Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 26 - The Lines, Part 6

Nine at the top means:
The source of nourishment.
Awareness of danger brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

This describes a sage of the highest order, from whom emanate all influences that provide nourishment for others. Such a position brings with it heavy responsibility. If he remains conscious of this fact, he has good fortune and may confidently undertake even great and difficult labors, such as crossing the great water. These undertakings bring general happiness for him and for all others.
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.

This Post May Be Evidence of a Crime

Trey Smith

If it wasn't clear up to now, it was made crystal clear last week. The co-defendent in the Bradley Manning trial is the Internet itself.

In one of the case's most disturbing pre-trial hearings, Judge Col. Denise Lind ruled last week that prosecutors can offer as evidence files seized from Osama Bin Laden's computer as well as the testimony of a Navy Seal, part of the Bin Laden assasination team, who found them. His identity will not be revealed and the defense can cross-examine him only from a very specific and limited list of court-approved questions.

The ruling is important not only because it shows the almost unimaginable absurdity of the Manning case but because it reveals the true intent of the Obama Administration in pursuing it.

The hearing was about the "standard of proof" necessary to prove two charges: espionage and aiding the enemy. It also took up what kinds of evidence would be permitted in the trial to support those charges.

According to the prosecutors, Manning committed espionage and aided the enemy by giving them important intelligence and he did that by putting it on the Internet. That's it; that's the crime. His real intent is irrelevant. The government is arguing that, if you put something on the Internet that some nefarious rascal downloads, you are effectively aiding that person materially in any "relevant" crime he or she might commit. It doesn't matter if there's no evidence that the person read it and no need to prove that you intended for him or her to retrieve it. Effectively, it makes the use of the Internet a potential crime.
~ from Bradley Manning Update: How to Commit Espionage Without Trying! by Alfredo Lopez ~
Since I often write on political themes and I share what the government might consider to be subversive links, this post may be evidence of a crime! If you read it and then set about to commit some sort of nefarious act, I could be in deep doo doo! So please, only read what I write IF you plan to be a model citizen. If you happen to be a malcontent no-good, go read Glenn Beck's blog. 


Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Matthew

Performed by Janis Ian

Footsteps on gravel at the neighborhood bar,
Things start to unravel, then they go too far.
The sound of pain written on the wind,
Fades to gray and then goes dim.

A boy is tied to a barbed wire fence,
For the crows to ride, for the claws to clench,
For the sweet bouquet of blood and bone,
To undermine the scent of collegiate cologne.

What makes a man a man?
The cut of a coat, the hint of a tan?
It's not who you love, but whether you can.
What makes a man a man?

So, who did he harm, what was the crime?
Did he walk too lightly, did he seem too shy?
Did he make them wonder deep inside?
Did they feel like real men when he died?

Did the waning moon look down from on high?
Did the twinkling stars try to catch his eye?
Did the wind caress his flesh and bone?
Did they leave him there to die alone?

What makes a man a man?
The cut of a coat, the hint of a tan?
It's not who you love, but whether you can.
What makes a man a man?

Now the stars are nailed to an empty sky.
And the moon is pinned like a big butterfly.
And I'm afraid to shine too bright,
Since the day they took his life.

So, mothers, teach your children this,
Don't overreach, don't run the risk.
Hide in the shadows, don't expect
Your good heart to save your neck.

What makes a man a man?
The cut of a coat, the hint of a tan?
It's not who you love, but whether you can.
That makes a man a man.
That makes a man a man.
© Janis Ian
~ from MP3 Lyrics ~

Too Tame

Trey Smith

The scene was striking for its dissonance. Fifty activists massed in front of the White House, some of them sitting, others tied to the iron fence, most of them smiling, all decorous looking, not a Black Blocker or Earth First!er in the viewshed. The leaders of this micro-occupation of the sidewalk held a black banner featuring Obama’s campaign logo, the one with the blue “O” and the curving red stripes that looks like a pipeline snaking across Kansas. The message read, prosaically: “Lead on Climate: Reject the KXL Pipeline.” Cameras whirred frantically, most aimed at the radiant face of Daryl Hannah, as DC police moved in to politely ask the crowd to disperse. The crowd politely declined. The Rubicon had been crossed. For the first time in 120 years, a Sierra Club official, executive director Mike Brune, was going to get arrested for an act of civil (and the emphasis here is decisively on civil) disobedience.

Brune had sought special dispensation for the arrest from the Sierra Club board, a one-day exemption to the Club’s firm policy against non-violent civil disobedience, The Board assented. One might ask, what took them so long? One might also ask, why now? Is the Keystone Pipeline a more horrific ecological crime than oil drilling in grizzly habitat on the border of Glacier National Park or the gunning down of 350 wolves a year in the outback of Idaho? Hardly. The Keystone Pipeline is one of many noxious conduits of tar sand oil from Canada, vile, certainly, but standard practice for Big Oil.

...As the cops strolled in to begin their vanity arrests, they soon confronted the inscrutable commander of these delicately chained bodies, Bill McKibben, leader of the massively funded 350.Org. McKibben had repeatedly referred to this as the environmental movement’s “lunch counter moment,” making an odious comparison to the Civil Right’s movement’s courageous occupation of the “white’s only” spaces across the landscape of the Jim Crow era, acts of genuine defiance that were often viciously suppressed by truncheons, fists and snarling dogs.

But McKibben made no attempt to stand his ground. He allowed the PlastiCuffs that tied his thin wrists to the fence to be decorously snipped. He didn’t resist arrest; instead he craved it. This was a well-orchestrated photo-op moment.
~ from Designer Protests and Vanity Arrests in DC by Jeffrey St. Clair ~
In many ways, the environmental movement has become too tame. Photo-ops and political stances have become more important than mounting a real opposition. It is bothersome to me that far too many of these "protests" have become so well choreographed. It's like all sides are "in" on the little game being played.

R-E-A-L protest is risky. When you challenge the establishment, you don't always know how they will handle it. There should be an element of danger as you get up in their faces to tell them in no uncertain terms, "We ain't moving voluntarily!"

Some of you might think it is damn easy for a person like me to sit here at my computer keyboard to urge others to take chances. I won't be out there on the front lines. I won't be the one to risk arrest...or worse.

While that's true in the present tense, I have participated in many a non-choreographed protest in the past. We didn't file our protest plans with any authorities and there were no "wink, wink" agreements. As luck would have it, I was never arrested nor brutalized by the police, but there were quite a few protests that I helped organize that easily could have gone either way.

