Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Being Fully Human

One of us has awakened fully. I rejoice. I am coming awake as well, but I can't always maintain the wakeful state. Trying to remember the feeling as much as possible and not lose myself in useless thinking. I don't know what to write. Does anything I write matter any more? The only thing that matters is to quit playing hide and seek - to just be fully human. What next?

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Tanzan and Ekido, two Zen monks, were once travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they encountered a young and lovely girl in a silk kimono, unable to cross the intersection. "Come on girl," said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her across the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he could no longer restrain himself. "We monks don’t go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It’s dangerous. Why did you do that?"

"I left that girl back at the road," said Tanzan, "are you still carrying her?"

I sometimes carry worry or anxiety with me, sometimes anger at someone else's poor judgement, or other woes. Sometimes, I have to catch myself worrying about a possible future that is yet to be. Sometimes, I think about a mistake I made in the past, a regret. All of these are burdens. They keep me from enjoying Life now. My cats have no burdens. They live life with ease. What burdens do you have? Can you live like a cat, live with ease?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Subtle Manipulations

I have found society at large to be anti-intellectual as a whole. Einstein and Newton are both posthumously accused of having Asperger's Syndrome. Likely, high intelligence is equally nature and nuture, partly genetics and partly due to the environment you were raised in. Generally, people who are highly intelligent question why things are as they are. Since societies tend to want people not to ask questions, but to conform, intelligent people are "troublemakers". The sneaky way to control them now, since religion doesn't work any more, is to malign them by giving them a disease, as if intelligence wasn't enough of a social curse. The Jargon File perfectly summarizes this socialization in Weaknesses of the Hacker Personality:

"Many hackers have noticed that mainstream culture has shown a tendency to pathologize and medicalize normal variations in personality, especially those variations that make life more complicated for authority figures and conformists. Thus, hackers aware of the issue tend to be among those questioning whether ADD and AS actually exist; and if so whether they are really ‘diseases’ rather than extremes of a normal genetic variation like having freckles or being able to taste DPT. In either case, they have a sneaking tendency to wonder if these syndromes are over-diagnosed and over-treated. After all, people in authority will always be inconvenienced by schoolchildren or workers or citizens who are prickly, intelligent individualists — thus, any social system that depends on authority relationships will tend to helpfully ostracize and therapize and drug such ‘abnormal’ people until they are properly docile and stupid and ‘well-socialized’."

It's this same line of thinking that has me wondering why women are overmedicated with pills. In the 1970's and 80's, it was Valium. Now the preferred pill for your wife or Mom is Prozac. Women generally become even more intelligent after giving birth.* (Despite some women acting less intelligent than they really are to attract a mate.) Intelligent people tend to become more depressed than the general population, probably from utter frustration. Rather than dealing with what is making them depressed, these women are sent to the doctor, or go willingly. The doctor doesn't have time to deal with them or only treats the symptoms, so he prescribes Prozac or some other drug to bring them into line. The insanity here is that society promotes this drug-induced happiness, while prosecuting "illegal" forms of drug-induced happiness. So, as people become more and more unhappy for whatever reasons, what next? Manipulation through religious beliefs, social beliefs, and fear will only work so long.

* Unfortunately, I can't find the research for this claim. But I've seen it personally with one woman, although I can't rule out her deceiving her husband.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


We define ourselves with labels. Some define themselves by their work, men especially. I am an accountant, lawyer, scientist, etc. Some define themselves by other roles: mother, father, sister, brother, prince, princess, count, baron, etc. Sometimes you see a progression of labels - boyfriend/girlfriend, lover, wife/husband, significant other, ex-wife/ex-husband. Or, another example is newborn, infant, child, teenager, young adult, adult, senior, deceased. Even names are labels. None of them really matter. The only labels that we can't escape from are man/woman and human being. The former is becoming more and more irrelevant in a genderless society, so it just may come down to how we define what a "human being" really is at the level of an individual and at the species level? And maybe that doesn't even matter. If we start geneering (genetic engineering) the species, then the three races we have now will pale in comparison. And sooner or later, we will start engineering the race. At first, we'll screen out the deleterious genes through abortion and eventually, we'll correct them at the one cell or totipotent stage of the fertilized egg. Then we'll eliminate degenerative diseases. Then we'll start engineering people for specific roles such as astronaut or deepsea diver. This doesn't even begin to touch upon uplifting other species such as dolphin or chimpanzee to full sentience (which we could possibly do now with chimps). What would a fully sentient chimp do to religious belief? I suppose that if you can treat everything as sacred and with equal respect, from a pebble, to a plant, to any animal, to any human being, then you've even gone past labels to a whole new experience entirely.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Another Perspective

For something to exist, it has to be observed.

For something to exist, it has to have a position in time and space.

And this explains why nine-tenths of the mass of the universe is unaccounted for.

Nine-tenths of the universe is the knowledge of the position and direction of everything in the other tenth. Every atom has its biography, every star its file, every chemical exchange its equivalent of the inspector with a clipboard. It is unaccounted for because it is doing the accounting for the rest of it, and you cannot see the back of your own head.

Nine-tenths of the universe, in fact, is the paperwork.

And if you want the story, then remember that a story does not unwind. It weaves. Events that start in different places and different times all bear down on that one tiny point in space-time, which is the perfect moment.

Supposing an emperor was persuaded to wear a new suit of clothes whose material was so fine that, to the common eye, the clothes weren't there. And suppose a little boy pointed out this fact in a loud, clear voice . . .

Then you have The Story of the Emperor Who Had No Clothes.

But if you knew a bit more, it would be The Story of the Boy Who Got a Well-Deserved Thrashing from His Dad for Being Rude to Royalty, and Was Locked Up.

