News of the day(ish) – Touchy Topic – June 28, 2013

Transgender child, 6, wins civil rights case to use the girls restroom at school in Colorado

Have a read, then get back to my post. I’ll be here waiting.

So, we have a story from the Dailymail about a 6 year old boy, and his family, that are upset about the fact that he has to use a boys public washroom at his school. Actually, technically they are upset that he isn’t allowed to use a girls public washroom at the school, as he has been offered the choice of boys washroom, teacher washroom, family washroom and sick kids washroom.

Now, I know this is a polarizing subject. I think that one of the biggest factors that polarizes people is the desire to be politically correct and not to offend. I get that it looks bad when someone takes a stand on something that isn’t “PC”, but accepting anything and everything is far from optimal and healthy. I wonder if this is one of those things.

First, I want to point out some observations of the article itself. Not the story so much, as how the story is presented. The story is quite short, actually, only a few paragraphs. However the page that it is on is much longer. This is because the story is interspersed with lots of photos of Coy and his family. Or rather, the other way around, there are plenty of photos displayed, interspersed with story text.

Initially the photos show Coy dressed as a girl, smiling and happy. This is the first thing we notice when we see Coy. Then we get the first photo of Coy dressed as a boy. It is positioned side by side with him dressed and done up as a girl in a red dress. Coy is smiling happily here in this bright photo, while the photo of him dressed in boys clothes and hair is in black and white, and of him distinctly frowning and unhappy. Then we have another photo of him dressed as a boy, again, frowning and unhappy. The remainder of the photos of Coy are of him dressed as a girl, and always happy either alone or with his family.

What affect does this have on the reader, their psyche and their opinion?

In addition, the author of the article always addresses Coy as a ‘she’ and ‘her’. I find this interesting, especially as quotes from Coy’s mother don’t:

‘He wanted to know when we were going to take him to the doctor so that they would give him girl parts so that his body would be a girl.’ 

 

So the first thing that I want to bring up with this article is not simply the story, but how the story is presented, and how really any story is presented, and how it shapes and forms your opinion and the way you receive the message. It is always worth considering, even while reading my own posts. I will always try and post things in a way to convince you, the reader, of my thoughts, views and opinions. We all do this.

Back to the story.

This boy, Coy, age 6, was born and still is a boy. He is a boy physically, he is a boy genetically. He wasn’t born a girl, he wasn’t born a hermaphrodite. He was born 100% a boy. The article states that at about 18 months of age he started to show signs of ‘identifying’ as a girl (such as a dress and Dora the explorer), whatever that might mean. He wanted to dress in girls clothing, and apparently as he got older asked when he could get ‘girl parts’.

It should also be noted that he has three sisters, that most probably play a role in his preferences.

Why do I care about this? What does it matter? If this is just one person or one family’s concern, why should it be anyone else’s, mine included?

I care because it does, or at least most probably will affect me, and my future family if I end up having a kid(s). These issues don’t exist inside of a bubble, and they most certainly do affect other children. This was the argument of the school, as stated that yes, a 6 year old going to the bathroom with other 6 year olds of the opposite sex may not really matter. But eventually kids get older and reach puberty, and other issues with sharing a bathroom with members of the opposite sex might cause some problems. Though a bathroom isn’t quite the same as a change room with or without showers, it is hardly different, and yet has quite different consequences.

Perhaps the parents of daughters don’t want their daughters to share bathrooms (and potentially/inevitably change rooms) with boys, even if that boy identifies himself as a ‘girl’. Does the desire (I am making sure not to use the word ‘right’) of a boy and his parents to to use a girls washroom mean more than the desire and rights of girls to use a washroom that is specific for their biological gender?

These are good questions.

This leads me to think of… not the validity, but, I suppose how we are to treat these desires and associations. How are we to react to someone, especially a child of just a few years of age, who identifies with something that he or she isn’t? If a person identifies as an animal, say a cat (I have seen this), it might be cute and fun(ny) to entertain this, if only briefly. But how healthy is it to entertain this notion for an extended period of time, such that the person actually associates him/herself as a cat? It is easy to see the short-term benefits of this, as it brings the child/person joy and contentment, but if you were to deny them this notion, then you would be instantly confronted with an upset individual, and not an upset cat.

The reason why we wouldn’t carry on entertaining this association, and rightfully so, is that there are other factors to consider which can be generalized as long-term effects. We can do this, as we come from a position of knowledge, while the child comes from a position of ignorance. It is for that reason why adults raise kids, rather then letting them raise themselves. If one were to let their child make all their own choices; choices on diet, sleeping habits, television, education, this would be a recipe for disaster. This would be an injustice to the child.

It is the parents duty to do what is best for their child. What is best is obviously a loaded term and open to interpretation and evaluation. I won’t say exactly what is best, but I will recognize that what is best is often times the more difficult and painful thing to do. What is best is often unpopular. What is best must also take into account many factors as well as more than just the present time, but also future factors as well.

One might say that ‘believing oneself is a cat is not the same as identifying with the opposite sex, that it is more improbable’. This is possible, though I am not sure that it even is. Both have no biological basis. There is no biological reason for a boy to identify himself as a girl, or vice versa, as it is a condition of perception and thus housed in the mind and in consciousness. This is not to be confused with the brain.  If there was a biological factor, which I believe not to be the case, then it is just as likely that such a biological factor could exist that would identify a human as an anything. As a dog, as a mouse, as a tree.

Now, at this point I am sure that I am getting some people upset. But please hear me out with an open mind. If you are filtering all of this with preconceived opinions, then there is no way to be open to new ideas.

Let’s consider the parent that determines that what is best for their child is to fully entertain and encourage the belief of their child that he or she is of the opposite sex. I think that is their right, whether I agree with it or not. I have no right to impose what I think is best for them on them, they surely have that right. The problem comes when that family and child wants to impose their beliefs on others, and the public at large.

If, for example, I truly believed I was an astronaut, or the prime minster of Canada, or a court judge- would I have the right to impose on the public these beliefs, and force them to accept them? Why are my beliefs more important than other peoples? Surely there would be consequences if I was allowed to act, even with my society’s approval, in any of the previously mentioned roles, based on nothing but my feeling and my internal ‘knowingness’. It would be unjust.

Now, the consequences of each of those examples are different, and I do recognize that they would be different than the consequences of allowing a biological boy or girl to use the public washrooms belonging to members of the opposite sex, but the point is there would be consequences of that action, and the consequences would affect not just that unfortunately misidentified individual, but also all his/her peers.

I am not lacking compassion. I really, really, really, really, really don’t. I know it sucks, it really does suck. I feel for these people that are born men and truly feel they are women, I do. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be like them. Confusion, lack of identity, or finding identity but realizing that it isn’t compatible with reality are deeply unfortunate things. But these events unfortunately do happen, and sometimes that is just the way it goes. Sometimes, certain aspects of life and nature are not zero sum games. Sometimes there are just those that are unfortunate, and they can’t be fully corrected. Sometimes there are no answers, or at least answers that can fully remove the un from the unfortunate.

