Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 54 - The Image

Thunder over the lake:
Thus the superior man
Understands the transitory
In the light of the eternity of the end.

Thunder stirs the water of the lake, which follows it in shimmering waves. This symbolizes the girl who follows the man of her choice. But every relationship between individuals bears within it the danger that wrong turns may be taken, leading to endless misunderstandings and disagreements. Therefore it is necessary constantly to remain mindful of the end. If we permit ourselves to drift along, we come together and are parted again as the day may determine. If on the other hand a man fixes his mind on an end that endures, he will succeed in avoiding the reefs that confront the closer relationships of people.
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.

A Huge Stinking Black Hole

Trey Smith

US spending on intelligence has doubled since 9/11, with the National Security Agency and the CIA taking the biggest share, according to the top secret budget leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Details of the $52.6bn request for 2013 by America's 16 spy agencies were revealed by the Washington Post on Thursday.

The NSA has requested $10.45bn from Congress, while the CIA is asking for $14.7bn. The NSA has long been regarded as the most productive of the spy agencies, so the higher spending by the CIA is one of the biggest surprises in the four-volume, 1,452-page budget.
~ from US Intelligence Spending Has Doubled Since 9/11, Top Secret Budget Reveals by Ewen MacAskill and Jonathan Watts ~
Utilizing this entry -- 2013 United States Federal Budget -- it is just amazing how much the federal government spends on spying when compared to actual societal needs. For example, while $52.6 billion is earmarked for "intelligence gathering", the Department of the Interior (National Parks and such) only gets $13.5 billion and the Environmental Protection Agency comes in with a meager $8.9 billion! Here we are facing environmental calamity and the spy budget is 6 times greater than the EPA.

Talk about mixed up priorities!!

But the picture is even worse if you add in all the costs of the military-intelligence-industrial complex (MIIC).
  • Department of Defense: $672.9 billion
  • Department of Veteran Affairs: $139.7 billion
  • Department of Homeland Security: $55.4 billion
  • National Intelligence Program: $52.6 billion
  • Interest on the National Debt: $246 billion (most all of the interest is for past "unpaid for at the time" wars)
All told, the MIIC claimed a minimum of $1.16 trillion for FY 2013. (I say "minimum" because I'm certain that portions of other department's budgets also serve the needs of the MIIC.) Compare this minimum figure to the totality of the Department of Education's budget of $71.9 billion.  We open up the bank vault to pay for military aggression and spying, while stiff arming the educational needs of our citizens.

And again, look at the wide chasm between expenditures for MIIC versus the poor EPA.  The difference is almost ONE TRILLION FRICKING DOLLARS.  It's like for every penny the EPA gets, the MIIC receives 100 and more.  This represents insanity -- pure and simple.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - My Youngest Son Came Home Today

Performed by Billy Bragg

My youngest son came home today
His friends marched with him all the way
The fife and drum beat out the time
While in his box of polished pine
Like dead meat on a butcher's tray
My youngest son same home today

My youngest son was a fine young man
With a wife, a daughter and two sons
And a man he would have lived and died
Till by a bullet sanctified
Now he's a saint or so they say
They brought their young saint home today

An Irish sky looks down and weeps
Upon the narrow Belfast streets
At children's blood in gutters spilled
In dreams of glory unfulfilled
As part of freedom's price to pay
My youngest son came home today

My youngest son came home today
His friends marched with him all the way
The pipe and drum beat out the time
While in his box of polished pine
Like dead meat on a butcher's tray
My youngest son came home today
And this time he's here to stay
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 59


Why do I see pain and suffering?
Because you seek pleasure.
Not seeking,
Not found.

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

Bit by Bit - Chapter 20, Part 14

Trey Smith

Another day Master Sang-hu likewise said, "When Shun was about to die, he carefully' instructed Yu in these words: `Mark what I say! In the case of the body, it is best to let it go along with things. In the case of the emotions, it is best to let them follow where they will. By going along with things, you avoid becoming separated from them. By letting the emotions follow as they will, you avoid fatigue. And when there is no separation or fatigue, then you need not seek any outward adornment or depend upon the body. And when you no longer seek outward adornment or depend upon the body, you have in fact ceased to depend upon any material thing.' ".
~ Burton Watson translation ~
We will go when we go. We can settle our affairs and make provisions for the surviving family -- if time and circumstance allows -- but when we cross the bar, we do so naked and alone.

While there is absolutely no way I can be sure, I'd like to think that surrendering to the Grand Mystery without a fight allows the energy that was once our own unique egoic life to merge seamlessly with energy of the cosmos.

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

One "Tough" Hombre

Trey Smith

A foolish President Obama and moronic Secretary of State Kerry have handed the United States government its worst diplomatic defeat in history and destroyed the credibility of the Office of the President, the Department of State, and the entire executive branch. All are exposed as a collection of third-rate liars.

Intoxicated with hubris from past successful lies and deceptions used to destroy Iraq and Libya, Obama thought the US “superpower,” the “exceptional” and “indispensable” country, could pull it off again, this time in Syria.

But the rest of the world has learned to avoid Washington’s rush to war when there is no evidence. A foolish Obama was pushed far out on the limb by an incompetent and untrustworthy National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, and the pack of neoconservatives that support her, and the British Parliament cut the limb off.

What kind of fool would put himself in that vulnerable position?

Now Obama stands alone, isolated, trying to back away from his threat to attack without authorization from anyone – not from the UN, not from NATO, not from Congress who he ignored – a sovereign country. Under the Nuremberg Standard military aggression is a war crime. Washington has until now got away with its war crimes by cloaking them in UN or NATO approval. Despite these “approvals,” they remain war crimes.

