The Absurdity of Authenticity

I’m often accused — or credited, depending on one’s perspective — of leading an authentic life. As nearly as I can tell, the accusation or accolade refers to the following definition from Merriam and Webster: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.

Fundamentally, aren’t we all true to our personality, spirit, and character? How could we act otherwise, in the absence of multiple personalities? I have concluded that we’ve been captured by the culture in which we’re immersed. We are unable to escape without killing ourselves, yet the culture is killing us.

We’re six millennia into the culture of Abrahamic religions. We’re more than two millennia into western civilization and the six questions of Socrates: (1) What is good? (2) What is piety? (3) What is virtue? (4) What is courage? (5) What is moderation? (6) What is justice? Furthermore, every person reading these words is a product of an industrial civilization that depends upon expansive use of fossil fuels.
Is this the only way to live? Is this the best way to live? Do our hyper-connected, high-tech lives lead us along paths of excellence, in the spirit of Socrates?

This culture is steeped in patriarchy and depends upon violence for its continuation. Is it safe to assume this culture is the ultimate expression of our humanity? Is it safe to assume that this culture is the best we can do simply because this culture is the only one we have known? Is it safe to assume there is no other way beyond the hierarchical omnicide we’ve come to depend upon for money, water, food, and personal identity?

Questioning this culture and its underlying assumptions follows the model promoted and popularized by Socrates. Answering these questions requires one to step outside the normalcy bias and profound enculturation of the way we live. Asking challenging questions, much less answering them, requires enormous courage when the questions themselves refuse to validate, much less approve, this irredeemably corrupt system.

I do not claim to know the answers to these questions. I’m not certain they have answers independent of the person pondering them and his or her personal experiences. I nonetheless believe it is important to ask the questions and develop personal responses to them. As a result, I will tackle these and related questions in this chapter. For the most part, culture discourages us from asking, much less answering, most of these questions.

Questions, questions, and more questions

Throughout our lives, we spend considerable time seeking feedback from people and institutions, but the feedback we seek generally falls within a small subset of important issues. Furthermore, I question the wisdom of seeking validation, much less approval, within the realm of an irredeemably corrupt system.

Some of us seek to conduct meaningful lives. However, the universe imposes upon us a meaningless existence. There is no meaning beyond the meaning(s) we create. In attempting to create meaning, which often involves attempts to outrun our mortality, we generate distractions. We occasionally call them objectives, goals, or acts of service to others. And the result is our legacy.

Yet it’s too late to leave a better world for future generations of humans. The concept of leaving a legacy becomes moot when staring into the abyss of near-term human extinction. What, then, is the point? Are we, in the words of English poet Frances Cornford, “magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life”?

As we seek feedback about the conduct of our lives, we simultaneously seek distractions. The distractions include the movies we watch, the books we read, the trips we take, the discussions in which we engage. The line blurs between distractions and authentic work until we are defined by the combination. The totality becomes who we are. The nature of our distractions is what makes us human, in the sense of differentiating us from other primates. Non-human primates don’t read books, much less discuss them. Such distractions do not enable our survival and in that sense are not “necessities” (cf. food, water, shelter). However, they are not necessarily “luxuries,” either. Apparently there are shades of existential gray.

Shades of gray

Shades of existential gray are evident in our pursuit of meaningful lives. How do we differentiate between necessity and luxury? How do we distinguish what we want from what we need? And are these distinctions important?

When I began the ongoing process of walking away from the omnicide of industrial civilization, I felt I had no choice. My inner voice overrode outer culture. I have subsequently come to realize that most people born into this set of living arrangements are literally and figuratively incapable of making a similar choice. Distinguishing between needs and wants, between necessity and luxury, is hardly clear.

Occasionally we turn to wise elders in our attempts infuse our lives with meaning. Kurt Vonnegut often wrote, in response to the question about meaning, that we’re here to fart around. His son Mark, between the loony bin and Harvard Medical School, responded to the question, “Why are we here?” with the following comment: “We are here to help each other through this, whatever this is.”

I love Mark Vonnegut’s response, but it fails to acknowledge that service to others is important and it’s a trap. Service to others is no longer virtuous when the entrapment includes self-inflicted harm (including emotional or psychological suffering).

As the Buddha pointed out more than two millennia ago, life is suffering. Do we have an obligation to minimize suffering? Does that obligation extend to our individual selves, as well as to other humans? Does it extend to non-human species?

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer famously defined happiness as the alleviation of suffering, implying a temporary condition. The pursuit of happiness — from Schopenhauer’s perspective, the alleviation of suffering — is a right guaranteed by the founding document of the United States, but I’ve no idea why it’s guaranteed or if it stops at the alleviation of suffering. If the alleviation of suffering qualifies as happiness, then it seems wearing shoes that are two sizes too small is a great strategy for producing happiness, if only at the end of the day when the shoes are removed from one’s feet.

If happiness goes beyond the alleviation of suffering, perhaps it includes joy. But the notion of such an idea drags into the discussion the notion of documentation, hence measurement. How do we measure joy? Is it the same as the bliss produced by ignorance? How do we know when we’ve stumbled upon it? And if joy is meritorious, even at the expense of suffering by another, how to we balance the existential books?

Consider, for example, a single example for the Abrahamic religions (aka patriarchy): marriage. Do we have an obligation to minimize the pain when a monogamous relationship become personally painful, or even a matter of indifference (i.e., lacking daily joy)? Contemporary culture suggests we muddle through, in sickness and health, until death. And then, the ultimate personal endpoint solves the problem of suffering.

The cost of happiness

If happiness is a goal, and if that happiness extends beyond the mere alleviation of suffering, how to we evaluate happiness? If our own happiness comes at the expense of another, how do we justify our gain? Equally importantly, but rarely considered, is the converse question: If our suffering brings happiness to another, how do we justify the personal pain? Is our own suffering less important than that of another?

How do we minimize suffering? Is such a quest restricted to humans, or are other organisms included? What is the temporal frame of the quest? Does it extend beyond the moment, perhaps to months or years? Does it extend beyond the personal to include other individuals?

We could minimize suffering to humans and other animals by playing solitaire in the woods. But even that seemingly humble act takes life. Tacking on the seemingly simple acquisition of water, food, clothing, and shelter for a single human being in the industrialized world brings horrific suffering to humans and other animals. Attending to the needs of the 7.1 billion humans currently inhabiting Earth comes at tremendous cost to the water, soils, and non-human species on the planet. Contemplating the desires of an increasing number of people on an overpopulated globe is enough to drive a thinking person to despair.

There is nothing inherently wrong with pleasure, yet the Greek word for “pleasure” forms the root of the English word “hedonism.” According to my pals Merriam and Webster, hedonism propounds that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. When stated in this manner, pleasure seems to have taken a step too far. But drawing the line between personal pleasure and hedonism is no mean feat. Less often considered is the line we draw between personal suffering and the attendant happiness of others.

But, lest we take that step too far, we should remember that the idea of hedonism some 2,500 years ago when Socrates was haunting the Mediterranean region was a bit different than the idea today. Back then, humans comprised a tiny drop in the large bucket known as Earth. The quest for personal pleasure and happiness at that time would have essentially zero impact on the natural world relative to the impact of today’s quest for gratification by 7.1 billion people on an this ever-shrinking and -depleted orb.

When my happiness requires the suffering of another, is my happiness warranted? When the pleasure of another requires my suffering, is the suffering warranted? Does failing to contemplate questions about our needs and desires commit us to nihilism? Does living within the Age of Industry, hence participating in untold horrors to humans and other organisms, violate the Socratic notion of good?

What about empire?

American Empire is merely the most lethal manifestation of industrial civilization, hence any civilization. Because this culture is inextricably interconnected with this civilization, I have concluded that contemporary culture is worthy of our individual and collective condemnation. Walking away from empire is necessary but insufficient to terminate this horrific culture.

As nearly as I can determine, maintaining American Empire — or any empire, for that matter — requires three fundamental elements: obedience at home, oppression abroad, and destruction of the living planet. Unpacking these three attributes seems a worthy exercise, even acknowledging Voltaire’s observation: “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”

Obedience at home means capitulating to culture and the government. It means abandoning a culture of resistance in favor of the nanny state. It means allowing the government to control the people instead of the other way around. It means giving up responsibility for oneself and one’s neighbors and expecting the government to deal with all issues. Considering the excellent record of the government in transferring wealth from the poor to the rich while promoting an economy rooted in war, I’ve no idea why the people with whom I interact are fans of this government.

Oppression abroad is obvious to anybody paying attention to American foreign policy during the last hundred years. The government of the United States of Absurdity extracts taxes from the citizenry to build the most lethal killing force in the history of the world. This military, supported by cultural messages and therefore most of the consumer-oriented citizenry, is then used to extract materials such as fossil fuels from other countries. The resulting “riches” enjoyed by Americans serve to pacify the masses, embolden the government, and enrich the corporations that exert strong influence over both the media and the government.

Destruction of the living planet is imperative if we are to support seven billion people on the planet, many of whom want “their” baubles. Are we not entitled to transport ourselves around the world, dine at fancy restaurants for a few hours’ work at minimum wage, entertain ourselves with music and movies, and all the rest on an essentially limitless list? Where do the materials originate for each of these endeavors? Are we so filled with hubris that we believe driving dozens of species to extinction every day is our right? Do we lack the humility — and even the conscience — to treat non-human species with respect?