I am not saying that understanding and compassion shouldn’t be shown for these people, not at all. But I don’t think that cases like this are right. I don’t think that the answer is to shift the burden from the unfortunate people who misidentify who they are and their true nature is, to the people around them. I really think this is a wrong thing to impose on people, and it is hard to speak out against it because of the political correct nature of the Western world. To speak out against an issue like this has the image of not caring (read: disliking) for those different than you, and that is simply a fallacy. To speak out against an issue like this has the image of being a bigot, being ‘behind in the times’, and to be associated with comments like racist, sexist, and other ists.

I just don’t think that two wrongs make a right.

 

Quotes of Awesomeness part 2+2

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”– Oscar Wilde

 

“The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty.” — Roland Tiangco

 

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” – Wayne Dyer

 

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” — Winston S. Churchill

 

“Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.” — Eckhart Tolle

 

“It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” — Emiliano Zapata

 

“There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.” — Cyril Connolly

 

“Our DNA is 96% chimpanzee. Is that even worth arguing?! If I gave you a sandwich that was filled with 96% shit and 4% ham, would you be willing to consider that a ham sandwich?” – Joe Rogan

 

“If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.” – Joe Rogan

 

“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. ~James Conant

 

“All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.” —H. L. Mencken

 

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” ~Erica Mann Jong

 

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ~Lao-Tzu

 

“Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it.” — Cullen Hightower

 

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” — Ellen Parr

 

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~Epictetus

 

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” ~Albert Einstein

 

“Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness” – Karen Nave

 

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  — Albert Einstein

 

“If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK. But you’ve got to shoot for something. A lot of people don’t even shoot.” – Confucius

 

“I don’t Do Drugs. I Am Drugs!” ~ Salvador Dali

Google Glass, mind-melded computers and transhumanism – I don’t want it

 

I read this article almost a month ago. It is a Huffington Post article about some google glass enthusiasts and their experience using it. If you don’t know what google glass is, it was previously known as goggle goggles and it is essentially a wearable iphone.

It is a pair of glasses that has a camera, a microphone and a screen that is projected onto your glasses, so that you can see the same things you would on an iphone. You can simply talk to it, giving it commands such as calling a friend, google search this, directions to such a place, and take a picture or video. All hands free, just wearing your glasses.

I have been thinking and talking about how I feel this is ridiculously dangerous. About 1.5-2 years ago when I first heard about this, I was stoked. At that point I was a tech junkie. I checked weekly to see what the newest gadgets were going to be, and couldn’t wait for the day that the singularity came, the day humans melted with computers and could possibly live forever ‘online’ or at least digitally.

Then I woke up and started to think to myself, ‘why is this a good thing?’ ‘What are the repercussions and consequences of this technology for your quality of living? ‘ What does it mean to be human, and when does being ‘human’ cease?’

I don’t like this technology. In fact, I have been vocal about how I feel we already have too much technology. How the iphones and smartphones already feel like an extension of our bodies at this point, and take away too much from the quality of our living.

I have made the prediction, well over a year ago, that google glass will be nothing more than a barely noticeable step in the evolution of this technology. I felt, and still feel, that people won’t even want to wear glasses on their faces. Swiping a screen and typing a text will be an injustice compared to the annoyances people will have to suffer as compared with having to wear a pair of glasses. But still, people will demand the technology to be seamless. For it to be either embedded into their body/brains, or to be worn as contact lenses (but that too will just be a step, the ultimate convenience will be for it to be just part of your body).

So why is this bad? Let’s not even consider the health impacts of having electronic devices next to your brain all the time, and the satellite/gps/3g/4g/wifi signals constantly entering technology placed around your skull. Let’s put that aside.

What I have a problem with is the way things are trending, and how they affect the quality of my/our life and experience. When I am having a conversation with someone and spending time with them, I am allocating time for that person, for that interaction, and for that experience. I expect the same. I don’t know about you, but if I am with someone and they are constantly having to deal with their cell phone texts, funny tweets, facebook updates and messages, I feel shortchanged.

Why have we allowed this to happen? What these actions say to the person you have right in front of you in the flesh is that it is more important to put them on pause and to make a virtual online connection with ‘someone’ else, who is most likely in the presence of someone else. We are devaluing human to human real life experience. What are the consequences of this?

So, now when someone has google glasses on, or has the entire computer/internet/camera/microphone interface on their contact lense, how much attention will you be getting? At any time that person could be watching a movie, surfing the net, googling this, tweeting that. Is that something that we want?

And when it comes to the point, and it is not that far off, that these devices will be controlled by our thoughts, then what? You might be with someone and they are ‘mind skyping’ with someone else. They could be blogging, facebooking or pinning things on pinterest while you are trying to spend time together.

What will it mean for our attention span, when at any instant there is a lull in our day we can instantly find entertainment or do something else? Someone will say, ‘why would not being entertained be a bad thing? Why would being ultra efficient be a bad thing?’ Those are good questions. But what will happen to patience when you don’t need to wait an instant for anything? Why would you have to learn anything at all and retain any information when you can ‘think’ a google search?

I think that this technology, and through it the use of ‘social media’, is actually intensely anti-social. Rather than ask a stranger for directions, an act that involves human to human interaction, which could provide a great quality interaction and provide more information than you were hoping to get, we now load up google maps on our phones and search. If you can instantly connect with a friend using your mind, why would you bother meeting with them to talk in person?

Does this even matter? That is also a good point to consider. Something I really haven’t given much thought to, yet. But I will.

But on first inspection, I think that the human experience is changing, and it is changing towards something that isn’t human. Some will say this is just the evolution of our species. This is possible, though it depends on how you define evolution. It most certainly is a change.

But there are other concerns that I have with the trends of this technology. You see, I don’t have a car, and the last car that I owned wasn’t very advanced. I see most (all?) new cars these days have touch screens and computers and are quite technologically advanced. What are the consequences of this? Well, car hacking is now a real thing. Yep, people can hack the computer that controls your car, they can shut down your engine, your breaks, lock your cars so you can’t get out, among other things.

We have RFID chips in most of our bank cards and credit cards now. These run on radio frequencies. There are technologies to exploit these bank cards with RFID chips in them, so that all someone has to do is walk near you, and their device can steal the information from your credit cards/bank cards right from your wallet, without even touching you. Right through the air, from the radiowaves that your rfid chip emits.

This is going on to the point that there exists a market (and you and I are both a part of that  market) for wallets and bags that black and defend against this kind of RFID theft. People need to buy special wallets to protect the integrity of their bank and credit cards. Success!

So what are the future hacks that are going to happen once your mind is connected to a computer interface and your mind is online? What will happen then?  Don’t think it is possible or that nothing bad could possibly happen? Give me one example of a technology not being exploited for evil purposes, one, and I might consider your argument. It took less than a 100 years from the time the airplane was invented for it to be used to drop an atomic bomb against other human beings.

If we have sovereignty in any aspect of our lives, and that is an if, it can only be in our minds. If we still have such sovereignty, then what could possibly be worth the risk of losing it?

If you don’t think this technology is possible, or that it won’t be coming soon, or is unlikely, then you haven’t really been paying attention. Again, I was, and in some ways still am, a tech junkie.

The ability to control computer software and robotic software using the mind is already here. Not only is it here, but anybody (with enough money) can own the technology to do it.  There are TED Talks that demonstrate the technology as well, including a paralysed woman who can walk using a robotic exoskeleton that moves according to her thoughts.