But his National Security Advisor and the neocon warmongers are telling him that he must prove that he is a Real Man who can stand alone and commit war crimes all by himself without orchestrated cover from the UN or NATO or a cowardly US Congress. It is up to Obama, they insist, to establish for all time that the President of the United States is above all law. He, and he alone is the “decider,” the Caesar, who determines what is permissible. The Caesar of the “sole superpower” must now assert his authority over all law or Washington’s hegemony over the world is lost.
~ from America Totally Discredited by Paul Craig Roberts ~
For all the times in recent memory when Barack Obama has bragged that the US is different from other nations because we believe in the rule of law, how ironic will it be that he decides that we shall violate international law YET AGAIN by attacking Syria? He is acting like a bully who beats on a misbehaving smaller child just because he can. That saddest part is that no one can seem to stop him.

As a pacifistic, I have been against every military action my country has committed during my lifetime. More often than not, I have been in the small minority of my countrymen since far too many accept the morally dubious concept of American Exceptionalism. The blood of innocents has stained my hands against my will.

In the current case, however, the vast majority of Americans (as well as most of the rest of the world) are not in favor of punitive strikes by the US against Syria, but our loud opinion doesn't seem to factor into anything.  It is looking more and more like all of us will have innocent blood on our hands reluctantly. 

Even IF we Americans got together to decide to punish Obama for forcing this nation to commit a glaring war crime -- something that would never happen -- how do lowly citizens punish a lame duck President?

I Ching: Hexagram 54 - The Judgment

Undertakings bring misfortune.
Nothing that would further.

A girl who is taken into the family, but not as the chief wife, must behave with special caution and reserve. She must not take it upon herself to supplant the mistress of the house, for that would mean disorder and lead to untenable relationships.

The same is true of all voluntary relationships between human beings. While legally regulated relationships evince a fixed connection between duties and rights, relationships based on personal inclination depend in the long run entirely on tactful reserve.

Affection as the essential principle of relatedness is of the greatest importance in all relationships in the world. For the union of heaven and earth is the origin of the whole of nature. Among human beings likewise, spontaneous affection is the all–inclusive principle of union.
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.

A Conversion Experience V

Scott Bradley

In the previous post I quoted what I called a summation of Zhuangzi's mystical vision and that began with, "In this way . . . " In what way? In addition to all that has already been said of Liezi's conversion experience, we have immediately preceding this summation a presentation of wuwei in verse. It would probably be a mistake to speak of a causative relationship between this mystical experience and wuwei, or any other expression of the experience, the whole being organically interconnected. Still, these expressions provide a window into the whole.
"Not doing, not being a corpse presiding over your good name; . . ."
Once again we see how dependence on reputation, worry about how we are perceived by others, motivates one to actively do stuff. This, no doubt, is a consequence of wanting to be 'someone' generally. To be inauthentic is to be like a corpse.
"Not doing, not being a repository of plans and schemes; . . ."
Like so much in Daoism, the only real negation is of the manner of our relationship to activities, not of the activities themselves. Not-doing is doing, but doing in a different way. We plan, but not in a way that robs of us of immediacy and an openness to whatever transpires.
"Not doing, not being the one in charge of what has to happen; . . ."
Being "unfixed" we are open to whatever happens and can thus respond to each new situation on its own terms.
"Not doing, not being ruled by your own understanding. . . ." (7:12; Ziporyn)
An alternative rendering might be "not being a proprietor of wisdom", but Ziporyn comments that his translation "is consistent with Zhuangzi's critiques of taking the mind as teacher (2:12, 4:8) or the giving of precedence to 'knowing' over 'life' as the 'ruler' . . . (3:2)." [I have manipulated this sentence a bit to make it clearer.]

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

TYT - More Proof Obama Is Becoming Bush

Friday, August 30, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 54 (Kuei Mei)


Above we have Chên, the eldest son, and below, Tui, the youngest daughter. The man leads and the girl follows him in gladness. The picture is that of the entrance of the girl into her husband’s house. In all, there are four hexagrams depicting the relationship between husband and wife. Hsien, INFLUENCE, (31), describes the attraction that a young couple have for each other; Hêng, DURATION (32), portrays the permanent relationships of marriage; Chien, DEVELOPMENT (53), reflects the protracted, ceremonious procedures attending the arrangement of a proper marriage; finally, THE MARRYING MAIDEN, shows a young girl under the guidance of an older man who marries her.
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 Twiddling of Young Thumbs

Trey Smith

One of the mantras of conservatives is personal responsibility. One of the ways that young people learn about the utmost importance of personal responsibility is through work. Often, this key life lesson is instilled in young people by their first employers. Work hard in a responsible manner and you can get ahead!

With all the emphasis conservatives place on personal responsibility, hard work and good morals, you would think that helping young people land those first jobs would be damn important. Well, apparently not!
For the fourth consecutive summer, teen employment has stayed anchored around record lows, prompting experts to fear that a generation of youth is likely to be economically stunted with lower earnings and opportunities in years ahead.
...In 1999, slightly more than 52 percent of teens 16 to 19 worked a summer job. By this year, that number had plunged to about 32.25 percent over June and July. It means that slightly more than three in 10 teens actually worked a summer job, out of a universe of roughly 16.8 million U.S. teens.
And why are teens finding it so difficult to find gainful employment? Because, with good jobs harder and harder to find, adults are taking the jobs that teenagers used to get. So, it seems to be a bad picture all around.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Ms. Amerikkka

Performed by Aceyalone

Alright, yo, this all came about one time when..
I was, I was, I was, on a plane back going back to Los Angeles
Coming back from somewhere else
And I sat next to this lady and she was telling me some things
I don't remember it verbatim but I do remember some of the things she said
It was like this
She said..