Each of these three broad elements serves a subset of humans at the expense of others. Although obedience to culture prevents us from being viewed as “odd” to our straitjacketed acquaintances, it also serves the oppressors. Giving up on radicalism — i.e., getting to the root — fails to serve our needs while lessening our humanity. But it nicely serves those who pull the levers of industry.

Perhaps it is time we heed the words of deceased American social critic Christopher Hitchens: “To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do.”

Imperialism has consequences

The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are bobbing along the same waves as social justice and environmental protection, sold down the river by a nation addicted to growth for the sake of growth (the ideology of a cancer cell). Indeed, it seems very little matters to the typical American beyond economic growth. And for that, most importantly, we need an uninterrupted supply of crude oil. We need the Carter Doctrine — the world’s oil belongs to us — and an unhealthy dose of faux patriotism.

Our lives are imbued with faux patriotism. We are manipulated by the war-loving corporate media and the war-loving politicians that, unsurprisingly, are enriched by war. We support the troops that bring us the baubles we’re convinced we deserve, and we rarely question the real, underlying costs of the baubles.

Support the troops. It’s the rallying cry of an entire nation. It’s the slogan pasted on many of the bumpers in the United States.

Supporting the troops is pledging your support for the empire. Supporting the troops supports the occupation of sovereign nations because might makes right. Supporting the troops supports wanton murder of women and children throughout the world. And men, too. Supporting the troops supports obedience at home and oppression abroad. Supporting the troops throws away every ideal on which this country allegedly is founded. Supporting the troops supports the ongoing destruction of the living planet in the name of economic growth. Supporting the troops therefore hastens our extinction in exchange for a few dollars. Supporting the troops means caving in to Woodrow Wilson’s neo-liberal agenda, albeit cloaked as contemporary neo-conservatism (cf. hope and change). Supporting the troops trumpets power as freedom and fascism as democracy.

I’m not suggesting the young people recruited into the military are at fault. Victims of civilization and a lifetime of cultural programming — like me, and perhaps you – they’re looking for job security during a period of economic contraction. The entire process is working great for the oppressors pulling the levers of industry.

Perhaps most importantly, supporting the troops means giving up on resistance. Resistance is all we have, and all we’ve ever had. We say we’re mad as hell and we claim we’re not going to take it anymore. But, sadly, we gave up on resistance of any kind years ago.

We act as if America’s cultural revolution never happened. We act as if we never questioned the dominant paradigm in an empire run amok, as if we never experienced Woodstock and the Summer of Love, bra-burning hippies and war-torn teenagers, Rosa Parks and the Cuyahoga River. We’re right back in the 1950s, swimming in culture’s main stream instead of questioning, resisting, and protesting.

We’ve moved from the unquestioning automatons of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell to the firebrands of a radical counter-cultural worldview and back again. A generational sea change swept us from post-war “liberators” drunk on early 1950s propaganda to revolutionaries willing to take risks in defense of late 1960s ideals. The revolution gained steam through the 1970s, but lost its way when the U.S. industrial economy hit the speed bump of domestic peak oil. The Carter Doctrine coupled with Ronald Reagan’s soothing pack of lies was the perfect match to our middle-aged comfort, so we abandoned the noble ideals of earlier days for another dose of palliative propaganda. Three decades later, we’ve swallowed so much Soma we couldn’t find a hint of revolution in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

In short, the pillars of social justice and environmental protection rose from the cesspool of ignorance to become shining lights for an entire generation. And then we let them fall back into the swamp. The very notion that others matter — much less that those others are worth fighting for — has been relegated to the dustbin of history.

A line from Eugene Debs, five-time candidate of the Socialist party for U.S. president, comes to mind: “While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

I don’t harbor any illusions about my freedom. I live in Police State America.

Imperial illusions

Ultimately, I wonder why any of us bothers trying to be a good person As Ernest Hemingway indicated: “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

Vulnerability isn’t so bad. But few knowingly bring on their own destruction. Instead, I suspect most humans — even those who consider themselves good — actually benefit from and even promote contemporary culture, the problems with which are legion.

Do good people promote patriarchy? Do they pursue and promote the notions of marriage and monogamy even when knowing these ideas are steeped in the patriarchy of a culture gone seriously awry? Marriage and monogamy are obligations of empire rather than outcomes of natural law. Instead of abiding and supporting imperialism, shall good people attempt to reduce or eliminate patriarchy, hence civilization, one act at a time?

When we recognize patriarchy and its impacts, where does that leave those of us pursuing authenticity? Indeed, attempting to conduct an authentic life in a culture dominated by patriarchy and engendering destruction is analogous to pursuing meaning in an uncaring universe. Does authenticity have meaning in such a universe? Is authenticity a desirable goal, if goals are merely cogs in the machine of a culture run amok? Is authenticity another stumbling block on the road to happiness? Is authenticity yet another piece of propaganda promoted by the thieves and liars pulling the levers of civilization to trap decent people into lives of service? Do we ultimately and perhaps unwittingly serve civilization, hence omnicide, when attempting to serve humanity?

If a life of service is a trap, why step into the trap? In avoiding the trap are we embracing nihilism, “a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless”? And, if so, does the embrace constitute a pact with the proverbial devil?

As individuals and a society, have we become so broken we cannot pursue the truth about ourselves and our culture? Have we become so marginalized, demoralized, and humiliated by this insane culture that we are no longer able to rise up against cultural insanity?


This essay is (barely) modified from a series of essays for the Good Men Project. The original essays are listed and hyperlinked below.

Questioning Culture: A Series

Questioning Culture: The Long Littleness of Life

Questioning Culture: Shades of Existential Gray

Questioning Culture: When Personal Happiness Brings Suffering to Others

Questioning Culture: American Empire

Questioning Culture: Our Addiction to Growth

Questioning Culture: The Absurdity of Authenticity

Comments 147

  • Guy, Authenticity is knowing all that you have expressed, yet still being compelled to make a difference; not for legacy but for evolution of the species. It’s not about any one of us; without the play, we have no drama; without the drama, we don’t learn. What we are here to learn…is to override the drama. To be in the drama but not of the drama…and yes, the rabbit hole is deeper…so be a hummingbird.

  • Guy says: As the Buddha pointed out more than two millennia ago, life is suffering.

    Why There Is Suffering In The World

    Amebas do not remain
    Where noxious stimuli reign;
    We learn to refrain
    From what doesn’t sustain—
    And that is the reason there’s pain.

  • Dear Guy, we are being forced to recreate ourselves. And here the promise was that we would avoid that dirty work thanks to the marvels of modern man. Having fun yet?

    Loved the song.

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #44

    Purifying mist
    sparkles golden granite dusk.
    Hard rain signals night.

  • What a power-packed essay! (Of course, if it only appeals to certain generational remnants, like me, then we have our problem defined in a nutshell — it’s been bred, or beaten, out of the following cohorts.)

    I have to be briefer than I’d like (“Hurray!!! shout the dissenters in unison.) for I wake up in a hotel to find there’s a beer festival two blocks away starting three minutes ago. Gotta keep our priorities straight in life.

    “Absurdity” in Guy’s title of course recalls to us Paul Goodman, and his most influential book “Growing Up Absurd”, published in 1960, and present on every bookshelf or coffee table that I encountered in the 60s.

    It matched the sense we had that our parents’ striving for income and social status following their WW2 victory was indeed “absurd” and that our unease with following in their footsteps was justifiable.

    It also was at the root of the growing social movement at the time to resist war, empire, and materialism overall. He also early on stood against the hardening of the New Left’s stance, and saw it as another symptom of the societal disease that had infected nearly everyone. (He probably couldn’t have known at the time how much of this was deliberate psyops by TPTB, but there were plenty who “romantically” imagined themselves future Lenins and Trotskys without being employed by the FBI.)

    I think Goodman’s life and thinking merits a review by us all, for Guy is definitely one who is carrying on the same current of dissent in our time.

    One quote from him provided says: “I might seem to have a number of divergent interests — community planning, psychotherapy, education, politics — but they are all one concern: how to make it possible to grow up as a human being into a culture without losing nature. I simply refuse to acknowledge that a sensible and honorable community does not exist.”

    We are not living out the consequence of voices like Paul Goodman’s not being listened to, or being actively squashed, during the 1970s and following decades.

    The possible counterculture being buried, or abandoned, like an archeological ruin of millennia past, alive only in the memories of its survivors, or possible future scholars, curious about such as the Essenes, the Cathari, the Albigenses or the Wandervogel.

    Humanity has made, or acquiesced in, the choice to participate in — or kill or starve those who would not join in — its own destruction.

    That’s all, she wrote… and I’m sure Paul would agree; he saw the entire project from early, early on. He suffered for that early vision, but he made a difference. And that may be all we can hope for, just to budge things slightly and temporarily in the right direction.


    I’ll add just a few more observations that pop into mind.

    The “authorities” did not take the Movement lightly. Nixon may have been desperately talking to portraits on the walls when we had the White House surrounded in 1969, and stormed over barricades at the Justice Dept that weekend (Can you IMAGINE any such thing happening now????????) but there were strategists working in the .Gov to make sure we did not prevail.

    They probably were content to await events like Kent State, and see how much attenuation of student protest that would give them. And they probably suspected that radical groups like the SLA would turn off half of the remaining young opponents.