How this technology works is simple in concept. You have a device that records your brainwaves. As you think of something like “left” or “right” or “up”, your brain produces a specific brainwave, then the computer associates that specific brainwave for “up”, etc. Here is a TED Talk that describes it.

When I found out that was how the technology works I become concerned. I envision a ‘human brainome’ project, to map every single possible thought. Each brainwave for each possible thought (just have to do it for every single word in the english language, then move from there to other languages) will be catalogued and stored. This could never happen? When have humans ever not tried to systematically understand and catalogue everything? The human genome, the human proteome, the human glycome, the human interactome. The human thoughtome.

Then what?

Well, then we will get the ability to read peoples minds and communicate ‘telepathically’ using computers that can read all these brainwaves. Crazy? Maybe, but it is still reality. The Pentagon and DARPA are currently working towards this technology so that soldiers in war can communicate telepathically. This would be ‘safer’ for the soldiers as if they communicated through satellite or radio waves, as they could not get their transmissions spied on.

It sounds cool. Most things in science do. But is cool our highest calling? Is cool more important than maintaining our privacy, or humanism? Is cool more important than virtues and good?

This technology, if you haven’t already thought of it yet, has other repercussions. If a thought from the mind is associated with a brainwave that is physically present in the brain, and brainwaves can be induced, what does this mean about maintaining the integrity of our minds? If I have a device that can induce specific brain waves, as it is nothing more than an electromagnetic, electrochemical process, like any other aspect under the realm of physics, why can I not induce specific brain waves in someones brain, and thus produce a thought or control thoughts in their mind?

What will this mean for humans that love control. People are always trying to manipulate and control others, whether legally or illegally. Through rape drugs, or business relations that involve taking partners out for expensive meals and drinks to smooth out a deal. Coercion or kindness, it is still a means to an end, and those ends involve changing someones mind to be congruent to your own. So what if there is a technology that can do this?

Not possible? Never going to happen?

Maybe.

Or maybe it is already happening, at least in some degree. Here are ReutersGlobe and Mail and BBC articles on how Pentagon and DARPA funded research has shown that a thought in one rat can be recorded and sent to a different rat, over the internet, and that rat then experiences that thought. Cool, this is so cool. This is the first reaction of so many people. It is cool. That is true, but it isn’t the whole truth. The whole truth should include that this is dangerous and unethical. The second rat didn’t independently formulate that thought. It was forced and induced into its mind. It was mind control. That rat no longer had autonomy and sovereignty over its mind.

But it’s just a rat, isn’t it. That is true. We can discuss the ethics of this experiment, in terms of rats. But this technology isn’t being funded to control the minds of rats, and to induce thoughts into rats, is it?

This kind of technology will bring tin foil hat comments to the next level. The funny thing is, I predict this will be a real thing, a reality. The same way that there is market for people who don’t want to be targets of identity fraud so they buy special wallets and purses that protect their RFID chip containing bank and credit cards, and can foresee a market for people who want their homes protected, their cars, and their physical bodies protected from this technology. Maybe this technology will allow advertisers direct access to your consciousness, or maybe something much worse…

In light of the NSA surveillance scandal, one has to wonder: What does it mean when your thoughts are connected to the internet, and you are living in a surveillance state? I won’t bother posting articles about the NSA scandal in the US, I will assume that you know about it already. If you don’t, then you should. Essentially, the NSA has put Americans and the world on surveillance. Phone calls, text messages, google searches, facebook messages, emails – any click, swipe, text, or phone call made is recorded. I won’t bother giving my opinion on this, but I will say that it represents a “assumed guilty until proven innocent” mindset on everyone, including the governments own citizens.  The point is, with that sort of pervasive surveillance state, what will the confidentiality and privacy of your own mind mean? Would thought police be a real issue?

Of course, lots of this is speculation. But what is reality is that these technologies ARE in existence or coming to existence. They most certainly are. To deny such a thing is to stick your head in the sand. Their future uses right now are nothing more than a potentiality, waiting to be manifested. Perhaps they will be used for nothing but good, like allowing a crippled person to walk, a paralysed person to feel sensation again. Maybe.

I can’t help but feel that the Mennonites and Amish have it right.

Quotes of awesomeness part trois

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”  — Mark Twain

 

“One man with courage makes a majority.” — Andrew Jackson

 

“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis”. – Chuck Palahniuk / Fight Club

 

“The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself” – Eddie Vedder

 

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

 

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.” – Rocky Balboa

 

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.” — Dawna Markova

 

“Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence.” — Osho

 

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

 

“I don’t know where I’m going from here but I promise it won’t be boring.” — David Bowie

 

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do” — Steve Jobs

 

“Just keep moving forward and don’t give a shit about what anybody thinks. Do what you have to do, for you.” — Johnny Depp

 

“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” – Bob Marley

 

“I do not care what car you drive. Where you live. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. If your clothes are this years cutting edge. If you are A list or B list or never heard of you list. If your trust fund is unlimited. I only care about the words that flutter from your mind. They are the only thing you own. The only thing I will remember you by. I will not fall in love with your bones or skin. I will not fall in love with the places you have been. I will not fall in love with anything but the words that flutter from your extraordinary mind.” — Andre Jordan

 

“Don’t hate the media, become the media.” — Jello Biafra

 

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

 

“Only the shallow know themselves.” – Oscar Wilde

 

“Fall seven times, Stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

 

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

 

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” — Mark Twain

Quotes of Awesomeness – part deux

“No One Here Gets Out Alive” – Jim Morrison

 

“The best things in life make you sweaty.” — Edgar Allan Poe

 

“Forever trusting who we are, and nothing else matters.” – Metallica

 

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” — Jack Kerouac, On the Road

 

“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”- John Lennon

 

“The status quo sucks.” – George Carlin

 

“I don’t want to die without any scars.” — Chuck Palahniuk

 

“I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.” — Jimi Hendrix

 

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” — Lance Armstrong

 

“Play from your fucking heart!” – Bill Hicks

 

“Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug” – Mark Knopfler

 

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” – Bruce Lee

 

“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves and the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.” — Howard Zinn.

 

“”The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” – Verbal Kint (Keyser Soze) – The Usual Suspects

 

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” – Bruce Lee

 

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali

 

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”  — George Bernard Shaw

 

“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” – Henry Rollins

 

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” — Mark Twain

 

“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”- Mahatma Gandhi

Goals of the week: Week 24

Physical: I don’t think I will have a physical goal this week. Essentially the three things I want to focus on this week is starting a game plan to learn (improve) my french language skills, fix up the house, and meditate. I started back at training last thursday after my surgeon told me my nose was all good. So with training 2-3x a week and biking, I don’t need a physical goal this week.

Mental: I found an awesome article on how to learn new languages. The strategy seems quite convincing, so I think I will start working towards french. I have wanted to learn new languages for a while, but never really did anything about it. French doesn’t really appeal to me, but it makes the most rational sense as it is the one I will probably need to use the most, being a Canadian. I hope to put 30-60 minutes a day towards my french language training.

Good Habit: I keep wanting to meditate every day, but find that I do it inconsistently like 3-4 times a week. I hope to do it every morning, first thing. Not just weekdays but weekends as well.