Or The Story of the Whole Crowd Who Were Rounded Up by the Guards and Told 'This Didn't Happen, Okay? Does Anyone Want to Argue?'

Or it could be a story of how a whole kingdom suddenly saw the benefits of the 'new clothes', and developed an enthusiasm for healthy sports in a lively and refreshing atmosphere which got many new adherents every year, and led to a recession caused by the collapse of the conventional clothing industry.

It could even be a story about The Great Pneumonia Epidemic of '09.

It all depends on how much you know.

Supposing you'd watched the slow accretion of snow over thousands of years as it was compressed and pushed over the deep rock until the glacier calved its icebergs into the sea, and you watched an iceberg drift out through the chilly waters, and you got to know its cargo of happy polar bears and seals as they looked forward to a brave new life in the other hemisphere where they say the ice floes are lined with crunchy penguins, and then wham! Tragedy loomed in the shape of thousands of tons of unaccountably floating iron and an exciting soundtrack . . .

. . . you'd want to know the whole story.
Terry Pratchett (Thief of Time)

The Cause of Your Problem Is...

The cause of your problem is:

The Borg Implants are failing.

The Dilithium Crystals need to be rotated.

Paradigm shift...without a clutch

Dew on the telephone lines.

Runaway cat on system.

Mouse has out-of-cheese-error

We are a 100% Microsoft Shop.

Software uses US measurements, but the OS is in metric...

BNC (brain not connected)

The following excuses brought to you by the BOFH Excuses Server

Look for the Real Beneath the Unreal

"None of this is real."

Yes, but it's a lie we can understand.

The relative truth obscures the absolute truth. The unreal masks the real. Our perception of reality and what reality really is are two different things. But our perception is not a total lie. It is as true as it can possibly be given the circumstances. How each person views or interprets his or her reality, colors it if you will, is the key. Sooner or later, reality will challenge one with an event that will alter an underlying assumption of how reality works. If one drives too fast on a rain slick road, eventually the physics will play out with potentially fatal consequences to the driver. Ignore physical laws at your peril. Yet people do everyday.

Life is precious. One is born into a body. One is the body. One has a Life. The quality of a Life is what matters. The quality of one's interaction with Nature and his fellow Man is what matters. Recognition of the permanent underneath the impermanent, the plan within the plan -- the love, beauty and intelligence underpinning it all is important. All that matters. The mind can't understand it, can't work out the purpose. Isn't it better to appreciate Life and enjoy it rather than try to make sense of it? Perhaps the understanding will come in time. It might take the right nudge or stimulus for neurons to align and fire just so and an insight to occur. Or maybe the absence of a stimulus is the trigger.

Look for real Love and Joy. Real Love and Joy are not fleeting and don't turn into Hate and Sadness. Wise Labors of Love last longer than other labors even if both are impermanent in the end and the ripple effects may be longer lasting still. It took millions of years for flowers and other forms to evolve so that we humans can appreciate them as they are Now. Mankind is a work in progress as well. All of Nature is. Isn't the game beautiful? Can one see the beauty of the game? The Love underneath it all? A playground crafted for the children to play in?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Being the Watcher Instead of the Thinker

What is important is to watch one's own mind. Observe the thinker rather than be the thinker. Observe your thoughts while trying to be detached from them. This is what is meant when someone tells you to be the watcher. This is easier said than done because we are taught to be the thinker rather than be an observer.

When you are happy one day and then unhappy the next, then that is suffering. Only the illusion of time makes the pleasure and the pain seem separate when they are two sides of the same coin. Can you detach yourself from both? Likewise, if you do get frustrated because you got angry or frustrated with someone, forgive yourself. The quicker you can drop the emotion or feeling that is making you miserable, the better. Ask yourself, "Who is angry?" or "Who is upset?". Is it the observer or the thinker? I AM or the "little me"?

"I am not supposed to be this way. I should be more enlightened."

Who is setting that expectation? Likely the same entity that is doing all the thinking, the "little me". Any negativity means that you've become "unconscious", become identified with the thinker. Getting lost in "drama", feeling sorry for yourself, another form of drama, all are indications that you've become aligned with thinking rather than observing those thoughts. I try to meditate or "feel my body" to try to break the identification with my egoic mind, the thinker. Sometimes I can succeed and sometimes I fail.

One doesn't become the thinker overnight. It was learned as a young child and one can't expect to break a learned response overnight. It takes time for neural nets to realign. There are instances where people have spontaneously and permanently awakened into the new consciousness, but they were on the razor's edge of suicide, under tremendous suffering. Instead the false self (and some neurons) died rather than the body in those instances, but 99.9999% of people usually succumb to self destruction rather than awakening. So, that is why for most people it takes effort and time to become the watcher, although we are already the watcher. More likely, it takes time to weaken the thinker and make it submissive to the observer or watcher. (It can be argued that it takes no time to be the watcher which is true, but what we are talking about here is sustaining or lengthening the watchful periods of consciousness.) That may be the more correct view or perspective of the process.

There is anecdotal evidence that Enlightened individuals can act as catalysts to awaken individuals and groups, but without any empirical evidence one has to adopt a wait and see approach and just work on oneself. The more Enlightened individuals on the planet, the easier it might be for others to awaken, just like it takes a certain number of people to adopt an idea before it becomes accepted throughout a culture, a critcal mass or threshold has to be reached.

