Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 20 - The Lines, Part 2

Six in the second place means:
Contemplation through the crack of the door.
Furthering for the perseverance of a woman.

Through the crack of the door one has a limited outlook; one looks outward from within. Contemplation is subjectively limited. One tends to relate everything to oneself and cannot put oneself in another's place and understand his motives. This is appropriate for a good housewife. It is not necessary for her to be conversant with the affairs of the world. But for a man who must take active part in public life, such a narrow, egotistic way of contemplating things is of course 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.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - When Will We Be Paid For the Work We’ve Done

Performed by The Staple Singers

When will we be paid for the work we’ve done
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done

We worked this country
From shore to shore
Our women cooked all your food
And washed all your clothes
We picked cotton and laid the railroad steel
Worked our hands down to the bone at your lumber mill

When will we be paid for the work we’ve done
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done

Fought in your wars, in every land
To keep this country free, y’all
For women, children, and men
But anytime we ask for pay or a loan
That’s when everything seems to turn out wrong
We’ve been beat up, called name, shot down, and stoned
Every time we do right, somebody say we’re wrong

When will we be paid for the work we’ve done
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done
Oh, oh when, when will we be paid?

We’ve given up our sweat, now

And all of our tears
Stumbled through this life

For more than 300 years I,
I wanna know, the work we’ve done
When will be paid for the work we’ve done

Tell me
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done

Will we ever be proud
Of "My country, tis of thee"
Will we ever sing out loud
Sweet land of Liberty

When will we be paid
For the work we’ve done

When will we be paid for the work we’ve done
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done

The Shifting Current

Trey Smith

Since October, the main focus for Della and Trey Smith has been AmeriCorps. First, there was Della's placement in White Salmon. Second, we have been working to line up a new assignment for the 2013-14 term. I have scores of links to all sorts of services and what not based solely on this AmeriCorps focus. And now, after consulting with the doctors today, this focus evaporated in the blink of an eye. It may return next year or it may be gone forever. Such is life.

It feels weird to be so focused on one goal and then to see the current of our life flow in a completely different direction. It will take us a while to get our bearings, but get our bearings we must do.

As I mentioned earlier this morning, Della is now temporarily and, possibly, permanently disabled. She has what is called respiratory failure. Her lungs are not functioning as they should. If she is able to shed her excessive weight plus get her diabetes under control, much -- though not all -- of the condition is reversible. But it will take concentrated effort on her part and a good deal of time to improve her health.

And so, according to the doctors, she may not be able to work much or at all over the next 12 months or more. As I stated previously, since she is our breadwinner, this means our economic fortunes are going to change dramatically for the worse. We both wish this was not the case, but it is. We simply must deal with the situation as best we can.

We understand we aren't in a unique situation. Every couple or family and every individual must deal with their own shifting currents. Life isn't static and few of us can see into the future. Change always is inevitable. You either come to understand the new direction the current is flowing or you bog down trying your damnedest to swim against it.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 12, Part 4

Trey Smith

The Master said: The Way covers and bears up the ten thousand things - vast, vast is its greatness! The gentleman must pluck out his mind! To act through inaction is called Heaven. To speak through inaction is called Virtue. To love men and bring profit to things is called benevolence. To make the unlike alike is called magnitude. To move beyond barrier and distinction is called liberality. To possess the ten thousand unlikes is called wealth. To hold fast to Virtue is called enrootment. To mature in Virtue is called establishment. To follow the Way is called completion. To see that external things do not blunt the will is called perfection. When the gentleman clearly comprehends these ten things, then how huge will be the greatness of his mind setting forth, how endless his ramblings with the ten thousand things!

Such a man will leave the gold hidden in the mountains, the pearls hidden in the depths. He will see no profit in money and goods, no enticement in eminence and wealth, no joy in long life, no grief in early death, no honor in affluence, no shame in poverty. He will not snatch the profits of a whole generation and make them his private hoard; he will not lord it over the world and think that he dwells in glory. His glory is enlightenment, [for he knows that] the ten thousand things belong to one storehouse, that life and death share the same body.

~ Burton Watson translation ~
There are wise specimens -- sages -- among our species, but no one walks in absolute harmony with the Way. To do so would require the existence of no ego and, though some have succeeded in mitigating egoic desires to some extent, as humans we can't mitigate our egos entirely. It is something that we wrestle with and this grappling leads to morality, mores and conscience.

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

Life As a Turnip

Trey Smith

You have probably heard this old adage before: You can't squeeze blood from a turnip. It means that you can't get something from a person that the individual doesn't have in the first place. If I didn't understand this adage before, I am about to find out. I soon will become that proverbial turnip!

As I have shared here, Della is a current resident of a hospital in Portland. They are running a plethora of tests and studies. She is being pumped full of a wide assortment of pharmaceuticals and she has around the clock care from a battery of nurses, doctors and technicians. All of these various services do not come cheap and, through AmeriCorps, Della has minimal medical coverage. While most health insurance policies feature a maximum cap of $1 or $2 million, Della's meager policy has a $50,000 cap.

In year's past, I might be freaking out about the huge debt we are piling up. Depending on how long Della is ensconced at this big hospital, it is not unreasonable to expect the final bill may run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. (In comparison, Medicaid covered my gallbladder surgery 3 years ago and it cost about $30,000 for the surgery and one day stay in the hospital.)

When Della is released, she most likely will need to withdraw from her term with AmeriCorps and be unable to work for the short OR long term. Since she has served as the family breadwinner, it means that we will go from the working poor to the very poor in no time at all. Our sole source of income will be my SSI of $756/month. We will also qualify for the max of Food Stamps, around $350/month.

Have you ever tried living on $756/month for two people? I haven't. I'm sure it is not going to be pretty.

We still retain a bit in savings and Della will receive one more AmeriCorps check, but once we are thrown out of our soon-to-be-foreclosed on house, we may be staring destitution in the face. And so, when they hand us the anticipated monstrous medical bill, I will tell them, "You can't squeeze blood from a turnip."