Bad Habit: No tv this week. I find that I have SO many interests (yoga, reading, philosophy, meditation, home repairs, being outside, etc) and not enough time to enjoy them all! I really neglected my house repairs last week, and I need to get this place done so that I can get it rented so that I can leave on the trip that I have been planning for a while with my gf. No tv when I get home at night will help me out with that.

Food: I don’t think I am going to have a goal this week. I am satisfied with how I’ve been eating and so I just want to keep it up.

Misc: This is an extension of the bad habit goal. I want to make sure that each night that I come home I do some work on the renovations needed around the house. That can be mud work, sanding, painting, etc. Every night, no matter how tired I am, I should do something.

xoxoxox

Quotes of Awesomeness part uno

 

I am going to post some awesome quotes over the next few days.  Feel free to be inspired.

 

“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible” — Frank Zappa

 

“Don’t be careful. You could hurt yourself.” — Byron Katie

 

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean

 

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” – Wayne Dyer

 

“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

“You’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!” — Capt. Henry P. Crowe

 

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” – James Joyce

 

“I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota” – Chris Cornell

 

“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying, That’s Goddamn right” – Stepehen King – The

Shawshank Redemption

 

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” — Hunter S. Thompson

 

Looking at the Yoga Sutras III

Below is the third section of the yoga sutras. It gets quite… “out there”. Things like special powers and abilities come up. Enjoy!

Vabhuti-Pada

3.1 Concentration is the binding of consciousness to a single spot. Seems like a good way of putting it. When you focus your consciousness on one single thing, you are concentrating. Concentration is the 6th member of yoga.

3.2 The one-directionality of the presented-ideas with regard to that object of concentration is meditative-absorption. If you continuously concentrate on an object, you will be meditating on that object. Meditation-absorption is the 7th member of yoga.

3.3 That consciousness, when shining forth as the object only as if empty of its essence, is enstasy. So, you were concentrating on an object, and this continuous stream of concentration lead to a state of meditative-absorption. This meditative-absorption is when nothing but the essence of the object is meditated on (shining forth), here there are no distractions and no other things present, no presented-ideas, no subliminal-activators, no depth memory. Just the pure essence of the object. This results in enstasy. This is the 8th member of yoga.

3.4 The three practised together on the same object are constraint. Ok, so members 6,7,8 of yoga, concentration, meditative-absorption and enstasy together are called constraint. Fair enough.

3.5 Through mastery of that practice of constraint there ensues the flashing-forth of transcendental-insight.So when one masters, through practice, constraint, one will be able to achieve transcendental-insight. So, if I suppose that it is possible to concentrate, meditate so purely on something, that I become lost and fixed on purely the essence of it, surely this would bring with it a ‘new truth’. Realizing the true essence/nature of something could surely be called transcendental-insight. It is insight, yes, and your views and knowledge and consciousness are transcended, so this is fairly easy to accept. I say this because, the true nature and essence of something is nothing but what it is. The ‘book’ next to me is categorized as a ‘book’ because I have previous knowledge of what a book is (‘bookness’) and the thing next to me fits in that category. But if there was no idea or knowledge of what a book was, it would still exist. It would just ‘be’. That is its true nature. Labeling and categorizing something gives you illusory knowledge of something. In fact, what that process and way of thinking does is limit what the thing you are labeling/categorizing. It tells you what it isn’t. But none of these things really speak of the true nature of the thing you are trying to know. It doesn’t bring you any closer to knowing ‘it’. Rather, this way of thinking simply allows you to categorize it as it is useful to you (or your image of you) and your ego.

When I think of being lost on something, and realizing its true essence, I think of the thing we did as kids where we repeat as fast as possible “relish”, over and over. You do this so many times that you reach a point where the word ‘relish’ loses its meaning. I remember this happening to me multiple times with different things, where the word was simply meaningless. It was a weird phenomenon. The word was empty. There were no presented-ideas associated with it, and thus no subliminal-activators. But this was just a word, and a word is just a symbol, or a presented-idea for a “real” “thing” that can be experienced. The relish itself, would be the real thing. So, yes, I can imagine it being possible to focus so much on something that all thoughts, impressions and ideas of it melt away, and all you are left with is just the pure essence of the object. The true nature of it. No words could possibly describe it, as those words are simply not the true essence of the object.

3.6 Its progression is gradual. Fair enough, I don’t expect to be a yoga meditative master over night. Most things in life are gradual.

3.7 In relation to the previous five techniques of yoga the three components of constraint are inner members. Ok, so here Patanjali is just trying to categorize the three components of constraint (concentration, meditative-absorption and enstasy) as something called ‘inner members’. I am going to suppose that they are labelled as inner members as they arise from within, specifically within your own consciousness. Maybe I am wrong. Anyway, they are labelled as inner members in relation to the first 5 members of yoga. I think that “inner” might be associated with something like… a more ‘truer’ self. The first five members of yoga were more physical (posture, breathing, sense organs, etc); they related to the body. We generally think of the body as the self, and the rest is external. I think this goes a bit further and puts the body as external, and the functions of the mind (concentration, meditative-absorption and enstasy) as the truer self.

3.8 Yet they are outer members in relation to the seedless enstasy. So, despite the fact that the final three members of yoga (concentration, meditative-absorption and enstasy) are labelled as ‘inner members’ in relation to the first five members of yoga, these final three ‘inner members’ are considered ‘outer members’ when compared to ‘seedless enstasy’. So, if I was right above, then this would mean that even those three mental processes (concentration, meditative-absorption, and enstasy) aren’t really the ‘true self’, even they can be seen as external from oneself, in relation to seedless enstasy. Let’s find out what that means!

3.9 When there is subjugation of the subliminal-activators of emergence and the manifestation of the subliminal-activators of restriction – this is the restriction transformation which is connected with consciousness in its moment of restriction. Ok, this one is very abstract. Let’s start by thinking about our thoughts. If you wanted to think about something, a red elephant, you would have to put away other thoughts (restrict those subliminal-activators) and then you would have to control your thoughts to think of a red elephant (subjugate your subliminal-activators related to the red elephant). So in this ‘moment of restriction’ your consciousness is connected to both the control (subjugation) to produce some thoughts (subliminal-activators), while trying to restrict others. It is difficult to do. If I said to you, think of anything BUT a red elephant, well, you might have a hard time. In constantly thinking “don’t think of a red elephant” you ARE thinking of a red elephant. It is quite difficult. I think we all have had at some point something stuck in our mind that we can’t shake, and if we can get our mind off of it, it just comes back. Why is that? Why is it so hard to control ones own mind? Is it not yours? I can control my arm from going up or down. I don’t have to constantly pull my arm down because it is always spontaneously going up. So why is it so hard for the mind? Well, maybe it is practice, maybe we spend so little time working and focusing on our consciousness. I don’t know, but yeah, I think that this sutra is explaining that there are these two aspects to consciousness – forming concentration on one thought, and then restricting others.

3.10 The calm flow of this consciousness is effected through subliminal-activators. So, I take this as the ability to freely control ones own thoughts/consciousness (in the sense as spoken about above in 3.9) lies in the effects of subliminal-activators. Subliminal-activators have big effects on our states of consciousness and our ability to control these states.