Many of today's designer protests lack any real tension. It's like they hand out scripts before they get underway and each participant -- including the authorities -- plays their role. It really smacks of being a performance, more than anything else. These performances aren't going to make a hill of beans worth of difference...except that enviro groups can use the photo-ops to generate more donations, so they can plan even more photo-ops.


Bit by Bit - Chapter 13, Part 5

Trey Smith

He who has a clear understanding of the Virtue of Heaven and earth may be called the Great Source, the Great Ancestor. He harmonizes with Heaven; and by doing so he brings equitable accord to the world and harmonizes with men as well. To harmonize with men is called human joy; to harmonize with Heaven is called Heavenly joy. Chuang Tzu has said, "This Teacher of mine, this Teacher of mine - he passes judgment on the ten thousand things but he doesn't think himself severe; his bounty extends to ten thousand generations but he doesn't think himself benevolent. He is older than the highest antiquity but he doesn't think himself long-lived; he covers heaven, bears up the earth, carves and fashions countless forms, but he doesn't think himself skilled." This is what is called Heavenly joy.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
Judgment is such an important facet of humans. We judge everything, often by the weirdest criteria! Many even believe that there is some supernatural entity that judges us.

But who or what judges nature? I have yet to see any proof that something or someone does.

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

More Than Pocket Change

Trey Smith

A-n-y-t-i-m-e you want to figure out WHY the US continues this insane state of perpetual war, all you need to do is to follow the money trail! I know a lot of people view this as a simplistic way of looking at things, but hey, money makes the world go around. When it comes to all the negatives inherent in war and the national security state, somebody -- several somebodies -- are making out like bandits!

Jonathan Turley helps to identify some of the bandits in regards to our attack on Iraq.
Many of us who opposed the continuing Iraqi and Afghanistan wars, it has been difficult to imagine how politicians and others in Washington could continue to sacrifice lives and hundreds of billions in these conflicts. Now there is a report giving an insight into just how profitable these wars are for key companies. For just Iraq alone, some $138 billion went to private companies with an army of lobbyists eager to keep the pipeline of cash flowing. What is rarely striking however is that some ten contractors received 52 percent of the funds and one company received $39.5 billion. That company is Houston-based KBR, Inc., which is an extension of its parent, Halliburton Co. in 2007. That of course is Dick Cheney’s firm.

Many of those contracts going to KBR lacked any competitive bidding process.
As should be obvious, we didn't attack Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction. We didn't do it to liberate the Iraqi people or to usher in democracy. While possession of Iraq's oil reserves played a role, this gambit was more a smokescreen to hide the real stars.

This is something you need to keep in mind as many of our leaders talk of the US becoming militarily involved in Syria or Iran. You might hear talk of nuclear weapons development or the use of chemical weapons on civilian populations. Most likely, it's all rhetoric. There may be small grains of truth there, but it is more likely a pretext -- like those nonexistent WMDs -- to funnel taxpayer dollars to many of those same behemoth corporations.

Remember, follow the money.

I Ching: Hexagram 26 - The Lines, Part 5

Six in the fifth place means:
Turning away from the path.
To remain persevering brings good fortune.
One should not cross the great water.

A man may be conscious of a deficiency in himself. He should be undertaking the nourishment of the people, but he has not the strength to do it. Thus he must turn from his accustomed path and beg counsel and help from a man who is spiritually his superior but undistinguished outwardly. If he maintains this attitude of mind perseveringly, success and good fortune are his. But he must remain aware of his dependence. He must not put his own person forward nor attempt great labors, such as crossing the great water.
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.

Nature Vs Nurture III

Scott Bradley

Xunzi's criticism of Zhuangzi ("Zhuangzi was obsessed by nature (tian=heaven), but did not know the human.") is found in his chapter "Dispelling Obsessions" which begins: "The thing all men should fear is that they become obsessed by a small corner and lose sight of the larger pattern." (Xunzi 21/1) This sentiment is so reminiscent of the opening theme of the 33rd chapter of the Zhuangzi where all the philosophies discussed, with the notable exception of Confucianism which by default is assumed to see the “larger pattern”, are declared to be the work of “nook and cranny scholars”, that it’s hard not to imagine some very real connection between them. In any case, this seems to have been a major thrust of the Confucian polemic.

What is ironic about this statement is that it is one that Zhuangzi would have whole-heartedly endorsed. Only he would have added that anyone who thought he clearly saw the “larger pattern” would also be someone “obsessed by a small corner”. Xunzi falls into exactly the folly of thinking his perspective takes in the whole picture. The Confucians and Mohists, Zhuangzi tells us, each deny what the other affirms, believing they see the “larger pattern”, and in this they are obsessed with their “small corner”. In view of this, wouldn’t it be better, he asks, to understand that we do not understand and begin from there?

Zhuangzi actually makes a similar statement when he says: “A large consciousness is idle and spacey; a small consciousness is cramped and circumspect.” (Chapter 2; Ziporyn) The difference between his statement and Xunzi’s is that for Zhuangzi the only way to avoid dwelling in a “small corner” is to be free of dogmatism altogether.

To truly be free of dogmatism one must allow dogmatism to flourish. Thus, Zhuangzi goes on to say that the sage just follows along with whatever dogmatism she encounters. Like the monkey trainer, who understood that it really made no difference whether his monkeys got two or three nuts in the morning or two or three in the afternoon, the sage lets human culture unfold.

Xunzi’s real complaint with Zhuangzi is precisely this — his failure to be dogmatic. He who clings to a “right view” is more comfortable with someone who clings to his own “right view”, even though “wrong”, than with someone who subscribes to no “right view” at all. “Heaven” (Nature) for Zhuangzi is a great unfolding, and whatever unfolds is ultimately acceptable. If what happens is Dao, then all that happens is ultimately affirmable.

But the monkey trainer had responsibilities; he had monkeys to take care of; and thus, though he himself saw no difference between two now and three later and three now and two later, he went along with the monkeys in their preferences and thereby brought them some degree of peace. This is “walking two roads”. Xunzi would have insisted on one formula, his own.

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

TYT - Don't Stand With Rand

Monday, April 29, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 26 - The Lines, Part 4

Six in the fourth place means:
Turning to the summit
For provision of nourishment
Brings good fortune.
Spying about with sharp eyes
Like a tiger with insatiable craving.
No blame.