I Ching: Hexagram 20 - The Lines, Part 1

Six at the beginning means:
Boy like contemplation.
For an inferior man, no blame.
For a superior man, humiliation.

This means contemplation from a distance, without comprehension. A man of influence is at hand, abut his influence is not understood by the common people. This matters little in the case of the masses, for they benefit by the actions of the ruling sage whether they understand them or not. But for a superior man it is a disgrace. He must not content himself with a shallow, thoughtless view of prevailing forces; he must contemplate them as a connected whole and try to understand them.
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.

The Way of Yin

Scott Bradley

Laozi suggests the way of the Mysterious Feminine, the way of water, the way of the valley as that which best harmonizes with the infinite openness of Dao. Each metaphor adds its own facet to this larger metaphor. The feminine speaks of an embracing inclusiveness and receptivity. Water flows, adapts, conforms, fills that which is empty. The valley accepts and receives; it is that to which all things naturally gravitate.

I am tempted to call this the way of Yin, but to identify it with one extreme of what is understood as a continuum seems somehow amiss even though Laozi himself seems to do so. Are there also ways of Yang? I think there are. The way of I AM, of the assertion of self as the expression of Self, seems to me to be more an expression of Yang than of Yin. Yet surely both ways integrate both principles.

Of the philosophy of Yin and Yang I actually know very little; I adopt and adapt them according to my needs. Certainly, I ascribe no metaphysical reality to them; together they provide a wonderfully helpful metaphor by which to better understand our experience of ourselves and the world, yet as with every metaphor we would destroy their value if we took them too literally.

I choose this way of Yin, the way of openness and emptiness. I agree with Laozi that this is the best remedy for what amounts to an over-abundance of Yang, the insular, imposing assertiveness of the egoic self. If choosing the extreme seems unbalanced, it is only because our evolved reality is already imbalanced.

Still, sometimes I think it might be interesting to pursue a way of Yang, to assert and defy, proclaim and stand proud. I think of this as the dark side of Dao. And if there were such a thing, it would be as valid as the light side. But though this might work for some, it does not work for me. The idea of I AM, for instance, assumes a content, a fact, an assertion that I am simply unable to embrace. Nor do I find helpful the yang-ish assertiveness of some, those who know, who must convince and impose, who seek to undermine the ways of others.

Yet, as I have said above, there is always the integration of both Yin and Yang in every way. The Daodejing is Yang, though it teaches Yin. I have described these posts as "committing Yang", telling you what I think as if it mattered. What matters, I suppose, is the affirmation to which it aspires.

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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 20 - The Image

The wind blows over the earth:
Thus the kings of old visited the regions of the world,
Contemplated the people,
And gave them instruction.

When the wind blows over the earth it goes far and wide, and the grass must bend to its power. These two occurrences find confirmation in the hexagram. The two images are used to symbolize a practice of the kings of old; in making regular journeys the ruler could, in the first place, survey his realm and make certain that none of the existing usages of the people escaped notice; in the second, he could exert influence through which such customs as were unsuitable could be changed.

All of this points to the power possessed by a superior personality. On the one hand, such a man will have a view of the real sentiments of the great mass of humanity and therefore cannot be deceived; on the other, he will impress the people so profoundly, by his mere existence and by the impact of his personality, that they will be swayed by him as the grass by the wind.
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.

Throw Away the Key

Trey Smith

Willie James Sauls is unlikely to see the outside of a prison. Last fall a court in the state of Texas sentenced this 37-year-old man to 45 years in jail. His crime: he snatched the purse from an old woman.

In Norway, meanwhile, a court sentenced Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing racist who slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers, and injured several hundred, to 21 years in prison, with an option for that detention to be extended by five-year increments if he is determined to be still dangerous. Otherwise, the 32-year-old, if considered rehabilitated, could be released at the age of 53.

In the 1970s and ‘80s, Germany was rocked by killings committed by a radical left group called the Red Army Faction. Its members killed over 30 people, including the nation's attorney general and leading industrialists. Eventually its leaders were caught and convicted, but by 2007, almost a decade after the Red Army Faction had announced its own dissolution, those still in prison were pardoned by the country’s president.

It is beyond inconceivable to imagine a US president, governor or even a judge, releasing a prisoner from a US jail who had committed the kind of offenses committed by either Breivik or members of Germany’s Red Army Faction. It is, for that matter, hard to imagine any political leader in the US pardoning even purse-snatcher Willie James Sauls.

This is, after all, a country that just recently hounded a 26-year-old internet activist, Aaron Swartz, into committing suicide, after a federal prosecutor threatened him with 35 years in jail -- this for the heinous crime of stealing income from a company that was collecting revenue for making available academic papers for which the authors get not a penny (in a protest action he had publicly hacked an MIT server and downloaded hundreds of academic papers which the private contractor was charging for!). This is a country that routinely convicts the wrong people and locks them up for decades and doesn't even apologize if they manage to eventually prove their innocence and win release. It's a country that is holding people as "terrorists" at Guantanamo, without trial, for over a decade, knowing they never did anything wrong, simply because it doesn't have the courage to admit its errors.

Right-wing Americans love to call the US a “nanny state,” claiming that the federal government is always trying to pass laws regulating people’s lives. What the US really is, though, is a “puni-state” -- a nation that thrives on vengeance and retribution, and that rejects the whole notion of rehabilitation or character change (even while euphemistically calling its prisons "corrections" facilities).

How else to explain the prosecutorial passion for charging absurdly youthful offenders as adults?
~ from The United Police States of America by Dave Lindorff ~
While I have been encouraged by the growing numbers of Americans who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, there is no question in my mind that fundamentalist Christianity still has a strong grip on our society. Fundamentalists place a great deal of emphasis on the Old Testament (OT) and the OT reads like a blueprint for retribution and vengeance. The god of the OT isn't one to try to talk out problems; defy him and ZAP!