    Plugging Black Panther leaders while they slept seemed to have been a principal tactic, as they could not go after white people, whose fathers might be corporate execs, with the same alacrity.

    There is a reference I’m still trying to locate, possibly too obscure for this forum, but it was in either “Imperial Brain Trust” by Shoup and Minter, or Trilateralism ed. by Holly Sklar, about how they strategized, with the counsel of the late, evil Samuel Huntington, how to bring on a recession, to “teach those youngsters a lesson”, and put PhDs to driving cabs for a few years.

    And indeed, in 1974-75, that’s exactly what happened, the worst downturn since the Depression, and it took a lot of the remaining steam out of the Movement which had arisen so surprisingly in prosperous times.

    OK — Now, time for beer!!! (which you may blame for any errors not corrected in a final rewrite)

  • Great questions. I think the best service is to oneself, realizing that, as Taoists teach, when the individual(the leader?) is set right, so too is the nation. Separateness is an illusion.

    Civilization is like Pandora’s box. Better to keep the lid on. Take the lid off and demons run amok. Yes, they run amok already, but that would be worse. Putting the wellbeing of broad planetary life ahead of oneself is inconsistent with setting oneself right. The parent must affix her own gas mask before affixing the child’s. The teacher in a rowdy classroom must ensure her own calm and tranquility before that of the students. You can do no one good if you are a wreck. Unhappiness, like happiness, radiates outward.

    Many aspects of the nanny state are indispensable. Without Social Security and Medicare, we old people would be dying on the streets. That certainly wouldn’t make us happy. For us, these are the absolute best things our civilization has produced.

    People on minimum wage do not and cannot afford to dine at fancy restaurants.

    We support the troops and recite the pledge of allegiance out of pure, unmitigated terror. This is why we never dared say the word communism during the 1050s.

    Thanks for taking on patriarchy and monogamy. If anyone knows how to tackle this, they deserve a medal.

    That the universe is meaningless is a very strange conclusion. First off, it’s a mind boggling mystery. Is it even real? For something to be real it must contrast to something different from itself. What is different from the universe? Other universes? What is different from those? Among the refuted theories of the universe are: steady state (no beginning and no end), pulsating, cyclical (expanding and contracting back to big bang state), created by God, etc., etc., etc..
    But meaningless? How come? What do we know about meaninglessness?

    My view is that, yes, one helps a person in distress, even give one’s life if one can’t help it. But insofar as it’s possible to share the burden with others, or delegate it humanely, that’s what I’d prefer. No one has the responsibility to save the major part of the living world. The responsibility belong to everyone or to no one at all. We either work as a species, or forget about it.

    What to say about people standing before bulldozers and blocking pipelines? It’s a puzzle. One applauds and is grateful and supports at the edges. But what sense does it make? I don’t know.

  • “not living out” = “NOW living out” — but you knew that… guess no beer report follow-up until tomorrow…

  • It has all been said before. Nevertheless, thanks for reminding us Guy.

    Around 1960 Aldous Huxley suggested that at some point in the future people would come to love their state of slavery.

    Despite the best efforts of TPTB to hold things together via money-printing and propaganda, it is clear to the awake (1% of the populace?)that present arrangements will not persist much longer. All the lies are gradually being exposed, internationally, nationally and locally.

    The local elections here [in NZ] are going to be ‘very interesting’.

  • I know I am not alone since the hacking in still having comments be delayed in their appearance, sometimes by 24 hours. Not mine – other people’s. Oddly, it is different depending on which device I’m using (I realize I have too many! One was a gift).

    Anyway, right now on all three of my electronic toys it says that there are 8 comments on this post, and 130 on the last.

    However, on my laptop I can read zero of the comments on this post, and only 121 on the post just prior.

    On my ipad, I do a little better, I can read two of the comments on this post, and 123 out of the 130 on the last.

    For some reason on my smart phone, I can get *ALL* of the comments!

    I have no idea what the explanation for this could be but, Guy – is there any way to fix this? As other readers/posters here have told me, it is really disruptive to the flow of conversation.

  • @ Gail

    I had that problem, it was infuriating. I found a fix.

    I’m using Chrome browser. Go to top right corner, click three horizontal bars, says ‘new incognito window’, get NBL, and everything is immediately updated. Can’t advise for any other browsers, but I assume it’s something to do with cookies and being tracked, etc, because being anonymous fixes it.

  • Holy Crap U! That works!!! But then, I have to fill in the damn forms every time.

  • I have no answers Guy. It seemed that civilization was built on trust and relationship, that business was to serve the public and make enough to pay bills and necessities, have some to spend on others, save or whatever. When we were few and tribe oriented, it probably was worth something and there was time to pursue ones soul.
    Once we established cities and large communities then we had to make up codes of conduct. Unfortunately, along the way it all went awry due to humanity’s habits of indulgence, advantage, control and power.
    Now it’s all lost – from our connection to the land (I can’t believe how depressing it is driving to work, and why we all continue to do it) – to our connection to each other. The entire course of civilization seems to be a complete repetition of the same stupid movie with actors differently garbed – some kind of sick Groundhog Day. I really don’t understand, and now that I see what I bought in to, long ago when the dominant directive was HIGHER EDUCATION, i’m sick at heart and soul. We’ve become the worst kind of cancer on the planet.

    Thanks for your essay.

  • The United States has created a culture based entirely upon greed. Money is the only reason to do anything, money is the official score card of one’s value as a human being, money is the reason why a movie is good, a work of art is meaningful, a book is worth reading.

    Therefore, while a person may not have the overall success that large amounts of money signal, he can still read the best seller, see the summer blockbuster — 180 million first weekend! — look at a painting recently valued at seven million and be part of the culture. There are several other ways to join into the winning side, by rooting for the winning sports team, or knowing about the latest Hollywood scandal or getting the t-shirt with the current catch phrase.

    Individualism is championed, as long as it goes along with the crowd. To be an actual individual quickly marks one as a weirdo, a geek and if one doesn’t have enough money on top of that, a loser as well.

    The American culture is all about surface. There is no depth. There isn’t even a third dimension, the best one can achieve is acceptance in a two-dimensional, flat world with easy Yes or No, Right or Wrong choices, nothing in between.

    Rejecting one’s entire society is no easy task. Refusing to fall into the money pit of consumerism and the cheap sugar highs of cultural icons is nearly impossible. One can avoid the news, the gossip pages, the tabloids and internet and still end up with more information than anyone possibly needs to know about some young washed up actress or singer. The assault on the mind is constant and overwhelming, trivial bleeds despite efforts to fight it off.

    There’s no escape. The computer offers a chance to hear interesting voices one might never hear, but this comes with the knowledge that the computer is most likely the result of slave labor and theft of third world rare earth minerals to make the connections work “faster” for whatever that’s worth. Rejecting the American system still makes one part of the American Imperial Empire and all the blood and tears that others have shed so you can watch online videos of cats falling down slides doesn’t go away.

    And yes, being born white, male and American in the latter half of the twentieth century has been a huge boost over just about everyone else on the planet and by the sheer accident of my birth alone, I get a large share of the pie than billions — billions!! — of others, but feeling guilty about it isn’t going to change anything. Do I still have the right to be happy knowing that my very existence, while not overflowing with the riches of the American Greed Dream, is still richer than most people could ever hope to obtain? I almost have a duty to be happy. It would be grossly selfish to bemoan my fate and worry about people that I will never see or care for.

    I’m no Buddha. I’m not about to give everything away to sit under a tree until I find enlightenment. My personal happiness is still connected directly to the happiness of other people around me. I’m not isolated from society as much as it displeased me, I still engage with other people daily. Despite my slave made electronics and sweat shop clothing and environmentally damaging everything else, the best I can do is to try not to spread too much unhappiness around. I’m not sure I impact anyone, anywhere enough to cause actual suffering — I’m too minor — but I certainly hope I haven’t upset anyone overly much, not even when I shake my fist and swear at them on the road.

    This being the other lesson from Kurt Vonnegut: Goddammit, you gotta be kind! And while I fart around doing whatever it is to get me through life with as little pain as possible, I certainly hope to avoid spreading pain to others. I don’t always succeed, but I suppose the person who suffers the most for my failings is my wife.

    But I don’t think there is any great meaning to life. We’re born, we live a depressingly short period, and then we die. The biological function is to reproduce, and that makes us no different than mayflies.
    The cultural function is harder to clarify, but we have clearly been in a dark age for almost a hundred years now, and I think one could make a good case for the world plunging into darkness in 1914 when Europe blunder its way into war. The technological advances have been incredible. The social and political advances not so much. We’re clearly fascist in nature and tone, and it’s not going well at all –unless you’re already wealthy. A portion of my happiness comes from my own minor rebellions against the fascist, but I know the acts are minor.

    I sleep fairly well, most of the time. That has to count for something.
    But I have yet to face real adversary. After the collapse, I will have a better idea if my beliefs are worth a damn or not. It is easy to be peaceful and happy when food is a but a short walk away. I have no idea how I’ll feel about anything once food and shelter aren’t certainties.

  • Guy, I think this is one of your best pieces. You’re asking all the right, uncomfortable, questions.

    I love etymology, so the word “authenticity” triggers for me a tour through Autonomy and Authority, and especially Author. I’ve recently been fascinated by the concept of authority, given all of our national issues on that score. What constitutes an Authority? Well, I figured out (I could be wrong!) that the Authority is—plainly represented in the word—the person or entity who is allowed to Write the Story. My religious sister thinks the biblical god character is the ultimate authority, so this god character, she literally believes, writes the story of her life.