Life as we know it is about to change
I smell it within the air, the weather is getting strange
Drugged up, sedated and numb from the pain
The sickness in America has spread to her brain
She is no longer fit to make good decisions
She is completely blind and void of any vision
She parties hard and she keeps her conscious mind in prison
Therefore, she's headed for the ultimate collision
She can no longer hide the scars on her face
The innocence, now gone, is hard to replace
She has no shame, no remorse, or any grace
She embraces the Devil and she hates over race
Ms. America, the beautiful, the free
fallen within the cracks I wish that you could see
She buried her misery with this society
it's obvious you've got no regard for me (yeah)

Thats why you caught up, in the belly of America (yeah)
Lost, in the stomach of America (yeah)
Broken down, in the bowels of America (yeah)
Sinkin, in the garbage of America (yeah)
STUCK, in the brain of America (yeah)
Sufferin, in the body of America
Lyin, in the wicked spirit of America (yeah)
Dying, in the old soul of America (yeah)

Ms. America, you've been a very bad girl
You nearly disgraced humanity in the eyes of the world
Vanity has took you over, you're not deserving
The mirror of reflection, is quite disturbing
She made so many promises, she couldn't keep
She neglected to mother her young, so they don't sleep
They scream out for justice, and then they weep
We're not to blame Ms. America, it's what you reap
The audacity of your inventions to rule us all
the tragedy of your intentions, to fool us all
You should've gave in to nature, and to the law
It's only a matter of time, before you fall
The things you should've worked out, in your first colony
Took some of your own advice, and your psychology
You destroyed all morale, and the ecology
I'm sorry but I don't accept your apology (yeah)

I'm caught up, in the belly of America (yeah)
Lost, in the stomach of America (yeah)
Broken down, in the bowels of America (yeah)
Sinkin, in the garbage of America (yeah)
STUCK, in the brain of America (yeah)
Sufferin, in the body of America (yeah)
Lyin, in the wicked spirit of America
Dying, in the old soul of America (yeah)

Oh Ms. America, so much attraction
they should've taken responsibility for their actions
We work around the system and make adaptions
So you could let freedom ring, within your faction
How can people still be hungry, when there's a surplus?
Suffering within your home, you made them worthless
Damn near police the state, and make us nervous
Even though some conform and join your service
Your presidency is the biggest joke, but where the laugh?
I always smell the gun smoke, on your behalf
I think I should send a telegram to your staff
America, you're down and dirty
You need a bath
So tell your Secret Agents don't be paranoid
This wasn't taught by Socrates or Sigmund Freud
This is simply God's work, you can't avoid
Every nation ever built, has been destroyed (yeah)

Cause we caught up, in the belly of America (yeah)
Lost, in the stomach of America (yeah)
Broken down, in the bowels of America (yeah)
Sinkin, in the garbage of America
STUCK, in the brain of America (yeah)
Sufferin, in the body of America (yeah)
Trying, in the good old spirit of America (yeah)
Dying, in the old soul of America (yeah)
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 58


There are only 3 things that spoil perfection:

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

Bit by Bit - Chapter 20, Part 13

Trey Smith

Confucius said to Master Sang-hu, "Twice I have been driven out of Lu. The people chopped down a tree on me in Sung, wiped away my footprints in Wei, made trouble for me in Shang and Chou, and besieged me between Ch'en and Ts'ai -- so many calamities have I encountered. My kinfolk and associates drift farther and farther away, my friends and followers one after the other take leave. Why is this?"

Master Sang-hu said, "Have you never heard about Lin Hui, the man who fled from Chia?" He threw away his jade disc worth a thousand measures of gold, strapped his little baby on his back, and hurried off. Someone said to him, `Did you think of it in terms of money? Surely a little baby isn't worth much money! Or were you thinking of the bother? But a little baby is a great deal of bother! Why then throw away a jade disc worth a thousand measures of gold and hurry off with a little baby on your back?'

"Lin Hui replied, `The jade disc and I were joined by profit, but the child and I were brought together by Heaven. Things joined by profit, when pressed by misfortune and danger, will cast each other aside; but things brought together by Heaven, when pressed by misfortune and danger, will cling to one another. To cling to each other and to cast each other aside are far apart indeed!'

"The friendship of a gentleman, they say, is insipid as water; that of a petty man, sweet as rich wine. But the insipidity of the gentleman leads to affection, while the sweetness of the petty man leads to revulsion. Those with no particular reason for joining together will for no particular reason part."

Confucius said, "I will do my best to honor your instructions!" Then, with leisurely steps and a free and easy manner, he returned home. He abandoned his studies, gave away his books, and his disciples no longer came to bow in obeisance before him, but their affection for him was greater than it had ever been before.

~ Burton Watson translation ~
In reading this snippet, what comes to my mind is "There is no honor amongst thieves."

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

This Is How Democracy Is Supposed to Work

Trey Smith

David Cameron indicated on Thursday evening that Britain would not take part in military action against Syria after the British government lost a crucial vote on an already watered-down amendment that was designed to pave the way to intervention in the war-torn country.

In a devastating blow to his authority, the prime minister lost a government motion by 272 votes to 285 – an opposition majority of 13 – after scores of Tory MPs voted with Labour.
~ from Cameron Forced to Rule Out British Attack on Syria After MPs Reject Motion by Nicholas Watt and Nick Hopkins ~
In a democracy, the leader doesn't always win. There will be times when a President or Prime Minister makes a proposal that will be voted down. At other times, if the system allows, the leader might veto something passed by the legislative body. And there are times when the executive and legislative branches agree, but the judiciary steps in.

It would be one thing if, each time a nation's leader made a proposal or introduced legislation, the legislative body frequently shot it down. After a while, the reluctance of the legislature to go along with the leader might add up to a cumulative "devastating blow". But this idea that, if the executive branch loses a few key votes here and there, we should call this a "devastating blow" is farcical. No, it is called democracy in action.

It will now be interesting to see if President Obama will follow Prime Minister Cameron's lead. Cameron put the idea of attacking Syria to the UK's legislative body. He made his pitch and lost. To his credit, Cameron says he will honor the will of the people through their elected representatives.