Note: There is a way to hasten the process, but it's illegal. The use of the recreational drug LSD destroys the ego. We aren't interested in destroying the ego so much as minimizing it. It would be an interesting experiment, but since it's illegal, I can't advocate the use of such a drug. Perhaps a psychiatrist could administer LSD under controlled circumstances for those who wish to experiment.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Divine Game

Julie states, "It's all a game". Yes, it is - a divine game called Lila that "God" plays*. God expressing itself through myriads of temporary life forms, the final perfect piece is Man. The form that thinks itself separate from all the other pieces or forms, yet, is just as mortal as all of them. The form that strives for immortality in three ways:

1. Spiritual - the Divine or Christ within.
2. Biological - perpetuation of yourself through your children.
3. Cultural - perpetuation of yourself through a cultural endeavour.

The most pernicious lie that Christianity perpetuates is that we can't be like Jesus. It's the same as Buddhists believing that they can't be like The Buddha. Most Christians don't understand the Christ within. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all the same thing. Jesus was pointing people to the Christ in them, their inner body, their inner Truth. But most people mistake Jesus the Divinity for Jesus the Man and Mystic. The Divine is our true inheritance and destiny, the Immortality we already possess, but don't know or feel it. (Christianity and Buddhism have much in common.) Families die. Genetic lines die. Genes are replaced by better genes. Few species remain the same. They either die or evolve. Culture is the same. Ideas are replaced by better ideas. Religions come and go, replaced by better ones. Monsters and Saints are two sides of the same coin. Labels to denote the "Greatest Good". Yet, all achievements are fleeting and all things pass, but Life goes on.

So, awaken and see the "game" for what it is. Enter a whole new level, a whole new dimension of the "game" called Lila or Life. Be the human equivalent of a bird rather than a human dinosaur. The dinosaurs are acting out of fear. Rise above your fears and assumptions, and transcend them as a bird transcends the earth - as the birds transcended the dinosaurs.

*Eloquently explained by Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now, pages 99-100

Friday, May 19, 2006

Superorganisms Differing in Scale and Purpose

An ant colony can be considered to be a superorganism.

"A colony is a superorganism, an assembly of workers so tightly knit around the mother queen as to act like a single, well-coordinated entity."
Edward O. Wilson

Is humanity an unconscious superorganism? In science fiction, the Borg are a humanoid, insane superorganism.* Technology gone mad. Is humanity evolving into a conscious superorganism? Is that our next step? Is that what the sum of religion and science, this consilience, is pointing towards? The Earth can be considered a superorganism as well, but an unconscious one. Are we, humanity, to be the conscious brain of this planetary organism? We may be seeing individual and collective human consciousness changing from unconscious to conscious now because it is an emergent property of the human brain, or possibly, 4 billion human brains living together. (There's your nothing, Julie.)

"We are not separate from our world, So when the majority of humans become free of egoic delusion, this inner change will affect all of creation. You will literally inhabit a new world. It is a shift in planetary consciousness. This strange Buddhist saying that every tree and every blade of grass will eventually become enlightened points to the same truth."
Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now)

* I believe that the idea for the Borg came from the Cybermen, but there is prior art.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Six Minute Physics Lesson and a Subtle Plug

Little Things that Jiggle, a cute, six minute physics lesson for poets, artists, and the curious.Other webcasts for the curious. Pick and choose and find your own path to understanding. I personally enjoy E.O. Wilson.

What Drives Art and Science?

Was watching a webcast of a program about Richard Feymann. He mentions that his Father inculcated in him the practice of attempting to understand the essence of what you are studying. You can call a bird by many names in many languages his Father explained, but none of those labels are that bird. You can see his Father imparting wisdom and that is usually what is lacking in modern education - the teaching of wisdom. The best teachers impart wisdom (useful knowledge) as well as just information. One can see Feynmann's curiosity. His attempt to understand the World and explain what he is seeing. One also sees him paint a portrait. He's attempting to capture the essence of the woman he's painting. Is this drive to understand reality through query and analysis for the scientist, the same drive that an artist or architect feels? The painter trying to capture what he or she feels and sees on canvas. The architect trying to capture the look and feel of space in the design of the room or building? Underlying all this manic human effort is the desire to capture the look and feel, the essence, of the moment, through a mathematical formula, a painting, a sketch, a blueprint, a song -- just variations of a desire to describe or explain the whole fabric of reality from different perspectives.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Bird

There was a meeting I had to go to today. I work nights and it's a really odd shift. Three and half days a week, Thursday night to Sunday morning, Six hours the first night, then 12 hours each night for the next three nights. My week starts at 1:00 AM tonight. Been doing this for a year now and for the last 4-6 months (lost track) I've been by myself. It's a little better now I suppose because one guy on another team works Thursday morning and Thursday night with me now. So, the meeting is in the middle of my "night" on my "Sunday", 1:00 P.M. in the afternoon. It's supposed to be a "meet and greet" by the new director. She is a former operations manager and was supposed to bring some direction and focus to our group which is rudderless within the company, practically foundering from what I can tell. Anyway, she gets in front of all of us and basically says, "Hi! Bye!". She accepted a Vice Presidency position at another firm in Telecom Corridor in Richardson, TX., and she's already given notice. This whole meeting was a waste of time except for the information that my future at this firm is even more uncertain.

So, I am driving back home and I'm on Interstate 635 tootling along at 60-65 mph and this little sparrow or swallow, probably a sparrow, flies across my windshield from right to left. It happened so fast there was nothing I could do. It was over in the blink of an eye. But the bird didn't die. He or she knew she wasn't going to make it and the little fragile bird turned into the windshield of my 4,000 pound car. It used the boundary layer of air flowing across the car to lift itself out of harm's way. So, there was no splat or thud and a lifeless little body being thrown into the air, cast aside with brutal violence. It all happened in a split second.