Of course, the emphasis on retributive justice cannot be laid solely at the feet of Christianity. Muslim nations often are just as severe, if not more so. It seems to be a problem of religion, in general. And it's not just religion in a sterile vacuum. It also goes hand-in-hand with economics.

As we certainly see in this nation, the explosion of prisons is big money. There is a small gaggle of corporations that are robbing public treasuries blind by encouraging lawmakers to lock up ever more people. So, it should not be surprising that the big wigs in the prison-industrial complex like to wrap their looting into the fabric of fundamentalist Christianity. They exhort the faithful to support retributive justice -- and the faithful lap it up like thirsty dogs -- while laughing all the way to the bank and back again.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - If I Had A Rocket Launcher

Performed by Bruce Cockburn

Here comes the helicopter
Second time today
Everybody scatters
And hopes it goes away
How many kids they've murdered
Only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher
I'd make somebody pay

I don't believe in guarded borders
And I don't believe in hate
I don't believe in generals
Or their stinking torture states
And when I talk with the survivors
Of things too sickening to relate
If I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher
I would retaliate

On the Rio Lacantun
100,000 wait
To fall down from starvation
Or some less humane fate
Cry for Guatemala
With a corpse in every gate
If I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher
I would not hesitate

I want to raise every voice
At least I've got to try
Every time I think about it
Water rises to my eyes
Situation desperate
Echoes of the victims' cry
If I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher
If I had a rocket launcher
Some son of a bitch would die
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

The Simple Way IV: Yes Again

Scott Bradley

The Simple Way is essentially a restatement of the proto-Daoism of Zhuangzi; it does not lay claim to any new insights. The fundamental affirmation of the apparent world as an expression of Mystery is essential to Zhuangzi and philosophical Daoism generally. This is most clearly seen in his advocacy for the affirmation of the inevitable. The inevitable is most obvious in death, and it is to this he most frequently addresses himself. This affirmation goes well beyond a stoic acceptance that one must die; it understands that until one has thoroughly embraced one's death as as good as one's life, one has yet to live the goodness of life. ("What makes my life good, also makes my death good.") What is true of death, is equally true of every eventuality which befalls us. Quite simply, nothing 'bad' can happen to us. This touches upon the absolute trust implicit in the metaphor of "hiding the world in the world" where it is impossible that anything could be lost.

A curious thing about saying Yes to everything is that it is a choice. We might just as easily say No. However, Daoism understands that life itself is affirmation. Life is predicated on an organic, pre-reflective impetus to live, and Daoism's first principle is to integrate with what life is. The Yes of Daoism is thus first and foremost an agreement in spontaneity with the pre-reflective experience of life. A 'doctrine of affirmation' is subsequent and secondary.

Philosophical Daoism is rooted in experience, not well-reasoned principles. It affirms all things not because it makes sense to do so, but because this is what life does. The difference between Yes and No is that Yes is rooted in experience whereas No is rooted in intellect. I have often refered to the existentialists in this regard. Camus is a prime example. Ostensibly more concerned with the phenomena of experience than the formulations of reason, he nonetheless denied life (understood as on 'one string' with death) because it does not make 'sense'. The 'absurdity of human existence' is dictated by the imposition of reason on life, not by life itself.

To say Yes or No to life, and by implication to all that is, is thus a matter of choice. The good news is that, apart from the temporal benefits that arise from living harmoniously, it all comes out in the wash in any case. Nothing is lost.

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

Bit by Bit - Chapter 12, Part 3

Trey Smith

Pervading Heaven and earth: that is the Way. Moving among the ten thousand things: that is Virtue. Superiors governing the men below them: that is called administration. Ability finding trained expression: that is called skill. Skill is subsumed in administration; administration in duty; duty in Virtue; Virtue in the Way; and the Way in Heaven. Therefore it is said, those who shepherded the world in ancient times were without desire and the world was satisfied, without action and the ten thousand things were transformed. They were deep and silent and the hundred clans were at rest. The Record says: "Stick to the One and the ten thousand tasks will be accomplished; achieve mindlessness and the gods and spirits will bow down."
~ Burton Watson translation ~
It would be nice if we could live in genuine harmony with the Way. We can't, though, because the human organism comes equipped with an ego and a mind. Both are impediments and yet both are what make us human.

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

Damn Uncomfortable

Trey Smith

It seems that a good deal of my life right now is damn uncomfortable.

At the head of the list, of course, is the uncomfortableness of worrying about my wife's health situation. Everyday the doctors seem to switch from hopeful to not as hopeful and from worrisome to not as worrisome. It's like riding on a roller coaster.

But that is certainly NOT the only thing that is making me uncomfortable. Hopefully, the niece of my step-mother deposited me in White Salmon last night. While I am very, very appreciative of her selfless act, we all know that strangers or people I don't know that well make me very anxious. Just the idea of a social situation makes my hair stand on end. She and I have communicated via email before and spoken on the telephone, so that should calm my nerves a tad.

I will be doing A LOT of driving in the next week. Ten years ago, it wouldn't have been a big deal. When Della and I traveled together, I typically handled 90 percent of the driving. A decade or two ago, I drove solo round trip from Arkansas to Oregon. Twice! But as my anxiety levels have gone up in tandem with my physical issues, Della has become our main driver.

Not only must I handle all of the driving chores for the foreseeable future, but I'm going to have to drive into downtown Portland! I don't do well in urban areas because vehicles dart here and there at very high speeds. The main interstates into and through Portland feature multiple lanes with cars appearing suddenly out of nowhere (entry ramps) and then just as suddenly disappearing (exit ramps). It is a certain recipe for sensory overload!

And then I must go into a crowded hospital with people scurrying around everywhere. It's like my worst nightmare from hell!!!

I am sure I will be a nervous wreck, but I must face these things because my wife needs me. She's been there for me more times than I can count. She understands -- but she is fretting about it all -- that I must go far outside my comfort zone to come to her. I sure wish it wasn't this way, but it is. For my wife's sake, I MUST muddle through.