So, what do you think? Do you believe that Obama will work within the democratic process by allowing Congress to vote on the matter OR do you think he simply will make a nondemocratic unilateral decision?

I Ching: Hexagram 53 - The Lines, Part 6

Nine at the top means:
The wild goose gradually draws near the clouds heights.
Its feathers can be used for the sacred dance.
Good fortune.

Here life comes to its end. A man's work stands completed. The path rises high toward heaven, like the flight of wild geese when they have left the earth far behind. There they fly, keeping to the order of their flight in strict formation. And if their feathers fall, they can serve as ornaments in the sacred dance pantomimes performed in the temples. Thus the life of a man who has perfected himself is a bright light for the people of earth, who look up to him as an example.
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.

A Conversion Experience IV

Scott Bradley

Zhuangzi concludes his story of Liezi's conversion with what amounts to a summation of his mystical vision. I call it mystical because it is much more than a "philosophy of life", an intellectual paradigm, although it is this that points him in the right direction, provides his gate. It is mystical in that it is an experience of existential liberation facilitated by going beyond the limits of the egoic-self into which we as a species have evolved. If mysticism requires union with 'something' outside ourselves, however, then it is not in this sense mystical. The only Dao that Zhuangzi suggests we realize is psychological Dao, a transformative way of being in the world facilitated, not by union with a metaphysical Dao, but by the very lack of a need for such a union. Not-knowing and Drift and Doubt are his gates to this experience and they remain on the other side. I admittedly harp on this interpretation because it is the only one that makes his way accessible to me — and because I honestly think this is what he teaches.

None of this means that a metaphysical Dao is not in some sense assumed; it is. Dao is Reality; Dao is thus what we are and what we do, whatever we are and do. We cannot stray from metaphysical Dao; we are Dao, just as all things are Dao. There is no disconnect; there are not two. There is no hierarchy of being; nothing is more real than anything else. We cannot unite with what we already are, at least not 'essentially' as with some "true self", but only existentially with the self that we are. How do we know this? We do not. It can only be experienced, not known — just like life itself.

Thus Zhuangzi concludes: "In this way, wholeheartedly embody the endlessness and roam where there is no sign, fully realize what is received from Heaven, but without thinking anything has been gained thereby. It is just being empty, nothing more." (7:13; Ziporyn)

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

TYT - Syria Chemical Weapons Attack Was Launched By...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 53 - The Lines, Part 5

Nine in the fifth place means:
The wild goose gradually draws near the summit.
For three years the woman has no child.
In the end nothing can hinder her.
Good fortune.

The summit is a high place. In a high position one easily becomes isolated. One is misjudged by the very person on whom one is dependent -- the woman by her husband, the official by his superior. This is the work of deceitful persons who have wormed their way in. The result is that relationships remain sterile, and nothing is accomplished. But in the course of further development, such misunderstandings are cleared away, and reconciliation is achieved after all.
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.

All Few Signs Point To GO

Trey Smith

What I'd like is if news accounts on pressure to intervene in Syria made it clear that the "growing calls ... for forceful action" aren't coming from the people, or Congressional majorities, or an expert consensus. The pressure is being applied by a tiny, insular elite that mostly lives in Washington, D.C., and isn't bothered by the idea of committing America to military action that most Americans oppose. Nor are they bothered by the president launching a war of choice without Congressional approval, even though Obama declared as a candidate that such a step would be illegal. Some of them haven't even thought through the implications of the pressure they're applying.

Why is their pro-war pressure legitimized as the prevailing story line, despite the fact that they hold a minority position, even as pressure against intervention -- that is to say, the majority position -- is all but ignored? Consider a variation on the "pressure" story that isn't written, though it would be accurate:
President Obama Faces Mounting Pressure to Stay Out of Syria

With his credibility seen increasingly on the line, President Barack Obama today faced growing calls at home and abroad to stay out of the conflict in Syria, despite the presence of chemical weapons and his former declarations that their use would be a red line.

Various Syria experts warned that intervention could touch off a regional conflict, do more to harm than help Syrian civilians, and draw the United States into a more costly, protracted war than anyone wants. Anti-war group Code Pink used their Facebook page to organize a rally against missile strikes. A subset of conservatives warned that intervening on the side of rebels could empower Islamist extremists. Deficit hawks argued that America can't afford costly military strikes at this time in a conflict with little relation to our national interests, and Obama's 2007 statements about the illegality of a president going to war without Congress absent an immediate threat to American security risks making him look like a hypocrite if he unilaterally intervenes. An inability to get UN approval would also arguably make the conflict illegal under international law. And Obama's Nobel Peace Prize would seem to hem him in further.
A story like that would never be written. The political press unconsciously treats hawkish positions as if they're more serious and legitimate, in part because they've thoughtlessly bought into the frame that experts can control geopolitics.
~ from How an Insular Beltway Elite Makes Wars of Choice More Likely by Conor Friedersdorf ~
If not for British lawmakers, the attack against the Syrian government might already be underway. Just as in the US, it is the British executive that is so gung-ho. Move away from the Prime Minister's office and there are A LOT of people who question this strategy.

Here in the US, as Friedersdorf makes clear, there only is small minority that favors any type of military attack on Syria and yet that seems to be the de facto decision. While I think that most rational people would agree that a president shouldn't lead simply by what opinion polls indicate, a president should take into account the democratic will when it overwhelming takes a position. In this case, almost every sector of American society is against the launching of a military attack.

But we no longer live in an actual democracy. More and more, the Executive Branch does whatever the hell it wants to. And so, I won't be surprised at all to learn that the small minority gets what it wants: a military action.

