is an invasive species, an exotic in the West — an import of Spanish missionaries in the 16th century — it brings invasive weeds that triumph in its midst: the water-greedy tamarisk, for example, along with the greedier Russian olive and the useless Russian thistle, better known as tumbleweed. A 1998 study from the Journal of Arid Environments found that a hundred years of livestock grazing on public lands near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico was more damaging in terms of long-term development and recovery of flora than multiple nuclear bomb blasts.

More than 300 million acres of public lands in 11 Western states — lands owned by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and, collectively, by all Americans — are given over to the resource destruction of the cattle industry. That’s 40 percent of the landmass of the West, 12 percent of the landmass of the lower 48 states.

The ranching industry controls this domain with massive subsidies from state and federal government. Even private insurance lenders such as Metropolitan Life, Mutual Life and Prudential, which in recent years have issued more than $1 billion in questionable loans to ranchers who used federally issued grazing permits as collateral, are now silent players in the subsidized ruination of Western public lands.

~ from Why You Should Eat Yak Instead of Beef by Christopher Ketcham ~
Anyone who has ever visited a farm or hiked on public lands out west knows the fun experience of dodging or stepping in the proverbial cow pie. If the dung is dry, it is not too much of an issue, but, if it's still wet, well...yuk!

I give kudos to Ketcham for offering the best suggestion to end this environmental and health calamity.
In an ideal world, we’d recognize that the bovine-flesh habit is a god-awful disaster and, being reasonable, we’d quit it. In an ideal world, cattle ranching on public lands in the American West would be regarded as an epochal mistake and come to its ignominious end. In return, the West, free of the cattle curse, might possibly experience one of the greatest environmental recoveries in history.
But Ketcham knows that Americans, in particular, are meat junkies. So, he suggests what he feels is the next best thing -- eat a yak!

Personally, I don't like the second suggestion. As Ketcham aptly points out, if America would give up her meat addiction, the health of our citizens as well as the environment would improve immensely.

Besides, while cow dung is a messy, messy problem, ever heard of carrot crap?

Afternoon Matinee: Touching The Void, Part 8

Ralph, You Lost Me

Forty-five Americans, including me, hailing from long records in environmental, labor, civil rights, education, healthcare, communications and the arts, have sent a letter to nearly 200 distinguished liberals and progressives inviting them to form a slate of six candidates, registered as Democrats, to participate in some 20 state primaries, starting with Iowa and New Hampshire, and take the debate on the redirection of our country to President Obama.

The very nature of the slate would not be to defeat him. It is to press him to publicly pay attention to the fundamental principles and agendas that represent the modest soul of the Democratic party, before corporate money became so dominant in its campaign treasuries some 30 years ago.
~ from Obama Must Face Meaningful Democratic Primaries by Ralph Nader ~
Ralph and I go back a bit. Since the 1960s, he's been one of my heroes. As State Treasurer of Oregon's Green Party in 2000, I worked tirelessly promoting the Nader/LaDuke ticket for the presidency. When push comes to shove, I usually come down on Nader's side. But not THIS time.

It would be one thing if Nader was trying to recruit a Democratic challenger to go toe-to-toe with Obama for the party's nomination in 2012. That candidate (or candidates) might not have a bona fide chance, but that person (or persons) would be running to win. It's an altogether different scenario if, at the very outset, the candidate isn't trying to win and, in fact, wants the opponent to be the victor.

If the incumbent KNOWS this game plan from the start, there is no reason in the world for Obama to take the "opponent" seriously. He smartly would duck any type of real debate because all a debate would do is make Obama look bad! If this paper opponent took Obama to task for his many broken campaign pledges of '08, it only would make Obama look like any other self-serving politician and certainly wouldn't help his chances in the general election.

Sorry, Ralph, but you've lost me on this one!

Are These Stamps Licked?