Hey, isn't that what true love is all about?

I Ching: Hexagram 20 - The Judgment

CONTEMPLATION. The ablution has been made,
But not yet the offering.
Full of trust they look up to him.

The sacrificial ritual in China began with an ablution and a libation by which the Deity was invoked, after which the sacrifice was offered. The moment of time between these two ceremonies is the most sacred of all, the moment of deepest inner concentration. If piety is sincere and expressive of real faith, the contemplation of it has a transforming and awe–inspiring effect on those who witness it.

Thus also in nature a holy seriousness is to be seen in the fact that natural occurrences are uniformly subject to law. Contemplation of the divine meaning underlying the workings of the universe gives to the man who is called upon to influence others the means of producing like effects. This requires that power of inner concentration which religious contemplation develops in great men strong in faith. It enables them to apprehend the mysterious and divine laws of life, and by means of profoundest inner concentration they give expression to these laws in their own persons. Thus a hidden spiritual power emanates from them, influencing and dominating others without their being aware of how it happens.
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.

The Simple Way III: Yes

Scott Bradley

The Simple Way of Zhouzi might be summarized in the one word Yes. It is an absolute and fundamental affirmation of things as they are. This is, ironically, a very hard saying. Things are not as we would have them to be. There is much evil in the human world. There is much suffering in the world in general. We feel a moral responsibility to care about this and to do something about it. Yet none of this apparent imperfection impacts the view from Dao. From the perspective of Dao all things are perfect in being what they are, because they are. Dao is the great emerging of which all things are equally a part. Dao is what happens. Dao is amoral. Just like Nature. Just like the stars. Just like empty space. Just like the Universe.

It bears saying that all this evil and suffering of which I spoke and with which we are so concerned are only one supernova or asteroid impact away from complete resolution. Yet these are probably some time off and we live in the present. And in this present we understand that our affirmation of all things is precisely what enables us to make them better. All things are perfect; so let's work on their imperfections. Nothing need be improved upon; so let's improve them. Walking two roads, just like life itself, never really makes 'sense'.

Here's Mary. She's all fucked-up. Yet there's something essential about Mary that makes her affirmable, and because of this essential affirmability we care about her and seek to assist her to greater peace. And just as our desire to help her begins in our appreciation of her affirmability, so our actual help begins in helping her to realize her affirmability. But alas, despite our efforts, Mary remains all fucked-up. No matter, Mary is still perfectly Mary. All is well.

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 20 (Kuan)


A slight variation of tonal stress gives the Chinese name for this hexagram a double meaning. It means both contemplating and being seen, in the sense of being an example. These ideas are suggested by the fact that the hexagram can be understood as picturing a type of tower characteristic of ancient China.

A tower of this kind commanded a wide view of the country; at the same time, when situated on a mountain, it became a landmark that could be seen for miles around. Thus the hexagram shows a ruler who contemplates the law of heaven above him and the ways of the people below, and who, by means of good government, sets a lofty example to the masses. This hexagram is linked with the eight month (September-October). The light-giving power retreats and the dark power is again on the increase. However, this aspect is not material in the interpretation of the hexagram as a whole.
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.

New And Improved

Trey Smith

So, I am at the grocery store the other day. As I pushed my cart down one aisle or the other, I noticed three different packaged items that looked a bit different. On the outside of each package were words that went something like this: Same great flavor in a brand new package. Unlike most consumers, I have figured out what these code words actually mean: Hey bonehead, you get to pay the same price that you paid before, but now you get less product!

Just to be sure, I closely examined each one. In all three cases, the price was the same, but the ounces were less.

Why haven't more people caught onto this gambit? I have actually gotten into arguments with folks who swear the size or weight is the same, only to be later disproved. Is it this way in other countries? Is it just Americans that seem so gullible?

I supposed I shouldn't be that surprised. Americans love to believe political campaign promises. Even when you show them that the politician, in question, didn't follow through or, once ensconced in office, did the exact opposite of what he or she said on the campaign trail, they will fall for the very next campaign pledge that comes out of that same politician's mouth!

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Somebody's Jail

Performed by Holly Near

Just walking along, shopping for food
Stepping out of the line of fire when people are rude
Cheap stuff made in China, someone calls it a sale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail

Beat down in the market, stoned to death in the plaza
Raped on the hillside under the gun from LA to Gaza
A house made of cardboard living close to the rail
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail

And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my soul
The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned in the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairytale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail

The noise of elections, the promise of change
A grabbing of power at the top, a day at the rifle range
Somebody's in danger, somebody's for sale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail

It's not on a map
The weight of the world on somebody's back
It's the clothes that I wear, it's the food that I eat
It's the women and the children living out on the street
It's the war at the border, the refugee camp
It's the child bride doomed to walk the ramp
It's the boot in the stomach, the slap in the face
It's the death that is handed out simply by race
Rape by the soldiers, abduction of sons
It's nuclear threat, the fascination with guns
Looks at the office, the danger at night
The one you call darling coming home for a fight
It's the AIDS with no borders, it's the African teen
It's the women all over simply going unseen
It's the arrogant posture, the man on the moon
It's the dying of need before the promise of soon
It's the millions who go without food and water
It's somebody's mother, somebody's daughter

And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my soul
The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned in the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairytale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
Somebody's jail
Somebody's jail
~ from ~

The Simple Way II: No Conditions To Meet

Scott Bradley

The Simple Way is non-dual; it understands Reality as a Oneness that necessarily abides outside the ability of the intellect to articulate. Dualism is a necessary condition of our experience of self-aware, individuated existence. Yet this experience can be informed by non-dual experience and thus made fuller and richer. Nothing is rejected; there is no flight from things as they are and must be. All is affirmed.