    Many modern humans tend to think that, no, WE are the authors of our lives, and that’s somewhat true on a superficial level. What’s fascinating is that there’s an assumption of what I call AGENCY in all of this. There is the actor and the acted-upon. The voter is going to vote and the government will change. I’m going to recycle and that will help save the planet. Some of us like the idea of being Agents and are captivated by that notion. I had a really tough time, when I moved to Italy for ten years, of losing all of the Agency that I enjoyed in my previous life as a successful business-owner in a large city and all that comes with that. I walked away, and became a dowdy Italian housewife in a tiny hill town who biked to the local market and put up spaghetti sauce, probably reducing my direct energy use by more than half just by dint of quitting my career* and moving to a society not geared so much towards capitalist consumption. It wasn’t enough, but thanks to you, Guy, I can see that it will never be enough. Nothing we do will be enough. So there goes Agency out the window, to a great extent… even if one is wedded to it.

    I’ve read a few books on Buddhism in my life (disclaimer: NOT an expert) and one image that I took away from one was a comparison of people being like waves on an ocean. You can distinguish each individual wave for a moment in time, but then it dissolves back into the larger ocean. Like waves, we’re expressions of physical energy, is what I took away from that. I don’t think there is a Grand Controller, an Author, of this expression. [Although under certain conditions one can predict the form of a wave, it’s far too complex and with too many variables to be calculated out there in the ocean. Though it’s expressly about technology, insert Arthur C. Clarke quote about sufficient complexity being indistinguishable from magic.]

    I think people will always use the energy that is available to them for their comfort or for their power games, until they can’t—I think most of us here agree that’s just the truth of the situation. But it’s also true that we don’t have to be complicit to the extent that we psychologically cannot be.

    *Etymology note: “career” also means “to go at top speed, especially in a headlong manner”. Speed requires energy.

  • @Tom, “It seemed that civilization was built on trust and relationship”.

    Actually I believe it’s the opposite: that we need the elaborate superstructures that civilization sometimes can provide (justice, monetary system, standards of various kinds, all of which requires armies to protect, etc.) exactly because we know we CANNOT trust each other, at least once a social group becomes too large. The smaller the degree of trust, the greater the need for government intervention and thus the more the superstructures cost, in energy terms as well as social ones, to maintain.

    There one good blogger, Nicole Foss of the Automatic Earth, who talks about the “trust horizon”.

  • I would characterize Mr. McPherson as “conscientious” — not only being true to himself, but being studiously cognizant of the world around him and caring enough to make great sacrifices and to convey his synthesis of thought to anyone that will listen. This is intellectual honesty, to understand that advocacy must also embrace action. It is rare and refreshing to find such a person. I am new here, and I look forward to reading so much more, as well as following through with further actions of my own to diminish my negative impact on the ecosystem and to influence others in the same way.

  • If it’s transporting you across the river, don’t curse alligator’s long mouth till you are safely on the other side

    (From an African proverb)

    IC is alligator. We still need it to get “across the river.” But it is fiercely urgent to get off of IC in an organic and non-confrontational way. The entities who set examples, who are “with us” include Guy’s pile of rocks in the desert, the man nearby with rope for a belt, aborigines, Cuba, the one to two billion folks who are relatively independent of IC… They and many others are all in the same movement with us. We are not weak.

  • Guy says: Authenticity….: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.

    Get Real!

    We evolved human social foundation
    In a small tribal social formation,
    But how we are fluent
    Is incongruent
    With industrial civilization.

  • “This culture is steeped in patriarchy and depends upon violence for its continuation.”

    Guy, a great compendium of your articles on the Good Men Project which I had pulled together for safe-keeping. Thanks for thinking of that.

    Here’s a tidbit on Socrates: “Philosophy is often introduced through its history, beginning with Socrates, who banished the weeping women, as prelude to the real business of philosophizing.” .

    Just so we keep our patriarchy right side up.

  • Fundamentally, aren’t we all true to our personality, spirit, and character?

    The answer is “yes”:
    ◄ Matthew 7: 15-20, KJV►
    “15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
    16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
    17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
    18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
    19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

    (1) What is good?
    Whats pleasurable. Entirely arbitrary.
    To the hungry crocodile: chomping down – on the swimmer in deNile. But the swimmer may come from a community or society that will kill the crocodile in response.

    When my happiness requires the suffering of another, is my happiness warranted?

    As long as the other fella’s suffering is not perceived by me, or if perceived, does not elicit enough empathy to neutralise my pleasure, everything’s copasetic.

    (2) What is piety?
    Sacrifice to a deity or deity-surrogate.
    General Patton’s proximate deity was the Army: being independently wealthy by birth, he signed over his entire Army pay to the Army (soldier’s) Emergency Relief Fund. Some sacrifice the opportunity to benefit at other’s expense. Some act as benefactors to others with no expectation or hope of recompense.

    (3) What is virtue?
    In modern society, perhaps to be the top dog? Maybe that’s why the next one down is “Vice”, as in Vice President, Vice Principal, etc.

    Not to carry certain templates… templates used to size up and pigeonhole others and to form responses. Templates of stereotypes, prejudice, and other other dysfunctions.

    A storm had broken a tree by a road. In the darkness of night, a thief saw it as an officer of the king, and fled. A drunk saw it as another drunk and tried to hug it. A saint saw it as another saint, and bowed to it respectfully while passing.

    Editing one’s cache of templates can be harder than many think.

    (4) What is courage?
    Particularly well suited for those with a proclivity to crap in their pants.

    The ability to act appropriate to anticipations but without expectations in the face of adversity.

    (5) What is moderation?
    Two posts a day.

    As the musician taught the Buddha: just the right tension to the strings. To much or too little: no sound.

    (6) What is justice?

    In bar-tending, ice cubes or crushed ice.

    Otherwise, quite arbitrary and often enough at complete odds from different perspectives. As in the case of the Native Americans/First Nations and Native Australians/Aboriginals vs. the Europeans. “’Tain’t my fault!” Happened before I got here. Although I benefited handsomely: live better than medieval royalty.

    Justice to the victims of the six great extinctions? We’re the result of the first five: if anything, we should be thankful for them.

    An apology to those who found the two-card monte problematic, as mentioned in comment in the preceding post.

    It is like telling a fish “Your nose is wet” or a person sightless from birth “You are in darkness”, or a colourblind person “Red is a lively colour”. These may be registered by them as concepts, but they do not actually experience these.

    Consciousness vs. awareness is a matter even more basic. Awareness is in the sense “someone” is aware “of something”. Consciousness is when the “of something” is dropped. It may prove impossible for some, even after decades of various practices. To such people this would be a total absurdity.

    They could consider cultivating an attitude from some basic or intermediate perspective.

    When the “someone” is also dropped, as Porky Pig used to say “That’s all, folks!” – i.e. extinguishing = nirvana (Sanskrit), nibbana (Pali, extant Bengali).

    The delay in comments on NBL is clearly related to cookies, and in the iPhone the solution to the problem is to go to the “Settings” app and to “Safari”, scroll down to “Advanced”, “Website Data” scroll down to “Show all Sites” scroll down to guymcpherson dot com, click “Edit” and delete that site. This should be repeated once to ensure that the site is indeed deleted (it sometimes reappears).

    On Internet Explorer 9 and several earlier versions, under Internet Options (in the drop-down box from Tools in the Toolbar there is the option) there is an option to block cookies from specific sties. One can block cookies from guymcpherson dot com. One must also delete the cookie(s) from the site in the cookie cache. I know how to find it on Windows 7 but don’t remember the names of the directories and subdirectories. One could delete all cookies through Internet Options, but then frequented sites will not recognise the machine until a new cache of cookies is built up – the same is true of all machines including the iPhone.

    I suspect the same would work for IE 10, but I have ‘t booted up the tower since IE 10 came out, so it has not updated yet). And I don’t know s**t from Shinola about Windows 8, but I hear that it has massive backward compatibility problems with the universe of Windows 32-bit freeware, adware, shareware, shovelware, crippleware, etc. (some of them being jewels) and so one should be extremely wary of it.

  • Robin Datta Says:

    (5) What is moderation? Two posts a day.

    That’s the second funniest quip I’ve read on NBL.

    The funniest line so far, BtD’s,

    Don’t Fry The Sea Fukushima.

  • I’ve read a few books on Buddhism in my life (disclaimer: NOT an expert)

    The books failed miserably or were way off the mark if they left one with the impression that the purpose of the books (or of Buddhism) is to develop expertise.

    people being like waves on an ocean.

    That comes from Vedic times and was retained with the morphing into a separate identity.

  • BtD: you are a true gift, my man. Thanks for the laughter amid the tears – both true feelings regarding NTE.

    Lidia: i’m so glad you’re feeling better and thanks for your reply. I read AE regularly too. My comment about trust depended on catching the word “seemed” – denoting that I thought that was the case until I discovered otherwise. I agree with your statement. Everything I learned in school (the early years) was taken as truth, but later (by high school) I found that most (if not all) of it was fiction. I went through many years of cynicism, anger and depression before “righting myself” (like a capsized boat) and sailing on through life, to hopefully find something about living on Earth that was meaningful, true, and worth living for. Before landing here I thought it was just me that saw where we were headed ‘living’ the way we do. Now at least I have others with which to commiserate and to hear their stories.