In contrast to the six in the second place, which refers to a man bent exclusively on his own advantage, this line refers to one occupying a high position and striving to let his light sine forth. To do this he needs helpers, because he cannot attain his lofty aim alone. With the greed of a hungry tiger he is on the lookout for the right people. Since he is not working for himself but for the good of all, there is no wrong in such zeal.
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.

Far Worse Than a Bloody Nose

Trey Smith

If you knew of a person who bullied others day in and day out, would you not understand it when one or more of the bullied became upset?

Most of us don't like being pushed around. We want to make our own choices freely, not be forced into them against our will. Being forced to do something you don't want to do and often don't need to do is a very uncomfortable position to be in. If the bully refuses to leave you alone, it is quite natural to become resentful and angry. If you have the opportunity, it is not above most of us to want to avenge the abuse.

While most Americans can identify with the emotions of being bullied -- if presented in a hypothetical situation -- why is it that they can't or won't apply this sort of identification to Muslims? The answer, of course, has everything to do with American Exceptionalism.

Despite the fact that our nation has spent the last 11+ years bullying Muslims in several nations, the vast majority of Americans express dismay that some of them might be a tad bit resentful and angry. It would be like saying, "I don't understand why they are so mad at us. All we've done is kill tens of thousands of them. So, where on earth could this seething rage come from?"

As David Sirota wrote a few days ago,
With America having killed thousands of civilians in its wars, we should be appalled by acts of terrorism — but we shouldn’t be surprised by them.
And yet, that is precisely the sentiment most Americans express. They are surprised. They are shocked. They are horrified. In many cases, they are utterly dumbfounded.

If the shoe was on the other foot, then most Americans would understand. If another nation routinely bombed American cities and the countryside, do you think Americans would have the least bit of difficulty in understanding how such actions breed hate and contempt?

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Watch It Die

Performed by Bad Religion

I was born on planet Earth
The rotating ball where man comes first
It's been around for a long, long time
But now it's time to watch it die

I saw a man on the big blue screen
He ruled the world economy
He said the rich would never concede
But someday soon he'll be put to sleep

I've seen the life of the forest green
And adaptations of the deep blue sea
And who know who is the fittest?
They will all soon be put to rest

On a plunging flight
And we're sitting in the pilot's seat
In the midst of life
People on a dark horizon, praying somebody will save their lives

I was born on the planet Earth
At a drastic time full of plastic mirth
And every day I've seen increasing signs
And you would too if you'd open your eyes

You had a chance, you did not try
So now it's time to watch it die
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

When Money Should Not Matter...But It Does

Trey Smith

One minute a person finds themselves excited, on a beautiful day watching runners finish the oldest marathon in the country, partaking in a long community tradition and then the explosion, pain, blood and terror at what happens to them. Help arrives, treatment begins and for many a lapse into the peaceful bliss of unconsciousness.

Hours later they begin to awake in pain and to discover what they have lost. Gradually the realization hits that it will take years to get their lives back together and in fact nothing in that life will ever be quite the same again. Meanwhile they, if lucky, are with the comfort of loved ones and friends and well cared for by the hospital staff. They are somewhat celebrities and there is great public interest in them and their plight. Money for their care has flowed in from an aroused and concerned public and the least of their worries is how much will this cost and what effect it will have on their ability to earn money.

Then, as with much of what is current in the media’s reportage of the “news,” their individual plight falls to the background of the public’s consciousness. The donations dry up and with that the funds coming in and they are faced with an enormity of debt, pain and rebuilding their lives.
~ from Health Care, Boston and the Luck of the Draw by Mike Spindell ~
This is one of those questions that springs to my mind whenever a tragedy is reported in the news. With our nonfunctional health care system growing by the day, who ends up paying to put broken lives back together?

It is one thing when folks are injured as the result of their own stupidity or carelessness. In situations such as that, most people think that the victim should bear most or all of the costs. (Personally, I'm on the fence. Why? Because it is a human predilection to engage in stupid and careless acts. Most of the time, our stupidity and carelessness doesn't result in serious injury, but sometimes it does.)

But what about those who are injured through no fault of their own? Who becomes responsible for the life long costs? Money from lawsuits won only will go so far. What if the individual has no health insurance or a meager policy will a small maximum cap? Some of these individuals will be bailed out by government programs like Medicaid or Medicare, but think of the stress they will go through to obtain the benefits they so sorely qualify for.

If the US had a form of universal health care -- like most of the rest of the modern world -- such questions would never arise. The entire focus would be on each individual's recuperation and rehabilitation. Money worries would take a backseat and, in many instances, not be a concern at all.

But, sadly, that is not the system we have. Because we continue to maintain a for-profit health care system, financial concerns ultimately will turn into these victim's primary concern.

Bit by Bit - Chapter 13, Part 4

Trey Smith

Emptiness, stillness, limpidity, silence, inaction are the root of the ten thousand things. To understand them and face south is to become a ruler such as Yao was; to understand them and face north is to become a minister such as Shun was. To hold them in high station is the Virtue of emperors and kings, of the Son of Heaven; to hold them in lowly station is the way of the dark sage, the uncrowned king. Retire with them to a life of idle wandering and you will command first place among the recluses of the rivers and seas, the hills and forests. Come forward with them to succor the age and your success will be great, your name renowned, and the world will be united. In stillness you will be a sage, in action a king. Resting in inaction, you will be honored; of unwrought simplicity, your beauty will be such that no one in the world may vie with you.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
"Emptiness, stillness, limpidity, silence, inaction" are not the kinds of words we tend to value in this dog eat dog world. Can you imagine voting for a politician that used those words as his/her campaign slogan?

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

It All Seems So Topsy-Turvy

Trey Smith

Having listened to the propaganda line pumped out by Washington and its Ministry of Propaganda for eleven years, imagine my astonishment when I saw two juxtaposed headlines: “Al-Nusra pledges allegiance to al-Qaeda” (BBC) and “Move to Widen Help for Syrian Rebels Gains Speed in West” (NY Times). Al-Nusra is the main military component of the “Syrian rebels,” and it has allied itself with our mortal enemy – Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda.

Wait a minute! Our government told us for eleven years that we blew trillions of dollars on wars to protect Americans from al-Qaeda, endangering Social Security, Medicare, the social safety net, the dollar’s exchange value, the credit rating of the US Treasury, and our civil liberties in order to save America from al-Qaeda terrorists. So why is Washington now supporting al-Qaeda’s overthrow of the secular, non-Islamist government in Syria which has never ever done anything whatsoever to Americans!?