The Simple Way understands the non-dual as an affirmation of things as they are. This includes all that humans are and do. There is nothing that is not Dao. All that humans do is what Dao does. Nothing is lost. Nothing falls through the cracks. There is neither heaven nor hell. It is impossible to 'deviate' from Dao; one cannot be 'out of the Dao'.

There are humans who realize the human potential to joy and harmony more successfully than others. There are some who fail of this miserably. But they are equally human and the expressions they give to their humanity are equally expressions of Reality. Dao does not distinguish between them. Dao is every expression.

The Simple Way understands this affirmation as the beginning and end of the experience of unity. There are no conditions one must meet to be absolutely affirmed together with all things. It is already true of us. There is nothing which we must become to be acceptable. All things are acceptable just as they are.

Realizing this is transformative. All concerns about the moral implications of an amoral Dao are obviated in the experience of this total affirmation. Free of the need to become, we are free to become.

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

Bit by Bit - Chapter 12, Part 2

Trey Smith

Look at words in the light of the Way - then the sovereign of the world will be upright. Look at distinctions in the light of the Way - then the duty of sovereign and subject will be clear. Look at abilities in the light of the Way - then the officials of the world will be well ordered. Look everywhere in the light of the Way - then the response of the ten thousand things will be complete.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
Trying to describe what cannot be described with words is a fool's errand. Trying to explain the unexplainable with words is completely lacking. But since I can't experience your experiences and you can't experience mine, words are necessary to communicate that which truly cannot be communicated.

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

Still Here, But on the Way (I Think)

Trey Smith

Well, I ended up not taking the train yesterday to White Salmon. Della's condition changed and so it turns out she will not be released at the time they originally thought. In fact, she is no longer IN White Salmon. Yesterday afternoon she was transported by ground ambulance to Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon. She is now one hour closer to me, but with no car, that doesn't make much difference!

That's not entirely true. One of the readers of this blog is my step-mother's niece. She has volunteered to go up and beyond the call of duty to drive today from Oregon to pick me up and take me to White Salmon to fetch both the car and some of my wife's belongings. This is not a trivial matter by any stretch of the imagination. This woman -- who has never met me in person -- has volunteered to set her life aside to drive several hundred miles (all told) to help me get to my ailing wife. Not only that, but my next door neighbor and a young friend have both volunteered to come feed our dogs, if and when the situation might warrant that.

You know, it's not uncommon for any of us sometimes to get sort of down on the world. Things don't go as we had hoped and it can cause a person to think that you're stranded on an island with nowhere to turn. Often, when frustration seems ripe to turn to despair, someone out of the blue offers a helping hand and you realize that there are scores of good people in the world. All it takes is for you (me) to swallow your (my) pride and to ask for help.

So, hopefully, later today or early tomorrow morning I will be on my way to White Salmon to pick up our car and prepare Della's rented room to be vacated. Once I get that accomplished, I will start the return trip back with a scheduled long stop in Portland to see my dearly beloved.

I Ching: Hexagram 19 - The Lines, Part 6

Six at the top means:
Great hearted approach.
Good-hearted approach.
Good fortune. No blame.

A sage who has put the world behind him and who in spirit has already withdrawn from life may, under certain circumstances, decide to return once more to the here and now and to approach other men. This means great good fortune for the men whom he teaches and helps. And for him this great hearted humbling of himself is blameless.
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.

The Simple Way I: The Kingdom Is Within

Scott Bradley

The Simple Way is that way espoused by Zhouzi, whom I have made up; it should not be surprising, therefore, that it is also the way I am presently working to actualize. This series will be an attempt to once again articulate what that way is, and possibly grow in it in the process.

The Simple Way proposes no definitive metaphysics. Whatever it says about Reality is not an attempt to say what it is, but to enable a kind of psycho-spiritual attitude and orientation which will help to facilitate an experience of peace and harmony. It is not about Truth and makes no claim to Truth. Like Laozi, it does not know what Reality is, so it gives it an artificial name, Dao, so as to be able to speak about what must remain utter Mystery.

The Simple Way does not envision itself as a means to uniting with something exterior to the human experience. If there is satori, it comes not as a bolt from above, but from a realization of the human potential. It may be that the human is capable of re-union with the Totality, but this is facilitated by being thoroughly human. We need not 'find' anything else.

Because it does not pursue Truth, the Simple Way does not need to discriminate between various 'ways' on the basis of their 'truthfulness'. Whatever discrimination there may be is based on efficacy, and only the individual can decide what works best for them.

At the same time, the Simple Way, like every 'way', is a particular way, and as such must understand what it is and what it is not. If, for instance, someone were to say there is a personal God to which we must submit, the Simple Way would discriminate and declare that foreign to its way of orienting itself to Reality. It would not say that this belief was 'untrue', but that it is not helpful within the context of its own approach. Whether or not it is helpful within the context of a theistic way is best left for those who espouse it to determine.

It is difficult to speak of any one dimension of this way without touching upon numerous others since they all emerge from a single vision. Here, two points are being made: First, because it is not about knowing Truth, we do not need to get it 'right' to get it. Though the view from the mountain-top might be the goal, there are many ways up the mountain.

Secondly, this way begins and ends in the human experience; it neither seeks nor requires eternal verities; it is enough to be human. To be thoroughly oneself is the ultimate. The rest will take care of itself.

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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 19 - The Lines, Part 5

Six in the fifth place means:
Wise approach.
This is right for a great prince.
Good fortune.

A prince, or anyone in a leading position, must have the wisdom to attract to himself people of ability who are expert in directing affairs. His wisdom consists both in selecting the right people and in allowing those chosen to have a free hand without interference from him. For only through such self-restraint will he find the experts needed to satisfy all of his requirements.
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.

Both Sides Now

Trey Smith

The historic drought that laid waste to America's grain and corn belt is unlikely to ease before the middle of this year, a government forecast warned on Thursday.

The annual spring outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted hotter, drier conditions across much of the US, including parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, where farmers have been fighting to hang on to crops of winter wheat.