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - The Right to Vote

Performed by Laura Nyro

Thank you, sirs
For the right to vote
Bet you didn't know
I had a voice in my throat
Now let's see
Should I vote for 'A' or 'B'?
'A' talks a lot
But not to me
And 'B' wants war
Kill or flunk —
Forget the vote
I'll just go out and get drunk

They say a woman's place
Is to wait and serve
Under the veil
Submissive and dear
But I think my place
Is in a ship from space
To carry me
The hell out of here

Patriarchal great religions
Full of angels
Forgiving and fair
While they push the buttons
And blow up the place
(might as well)
Make room for a worthier race

They say a woman's place
Is to wait and serve
Under the veil
Submissive and dear
But I think my place
Is in a ship from space
To carry me
The hell out of here

All the colors in a race riot
In the land of the free
All the women are on a diet
I'm hungry
Are you hungry
For peace and quiet

So thank you, sirs
For the right to vote
The microwave
And the old mink coat
Now let's see
Should I vote for 'A' or 'B'?
'A' talks a lot
But not to me
And 'B' wants war
Kill or flunk —
Forget the vote
I'll just go out and get drunk

They say a woman's place...
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 57


Don't take the road to Nirvana
without realizing
that the road is Nirvana.

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

Bit by Bit - Chapter 20, Part 12

Trey Smith

Jen said, "Then let me try telling you about a way to keep from dying. In the eastern sea there is a bird and its name is Listless. It flutters and flounces but seems to be quite helpless. It must be boosted and pulled before it can get into the air, pushed and shoved before it can get back to its nest. It never dares to be the first to advance, never dares to be the last to retreat. At feeding time, it never ventures to take the first bite, but picks only at the leftovers. So, when it flies in file, it never gets pushed aside, nor do other creatures such as men ever do it any harm. In this way it escapes disaster.

"The straight-trunked tree is the first to be felled; the well of sweet water is the first to run dry. And you, now – you show off your wisdom in order to astound the ignorant, work at your good conduct in order to distinguish yourself from the disreputable, going around bright and shining as though you were carrying the sun and moon in your hand! That's why you can't escape!

'I have heard the Man of Great Completion say: `Boasts are a sign of no success; success once won faces overthrow; fame once won faces ruin.' Who can rid himself of success and fame, return and join the common run of men? His Way flows abroad, but he does not rest in brightness; his Virtue' moves, but he does not dwell in fame. Vacant, addled, he seems close to madness. Wiping out his footprints, sloughing off his power, he does not work for success or fame. So he has no cause to blame other men, nor other men to blame him. The Perfect Man wants no repute. Why then do you delight in it so?"

"Excellent!" exclaimed Confucius. Then he said good-bye to his friends and associates, dismissed his disciples, and retired to the great swamp, wearing furs and coarse cloth and living on acorns and chestnuts. He could walk among the animals without alarming their herds, walk among the birds without alarming their flocks. If even the birds and beasts did not resent him, how much less would men!

~ Burton Watson translation ~
The form of life dies and I don't see any way of "curing" that. It is the way of the universe. Beings are born and then die...which provides the foundation for other lives to spring forth.

For me, I think Jen is referring to emotional or psychological death. As long as we remain engaged in the world beyond the egoic sense of self, we can never die. Our energy or essence will continue to soar, even once our bodies are no more.

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

Yeah, There Is a Word For It

Trey Smith

With the latest major revelation about National Security Agency surveillance, there’s a huge taboo question that needs to be put out on the table: Has President Obama been deliberately lying about the NSA, or have his statements just been repeatedly “wrong”?

After Barton Gellman’s blockbuster story [Aug. 16] about the NSA breaking “privacy rules or overstepp(ing) its legal authority thousands of times each year,” the Washington Post published an attendant commentary with a headline declaring the president was merely “wrong” in last week suggesting that the NSA wasn’t “actually abusing” its legal authority. The implication is that when Obama made that comment — and then further insisted the surveillance programs “are not abused” — he may have been inaccurate, but he didn’t necessarily deliberately lie because he may not have known he was not telling the truth.

This is not to single out the Post commentary because, of course, such a rhetorical dance is fairly standard for the official political discourse these days. Since at least the Iraq War if not before, the media and political class typically goes out of its way to avoid declaring a lie a lie. Simply put, from “we know where (the WMDs) are” to Obama’s “actually abusing” declaration, seemingly deliberately inaccurate statements are rarely ever framed as outright lies. Even when such statements come from those with vested interests in hiding the truth, words and phrases like “misstated,” “wrong,” “least untruthful” and “misspoke” are trotted out.

These words and phrases now comprise a whole Washington vocabulary crafted specifically to avoid the L word. That’s because once the L word comes out, it means the official in question is deliberately misleading the public — and that is rightly considered an abhorrent act in a democracy.

But just as it is utterly absurd to claim Director of National Intelligence James Clapper didn’t lie before Congress (and some reporters thankfully admitted that truth in the open), it has now become almost silly to insinuate or assume that the president hasn’t also been lying. Why? Because if that’s true — if indeed he hasn’t been deliberately lying — then it means he has been dangerously, irresponsibly and negligently ignorant of not only the government he runs, but also of the news breaking around him.
~ from What If the President Lied to Us? by David Sirota ~
One way to tell how times have changed is to remember that the mainstream press wasn't shy at all in calling out President Richard Nixon. When he lied -- and he told lots of 'em -- the media was darn quick to point it out.

Today, however, politicians and elected leaders frequently are caught not telling the truth and yet -- except in the most obvious and blatant cases -- the mainstream media goes through grammatical gymnastics to avoid using the L word!

In the case of Obama in relation to the NSA scandal, there really are only three plausible explanations for his many "misstatements": a) He is lying, b) He is incompetent or c) It's a sorry combination of a and b.

I suppose one could argue that the officials from the NSA have been misleading him, but that is a difficult argument to make when he himself declares he is on top of the situation. If he indeed is "on top of it" and yet he keeps telling the American people information that is not true, we then return to the fact that either he is willfully being dishonest or he's an incompetent doofus.

Since few people would argue the latter, the former is the default position.