    Here’s a story (and is a comment to “what is virtue” by the author):

    4-year-old Meredith was heartbroken over the loss of her dog, Abbey. The dog,a black lab, was a member of her family for a decade before Meredith was born and became a fixture in her young life. The day after the tragedy, Meredith’s mom came up with a wonderful way to console her daughter. She and Meredith decided to send a letter to Heaven announcing Abbey’s homecoming. Meredith wanted to make sure God recognized her friend amid all the new arrivals:

    Dear God,

    Will you please take care of my dog? Abbey died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I ‘m happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

    Love, Meredith

    Meredith and her mom even enclosed a picture of Abbey with her tiny master to make sure God knew whom the little girl meant.

    After addressing the envelope to “God in Heaven” and dutifully applying plenty of postage, the letter was deposited in the mailbox. A few days later, Meredith asked her mom if she believed that God had read the letter yet. Her mom assured her that it had been read and that Abbey was frolicking with all her new friends in Paradise.

    The next day a package wrapped in gold paper arrived at Meredith’s home. It was addressed to Meredith and written in handwriting nobody recognized. Inside the box was the classic children’s book by Fred Rogers, When a Pet Dies. Alongside was the letter Meredith sent and the photograph. There was another letter, too. This one was from the Sender. It read:

    Dear Meredith,

    Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I’m sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love.


    Some people say the letter was from a kindly soul in the dead letter office at the local post office. But more enlightened folks like Meredith and her mom know that the letter wouldn’t have arrived but for the intervention of a higher power — like the one that resides in the best of human hearts.

  • Here’s an update on ocean acidification:

    (quips from the article)
    ‘High rates of extinction’ to come?

    Imagine every person on Earth tossing a hunk of CO2 as heavy as a bowling ball into the sea. That’s what we do to the oceans every day.

    Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, belches carbon dioxide into the air. But a quarter of that CO2 then gets absorbed by the seas — eight pounds per person per day, about 20 trillion pounds a year.


    Already, the oceans have grown 30 percent more acidic since the dawn of the industrial revolution — 15 percent just since the 1990s. By the end of this century, scientists predict, seas may be 150 percent more acidic than they were in the 18th century.

    The oceans are corroding faster than they did during past periods of marine extinctions that were linked to souring seas. Even 55 million years ago, the rate of change was 10 times slower than today. The current shift has come so quickly that scientists five years ago saw chemical changes off the West Coast not expected for half a century.

    And the seas are souring even faster in some places.

    The Arctic and Antarctic have shifted more rapidly than other waters around the world because deep, cold seas absorb more CO2. The U.S. West Coast has simply seen consequences sooner because strong winds draw its CO2-rich water to the surface where vulnerable shellfish live.

    There’s much more to this article, including a few short videos an some great graphics. It’s worth the read.

  • Another version of where God resides:

    Quraan, Chapter 2 (The Cow), verse 255 (The Verse of the Throne)

    Considered by many to be the holiest verse in the Quraan.

  • Robin “(5) What is moderation?
    Two posts a day.”

    You forgot to add NO INSULTS :)

    I enjoy the humor, but we might also say that moderation is showing that courtesy without list owner moderation.

    There is only one thing in life we have to do – die.
    All other things have a “if” in them. We have to eat if we want to stay alive. We have to earn money if we want to buy things with money.

    There are things we have to do or else we die – those are NEEDS
    There are things we have to do to gain ends that are not related to live and death – those are WANTS

    If extinction is a given regardless of what anyone does now, resistance is a want not a need. We all want to think well of ourselves, to think we have lived by the standards we hold to, but if that doesn’t affect whether we live or die it is just a want.

    The REAL Fukushima Danger
    Posted on September 14, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
    The Real Problem …

    The fact that the Fukushima reactors have been leaking huge amounts of radioactive water ever since the 2011 earthquake is certainly newsworthy. As are the facts that:

    Tepco doesn’t know how to stop the leaks
    Scientists have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are
    Radiation could hit Korea, China and the West Coast of North America fairly hard
    But the real problem is that the idiots who caused this mess are probably about to cause a much bigger problem.

    Specifically, the greatest short-term threat to humanity is from the fuel pools at Fukushima.

    If one of the pools collapsed or caught fire, it could have severe adverse impacts not only on Japan … but the rest of the world, including the United States. Indeed, a Senator called it a national security concern for the U.S.:

    The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days. That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States.

    Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen and physician Helen Caldicott have both said that people should evacuate the Northern Hemisphere if one of the Fukushima fuel pools collapses. Gundersen said:

    Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there.

    Former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura calls removing the radioactive materials from the Fukushima fuel pools “an issue of human survival”.

    So the stakes in decommissioning the fuel pools are high, indeed.

    But in 2 months, Tepco – the knuckleheads who caused the accident – are going to start doing this very difficult operation on their own.
    rest at

  • the thing that’s about me most queer
    isn’t my fondness for women or beer
    it’s to sit in my room
    and to contemplate doom
    and to post the resulting thoughts here…

    Benjamin, you’ve trained your disciples well! Or your Muse just swept by my ear for a second, while she was working on your next three offerings. It kind of stutters at first, but then rolls out quite well. (She also suggested leaving it in e.e.cummings form for your amusement.)


    Kathy — One of the great things about living near Boston in the day was to meet Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky, and Jonathan Schell, but I never forgot we were in the wrong hemisphere (and I think Helen is back safe in Oz by now?) Get your potassium iodide order in now?


    Well, I missed the Beerfest — tickets sold out 20 minutes before I arrived, while I was posting here. (sniff, sniff, boo hoo) Tiny little tasting mugs anyways, I was told. There’s priorities for ya!

    And apropos of Guy’s post and the brilliant followups from others, it was held in the midst of a consumer shopping paradise of the rich and the buff and the beautiful and their wannabes. Hard to fault them for it, but if as much effort had been put into …. ah, never mind.

    Probably everyone in this paradise of artifice is pretending to be something they’re not? (See Stanislaw Lem’s story about the “planet of the robots.” It’s really the ultimate word on authenticity.)

    Guy — you really got us all going. The power to inspire… and it seems that half the time, humans are “inspired” to go to war, or burn witches, or some awful thing, but — and we’ve just had those shallow recalls of Martin’s 50th on that speech — sometimes it’s for something good. I guess “inspiring” vs “inflaming” has some differing origins, and yours are always coming from Compassion, which is what Buddha was totally about.


    OK, this one’s been coming for awhile, and Carolyn and others have touched upon it, Wendi Morrison most recently (and Oldgrowthforest echoing her), with:

    (Wendi): “We are a sentient consciousness riding on an electrical current that animates a human suit. We are a hybrid experiment called Humanity and we got it wrong again, not that it’s our fault but nonetheless. Be in the moment with an open heart…. many years of paranormal experiences have helped me to understand our multi-dimensional reality and has opened me up to beyond duality and that is what the end of this course study will reveal and we’ll will discover it’s purpose. To embrace death frees us to embrace life. Use humor as a tool; find joy in the human experience and have trust in your heart.”

    I imagine that Wendi must be holding back a bit, so I would be remiss to not present what I have heard about “The Big Picture” as presented in Metaphysics, merely as hypothesis on this science-based forum, mind you, even if I’d had my own confirming experiences, as Wendi mentions having.

    Two phenomena presented to us for evaluation during recent decades strike me as being as verifiable a “backstory” as we are likely to get to our conceptualization of human experience and potential human extinction, and, because they do not present themselves as reproducible under scientific experimental conditions (unless you want to do some Kevin Baconesque-like — or was it Kiefer? — heart stoppage as verification) they are easily vulnerable to a rote challenge, remaining as hypothetical conjecture and personal reporting and interpretation. (For me, while doubt is biologically natural, the skeptics desperately seeking out hidden motivations often drip with their own motives, forming an interwoven tapestry of belief and doubt that I am happy to leave to others to duke out.)

    Near-death experiences (NDE — so close to NTE!) have been reported, with remarkable similarities, by thousands of people. In former centuries, people were not revived on the operating table, after possibly also floating above it observing their doctors, or family members, or distraught mourners. In fact, people died who medically shouldn’t have (“think we’ll saw it off right about HERE”), rather than the reverse, during the dark ages of medicine.

    (Apparently, one of the side benefits of the Vietnam War was the rapid development of battlefield medical stabilization, which saved so many young lives — all of them “ours”, of course, and not those pesky and expendable “gook” children always showing up with their tastelessly burning skin.)

    Now, you can say that all these experiencers who’ve returned from “the beyond” telling remarkably similar tales are either (1) delusional, or (2) lying, but I think you would have to come up with an even bigger theory with which to discount them, or prove a conspiracy by them, than you would to admit the more likely truth: They have had an experience that YOU and I just have not had.

    That is our departure point.

    So, and I leave you to explore the literature, abundant by now, and wonder — what WAS their experience? In a few words, experiencing the consciousness apart from and surviving the body.

    Of course, in returning to physical consciousness after a few minutes, before brain deterioration could set in, they retained a memory that few others could acknowledge as real, and so they were typically cast into a lonely world of “not fitting in”, on the grandest scale you could imagine, as the world that others lived and strived in was suddenly near meaningless to them, and yet they still had decades left in it to function as “normal”. (The number one reason for their decision to return was to continue raising their children.)