The three-month forecast noted an additional hazard, however, for the midwest: with heavy, late snows setting up conditions for flooding along the Red and Souris rivers in North Dakota.

"It's a mixed bag of flooding, drought and warm weather," Laura Furgione, the deputy director of NOAA's weather service told a conference call with reporters.

Last year produced the hottest year since record keeping began more than a century ago, with several weeks in a row of 100+degree days. It also brought drought to close to 65% of the country by summer's end.
~ from Drought That Ravaged US Crops Likely to Worsen in 2013, Forecast Warns by Suzanne Goldenberg ~
Isn't that just peachy? Drought AND floods. Maybe locusts will be next!

I am continually amazed that some folks refuse to entertain the notion that global warming/climate change might be the cause of this continued misery. As I have asked before, how bad does it have to get before these people finally say, "OK, maybe the scientists have a point."

Do cows have to start exploding in fields? Do Kansas and Oklahoma have to look like the Mohave Desert? Really, what will it take?

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Feel Like A Number

Performed by Bob Seger

I take my card and I stand in line
To make a buck I work overtime
Dear Sir letters keep coming in the mail

I work my back till it's racked with pain
The boss can't even recall my name
I show up late and I'm docked
It never fails

I feel like just another
Spoke in a great big wheel
Like a tiny blade of grass
In a great big field, whoa

To workers I'm just another drone
To Ma Bell I'm just another phone
I'm just another statistic on a sheet

To teachers I'm just another child
To IRS I'm just another file
I'm just another consensus on the street

Gonna cruise out of this city
Head down to the sea
Gonna shout out at the ocean
Hey it's me

And I feel like a number
Feel like a number
Feel like a stranger
A stranger in this land

I feel like a number
I'm not a number
I'm not a number
Dammit I'm a man
I said I'm a man

Gonna cruise out of this city
Head down to the sea
Gonna shout out at the ocean
Hey, it's me

And I feel like a number
Feel like a number
Feel like a stranger
A stranger in this land

I feel like a number
I'm not a number
I'm not a number
Damn it, I'm a man

I feel like a number
Feel like a number
Feel like a number

I feel like a
I feel
Feel like a
Feel like a

I feel like a
I feel like a
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Night Raid

Trey Smith

Picture this. A man, armored in tattoos, bursts into a living room not his own. He confronts an enemy. He barks orders. He throws that enemy into a chair. Then against a wall. He plants himself in the middle of the room, feet widespread, fists clenched, muscles straining, face contorted in a scream of rage. The tendons in his neck are taut with the intensity of his terrifying performance. He chases the enemy to the next room, stopping escape with a quick grab and thrust and body block that pins the enemy, bent back, against a counter. He shouts more orders: his enemy can go with him to the basement for a "private talk," or be beaten to a pulp right here. Then he wraps his fingers around the neck of his enemy and begins to choke her.

No, that invader isn't an American soldier leading a night raid on an Afghan village, nor is the enemy an anonymous Afghan householder. This combat warrior is just a guy in Ohio named Shane. He's doing what so many men find exhilarating: disciplining his girlfriend with a heavy dose of the violence we render harmless by calling it "domestic."
~ from The Men Who Kick Down Doors: How Domestic Violence Mirrors War by Ann Jones ~
One of the problems with societies that glorify violence is that violence comes to permeate all aspects of life. As Jones illustrates above, it becomes the modus operandi of too many husbands, boyfriends and fathers. It often manifests itself in the acts of rape and abuse. It becomes the prime way athletic coaches deal with members of their team. And it has frequently become the way local police forces deal with citizens they encounter (for whatever reason).

When your nation's leaders adopt a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality, that serves as a blueprint for agencies and individuals throughout the land. When the president declares that he has the right to serve as the judge, jury and executioner, it encourages local authorities to behave in exactly the same manner on issues within their own jurisdiction. When your federal government defines enemy in a very broad and nebulous fashion, it sets a poor example that is copied by others in that society.

I know a lot of people who say that they don't pay much attention to domestic and foreign policy. They say it doesn't impact their everyday lives. Me thinks they are wrong. The actions and behaviors modeled by the power brokers and elite of every society trickles down to everyone else. It sets a standard of decorum. If the standards set are moral and ethical, the society progresses. If the standards set lack morality and ethics, then society becomes polluted.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 12, Part 1

Trey Smith

Heaven and earth are huge, but they are alike in their transformations. The ten thousand things are numerous, but they are one in their good order. Human beings are many, but they are all subjects of the sovereign. The sovereign finds his source in Virtue, his completion in Heaven. Therefore it is said that the sovereign of dark antiquity ruled the world through inaction, through Heavenly Virtue and nothing more.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
As we gaze upon the world, we see infinite variety. Each droplet of water and every snowflake is utterly unique. And yet, for all this uniqueness, everything is derived from the same basic elements and, one day, we may discover that all these basic elements originated with one element. Despite our differences, we are one.

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

Head East, Old Man

Trey Smith

After two nerve-wracking days, Della's condition is starting to improve. Initially, the doctors thought she might be suffering from congestive heart failure, but later determined it was just a bad case of pneumonia compounded by a sinus infection. The doctors have told Della that she most likely will be released from the hospital late this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Once she's released, she will be on strict orders for bed rest for several days. Since it is almost impossible to stay down when you must fend for yourself, I am taking the train early this afternoon bound for Bingen-White Salmon. If all goes as planned, I will drive Della back here to South Bend on Friday. With Della back home for at least one week, I can make sure she stays down. I will prepare her meals, make sure she drinks plenty of fluids, keep her humidifier filled up and on plus do the shopping and run any needed errands.

One of the main reasons this infection got more severe than expected is that, though her doctor had told her to stay down for several days, she had to do all the activities I listed above. Not only that, but since she wasn't running a fever, she continued to go to work. AmeriCorps volunteers receive very few personal days during their term and are expected to perform their service unless deathly ill. This is why Della continued to troop off to Head Start most days.