This is not to suggest that President Obama's penchant for being untruthful or, to be more charitable, spreading disinformation is an anomaly among US presidents or world leaders, for that matter. It seems to come with these types of positions. The elite always try to shape pronouncements so as not to overburden or unduly excite the unwashed masses. Our overlords know better than ignorant peons like us.

Where I particularly fault Obama is that even when he is caught in a lie, not only will he not fess up, but he doubles and triples down on it! While James Clapper provided a mealy-mouthed explanation for why he lied to Congress, President Obama won't even go that far. He behaves as if everything word that comes out of his mouth is the god's honest truth and to question him is a treasonous act.

It's almost as if Obama thinks he is our sovereign king!

I Ching: Hexagram 53 - The Lines, Part 4

Six in the fourth place means:
The wild goose goes gradually draws near the tree.
Perhaps it will find a flat branch. No blame.

A tree is not a suitable place for a wild goose. But if it is clever, it will find a flat branch on which it can get a footing. A man's life too, in the course of its development, often brings him into inappropriate situations, in which he finds it difficult to hold his own without danger. Then it is important to be sensible and yielding. This enables him to discover a safe place in which life can go on, although he may be surrounded by danger.
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.

A Conversion Experience III

Scott Bradley

Liezi's conversion experience is in part described as a "return to an unhewn blockishness". This "unhewn block" is a central metaphor in Daoism for the human experience before its manipulation by the "understanding consciousness". It was achieved by Liezi in this case by "remaining remote from all endeavors and letting [go] all the chiseled carvings of his character".

Were the "understanding consciousness" able to actually understand and explain itself, it might not be a problem at all. But it cannot; and it's continued attempts to do so create just that self-alienation that Zhuangzi's advocacy of a return to the unhewn block is intended to cure. It has other praise-worthy uses to be sure, but when it becomes so dominating of our existential engagement in the world that it excludes our more primal experience of connectedness, it sunders us from that experience. If this was a problem in Zhuangzi's day, how much more so might it be in ours.

Remaining remote from all endeavors and letting go our self-story is in effect simply an acknowledgement of our being okay just as we are. There is nothing we need do or become. Instead, we typically believe that we have a great deal to do. In fact, we have to do the impossible: we have to become somebody. Liezi thought the spiritual power of the shaman would make him someone and sought it for himself.

This is where philosophical Daoism says no thanks to just about every 'spiritual' path on offer; they invite the pursuit of something; our natural inclinations are simply re-channeled; we can become a spiritual somebody instead of the mess we are. Needless to say, the same pursuit can just as easily be the object of this advocacy of philosophical Daoism even when that philosophy tells us it should not. This is our default response, after all. Where philosophical Daoism may be said to differ is in that it ever self-negates in the face of our abuse. In this it is similar to Zen. There is no Zen until Zen is realized and what is realized is really nothing at all. At least that's my take after a good scrubbing.

Another metaphor for the realization of the Daoist ideal is to become, as did Liezi, "like a clump of soil". Shendao tells us that "even a clod of earth cannot stray from the Dao". But we can; at least psychologically; and our return to clod-like-ness is a psychological return to a sense of absolute connectedness and affirmation — just as we are. It is true of us now; all this endeavoring and carving is both unnecessary and counter-indicated.

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

BP - Climate Change is Worse than You Have Ever Imagined

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 53 - The Lines, Part 3

Nine in the third place means:
The wild goose gradually draws near the plateau.
The man goes forth and does not return.
The woman carries a child but does not bring it forth.
It furthers one to fight off robbers.

The high plateau is dry and unsuitable for the wild goose. If it goes there, it has lost its way and gone too far. This is contrary to the law of development.

It is the same in human life. If we do not let things develop quietly but plunge of our own choice too rashly into a struggle, misfortune results. A man jeopardizes his own life, and his family perishes thereby. However, this is not all necessary; it is only the result of transgressing the law of natural development. If one does not willfully provoke a conflict, but confines himself to vigorously maintaining his own position and to warding off unjustified attacks, all goes well.
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.

Higher Ground?

Trey Smith

The United States helped protect the last Middle Eastern tyrant thought to use chemical weapons.

That dictator was Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Because he was fighting Iran in the 1980s, the Reagan administration fed him secret intelligence. And because his country bought U.S. crops, farm-state politicians fought off sanctions.

Now, amid allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria, the Obama administration is preparing a case for military action. Moral assertions will be paramount, as in Secretary of State John Kerry’s declaration Monday that “our sense of basic humanity is offended.”

History, though, offers a harsher perspective. From Iraq and Syria, to Rwanda and Armenia, morality as a motive in U.S. foreign policy is more contingent than absolute.

“It’s quite selective. The government knew of the fact that Iraq was using chemical weapons, and did not deter them,” Joyce Battle, an analyst at the National Security Archive, a nonpartisan research center, said in an interview Tuesday. “But when it’s thought to be in U.S. interests, the government will adopt a moralistic stand when it wants to justify its policies.”

Put another way, foreign policy calculations are invariably cold-blooded, notwithstanding moral declarations. Stirring words can be worn like a new cloak during a campaign, then set aside for action.
~ from In Foreign Policy, the Moral High Ground Is Only an Occasional Destination by Michael Doyle ~
Look, I'm not some utopian purist. I understand that, for most of us, morality shifts based on what we want. We stand by our principles as long as it is convenient. If a principle runs into conflict with ethics or morality, we have a propensity to twist the latter into a pretzel in order to create a rationalization that the principle hasn't been violated at all.

Since average folks behave this way, it is not surprising that governments follow suit.

I guess what bothers me is the dripping sanctimony of my nation's leaders. They act so damn pious when most thinking people understand what is really going on. I just wish they would drop the over-the-top bullshit from time to time.

Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear a US leader say, "We have decided to attack such and such a country because they aren't bowing to our [supposed] national interests. It really has next too nothing to do with their recent behavior. They could slaughter their own people nilly willy or attack their neighbors, so long as they don't do anything that harms our corporate interests or tilts the balance of power away from our geopolitical position."?