Rallies are scheduled for today in every congressional district across the nation in support of the U.S. Postal Service, which is facing a financial crisis because of past congressional action. Participants will be asking lawmakers to approve a bill that's been introduced to fix the problem.

In 2006, Congress passed a postal reform law that, among other things, required USPS -- a self-funded agency that receives no taxpayer money -- to pre-pay 75 years' worth of retiree health benefits within just 10 years. The mandate, which no other federal agency is under, costs USPS $5.5 billion a year -- and accounts for all of the Postal Service's $20 billion in losses over the past four years.

In that time, USPS actually made a net profit of over $600 million sorting and delivering the mail. But it ended up in the red after it was forced to deposit billions from its operating budget into the retiree health fund.

As a result, 120,000 postal workers are now facing the threat of layoffs, and thousands of post offices and mail-processing centers are targeted for closure. There are also plans to eliminate Saturday mail service, which would hit residents of rural areas especially hard. Last week President Obama joined those who endorse dropping Saturday service.

~ from Nationwide Rallies Aim to Save US Postal Service by Sue Sturgis ~
I ask you, why on earth would Congress mandate prepaying "75 years' worth of retiree health benefits within just 10 years?" That's fiscally insane! No corporation would do such a thing!! If some crusading Congressperson proposed this strategy as a mandate for business, corporate lobbyists would flood the nation's capitol in rabid outrage.

For me, this mandate only makes sense IF the underlying goal is to kill the postal service. If the postal service goes away, then guess who gets to deliver YOUR mail for whatever amount they decide to charge?

Line by Line - Verse 45, Lines 3-4

Of greatest fulness, deemed a void,
Exhaustion ne'er shall stem the tide.

~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Great fullness seems empty,
Yet cannot be exhausted.

~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Great fullness seems empty
Its function is without exhaustion

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

The fullest reserves may seem empty,
but you will always be able
to draw upon them.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Think of a person who makes everyone around them better. This person -- a sage -- is so filled with love and compassion that the she exudes it with every breath.

It's really ironic that sages often are seen by the society at large as simple and nothing to get excited about, yet people want to be around this type of person. When asked why, it's not something you can put your finger on. You just know that you feel better about yourself and the world around you in their presence.

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

Another Corporate Farce

As the world gears up for the next round of United Nations climate-change negotiations in Durban, South Africa, in November, evidence has emerged that a cornerstone of the existing global climate agreement, the international greenhouse-gas emissions-trading system, is seriously flawed.

Critics have long questioned the usefulness of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which was established under the Kyoto Protocol. It allows rich countries to offset some of their carbon emissions by investing in climate-friendly projects, such as hydroelectric power and wind farms, in developing countries. Verified projects earn certified emission reductions (CERs) — carbon credits that can be bought and sold, and count towards meeting rich nations' carbon-reduction targets.

But a diplomatic cable published last month by the WikiLeaks website reveals that most of the CDM projects in India should not have been certified because they did not reduce emissions beyond those that would have been achieved without foreign investment. Indian officials have apparently known about the problem for at least two years.

"What has leaked just confirms our view that in its present form the CDM is basically a farce," says Eva Filzmoser, programme director of CDM Watch, a Brussels-based watchdog organization. The revelations imply that millions of tonnes of claimed reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions are mere phantoms, she says, and potentially cast doubt over the principle of carbon trading. "In the face of these comments it is no wonder that the United States has backed away from emission trading," Filzmoser says.

~ from Carbon-Credits System Tarnished by WikiLeaks Revelation by Quirin Schiermeier ~
For anyone paying attention, it should be more than obvious by now that corporatists don't agree to any scheme or regulation that have any teeth in them. Put a different way, if the corporatists sign off on something, then it almost always represents a farce!

In the case of supposed carbon trading, corporations are claiming credit where credit has not been earned. What this means is that they have continued on with "business as usual" -- wracking up mega profits while doing next too nothing to favor the environment. Yet, while they continue to abuse Mother Earth with abandon, they score fictitious brownie points to make them look good in the public sphere.