It is fortunate that this coming week is White Salmon's Spring Break, so she won't miss much time in the classroom, but she will miss a week in which she is supposed to be doing alternative service hours. This is unfortunate, but her return to relatively good health is our first priority.

I Ching: Hexagram 19 - The Lines, Part 4

Six in the fourth place means:
Complete approach.
No blame.

While the three lower lines indicate rise to power and influence, the three upper lines show the attitude of persons in higher position toward those of lower rank for whom they procure influence. Here is shown the open-minded approach of a person of high rank to a man of ability whom he draws in to his own circle, regardless of class prejudice. This is very favorable.
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.

The Dry Heaves

Scott Bradley

It's been three years now since I began to write these posts. And though they are admittedly uneven in content and presentation, still it has amazed me how they continue to pour forth. There have been several times when I thought it was finished, only to have it continue with a vengeance. This is one of those times, yet the renewed pouring has yet to happen.

I have described this writing as a kind of vomiting; just when I think it's all come up, there's more. At the moment, however, it's a bit more like the dry heaves. Maybe it's time to stop.

Comparing this writing project to vomiting is apropos in many respects. It is in some sense involuntary; it wants to come out. And, despite my sincere commitment to the spirit of what is said here, and my belief that it has helped me in many ways to articulate it, still it is in many ways just vomit. (I won't presume to even speak of what it might have meant to others.) Words are not reality.

I write this in lieu of anything else to write. Perhaps there is more to come up; or perhaps this project is nearing its end.

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 19 - The Lines, Part 3

Six in the third place means:
Comfortable approach.
Nothing that would further.
If one is induced to grieve over it,
One becomes free of blame.

Things are going well for a man: he achieves power and influence. But in this lies the danger that he may relax, and confident of his position, allow the easygoing, careless mood to show itself in his dealings with other people. This would inevitably be harmful. But there is possibility of a change of mood. If he regrets his mistaken attitude and feels the responsibility of an influential position, he frees himself of faults.
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.

Is It Really All About the Kids?

Trey Smith

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court took up the issue of gay marriage in a case concerning California's Proposition 8. While a lot of legal arguments were tossed around, I want to focus on one.
Charles Cooper, legal counsel for four Californians seeking to uphold the results of Proposition 8, barring gay marriage in the state, told the court on Tuesday that the inability of same-sex couples to have children together meant that to allow them to wed would change the historic definition of marriage.
Time and time again, this has been one of the central arguments by those who oppose gay marriage. Though I do not happen to be gay, this argument, if upheld, would mean that people like me would be barred from getting married as well.

I was born with Klinefelter's Syndrome. My body does not produce sperm and there is no operation or therapy that will change this fact. According to Cooper's argument, since I am unable to procreate -- I certainly can and have had sex, I just can't produce babies -- my marriage to Della HAS changed "the historic definition of marriage."

But, of course, my marriage has done no such thing! The institution of marriage is alive and well. So, if Della and I can be married without procreation, why can't Steve and John or Cindy and Sara?

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Hungry Planet

Performed by The Byrds

I'm a hungry planet
I had a youthful face
They were in a hurry
To go to outer space
They needed bombs and tungsten
Ore and iron too
So they climbed and they dug and they blew
Divided me right in two

I'm a hungry planet
Orbiting in the sky
The things they did to hurt me
Pass on by and by
Now here I am all alone
They never ever learn
Well I had to shake and quake
And make their houses burn

I'm a hungry planet
I had the bluest seas
Oh the people kept choppin' down
All my finest trees
Poisonin' my oxygen
Diggin' into my skin
Takin' more out of my good earth
Than they'll ever put back in
I'm a hungry planet
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Accepting Responsibility for Ourselves

Trey Smith

In 2011, Newsweek asked 1,000 Americans to take the standard U.S. Citizenship test, and 38 percent of them failed. One in three couldn't name the vice-president. A 2009 study in the European Journal of Communications looked at how informed citizens of the U.S., UK, Denmark and Finland were of the international news of the day, and the results weren't pretty (PDF).

“Overall,” the scholars wrote, “the Scandinavians emerged as the best informed, averaging 62–67 percent correct responses, the British were relatively close behind with 59 percent, and the Americans lagging in the rear with 40 percent.” We didn't fare much better when it came to domestic stories.

Widespread ignorance of objective reality poses a genuine threat to democracy. The people of the United States have ignorance in abundance.

The way representative democracy is supposed to work is pretty simple: you protect the fundamental rights of the minority (so it doesn't become two wolfs and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner), and then the majority of citizens, acting in their own rational self-interest, elect representatives who will pursue the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens.

That's the theory, but “rational” is a key word in that formulation. What happens when lots of citizens don't have a solid grasp of what's going on in the real world?
~ from Are Americans Too Stupid for Democracy? by Joshua Holland ~
Americans like to blame their ignorance on others. Our government leaders lie, ya know. It's the fault of the mainstream media because they distort the news one way or the other. Our educational system is in shambles. I'm far too busy trying to keep my family's head above water to pay much attention to all that political stuff.

All the above reasons are true, but that doesn't absolve anyone from accepting a measure of responsibility for themselves. There is no question that it can be a definite challenge sifting through the lies and disinformation, but it is something we should be doing as citizens of this country. That's what it means when you read We, the people.

I am continually shocked by the level of nonthinking that is exhibited by my fellow countrymen/women. In local conversations, people parrot talking points provided by the government or media outlets like Faux News. If you challenge their declarations, they keep to the script. If you bring up points that aren't contained in their script, they are easily befuddled and, after flailing around for a moment or two, quickly end the conversation. Rather than take in new information or a different perspective, they run away with their hands over their ears.

