are we evil?

by the virgin terry

since writing the essay below a few days ago, i’ve been thinking a lot about the effect it may have on sheople like dr. house, whose beloved father was a christian minister. i don’t mind alienating some sheople with what i have to say, but i do mind alienating more than a few regular readers/participants on nbl, particularly if we’re basically in agreement in our worldviews, as i believe tsdh (the surreal dr. house) and i are. thus before proceeding to the essay, i wish to say this:

i personally have no use for faith. it seems to me that various religions serve as ‘gateway dogmas’ (to further the substitution in terminology i’m fond of making between demonized ‘drugs’, of which the most common and harmless one, cannabis, is often referred to by it’s dogmatic detractors as a ‘gateway drug’ that leads one to ‘harder’ drug use, and sanctified religious dogmas taught to impressionable young children as matters of ‘faith’, or compulsory belief, which conditions their young minds to the idea that dogmatism is virtuous, leading to greater, more comprehensive dogmatism later in life). it’s arguable that any and all dogmatism is indefensible and potentially harmful. it also seems to me that my country’s despicable intellectual/cultural backwardness is directly related to it’s comparatively high levels of religiosity among ‘developed’ nations. however, it must also be acknowledged that many christians and others of various religions have many admirable qualities which may have something to do with their faith. that said, here we go:

as i’ve aged i’ve gained much wisdom and perplexity. i’ve come to surrealize what bullshit i’d been taught, how it has contributed to lack of fulfillment in my life, and how it’s popular/accepted/embraced not only by my teachers (including parents, elders, friends, lovers and haters) but by a great many sheople. here i’m considering garbage such as christian catholicism, a religion based in fear and shame.

the ‘one true church’ headed by an ‘infallible’ fellow in the vatican, has a particularly malicious way to terrorize impressionable young children into embracing the faith. they teach that we’re born ‘sinners’, inherently bad, unholy, worthy of eternal damnation. shame/fear/shame/fear/shame/fear/etc/etc/etc pretty much sums up the effect this teaching had on me (and many others). i lived in fear for a while for my ‘eternal soul’. more importantly catholicism contributed to what’s been a nearly lifelong confusion/anxiety/repression of libido, with many negative effects. i’m quite consumed with resentment/anger/regret/despair as a result, along with the monumental question of what the hell’s wrong with sheople? who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to teach young children to be ashamed of being human and to live in fear of divine judgment and eternal damnation? it seems to me a sadistic sort of insanity.

christian fundies aren’t all that different from muslim fundies, or fundies of many other religions for that matter. there are many ways in which various faiths inflict great harm upon children, including female circumcision (caution: link is emotionally disturbing):

such circumcision is standard muslim practice in certain parts of the world. it seems unbelievable. it makes me sick with hate towards the perpetrators of such horrors on children in the name of religion/tradition. and it makes me kind of agree with what i was taught about human nature being inherently bad. how else to explain such sadistic stupidity?

getting back to roman catholicism, it doesn’t take much digging to come up with loads of nauseating manure concerning its past and present. i don’t understand what sheople can possibly be thinking that makes them perceive it as the embodiment of truth and virtue. i don’t understand why its heinous history isn’t more widely appreciated, why this institution wasn’t banished from existence centuries ago. it’s as if nazi germany won the second world war and dominated the post-war world, writing official history as propaganda that whitewashed away its bloody crimes. so few sheople can be bothered with the facts that aren’t taught in school, like how the church committed perhaps the first great genocide of a million sheople in european history.

perhaps i’d be a better partner to the cause of cassandra if not for the fact that based on the awful and sometimes shadowy history of mankind, i’m inclined to agree with kathy c. when she said our species is a pile of shit or words to that effect, as i recall. i’m not sure such perverse beings as ourselves are worthy of salvation in the sense of avoiding self-inflicted extinction.

bio: according to the author, he has led a quite unremarkable life to anyone other than himself. he became alienated and socially isolated early in life as a child-adolescent around the age of 11 in particular, which thereafter had a diminishing/inhibiting effect on his social development. he excelled in school until college, where overwhelmed by loneliness and lack of structure, he quit after completing only one semester at the state university of ny (suny) at buffalo. there he witnessed the great blizzard of 1977 with snowbanks on city sidewalks towering over pedestrians. a year later, searching for direction and security, he joined the u.s. navy, where, due to his relative intelligence, he was encouraged to join the navy’s nuclear power program. he excelled in that school, and spent 4 subsequent years aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier the u.s.s. nimitz, then stationed in norfolk, va. the most notable events during his time there were a failed attempt launched from the nimitz in the spring of 1980 to send helicopters to tehran to rescue 52 american hostages being held by the new, virulently anti-american regime of the ayatollah khomeini in the wake of the revolution which deposed the hated shah, who had been instilled in power years ago by an american-inspired coup. the other notable event involved a crash landing on the flight deck that resulted in 14 deaths and a scary aviation fuel fire which took about an hour to extinguish.

he was about to re-enlist for another 6 years with an eye towards becoming a ‘lifer’ in the service to take advantage of the generous retirement pension available immediately to those with at least 20 years of service behind them when his mother rather unexpectedly died from lung cancer in the spring of 1984. this event caused tvt to reconsider staying in a situation he found almost unbearable, so he got out, which surreally put him on his present path of solitary self-education and further extreme separation from conventional thought.

to be continued, perhaps, later.

Comments 98

  • Thanks, tvt. I share many of your sentiments regarding the current Judeo-Christian establishment. As for the god thereof, he never did speak to me, and I left him and his followers to their own devices long ago.

    Of late, I have been exploring the Druid path, and have found it remarkably in tune with the life I’ve shaped for myself. Questions regarding the sacred-ness of the natural world preoccupy me these days; I feel that getting an understanding in that regard is of utmost importance in any decoupling from (sacreligious?) industrial civilization.

  • they teach that we’re born ‘sinners’, inherently bad, unholy, worthy of eternal damnation. shame/fear/shame/fear/shame/fear/etc/etc/etc pretty much sums up the effect this teaching had on me (and many others).

    the monumental question of what the hell’s wrong with sheople?

    i’m inclined to agree with kathy c. when she said our species is a pile of shit or words to that effect, as i recall. i’m not sure such perverse beings as ourselves are worthy of salvation in the sense of avoiding self-inflicted extinction.

    Seems to me you have answered your own question…perhaps you should reconsider as to whether religions have a point to be made here?… :-)

    Loved your bio….you understate your interesting experiences by quite a bit, I would venture. Indeed, I suspect there is more there.

  • More news about how sinless sheople are affecting the natural world… ;-)

    Earth Sends Climate Warning by Busting World Heat Records
    First decade of 21st Century warmest on record; US locations break 7,000 temperature records in March

    Accelarated climate change, driven by human activity, has led to soaring temperatures around the world and the decade between 2001 and 2010 was the warmest ever recorded in all continents of the globe, according to a new report released by the World Meteorological Organization.

    Additionally, an ‘unprecedented’ heatwave in the United States “has set or tied more than 7,000 high temperature records” across the country, according to a report from Climate Central. “This heat wave is essentially unprecedented,” said the media and research orgnanization’s Heidi Cullen told Reuters. “It’s hard to grasp how massive and significant this is.”

  • VT – you wrote “who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to teach young children to be ashamed of being human” I would state that a bit differently. I think what the church does is teach us that humans are not animals. Thus when we act like animals act that is “bad” even tho for animals to act that was is not bad but natural. Ernest Becker proposed that the denial of our animalness is because we know animals die and an attempt to pretend we won’t die. Thus sex and other actions that remind us that we are animals has to be suppressed. It should, if his theory is right, be no surprise that religion is foremost in creating proscriptions on our animal functions because one of its main functions is to find a way around death. Of course once founded it becomes institutionalized and performs functions for the civilization that it is in, assisting in control of the population.

    I was raised Lutheran, a small step away from Catholicism. I was actually intending to become a deaconess in the Lutheran Church – basically a nun who could marry. I took my religion quite seriously, but made one mistake. I believed that the ethics of Jesus were the ethics of the church. Such a disillusionment. I spent years of study and searching to find a good god and failed. A powerful god who acts in the world cannot be good – the facts on the ground are proof of that. An impotent or detached god is not worth bothering with. I think those of us who once believed strongly perhaps are the strongest in our rejection of religion – there is a feeling of betrayal for having been mislead.

    We are animals, run by genetically imprinted programs. I don’t know how much we can get past them, it appears not much if at all. Perhaps describing our species or our actions as evil or good are attempts are also put us on some level above other animals. Whether or not we can exercise true will, we think we can, so I guess we have to try for the good even if it is an illusion.

    Thoughts provoked by your essay – I reserve the right to change my mind about some of them – after all reserving that right helps with the illusion that I control me :)

  • tvt.

    I think we are in broad agreement about religion. As far as I am concerned any belief system based on arbitrary rules, the performance of rituals, the wearing of silly hats, shaving or not shaving parts of the head, the mutilation of bodies etc. is just another power system, some kind of system for a few individuals to control large numbers of others and gain benefits from doing so.

    From my observations, mainstream ‘Christian’ churches are leading the way in the worship of ‘mammon’ -worshipping false idols, materialism, blessing destruction of the planet we live on etc. I have yet to hear of any church that actually teaches anything Jesus might have said as a way of living. Many people I know have what we might call spirituality and keep well away from churches because they have what chruches do not have.

    What I do find intriguing is that according to ‘end times’ prophecy, in the years before ‘the second coming’ people will behave selfishly, disrespectfully, hedonistically etc. and that there will be deceit everywhere. There is little doubt we are witnessing a vast increase in such behaviours, and there is certainly deceit everywhere.

    One scary aspect of religion is that many world leaders seem to be caught up in it all, and might just be prepared to start WW3 in order to fulfil ‘end times’ prophecies. Of course, they may just be lying and using such supposed beliefs as pretexts for further acquisition of power and possessions.

    I don’t think humans are inherently evil. It’s just that within the human species there is a subgroup that lacks the values that the majority have, and that subgroup has managed to manipulate the bulk of humanity over many thousands of years. Dawkin’s Selfish Gene theory seems to explain most of what happens in human societies.

  • i personally have no use for faith.

    Faith has a subordinate role to awareness. One can doubt everything but the doubter. The ground of both the “I” and the “not-I” is common to all entities in the universe, including all sentient beings. It is The One without a second: since there is nothing beside it, relational characterizations such as “good” or “evil” do not apply. 

    i’m quite consumed with resentment/anger/regret/despair

    This is choosing to let the characters from past to continue to exercise their influence. As long as one prefers to stay in that wallow, one will continue covered with the muck.

  • tvt:

    You are my kind of guy. I am honored to have met you on NBL.
    As far as Robins comment, I would phrase it, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

    Katy C:

    I have never had any religious training or affiliation. As far back as perhaps 6 or 7 years old, I can remember any brush with religion only gave me the heebie jeebies.

  • tvt, thank you for your consideration of my feelings. However, I assure you, that no offense was taken. In fact, I agree with most of what you say. The other comments have all been quite good as well.

    I consider myself to be a Christian Atheist. I have mostly good memories of my religious upbringing and love the music and the sense of community in many small churches, but could just never bring myself to truly believe that there could be such a god.