One of the points that Lao Tzu drives home again and again has to do with connivance, to cooperate secretly in an illegal or wrongful action. Connivance is a corollary of greed. The root of both is selfish desire. In this case, it involves placing the desire for unmitigated riches for the few against the health and safety of the vast majority and the planet itself.

Chapter 2, Part 19 - Confucius

The Duke Ai asked, saying, "What should be done in order to secure the submission of the people?"

Confucius replied, "Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Dying For a Melon

According to a report in The Guardian, 13 people have died in 8 US states after eating cantaloupes infected with the listeria bacterium.

Here's the interesting part of the article.
Listeria bacteria thrive in low temperatures. Outbreaks are usually associated with deli meats, unpasteurised cheeses and smoked refrigerated seafood.
As I recall, cantaloupe is not a meat or dairy food; it's a fruit. So, why is a fruit infected with this type of bacterium?

The article doesn't shed any light on this issue. My guess is that it has something to do with general factory farming techniques. We have moved so far away from commonsense and organic procedures that, more and more, we are seeing odd outbreaks where they wouldn't normally occur.

Anybody out there have any other ideas about how this could have happened?

Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good and Evil
by Scott Bradley

"Don't think good; don't think evil. At this very moment, what is the original face of Ming, the head monk?"

At these words of Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch, Ming had "great satori". This story is well-known. The lay and illiterate Hui-neng, who had been sent into the obscurity of the monasteries' rice-husking shed, had demonstrated to Hung-jen, the Fifth Patriarch, his superior understanding of the Way and was thus given the robe and bowl of transmission. But knowing the jealousy of the monks, Hung-jen told him to flee into the night.

Sure enough, when the monks got wind of this, a group of them took off after Hui-neng, but only the robust Ming was able to catch up to him. At this Hui-neng laid down the robe and bowl and said it was not something to fight over. But when Ming discovered he could not lift them, he declared he really only wanted to be instructed in the Way.

Some monastery. Some monks. It sounds more like kindergarten. And frankly, I think it is the fear of finding just this, which in part puts me off of ever joining one. I heard Leonard Cohen, who had recently emerged from a Zen monastery, say that the others thought he was cool, but he hated them all. But he also added that a monastery is said to be like a bag of rocks in which each rounds off the corners of the others. That may well be, but the world at large is more than able to do the same. While he was Zenning his agent had stolen all his money. Still, he could sing a "broken Hallelujah".

But returning to the 'turning words' of Hui-neng, these are the heart of this koan (the 23rd in the Mumonkan; Aitken). When invited to see his original face, what would have the jealous and deceitful Ming seen if he had not been told to forget good and evil? He would have seen his present face — a self torn by guilt and self-contempt. He would have seen a self divided against itself.

But the original face is beyond all this. It dwells in a 'place' which knows no more of good and evil than a tree or a stone. And Ming saw it and was transformed. He didn't receive new commandments chiseled in stone, 'Thou shalt not be jealous", but a new way of being. Nor did he, upon returning to the monastery, harangue his fellow monks about their failings. His transformation was word enough. His realization of a reality beyond the moral and logical machinations of the mind fulfilled the letter of the law beyond what that letter could ever hope to achieve.

It is the discriminating mind, living under the tyranny of word and judgment, which hides the original face.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 26:4

Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
~ King James version ~

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
~ from Verse 1 of the Tao Te Ching ~
For the Christian, God has a specific name and each person can establish a personal relationship with him.

For the Taoist, the Way has no name -- we merely call it Tao -- and there is no entity to form a personal relationship with.

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

Chapter 2, Part 18 - Confucius

Tsze-chang was learning with a view to official emolument.