Why do so many Americans behave this way? Personally, I think much of the answer has to do with Christianity. Christians -- particularly fundamentalists -- are brainwashed into believing one script and one script only. Anything that deviates from this singular perspective of the world is to be condemned out of hand. Discussion is bad and obedience to authority is good. Thinking for yourself is really, really bad.

When it comes to ignorance of politics or scientific knowledge, fundamentalist Christians score the worst. Several studies have underscored that people who consider Faux News as their number source of information are the LEAST informed about current events.

Europeans typically are better informed that Americans. Europe has moved away from established religion, while the US still clings to it. I think there is a connection there!

Bit by Bit - Chapter 11, Part 23

Trey Smith

What is this thing called the Way? There is the Way of Heaven, and the way of man. To rest in inaction, and command respect - this is the Way of Heaven. To engage in action and become entangled in it - this is the way of man. The ruler is the Way of Heaven; his subjects are the way of man. The Way of Heaven and the way of man are far apart. This is something to consider carefully!
~ Burton Watson translation ~
The Way of nature is fluidity and flexibility. The way of humanity is to manipulate and control that which really can't be manipulated or controlled.

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

Life Is Better at the Top of the Food Chain

Trey Smith

When Congress was defunding ACORN for imaginary crimes alleged by a fraudster who is now having to compensate his victims, one Congresswoman proposed a bill to defund government contractors actually guilty of crimes. Passing such a bill would strip Lockheed Martin of some 80% of its income.

The list of abuses by Lockheed Martin includes contract fraud, unfair business practices, kickbacks, mischarges, inflated costs, defective pricing, improper pricing, unlicensed exporting to foreign nations (Lockheed Martin sells weapons to governments of all sorts around the world), air and water pollution, fraud, bribery, federal election law violations, overbilling, radiation exposure, age discrimination, illegal transfer of information to China, falsification of testing records, embezzlement, racial discrimination, retaliation against whistleblowers, bid-rigging, and much more.

Why, one might ask, does the federal government give such a company a dime, much less $40 billion per year?
~ from Maryland: A Government Of, By and For Lockheed Martin by David Swanson ~
We have a two-tiered justice system. People in the bottom tier get the book thrown at them for minor infractions, while the people at the top can commit all sorts of serious crimes and not face any recriminations. I know of people who have been kicked off of Food Stamps for not reporting a few measly dollars earned from odd jobs. These folks, whose lives are mired in poverty, are accused of "defrauding" the government of less than $100. And yet, corporations like Lockheed Martin can defraud the government of millions or billions of dollars and their "benefits" keep on rolling in.

We live in a shameless system.

I Ching: Hexagram 19 - The Lines, Part 2

Nine in the second place means:
Joint approach.
Good fortune.
Everything furthers.

When the stimulus to approach comes from a high place, and when a man has the inner strength and consistency that need no admonition, good fortune will ensue. Nor need the future cause any concern. He is well aware that everything earthly is transitory, and that a descent follows upon every rise, but need not be confused by this universal law of fate. Everything serves to further. Therefore he will travel the paths of life swiftly, honestly, and valiantly.
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.


Scott Bradley

Raimon Panikkar (A Dwelling Place for Wisdom) tells us that “not-knowing”, which he calls apophatism, has been near universally understood as a window to wisdom (“the art of living well”).

“The person who is truly connected to God in this life, is united with God as totally unknown.” (Dionysius Aeropagita)

“Blessed is he who has reached an infinite ignorance.” (Evagrius Ponticus)

“It is not understood by those who know it; it is understood by those who do not know it.” (Kena-Upanishad)

He also makes the point that to know that one does not know, as advocated by Socrates for instance, still leaves one on the side of knowing. Knowing that one does not know may be the beginning of wisdom, but it is not wisdom. Wisdom is harmonious living rooted in a mystical, which is to say existential and organic, connectedness with reality.

The perfection of understanding, Zhuangzi tells us, is first to know its limits, and secondly for that not-knowing to occasion an openness to what in us lies beyond cognition.

It might be argued that we have various mystical traditions largely as a consequence of our failure to remain not-knowing. We emerge from the mystical and knowingly articulate what we have experienced. Yet, since we usually enter the mystical under the influence of a tradition, it would seem that these two complement each other. Just as we may be more than flesh, though nothing about us completely transcends the flesh, so also our experience of the mystical necessarily takes on the flesh of words and apparent knowing when shared in the world.

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 19 - The Lines, Part 1

Nine at the beginning means:
Joint approach.
Perseverance brings good fortune.

The good begins to prevail and to find response in influential circles. This in turn is an incentive to men of ability. IT is well to join this upward trend, but we must not let ourselves be carried away by the current of the time; we must adhere perseveringly to what is right. This bring good fortune.
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.

When It Rains, It Pours

Trey Smith

As I wrote earlier this afternoon, I feel helpless...and now I feel even more so. I learned about one hour ago that Della has been admitted to the hospital in White Salmon. She had gone to her doctor's office this afternoon and they discovered that her blood oxygen levels were far too low. Her doc said she could pass out at any moment.

I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is no way I can get to White Salmon tonight -- I have no car! My buddy Dan has already moved away and my other friend, Paul, is out of town until mid-day tomorrow. I also have our pets to worry about. Even if I had a car, I just can't go drive off into the sunset and leave them here to fend for themselves.

I have my fingers crossed that, once the doctors run a few tests, they will figure out what's wrong with my wife and she will be released tomorrow or the next day. If it goes that way, then I'll work something out with Paul to get me to the train station in Centralia or to the rent-a-car place in Astoria and then, once I arrive in White Salmon, I'll bring Della back here in our car. Hopefully, I can get this accomplished in one day, so the animals won't be left alone overnight.

However, if it doesn't go that way -- if the doctors determine Della's condition is far more serious -- then I'm not sure what I will do. For one thing, she most likely would be transported to a different hospital, possibly one in Vancouver or Portland. At this point, though, there is no point in getting all worked up about the various possibilities. I simply need to try to keep my anxiety levels down and wait to find out what the immediate future holds.