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Cry Freedom

Performed by the Dave Matthews Band

How can I turn away
Brother/Sister go dancing
Through my head
Human as to human
The future is no place
To place your better days

Cry freedom cry
From a crowd 10,000 wide
Hope laid upon hope
That this crowd will not subside
Let this flag burn to dust
And a new a fair design be raised
While we wait head in hands
Hands in prayer
And fall into a dreamless sleep again
And we wave our hands

Hands and feet are all alike
But gold between divide us
Hands and feet are all alike
But fear between divide us
All slip away

There was a window and by it stood
A mirror in which
He could see himself
He thought of something
Something he had never had but hoped would come along
Cry freedom, cry
From deep inside
Where we are all confined
While we wave hands in fire
Wave our hands

Hands and feet are all alike
But gold between divide us
Hands and feet are all alike
But fear between divide us,
Slip away
In this room stood a little child
And in this room this little child
She would remain
Until someone might decide
To dance this little child
Across this hall
Into a cold, dark, space
Where she might never trace her way across this crooked mile
Across this crooked page
Cry freedom, cry
From deep inside where
We are all confined
Till we wave our hands

How can I turn away
Brother/Sister go dancing
Through my head
Human as to human
The future is no place
To place your better days

Hands and feet are all alike
But gold between divide us
Hands and feet are all alike
But fear between divide us
Hands and feet are all alike
Hear what I say
Hear what I say
Oh, so be it

How can I turn away
Brother/Sister go dancing
Through my head
Human as to human
The future is no place
To place your better days
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

Taoist and Buddhist Tweets 56


I had a dream, in the dream, I was not free,
I had a dream, but that dream, was not me.
Now I come to see, the whole of reality,
Now I can see this is all that can be.

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

Bit by Bit - Chapter 20, Part 11

Trey Smith

Confucius was besieged between Ch'en and Ts'ai, and for seven days he ate no cooked food. T'ai-kung Jen went to offer his sympathy. "It looks as if you're going to die," he said.

"It does indeed."

"Do you hate the thought of dying?"

"I certainly do!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Hey, it's an honest answer. At one time or another, each of us worries about dying. It might not represent the quintessential "philosophical" answer, but...

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

"Made in America" Soon Won't Mean Made in America

Trey Smith

Don't like the trade deficit, low GDP and the public outrage over the offshore outsourcing? Change the accounting method to make it go away! Such is the agenda of government statisticians it appears. How they are going to incorporate statistical lies into national accounts is shocking. Production location no longer matters, the thing that will count is ownership of the final product.

We have a new definition, Factoryless manufacturing. Did you know we can have U.S. manufacturing without actually making any goods in the United States? That's the plan to count corporations and their products who are located in the U.S. but offshore outsource their manufacturing abroad as part of the U.S. manufacturing base. Get that?
Factoryless” manufacturers, as defined by the U.S. OMB, perform underlying entrepreneurial components of arranging the factors of production but outsource all of the actual transformation activities to other specialized units.
Right now, iPhones are counted as imports and rightly so. Apple has offshore outsourced manufacturing and final assembly to China. Most parts are not manufactured in the United States and components come from China, Japan, South Korea and Germany. Very obviously an iPhone is no more American than that cheap plastic good marked Made in China.

Yet if the government statistical agencies have their way, that iPhone will be an American manufactured good, despite the fact that 1 million Chinese made the thing while Apple does not provide Americans jobs of scale and maintains their strong profit margins.

The target date for this statistical fraud is 2017. There is a Factoryless Production Group, involving all of the statistical agencies, working out the incorporation to count offshore outsourcing as U.S. manufacturing.
~ from America's Outsourcers to be Reclassified as Manufacturers by Robert Oak ~

I get tired of reporting how the Obama administration (and the Bush administration before it) is undertaking these strong efforts to "cook the books", but it seems like a new one is revealed every month or so. It continues to remind me of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four! Official language keeps getting reinvented to hide vital information.

If this change is implemented -- I don't see why it wouldn't be -- then the "Made in America" label won't mean a damn thing! If it no longer has a substantive meaning, then it will encourage those companies who still manufacture products in America to reconsider that strategy.

Why pay American workers x, when you can pay foreign wage-slaves y?

Why put up with certain environmental regulations here, when you can bribe some impoverished nation to look the other way?

Why worry about complying with health and occupational safety rules, when you can ship the jobs to a place where those same rules are more lax or nonexistent?

What will the incentive be to make anything in America anymore?

I Ching: Hexagram 53 - The Lines, Part 2

Six in the second place means:
The wild goose gradually draws near the cliff.
Eating and drinking in peace and concord.
Good fortune.

The cliff is a safe place on shore. The development has gone a step further. The initial insecurity has been overcome, and a safe position in life has been found, giving one enough to live on. This first success, opening up a path to activity, brings a certain joyousness of mood, and one goes to meet the future reassured.

It is said of the wild goose that it calls to its comrades whenever it finds food; this is the symbol of peace and concord in good fortune. A man does not want to keep his good luck for himself only, but is ready to share it with 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.

A Conversion Experience II

Scott Bradley

Liezi's teacher sends an aura-reading shaman fleeing in fear of what he has seen. What is it? "Just now I showed him what I am when not yet emerged from my source — something empty and serpentine in its twistings, admitting of no understanding of who or what. So he saw it as something endlessly collapsing and scattering, something flowing away with every wave." (7:10; Ziporyn) With this we also understand how Liezi's subsequent conversion can be described as resulting in his being a "mass of chaos and confusion."