The Master said, "Hear much and put aside the points of which you stand in doubt, while you speak cautiously at the same time of the others: then you will afford few occasions for blame. See much and put aside the things which seem perilous, while you are cautious at the same time in carrying the others into practice: then you will have few occasions for repentance. When one gives few occasions for blame in his words, and few occasions for repentance in his conduct, he is in the way to get emolument."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

NOT the Way To Peace

The Obama administration has announced plans to sell $53 million worth of military equipment to Bahrain just months after the Gulf state brutally cracked down on Shiite protesters. The proposed sale includes bunker buster missiles, armored vehicles and wire-guided missiles.
~ from U.S. to Sell Bahrain $53 Million in Military Equipment Following Brutal Crackdown via Democracy Now! ~

The United States consolidated its domination of a shrinking global arms market in 2010, signing 21.3 billion dollars in new weapons orders with foreign countries, according to the latest edition of an annual report on conventional weapons transfers by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Washington's total actually marked a slight decline in orders from 2009. But, because total global arms sales last year fell sharply – nearly 40 percent – from their 2009 level of 65 billion dollars, the U.S. market share rose steeply, from 35 percent in 2009 to nearly 53 percent in 2010.

The U.S. also ranked first in the value of actual arms deliveries in 2010, supplying foreign clients with some 12 billion dollars worth of weapons, or more than a third of the 35 billion dollars in global arms deliveries last year, according to the report. It was the eighth year in a row that Washington led the world in global arms deliveries.
~ from U.S. Consolidated Domination of Global Arms Market in 2010 by Jim Lobe ~
Words are empty when your actions don't match up. For the past three years, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Barack Obama has talked a good game about his "audacious hope" for a peaceful world. But how can a US President promote peace by arming much of the world with advanced and sophisticated weaponry?

How can he have ANY hope for a peaceful resolution in Bahrain, if he sends the very arms that will be used to put down the mostly peaceful protests?

It's pure greed and an unhealthy dose of insanity!!!

Afternoon Matinee: Touching The Void, Part 7

Baby, Baby

Men who don't have children may be at increased risk of dying from heart disease, a new study says.

Childless men in the study had a 17 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease than fathers, the researchers said. Only married men were included in the study.

The results suggest infertility might be a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, said study researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg, an assistant professor of urology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

Low testosterone levels, which may contribute to infertility, are a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and may be what's driving this link, the researchers said.

However, it's also possible that something about being a father protects against cardiovascular disease.
~ from Childlessness May Increase Men's Heart Disease Risk by Rachael Rettner ~
Oh, joy. Just the kind of news a childless-by-choice, congenitally-low-testosterone guy like me wants to hear!!

Do You Want This Job?

Workers in the fields earn about 50 cents for picking a bucket containing 32 pounds of tomatoes. These workers make only $10,000 to $12,000 a year, much of which they send home. The $10,000-$12,000 range, because it includes the higher pay of supervisors, means the real wages of the pickers are usually less than $10,000 a year. Wages have remained stagnant since 1980. A worker must pick 2.25 tons of tomatoes to make minimum wage during one of the grueling 10-hour workdays. This is twice what they had to pick 30 years ago for the same amount of money. (emphasis added)
~ from The Tomatoes of Wrath by Chris Hedges ~
I ask you to focus on the portion of the above snippet I have emphasized. As a reminder, one ton equals 2,000 pounds. So, Hedges is saying that, in order to claim a minimum wage rate of pay, each worker must pick 4,500 pounds PER DAY.

When was the last time you had to lift 4,500 pounds in one day?

Since most farmworkers work 6 days per week -- if they are "lucky" -- that's 27,000 pounds per week just to earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr. That makes working at a burger joint or nursing home seem like a dream job!

Next time I hear some conservative politico wail about all these illegal immigrants stealing jobs from red-blooded Americans, I'm going to think about 4,500 pounds of tomatoes per day. How many red-blooded Americans do you know who would jump at the chance of picking 2.25 tons of tomatoes for no more than $75 per day?

I certainly wouldn't be very interested and I know few others that would be as well.