Remember: subliminal-activators are those ‘things’ that produce our ‘presented-ideas’ of things. When I say dog, instantly you know what I mean. Those ‘things’ that you associate with dog, whatever they may be, are your presented-ideas. When I say clown, instantly something comes to mind. Again, those things are your presented-ideas. But presented-ideas don’t just come from nowhere, they have a cause, and they are born from something. That something, are your subliminal-activators. They exist in your depth-memory, and exist due to various thoughts, experiences, etc, that you have lived through (in this life and in others).

So, yeah, I can subscribe to this.

3.11 The dwindling of all-objectness and the uprising of the one-pointedness is the enstasy transformation of consciousness.  This sutra seems to state that entasy transformation of consciousness, which I take to mean that state of consciousness one gets from being in complete meditative-absorption, arises when “all-objectness” fades away to nothing, and there is an up-rising to the point where there is nothing but “one-pointedness”. One-pointedness means to me complete focus. There is nothing in your mind but this one thing. All-objectness, to me, seems to be just a complete lack of concentration and letting everything in through your senses. It means completely living in your sensory perceptions. 

A small example of this is when someone is so focused on something that they forget x, or can’t even hear when someone else is talking to them, etc etc. 

3.12 Then again, when the quiescent and the uprisen presented ideas are similar, this is the one-pointedness transformation of consciousness. So in the last few sutras we were looking at just concentrating on something until you were lost in it. Then we started talking about mastery over your thinking process. We talked about an increase in your one-pointedness, and a decrease in your all-objectness. This involves controlling the processes of thought. Here, this sutra states that when the same one-pointedness thought comes and goes, but is not interrupted by anything else, this is also the one-pointedness transformation of consciousness.

I am not sure if there is anything else to interpret. I think this is just something else that can happen, and can be observed (with practice).

3.13 By this are also explained the transformation of form, time-variation and condition with regard to the elements and sense-organs. This sutra states that the last few sutras can explain the transformation (change) of form, of time and of condition (characteristics?), and how they relate to our sense-organs and the elements (nature, matter, physical, etc). 

3.14 The form-bearer [ie. The substance] is that which conforms to the quiescent, uprisen or indeterminable form. There is a substance, a ‘something’, that forms stuff. This ‘something’ is what gives things their ‘thingness’. What makes an atom an atom, what makes an electron an electron, what makes a quark a quark, a Higgs-boson a Higgs-boson, what makes anything anything? This substance, whatever we want to call it, results in things changing (transforming), from past (quiescent), present (uprisen) and future potential forms (indeterminable). Perhaps this is the true nature and essence of things. 

3.15 The differentiation in the sequence is the reason for the differentiation in the transformations. This seems acceptable. The ability to differentiate how this substance changes, the sequence it changes, allows one to see that there are transformations. If I sit and watch a piece of ice sitting on my stove (with the heat on) and I watch it first melt, then the water evaporate away, this ability to differentiate in the sequence lets me differentiate between the transformations. If the changes took place immediately, in an instant, I could never know of the transformation.

3.16 Through constraint on the three forms of transformation comes about knowledge of past and the future. So when concentration, meditative-absorption and enstasy, all related to the true nature, is subjected to the three forms of transformation listed in 3.14 (past, present and future), we gain knowledge of past and future. When you are presented and become aware of the true nature of transformation, you will come to see those transformations, and thus know that which is uprisen’s (present) past and future. This makes sense to me.

3.17 There is a natural confusion of presented-ideas, object and word on account of an erroneous superimposition of one another. Through constraint upon the distinction of these confused elements knowledge of the sound of all beings is acquired. Good point made here. Well, they all are, actually!  So pick anything: table. There is a difference between the word ‘table’, which is nothing but a symbol for something that truly exists, the table itself (the one I am looking at now in my backyard), and the thoughts that come up in my mind (presented-ideas) when I think of or hear the word ‘table’. They are not the same things at all, and though this is obvious now when it is thought about, often times we confuse symbols for actual things, as well as our ideas of them. I often find this in ‘paradoxes’ and rational lines of thinking in philosophical debates. The attachment to the symbols, the words, can lead to a silly conclusion. What one should really focus on is what the actual thing is. Anyway, all this sutra is saying is that there are differences between these three entities, and being aware of that can lead you away from confusion.

3.18 Through direct-perception of subliminal-activators the yogin gains knowledge of his previous birth(s). Now, previous birth(s) may or may not mean past lives. It probably does, as subliminal-activators exist in the depth memory, and the depth memory is explained to exist along your true, eternal being and subject to karma. So, subliminal-activators are the reasons why we have presented-ideas. It is what produces them. These come from somewhere, and from some time previous to now. This could be from yesterday, from memories and associations made as a child, related to your mother as Freud would say, or possibly to past lives.

3.19 Through direct perception of another’s presented-idea, knowledge of another’s consciousness is obtained. The first time I read this sutra I felt it was quite powerful. I find that this should be true. If I know what you think about when it comes to anything, the exact things that come to mind for a given object (or whatever), then i will gain knowledge of your consciousness. I would even go further and say that if you had direct perception of anothers’ subliminal-activators, then you would know the true nature and formation of that persons consciousness.

3.20 But this knowledge does not have as its object that presented-idea together with the respective support [ie. Object], because of its being absent from the other’s consciousness. So this knowledge of the presented-ideas has only the presented-ideas as the object of focus/consciousness/knowledge. That is because the object does not exist in the persons consciousness, rather, just the presented-ideas of said object that may or may not be being perceived. I think.

3.21 Through constraint on the form of the body, upon the suspension of the capacity to be perceived, that is to say, upon the disruption of the light travelling from that body to the eye, there follows invisibility. Here we get into the ‘super powers’. To be honest, I don’t discard any of these claims. I simply have no recollection or present knowledge of these things. But here goes:

So, if you have constraint on the physical body, one can prevent their body from being seen by others. Invisibility!

3.22 Karman is of two kinds: acute or deferred. Through constraint thereon, or from omens, the yogin acquires knowledge of death. There are two types of karma, the kind that comes quickly, and the kind that comes later on. If you had complete knowledge of these both, you will gain knowledge of when you will die.

3.23 Through constraint on friendliness et cetera, he acquires powers. I think this is basic to life. I don’t think powers here means the ability to see through walls or shoot lazers from your fingers. I think it means that when you truly focus on good qualities, such as friendliness, compassion, empathy, etc, you become transformed, you become better. You can look at these as powers for sure, and why shouldn’t we? If I was perfectly friendly and compassionate, and expressed that to everyone around me, how could I not improve their lives, even if it was in the smallest way? How is the ability to improve someones life NOT a special power?

3.24 Through constraint on powers, he acquires powers comparable to those of the elephant et cetera. Through constraint on strength (powers), that person will become super strong (like an elephant). I have no experience with this, but it is an interesting idea and is within the realm that the yoga sutras paint.

3.25 By focusing the flashing-forth of those mental activities which are sorrowless and illuminating on any object knowledge of the subtle, concealed and distant aspects of those objects is gained. This sutra seems to be related to the sutra 1.35 found here which I didn’t quite understand. I also don’t understand this sutra.