I feel like a leaf being blown on the wind. That phrase popped into my mind when I was at the store getting groceries before going home. No, I am that sparrow. Sometimes, it's best to meet danger head on and hope for the best and trust in one's abilities. If that little bird had enough courage or whatever to survive what it did by facing a two ton car at 60 mph, then surely, a driftless, uncertain human being can do at least the same or better and survive whatever life gives him.

Bashful must have sensed something as well when I came home. She followed me into the bedroom and wanted to be petted. Perhaps it was her way of assuring me that everything will be okay. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into all of this. Of course, that's my mind being anxious. I felt at peace when I was driving home. It was such a beautiful day. No cares. No worries. Just a timeless quality. I miss that peaceful feeling.

Recognition in Reflection

I gaze into your eyes. It is I gazing back.
I speak to you. I hear my own voice reply, but it is not "my" voice.
I touch you. I feel my face.
It is the first time I've felt it before.
I inhale your lovely perfume. It is my own scent,
It is the first time I have smelled it before.
I send you an email. The reply is my own.
I IM you. I read my own reply.
The relative masking the absolute, like looking at one's reflection in a mirror or still pond.
How Zen!
I blink and truly see myself for the first time.
The body and mind are not mine, but the essence is.
I recognize myself clearly.
I want to tell you that I love you, but it would be a relative truth.
Yang desiring Yin. Yang attracted to Yin.
I am only loving myself, only the mind and body are different.
Such love is in-clusive, not ex-clusive.
Though other reflections will appear dirtier than this one, each reflection is perfect in that moment.
That is the absolute truth for now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Life Matters

Life matters. By life, I mean people and all living things. While everything is sacred, life in all its myriad forms is more sacred and is as empheremal and fleeting as any thought. ( Though I will kill any cockroach that comes my way indoors. ) Earth is sacred because it is one big organism. You are sacred because you are a person who is so much greater than any thought. You matter. My cat matters. The mockingbird singing outside my window matters. The tree I gaze upon matters. All are more sacred than any thought or word. All should be honored and cherished. All will be here today and gone tomorrow. Touching another in a profound way is really all that matters. Human beings matter the most of all because they are different from all other life. That doesn't mean we have any right to extinguish all that other life, just that being special means we are caretakers of the planet we inhabit.

Imagination and Scientific Method

Experimental science as practiced by scientists requires imagination and creativity. Sometimes, one does an experiment out of sheer curiosity, "What happens if I do this?". The data are collected and analyzed. This is how insights and discoveries are made. Afterwards, the scientist writes up his/her paper and lays out the problem and an orderly logical framework to put the experiments and data into context concluding with a refined, or even new, hypothesis, which incidently is the reverse order in which he or she came to the conclusions and results in the first place. The creativity of a scientist lies in his or her imagination and intuition which flows into the experimental design and more so in picking the appropriate problems to study. Yet, that imagination and curiosity which spurred the discovery are downplayed and the results are discussed in a logical and argumentative mind-based context. In other words, discovery takes a backseat to argumentative debate and proving one's results. One can only appreciate the imagination's role from inference. One exception is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Initially, PCR used an E. coli DNA polymerase I derivative called Klenow Fragment. Enzyme had to be added every cycle because the enzyme was destroyed by the heat necessary to unwind the DNA molecules so that the primers could anneal to them to create more copies. Once they used a heat stable version of Klenow fragment from a hyperthermophilic bacterium, was the technique easy to use and economical. The imagination lies in the use of repeating cycles of denaturation (heating) of the DNA template(s), of renaturation (cooling) to allow annealing of excess primers to the DNA strands, and of a heat stable DNA polymerase to generate new copies of DNA, thereby allowing one amplify any sequence of DNA one wants. The bacteria and enzymology were known in the late 1960s. The piece of technology that held everything up was the oligonucleotide polymerization chemistry . That technology came along in the late 1970s-early 1980s. The heat stable DNA polymerase was a just an elegant, key refinement to the technique. PCR was thought up in 1983, but, it didn't become ubiquitous in the biochemical or molecular biological labs until the late 1980s. Now, everyone uses the technique. No scientific methodology was involved, just pure imagination and creativity for the initial idea.

Intuitive Understanding

I found this interesting pdf from Bruce Schneier's blog entry entitled Reconceptualizing National Intelligence. The following text caught my eye:

"...the disconnect between the emphasis on current reporting or providing situational awareness, which must be evidence-based, and the policymaker's need for anticipatory judgements, which by nature, trade the confidence derived from hard evidence for an intuitive, or gestalt, understanding of the whole derived from inference."

Is this what is happening to someone when they search their soul? I was looking for hard evidence to support my World view, but now I am not sure I have a "World view". I am past the evidence gathering stage, or am I? I find myself relying on an intuitive, or gestalt, understanding of the whole derived from inference rather than any "evidence" ( Is this a lie? ). It feels "right".

Monday, May 15, 2006

Peer Review and Blogging

Is blogging just a peer review process? Are we individually finding those people who are our true peers to gain an appreciation and understanding of ourselves? To review and reflect on what "human being" really means? To test beliefs and ideas and bring academic thinking and thought processes to each other and the whole culture?

Stuck on...

Julie's latest entry, Stuck On Saturday, is appropriate. I grok where she is coming from, but I picked up on a subconscious nuance of her theme. "Stuck on Saturday" means to me that there is freedom. Saturdays for most people are free days, days free from "work". I am going through some sort of similar experience to Julie. The old belief structures are dying and whatever is supposed to arise to replace them hasn't formed yet. So, there is freedom. Perhaps that is all that is meant to replace the "Old" - complete freedom from concepts and beliefs that limit me as a human being.