The New York Times presstitutes, Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler, elevated the terrorist al-Qaeda organization to the status of “the Syrian opposition.” At a lunch meeting hosted by Washington’s puppet, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, “the Syrian opposition,” aka al-Qaeda, requested antiaircraft and antitank weapons. A senior Washington official said: “Our assistance has been on an upward trajectory, and the president (Obama) has directed his national security team to identify additional measures so that we can increase assistance.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a $123 million “defense aid package” to “the Syrian opposition” that now includes al-Qaeda. Washington had already sent $117 million in “food and medical supplies” to “the Syrian opposition,” and ordered its Middle Eastern puppets to send arms. Note the Orwellian language: support for an outside terrorist force seeking to destroy a government and a people is called a “defense aid package.”

On April 11 the establishment French newspaper, Le Monde, reported that the al-Nosra organization affiliated with al-Qaeda is the dominant force in “the Syrian opposition,” not democratic revolutionaries. Despite this fact, Washington’s puppets, France and Britain, are pushing the European Union to send arms to the al-Qaeda affiliated “Syrian opposition.” And Senator John McCain wants US airstrikes on Syrian government forces with whom the US is not at war, in order to provide air cover for al-Qaeda’s takeover of Syria.

Meanwhile, the Islamist Shiites, whom the Americans left in control of Iraq, have announced that they have joined the battle against the American-supported al-Qaeda forces seeking to radicalize Syria.
~ from If You Want to Go to Heaven, You Had Better Get Busy Overthrowing Syria by Paul Craig Roberts ~
I drew your attention to this strange turn of events one week ago in a post about the arrest of an American citizen. That citizen was charged with the intent of aiding al-Qaeda -- the very same thing that our government is undertaking.

What does this story tell us? First and foremost, it tells us that US foreign policy is completely amoral. Our leaders are more than willing to deal with the devil -- often a devil of their own making -- if it suits the purposes of our elites. Remember that, at one time, both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were in the fold. They were "our" buds...until they weren't.

The other thing this situation should tell us is that al-Qaeda is little more than a phantom enemy. Our leaders resurrect al-Qaeda as a threat, when need be -- like when the elite want our money or to compromise our constitutional rights. But if al-Qaeda can serve the purposes of our elite's interests, no such threat exists. Our leaders will gladly give them what they ask for and they will keep arming and supporting them until...they need them to become the menacing threat again.

I Ching: Hexagram 26 - The Lines, Part 3

Six in the third place means:
Turning away from nourishment.
Perseverance brings misfortune.
Do not act thus for ten years.
Nothing serves to further.

He who seeks nourishment that does not nourish reels from desire to gratification and in gratification craves desire. Mad pursuit of pleasure for the satisfaction of the senses never brings one to the goal. One should never (ten years is a complete cycle of time) follow this path, for nothing good can come of it.
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.

Nature Vs Nurture II

Scott Bradley

Kjellberg tells us (in Essays on Skepticism, Relativism, and Ethics in the Zhuangzi) that Xunzi seems to have deliberately used the term wei (action, artifice) to describe the means to achieving his moral sagacity. "Rather than running away from the label 'artificial'", he writes, "Xunzi embraces it as the hallmark of his system." It doesn't surprise us that he would want to take the opposite of Zhuangzi's wu-wei (non-intentional action) as his method given his belief that human nature is "bad", but he also flies in the face of Mengzi's negative use of the term as "hypocritical" or "deceptive". Once again, Xunzi seems to have misinterpreted the spirit of what both these philosophers, proto-Daoist and Confucian, meant by the term.

There are certainly strains of anti-culturalism in the form of human creativity in the Zhuangzi, but these are not representative of the teaching of Zhuangzi himself, or at least of the Inner Chapters. Xunzi seems to have believed that for Zhuangzi wei meant doing something for the sake of self- or societal betterment. This is wide of the mark. It is never about the what of what one does, but the how, that concerns Zhuangzi. Carving a bell stand is a perfectly human endeavor — even if it is poorly executed. The outcome of wu-wei, however, is to make a truly wonderful bell stand. The bell stand maker in the Zhuangzi "matches the heavenly with the heavenly", which is to say the bell stand naturally happens through him. It would not have happened without him, but neither would it have happened without his having in some sense stepped out of the way to let it happen. The opposite of art is artifice.

The Daoist, in this sense, does as much as a Confucian does; only she does it in a different way. The Daoist is ever much as involved in self-cultivation as a Confucian, only his investment in outcomes is altogether different.

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

TYT - Fox News Basks in its Own Ignorance

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 26 - The Lines, Part 2

Nine in the second place means:
The axletrees are taken from the wagon.

Here advance is checked just as in the third line of THE TAMING POWER OF THE SMALL. However, in the later the restraining force is slight; thus a conflict arises between the propulsive and the restraining movement, as a result of which the spokes fall out of the wagon wheels, while here the restraining force is absolutely superior; hence no struggle takes place. One submits and removes the axletrees from the wagon -in other words, contents himself with waiting. In this way energy accumulates for a vigorous advance later on.
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 "Doctor" Is In

Trey Smith

Most of the posts I pen concern philosophy and politics, but from time to time, I share with you my ongoing challenges from the variety of conditions I have been blessed with. I have written quite a bit about my trials and tribulations with Klinefelter's Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. There are two reasons for this, other than the fact I am basically an open person.

For starters, being autistic, I have hard time figuring out proper social boundaries. While the average bloke may have a good sense of knowing what is too much personal information, I tend to be clueless! So, rather than trying to unravel a knot that generally is lost on me anyway, I tend to lay it all out there. I suppose it's a good thing that I am disabled and don't work because, in this day and age where potential employers farm the internet for information about job applicants, I probably have shared enough personal information to scare any of them away! :D

There is another reason why I am so open. Many of the conditions I have are ones that people generally don't talk about, except in hushed tones. If an individual suspects or has learned that they have one or more of these maladies, it often engenders a lonely feeling. It leads to questions like, why me? How will I ever cope? How can I lead a "normal" life?

Because of my writings on these topics, it is not uncommon for me to receive emails from individuals who suspect or have recently been diagnosed with Klinefelter's Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, Fibromyalgia or Schizotypal Personality Disorder. While I most certainly am NOT a doctor, I can reach out to say it is not the end of the world. All of these conditions and syndromes are merely labels. They don't change the person you are; they merely define many of the challenges you face.