Line by Line - Verse 45, Lines 1-2

Who thinks his great achievements poor
Shall find his vigour long endure.

~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Great accomplishment seems imperfect,
Yet it does not outlive its usefulness.

~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Great perfection seems flawed
Its function is without failure

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

The greatest achievements
may look like mistakes,
but you will always be able
to build upon them.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
For Derek Lin,
"Great perfection" here can be read as a synonym for the Tao. "Flaw" in this context means a lack of completeness. This flaw that we may perceive in the Tao is due to our limited human perspective.
To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Synapse Lapse

In his classic book, Why Americans Hate Welfare, Martin Gilens found a striking disconnect: significant majorities of Americans told pollsters that they wanted public spending to fight poverty to be increased at the same time that similar majorities said they were opposed to welfare. Gilens studied a number of different opinion polls and concluded that the disconnect was driven by a widespread belief that “most welfare recipients don't really need it,” and by racial animus – “perceptions that welfare recipients are undeserving and blacks are lazy.”
~ from 6 Ways the Rich Are Waging a Class War Against the American People by Joshua Holland ~
I am often amazed at the disconnect in the brains of far too many of my fellow citizens. While they overwhelming support broad principles like fighting poverty, rebuilding infrastructure, strengthening education or protecting the environment, they concurrently oppose the various mechanisms that undergird the very principles they claim to support!

How else can we seek to combat poverty if we don't spend money on poor people? How can we protect the environment if people pooh-pooh concepts like recycling or climate change?

While I do understand that rational individuals can differ on the types of strategies they support, there are too many Americans who don't seem to support ANY strategies at all.

It's like saying that we want to get to a lake over there, but we aren't going to use a map and any proposed itinerary immediately is shot down as unworkable. Still, when asked, a lot of these people continue to say that they want to get to the lake post haste!

Chapter 2, Part 17 - Confucius

The Master said, "Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it; this is knowledge."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Petty As Petty Gets

It has long been a tradition to give a dying man his last requests for dinner. Lawrence Brewer took that request to an extreme, ordering a meal fit for an entire cellblock. That produced a backlash from state Senator John Whitmire who demanded an end to the tradition in Texas. He succeeded and now death row inmates will simply get whatever is served that night at the prison.

“Enough is enough,” Whitmire insisted, “It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. It’s a privilege which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim.”

Brewer was a man below contempt to be sure. The white supremacist was convicted in the notorious 1998 killing in which James Byrd Jr., a black man, was dragged behind a truck for several miles.

However, the tradition of the last meal has long represented an element of mercy in the application of the death penalty. I must admit that I was taken aback by the account of what Brewer ordered when I first read: two chicken fried steaks, a triple meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, a large bowl of fried okra, three fajitas, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, and a pound of barbecue with a half loaf of white bread. However, the value of such a meal is likely less than $20 at a prison facility. In states like Florida, such meals are limited to a maximum value of $40.

~ from Texas Ends Last Meal Tradition After Brewer Execution by Jonathan Turley ~
When I first read this, I thought that, maybe, it was some kind of joke. However, when I realized this was coming from Texas, I realized it was serious.

The only word that I can think of to describe this new policy is petty. So what if convicted murderer Lawrence Brewer pigged out before the state stuck a needle in his arm. When you consider all the money that state legislatures like Texas throw at their corporate donors, a $50 or $100 tab for a last meal is peanuts.

Of course, I wouldn't mind getting rid of "last meals" once and for all. If states like Texas did away with the death penalty, it wouldn't even be an issue!!

A Sticky View

A Sticky View
by Scott Bradley

Speaking of the Zen experience, Yuanwu says, "Although this is purely the ground of noumenon [mind], there is still nothing to grasp. If you grasp it, it becomes a sticky view. Therefore it is said, 'The Tao is mindless of union with humanity; when people are unminding, they unite with Tao.' How could anyone show off and claim to have attained Zen?" (The Essence of Zen; Cleary)

There is, of course, some sticky stuff already clinging to these words. I would prefer to speak of 'the experience' rather than 'the Zen experience'; Zen does not have a monopoly on transcendent experience, and that experience is not Zen. Likewise, when we say 'the Tao' it would seem to suggest some entity, some thing. Tao is not an 'other' that we can discuss it. We are it, though we cannot see it, anymore than an eye can see itself.