Needless to say, this is 'just' a story, the intent of which is to teach us that most fundamental of philosophical Daoism's points of departure, namely that we find our 'grounding' in chaos, not in essential verities. (I speak of "philosophical Daoism" quite purposefully here, for it seems to me that Zhuangzi's proto-Daoism was quickly morphed into something else quite different, something that offered a 'something'.) This is not about finding the True Self or the Universal Mind, or realizing immortality but precisely the opposite; it's about finding nothing. For all I know, those who have actually experienced either of these apparent opposites — a Something and a Nothing — if any, have had essentially the same experience. Yet, to my thinking, the most important thing is the process; but the process is most certainly determined by the 'goal'.

The pursuit of a Something is so radically different in terms of one's orientation to the world and to others, than is the acceptance of a Nothing, that it is difficult to fathom how these two could result in equally acceptable outcomes. (By "acceptable outcomes" I mean only one's personal happiness and the infecting of others with the same. I see no ultimate redemptive necessity in any way indicated by apparent reality; all things are equalized in the Whole.) Nevertheless, this seems to be the case — not that both outcomes are 'acceptable', for they rarely seem to make any substantial difference to this skeptic, but that they are the same.

One reason why this is so may be because we typically default to the pursuit of a Something even while calling it a Nothing. This is perhaps the core "human inclination" — the need to be fixed as a something. I would like to now say that were we to really follow the Daoist vision things would be different, but that would in effect be to make it a Something. Still, one must hope.

I conclude this ramble with a confession: I do not really believe in enlightenment of any stripe but only in approximations of an ideal. Or perhaps more correctly, I don't envision any such thing for myself and thus do not pursue it as such. It is enough to grow in the good stuff: happiness and thankfulness — and by coincidence, kindness and helpfulness. And the way that seems most genuine and potentially liberating to me is the way of trustful release into primal chaos.

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

DN - U.S. Student Loan Bubble Saddles a Generation With Debt and Threatens the Economy 2/2

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Ching: Hexagram 53 - The Lines, Part 1

Six at the beginning means:
The wild goose gradually draws near the shore.
The young son is in danger.
There is talk. No blame.

All the individual lines in this hexagram symbolize the gradual flight of the wild goose. The wild goose is the symbol of conjugal fidelity, because it is believed that this bird never takes another mate after the death of the first.

The initial line suggests the first resting place in the flight of water birds from the water to the heights. The shore is reached. The situation is that of a lonely young man who is just starting out to make his way in life. Since no one comes to help him, his first steps are slow and hesitant, and he is surrounded by danger. Naturally he is subjected to much criticism. But these very difficulties keep him from being too hasty, and his progress is successful.
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.

We Need More Democrats Like Jeff Jarvis

Trey Smith

What are you thinking, Mr President?

Is this really the legacy you want for yourself: the chief executive who trampled rights, destroyed privacy, heightened secrecy, ruined trust, and worst of all, did not defend but instead detoured around so many of the fundamental principles on which this country is founded?

And I voted for you. I'll confess you were a second choice. I supported Hillary Clinton first. I said at the time that your rhetoric about change was empty and that I feared you would be another Jimmy Carter: aggressively ineffectual.

Never did I imagine that you would instead become another Richard Nixon: imperial, secretive, vindictive, untrustworthy, inexplicable.

I do care about security. I survived the attack on the World Trade Center and I believe 9/11 was allowed to occur through a failure of intelligence. I thank TSA agents for searching me: applause for security theater. I defend government's necessary secrets. By the way, I also defend Obamacare. I should be an easy ally, but your exercise of power appalls me. When I wrote about your credibility deficit recently, I was shocked that among the commenters at that great international voice of liberalism, the Guardian, next to no one defended you. Even on our side of the political divide, I am far from alone in urgently wondering what you are doing.

As a journalist, I am frightened by your vengeful attacks on whistleblowers – Manning, Assange, Snowden, and the rest – and the impact in turn on journalism and its tasks of keeping a watchful eye on you and helping to assure an informed citizenry.

As a citizen, I am disgusted by the systematic evasion of oversight you have supported through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts; by the use of ports as lawless zones where your agents can harass anyone; by your failure on your promise to close Guantánamo, and this list could go on.

As an American often abroad, I am embarrassed by the damage you have caused to our reputation and to others' trust in us. I find myself apologizing for what you are doing to citizens of other nations, dismissing the idea that they have rights to privacy because they are "foreign".
~ from As a Democrat, I Am Disgusted With President Obama by Jeff Jarvis ~
It is not enough for civil libertarians and folks like me (I didn't vote for Obama either time) to criticize the president. If there is ANY hope of him listening -- and, realistically, that hope is slim -- it must come from members of the Democratic Party. It must come from those who voted for him.

We need more Democrats like Jeff Jarvis. We need more Democrats, particularly those who serve in Congress, to tell the president that he is destroying the Democratic Party from the inside out. Today's Democratic Party is to the right of Richard Nixon's Republican Party! Under Obama's leadership, it may soon be to the right of Ronald Reagan's Republican Party!

How much further right can you rank-and-file Democrats stand to go? Will we soon come to the day when the Democratic Party will be to the right of Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann of 2012?

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - Put Down That Weapon

Performed by Midnight Oil

Under the waterline
No place to retire
To another time
The eyes of the world now turn

And if we think about it
And if we talk about it
And if the skies go dark with rain
Can you tell me does our freedom remain

Put down that weapon or we'll all be gone
You can't hide nowhere with the torchlight on
And it happens to be an emergency
Some things aren't meant to be
Some things don't come for free

Above the waterline
Point the finger yeah point the bone
It's the harbour towns
That the grey metal ships call home
And if we think about it
And if we talk about it
And if the sea goes boiling black
Can you tell me what you'll do about that

Put down that weapon or we'll all be gone
I must know something to know it's so wrong
And it happens to be an emergency
Some things aren't meant to be
Some things don't come for free
They keep talking about it
They keep talking...

Put down that weapon or we'll all be gone
You must be crazy if you think you're strong
~ from Lyric Wiki ~