3.26 Through constraint on the sun he gains knowledge of the world.  See below.

3.27 Through constraint on the moon, knowledge of the arrangement of the stars. See below.

3.28 Through constraint on the pole-star, knowledge of their movement. See below.

3.29 Through constraint on the ‘naval wheel’, knowledge of the organisation of the body. See below.

3.30 Through constraint on the ‘throat well’, the cessation of hunger and thirst. See below.

3.31 Through constraint on the ‘tortoise duct’, steadiness. See below.

3.32 Through constraint on the light in the head, vision of the perfected ones. See below.

3.33 Or through a flash-of-illumination the yogin acquires knowledge of all. See below.

3.34 Through constraint on the heart he gains understanding of the nature of consciousness. So. I am not quite sure about a lot of these. For example 3.26-3.28 with cosmological references, I am not sure if this is symbolic or literal. If it is literal, perhaps what is being explained here is that knowledge will come to you through these specific constraints. I truly believe that the mind/consciousness functions more like a computer that streams a video, like netflix, rather than a computer that physically stores the data, like a computer with a dvd or hard-drive. I think that something comes to the mind, and the brain processes it. So the idea that knowledge can come to you is not unbelievable for me. I also believe that true knowledge, truth, can be acquired simply from mind. So these sutras are plausible.

Sutras 3.29-3.33 are equivalent except instead of speaking of the cosmos and knowledge related to the cosmos, it is about the body and knowledge,control or skill is gained. Sutra 3.34 basically generalizes it and seems to pretty much say, you’ll get it all (or more importantly, consciousness) when you practice constraint on the heart. The heart is where most Eastern philosophies believe the mind to exist, rather than the brain/head.

3.35 Experience is a presented-idea which is based on the non-distinction between the absolutely unblended self and sattva. Through constraint on the self’s own-purpose which is distinct from the other-purposeiveness of nature, knowledge of the self is obtained. So, this is a big one. In fact, this is kind of almost ‘it’. There is nothing but consciousness (here described as absolutely unblended self). It is the true nature of everything. There is nothing but consciousness. It is the ‘nature’ of existence. Then we have sattva, the mind. It is not just a mind but our mind, my mind, it is your mind. It involves the idea of an ego, somewhere, and that egos mind. 

So what our experience of this extended world, what when we consider reality (physical body born, grows, gets a job, makes a family, retires, dies) comes from our inability to see that there are two different things here. The ‘consciousness’, which… I am not doing it justice – as remember from a few sutras ago, consciousness is just a word, a symbol, and not be be confused with what I am actually trying to use the symbol for, which is something that I just can’t seem to get across. The best way I can think of is invoking Platos allegory of the cave, or the movie the matrix (when neo, when blind in ‘real life’ aka zion, can still ‘see’ the true nature of reality as seen here).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DX3qLIwHoUo

I am not going to say that it is a good analogy, but here goes. In the matrix, there are 3 layers to existence. There is the first layer, the matrix, which neo first exists in. Then neo wakes up and gets unplugged from the matrix, let’s call this level, zion, which is where the humans unplugged from the matrix live. These two levels represent your everyday experience of the physical phenomenological world. I have an extended 3d body, I weigh 150-155 pounds, I live in Ottawa, I have blue eyes, etc. That corresponds, in this analogy to the matrix in which neo first inhabits, and where his mind is born into slavery. This, in the movie, is where almost 100% of humans live.

The second level of existence (zion, ie. neo waking up and unplugging from the matrix) is the mind. The mind produces and constructs our 3d physical world, as well as thinks and feels and experiences. It where emotion, pain, attachment, desire and love all live. It, in one sense, could be seen as the true nature of yourself. The true you. This is where, in the movie, only a small percentage, let’s say 0.00001% of humans live.

But then there is the third level. Only neo ever attains this level. It occurs when he is blind. In the 2nd level of existence (zion) he becomes blinded. Yet he is able to then “see”. Except what he sees is no longer illusion, or computer code (1st level), it isn’t what he then thought to be true (mind/zion), it was something else. In the video, this is represented by the glowing orange energy. There he is experiencing the true nature of existence, or ‘consciousness’. He still needs a mind to experience the ‘consciousness’, but it is important to know that the two are separate, and not the same. Seeing this separation, and thus experiencing this ‘consciousness’ is to gain true knowledge of the self, and of existence. Again, I am not saying that our existence is like the matrix, rather, I am just trying to use it as an analogy to get at what I’m speaking about.

Ok so, yeah, so our concepts of experience is not knowing there these two things are different. There is this ‘consciousness’ or perhaps a better word would just be… true nature of existence.. and we have our mind. The two are different, but we don’t see that. We don’t differentiate the two. The mind is there to experience the ‘consciousness’, the true nature of existence. I know this might be confusing as I often use consciousness and mind interchangeably, but I just don’t have a word for what I’m trying to get across so instead I use ‘consciousness’ or true nature of existence.

Anyway, this sutra is stating that when constraint is placed on these things, especially on that ‘consciousness’, then our true nature, our true being and our true experience is known.  

I believe this one for sure. It is not something that (I think, at least not easily) can be taught or shown, but has to be found for oneself. 

3.36 Thence occur flashes-of illumination in the sensory areas of hearing, sensing, sight, taste and smell. So pretty much, after accomplishing 3.35, you are a pimp-mac-daddy and go past your previous limitations. 

3.37 These are obstacles to enstasy but attainments in the waking-state. This is an interesting kind of paradox type challenge. So, what is being put forward here is that upon realizing your true nature and existence in 3.35, you will get these…let’s call them special powers. Your senses and ability to experience will be enhanced. BUT! That experience enhancement is sensory in nature, and related still to false existence, (I am sure that I shouldn’t put it that way, but I’m getting tired and lazy)  to the physical realm. These too should be avoided and are distractions from your path to enstasy. So, I think even greater non-attachment is needed at this point.

3.38 Through the relaxation of the causes of attachment to one’s body and through the experience of going-forth, consciousness is capable of entering another body. Alright! So, I am not sure if this means astral projection type of thing, or basically manifesting destiny and being able to create your own universe, life, reality, etc, but it seems that this sutra is saying that if you relax and forget about the causes of attachment to your body you will be able to take your consciousness and enter into another body. Perhaps this even means another persons body, but I have no idea how that would work. This also seems like this might be like 3.37, another paradox/challenge where you might not have attachment to your body, but to the ability to move consciousness from body to body. I dunno.

3.39 Through mastery of the up-breath the yogin gains the power of non-adhesion to water, mud or thorns and the power of rising. I was really curious about this sutra, so I looked up different translations of it. Other translations switch ‘rising’ for levitation, or other words similar to it. So it seems here that through the mastery of the up-breath, and I would also assume the flow of energy through different chakra points associated with it, that one would gain this ability (to levitate and maybe fly?). Again, I can’t really comment on this.

3.40 Through mastery of the mind-breath he acquires effulgence. So again, I think these breathing types are related to chakras, and this one seems to be related to effulgence, which I definitely had to look up the definition and seems to be like radiance or giving off light.