Since I have made it to 55 and I'm still going, it is a testament to the fact that a person's life doesn't end when you learn of your label[s]. This is not to say that my life has been a piece of cake -- it definitely has not -- but I somehow have been able to continue to muddle through. If I can do it, I see no reason why you can't either.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Black and White

Performed by Three Dog Night

The ink is black, the page is white
Together we learn to read and write
A child is black, a child is white
The whole world looks upon the sight
A beautiful sight

And now a child can understand
That this is the law of all the land
All the land

The world is black, the world is white
It turns by day and then by night
A child is black, a child is white
Together they grow to see the light
To see the light

And now, at last
We plainly see
We'll have a dance of liberty

The world is black, the world is white
It turns by day and then by night
A child is black, a child is white
The whole world looks upon the sight
A beautiful sight

The world is black, the world is white
It turns by day and then by night
A child is black, a child is white
Together they grow to see the light
To see the light

The world is black, the world is white
It turns by day and then by night
A child is black, a child is white
The whole world looks upon the sight
A beautiful sight

The world is black, the world is white
It turns by day and then by night
A child is black, a child is white
Together they grow to see the light
To see the light

Get it
Get it
Oh yeah
Keep it up now, around the world
Little boys and little girls
Yeah-eah, oh-ohhh
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

So this thing called Tao. What is it?


A long long time ago two young brothers were running around, playing.

"Idiot" one shouted

"dumb dumb" the other retorted

On they played, and later still as they played, Father stood by.

"Dimbo" one shouted as his brother missed a catch.

"Bim Brain" was the reply.

In time as the games went on, Father and Mother watched and talked of how it was time to bring the boys in for their meal.

"Dumb bro" shouted one as the kite hit the ground.

"Dilldo" said his brother.

"Tea time" called Mother.

As the family collected their belongings and headed in to eat, Father said to Mother. "I'm not sure that 'dilldo' is an appropriate word for the boys to be using."

"Oh these boys make up all sorts of silly and meaningless words, how can one be inappropriate when another is not?"

"I just feel that this one has a meaning"

"It does? They say all sorts of things, Dimbo, Dim wit, Daft ape..."

"Yes dear, but Dilldo is, ahem, it has a meaning of its own" and Father whispered in Mothers ear.

So over their meal that evening the boys were instructed not to use this one word again. The rest of their made up language was fine -- just this one was now off limits.


In Thailand, there is a desert called Fuk Yew. Do we have them ban or rename it?


If I simply emit noise and open my mouth, I'll likely get a noise a little like "O"

If I continue the noise and close my mouth, I'll likely get a noise "M"

And so we have the primal noise 'OM' and it is deemed holy.


Someone once said that when they emitted the noise "God" that this should be respected. But "Cod", well, that's just a fish.

Someone once linked together a few noises into the complex sound "Consciousness" and they attached to it quite a complex definition.

Someone once said "Cnsciiisssn..." after they had been shot in the chest. Then they stopped breathing and died.



It's just another meaningless sound that has been attached some definition. Does the definition give the sound meaning? That's what we're told. "Hell" a place you don't want to go "Hello" a greeting. "Tao" a grand concept. "Taoism" the quest for its embodiment.

A baby says "rawalanngugukeke" it's cute.

A man says "rawalanngugukeke" he's drunk.

A man says "I am a proud Jew"

An Asian near by with some basic English misinterprets the statement as "I have a fine erection". ('Jew' being 'penis' in a certain Asian language).


Words have the meanings we give them. But all they are are our hour-by-hour hurly burlies.

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

Bit by Bit - Chapter 13, Part 3

Trey Smith

Emptiness, stillness, limpidity, silence, inaction - these are the level of Heaven and earth, the substance of the Way and its Virtue. Therefore the emperor, the king, the sage rest in them. Resting, they may be empty; empty, they may be full; and fullness is completion. Empty, they may be still; still, they may move; moving, they may acquire. Still, they may rest in inaction; resting in inaction, they may demand success from those who are charged with activities. Resting in inaction, they may be merry; being merry, they may shun the place of care and anxiety, and the years of their life will be long.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
I continually am fascinated by the paradox of emptiness = fullness. I understand it intuitively, but I'll be damned if I could explain it in words halfway cogently. ;-)

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

Despair as Catalyst

Trey Smith

In watching the massive media coverage and the reaction to the brutal bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the wise poem “To A Louse…” composed in 1785 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns came to me:
“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!”
English translation:
“And would some Power the small gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!”
What must the “ithers” in the Middle East theatre of the American Empire think of a great city in total lockdown from an attack by primitive explosives when Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Yemenis experience far greater casualties and terror attacks several times a week? Including what they believe are terror attacks by U.S. drones, soldiers, aircraft and artillery that have directly killed many thousands of innocent children, women and men in their homes, during funeral processions and wedding parties, or while they’re working in their fields.

Here’s what they are thinking: that America is very vulnerable and ready to shake itself upside down to rid itself and protect itself from any terror attacks. The Bush regime, after 9/11, sacrificed U.S. soldiers and millions of innocents in the broader Middle East, drained our economy, so as to ignore the necessities of saving lives and health here at home, and metastasized al-Qaeda into numerous countries, spilling havoc into Iraq and now Syria. We have paid a tremendous price in blowback, because of Mr. Bush’s rush to war.

Why is the reaction to the events in Boston viewed by some as bizarre? Our president said “We will finish the race.” Do we really think that the attackers are doing this to disrupt our pleasure in foot racing?

The attackers, be they suicide bombers over there or domestic bombers here, are motivated by their hatred of our invasions, our daily bombings, our occupations, our immersion in tribal preferences leading to divide-and-rule sectarian wars. Studies, such as those by the University of Chicago Professor Robert Pape, and former adviser to Barack Obama and Ron Paul during the 2008 presidential campaign, conclude that entry into paradise is not the motivation for these suicide bombers. What drives them is their despair and their desire to expel the foreign invaders from their homeland.
~ from As Others See Us by Ralph Nader ~
When men flew airplanes into the towers and the Pentagon, we were told that one of their motivations was paradise and a trove of virgins. While this may have been part of the narrative, it was most likely nothing more than a footnote. The giant elephant in the room that most Americans refuse to entertain is the major role despair played.