What next? Will I then, always be "Stuck on Sundays"? In such an intense joy and bliss that I will be unable to describe the experience? Or, is that experience only to be felt by those whose transformation is complete and sudden, practically mystical, like Tolle and Jesus? Regardless of what the future holds, I am not there yet. But, I am not alone either. There is some comfort in that knowledge and it is also nice to be able to give comfort to another human being who is undergoing whatever it is we are both going through. It is a comfort to have a fellow pilgrim on this narrow path. Or maybe, a better metaphor is that we are both at a similar spot on our ascent to the Mountaintop.

I'm Still an Idealist with my Heart on My Sleeve

I went into Science with the notion of using my mind to help people. My rationalization at the time, and this was when I was 19 or 20 and had given up on Pre-Med and Biomechanical Engineering for Molecular Biology, was that if I came up with a revolutionary idea I could save many more lives than saving lives one at a time as a medical doctor. I saw the beauty and elegance of the molecular control systems regulating the molecular machinery of the cell and realized that the engineers were woefully way behind Nature. Nature had worked all this out over billions of years without conscious thought and it was simply wonderful. But as I went from undergraduate to graduate to postdoc, my idealism took a beating from the practical aspects of the job. It seemed less like people were behaving as idealists and more like they were egoic bastards.

People hold up Einstein as a towering example of a Scientist and what people don't realize is that Einstein was the exception to the rule. He was so far beyond his peers that they didn't know what to make of him. He was more fortunate than Max Planck in that his work was recognised and accepted almost immediately rather than derided and criticized for 20 years. Ideally, Science and Philosophy in general, should be meritocratic. To a large extent they are, but like all human endeavors, the ego sometimes insinuates itself.

Max Planck, Gregor Mendel, Carl Woese, Francis Rous, and countless others discovered new insights into Reality and their peers did not recognize their work for many years. Often in Science, if the research is "hot" or trendy, multiple labs will try to reproduce the work and it will be verified or falsified rather quickly. Yet, if the work is revolutionary and attacks the fundamental underpinnings of a discipline as Mendel's, Planck's, Woese's, or Rous' works show, it is more often greeted with disbelief and derision and is rejected rather than tested on its merits. In Mendel's case, his work was rediscovered. In the other cases, the men lived long enough to see the fruits of their labors and the Truth they had uncovered to be accepted. Indeed, Max Planck remarked about his experience thusly:

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

I noticed that unlike other careers, it just got harder and harder as you rose up the career ladder, not easier. Throw in decreasing funding for basic research overall (Human Genome Project soaked up a lot of funding that would have gone to much smaller labs), and you make a lot of average scientists miserable. Add to the mix that the best and brightest from all over the World come here to do research and that makes the task even harder. I could compete with the top 10% of Americans for a job, but not with the top 10% of the brightest Mainland Chinese (I was going to say Red Chinese, but many of those people don't really care for the Communist system).

My point in all this is that Science and Philosophy are likely just as bad or good as any human occupations. At their best, they improve the human condition and society overall. At their worst, they impede improvement of the human condition and now, threaten to destroy human society. It can be argued that Science and Philosophy are at their core amoral - knowledge is neither good nor bad. This is true. However, Science and Philosophy are sold on the premise that ideas and knowledge will always benefit society by spawning new technology. Research scientists don't live in a vacuum and they must sell themselves to obtain grant money for their livelihoods. So, when money and egos are at stake, merit may get lost in the process.

What is Enlightenment? What is Sanity?

I can't really answer this question since I am not Enlightened, but I will try . I am really trying to answer Imemine's argument about the supposed danger of either becoming Enlightened or becoming insane when trying to "attain" Enlightenment. One way of looking at Enlightenment is that it is a process whereby a human being becomes totally sane. Through psychological suffering, a self realization occurs and one awakens into complete and total sanity. By this definition and implication, almost everyone on the planet is insane to one degree or another.

"If you talk to God, that's okay, but if God talks to you, you're psychotic."
Greg House, M.D. (fictional character)

What's the difference between "God", or actually "God's" voice, talking to you and a small "voice" in your head talking to you? The difference is in degree. The former is a serious psychotic break with Reality and the latter is the "thinker" that everyone hears in their head - the Egoic mind. The latter is so commonplace that people mistake it for being "normal". So, if someone loses the voice in their head completely; totally loses those egoic mind patterns and the voice, then by everyone else's opinion that person is "different". In the East, he may be a Zen Master, or Buddha, and revered as a spiritual teacher. In the West, if he's lucky, he's a Saint. If he's unlucky, he'll be put to death like Jesus. A person has a choice, stay as you are, an animal with an Egoic mind, or become an animal with a better mind, an Enlightened mind. If you choose the Egoic mind, you risk insanity or suicide. If you choose Enlightenment, you choose sanity and peace - an end to psychological suffering. Therefore, there is no danger in choosing to become Enlightened; that the process will result in insanity. The danger lies in the fact that everyone around you will label you as insane when you are more sane than they are.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Humanity's Off Button/Kill Switch

About 100,000 years or so ago, at least two mammalian species nearly went extinct, and against all odds survived. One was the cheetah, and the other was an upright ape called Man. Almost every cheetah you meet is an identical twin, they are that inbred. Humanity was a bit luckier, may be 100 individuals survived, one measly tribe or clan of naked ape. This is why there is almost no difference between me and an Eskimo genetically speaking. Why does this homogeneity (uniformity) matter? Because humans are not only unique for our minds and brains, but our immune systems as well. Almost every species of monkey, ape, and cat that I know of has a retrovirus like HIV. Monkeys and chimps have SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus), every species of cat has FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). They all tolerate the virus well. It doesn't kill any of the animals or make them sick (practically speaking since life spans are pretty short in the wild). You have to make an SIV/HIV chimeric virus and inject it into chimps to kill them. SIV doesn't phase them in the least. HIV is fatal in humans. This is indirect evidence that something isn't normal about the human immune system.