    I will leave you to look up IANDS and possibly other groups of near-death experiencers, to judge for yourself what kind of information they may have brought us, or what implications they point to for our topic of NTE.

    But — if they are not lying, or delusionary, what then?

    And, does Science always have to equal Materialism? I mean, if you’re a fellow lover of Science, aren’t you most interested in ending up with the truth, wherever it may fall?


    The other is hypnotic regression, or some other term for hypnosis to which traditional time sense does not apply, as conducted by Michael Newton (“Journey of Souls” — I can’t vouch for the safety of some downloads of books offered online) and other hypnotists associated with him.

    Others have written similarly on this topic, but I know of no one who has rendered it as systematically and convincingly as Michael Newton.

    My best friend of 50 years just went through that experience and I then read through Newton’s first book on his recommendation. My friend reports it has changed his life with an infused new meaning and sense of purpose. I’m a bit nervous, but thinking of trying it myself.

    It sounded familiar to me in the book, the processes described by subjects under hypnosis, asked to recall prior deaths and the movement of their souls into the company of familiar others, and the life review process that then followed.

    It actually seemed kind of obvious and not all so different, some of it, that we are always reviewing and critiquing ourselves, “how did I do on that”, posing tests and challenges, and attaining or backing off them in varying ways. Post-death seems to be an accelerated or concentrated form of this self-evaluation. (The timeframes presented, though, leave me somewhat baffled. But Time itself is the variable most questionable, under many alternate scenarios of Reality. Stand the yardstick on end, and all “times” compress into “Now”.)

    If you were to read, and then compare, our questions and thoughts here at NBL with the conclusions drawn from those “lives between lives” recorded in Newton’s books, you might arrive at the following usable points:

    (1) Physical, mortal life is not “all there is.”

    (2) Deaths are followed by a period of review — “How did I do” with what was offered in a life condition, and all for the purpose of learning, and doing better, eventually upon return to new lives.

    (3) And so, in a very Buddhist frame of thought, it doesn’t matter the material success, but rather the sincere effort that you made, sort of the Mark Vonnegut thought “We are here to help each other through this, whatever this is” — that true engagement with the heart is all we will take with us, win or lose on the material side. (That stray kitten I took in, and fed…. etc etc.)

    (4) And yet, it is the cause of a great sadness, that humans are apparently deciding of late, by some kind of “majority” voting or consensus process, to wrap up classes, and burn the school down (“School’s out — FOREVER!”) without knowing what or where we will continue. The Newton subjects seem to have a vague inkling about other locations, in parallel realities, but barring a TV address to the world by E.T., it seems to me we should not count on it.

    As Gary said here recently, “then we are REALLY in trouble, because we won’t have a viable world to reincarnate into.” That’s like the World Series being called on account of, of … (remember when the 1989 earthquake struck San Francisco just as the 3rd game was starting? Don’t think a screenwriter would have tried putting that one into a script! Too unbelievable! Well, we know that feeling here at NBL, so “unbelievable” is our topic.)

    (5) We are left, in the Newton-ian nomenclature, with a categorization of souls by their relative experience and development, and you are not going to make anyone, that’s ANYONE, operate at a level greater than they are capable of. They are all bound to go through the next educational step appropriate to their level. For some, that is to experience CONSEQUENCES: personal destruction, suffering, and a recognition that their lives were wasted on material accumulation and destruction of others’ lives. (Karma, I think it’s called?)

    But some people/souls are just here to experience a re-balancing or repayment with another, or a simple enjoyment of their companionship, earned in other eras; no great mission, or blame for not having one.

    But if YOU feel differently, well, then that’s up to you to parse out in the great mix of things, and do what you feel “called” to do.

    Of course, this tautological suggestion about souls and their levels invites the hatred of many, deserved or not, as in “If you don’t get this, or agree, that means you’re a ‘gamma’ in this brave new epistemology.” Human status-seeking, as always, or, always being suspected.

    I understand the reaction, but don’t think that’s the way it’s meant to be taken. So it goes? Sometimes, misinterpretation is just built into some situations.

    (Or, as I remember Alan Watts offering up early on in “The Spirit of Zen”, paraphrased “If you take quickly to the concept of reincarnation, if the subject appeals to you, it is because you studied and understood it in past lives.” Well, duuhhhhhh! If that don’t explain all!?! Hey — at 18, I took what I could find. The 294 Buddhism section on the library shelf was all of about 20 books, and Max Muller was 12 of them!)

    (I think I’m just seeing now that Alan may have had his tongue a bit in cheek on that one?)


    This discrepancy, which we all swim about in, results from the brain being the valve (as Huxley in “Doors of Perception” suggested) that restricts “All Experience” from flooding our menial lives of survival, and thereby de-selecting us for, well, Natural Selection.

    The brain, surviving in its own wonderful world of regulating the autonomic systems of the body and alerting us to speeding trucks and pouncing jaguars, neither has the memory nor the inclination to tell us things about who we may have been while living in and through OTHER brain masses.

    It is a spectacular product of animal evolution.

    It does its job, and it is jealous of any competitor. Get it?

    It even gets a little squirmy when we decided we want to study it, and its role in/over our lives. But why not, being such astute and objective “scientists” as we certainly are!

    Most of what we do and experience is under the dictate of our brain processes. That so little occurs outside of its purview does not disprove those exceptions, but Brain — and its defenders — would like us to draw that very conclusion. And that becomes the consensus view of those around us, and so we self-censor our own experiences, starting in childhood, as much as we’ve resolved not to. The requisite “forgetting”.

    The brain knows, or at least senses, that IT is going to die, along with the rest of our corporeal system. It knows, or at least senses that it isn’t going to get to go along with us, whenever and wherever it is that we go. That places a heavy bias upon it to convince us that IT is the only show in town, and that we may as well not fool around with these other wacko concepts. Right?

    Well, I haven’t been approached by a pouncing jaguar for quite awhile, and the only time I nearly ran in front of an unseen speeding car, a very loud and present voice in my head shouted, “STOP!” to my feet and legs, which ached for days afterward, so I suppose the brain’s exclusionary mechanism relents for special occasions. But my/our curiosity as to what lies beyond our brain-supported “mere” survival is as eternal as it is shrouded in medical mystery.

    Damn! I wish my grandfather had gotten me an autographed copy of “The Varieties of Religious Experience” from William James, or at least taken some notes while sitting in his office conversing, but he was just dropping off books from the Harvard libarary. Pretty simple guy, chatting about the weather, I’d guess.

    The metaphysicians who probe the “why” of this masking often come up with the conception that we must live in this world, this life, AS IF it were the only one, to find our ethical principles, our heart-directed impulses, on a sort of faith, alone, as if there were no “greater reason” or result in doing this, no attachment to the fruits to be derived, or logically-deduced reason for doing so. And so we are shielded from the “distraction” of knowing who we are and where we come from/are going. For a time, until we are ready.

    Said by many, such as Castaneda (Don Juan) “Choose the path with heart”, or the Little Prince “It is only with the heart that one sees correctly” or St Paul “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

    It’s not about Jesus or any other personality, or religion, or the phony TV preachers, or the Spanish Inquisition (which NOBODY ever expects!); it’s about YOU, and finding out who you are, and which you must (or may) be ruthlessly insistent upon. (Of course, it’s alright, too, if you take time out for a beer now and then.)

    Alan Watts named it in his book “On the taboo against knowing who you are,” suggesting, or asking, just why is it that those around you DON’T want you to know who you really are? Well, you not only have to get past them, you have to get past your own avoidances, and just get on with it. As in, you will find out, eventually, after meeting the many challenges that you set up as a course for yourself.

    This is indeed the parting from dogmatic religion, where a tradition one enters into for gain, even “spiritual” gain, does not engage the sincere heart, and one is left chanting formulaic leavings of another’s true experience, rather than one’s own.

    The path is found in every mode of living, in every moment of connection, just around that next corner, even the briefest smile, with another — (the test arrives in the doubt which follows, rather than maintaining the faith that allows the connection to flow on) rather than any formula that can be passed on or imposed on another.

    And the reason would be that it’s not in that brain matter that has its own important stuff all memorized, and is really then just going through the motions, that counts in the end, but the sometimes thinly-veiled behind-the-eyes spirit that we all bring with us to every occasion, and only rarely let through to touch that of another.

    We come to places like these sites because we hunger for the connection we knew as souls unencumbered with brain-bodies, to share in the mind-intelligence of fellow souls.


    So, I have my intuitions, and my inspirations. Those are real to me, however ephemeral, but of course not scientifically verifiable to you. You get to call your own strikes and balls on this one. It’s your game, to you.

    As Rod Serling used to say, and I’m sure would approve of today, “Presented for your consideration…”

    It matters a lot, and yet it doesn’t matter at all, as I’ve suggested above. You’ll DO what you’re going to do, with or without any of this curiosity of mine! And so will billions of others, bound by culture and conditioning — most of the time — do what the greater currents around them dictate they do.

    But each, in their private moments… well, what of these? Do private moments ever unite, cross-fertilize, inspire? We know they do, but in rare unpredictable moments and ways.

    So in the possible verification of these metaphysical suspicionings of mine, this all being stuff that others have experienced, or at least reported experiencing, and which merely fit into my theoretical framework (and if I could claim to have experienced some of it, would my words here mean any more to you, than they do as presented already? “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”) , I would have to leave it here with Casey Stengel’s sage words, “You can look it up.”