Why would a person -- playing the role of a suicide bomber -- willingly sacrifice their own life in conjunction with the lives of countless innocents? While a certain type of altruism may come into play, the more obvious explanation is that such persons do not believe they have anything to live for. When despair becomes the overarching emotion of daily existence, you are far more likely to view life itself as a trivial matter.

When despair is a strictly internal phenomena, many end it by committing suicide. Their goal is to put an end to their own personal torment. When despair is the result of external forces beyond any one individual's personal control, not only does the person want to put an end to their own personal hell, but they often want to strike out against others -- often indiscriminately -- as part and parcel of the final act.

It doesn't take a genius to figure this out. We each see it in our own lives on a frequent basis. When a person is hurting because they feel they have been insulted, disrespected or hurt by someone else in some fashion, the most common reactions are a) some variety of self-medication and b) to strike out at others. In most instances, these are passing emotions. We get it out of our symptoms and continue on.

But what of those individuals who are surrounded by despair 24/7? For them, there is no escape. No amount of self-medication will dull the gnawing ache. No amount of being cross with friends and family will relieve the pressure. It simply builds day after day after day. They get to the point in which they don't know what to do with themselves.

Enter the charismatic "leader" who tells them there is a way to vanquish their own pain AND to transfer it to the ones who caused it in the first place. Kill two birds with one stone! The person who believes they have something to live for would scoff at such a vulgar suggestion. But, for the person who believes there is no longer anything worth living for, the notion is seductive. End your pain and inflict it on the abusers. For some, it becomes a viable choice.

There is one proven method for stopping the potentiality of almost every suicide bomber: stop the abuse. With no abuse, there is no external driver of despair. There is no one to get back at.

I Ching: Hexagram 26 - The Lines, Part 1

Nine at the beginning means:
Danger is at hand. It furthers one to desist.

A man wishes to make vigorous advance, but circumstances present an obstacle. He sees himself held back firmly. If he should attempt to fore an advance, it would lead him into misfortune. Therefore it is better for him to compose himself and to wait until an outlet is offered for release of his stored-up energies.
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.

Nature Vs Nurture I

Scott Bradley

I return to Xunzi's (312-? B.C.E.) objection to Zhuangzi's (369-286 B.C.E.) philosophy: "Zhuangzi was obsessed with nature (tian=Heaven) but did not know the human." (Xunzi 21/22) As mentioned previously, Kjellberg offers several interpretations of what this might mean and settles on one as the most likely (in Essays on Skepticism, Relativism, and Ethics in the Zhuangzi), namely that Xunzi believes Zhuangzi is suggesting that nature is 'good' and thus that spontaneous (natural) living will lead to a 'good' life. We need only remember that it is Xunzi who famously said "human nature is bad" to understand why he found this disturbing. For my part, I suggested that Xunzi was essentially oblivious to what Zhuangzi was actually saying.

Before discussing how this was so, however, I would like to mention the hypothesis that Xunzi's Confucianism may have been a direct response to the philosophy of Zhuangzi. (Kjellberg references David Nivison in this regard). This should not surprise us since the 'Daoist' sensibility was already gaining ground as an alternative to Confucianism at the time of his writing. Thus, his negative assessment of human nature would have been a direct answer to Zhuangzi's 'naturalism'.

What then of Xunzi's misunderstanding of Zhuangzi? Might we begin with the simple fact that he was a moralist concerned with right and wrong, whereas Zhuangzi, though certainly acknowledging the validity of a relative morality in human culture, understood nature (reality) as amoral? It's hard to over-estimate the consequence of this difference when considering one's orientation in the world. I have several times quoted the Zen statement to the effect that he who is concerned with right and wrong is bound by right and wrong. That the question of moral outcomes so often immediately arises in these discussions is evidence of this bondage; and it tends to abort any possibility of understanding the transcendent sensibility of a perspective such as Zhuangzi's. (A parallel is seen in the rationalist's inability to grasp the possibility of another way of knowing.)

Did Zhuangzi then believe, like Mengzi (Mencius) (372-289 B.C.E.), that human nature is good? Not at all; he believed that it is what it is. Within the context of human society, we sometimes behave badly and sometimes well, but humanity, like everything else in the universe, is essentially amoral. We do not declare a mountain lion 'bad' because she takes domestic goats as well as deer, though for reasons of human concern we might deem her relatively so. Similarly, we can deem some behaviors as harmful to human society generally, without declaring individuals 'evil'.

What tends to be overlooked in objections such as Xunzi's is the transformational character of an approach like that of Zhuangzi who does not proclaim to the world at large the virtues of running wild in spontaneity, but rather suggests a way of spiritual integration from which spontaneity arises. You don't have the one without the other. Spontaneity is descriptive of a way of being, not a prescription for achieving it.

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

TYT - Safety? Deadly Texas Fertilizer Explosion Didn't Have to Happen

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 26 - The Image

Heaven within the mountain:
Thus the superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity
And many deeds of the past,
In order to strengthen his character thereby.

Heaven within the mountain points to hidden treasures. In the words and deeds of the past there lies hidden a treasure that men may use to strengthen and elevate their own characters. The way to study the past is not to confine oneself to mere knowledge of history but, through application of this knowledge, to give actuality to the past.
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.

On the Cheap

Trey Smith

Terrorism, as we all know, occurs when Muslims attack the US or her allies in an effort to kill and maim as many people as possible to further their own "warped" religious and political objectives. At least, that's the definition that so many Americans go by. As I've mentioned before, a group or person's economic agenda doesn't factor into this definition. I think the primary reason that economics is shielded from inclusion is because it generally is employed by us, not "them," and America is not a terrorist organization.

Try telling that to the people of the Dhaka suburb of Savar, Bangladesh! On Thursday, hundreds of them lost their lives when the sweatshop they were working in collapsed. This certainly isn't the first such "accident" to occur in this region. In fact, these sorts of "accidents" happen more frequently than you might guess.

While the immediate responsibility for this incident lies with a sub-contractor, the tentacles reach back to the United States. You see, these sub-contractors work for western retail giants like Walmart. As Vijay Prashad reports,
The big garment producers no longer wanted to invest in factories – they turned to sub-contractors, offering them very narrow margins for profit and thereby forcing them to run their factories like prison-houses of labor. The sub-contracting regime allowed these firms to deny any culpability for what was done by the actual owners of these small factories, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of the cheap products without having their consciences stained with the sweat and blood of the workers. It also allowed the consumers in the Atlantic world to buy vast amount of commodities, often with debt-financed consumption, without concern for the methods of production.
It could easily be argued that requiring workers to ply their trade in a dilapidated structure that is an "accident" waiting to happen is a form of terrorism. Imagine going to work each day with the terror of not knowing whether or not you will make it out of the building alive after the end of your marathon shift for measly wages. You think these workers didn't know that the building they worked in was a candidate for collapse?