Yet, ultimately, the stickiness is not on the words but in us. "If you grasp it, it becomes a sticky view." We must learn to use words and ideas as mere pointers, and nothing more. And that to which they point is ungraspable; if we understand anything of it, we have not realized it.

"The Tao is mindless of union with humanity." It does not grasp us. We cannot grasp It. This same quality in us, this "uminding" is the subjective uniting with Tao. I say 'subjective' because this uniting is the realization in experience of what already is so. Always, subjective union with Tao is to be Tao-ish.

Tao-ishness (te, as I take it) precludes even an inking of pridefulness; one cannot "attain" it; there is nothing to attain and no one to attain it.

Similarly, out here in un-Tao-ish land, the surest sign of un-Tao-ishness is the pointing out and dwelling on the un-Tao-ishness of others.

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

Big, Bigger, Biggest

Living through a collapse is a curious experience. Perhaps the most curious part is that nobody wants to admit it's a collapse. The results of half a century of debt-fueled "growth" are becoming impossible to convincingly deny, but even as economies and certainties crumble, our appointed leaders bravely hold the line. No one wants to be the first to say the dam is cracked beyond repair.

To listen to a political leader at this moment in history is like sitting through a sermon by a priest who has lost his faith but is desperately trying not to admit it, even to himself. Watch Nick Clegg, David Cameron or Ed Miliband mouthing tough-guy platitudes to the party faithful. Listen to Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy or George Papandreou pretending that all will be well in the eurozone. Study the expressions on the faces of Barack Obama or Ben Bernanke talking about "growth" as if it were a heathen god to be appeased by tipping another cauldron's worth of fictional money into the mouth of a volcano.

In times like these, people look elsewhere for answers. A time of crisis is also a time of opening-up, when thinking that was consigned to the fringes moves to center stage. When things fall apart, the appetite for new ways of seeing is palpable, and there are always plenty of people willing to feed it by coming forward with their pet big ideas.

But here's a thought: what if big ideas are part of the problem? What if, in fact, the problem is bigness itself?
~ from This Economic Collapse is a 'Crisis of Bigness' by Paul Kingsnorth ~

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tao Bible - Isaiah 25:8

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
~ King James version ~

The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
~ from Verse 16 of the Tao Te Ching ~
For the Christian, death is the opposite of life and something to be overcome.

For the Taoist, death and life are two sides of the same coin and each flows into the other.

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

Chapter 2, Part 16 - Confucius

The Master said, "The study of strange doctrines is injurious indeed!"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

An Incomplete Picture

Campus Republicans at the University of California Berkeley have reportedly received threats after creating a novel form of protests against California schools considering race in admissions. The students created a sale of baked goods priced according to their race: white men for $2.00, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1.00, black men for $0.75 and Native American men for $0.25. All women will get $0.25 off those prices.
~ from A Pinch of Satire: Bake Sale Causes Uproar at Berkeley by Jonathan Turley ~
What galls me about this so-called "satire" is that it presents an incomplete picture of the overall situation. Before the advent of certain civil rights remedies -- like Affirmative Action -- many non-whites were not allowed entry into many aspects of society regardless of their standing, educational background, skill set or wealth. The color of their skin or ethnicity barred them from active participation.

Consequently, under the guise of a "bake sale" in say, the 1920s, the pricing scheme would be altogether different. There would be a price for whites and no one else would have been allowed to purchase anything or the non-whites would have been allowed to purchase woefully substandard products at inflated prices!

Afternoon Matinee: Touching The Void, Part 6