Some human volunteers nearly died during a drug trial. They were testing a monoclonal antibody derivative called TGN1412. It binds to the CD28 T-cell receptor. Basically, this drug, which was given in a very low dose overstimulated the men's immune systems to the point where two of them had multiple organ failure and would have died without life support. Animal and monkey trials showed that the drug was safe even at very high dosages. However, one major difference between human and every other mammal's immune system that we know of is that humans are missing Sialic acid-recognizing Ig-superfamily lectins (Siglecs) on their T-cells. Siglecs seem to moderate the immune response in animals, but since we lack these receptors, our immune system in response to certain challenges turns on into high gear instantly. One take on this is this entry in The Loom.

So what? Big deal. We have immune systems that ramp up quickly and try to kill infectious diseases and maybe kill us in the process if we are unlucky. The one thing Nature hates is overpopulation of a monoculture. Mankind is now a global species. We are spread all over the Earth, turning the planet into an island in space. Almost every spot on the globe can be reached within 24 hours via aircraft from any other point. We are cutting down the rain forests for lumber for building our civilization and rain forests have the greatest biodiversity of any ecosystems on the planet. They also have some of the worst tropical diseases on record. CDC's worst nightmare is an Ebola-like virus being spread by airline across the globe, but now I understand. If we destroy the rain forests, likely some virus or combination of viruses will emerge and will kill us. Just one good plague and the human race is in check again. If it's a fast plague, something that kills in 72 hours or less and is highly contagious, then our public health systems would be unable to cope. So, the lack of Siglecs to moderate our immune systems is our Achille's Heel or "Off Switch" -- Nature's last chance to bring everything back into balance again if we are too stupid to do it ourselves. We and the cheetah have much in common. The cheetahs are dying off in the wild. What about us?

Plug for Julie

If you haven't read Anonymous-Julie's blog, then you should. She's an excellent writer and there is an originality, a freshness, to her spiritual blog. Decide for yourself, but her writing causes something to resonate in me, maybe self recognition. I AM seeing itself in another.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

There is a Time...

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven --
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted,
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance,
A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search, and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A Time of Contemplation and Despair
Within this famous passage, can be seen that there is a time to despair - "a time to tear down", "a time to search", "a time to be silent". Maybe I am reading too much into the passage, but Ecclesiastes is a book of despair, of soul searching. A time of destroying beliefs and belief structures, of discovering one's place in the scheme of things and of attempting to rebuild from the bottom - a rebirth of spirit some would say.

A Time to Die and be Reborn
I despair. I seek. Underlying it all is a peaceful feeling. Sometimes it is papable, sometimes my mind completely drowns it out in a screen of thought. It is getting stronger, though. The despair or sadness is strong as well, maybe stronger than the peace. I know that this despair will pass. Is this birthing normal? Am I supposed to feel this way? Are others going through this process, this birth, feeling the same thing?


Nature is cyclical. Water evaporates, condenses as rain or snow, finds its way to the oceans and evaporates again. At the quantum level, subatomic particles can either be as they are or be waves of energy. All around us, Life seems cyclical - trees and plants go dormant in the Winter and bloom in the Summer, in synchrony with the cycles of the seasons. Animals are born and die and given enough time, one can see evolution happening, animals and plants changing in response to their environment. Humans, too, obey these rules -- birth, growth as a child to young adult, plateau as an adult, then declining health as we age, finally there is death. But what of the Source of Life - the spark that animates us all. Is every living thing just an appendage of Gaia, the planet as one big organism, and we are all just extensions? And what of Death? Christian Dogma would have one believe that Death is simply a one way phase transition -- Conscious Flesh becoming Pure Spirit. The Buddhists, on the otherhand, believe in cycles in the form of wheels, Spirit becomes Flesh becomes Spirit again. Since Nature is inherently or fundamentally cyclical, and Nature is a manifestation of Spirit, then likely reincarnation is a fact and not a delusion.If so, then the consequences are profound, but then, if we are also spiritual and physical extensions of Gaia, then that is also profound and strange to contemplate.

* You can take the man from Science, but you can't take curiosity out of the boy! :-)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Play Pumps

Play Pumps are changing life in Africa one community at a time.

Sexual Attraction

Markers for sexual attraction for women - height. The taller a man is, the better. Markers for sexual attraction for men are waist to hip ratio - child bearing. Jaw and facial shape are determined by amount of sex hormone in both women and men. There may be another marker there, but it's to be tested and verified. Scientists are still trying to figure it out. What the study shows though, is that attractiveness has more to do with subconscious physical cues than with personality or how one dresses. People knew within seconds of meeting the other person whether they wanted to date that person or not. Don't know if pheromones play any part in this, but witty repartee doesn't work at all. Clearly, scientific dating has quite a way to go before it will be any help to people trying to find their soulmate.

So, what does this mean for the mystic? Do you go subconscious, or ignore that part and go with what? Does it even matter? According to Tolle, it doesn't. You'll still feel the need, but it's a small ripple or wave on a big, deep ocean.

Does a Cat Care When It's Right or Wrong?

My cats live life with an ease I envy. When ever I catch them doing something I don't like, it's shrugged off without a care or thought. Whatever happened is already forgotten and in the past.