Terror comes in many forms. We tend to focus on the more explicit and graphic examples, while ignoring the implicit and structural varieties. We ignore the latter because we believe it is less prevalent and less deadly, but I'd bet the workers in places like Bangladesh would disagree.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister

Performed by the Almanac Singers

I don't want your millions, mister.
I don't want your diamond rings.
All I want is the right to live, mister.
Give me back my job again.

We work to build this country, mister,
While you enjoy the life of ease.
You've stolen all that we built, mister.
Now our children starve and freeze.

Oh, yes, you have a land deed, mister.
The money all is in your name.
But where's the work that you did, mister?
Demanding back our jobs again.

Think me dumb if you wish, mister.
Call me green or blue or red.
There's just one thing that I know, mister:
Our hungry babies must be fed.

We'll organize to get there, mister.
In one big united band.
With a mighty farmer-labor party,
We will win our just demands.

Take the two old parties, mister.
No difference in them can I see.
But with a farmer-labor party,
We will set the workers free.
~ from Labor Arts ~

Skillful Living

Scott Bradley

After discussing the skillful daos of Lord Wenhui's cook who butchers an ox without dulling his knife, the wheelwright who has an unteachable knack, and the monkey trainer who is able to please all parties, Kjellberg (in Essays on Skepticism, Relativism, and Ethics in the Zhuangzi) makes this observation: "The implication of all this is that, while Sextus and Zhuangzi administer skeptical arguments to induce uncertainty, they do so for different reasons: Sextus for the psychological good of ataraxia [peace] and Zhuangzi for the practical good of what we shall call 'skillful living'." I would suggest that Zhuangzi aims at both and that both are, from his perspective, inseparable.

Neither the Greek Skeptics nor Zhuangzi see any need to justify the normative values of their respective goals, though again for different reasons. If for the sake of argument we assert that they both hold that all values are relative, then the question arises what business either has telling us how best to live. The Skeptics might answer that it is self-evident, that peace is preferable to anxiety, but that no moral value is implied in either case. Zhuangzi, I think, would agree, only he would add that, as Kjellberg states, "nature . . . has a normative component".

Ultimately, Zhuangzi chooses to affirm the givens of this apparent world and our existence in it. He chooses to say, "Yes". Why? He offers no reasons. To do so would be to depend on reasons (and reasons are most undependable). What he seems to say is that nature, when allowed to do so, affirms itself. We would not argue that monkeys should justify their life in the trees, or that an eel should seek out warmer and drier climes, he tells us; why then should we need to justify a life similarly in harmony with nature, the way things manifest?

This brings us back to the principle of spontaneous living, letting life live us. All that's required is abdication of a kind of self-centered empire building that 'knows better' and 'wants other'. The consequence of doing so, according to Zhuangzi, is both a peaceful and skillful life.

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

Bit by Bit - Chapter 13, Part 2

Trey Smith

The sage is still not because he takes stillness to be good and therefore is still. The ten thousand things are insufficient to distract his mind - that is the reason he is still. Water that is still gives back a clear image of beard and eyebrows; reposing in the water level, it offers a measure to the great carpenter. And if water in stillness possesses such clarity, how much more must pure spirit. The sage's mind in stillness is the mirror of Heaven and earth, the glass of the ten thousand things.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
If a person is good because they believe that being good is a sign of goodness, how good is that person really? The goodness is based on a calculation which significantly negates the value sought.

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

Look in the Mirror

Trey Smith

As a perpetual emotion machine — producing and guzzling its own political fuel — the “war on terror” continues to normalize itself as a thoroughly American way of life and death. Ongoing warfare has become a matter of default routine, pushed along by mainline media and the leadership of both parties in Washington. Without a clear and effective upsurge of opposition from the grassroots, Americans can expect to remain citizens of a war-driven country for the rest of their lives.

Across the United States, many thousands of peeling bumper stickers on the road say: “End this Endless War.” They got mass distribution from MoveOn.org back in 2007, when a Republican was in the White House. Now, a thorough search of the MoveOn website might leave the impression that endless war ended with the end of the George W. Bush presidency.

MoveOn is very big as online groups go, but it is symptomatic of a widespread problem among an array of left-leaning organizations that have made their peace with the warfare state. Such silence assists the Obama administration as it makes the “war on terror” even more resolutely bipartisan and further embedded in the nation’s political structures — while doing immense damage to our economy, siphoning off resources that should go to meet human needs, further militarizing society and undermining civil liberties.
~ from Perpetual Emotion War Machine by Norman Solomon ~
While there should be no question whatsoever that much of popular opinion is shaped by political leaders, the mainstream media and the corporate elite, that doesn't let the rest of us off the hook! If we blindly allow others to think FOR us, then WE are as much the problem as they are.

Each one of us has been endowed with a brain. While it is true that different brains have different capabilities, most of us should be able to think independently.  We, of course, take in information from a variety of sources, but at the end of the day, what we make of this information is our own. If you choose not to exercise your own natural brain power, then you become a dog that is led around on a leash!

One of the main reasons that we live today in a perpetual state of war is that there is little public backlash. Our leaders plot and connive and we passively allow it. This is not to suggest that, if the public grew a backbone and demanded that we seek an end to war-making today, it would happen tomorrow. The monied interests would fight us tooth-and-nail. But if we stood in solidarity against both perpetual war and the growing police state, our leaders would find themselves in a tough position. For one thing, the elected ones would be fearful of being voted out of office!

So, while much of the blame for the state of things as they are must be laid at the feet of the powers that be, we bear a lot of the responsibility as well. If you are tired of the perpetual war machine, I have a question for ya. 

What are you going to do about it?