    When I was a young child, I was routinely made to “go stand in the hall” during Sunday school (Southern Baptist) because I always asked questions that the typical “teacher” had never even considered, much less was prepared to answer. Such questions were crucial to understanding for my young mind but adults didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that they were unanswered. I would ask, “Where did Cain get his wife?” “How did Noah get ALL the animals on such a small boat?” “What did Noah FEED all those animals?” “Why didn’t Jesus have a wife?” “If God created everything, then why did he create evil?” That kind of stuff. As I grew older, I realized that no one (my father included) had those answers, and I grew to understand that if such basic questions couldn’t be answered, then most likely, the rest of it was full of holes, too.

    Anyway, back to the question of your essay, “Are we evil?”.

    To answer that, you have to define evil. From a cosmological standpoint, there is no good nor evil. There just “is”. In a billion years, it’s almost certain that there will be virtually no record that humans ever existed. Would whatever sentient creature might exist then think Hitler, or the Catholic Church, or any other of our current crop of baddies, was evil?

    For several decades, I’ve worked on my family’s genealogy. One of the things that becomes clear very early on in such work, is how ephemeral all our lives are. In just a few generations, unless a person accomplishes something notable enough to get into a textbook or something similar, then no one will even know that person existed. Could we really call any of those people truly evil? I’m sure many were thought of as evil during their time, but were they really? Again, it depends on perspective.

    There have been many times in my life that I’ve been called “evil” simply because my genetic structure makes me find members of my own sex attractive. Am I evil? I don’t think so, but I’m sure you could find more than one person who would disagree with me – probably more than one NBL reader.

    Is it evil for a human to wipe out entire colonies of bacteria in her body? Depends on whether you’re the human in question, or the bacteria.

    From a human perspective, there are many who are evil and many who are good. But, I would not agree that the entire species is evil. We just simply are. Like any other animal, we’re doing our best to be the fittest to survive. Unfortunately for humanity, it turns out that humans are not the “end all” of evolution. In fact, we’re screwing things up quite royally. That doesn’t make us evil – it just makes us not fit to survive.

  • Indeed.
    Never let the bastards wear you down.
    Noli nothis permittere te terere. 
    Or the mock- Latin Illegitimi non carborundum. 

    Just because the characters from one’s past deposited substantial quantities of ordure, it does not follow that one must continue to wallow in it. 

    Religious training is in no way a prerequisite. The Sixth Patriarch was from a peasant family and became realized upon hearing a verse of the Diamond Sutra recited by some passing monks. Even when he entered the Fifth Patriarch’s monastery, he was assigned to the kitchen (pounding and husking rice), and not to any study group. When the Fifth Patriarch sought a successor, he assigned the task of writing a stanza to demonstrate the writer’s awareness. The leading student wrote and posted to the wall:

    The body is a Bodhi tree,
    The mind a standing mirror bright.
    At all times polish it diligently,
    And let no dust alight.

    The Fifth Patriarch advised the students to recite it but privately told the writer to do more work on it. 

    The future Sixth Patriarch in the kitchen heard it recited by students, and then being illiterate, asked a staff member to write and post to the wall:

    Bodhi is fundamentally without any tree;
    The bright mirror is also not a stand.
    Fundamentally there is not a single thing —
    Where could any dust be attracted?

    The Fifth Patriarch privately told the imminent Sixth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism, “If one recognizes the original mind and the original nature, he is called a great man, teacher of gods and humans, and a Buddha.” He passed the robe and begging bowl as a symbol of the Dharma Seal. 

  • I don’t know if our being inherently evil is the right question.
    Ecologically we are consumers and that is inherently destructive.
    Not being cognizant of that is obviously not in our best interest.
    We can try to make the destruction a regenerative act.
    We are smart enough to stop being stupid.
    We just have to stop being stupid.
    Evil, as used here, seems to relate only to human morality, not nature stepping up to bat.
    We are participants in something greater than ourselves.
    Have faith in that.
    Navel gazing and monkeys in the magic box cannot save us from the grand slam.

  • Memo to Terry:

    Get some.

  • Curtis, you were ahead of the curve in staying away from religion. OTOH there is a contingent of religious people who try to live out the ethics of Jesus. They have to pretend a whole bunch of other stuff isn’t in the mix. I don’t think they would be substantially different without religion, but they are there in the mix of religious people. I am not sorry for the years I spent in the religious fold because I met many good people and received a lot of love and acceptance among them. I just wasn’t able to pretend the other didn’t exist, the contradictions didn’t exist.

  • TRDH as usual very perceptive comments. I stayed out of trouble in Sunday School by only thinking the questions. At one point in time I actually was pretty quiet and didn’t speak up hardly at all. :)

    Perhaps the question is not is there evil but is there good. Certainly that was the question I asked in Haiti. Was saving lives good or evil. It became clear to me it was both, for while being good for the person who didn’t want to die, or the parent who didn’t want to loose a child, it added to the overpopulation. It was much harder for me to face the fact that “good” is not an absolute than to reject religion.

    Perhaps a better question, without such religious overtones, is what is balanced and are we balanced. Clearly humans are out of balance. Can we fix it. Probably not, but it will be fixed in some way.

  • Darn Victor, I was planning to post that. You beat me to it. Not the best written article in the world, but it clearly points to the problems we face when the grid goes down from nuclear power plants but such social chaos will ensue that by the time the nuclear stuff hits there will be less people to worry about it.

  • Bubbleboy, I have seen chimps and monkeys in cages do all sorts of aberrant behavior, including something that looks like navel gazing. We are big brained chimps in a cage of our own making, civilization. Navel gazing passes the time while waiting for the grand slam.

  • Kathy, you mention Haiti and helping people survive which adds to overpopulation. That reminds me of an old Star Trek episode. I’m not a true Trekkie and so can’t give you exact details, but the gist of the story was that somehow Kirk and his gang went back in time/alternate universe and Dr. McCoy saved a woman from getting hit by a car. That woman, who would’ve died without their intervention, went on to be a horrible dictator who oppressed the planet. Or something like that (true fans of the show, fell free to correct me!).

    So, we think of a serial killer being evil, but what if he kills a future war lord or the next Hitler? Is the serial killer guilty of an evil act in that case?

    What if I treat a sick child and save his life, only to have him turn out to be the next world leader who kills millions. Who is evil in that case, me or him or both of us?

  • TRDH, I don’t remember that star trek, but there is another where a planet so believes in “life” that they will not use birth control and they have conquered disease so death is put off for everyone. They have become so crowded that they have little room at all. They send a woman from their planet to seduce Dr. Kirk so she can catch a disease and they can once again have natural culling of their numbers. Something like that anyway.

    Like you say, who knows if the person you save is the next dictator. We now know the “good” we do to conquer disease leads to overpopulation. And who knows if the child we don’t have because of birth control might not be the one who could develop cold fusion. And what evils might that “good” bring to an exploited planet. Clearly we did not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for they are intertwined, we just ate of the tree of knowledge which is a very dangerous thing to have.

    A lot of the old star trek’s were quite thought provoking eh?

  • Have you read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn? Whether or not humans are evil is a core premise he addresses in that book which is 100% relevant to posting. I love his explanation on the topic as well as so many others. If you haven’t read it, you may want to check it out. If you have, would love to know what you think of it.

  • Thanks for your insightful, first-time comment, Kym. I agree about the power of Ishmael. I spoke to the University of Arizona Honors College about the book several years ago. The transcript of that presentation is here.

  • agreed, we simply are. questions of morality are foolish, unanswerable, a form of ‘navel gazing’ to occupy the mind when there’s nothing better to do, no more pressing survival concerns.

    perhaps a better question concerns what seems to be sadistic behavior, things like circumcising infants/children and indoctrinating youth with paralyzing fears of a judgemental punitive deity who finds at least certain aspects of human nature abhorrent. when i think about these things i can’t help but wonder if believing in inherent human evil is like self fulfilling prophecy, for it seems to me that the greatest ‘evil’, the most sadistic behavior emanates from those who maim and destroy in the name of promoting ‘purity’, ‘virtue’, or ‘godliness’. such sheople have been playing prominent roles in human societies ‘forever’, it seems.

  • yes, kym, i read ishmael some years ago. as i recall it’s focus was on providing a non-anthropocentric viewpoint on life, one that’s mostly absent and badly needed in our culture. i’ve read one other book by quinn which i would recommend even more highly: his memoir titled PROVIDENCE.

  • I have also read Ishmael. I find his ideas very compelling. His conclusion however seemed weak. He asked (as I recall) does this mean we all need to become hunter-gatherers and his answer was no. In reading the book I would have thought his answer would be yes. I also disliked the literary convention of using a talking gorilla to tell the story. I would have liked the book better not as a novel but as a non-fiction discussion. But probably he got more readers this way.

    Loosely based on Ishmael is the movie Instinct I liked it better even though it delved into issues more shallowly. Perhaps having read Ishmael helped me fill in the blanks.

  • off topic – a new find on youtube is the channel
    He has some climate change videos that debunk the deniers quite well IMO and explain the science in a way I can understand without too much effort.

    This is an example

    He says of his channel

    About potholer54

    The main purpose of this channel is to explain in simple terms the conclusions of scientific research, and correct some of the unsourced crap we get fed on the Internet.

  • Not really off the topic of “are we evil”?

    While traveling in Japan several weeks ago, Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen took soil samples in Tokyo public parks, playgrounds, and rooftop gardens. All the samples would be considered nuclear waste if found here in the US. This level of contamination is currently being discovered throughout Japan. At the US NRC Regulatory Information Conference in Washington, DC March 13 to March 15, the NRC’s Chairman, Dr. Gregory Jaczko emphasized his concern that the NRC and the nuclear industry presently do not consider the costs of mass evacuations and radioactive contamination in their cost benefit analysis used to license nuclear power plants. Furthermore, Fairewinds believes that evacuation costs near a US nuclear plant could easily exceed one trillion dollars and contaminated land would be uninhabitable for generations.
    5 min video at

  • a judgemental punitive deity

    The posited deity has to be a part of the “not-I”, falling short of The One without a second. 

    believing in inherent human evil is like self fulfilling prophecy

    Only for the believer.

  • kathy, i’d never heard of that movie ‘instinct’. thanks for clueing me in on it. i checked out the link u provided. looks/sounds like a movie all daniel quinn fans should be familiar with.

  • “questions of morality are foolish, unanswerable…”

    Really? Then why do you go on to say this?

    “perhaps a better question concerns what seems to be sadistic behavior, things like circumcising infants/children and indoctrinating youth with paralyzing fears of a judgemental punitive deity who finds at least certain aspects of human nature abhorrent.”

    It sure looks like you are positing the idea that such behavior is bad, wrong, evil, immoral, etc. — or would you argue that sadism is morally neutral? If you are saying sadistic behavior is, in fact, wrong, you just obliterated your own previous comment.

    “when i think about these things i can’t help but wonder if believing in inherent human evil is like self fulfilling prophecy, for it seems to me that the greatest ‘evil’, the most sadistic behavior emanates from those who maim and destroy in the name of promoting ‘purity’, ‘virtue’, or ‘godliness’.”

    Well, here we have your own words equating sadism and evil. It is crystal clear that you do, in fact, believe in making moral judgments. Perhaps claiming otherwise sounds intellectually superior or might impress the pseudo-intellectual crowd, but the fact is those who decry morality tend to make countless moral judgments in the process. Cheers :)

  • I don’t see any ultimate good or evil. Living is attractive to me, pain and death are unattractive. So pain free life is something I see as good and pain and death I avoid. Like everyone else here, I’m sure. As for whether most of humanity is evil, well, it is obvious to me that they are causing enormous amounts of pain and death with the rest of life, it is a system that causes a a great deal of suffering to people as well, and looks to be ultimately killing themselves, and they refuse to listen to reason about any of it. So yes, most people are evil. Doesn’t look too complicated.