3.41 Through constraint on the relation between ear and ether he acquires the divine ear. This seems straight forward.

3.42 Through constraint on the relation between body and ether and through the coincidence of consciousness with light objects, such as cotton, he obtains the power of traversing the ether. I don’t know. At first, because a lot of these sutras are related to new abilities and powers, I felt that this was about teleportation or something. But I don’t think that it is. I don’t know, maybe it is. The second thing that came to mind to explain ‘traversing the ether’ was simply the ability of motion. Body would be matter, and ether would be void, which is lack of matter. The ability to move along through nothingness would be motion.  This one I am going to say that I am really not sure about. Though teleportation sounds like fun! Maybe it is about flying, and is just a bit different than levitation. That is probably it. That is probably where this sutra is going with light objects like cotton, as cotton doesn’t teleport, and any object can have motion, but cotton is light and so floats? I dunno.

3.43 An external, non-imaginary fluctuation of consciousness is the ‘great incorporeal’ from which comes the dwindling of the covering of the inner light. I am really unsure of this, but it seems to me that this sutra is speaking of out of body experiences (astral projection kind of stuff). Again, if this is what it is talking about this would once again be something to be non-attached to, but also something that one can attain (that paradox kind of problem again).

3.44 Through constraint on the coarse, the own-form, the subtle, the connectedness and the purposiveness of objects the yogin gains mastery over the elements. Through constraint on all the different aspects of physical being, one gains mastery over them. This would be like being able to control matter?

3.45 Thence results the manifestation of the powers, such as atomisation et cetera, perfection of the body and the indestructibility of its constituents. Ok, so this seems more like control over matter. “Atomisation” sounds like you can just manipulate and control physical matter at will. This, if possible, would surely be another non-attachment/attainment paradoxes. 

3.46 Beauty, gracefulness and adamant robustness constitute the perfection of the body. Seems straight forward.

3.47 Through constraint on the process-of-perception, the own-form, I-am-ness, connectedness and purposiveness he gains master over the sense-organs. I feel like this has been stated before, or at least in some way or another. Through constraint (concentration, meditative-absorption and enstasy) on the perceptions, the self, the ego, etc, you would find an enhanced and fluency of perception stemming from your sense organs. 

3.48 Thence comes about fleetness as of the mind, the state lacking sense-organs and the mastery over the matrix of nature. Basically, this sutra states that you have a super quick mind, and powerful, so you don’t require sense-organs anymore and must become much like what we typically perceive as an omnipotent god, with control over nature and those things that make it up.

3.49 The yogin who has merely the vision of the distinction between the self and the sattva of consciousness gains supremacy over all states of existence and omniscience. I think this is speaking of the topic of sutra 3.35. The person who can differentiate between the mind and the ‘consciousness’ that I was trying to describe, comes the power over existence and knowledge. This is a pretty loft claim.

3.50 Through dispassion towards even this exalted vision, with the dwindling of the seeds of the defects he achieves liberation and the aloneness of the power of seeing. By non-attachment to this and through renunciation of even these abilities, one achieves liberation. This (3.49)is again another thing that one must not seek or be attached to.

3.51 Upon the invitation of high-placed beings, he should give himself no cause for attachment or pride, because of the renewed and undesired inclination for lower levels of existence. It seems like all of these sutras, as one becomes more and more unattached, the things that one can gain attachment to grow and grow. In this sutra, it is said that higher beings (gods?) might invite one (to where and what, I have no idea) – one must not be flattered or show pride of such an invitation, and one must not accept such an invitation, as it might renew and regrow ones undesired desires and attachments that one has been striving so hard to distance himself from.

3.52 Through constraint on the moment of time and its sequence he obtains the gnosis born of discernment. So, by concentration, meditative-absorption and enstasy (constrain) on time and its succession and changes, one obtains knowledge of discernment. When I think of what this gnosis is, what this knowledge is and what it is discerning, I can’t help but feel that it is related to time, and our perception of it.

This makes me think of one of the very very very first few things I was exposed to when I just just just started becoming interesting in philosophy. It was from a podcast called the partially examined life, and they were discussing a philosopher, I can’t remember who, that didn’t believe in cause and effect. He felt that when one ball hit another in a game of pool, and that second ball moved off after being hit, that they two events were not related. He felt that it was just our perceiving mind that was trying to make sense of it, and forming a linkage, when really the two events were unrelated. I don’t remember the exact argument, so I am sure I am butchering it and not doing it justice.

I bring that up because, I wonder if the gnosis spoken of in this sutra is related to that. That one realizes that time doesn’t exist, as time is simply a measure of motion. If nothing were to move, there would be no time. Movement implies physical matter. Mind and consciousness are non-physical, so the concept of time might be absurd. I don’t know, but maybe. Imagine your entire life was put on a film reel. Every moment, all captured on a film reel. That film reel exists all at the same time, but it is just the successive looking at each frame along the film reel that gives it the appearance of having an order, and of a series of events happening. When really, the entire reel of your life just is, it is always there, it is just the way that you perceive frame by frame, sequentially, that makes it seem…. yeah, I think you get the idea. I don’t know if that was what this sutra is speaking of, but it makes me wonder.

3.53 Thence arises the awareness of the difference between similar which cannot normally be distinguished due to an indeterminateness of the distinction of category, appearance and position. It seems that now one would becoming more and more aware of the true nature of pretty much everything, including time (3.52). Even similar things, or at least, things that appear similar, are now becoming discernable  and known. I think this must involve some sort of stripping away process, knowing the true nature of what that thing is, which in my mind must be that they are mental constructs created in ones own mind.

3.54 The gnosis born of discernment is the ‘deliverer’, and is omni-objective, omni-temporal, and non-sequential. So this knowledge, this gnosis, born of discernment is the ‘deliverer’. This, to me, means it is intuitive, it comes from yourself, as you are the deliverer. It doesn’t come externally from the phenomenological world and experience, but internally from the mind. This gnosis is about all objects, all time, and yet is outside of time (non-sequential). Or perhaps this gnosis isn’t about, but IS all objects, all of time, and yet is instantaneous as it exists non-sequentially.  I don’t know!!

3.55 With the attainment of equality in purity of the sattva and the self, the aloneness of the power of seeing is established. Fin.

News of the day(ish) – June 21, 2013

 

Pope blames speculation, corruption for ‘scandalous’ food crisis

Why it matters?

Am I crazy or is this pope actually making some sense? We have more than enough food. Want to know how much food is wasted? Check these links out here, here and here. We waste upwards to 50% of the food produced, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars wasted. 40 to 50%!  All the land used to grow that food, energy, resources, fuel, fresh water (which is quickly becoming a hot commodity).

Wasn’t the whole point of improving technologies and efficiencies so that we could do less work, improve our lives, feed everyone and live happily ever after? Maybe I was mistaken, but that was what I grew up thinking the point of technology was.

We have so much food on this planet, yet so much of it just goes to waste. Every grocery store in north america throws out TONS of food every day. TONS. EVERY. DAY.

As food continues to rise in price (lettuces, bread have risen 30% in price in just 3 years, most foods rising between 4-8% per year, in recent years), and more and more people go hungry, or are forced to eat cheaper (read: subsidized, so they are paying for it anyway through taxes), less healthier foods, just keep in mind that these people aren’t suffering because of a shortage of food, but rather because of shortage of ethics and morality.

Iranian Rial Currency Targeted For Destruction

Why it matters?

There is a battle going on that most people are unaware of. It is about the world reserve currency, a currency war.

Iran has made it repeatedly clear that it wants to trade its oil outside of the US dollar. In Libya, Gaddafi wanted to create an African currency made from gold, and trade oil using this gold standard currency instead of US dollars. Now that definitely is not going to happen.