I Ching: Hexagram 26 - The Judgment

Perseverance furthers.
Not eating at home brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

To hold firmly to great creative powers and store them up, as set forth in this hexagram, there is need of a strong, clear–headed man who is honored by the ruler. The trigram Ch’ien points to strong creative power; Kên indicates firmness and truth. Both point to light and clarity and to the daily renewal of character. Only through such daily self–renewal can a man continue at the height of his powers. Force of habit helps to keep order in quiet times; but in periods when there is a great storing up of energy, everything depends on the power of the personality. However, since the worthy are honored, as in the case of the strong personality entrusted with leadership by the ruler, it is an advantage not to eat at home but rather to earn one’s bread by entering upon public office. Such a man is in harmony with heaven; therefore even great and difficult undertakings, such as crossing the great water, succeed.
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.

Why Be a Skeptic?

Scott Bradley

The Radiance of Drift and Doubt is the sage's only map.
(Zhuangzi, 2; Ziporyn)
I have previously mentioned Paul Kjellbrg's contribution in Essays on Skepticism, Relativism and Ethics in Zhuangzi ("Sextus Empiricus, Zhuangzi, and Xunzi on 'Why Be Skeptical"). I have found this essay downright inspiring.

Sextus (160-210) was a skeptic of the pyrrhonian school. Pyrrho (360-275 B.C.E) is said to have "traveled to India with Alexander where he encountered gymnosophs, or 'naked philosophers', after which he is said to have exhibited a state of remarkable peace of mind through his refusal to pronounce anything good or bad." This is an intriguing factoid in itself.

Kjellberg contrasts Sextus' with Zhuangzi's skepticism and asks how they differ. But first, he indicates how they are both "soft skeptics" in that they do not deny the possibility of knowledge but simply the possibility that one can conclusively know the certainty of what one knows.

Thus, both make uncertainty a fundamental point of departure for their philosophical journey. And both decide to make of uncertainty a positive phenomenon. The decision is thus not so much to be a skeptic, for that seems to them a necessity of intellectual honesty, but rather to make of this unavoidable reality a means to peace, rather than despair.

Sextus suggests that in the suspension of judgment as to whether something is good or bad, death for instance, enables one to achieve a certain degree of peace (ataraxia). Zhuangzi makes a very similar argument in his suggestion that the fear of death may be entirely misguided; perhaps we are lost children who don't know the way home, or like the woman who wept inconsolably upon being taken captive in war only to have a complete change of heart upon becoming the Emperor's concubine. This relatively intellectual use of skepticism to achieve a degree of peace can no doubt be nourished and intensified, but Zhuangzi goes further; for him it is an invitation to mysticism.

The choice to affirm rather than deny the reality of our uncertainty suggests for Zhuangzi an opportunity to release ourselves completely into that very same affirmation. "Handing it all over to the unavoidable" is not simply an intellectual exercise, but a mystical one. And the consequences likewise go beyond a moderate degree of peace and into joy and thankfulness.

In this, we can also see how his way is a way of according with nature; it is an agreement with the way things seem to be. As such, it remains true to the uncertainty inherent in the human condition, for nothing needs to be true for it to 'work'. In the next post we'll look at how the working of Zhuangzi's skepticism differs from that of Sextus.

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

Why Language Matters

I am troubled by what “lockdown” connotes and what is normalized by its wide use. When I hear that authorities have locked down a school, a workplace, a transit system, a cell phone network, or a city, the subtext seems unmistakable: We are now in control. Listen carefully and do as you are told. What I hear is the warden saying that communication will flow in one direction only, and that silence and obedience are the only options.

I suspect that part of the appeal of “lockdown” to authorities who issue orders stems precisely from its semantic ties to the world of prison. In that world, the word is meant to imply not only We are now in control, but Never forget that we are always in control, you pathetic scum. Perhaps this is what makes the word so chilling. It reflects and affirms a dominator mentality that holds citizens in the same contempt as inmates.

The Wikipedia entry for “lockdown” defines it as “an emergency protocol to prevent people or information from escaping.” I was surprised to see information included in that definition. But if a lockdown is understood to be about establishing control and inducing docility, it makes sense that information too would be locked down. The likelihood of dissent is greatly reduced if people can be kept in the dark about what’s going on and kept from talking to others.
~ from The Lockdown Society Goes Primetime by Michael Schwalbe ~

Friday, April 26, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 26 (Ta Ch'u)


The Creative is tamed by Kên, Keeping Still. This produces great power, a situation in contrast to that of the ninth hexagram, Hsiao Ch'u, THE TAMING POWER OF THE SMALL, in which the Creative is tamed by the Gentle alone. There one weak line must tame five strong lines, but here four strong lines are restrained by two weak lines; in addition to a minister, there is a prince, and the restraining power therefore is afar stronger.

The hexagram has a threefold meaning, expressing different aspects of the concept "Holding firm." Heaven within the mountain gives the idea of holding firm in the sense of holding together; the trigram Kên which holds the trigram ch'ien still, gives the idea of holding firm in the sense of holding back; the third idea is that of holding firm in the sense of caring for and nourishing. This last is suggested by the fact that a strong line at the top, which is the ruler of the hexagram, is honored and tended as a sage. The third of these meanings also attaches specifically to this strong line at the top, which represents the sage.
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 Budgets Don't Matter

Trey Smith

Here in the US, we are facing a slew of crises.

Our vaunted education system is a shadow of its former self, but we can't do anything about it now because of the massive federal budget deficit.

Unemployment -- whether you go with the government's watered down figures or the more accurate ones -- has decimated communities because less people are paying taxes or spending money they don't have to pump up local economies. It is a serious problem, but we can't do anything about it now because of the massive federal budget deficit.

We are speeding towards a head-on collision with climate catastrophe, and though some recognize the peril our society may soon face, we can't do anything about it now because of the massive federal budget deficit.

Our infrastructure is crumbling beneath our feet. Our roads are strewn with potholes. Tens of thousands of bridges need upgrades. The list goes on and on. We need to get to work on it post haste, but we can't do anything about it now because of the massive federal budget deficit.

Everywhere we look, no matter the immediacy of the crisis, we are told again and again that we can't do anything about it now because of the massive federal budget deficit...except when it comes to the expansion of the national police state! Then, as Andrew Levine surmises, budget deficits don't matter.
Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of militarized police arrayed against a lone wounded kid who, it turns out, was bleeding almost to death under a tarp covering a boat in someone’s driveway?

Austerity got left behind. Millions for the illusion of “homeland security,” not one penny for anything that actually makes people better off!
Of course, there is one other area in which it doesn't matter either -- the prosecution of imperialistic war. In those two areas, the sky's the limit. Everywhere else? Thwarted by the federal budget deficit.