    I was raised in Christian Science, rejected it all as a young man. The intellectual rejection was easy, the emotional part of rejecting my parents, who were adamant, even fanatical, believers, was not so easy at all. My handwringing about what to do, whether I should go to doctors or not, disappoint my parents or not, and following the basic pattern of my life to that point and continuing to do nothing, was very damaging, physically. Some things were too late to have made any difference by the time I was old enough to make intellectual decisions like that, but my waffling made things worse. Celiac disease, which I had, and what I believe my father had, and was making him a fanatic, is not something you want to combine with mystical expectations of healing. My growth was stunted, I had a tooth come in with the enamel rotted off the top, a common symptom of malnutrition, my lower jaw never grew properly. An infection withered one of my testicles. I have a lot of dark memories from childhood. But good memories, too, it wasn’t all bad- which was ultimately a worse problem, as I indicated to begin. It can be really, really hard to turn your back on people who love you and you love them, and realize that in spite of their good intentions, they are giving you evil advice on a really fundamental level.
    But I did walk away in the end, and did not think about religion for about ten years, except to be very glad I was not going to church on Sundays. Doctors treated my symptoms, but never saw what the real cause was, but it was better than trying to muddle through on my own. I ultimately came to see that expecting to muddle through, was not a good expectation at all. That was what cost me a testicle… I often think, as I watch news of pollution levels rising, chemical, radiation, persistent talk of sperm numbers dropping in men, that people who should know better are doing what I did, thinking to muddle through, and about to lose a “testicle” for this idiocy, or worse.

    There has been a lot of complexity in my life that I could write a book about, but I’ll try to cut through it. I worked my way to becoming an engineer, only to read things like limits to growth, and found I could not work as an engineer in conventional industry. I worked for a wind generator company, it went out of business. I built a passive solar house, worked as a carpenter, my health problems put an end to that, I lost everything I’d put into the house, lost the relationship. I’d been feeling like it was a dead end anyway, too much glass and concrete to be a real solution. By myself, I’d have built it a lot simpler, but I wasn’t working by myself. I built a canvas yurt, had it on some friend’s land, and was marveling one day at what a simple, beautiful shelter it was, and words from Jesus came back to me, about how the flowers and birds did not toil endlessly to be fed and beautiful. I had never considered anything from Jesus in a practical light. It made me curious, and I began looking for more things like that. And ultimately I found a whole raft of things that fit perfectly with my principles for society. Some of that actually came from looking at his words as a riddle, and how they might be explained in a practical way. I might not have seen some things without doing that. Many things were easy and obvious. If people only live by belonging to a social group, then loving your neighbor as yourself, fits that perfectly, for example. Your neighbor can be part of your vital social group, no less vital to your life than parts of your body are vital to your life.

    But bodies can be infected by parasites, too. “Beware of false prophets, who are as wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Perfect description of a social parasite. And who is who? “You shall know them by their works”. Perfectly secular thinking.

    Obviously, he talks of loving God, too. That works perfectly if you see “God”, as the forces of nature. I talk of the laws of physics, but it would have been very possible back then to see that there were repeating, reliable patterns of movement with all kinds of things, and decide that these patterns were what created us. Evolution is God, in this interpretation. Having a profound respect for evolution, not thinking you were above evolution, seems like a very good attitude to me.

    Thinking of evolution some more, he said, “to them that have, shall be given, to them that have not shall all be taken”, and I suddenly realized that was just another way of saying, “survival of the fittest”. Again, this is not necessarily seeing things in the same depth as Darwin, but seeing that in human competition, some have what it takes to survive grave problems and some don’t.

    There is a very obvious thread of prediction of human dieoff in his words. Why would he be predicting such a thing? Well, it wasn’t impossible that he had read or heard some history. Civilizations had been rising and falling long before he lived. It is quite possible that the Jews were indeed a “chosen people”, in that they were the ones smart enough to escape a Bronze age collapse of a city in that area of the Mideast. The Bronze age collapse was apparently a pretty horrific time. There was a documentary on PBS about this. He might actually have been told, or read, of information about that, that has since been lost. They had learned to write, but making lots of copies, as life does, was hard to do, writing things by hand.
    My observations about the fundamental problems of money, do not require modern science. He could have observed the same things. He didn’t have much regard for money- easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Incidentally, I’ve read that the “eye of the needle”, was slang for a human sized door in a city gate. Makes sense. The symbolism can be taken even further, looking at that- an unloaded camel might squeeze through a human sized door, but not a loaded one. Have to let go of the stuff to go through.

    He seems to have had concern for sustainability- “who but a fool builds a tower without first counting the cost, to be sure of finishing it?” We have built a civilization without counting the cost of “finishing” it, maintaining it. Of course, there does seem to be conflict when he is also reported to have said, “to take no thought for the morrow, what you will eat or drink”. I suspect that this is easily resolved, that there is context missing, that “taking no thought”, could actually mean not to worry excessively. You figure out things the best you can, then go to sleep and deal with any problems that crop up with a rested mind and body.
    His words about “becoming a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven”, make perfect symbolic sense, with the observation that in the scarcity of resources with a dieoff, the last thing you want to be trying to do is reproduce. Incidentally, if door to door evangelists get annoying, calmly pointing out that passage to people who insist the Bible is to be taken literally, can have interesting results. I had a man leave here at a run with his clipboard held over his crotch. Not joking. Maybe he thought I’d propose to remove them on the spot? I never saw him again.

    It is possible to go on with this, but I think you might get the idea. I’ve written down a bunch of these non mystical interpretations.

    One really big thing I might add before I stop, though. The resurrection. What might have actually happened with that? Now, bear in mind with all of this, that I recognize that in talking about the Bible, I don’t have great evidence that Jesus actually meant the interpretations I’m giving. They fit perfectly with things you can reason out today, I don’t need his words as support for what I’m saying about society. I’m arguing like a lawyer, raising reasonable doubts, that this could easily have been what he meant.
    So, Ok, the resurrection.
    I think it was stage magic. And not stage magic done by Jesus, but by the people who killed him. Why? For a very good reason, from their point of view. The evidence is good that he was preaching about the Jubilee year, and drawing crowds. The rich could have been extremely nervous about that. It is likely a Jubilee year had not been done for a very long time. Very conveniently forgotten. I do not think that the rich of his day were at all happy about the idea of forgiving all debts, letting servants go free, and having a redistribution of land. Basically starting the monopoly game over. The rich today would not like anything like that at all. It was supposed to happen every fifty years. If he was talking about this ancient law, and drawing crowds, the rich almost certainly wanted him silenced. But in debate, it is recorded, “he put all to silence”. So, take the next step. Kill him. But as is also recorded, very logically, “they feared the people”. Of course they did. Angry mobs were already a known danger at that point in history. So how to proceed? A mock trial, throw some misdirection and twisting some of his words, kill him, remove the body, get rid of it, the people see the empty tomb and think a massive miracle has happened. Why put a poor rebel in an expensive tomb? With a guard, and words about preventing the body from being stolen? That looks like stage magic misdirection to me. But the result? Who was talking about Jubilee years after talk about the empty tomb made its way around? Nobody. All attention was focused on the miracle. With the gullible masses, anyway. I’m sure more intelligent people had suspicions. It is quite possible the disciples knew, that Jesus knew they were going to try something like this. After all, he noted that “you polish the tombs of the prophets, but you would have killed them”. Heaping miracles on someone, is not unlike polishing the tomb of someone you have killed. I think it is very possible he was killed and buried in miracles, because of the profound threat he represented.

    So, this is speculation, but a possibly valuable speculation in that along with many other down to earth interpretations, it sounds quite plausible, could give believers serious doubts, and along with a desperate need to solve real problems they have created for themselves, make them crazy and self destruct trying to prove mystical nonsense. Jesus said he had brought not peace, but a sword. Yet he wasn’t too enthusiastic about real swords- who lives by the sword will die by it. But a psychological sword of observations and arguments that have no logical rebuttal? Reverse psychology is almost certainly nothing new. The way people will dig in their heels and become fanatical about their beliefs, is something quite old with human nature, I’d say. Useful sometimes in the distant past, not at all such a good thing now.

    I could say lots more, but will leave off for now.

  • Arthur Noll, you have suggested some very interesting (and somewhat humorous) alternative meanings to the supposed words of Christ. It just goes to show that you can make the Bible say anything you want it to – as evidenced by so much of Christianity today. Isn’t it remarkable that multiple Christian denominations have some diametrically opposed beliefs while supposedly worshipping the same god?

    One thing about Christ’s words and why I describe them as “supposed”: there is ample evidence that the words of Christ recorded in the Bible are fabrications, or at least liberal paraphrases. No one knows what Christ actually said, or if indeed he actually existed. At the time he was thought to be alive, no one understood the impact he would have ultimately, and so, he didn’t have someone following him around to record his every word for posterity. Some have suggested that the Biblical Christ is a compilation of multiple “teachers” from that time period. Who knows?

    I find it amazing that people are willing to die for their beliefs when the person/diety in which they put their trust is most likely a fabrication. Mormons are a group with an astounding willingness to suspend disbelief. Only a cursory investigation into their history shows that it is a made up religion. Of course, the main difference between theirs and Christianity is the passage of time. It’s easier to overlook glaring holes in the truth when they happened 2,000 years ago.

    All of this ties into the virgin terry’s question of “are we evil”. Good and evil have been turned into religious concepts. In reality they are personal concepts. If it’s an act that hurts me, it’s evil. If it’s an act that benefits me, it’s good. That’s an oversimplification, but it is at the root of this whole concept. Life is good, death is evil (for me). It’s only a few more steps to an idea of god is good and has rules. If you break those rules, you are evil. Which has nothing to do with nature and the real world we live in, other than to give us a greater impetus to survive.

  • This is why i keep coming back to this site: great content and amazingly honest commenters. Thank you all.

    i’m in the same camp as the many others who feel that humanity has failed to such an extent that we’re basically no better than a cancer on the Earth. We’ve been on the wrong track (especially) since the Industrial Revolution (one of humanity’s worst ideas) and can’t seem to figure out that if we keep making the same mistakes WHY it doesn’t change anything (in fact, makes matters worse by orders of magnitude).
    The delusion we all participate in each day – that this complete clusterfuck we call “society” or “civilization” is REALITY – is totally unsustainable, as is our overpopulation, our corrupt financial systems, our deficient, micro-managed educational systems, our “justice” system, and what we do for “work” – all are complete fabrication to support a collapsing species, and it isn’t going to work (in fact, nothing will save us at this point) because we keep polluting the shit out of the biosphere!

    So enjoy your days people and do what you can, though it’s hopeless.

  • If anyone in the NBL community is attending the Population Under Pressure conference in London this week, please ask someone, any expert at all, to comment on the ‘global predicament’ posed humanity on our watch by the unbridled growth worldwide of distinctly human overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities we can see overspreading the surface of Earth. What Andy Revkin describes as “humanity’s growth spurt” appears to minimize, even trivialize, a grave situation that is becoming harder and harder to acknowledge, address and overcome because human global overgrowth activities are overwhelming the finite physical resources and frangible ecology of the celestial orb we call our planetary home. The colossal presence of humankind on Earth in our time is much more formidable and fearsome than some sort of adolescent growth spurt. To describe the explosion of absolute global population numbers in such terms is jejeune and represents a subtle form of denial of what primarily threatens future human well being and environmental health.

