Archive for May, 2016

A beautiful moment

May.27. 2016

I just saw the news today. Our great President at the site of the world’s first atomic bomb detonation in a populated area.

Very touching, very moving, very beautiful.

Now how about the Prime Minister of that country going to Nanking next and acknowledging the bloodbath that took place there a few years before that horrific event.

Because horrific events will set off other horrific events.

I think they call that karma. I prefer to think of it as part of the inner workings of the universe.

If you want to do dastardly deeds onto other people, expect dastardly deeds to be done unto you.

No point whining about it.

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The slippery slope

May.26. 2016

You’ve probably heard of the ‘slippery slope.’

The Merriam Webster defines it as “a course of action that seems to lead inevitably from one action or result to another with unintended consequences.”

In current usage, the two words are often used in the context of defending some right-wing agenda (such as that of ‘traditional’ marriage).

Lately, however, the words have taken on an entirely new meaning for me.

Take those stoplight cameras.

Are they there as a safety deterrent or are they just revenue enhancers?

I’m sure the original intentions behind them were good until some lawmaker discovered that the financial benefits were not too bad either.

How did a safety issue turn into a revenue bonanza?

Through the slippery slope.

I read about some prison guard association in some supposedly enlightened state in the country. For the past thirty years, they’ve been at the forefront of getting more people incarcerated for life, even for non-violent crimes, like shoplifting.

Why? Because they need inmates. Without inmates, they’d be out of a job.

Job security over people’s lives—criminal justice, American style.

The slippery slope.

You start out with one set of intentions (usually good but not always) and end up in a completely different outcome.

A few more examples.

Perhaps you’re a doctor, and you want added convenience for your patients, so you buy an X-ray machine and install it in the back room. But now you’re stuck with those monthly payments for the machine. What to do but to require all your patients to have an X-ray whether they needed it or not.

What started out as an added convenience is now a potential hazard for the patients—radioactive and financial.

Or maybe you’re in academia, you’re a college professor and you can’t wait to share your incredible wealth of knowledge but soon you find out that if you don’t have enough students, you might lose your position so what to do but to get students to take your classes whether they needed it or not.

(Sad but true and it happens more than you might expect.)

From sharing your knowledge to preying on unsuspecting students.

Or maybe you’re a woman (or man), and you feel empowered by your new sense of freedom, so you give yourself freely to everyone, because it’s fun, and plus, you have a right to use your body in any way you choose, and then one day you realize, hey why not charge them for it instead of giving it away free?

Personal emancipation that leads you on the fast track to the world’s oldest profession.

(What’s wrong with the world’s oldest profession? Nothing wrong. Just ask a certain politician who believes in selling herself to anyone who can pay the quarter million speaking fees she commands.)

Or you’re a manufacturer—your specialty—combat killing machines.

But world peace is bad for your bottom line so what to do but find a good excuse to create some combat zones in some far off corner of the world.

Shock and awe that quickly turn into skyrocketing stocks and profits.

Never mind the collateral damage, as long as you’re making those big bucks, it’s all good.

But no, those far off conflicts are still not enough, you need more customers. Why not market those killing machines as sporting goods! And of course, you have a certain amendment on your side too. (Never mind that the amendment was passed at a time when those killing machines have to be loaded one projectile at a time.)

You can probably see a pattern emerging. All these examples have one common denominator.

Yes, you guessed it.

Money makes the world go round. (And sometimes down a slippery slope).

 

The process

May.8. 2016

The process of enlightenment is the process of ascending to higher levels of understanding, to penetrating to the heart of things.

So for instance, in religion, there was a time when different forms of natural phenomena were worshiped as gods.

Then greater understanding prevailed and God became one entity, but one that was of a jealous super being who kept on interfering in human affairs.

Then even greater understanding, and he became a benevolent father but still referred to as a king (because people were living in monarchistic societies).

And that apparently still describes the current situation for many people.

But what is the real truth of the matter?

No one can say but I have a feeling it’s probably going to be none of the above.

Not the old thunder god or sun god, nor the concept of a jealous god nor that of a god-king.

(The word ‘jealous’ refers to a human emotion and its use to describe God reaffirms my belief that Genesis had it backwards. God did not create man in his image. On the contrary, the reverse is true, man creates God in his image.)

But back to the subject at hand.

The thing about enlightenment as being a ‘higher’ state of understanding explains why it’s so hard for a person who’s attained it to explain it to those still stuck at the lower levels.

In fact, it’s well-nigh impossible.

And that’s why it’s all the more amazing that the great teachers of the past had been able to convey their enlightenment to their less enlightened counterparts.

Let’s say for example that you decide to go and meditate in the desert.

And after maybe forty days and nights, you begin to understand the true meaning of life. You begin to see the interconnectedness of things, and you begin to understand the great energies that exist in the universe.

And you return to civilization.

You’re fired up with the knowledge of what you’ve discovered. But how to explain such lofty ideas and concepts to simple peasants and fishermen?

(Concepts such as that of God as the source of all things, or love as the positive energy that elevates us, or the ultimate purpose of life being to live to our full potential, just to name a few.)

You reduce them to their level. And you tell stories to illustrate them.

And that’s the genius of the man who lived two thousand years ago, that he was able to explain such deep philosophical concepts in such simple terms.

And that’s why he’s still such a powerful force these days. Because the stories he told are human and timeless stories that we can all relate to.

And I can’t help but think of how many other people throughout the ages had probably attained similar levels of enlightenment and understanding about life and the universe, and either through a lack of desire to share what they learned or the genius to elucidate them so others might understand them, had let their knowledge and enlightenment die with them.

In the novel, “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” Alexander Solzhenitsyn said that a warm man cannot understand a cold man.

I would say the same is true of enlightenment—an unenlightened man cannot understand an enlightened man.

Unless of course if you reduce it to their level, but even then, it’s not the real thing, but a diluted and sometimes rather distant version of it.

Down to 3

May.5. 2016

So now the field is down to 3, it’ll be interesting how this plays out.

My preference is of course for the man with the ‘burn.’

I’ve had buyer’s remorse these past few years, the man who promised change (Yes we can [What a phony!]) ended up giving us more of the same. The same Wall Street crooks, the same pandering to the corporations.

His most consequential piece of legislation—another give-away to the insurance fat cats. Instead of going down, insurance rates have gone up and worse, now if you can’t afford it, they slap you with a hefty fine.

And of course the person who wants to fill his shoes have already made secret speeches to these same fat cat Wall Street crooks. (The same Wall Street mega company which made a killing from one of their deals with a third world country.)

You wonder what kind of promises have already been made behind closed doors.

So now my money is on the ‘burn’ and if he doesn’t make it, at least option two is a viable candidate.

Besides raking in the money, politics is about being cautious, not speaking the truth.

Well, here is a candidate who is not afraid to speak the truth.

In front of the whole world, this candidate had the guts to call a certain past president a liar.

Now, that’s what I call being honest and real and gutsy.

What you might call “presidential material.”