Julie asks the question, "What if we are all wrong?" The whole question is, "What if we are all wrong about what or who God is and our whole existence?" It doesn't really matter I suppose. There's a scene in Babylon5 where G'Kar picks up an ant and then puts her down back on the plant the ant was on. G'Kar says, "What does that ant tell the other ants what happened to it? What are we like to that ant - like Gods perhaps?" Turn it around, though. We are nothing special to a cat. Maybe just a big, two-legged cat, I don't know? But, I do know that they live with quality and with ease. They don't think much.

It doesn't matter what we think of God or about God. What matters is the quality of our interactions with others and the quality of each individual's life. Not quality in the sense of quantity and accumulation, but a quality of ease and contentment. I know I am guilty of arguing with some about this or that and in the end, it didn't matter much. It seemed to matter at the time, but at the end of the day, so long as I didn't mislead that person or cause that person to stray from finding their own Truth and the Sacredness that is God -- I did no harm, then what does it matter? In a way, we are just ants trying to describe something so much greater than what we can conceive of that it seems an almost futile task. Perhaps this is what Julie is getting at, the wisdom she is advocating.

Yet, I believe that we can experience the Sacredness that the word "God" points to. So, I will try to emulate a cat and not worry about right, wrong, God, Devil and all that. They are just worthless labels and concepts at this point. I am not sure what will replace them, but I know that I will be okay regardless. Perhaps, I'll discover what is real in time. I have all the time in the World. Now, it is time to live life and love with quality.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bashful Likes Strawberry Yogurt

I have discovered that one of my cats, Bashful, likes strawberry flavored yogurt. She likes it so much that she will get in my face if I am sitting down eating it and have a go at the container. This is odd considering that cats don't have a sweet taste receptor on their tongues. Her sister could care less. Bashful is the second calico I've had that likes strawberry flavored creams. My deceased cat, Baby, liked strawberry/banana yogurt, and strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Baby was people, and Bashful and Nosey seem to be as well. They both have interesting personalities for cats. Both meow at me in an attempt to communicate. God help me if they are as smart as Baby.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What is Sitting Meditation?

What is sitting meditation? To remove ourselves from all external distractions and quiet the mind is called “sitting.” To observe the inner nature in perfect calmness is called “meditation.”

Are There Better Ways to Uplift People?

Just watched a lecture by Derek Bok, author of Our Underachieving Colleges , on CSPAN2. He observed that there is a gap between best practices and common practices in higher education. There are advances in cognitive psychology and education, yet, most Ph.D. students are not required to take any education courses. Most professors emulate consciously or unconsciously the professors they admired the most for their teaching abilities. I wonder if the same can be said about Theology and Religion. The best ministers, priests and such, are charismatic individuals with excellent public speaking skills, although I have met ministers who weren't the best orators or most charismatic people, yet, were excellent, humble men of faith. Is there a better way to instill critical thinking and curiosity in religion or spirituality? Are there better ways to uplift oneself and others? This line of reasoning is more in line with George's blog

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Death by Chocolate

Death by Chocolate for a known terrorist.

You Might Want to Walk on Water When ...

1. You're paragliding off a Florida beach, there's sharks in the water and you won't be landing on the pier or beach.
2. You're waterskiing on a Louisana bayou and the alligators are hungry.
3. You're in Brazil on the Amazon in a small boat and sightsee down a tributary full of piranha and the boat hits a submerged log and you go flying out.
4. You're surfing, catching nice waves in Northern California, the seal population has crashed, you're wearing a black wet suit and see a Great White fin behind your board.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Everyone Wants to Own Your Computer

Everyone Wants to 'Own' Your PC by Bruce Schneier

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Humor, Wit, and Wisdom of Terry Pratchett

Anytime I take the World or myself too seriously, I grab a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel and read it, or reread one I've previously read. Pratchett reminds me how silly we all are and what really counts in Life.

Some excerpts from Interesting Times:

"According to the philosopher Ly Tin Wheedle, chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized."

"This is the butterfly of the storms.
See the wings, slightly more ragged than those of the common fritillary. In reality, thanks to the fractal nature of the universe, this means that those ragged edges are infinite -- in the same way that the edge of any rugged coastline, when measured to the ultimate microsocopic level, is infinitely long -- or, if not infinite, then at least so close to it that infinity can be seen on a clear day."

"The Quantum Weather Butterfly (Papilio tempestae) is an undistinguished yellow color, although the Mandelbrot patterns on the wings are of considerable interest. It's outstanding feature is its ability to create weather.
This presumably began as a survival trait, since even an extremely hungry bird would find itself inconvenienced by a nasty localized tornado. From there it possibly became a secondary sexual characteristic, like the plumage of birds or the throat sacs of certain frogs. Look at me, the male says, flapping his wings lazily in the canopy of the rain forest. I may be an undistinguished yellow color but in a fortnight's time a thousand miles away, Freak Gales Cause Road Chaos."

Are Americans getting Value from Their Health Care?

According to BBC News, researchers have found that the richest Americans are as healthy as the poorest Britons. My guess as to the cause is stress. Most Americans lead stressful lifestyles. America is a more stressful society because we have little in the way of social safety nets. Or perhaps, we've become a more stressful society. Many people used to work for one employer their whole lives and they had pensions. Now, you're the exception if you retire with a pension from lifetime employment with one firm. Regardless, Americans pay twice as much for the equivalent health care and we are sicker overall.

Every Child has known God

Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does Anything weird,
But the God who knows only 4 words.
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come Dance with Me , come dance.”