    Thank you,

    Steve Salmony

    Steven Earl Salmony

    Chapel Hill, NC

  • eamon, all moral judgements are ultimately subjective and subject to change, imo (a view which distinguishes social progressives from conservatives), and virtually everyone is subject to making at times conflicting, incompatible statements/positions. part of being human. perhaps instead of ‘evil’ i should have said ‘are we insane?’.

    interesting take on jesus, a.n.. as tsdh observes, christianity is indeed open to very different interpretations, particularly if one is sane enough not to try to take the any particular version of the bible as infallible divinely revealed ‘truth’.

    ‘in talking about the Bible, I don’t have great evidence that Jesus actually meant the interpretations I’m giving’ -a.n.

    in talking about the bible, very little of it is supported by ‘great evidence’, including the notion that jesus actually existed. the case has been made by many, including the guy who made the provocative ZEITGEIST film series, that the jesus story is mythology based on earlier mythological ‘deities’. anyone wishing to check it out, it’s in the first half of the first film of the series.

    tsdh, i didn’t read all of your comment above until just now, so excuse me for repeating in my own words what u basically said first.

  • Yes, Dr. House, I’ve read these ideas before, that Jesus might not have existed, it could all be a fabrication from multiple sources. Could be true. But it doesn’t really concern me, how these words got written down. The interesting thing is that there is a fairly coherent way to interpret them- something that many who say he never existed, that it all comes from multiple sources, often claim cannot be done, that there are so many contradictions that it is clearly BS. I agree there are serious contradictions if things are taken literally, but if things are taken symbolically, metaphorically, the interpretation I’m giving, hangs together pretty well. And as I said, I don’t need words in an old book to back up these interpretations- the basic ideas in “Principles for Society” stand on evidence you can find today. Given the number of things that hang together this way, the odds that this was just by chance, look very low. It is remarkable no matter how you look at it. Whoever came up with these riddles, and clearly they were meant to be riddles, whether one man or many, it seems almost certain there was a coherent picture behind them. It is simply too many things fitting perfectly together, otherwise.

    I’m a bit amused by people who have immediate reactions that amount to “what you have here is just one more insignificant interpretation out of hundreds possible”. And I say, no, it is not insignificant, because it stands independently, and stands independently very strongly. Nobody here or anywhere I’ve been has had any rebuttal to my “Principles for Society”. If I wanted to put those observations in the form of riddles, I could have something very similar to the reported words of Jesus. I don’t think that is insignificant.

    There are some moments that are humorous, like that man running from me about what it means to be a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. The reaction was a bit funny. But it obviously wasn’t funny to him, and the basic idea is completely serious. I’m not laughing at him too much. The humor to be found, is gallows humor, very grim humor. It can be helpful to have that, break the tension a little now and then. And laugh at myself now and then, as well. But a dieoff is not really very funny. Ultimately,I’m a bit sorry for that guy who ran from me. He was feeling confusion, possibly feeling some actual pain with the imagining. I’d like to think he might have learned something valuable about his beliefs… Maybe, maybe not.

    I think it is best to tell people the truth to the best of your ability, but as the saying goes, the truth can hurt. It can hurt a lot. Words of Jesus echoing in my mind with all this- “love your enemies”. In most conflicts between people, it is often observed that truth is the first casualty of the conflict. Sun Tzu wrote it down thousands of years ago, that a basic principle of war is deceiving your enemy. But I’m fighting a very different kind of war. I’m telling my enemies the truth, the exact opposite of this basic rule of conflict. Telling people the truth is generally what you do with friends, with people you love. But paradoxically, since the truth can hurt people who have believed lies, doing the friendly, loving thing of telling the truth can be a weapon. If people refuse to let go of lies, they can be destroyed.

    I’m taking for granted here, that when I say “truth”, that I’m dealing with what I see as truth to the best of my ability, and do not make any claims of being infallible. Curiously, Jesus looks similar, he refused the man who wanted to call him “good”. Only “god” has the complete truth, is completely good, completely honest, he said. The laws of nature have the final say about what works and what doesn’t. Following this idea more, you can go back further in the Bible, to Isaiah, and his words, “come, let us reason together”. It is valuable to reason together, to check each other, because we are all capable of making mistakes. mistakes. We don’t have absolute truth, but regardless, we do need to make decisions about what we think reality is. And again, Jesus- “don’t hide your light under a bushel”. We can’t reason together and attempt to make the best determination of reality that we can, if we don’t tell others our thoughts. Common sense, some might say- but the way we get divided up and suspicious of each other with the money game and other conflicts, people can be afraid of talking.

  • I should add, in full honesty here, and laughing at myself a bit, that when I say I’m amused by people who dismiss my thinking as not very significant, that this is a defensive reaction. I’m also hurt by people thinking my thinking has no significance, and am reflexively looking to return the hurt by saying I’m amused…

  • You cannot control the wind, so adjust the sail.

    –>repent and ye shall be saved, homie.

  • …but if things are taken symbolically, metaphorically,…

    Yes, the cop out. Who does the interpretation. The priest, decon, witch doctor, politician, etc. I never was a fan of fantasy. Spooks in the night. When are we going to grow up? Just a bunch of fuckin’ idiots scaring the shit out of each other. To make it worse, some high talking BS artist steps up and tries to make it all sound legit. That will be $$$ for the service please.


    OK Arthur, glad to know you are the last word. I will check with you first on everything from now on.

    tvt & Kathy C. :

    You really pushed my button this time.

  • I’m reposting a comment I made on the “Words to Give By” thread, because it would seem the action has moved here.


    Thanks Guy. I agree it is an important film (What a Way to Go), hence my reason for sharing it with my friend. In recent years they’ve had two children and I suspect this fact is a big obstacle to any acceptance of a collapse scenario, but also why I thought it important for them to see it. I didn’t realise the connection between the ideas presented and similar views put forward by the Club of Rome, whom he sees as the enemy due to the conspiracy theories of the organisation he subscribes to. He is also already a climate change skeptic and views promotion of the concept as a means to global control with a eugenics agenda.

    I’m wondering how this opposition can be countered? Does the association of the Club of Rome and limits to growth, climate change, overpopulation, species extinction, etc. damage our position? In my friends’ mind it certainly does. I’ve since dug deeper on the Club of Rome and statements made by it’s members that seem to strengthen his argument.

    My main counter argument has been that while he may not agree with the Club of Rome’s agenda of global control, the issues they’re using to forward their agenda are no less real concerns. However, should we be genuinely concerned that the Club of Rome is attempting to use these issues to their ends? What’s really going on here? Have they co-opted these issues to discredit them, or do they really see these issues as threats and are trying to avert disaster? What of the fact that the Club of Rome was founded by David Rockefeller, a well known industrialist and general ‘bad guy?’

    Here are some links that outline the argument made by my friend, who claims to have sincere concern about the environment but is also wary of those seeking to co-opt this concern to promote their own agendas of fear and control.

    The Green Agenda

    His counter-argument to climate change.

    Monckton’s Schenectady showdown

    Kathy C, potholer54 has debated Monckton on the site linked to above. The deniers claim Monckton won these debates. Monckton was recently brought to speak in my home country of Australia by Gina Rinehart, the most wealthiest person in the country and mining magnate who recently bought large stakes in local media in order to influence public opinion in support of her opposition to the mining tax and carbon tax implemented by the gov’t. She’s also proposed using nuclear bombs to aid in underground mining operations. You might say I’m not a big fan of hers!

  • Sorry, I stuffed up the links, see below.

    The Green Agenda

    Moncktons Schenectady Showdown

  • Curtis,
    Did you catch the part about admitting I’m not perfect, that I know I can make mistakes, and that I’m wanting to check with others, “reason together”? I’m not claiming to be the last word. If you have a specific problem, lets hear it. It has been over a decade since I’ve heard any significant rebuttal to my observations, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. I certainly don’t recall anything from you, or anything from the people here. But sitting around on the chance that there is a rebuttal even though you don’t know what it is, doesn’t look reasonable to me. Is it impossible for someone who has spent years thinking about something, looking at it from many angles, to have a fairly good view of it?
    I also haven’t asked anyone for money.

    I’d say you are responding to something imaginary here, not what I’ve actually written about. A bit ironic that in seeing terrors here for which there is no evidence, something often done by children, you ask us to grow up. Hmm.

  • Interesting links, Justin.

    I’ve been wary of the arguments about climate change for a long time. I constantly go back and forth with the arguments I see. I’ve been aware for a long time that CO2 is a weak greenhouse gas, and have been concerned about the persistent data that temperature rise seems to precede CO2 rise with historical data. There are certainly ways in which it could be serious, though. Methane *is* a strong greenhouse gas, and there are very serious possible feedback loops with melting methane hydrates and releases from melting permafrost.

    But the earth has apparently had warmer spells than we are at now, in between ice ages, and presumably permafrost melted and methane hydrates gasified, and the climate didn’t run away. I saw a graph showing these warm spells not too long ago, put together by some apparently qualified people. *If* that information was accurate, I have to have some doubts about getting too fearful about climate change that runs away and fries the planet, any time soon.

    However, even if human influences are smaller than what some have feared, what we are seeing now with just a one degree C rise, looks pretty significant. Natural climate changes in the past have no doubt driven a lot of significant changes to ecosystems, have driven evolutionary changes to plants and animals. Saying that oh, what is happening is within natural limits, and natural buffers will stop it from running away, *might* be true, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be really stressful and dangerous. Especially when combined with factors like soil erosion, soil depletion, depleted and polluted aquifers, rising pollution levels of many kinds, peak oil, peak coal, peak phosphorus, clear cut forests and depleted fisheries, on and on, and groupings of people that are armed to the teeth and ready to blame each other for problems.

    Over and over on these forums, I note that it is energy use that causes these problems with agriculture, depleted fisheries. Having lots of energy can make these problems worse. Climate change is just one issue that could bring us down. I believe that in “Limits to Growth”, models were run with unlimited energy- it didn’t change the outcome. I can see lots of very good reasons to dramatically drop energy use, besides dangers of climate change. He talks about how much it would cost to do this, which makes me snort. It is better to go on trampling the world like we are?

    But it doesn’t look like we have unlimited energy, anyway. Monckton’s confidence in fracking for shale gas looks way off, on current estimates. A hundred year supply was the initial giddy estimate, but it has since been revised seriously down. This link puts it at 23 years, and that is without considering any rising demand. Start driving cars in greater numbers on gas, making more electricity, and that number could quickly drop. I don’t know of anyone talking about a hundred year supply anymore. The wells are resource expensive to drill and they rapidly deplete, and not all shale has the same amount of gas in it. People have been a lot less excited about this. It has certainly brought down gas prices for the moment, and fracking for more oil has also been successful, but neither of these look anything like 100 year supplies.

    If Monckton really respects reason as much as he says, I think I could give him some things to think about on a bunch of things…

  • The latest post on Club Orlov: ties in well with TVT’s question:

    Trained for Success, Bred to be Eaten

  • One thing about Christ’s words and why I describe them as “supposed”: there is ample evidence that the words of Christ recorded in the Bible are fabrications, or at least liberal paraphrases.

    Fortunately there is a disclaimer in the case of the presumed words of the Buddha. Over several generations – in some cases centuries – the teachings were passed down in oral form by memorization before they were put to writing. The possibility of loss in accuracy was recognized by a preface at the beginning of each sutra (=”thread” cognate with the English “suture” through Aryan roots, referring to a conversational thread with the Buddha). Each scribe attests only to the veracity of the transcription by stating “Thus have I heard”. The exception is The Sutra of Hui-Neng, the Sixth Patriarch, the only tract not attributed to the Buddha (in Buddhism) that is referred to as a sutra. It was recorded at the time of the oral presentation. 