    And if you end up in some new and fascinating place that I haven’t heard of, or suspected of existing, I’d love to hear about it.

  • “Rocket (frog), burning out his fuse up here alone…”

    Insane NASA photo:

  • From a comment regarding reincarnation many moons ago

    “There is a metaphor that could be used in this context – that of a dust devil. When it wanders over one spot, it may pick up a few leaves and some sand, giving it a particular appearance. When it wanders away from that spot, it may be invisible, in which case it is no longer a dust-devil. The whirling tendencies (karmas) may still remain, in which case it continues as a whirlwind. When the whirlwind moves to another spot it may pick up sand of a different hue and maybe different debris, manifesting as another dust-devil with a different appearance. Ultimately the whirlwind will die down, leaving no trace of its identity.”

    There is no soul in the dust devil. It is sustained by a pattern of air currents that give form and continuity to the dust-devil. A similar pattern of energy and matter flows sustain biological organisms, including humans.

    Even among those who subscribe to reincarnation, there is no reincarnation for the realised person: such a person becomes the Void (Sunyata) or the Limitless Nothingness (Ain Sof): to them, there is no life after death. And from that point of view there really isn’t a soul.

    Speculating about and mulling over “Near Death Experiences” and the afterlife is poking around in a compost heap. It may need occasional turning, but could best be left alone. Such speculation does not add one whit towards realisation.

    And so we are shielded from the “distraction” of knowing who we are and where we come from/are going. For a time, until we are ready.

    The sunlight cannot be shielded from itself. The window shades can be drawn.

    The 294 Buddhism section on the library shelf was all of about 20 books, and Max Muller was 12 of them!

    There are plenty of free downloadable books on the Internet now. There are many sites that are major repositories of such books. I already have a couple of dozen full-sized books on this tiny iPhone.

  • Two posts/day/customer
    Moderation inhibitor.

    What is moderation ?
    Two links – one post.

    …just a link in your chain…

  • Guy wrote, “We act as if America’s cultural revolution never happened. We act as if we never questioned the dominant paradigm in an empire run amok, as if we never experienced Woodstock and the Summer of Love, bra-burning hippies and war-torn teenagers, Rosa Parks and the Cuyahoga River. We’re right back in the 1950s, swimming in culture’s main stream instead of questioning, resisting, and protesting.”

    WOW! That article was the most inspiring thing I’ve read in quite a while! It feels good to be fired-up on the side of GOOD! I posted your article on FB, maybe it’ll reach one person. That would be better than none. :) I wasn’t going to wear my peace symbol baseball cap to a big outdoor party this afternoon. But what the hay! They all think I’m nuts anyway, so why not rub it in! :) Thanks again!

    A wiseman, ECKHART TOLLE, once said, “On This Planet, Normal Equals Insane.” Kind of explains it all, for me, had it made into a bumper sticker.

    Do yourself a favor, blow your mind,

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #45

    Switched teams for a day –
    wore red, downed victory beers.
    Felt fake – still thirsty.

  • Way back in my life I read Raymond Moody’s Life after Life and found it intriguing. I read more by him but then he wrote “Elvis After Life: Unusual Psychic Experiences Surrounding the Death of a Superstar” and I began to wonder about the man.

    But the operative word perhaps is NEAR – since everyone who reports a near death experience did not die, well it is not a death experience but rather an experience created by a living brain under stress.

    Here you can find out how to have your own Near Death Experience
    You can try the drug ketamine, partial hanging to limit oxygen to the brain (not recommended), inducing fainting. People have had NDE’s by all these methods. Or for a really safe way, check out the link to the cartoon at the end of the article for the safest way to do this.

    Folks we have brains. Bodies without brains as some fetuses are, die. Bodies with brains that are severely damaged die. Bodies with brains less severely damaged lose parts of themselves. People talk of others who have Alzheimer’s or senility as not being there – they might say things like “mom’s not there anymore” when she is sitting there breathing and moving. But they are right “mom” was in the part of the brain that was no longer functioning. When enough brain goes, who we are goes too. And so when it all turns to mush we cease to be.

    Its not the “not being” (death) that is hard only the process of getting there (dying). All of us were not us until we were born. In fact the us we are now is not really the same us as a infant – we weren’t really there then either. We are the connections built up over time, the brain recorded history of us. Thus when a person has amnesia they don’t know who they are and unless they can regain the historical memories that part of self is lost. They may still play the piano if they played it before, but they don’t know how they know how to do it, who taught them, what they played at their first recital. Our historical memory is a very important part of the self that our brain creates for us. But it can just disappear with an accident that harms that part of our brain. If damage to a specific part of the brain predictably causes the loss of some aspect of self, how can we posit that the self lies anywhere but in the brain. If it is separate from the physical brain, where is it hiding when someone gets smashed in the head?

  • Shame on you KathyC, what are you – a WierdSista??? That’s so mechanistic! It’s maliciously fundamentalist! It’s dishonest and unaware! Don’t you realize your atheism is just like a religion? And you are irritable because you are acidified from eating flesh and you have a death-grip that is deleterious to the health of the planet because you can’t see any perspective but your own?

    “Dear God”

    hope you got the letter, and…
    I pray you can make it better down here.
    I don’t mean a big reduction in the price of beer
    but all the people that you made in your image, see
    them starving on their feet ’cause they don’t get
    enough to eat from God, I can’t believe in you

    Dear God, sorry to disturb you, but… I feel that I should be heard
    loud and clear. We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
    and all the people that you made in your image, see them fighting
    in the street ’cause they can’t make opinions meet about God,
    I can’t believe in you

    Did you make disease, and the diamond blue? Did you make
    mankind after we made you? And the devil too!

    don’t know if you noticed, but… your name is on
    a lot of quotes in this book, and us crazy humans wrote it, you
    should take a look, and all the people that you made in your
    image still believing that junk is true. Well I know it ain’t, and
    so do you, dear God, I can’t believe in I don’t believe in

    I won’t believe in heaven and hell. No saints, no sinners, no
    devil as well. No pearly gates, no thorny crown. You’re always
    letting us humans down. The wars you bring, the babes you
    drown. Those lost at sea and never found, and it’s the same the
    whole world ’round. The hurt I see helps to compound that
    Father, Son and Holy Ghost is just somebody’s unholy hoax,
    and if you’re up there you’d perceive that my heart’s here upon
    my sleeve. If there’s one thing I don’t believe in

    it’s you….

  • The books failed miserably … if they left one with the impression that the purpose of the books (or of Buddhism) is to develop expertise.

    @Robin, that’s me twigging oldgrowthforest. I’ll continue to try and comprehend your distinction between awareness and consciousness but, for now, to me they remain synonyms.

    @Tom, but then comes the day when when Meredith figures out that there’s no Santa Claus, and that Mom wrote the note left-handed… why does caring for one another have to involve lying, I wonder? Rhetorical question.

  • Guy, I’m feeling a deep sadness and compassion for all of us, as we go into this future.
    If we overlay human population and fossil fuel use, we see that they are very tightly correlated, but that fossil fuel use has just plateaued in the last decade, while human population continues exponential growth.
    This is not somebody else’s problem, or “something we’ll have to eventually deal with”.
    I feel called to face this problem and reveal this problem and seek to mitigate the vast suffering of so very many people like me in the world.
    It was expressed in the comments, that it’s not anybody’s problem to deal with all this at once. That is one heart speaking. My heart says that it is my problem to deal with. I am called to this. These views naturally differ, based upon the feeling of the person. All of us here see the issues, and see “Seneca’s Cliff”, and we all must take our next step towards it anyway.
    We can, for a brief moment, embed fossil fuel and mineral resources in steel plowshares, building terraces, berms, swales, establishing food forests, and communal dwelling places that make the most of passive temperature mitigation. We can also begin to work harden ourselves, and see how much of our own basic needs we can meet. We need work partners. It may not be much.
    Yesterday I went to a “permablitz” to put in a garden at a middle school in Austin, put on by Austin Permaculture Guild. I arrived an hour and a half late, and everybody was standing around talking, some holding shovels and other tools. I took a pickaxe and started swinging it at a steady, uncrushed, efficient pace, into the hard rocky ground. Within a half hour I had blisters on both hands, and got gloves, within an hour, I had gone back and forth from that work to softer work of raking and moving the broken soil. Within an hour and a half, I got an orange, chatted and left.
    My body was not able to work growing food. Out of all the nice people, I never saw anybody else swing any of the pickaxes, just use them like grubbing hoes. Most people were clearly conflicted, not wanting to leave, but unable to proceed, a work party of organizers with soft hands and weak bodies. Most of the women did not work. There was a lot of talk about the ideal way to do things.
    I ride a fixed-gear bike 14 miles each way to work and back through Austin traffic and hills. I am too weak to grow food, considering what that would take in this local terrain. My hands are soft. That is fixable with training and gloves. I can do more grunt work, and plan to do so, to increase my capacity. I need to find a setting where the capabilities of a small group, together with some industrial materials and fossil fuel jump-start, can make a go of relative self sufficiency, such has existed almost everywhere, through most of our history, until now.
    I don’t seek this for myself, but out of compassion for others, and to mitigate the collapse. Maybe a few can survive, and if so, have meaningful and communal existence together.
    This is how I am called. Each of us has some sort of feeling about our role(s) in this life.