Iraq wanted to trade its oil in Euros rather than US dollars, and did so despite the cost associated with the switch over due to US-led sanctions. Three years later they were invaded and switched back to trade in US dollars.

Why does this matter? The US dollar is the reserve currency of the world. Oil is traded in US dollars. That means that for countries all over the world that require the import of oil (and most do do), have to purchase US dollars, from the US, in order to do so. This strengthens the US dollar value, in spite of the economic conditions of the US at that current time.

Just think of it this way, using something you do all the time, like say, email or text. Imagine if every email or text sent you had to pay using…. anything….let’s say, a bottle cap. But that bottle cap had to be of a specific kind, let’s say, a red one. And I was the only red bottle cap manufacturer. In fact, it isn’t even a bottle cap anymore, as bottle caps are made from precious metals, and so are too expensive to produce. Instead, I just print up red bottle cap-esque pieces of paper. It costs me next to nothing, but I tell you each one is worth $1, and so you give me $1 for each. You use these bottle caps for everything you do, so you need a lot of them, and since I am the only one making them, that makes them valuable and brings me some $. I like giving you my bottle caps. Rather, I like that you can only get bottle caps from me. If it was possible for you to get bottle caps elsewhere, that would not be good for me.

So this article, I find, is related to this.

Iran has made moves to trade its oil in non-US dollars with India. I think on the surface most see and hear of the nuclear arms accusations against Iran.This may or may not be a legitimate concern, but certainly without a doubt the change in currency is a major concern, and is now to the point that war games are played among countries not with bombs and armies, but with currencies and markets.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the oncoming years, as the BRIC(s) nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) develop into the world financial powers. They are currently in the process of developing their own version of the world bank and will surely move to their own form of currency.

 

Bank of America whistle-blower’s bombshell: “We were told to lie”

More of the same. Scandal after scandal are coming to light over the years on the overtly and covertly manipulative and conspiratorial actions of the financial sector that have forced families into foreclosure, bankrupted families, businesses and countries. From LIBOR, (please read here, here and here) which might affect almost any person on the planet that has or is affected by debt/interest rates (student loans, personal loans, mortgages, financing, investments).

But I am on a tangent, as this isn’t about LIBOR. It is about the housing market and foreclosures. There is an ongoing lawsuit against the bank of america, and where citizens have been illegally foreclosed on. This article states that multiple (6 or 7) employees of bank of america have come forward and confirmed the allegations of these citizens. Several separate bank of america employees from around the country are sharing congruent statements that they were told to lie and cheat people out of their homes. Whether by throwing out their files and documents so that deadlines could expire, or simply falsifying data.

I don’t know what to say about this, really. It is just so… not parasitic… it is almost cannibalistic, the way humans can turn on each other so ferociously yet insidiously, all to get a bigger piece of the pie. The sad thing is nothing will come of it, as nothing came of the collapse that recently came, nothing will come from the LIBOR scandal, as it made barely a rustle in the news world a year ago, and nothing will likely come of this. If anything, talks and perhaps even action relating to regulations will come about, but that is like taking an pill to deal with the symptoms.

The true solution to an endemic disorder like this is a shift in our consciousness, in the operating system of how we deal with each other and ourselves. Until we release ourselves from this paradigm that more is better, material wealth and material goods equals happiness, prosperity and wealth, that the bottom dollar is more important than the quality of life of another human being, then all we are doing is creating a system that rewards the most clever, most discrete, most powerful and most successful criminals.

Goals of the week: Week 23

 

Physical:  Besides doing yoga about five days a week and biking about 50km three times a week, I would like to add some upper body workouts. My goal is that on three days of the week that I am not biking (leg workouts), that I get in some upper body training. My goals will be an average of 150 pushups and 50 chin ups on those days.

The types of pushups will be 50 regular pushups (semi-wide hand positioning), 50 “diamond” or tricep pushups (hands together, thumbs and index fingers touching forming a ‘diamond’ shape), and 50 judo/hindu pushups, these work your shoulders really well.

So I will have tricep, chest, shoulders and back added to my weekly workouts. This will help balance all the leg and cardio workouts I’ve been getting from biking, as well as the stretching I get from yoga.

Mental: I had a really nice long skype chat with an old friend that lives in Japan. We discussed lots of things, mostly on reality and things related to existence. He suggested I try to out yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is a style of meditation that I have done before, though I fell asleep on my first try!  I plan to try to do at least 20 minutes daily.

Roughly, I will sit and pay focus to my breathing, observing it. Then I will move my attention to my stomach moving as my breath flows. Following that, I will pick a spot on my body, anywhere, and focus my attention there. I will try to focus on the sensations on that one particular spot, then slowly try and move over my entire body. If time permits, I will then move my attention through my chakras.

I have decided to also start a meditation journal. I don’t really know what I will be putting in it, but I think just keeping notes on each session, how it went, how it made me feel after, the length of time, was I distracted, what distracted me, what thoughts, what things I focused on, etc. I think it would be good to track, the same way I would keep a training journal while I was fighting.

Good Habit: I think for this week I want to live more in the moment, be more in the moment, and focus on the right here right now. I thought of this while I was taking my dog for a walk this morning. Like I do constantly throughout every day of the week, I was thinking about my future, what I will do a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now. I was thinking about living in the city vs. outside the city, what kind of house to live in, what kind of property, calculating bills, etc. I do this almost constantly every day.

But what is the point? I was on a really nice and enjoyable walk on a nice cool morning with my dog. Why wasn’t I just enjoying the walk, the scenery, my dog peeing on all sorts of things?

If you are always focused on ‘the future’, your present is missed. Since we can only live in the present, and can only experience the present, if you are constantly missing out on it, then you are missing out on your life. I think there is a lot of anxiety associated with living in the past and future. You worry about the future, but it doesn’t even exist, so what is the point? I am not saying that it isn’t a bad idea to think about the future now and then, for survivals sake, but to constantly be thinking about it surely is unhealthy.

Bad Habit: I am going to try and force myself to see the good in all situations this week. I think that there is often good to be seen in most situations, but the negative can often cloud it. At worst, one can take appreciation in a completely 100% negative situation that this situation didn’t happen before, doesn’t happen always, and isn’t happening to other people. Obviously, seeing the positive in bad situations can have many benefits.

Food: I have to get back to the veggies!  I don’t know if it is because the only vegetables I have in the house (besides frozen) are carrots and I didn’t have time to do groceries this weekend, but I feel like I have a vegetable deficit!

I have been eating lots of lentils and beans in soups with some veggies, and rice and some veggies in some curry-esque meals, and I have my usual daily super mega veggie shake, but I still feel like I have been eating less vegetables than I should be. Lentils and beans are healthy, for sure, but I still think that I could be eating more vegetables. I haven’t had a veggie stir fry or home made veggie burgers or made myself a green salad in a while, so I think I should get back on that.

Misc: Reading and house renovations. My goal of having the house ready to put up for rent by July 1st is, well, not looking so good! I just need to consistently do a couple of hours each day throughout the week, and if I can, a big day of several hours once a week. It’s something that needs to be done, so, yeah, I should stop being a bum bum face.

 

xoxooxox