    I’m wondering how this opposition can be countered?

    By time with unfolding reality.

    However, should we be genuinely concerned that the Club of Rome is attempting to use these issues to their ends?

    If their prognostications are accurate, it will compel relocalization, with the attendant fragmentation making any considerations of a world government a moot point.

  • Justin, Regardless of the intents and purposes of the Club of Rome, “Limits to Growth” stands as a valid work that is being justified with each passing day. The problem is that most people discuss “Limits to Growth” without actually reading it. I in fact didn’t read it for 40 years. I read it after Matthew Simmons said he read it and found it not to be at all what it was represented to be, and to be a warning that was in the process of being fulfilled. The book should be read – there is a 30 year update out – and the contents judged by what the authors say, regardless of what the Club of Rome is up to.

    The debate with Lord Monckton is over because the good Lord decided to cease debating as he was “too busy”. See this discussion of the Lord Monckton debate by Greenman3610 and Potholer54 Greenman has a youtube channel = Climate Change Crock of the Week. Informative and entertaining, but potholer is more informative by leaving off the entertaining :) Potholer is a retired journalist Peter Hadfield, who worked for New Scientist for over a decade.

  • I’ve read various things about Buddhism over the years. At the urging of a friend back in the nineties, I went to a Vipassana retreat for nine days. It was an interesting experience. I left feeling that meditation worked as they said- something confirmed by MRI studies- but did not care for the mystical stuff. I felt a kind of bait and switch was being attempted- see, meditation is good, we know what we are talking about with what meditation does, therefore take our mystical beliefs seriously, we are right about that, too. No. Not going there. Not at all impressed with the thinking about being harmless, either. I saw a lot of serious cluelessness about that. Meditation was supposed to make you more aware? The people running that show were about as numb as you could get, about their impact on the rest of life- and trying very gently to point things out, went nowhere at all. I was basically told I was an amateur and would learn. Well, I’ve heard a lot of that kind of BS in my life. Who is teaching who, here, on what basis? Why are my observations wrong? I didn’t make a fuss about it, though. They refused to even consider my observations seriously, I refused to take their mystical stuff seriously, nor their ideas about what behavior is harmless, and never went back.
    Killing individuals in a species can be beneficial to the rest. Not killing can create hell on earth for them. Local extinction is possible. Full scale extinctions may have been preceded by overpopulation in the past, for many of the many, many thousands of species that have gone extinct over time. I knew about the problems of overpopulation from keeping animals, growing up with them, and knew and it also happens naturally. Animals are killing and eating plants and other animals as a natural thing, making ecosystems work, we are animals, can be part of that. I felt their idea of harmlessness was complete BS. They asked that we not kill anything while we were there. I agreed, though with reservations, and tried to point out that merely existing, being in their building, walking their grounds, as was allowed, I was killing things. The building they had built, the parking lot, the field that was mowed, the path people walked around it, all of that had had a far greater amount of life before those actions were taken. The building was connected to the electric grid, to the road system, there were simply enormous amounts of death involved with those things, and we were intimately connected to them. It was like talking to a wall. Eating a vegetarian diet has similar problems, all the natural plant life in a field killed, all the animals that had depended on that plant life also killed, to plant crops for the kinds of food they were offering as “harmless”. They had apparently never considered such things and were not at all happy to hear them. I was the one who was an ignorant amateur. Again, Ok, I didn’t fight with them about it. I’d had very long experience by that time with people ignoring my observations, how useless it could be to argue, also had long understood nobody makes themselves, they couldn’t help being what they were.
    That doesn’t mean that all Buddhists are so arrogantly closed minded, but that was my experience there. For me, it was just further reinforcement that the bulk of humanity is remarkable similar in easily believing things with no evidence.
    Oh, there was another thing that was interesting and ok with me- it was remarkable how many stories were told that were extremely similar to the parables of Jesus. Interpreted in non mystical ways, as I’d been already doing at that point with him, I had no problem with those, and found it very interesting that those parallels were there. They also were not presented as anything mystical, which is actually different from how I’d been taught to see the parables of Jesus. And it is interesting to note that prayer as many “Christians”, do it, can have results similar to meditation. It can make people calmer, better mental health, and leads to changes that can be seen in MRI pictures, same as with meditation. But I didn’t add meditation as they taught to my daily routine back then. I was herding goats, wandering around the fields and woods with them, that was a very calming activity most of the time, and I’d long ago learned to let off mental stress by remembering that everything was happening as it had to happen by the laws of physics. I don’t herd goats anymore, but I still let off excess mental stress by remembering it is all happening as it must.

  • Justin, at the Green Agenda link I note a bunch of quotes that sound pretty awful. But you can’t read them in context to see if the person who said them meant what it sounds like they meant because no links are given. However it gives a link to references and sources so I checked that out. Schneider, Wirth and Stewart have no clickable links – just listing of articles. The link for Folland just gives another page at a different site with the same quote without any context. The link for Watson gives a site that I guess you have to search through because Watson does not appear on the home page. The link for Frame is “404 not found”. The link for Botkin says the domain is for sale. OK I quit that effort to document the quotes that seem a bit odd and likely to be out of context.

    Then there are the quotes I entirely agree with such as

    “We are getting close to catastrophic tipping points,
    despite the fact that most people barely notice the warming yet.”
    – Dr James Hansen, NASA researcher


    “This planet is on course for a catastrophe.
    The existence of Life itself is at stake.”
    – Dr Tim Flannery, Principal Research Scientist

    Sites like this get away with promoting false perceptions because the people who are so influenced seldom bother to check. Like the list of scientists who don’t think global warming is human caused. I think they claimed 30,000 at one time. A few years back I checked on many that said they were from Alabama. Some were not listed in the phone book or anywhere else. One appeared to be a car salesman. Several were veterinarians or dentists. Being retired and getting too tired to work all day outside, I take some time sometimes to check these things out. Always quite interesting.

    Something to do while the world burns.

  • One can doubt just about everything, except the doubter, the “I”. Everything else, including MRI scans, is in the realm of “not-I”. They are conditional on the awareness of the “I”. 

    There are many routes to the top of a mountain. Likewise, there are many paths in one’s being: meditation is but one of them. 

    In general, the Hindu traditions broadly classify these many  paths into a few categories, the ways of:

    Mentation (including, but not limited to, the various categories of meditation) 

    Action (including everyday activities – even herding goats, speech being one such activity – including attention to grammar, locution, the recitation of mantras)

    Devotion (the emotional rather than intellectual aspect of mentation – here the smörgåsbord of deities comes in handy).

     Similarities have been pointed out in the teachings of an Aryan (Buddha) and a Jew (Jesus). However it has also been advised that if you meet the Buddha on the road, you should kill him. That advice did not come from a Christian.

    There is evidence that the eating of beef was customary in Vedic times: one tract notes a conversation between two boys at the time of the visit of a sage (Viswamitra) to their home: one expresses concern that their calf will be served for dinner.

    One of the sages of Tibetan Buddhism, Luipa, was of royal birth and sought “enlightenment”. He met a heavenly being who advised him to get rid of the slightest pride of his royal blood to achieve enlightenment by leaving aside all prejudices regarding the purity of foods. Following her advice, Luipa consumed only the guts of the fishes thrown away by the fishermen on the Ganges river for twelve years: after attaining enlightenment, he became known in the Buddhist tradition as “The Fish-gut Eater

  • Off topic fun
    Quantitative Easing Explained

    2 1/2 min Clarke and Dawe video

  • I’m curious as to how anyone would know they had met the Buddha on the road, and why they would kill him. With the way humanity is constantly reproducing itself, I’m sure that people with very similar personality and talents as the the original Buddha, have been born again. That is simply the non mystical repeating of the genes. Yet against the backdrop of their original teaching flourishing, and no need to reinvent it, they would likely just blend in as nothing particularly different from other Buddhist teachers. They might not even be a Buddhist teacher, a different environment might have developed different potential talents- but the original potential was there. Without developing certain brain circuits, are they the Buddha, or are they just a potential Buddha? Is it even possible to say that there can ever be another Buddha, because while someone might have similar brain potentials, it is very unlikely they would develop quite the same way. But even in his lifetime, the original Buddha was changing brain patterns. Is a person defined by their core potentials, or by what they are at a given moment? I suppose you could say it was both. In any case, why kill this person?

    Maybe you might say I am stuck in western scientific ways of thinking and so cannot possibly understand why. And obviously I am thinking that way. But I have tried western mystical ways of thinking, and when I look at eastern mystical ways of thinking, I am thinking they look extremely similar, and I see no reason to take any of it seriously.

    It is a curious matter, though, because in talking about what Jesus might have meant with science based thinking, I’ve often found that some people are simply furious with me. They hate my guts for saying such things. It has been obvious a time or two, that if I started gaining influence, that there are people out there who would seriously want me shut up and if it took death to do that, and they felt they could get away with it, they’d do it and it wouldn’t be a hard decision for them. So this matter of killing people for teaching certain philosophical positions, has some personal interest to me. There is no question in my mind why people hate me- they love money, love technology done in unsustainable ways, they love all kinds of things that I’d put logical limits on, and when people are faced with possibly losing what they love, they get angry, you get extreme reactions. I blunt that hatred by telling people I’m not the least bit interested in forcing them to behave as I’m talking about, but it is very clear where the emotional attractions are, and it is also clear that people hate looking irrational.

    But since I have no great amount of formal status, ignoring me, pretending I haven’t *really* shown them to be irrational, is still relatively easy, because I’m not *officially* smart. People don’t easily learn anything from people without formal credentials, don’t take their criticisms very seriously either. So I escape wrath fairly easily now. With the backing of status, I’d probably escape death by much smaller margins, could easily end up dead. It doesn’t stop me from seeking that backing, things worth living for can be worth dying for. Those who hate me have what they love that they feel is worth killing for, I have what I love that I feel is worth dying for.

    But the point is here, the reaction of anger about Jesus’ teaching is very understandable. The Buddha wasn’t teaching anything so inflammatory that I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t killed for his teaching like Jesus was. He didn’t talk about “bringing a sword” of any kind, to the game. Same for other religious founders. Mohammed had enemies, for sure, and believed in real swords, but his followers didn’t desert him, he wasn’t killed by his enemies. From what I’ve been able to find, Hinduism never had any particular founder. Not that has been remembered, anyway. Maybe you know something more about that. If you can give me some reason a western scientifically ordered brain might understand about why the Buddha, if discovered on the road, ought to be killed, I’d like to know.

  • That was a good one about qualitative easing, Kathy

  • Brains, brain circuits, science, Buddhas, and everything one can think of belong to the “not-I”.  Their perception is contingent on the awareness of an “I” that not dependent on thinking. The ground of both the “I” and the “not-I” is referred to in the Kabbalah and Hinduism as “The One without a second”. It is non-dual, because it has neither “I” nor “not-I”. It is described as the Endless Void (Ain Sof) in Kabbalah and as the Sunyata (Void) in Buddhism. Those who are directly aware of it as the ground of their awareness are buddhas in Buddhism, and a whole slew of descriptive terms in Hinduism.
    Siddhartha Gautama was a gent with circuits in his brain. He is long dead. Buddha was one in an infinite series of  manifestations of non-dual awareness in the realm of duality: its vehicles were varied, some of them Homo sapiens, including Siddhartha Gautama. They are all referred to as Buddhas. The concept of “Buddha” in the realm of “not-I” is to be killed when it becomes an impediment. 