Good poetry makes the universe reveal a secret

Become Nothing to be Everything

The essence of Zen is this:

Become nothing (no-thing) to be everything. The mind is stilled. There are no thoughts, no mind, no ego, no psychological time. The thinker is replaced by the observer watching everything it can through the five senses. There is just perception and feeling. The observer experiencing life and revelling in it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Books That Have Given Me Insights

Just a short list:

The Bible
Many Lives, Many Masters
Only Love is Real
Meditation: Achieving Inner Peace and Tranquility In Your Life
The Power of Now (audiobook)
A New Earth (audiobook)
Testament: The Bible and History
The Gospel According to Jesus
Desire of Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus
Interesting Times
Small Gods

Monday, May 01, 2006

Spiritual Truth and Religion

All religions have in them the core of Truth, a core of Reality. They point to the same thing. The problem is that when the Buddha and Jesus died and their immediate followers who knew them started dying, people started to forget the oral wisdom they had learned. So, they wrote the sayings down. Then along came regular, ordinary people some time later who decided to edit and collate all the sayings into a book or set of books. Being people of their time and culture, they omitted some books and kept others and altered them whether from bias or prejudice. Constantine altered some beliefs to keep Heaven in the sky or in another realm far from political earthbound concerns when the early Church was writing the Latin Bible and Christianity was being turned into an organized set of beliefs. And being ordinary people, they interpreted simple ways to Enlightenment, to be a difficult and hard path that few can attain. That is the way the mind likes it because it fears to lose control. Even Buddhism is tainted by Ego because the majority of Buddhists think that it takes multiple lifetimes to achieve Nirvana.

Making someone a deity makes them special when in fact, if Tolle is right, Jesus and the Buddha were more ordinary than ordinary men because they didn't have egos. They wouldn't stand out in a crowd. I always wondered why Jesus wasn't noticed more during the three years of his ministry. If he was doing all those miraculous things, then he would have come to people's attention much sooner. But if he didn't stand out and call attention to himself, then it would explain why he only got into trouble when Judas turned him in.

Everything written about Jesus was written 50 to 400 years after he died from the oral traditions he left behind and some of it was embellished. "Half of writing history is hiding the truth," says Mal Reynolds in Serenity. The Bible is a historical narrative from times and cultures and places that are gone except maybe in name only. Some things are true. Some things are made up, and some things are outright lies. Every religion is tainted. It's up to each person to find the jewels of spiritual Truth buried in the Holy Books and religions. Someone like Tolle is just giving you the Truth as he knows it. He's just honest enough to tell you to not use him as a stumbling block and to trust yourself. (I was told much of what Tolle says by a relative in 1976. Tolle just made the knowledge I already had more comprehensible and confirmed what I had been told.) Truths are generally simple. Lies are usually complex and elaborate.

Confusing Form with Being

Tolle in his books makes the following point over and over again. Yet, it is not new. People confuse Form and Being, the man and the message. People like Buddha, Jesus, Lao-tze, Mohamed the Prophet, Plato, and countless others are venerated and in some cases deified. They were all mortal men. The Being or Consciousness within them was the same entity - one entity taking several forms down through linear time to speak to us and impart wisdom. I am that Consciousness and so is every other human on this planet. When Jesus says, "I am the bread of Life.", that is his God Essence or Being speaking through the man, the form. The man died, the Being lives on. He never claimed to be a god. People worshipped him and made him one.

"If your master is the incarnation of God, then who are you?", Tolle asks and then comments in The Power of Now, that " ... any exclusivity is Ego no matter how well disguised".

Even Buddhism is a religion rather than just a philosophy. This is why Zen Buddhists say that you "must kill the Buddha to be the Buddha". The purest form of Buddhism is likely Zen Buddhism. Perhaps Tibetan Buddhism is just as pure. Yet, Tibetan Buddhism is being killed by China and Zen Buddhism in Japan has its critics as well who claim that some Zen Buddhist schools are corrupt and self serving.

Christianity was multifaceted and colored by the different regions of the Roman Empire as it spread only to be stifled and controlled by the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches as belief was organized and deadened, as priests became the minds and voices of God. The Protestant Reformation and the printing press caused Christianity to flower again as people learned to read the Bible and reflect on the "diamonds of wisdom in the dung heap" as Jefferson calls it. Thomas Jefferson used textual analysis of the Synoptic Gospels and the Greek, Latin and King James versions of those gospels to write his Bible. He came to the conclusion that there were two different men called Jesus in The New Testament. There was the kind, wise, compassionate Jesus and there is an angry Jesus. He believed the latter was added by scribes with their own agendas because his Bible has the former Jesus.

The Bible is a book written by committees down through the ages. Oral traditions and stories written down as the people who made them died and their followers lost the real message being conveyed. Spoken wisdom being edited and misinterpreted as it was written down. There are two Gods in The Bible. There is the angry God who is a God to be feared and respected, a Patriarchal God, a god of the Egoic Mind. Then there is Jesus' Father, a kind, loving God who does good works, who is Nature and whose Kingdom is all around us. The Father who is the Core Being of us all. Likely, in the Quran, there are two Gods, the angry Old Testament God, and the Sacred, Beautiful, Loving God found in some parts of The Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible.

This angry God is why people don't like the term "God". God is a closed concept. The word still points to a Sacredness and Beauty that is only experienced when a mind is still, when words no longer do justice to the Reality that is experienced. Intellectual belief in God is as empty as intellectual disbelief in God. What matters is to experience that Sacredness, see that Sacredness, be that Sacredness and live that Sacredness. That is what it means to be Awakened. Wakefulness is Humanity's birthright and that is what everyone is trying to accomplish whether they know it or not. So, if God, Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, Tolle, or any other person, thought form or belief prevents you from waking up, question it, and if possible, drop it or kill it metaphorically. Do not confuse the messenger with the message - form with being.

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