  • ‘This is why i keep coming back to this site: great content and amazingly honest commenters. Thank you all.’ -tom

    it’s said the truth shall set u free. it may also get u killed. that’s freedom’s price. (of course it’s one thing to speak truth in obscurity, quite another in fame, regarding the danger involved.)

  • ‘My donkey’ said…

    If humanity is collectively too stupid to survive, our new motto should be: “United we fall; divided we stand.” -copied from dmitri orlov’s blogpost (see robin’s link above) comments section.

    i wonder if ‘my donkey’ is our old friend jean?

    great post by dmitri this week. i just purchased from amazon a book mentioned there titled ‘too smart for our own good’ by craig dilworth.

  • too clever by half.

  • I haven’t read Dilworth’s book yet, but understand it’s very good. Gail at Our Finite World wrote an article based on the ideas presented in his book found here.

    You can also watch a short clip of Dilworth on YouTube found here.

  • I believe that “if you meet Buddha on the road, you should kill him” is not meant to be interpreted literally, it is what is known as a Koan, or riddle, that gets you thinking “outside the box.” Judeo-Christian teachings are often described metaphorically in a similar vein. The road represents the path to spiritual understanding, or enlightenment, if you will. Buddha represents the established teachings of someone else. If you are trying to mimic the understandings of someone else you will fail to reach enlightenment, because it transcends language, it is experiential. This is meant to communicate that language and symbolic representation are limiting factors in such understandings.

    Humans use language and symbols to describe the objects they see in the world. This process serves to separate the objects from your ‘self’ and each other; a process of discriminating between ‘things.’ Buddhism and Vedanta Hinduism seek to increase awareness this process of separation to reveal the underlying connection and lack of distinction between ‘things’ if language is not in the picture. A simple example of this process might be when you are so engrossed in some activity that you are said to ‘lose yourself’ in it. You temporarily lose the ever-present experience of the ‘self’ as a separate construct from the underlying ‘oneness’ of the universe. This can also be observed in animals or children that have not yet developed a distinct awareness of the “I.” Young children have not yet learned all the labels of ‘things’ and they aren’t even aware of their own bodies as separate from the “outside world.” It is through our building of the conceptual self that brings awareness of good, evil, pain, suffering, separation, and all the other labels that language attaches. It’s this sense of separation that allows us to do things to others that appear to have no connection to “our” self. It’s also what causes us much suffering when considering death; mourning the loss of the ‘self’ which is an artifact of conditioning through language. Once you’ve had the experience of the illusion of this constructed self, you can come to terms with the self passing, since indeed it never existed other than as an idea in our heads. The underlying ‘oneness’ however, can never be extinguished.

    Such awareness does not negate the ‘physical’ realm or ‘idea of the self,’ but it does bring a greater understanding that is not as limiting. One might make the connection between the development of the distinctly separate self and civilization. Perhaps it is when we ate from the tree of knowledge, to use what I believe to be the Judeo-Christian metaphor for the development of self awareness, opening the pandoras box of problems we’re faced with that may lead to our demise if we can not reintegrate our prior understanding of the unconscious, the ‘oneness’ of all things from which the world springs into ‘being.’ From this perspective I view our predicament as a ‘spiritual’ crisis that cannot be resolved without evolving our psychological consciousness.

  • On the Brink: Planet Near Irreversible Point of Global Warming

    Scientists issue dire call for action on climate change at conference; we must stop warming or “cross the threshold”

    Not much more to be said here…

  • The next Deepwater Horizen:

    Growing Gas Cloud Forces Evacuation of Oil Rig in North Sea

    French-owned platform is abandoned with no answers yet on how to avert further calamity

    Quote from article:

    In Bellona’s analysis, the discharge at the Elgin field is going to be very difficult to stop. When the gas escapes it becomes impossible to get back on board the platform to deal with it. Gas in the water affects the buoyancy of possible rescue rigs, and the water is flammable. […]

    When gas and condensate coming from such great depths as great as 5000 meters at high pressures rise, they will expand exponentially on their way to the surface. Sand and debris will dig holes in metal near the bore hole. If the gas is moving outside of the well, it will dig further and further into the bore’s rise.
    Problematic relief wells

    Bellona believes that when a platform is evacuated, the only remaining measure to bring the situation under control is drilling a relief well – as was done at Deepwater Horizon.

    But Bellona fears this may difficult if not impossible. Such a well must be drilled very deep depending on how deep the leak in the Elgin well is. To dig the relief well, workers must somehow drill in under the leak and put in a new plug. Doing this depends on using highly advanced platforms in a nearly surgical procedure that can take months.

    High gas concentrations in the area along with the fact that gas is in the air as far as 6 kilometers away is telling as it shows how far from any platform a relief well must be drilled to avoid aerial gas pollution.

    But with buoyancy and flammability issues to consider, any rig drilling a relief well would have to do it from a great distance. To get a rig any closer than 10 kilometers, said Hauge, rescue workers would have to set the gas in the sea on fire.

    But if there are platforms available to drill from such distance and this deep, the question that remains is will they do it? This, thinks Bellona, will be very difficult to arrange. Platforms of this nature would first have to be released from their current contracts, which will take time as such highly specialized rigs are used for drilling other complex wells. Drilling for the relief well alone could then take as long as three months if not far longer.

    So task number one at the moment, says Bellona, is to immediately secure a drilling platform that is capable of drilling the relief well. If such equipment is available, it must immediately be requisitioned.

    If drilling a relief well is not possible, the only solution is the worst-case scenario of letting the reservoir blow out until all of its pressure is tamped down. As the quantity of gas in the reservoir is unknown, fears that large amounts remain are founded. This gas would then be released into the water and air for a long time to come.

  • Authur.

    ‘I’ve been wary of the arguments about climate change for a long time. I constantly go back and forth with the arguments I see. I’ve been aware for a long time that CO2 is a weak greenhouse gas, and have been concerned about the persistent data that temperature rise seems to precede CO2 rise with historical data.’

    We go over the same ground month after month, year after year, unfortunately.

    Data which indicates temperature rises preceding CO2 emissions between 50 million years ago and the year 1800 is irrelevant when considering the present human predicament: throughout that period [50 mya to 1800]carbon that nature had sequestered in the forms of coal, oil and gas remained largely sequestered.

    Since 1800, approximately half the carbon sequestered as oil and a large portion of the carbon sequestered as coal has been transfered to the atmosphere and to the oceans in the form of CO2.

    The CO2 content of the atmosphere has been raised at an unprecendented rate (up from around 280ppm to almost 400ppm in just over two centuries), and a large portion of the organic recyling system has been removed or severely damaged.

    And yes, methane is a lot more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. However, whereas CO2 is normally reported in parts per million, CH4 is usually reported in parts per billion. The other important factor is that methane in the atmosphere tends to oxiidise to CO2.

    Barring some kind of massive and peristent global algal bloom event (which would itself be an absolute catastophe for most species on this planet) it will probably take nature thousands of years to resequester the CO2 currently in the atmosphere and in the oceans.

    In other words, humans have caused a severe imbalance in the chemical composition of the planet we live on. Not only that, but humans also have no collective desire to cease increasing the chemical imbalance: apparently humanity has a collective suicide wish and omnicide wish.

    The fact that 99+% of the general populace is scientifically illiterate makes discussion of such topics in the public forum nearly impossible. Governments, corporations and money-lenders will almost certainly drive humanity (plus most other species) to extinction over the coming few years, because the Earth’s climate systems normally fip between ‘cool Earth’ and ‘hot Earth’, but humanity is setting up the preconditions for a ‘superhot Earth’. And doing so at a phenomenal pace.

    Coming back to the original them of this set of comments, we might ask: Are we [collectively] evil or just stupid? The answer seems to be a bit of both.

    I was discussing a lot of this stuff with a friend this afternoon, over a cup of coffee, and reiterated what Guy said some time ago about ‘the people who care about the future of the Earth, all twelve of us’ (but in reality perhaps 12 per 10,000). Coffee cup full. Coffee cup half empty. Coffee cup empty. What’s so hard to understand about that? Yet, when it comes to oil, it seems to be beyond the grasp of most people.

  • Thanks for the link Victor.

    At the end of Monday’s morning session, conference host Nisha Pillai asked the packed hall of delegates for a show of hands on this most basic question – will the changes that “we need” happen?

    The noes outvoted the ayes.

    Best wishes for a balmy Anthropocene.

    Well, I guesss that just about does it.

    Here at home, another open cut coal mine has been approved, only an hour away from where I live.

    Green group attacks Xstrata mine nod

    It just happens to be located in a prime food producing area.

    But neighbouring farmers like Pat Devlin are bitterly disappointed.

    “The Wandoan area could potentially be one of the best grain growing areas in Queensland and certainly is one of the best cattle growing areas in Queensland.

    “We’re not going to be able to feed our grandchildren at the rate this is going.

    “For the short-term gain that this mine is going to give if it does go ahead, the short-term gain is going to be nothing compared with famine in 50 years’ time.”

    It reminds of the Cree prophecy. (forgive me if I’ve quoted it before, but I find it’s so simple and true)

    When all the trees have been cut down,

    when all the animals have been hunted,

    when all the waters are polluted,

    when all the air is unsafe to breathe,

    only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

    And so it is…

  • Not only that, but humans also have no collective desire to cease increasing the chemical imbalance: apparently humanity has a collective suicide wish and omnicide wish.

    Kevin, I think you give humanity too much credit. Part of the insanity of the system we’ve created is that the only people who can afford to care are the people who are living at the top of the destructive system, or those who are separate from the system by choice.

    Every day, I encounter multiple people who are “stressed out” because they can’t pay their bills, or their spouse is cheating on them, or a family member is causing them problems, or they can’t find a job, or any number of other problems which on a global scale are truly meaningless, but to them are very meaningful.

    That’s the crux of the challenge with respect to getting people to be aware and to care. They are so overwhelmed by their own problems, created entirely from the madness of the industrial economy, that they have no further capacity to care.

    Every day they are bombarded by advertising that tells them that if they just buy “x” or “y”, that all their problems will be washed away. Or, they come to me because they saw an ad for a pill that, supposedly, will make everything better.

    Trying to tell people such as these that the only way the world is going to survive is if they act counter to everything they’ve been told and taught since infancy, is frustrating at best (as I know you’ve discovered). Many of these folks can barely balance a checkbook – not much chance they’re going to comprehend such a message, much less act on it. Hell, here I am, a man with resources AND awareness, and I can’t figure out how to get off this sickening ride short of becoming homeless and destitute. How can I expect someone with far less to do so?

    Sorry to be so negative on our species, but I’ve had an overwhelming number of clueless patient encounters this week. :-(

  • TRDH “I can’t figure out how to get off this sickening ride short of becoming homeless and destitute. How can I expect someone with far less to do so?”

    I understand exactly what you are saying. I have not manned the soap boxes (well except for blog posting) because I find myself unwilling to live the life that I think we would all have to live if the world’s resources were shared fairly. Back of the envelope calc is about $8 a day per person. But that is what we could share equally right now. Calculate in Peak Fossil Fuel and declining ability for the planet to provide food, add in 70 million more people a year and … well in order for some survive longer a lot have to survive less long. How can I ask people to live in a way that I am not willing to live. Yet our neighbors think we are poor because of how we are willing to live.


    Can Glyphosate (Roundup) permanently alter soil biology so that food crops can no longer be grown in soil where Glyphosate is applied ?
    Don’t count on Monsanto to tell us the truth.

    Two enduring truths exemplifyed here: all technology is ultimately
    self defeating and you can’t fool mother nature.

    There are many natural,unharmful ways to do things.It is well worthwhile to search these out.

    Double D

  • Awareness without thinking. Mm. I don’t think I’m going to be doing that, and would be extremely doubtful of anyone who claimed they did it. It is mysticism, a claim of something beyond the senses. But neither would I care very much about the issue if someone claimed it. It doesn’t sound important to me. People want to do that, that is fine with me. However, I wouldn’t be advising feeding or sheltering anyone who was spending their life trying to achieve this kind of state. They can do that on their own. If they can achieve awareness without thinking, what do they need a body for? Maybe they will get there faster if they stop eating and let the body go.

    Personally I’m satisfied with awareness as a result of this brain working by electro chemical reactions, needing energy, proteins, etc, to function.
    I don’t see it likely that self awareness is anything mysterious. I’m not a neuroscientist, but I think plausible speculation can be made about what is going on with it. We have awareness with our senses, stimulus in, brain processes information, you get an output. Input, awareness, output, response. That is well known. But signals of that input and response, could also go to another layer of neurons with a larger brain, which makes a memory of what that input and response were, and that memory can in turn be jogged by yet other kinds of inputs to give responses, and in that way we start to become self aware, we have a memory of what we did with previous inputs and responses. With this stored memory of actions, there are responses possible of “I did that”, which is self awareness. Even more memory hooked up to processing of information, can store memories of how data was processed, memories of thinking, not just memories of stimulus and output. The memory can be short term, constantly being replaced, giving constantly shifting self awareness of what we are doing, or can also be long term.
    This fits with experiments in which researchers can watch brain responses to questions and know how someone is going to respond before the person responds. There is a slight time delay between processing of inputs, the answer being put into short term memory, so it can then be accessed immediately or later. Though of course if it is short term memory, it isn’t going to be accessible for very long.

    Whether this is exactly how it works, I don’t know. It sounds plausible, fits the information we have. If it isn’t quite like that, I’m sure it is something similar. It is working on electro chemical signals, working on energy gradients, memory is involved. The basic thing is that I really don’t see any need for anything mystical to understand what is going on.

    I see the problems of humanity as people with brains with responses of high attraction to technology, sex, babies, money, mystical ideas, and rather poor abilities for logic and low attraction or repulsion to being logical about the potential dangers in these large attractions. Most people simply don’t have brain structure for sufficient logical self control on these attractions. They behave like addicts behave, with attractions very strong for behavior that is self destructive. People’s brains worked ok when these attractions were limited by outside forces, like an addict who is simply not allowed to get unlimited access to their drug, but in bypassing those limiting forces, they get into serious trouble.

    I don’t see a spiritual crisis, I’m not even sure what people mean by the word. It is a crisis of evolution, of brains that no longer work properly for new conditions.

  • I see a spiritual crisis in that industrial civilization reflects a kind of inner spiritual decay, which in turn manifests in outward perpetuation of industrial civilization, a kind of vicious cycle. The spiritual and physical are linked; deterioration of one leads to deterioration of the other.

    We’ve as a species been seduced by technology and have forgotten the inherent sacredness of things like the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we walk upon, and the living things that share the world with us. I have more than once heard or read people say that they are not sure what the words ‘sacred’ or ‘spiritual’ mean; I am not sure myself, and have been trying to understand it for a while now. I think I know, but have difficulty finding the words.

    People’s behavior regarding the natural world were more harmonious when they viewed their surroundings through a spiritual lens. I imagine this was rooted not just in tradition, but in experience with the natural world, the latter of which is seriously lacking at this stage in our evolution. Western culture now uses terms like logic, reason, and common sense, but these are (as has been noted) not qualities shared equally among members of our species; neither is spirituality, of course: but where one fails, the other may make up the difference. It does not have to be either/or.

  • Critical science communication follows that is beyond good and evil.

    Comments from one and all are invited. Please add your perspective to the conversation to be found at the link above.

    Thank you.

    Steve Salmony

  • Kathy C.,

    Pack Gretta and the kids, and come north.

  • TRDH

    ‘They are so overwhelmed by their own problems, created entirely from the madness of the industrial economy, that they have no further capacity to care.’

    I agree that the vast majority of people in western socieities are constantly dealing with problems, many of which are generated by the industrial political system. However, surely most of them care about their own immediate futures and their children’s futures, don’t they? At the moment the ‘uninformed masses’ are kept dumbed down by the propaganda churned out by governments and the corporate media, and by drugs and distractions. What happens when the propaganda becomes too disconnected from reality and the drugs and distractions are no longer available?

    We have been witnessing protest marches, strikes and rioting in many parts of the world, as ordinary people respond to ‘austerity’ imposed by governments, i.e. self-serving, opportunistic lackeys of money-lenders and corporations. At the moment much of the protest is largely centred on the preservation of perceived entitlements. As complex systems break down and governments are seen to be failing miserably and are forced to respond ever more repressively to protest, we are surely going to see great anger erupt.

    I’m waiting for the moment when a large enough portion of the global populace realises the extent they have been lied to. I am waiting for the moment when my local council loses control of its finances and is seen the self-serving and incompetent. The signs are emerging.

  • Apologies.

    I am waiting for the moment when my local council loses control of its finances and is seen to be self-serving and incompetent. The signs are emerging.

  • Curtis,
    No where is safe – think I will just stay put :) Of course for mortals it is always the case that no place and no time is safe!

    America’s 450 launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction – as a result of a false alarm. We’re not exaggerating.

    By David Krieger and Daniel Ellsberg

  • Arthur,

    I don’t believe I said that “awareness without thinking” was a psychological state to strive to exist in for one’s entire life. I did say that incorporating this awareness into our language based reality can be beneficial to temper the limiting effects of language and separation, to provide a wider view of things. If self-awareness were a result of inputs, outputs and responses, wouldn’t we expect to see many more self-aware mammals? Self-awareness is, I believe, emergent from the development of symbolic meaning and language. See here for an explantion of this process. This self-awareness leads to the development of the ego and a sense that “I” am separate from “you” which leads to this is “my” stuff. The ego leads to greed, overwhelming self-interest, and greed leads to the predicament in which we discuss on this forum. Without tempering this ego with a sense of knowledge of the non-self, it can go unchecked. When you take away the labels of language, separation of beings and the world become less concrete or significant, enabling an understanding of the interconnectedness of all things. You don’t have to believe my supposed unscientific opinion on this matter, you only need to look at climate change or ecosystems to understand that recognition of such connections is valuable to preserving them.

    Everything we can observe and experience is based on relationships. Science itself can never be completely objective, because our means of perception, our senses, inherently skew the results when viewed through their lenses. Being strictly locked into self-awareness diminishes attempts at empathy for others. If we have a experiential understanding that we’re all based in the same foundation when you remove the limiting experience of the ‘self’ it becomes easier to have empathy for each other and the planet, something I’d suggest we’re sorely lacking. Would you disagree with the claim that our increasingly “self” focused culture is largely contributing to our problems? Would not a view that the “self” is a constructed idea serve to diminish this overwhelming obsession with it’s supposed reality? You confuse ‘thinking’ with what I’m describing here. I’m in no way advocating non-thinking, I’m advocating recognition of the ‘self’ as a construct of language, acknowledging the illusory nature of it, that leads down a destructive path when we believe in it so vigorously.

    Consciousness has and can expand again, if we don’t kill ourselves first. Unless you’re suggesting that evolution has stopped? Some of what you call mysticism has come to be confirmed by Western science. Quantum physics research has validated many understandings of Eastern philosophy that have been around for thousands of years. Since it’s obvious you hold great regard for science, as do I (though I do think some of it’s methods have become dogmatic, as do all new modes of thought over time), I think you might find it interesting to investigate the parallels.

  • Lost the link to the theory of language and self-awareness.

    Language and self-awareness

  • Science and any concept of G_d are in the domain of the “not-I”. The ground of the “I” and the”not-I” is The Self of all selves (all “”I”s): The One without a second. When one functions from that ground, to all intents and purposes, one appears to be functioning from the “I” when observed by those who are functioning from the “I”. There will still be thought, word and action, but the difference will be apparent only to those others who are also functioning from that ground. Unless a Buddha chooses to manifest himself, he will appear to be perfectly ordinary – except to another Buddha.

  • Not one, not two. The positionless position. The equivalent in quantum physics is the uncollapsed wave of potential? See the double slit experiment. The wave collapses into particle only upon observation. The participatory universe. Observer cannot be separated from the observed.

    Robin, I think you have a typo in your name?

  • Yet another looming atrocity; serious damage to the Great Barrier Reef to build the world’s largest coal export facility. Yes, coal. We’re so screwed.

    Don’t Let Clive Get His Way

    This guy is stinking rich but it’s not enough, he wants to destroy a national treasure so he can get more. One look at his obese body and you’ll understand the psychology that translates to external reality; lack of self control.

    But hey, he’s creating jobs, right? Jobs are good, yeah? Unbelievable stupidity.

  • Here are two sides of the issue right here:

    The first is an apology to future generations for our massive screw-up and the second is what we’re up against in trying to get back to sustainability for those who come after us.

    Pretty depressing.

  • Climate change denial disinformation in action.

    Earth heated during medieval times

    The researcher cited has since released a statement on Syracuse University website that his results have been misrepresented by some media and the work does not refute anthroprogenic warming trends.

    Syracuse University scientist seeks to set the record straight on climate research

    Of course the average reader will never see this counter to the Daily Mail propaganda and now believes, if they didn’t already, that climate change is nothing to worry about. No problem folks, keep buying crap, burning fuel and don’t worry that the bus is being driven off a cliff!

    Now where’s that Kim Kardashian article? Did you see what she wore to the beach?

  • ‘I don’t see a spiritual crisis, I’m not even sure what people mean by the word.’ -arthur

    spiritual can mean anything, for it covers everything in my pantheistic view, so i understand your confusion. since it’s such a popular word i decided to give it my own definition: spiritual means conscious, aware. by that definition, my spirit is disturbed/tormented. i’m sure some of u relate. and by this definition, i do see a spiritual crisis as a best case scenario. worst case, this is a spiritual hell, a penance for ‘sins’ eternal. it’s a barrel of laughs, this life, when it isn’t torture.

    ‘too clever by half.’ -bububububububububbbleboy

    sorry, alliteration makes me stutter.

    was that too clever by half? exactly what’s the point of making a snarky comment that’s not directed at any particular one or thing that u’d care to identify? maybe u’re the one who’s being too clever.

    ‘apparently humanity has a collective suicide wish and omnicide wish.’

    kevin, i think it’s more like collective terminal insanity/stupidity. which of course, is no better. either way we’re screwed.

    ‘What happens when the propaganda becomes too disconnected from reality…?’

    kevin, can it surreally get any more disconnected than it is now? supposing it can, it’s hard to imagine except in the broadest way: more insanity, oppression, suffering, death, destruction, despair. hell on steroids. let your imagination supply the details, and may u be spared the experience.

  • Used RE: directly prior comment‘too smart for our own good’ by craig dilworth.

    Too clever by half is a saying Guy picked up someplace (he knows and has used it here) that has always stuck with me in thinking about the wise ape.

    Spiritual crisis is exactly it. To me, the crisis is our abandoning the spirit, the natural spirit, the entity of our one-ness. -Supreme arrogance.

    We cannot sit quietly. We must obsess over technology and our own professed wisdom -ourselves. -Navel gazing and apes in the magic box.

    We sit around an ever greater fire and gaze into the flames, rather than warm our backs enough to gaze into the woods and the stars.

    Entropy is increasing and we are but a small blip along a trajectory to the end of time and maximum dissonance. We lack spiritual fullness, though our cup runneth over. Plainly, the half-full half-empty argument neglects what we have. We are instinctual animals surrounded by other hungry animals.

    How about this?

    Tantra is a creative mystery which impels us to transmute our actions more and more into inner awareness: not by ceasing to act but by transforming our acts into creative evolution. Tantra provides a synthesis between spirit and matter to enable man to achieve his fullest spiritual and material potential. Renunciation, detachment and asceticism – by which one may free oneself from the bondage of existence and thereby recall one’s original identity with the source of the universe – are not the way of tantra. Indeed, tantra is the opposite: not a withdrawal from life, but the fullest possible acceptance of our desires, feelings, and situations as human beings.

    Ajit Mookerjee 1977
    The Tantric Way

  • To me, the crisis is our abandoning the spirit

    A wave cannot abandon the Ocean: any delusion to the contrary notwithstanding. The problem, if any, is the delusion. 

    Ultimately, Tantra is the Way of action: the perfection of Non-volitional action. “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”. There could be a Buddha doing that now, but unrecognisable to anyone but another Buddha.

  • There is another saying:

    If you can’t swim with the snarks, don’t wade in the water.

    Most notably:

    Frank! It is so good to see you.


    Turboguy!, Turboguy!, where for art thou Turboguy!

  • “It is not what we don’t know that gets us into trouble. It is what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    Mark Twain (via the venerable Sri McP)

  • Justin, I should have been clearer in my response. The first part was thinking of Robni’s words, most of the last part was a response to you.

    The difference between the two of you, while maybe not very serious at the moment, though I’m not sure of that, is one of the very serious problems with anything mystical- people very quickly are seeing different things with it. There are different branches and sects in all religions, arguing and often fighting very bitterly. Scientists do argue, but eventually consensus gets reached. Evidence can be difficult to ignore. With mystical beliefs, not tethered to evidence, things go in the opposite direction, more and more disagreement.

  • Evidence can be difficult to ignore.

    Not just difficult, but impossible. One can doubt everything but the doubter. Directing one’s pre-verbal awareness to that doubter is a good start. 

  • eventually consensus gets reached…


    Into the void.

    BTW My favourite science is either consumer science or political science.

  • Bubble boy, there is no evidence that things are going to maximum dissonance, if by dissonance you mean greater disorder. I’ve been over that here before, lets go over it again.

    Energy is dissipating in the universe, or at least in this part of it, that I agree with. With the dissipation of energy, observation says there is an *increase* in order. Two planetary sized bodies with too much energy will zip right by each other, if some of their energy gets dissipated with collisions so they have less energy, at the right point of that, they can go into orbit. An orbit is more order, not less. Each body has its own set of ways of being when they are moving separately, when they are moving around each other, they have in effect become one entity, one set of ways of being. On smaller scales, we watch energy dissipate from a gas, which has a lot of chaotic movement, and it becomes a liquid, with less chaos, fewer ways of being of any particular atom or molecule in it, and as energy dissipates even more, it becomes a solid, with even fewer ways of being for the atoms and molecules. Some elements and molecules obviously have different forces of attraction and repulsion to each other, they condense and freeze at many different points. For life, obviously water is the material of most importance with this kind of relationship.

    As living creatures, we are in the stage of dynamic order similar to orbits, whirlpools. Less orderly than being solid, but more orderly than gases. Too much energy of all kinds, and we get ripped apart, can be killed. Too little energy, and we freeze to death. We are mostly liquid.
    We aim energy with fossil fuels at ecosystems, and rip them apart, create chaos. If we stopped with the plows and tree shears and huge nets pulled by ships with big engines, then ecosystems can reform, the dynamic order that was there before, can return. If you have a whirlpool in a draining tub of water, adding energy to the system, making waves, will bend and weaken the whirlpool, could destroy it completely, but if you stop and let the turbulence subside, the whirlpool will reform again. Mt. St. Helens blasted the surrounding landscape with energy, killed everything for miles, but the energy dissipated, and things quickly started growing back.

    Energy use feels good to us, we need a certain amount of energy to keep going, to be fed and sheltered and reproduce enough so that we don’t die out, but excessive energy use becomes counterproductive. The way it feels good, though, is like a drug to most people. They focus on how good it feels and don’t connect the counterproductive part. That feels bad- so, just like drug addicts, obviously we didn’t use enough. More energy will fix things! No, it won’t. It just makes things worse.

  • But seriously, I just flew in and buoy are my arms tired!

    Alas, you are a mystic, and we are planets zipping past, but heat death and entropy gaps aside, the days are presently numbered. Our universe seems to be expanding and I am losing you as my orbit slowly winds down.

  • I might be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I’m enjoying the ride!

  • The system of solids, liquids and gases holds neatly only under terrestrial conditions. These conditions are the exception elsewhere. 

    With a sufficiently large mass, gravitational effects will disrupt that organisation. That is why stars, even of fantastic densities, approach the spherical. That is even true of the Earth, even though it is mostly rock-solid.

    Earth: Mean density 5.515 g/cm3

    Sun’s average density:
    1.408×10^3 kg/m3
    Density at the Center: 
    1.622×10^5 kg/m3

    The average density of matter in a white dwarf is, very roughly, 1,000,000 times greater than the average density of the Sun, or approximately 106grams (1 tonne) per cubic centimeter

    Neutron stars have overall densities of 3.7×10^17 to 5.9×10^17 kg/m^3 (2.6×10^14 to 4.1×10^14 times the density of the Sun), which compares with the approximate density of an atomic nucleus of 3×10^17 kg/m^3. The neutron star’s density varies from below 1×10^9 kg/m^3 in the crust, increasing with depth to above 6×1017 or 8×10^17 kg/m^3 deeper inside (denser than an atomic nucleus).

    Planck density:
     5.1 × 10^96kg/m^3
    This is a unit which is very large, about equivalent to 10^23 solar masses squeezed into the space of a single atomic nucleus. At one unit of Planck time after the Big Bang, the mass density of the universe is thought to have been approximately one unit of Planck density.

    Planck time
    10^-44  seconds
    In physics, the Planck time, (tP), is the unit of time in the system of natural units known as Planck units. It is the time required for light to travel, in a vacuum, a distance of 1 Planck length.

    In physics, the Planck length, denoted ℓP, is a unit of length, equal to 1.616199(97)×10^−35 metres. It is a base unit in the system of Planck units. The Planck length can be defined from three fundamental physical constants: the speed of light in a vacuum, Planck’s constant, and the gravitational constant.

  • I Robin Datta, Not I Robni Datta?

  • Somehow the last two letters of the first name got transposed on the iPhone. Also, the information about the densities and Planck units was taken from Wikipedia.

  • Kevin,

    However, surely most of them care about their own immediate futures and their children’s futures, don’t they?

    Yes, I think they do care – at least about their immediate future. But, the problem is that the “now” is so overwhelming and/or compelling, that they can’t think about the future. Perfect example: cigarette smoking. I see at least 4 or 5 patients a day who tell me they can’t afford to buy their medicine (most of the ones I write are $4), or they can’t afford to buy health insurance (many can get this for $100-200 a month), but they have no problem buying 1, 2, 3, or some, 4, packs of cigarettes a day ($150 to $600 a month). Which is doubly ironic considering that the problem they’re seeing me about is probably caused by or made worse by their smoking. That’s just one group of people, but it illustrates my point. If we can’t get people to do simple, proven things to improve their lives and their world, how can we expect them to see the much larger and grander issues such as global warming, over population, and peak oil.

    What happens when the propaganda becomes too disconnected from reality and the drugs and distractions are no longer available?

    I agree with the virgin terry. The propaganda is already so disconnected that anyone who is paying attention can see it. Again, people can’t see beyond their own immediate problems. As to what happens when the drugs are no longer available, I shudder to think. There are going to be a whole LOT of Americans in serious withdrawal. But, when we get to that point, we’re either in full scale collapse or just a few steps away. BTW, currently the U.S. has a shortage of more than 200 drugs. But most of those are generics on which the prices have gotten too cheap to make them profitable. This could be a sign of impending collapse – at least of the healthcare system, but it’s difficult to know for sure.

  • Aw Robin I thought it was your “not I” making an appearance :)

  • TRDH – I would suspect that the 200 drugs not available might well be a sign of collapse – but for more immediate signs see this – but even if you don’t want to read the article, click the link – it has an absolutely priceless cartoon.
    “Mike Krieger On When Central Banking Dies: China and Oil
    ….Many such as the late Matt Simmons repeatedly claimed that the situation on the ground there was much worse than people understood and that the Kingdom might be on the verge of experiencing a major peak in production. Others, such as the Saudis themselves claim they have plenty of room to grow and indeed claim to have the ability to ramp production to 12-12.5 million barrels per day relatively quickly. Well if I am right we are about to find out.”

  • With thanks to the virgin terry for an evocative essay, I’ve posted anew. It’s here.

  • Were one to observe long enough with a Zen-like detachment from what we among the “losers” refer to as “sociopathic” behavior by the top 0.1-1%, it is likely that one will eventually perceive that the winner-take-all system of predator-prey, hierarchical power relations is the deterministic result of Nature and evolution selecting among the seven billion-and-counting human apes to a future situation in which an infinitesimally small sub-group of human apes, perhaps as few as 1-10%, will adapt and reproduce to exist at an enviable level of material consumption and comfort per capita.

    Think about it for a few minutes, hours, or days before reflexively “reacting”.

    In a “full world” of seven billion human apes, in a world in which the top 1-10% of US households receive 25-50% of income and 40-85% of financial wealth, what good are the rest of us in the bottom 90% who lack the cognitive capacity to understand the rapid acceleration of techno-scientific advancement and their implications and who lack the institutional embeddeness to benefit from the gains from the advancement? Dear reader, imagine yourself among the top 0.1-1% to 10% rentier-oligarchic elite and their techno-scientific surrogates, what use would you have for the mass of human apes who are dumber than rocks, consider Kim’s tush and NASCAR as worthy of their leisure, and who will never understand in thousands of reproductive lifetimes linear algebra, calculus, topology, physics/thermodynamics, computer architecture, networking protocols, microbiology, biochemistry, or genetics/genomics beyond a kind of mythomagical or magic-like perception?

    Not to be unkind or to be flippant, but what good are such human apes to the long-term evolutionary adaptation of the species? We reflexively perceive such questions to be elitist or sociopathic, but, again, think about it. Why should NASCAR and roller derby fans, regular TV viewers, gobblers of fast food, and swillers of cheap beer be the future of the human ape species on this “Spaceship Earth” constrained by finite resourses?

    If one takes the necessary time to consider this obvious question, devoid of human morality and sentiment about which Nature cares nothing, it then further begs the question of why the top 0.1-1% to 10% do not just dispense with the whole lot of the rest of us in a low-entropy manner so as to preserve as much net energy and resources per capita for the remnant human ape elite?

    One must, therefore, conclude that this is precisely what the evolutionarily fitter, techno-scientific remnant 0.1-1% to 10% of the human ape population will do in time. Were you are I, dear reader, to be in their position, would you do otherwise?

    Internalizing this likely outcome for the bottom 90-99% of us, what would one do hereafter . . . ?

  • Are we evil? By nature? Who can say? Under our current living arrangement, only one of many from our evolution that we could have chosen, we seem to have chosen to allow evil people rule over us, a choice that may prove fatal to our species, and maybe most others.