  • Loosen up on that death-grip that is deleterious to the health of the planet and “Hail the Cosmic Muffin”…

  • @ Robin Datta

    Consciousness vs. awareness is a matter even more basic. Awareness is in the sense “someone” is aware “of something”. Consciousness is when the “of something” is dropped. It may prove impossible for some, even after decades of various practices. To such people this would be a total absurdity.

    Perhaps if you actually understood what you were talking about yourself, you might be better at communicating and teaching others, rather than spreading further confusion in the world ?

    @ Kathy C.

    How do you know ?

    All that you wrote is just a story you tell yourself, and us, stuff you read in a book, beliefs you hold, ideas in your mind, essentially no different to the beliefs and ideas and stories of the people whose views you oppose.

    Of course there is a relationship between the life force, and consciousness, and mind, and the physical brain, and if you physically destroy the brain, the person dies, the mind apparently ceases to function.

    But that’s all that can be safely concluded. There’s a correlation. that’s all.

    There are scores of thousands of well documented cases of anomalies which defy your absolutist position. Until they can be satisfactorily explained, your position is not scientific or reasonable, it’s purely dogmatic and irrational, based upon an ideological preference, which, of course, you are entitled to have, just as you are entitled to have a political stance, or a taste for a particular fashion in clothes or furnishings or musical genre.

  • Unclear on the Concept Award goes to:

    As the [seabed-mining industry] marches forward into uncharted territory, the Southwest Pacific is one of the focal points. Recently Mark Brown, Cook Islands’ finance minister, said seabed mining has the potential to increase the 15-island archipelago’s gross domestic product by a hundredfold.
    Brown also said the potential income for the Cook Islands could be so vast that a sovereign wealth fund would be set up to manage the cash for future generations and provide a safety net if the islands are swamped by rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

    @Robin, twigging in the sense of tweaking, but perhaps “defending myself from” would have been a better term to use. The first book about zen that I read, during my college years, was in fact “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”. I was intrigued but ultimately rejected further study precisely because I was too wedded to my Agency. Zen sounded like giving up in the face of evil, injustice, and so forth. Too nihilistic, I thought at the time. In Italy, I came across an old used copy of Alan Watts’ “The Book”, and a couple of years ago I had the opportunity in a library to read “You Are Here”, from whence I got the ocean metaphor, if I am not mistaken.

    …resistance is a want not a need. We all want to think well of ourselves… but if that doesn’t affect whether we live or die it is just a want.

    Cutting beautifully to the bone, as usual, KathyC.…

  • @ Lidia: you’ve been writing absolutely brilliant stuff lately!

    @ Ripley and Tom, thanks!

    Henry says:
    the thing that’s about me most queer
    isn’t my fondness for women or beer
    it’s to sit in my room
    and to contemplate doom
    and to post the resulting thoughts here…

    Outstanding! :D

    Guy McPherson says: Authenticity


    In tribes, people learned how to deal
    With each other, but lately we feel
    From civilization,
    And that’s why we don’t feel so real.

  • Five years ago the delay of many hours between typing a comment and seeing it appear would have been intolerable because there was so much to be said; now the delays seem to make little difference; we have explored almost every aspect of everything relevant, and ‘the slow motion train wreck’ continues, whatever we say.

    Nevertheless, keep the essays coming, Guy. There are only a handful of websites I find worth following these days, as other individuals or groups fail to make the connections, fail to see the writing on the wall, or become mired in non-solutions to the predicament.

    And latecomers need regular doses of truth.

  • In case anyone is concerned that overpopulation is on the list of issues facing us (I am one of those) an opinion piece appearing in yesterday’s New York Times, the “Paper of Record” by biologist Erle C. Ellis entitled “Overpopulation is Not the Problem” lets us know that we can cross this item off the short list.

    Check it out here at:

    That’s the state of our current “education” system. Imagine being in his class.

  • For me, this story concerns the absurdity of authenticity.


    Anti-artist could be a term to describe me. An exhibition review of a late 2007 one man show–one of my best reviews ever–was headlined, “A Perfect Mess.” It summed me up completely. It talked about works sliding out of their frames, or buckled, or torn, as being central factors in my work, which was nevertheless considered to have redeeming value–“decidedly not commercial, but raw and riveting.” I work like a child, with very little interest in technique. I don’t promote my art, or have a resume. I’d hate to have to dig around in memory to list the hundred of so exhibitions I’ve had, most of them in out-of-the-way backwaters that have no bearing on the art world. The main selling point of past resumes were the prestigious art schools I attended.

    I was a terrible student, missed classes, cared nothing for professional skills, was consumed with any number of personal issues, sometimes romances, to the exclusion of preparing for a role in the world of art. On graduation with an MFA degree, a former teacher of mine saved my ass by giving me a job teaching high school art where he was school principal.

    Beyond that honorable teaching stint, I was trained in art conservation through scholarships, and this enabled me to restore oil paintings in a society that had no other conservator and where I had every opportunity for success and economic security. But no, I wasn’t interested in that, and walked off the job, burning my professional boats in the doing. Thereafter, I evolved in consciousness but devolved in professional standing.

    The jobs I’ve had since then were mostly of the sort that a college student putting himself through school might entertain. Scattered, temporary, part time. None of them struck me as worthy of the exceptional art training, or the unusual opportunities I have received. Some of them embarrass me, and I’d rather have them expunged from my “history.”

    But I stumbled onto something on the way to nowhere. It was my aesthetics-driven passion for nature and for the past. It’s been 30 years since I self consciously geared my “career” to preservation and conservation of nature and cultural settings. I founded a non-profit toward this end. It was partly very successful, and partly a big failure. I can’t decide if part of the failure was my inability to connect with professional roles. Or if part of the success was due to that very deficiency. I operated only on sincere passion to protect and defend what was being lost., I was mostly not paid, and lost my position the moment I was assigned a small but-for-me livable salary.

    So it was back to scattered, part time and temporary activity, including a hugely low-productivity art career. In the meantime, I learned to combine art with the environment. This has brought together my personal low-income scarcity situation (especially through near-exclusive use of found materials) with the current and looming scarcity situation of the planet, as with the preoccupation to rethink professionalism in the light of systemic societal and environmental collapse.

    Should I summon up courage, ignore my fear of rejection, and try to connect with the art world? Or would that be tantamount to connecting with industrial capitalism in general? How do we ride the tiger of industrial civilization long enough till we can jump off into an alternative, safer, more sustainable system? It might involve trying to create new cultural structures from the old, even making something out of nothing.

    For the second year in a row, I’ve entered artwork in an ethnic gallery which is part of the state fair art exhibition. This is an extension of my previous forays into community art. No one there knows squat about the art establishment. They go in for kitsch, or near-kitsch. Everything must be polished, highly saturated in color, “false.” While there is no deficit of talent, participants are caught between two stools. They have not benefitted from what the academy can teach, and they are ashamed of the raw and primitive. They hung my works in the worst possible ways. What to do?

    I received one (THE?) top prize last year, and two prizes this year. So what the heck am I trying to achieve? I was happy to exhibit where plenty visitors could view my work. There were no restrictions to my entering, and the fees were affordable. No anxiety over how those elite art galleries would treat me. I have lately been entering works in a very low keyed but deeply established gallery in my community. The proprietors know about art but are not in the least stuck up or false. One of the first pieces I hung there fell apart and crashed to the floor, but I’ve been trying to put things together somewhat better–thinking about rather than totally ignoring the “presentation” issue could be half the battle. One of my last exhibits there was like no one had ever seen before. The mural-size piece was a sort of hit. And one that had a more conventional presentation (that I thought would be OK), when last I saw it, was sliding down in the frame…

  • Great essay Guy and great comment Henry,an essay from you one day perhaps?
    Those of us who have touched on the other can never go back or deny our experience. If we know something of how our brains can misinterpret stuff when always question things and keep an open mind …did I actually look through my arm at my bones while tripping on san pedro all those years ago? perhaps… maybe not. But…
    I have no doubt that back in the early 80’s, about the time that worm shot John Lennon, this happened. Three men sat smoking in my housetruck, smoking the weed that glows white and makes your fingers sticky. We talk till there is a momentry scilence, and suddenlly, unexpectedly, the three are ONE! One what I do not know or cannot explain. One mind? One conciousness? The ONE?
    Now some may say a halucination, you’re a stoner, what do you expect?
    [ I’m not by the way…I’m a thoughtful man who smokes!]. But when one of the other’s breaks the spell with whatever mundane thing was said, my reaction was to say something like…” How the fuck can you two start talking about shit when THAT just happeded? ”
    The others [ more experienced smokers than I at that time said more or less ” it happens, what is to be said about it…IT HAPPENS”
    I had many similar things happen in later years. What does it prove? Perhaps nothing, but be assured it did happed.
    @F.K. thanks for the dirty f’ing hippies ere right link…I never doubted we were! You might enjoy Dirty Bloody Hippies… the N.Z. counterculture expirience. Features a farm I was involved with, amongst others. On Youtube..sorry I don’t do links.

  • Dear friends,

    The fact is is we all have a role to play in creating a new culture of authenticity, in contrast to an old authenticity that Guy evicerates so well. So we must re-authenticate in a dramatically changed and changing world environment. Time to recognize what value the old cultural forms will have, only as vessel, ark to contain us till we are through this time of passage from old to new. This is the necessary set up for timely work. Watch how we cling to the old body as if it can sustain us forever, refusing to let go and work on the new. We may not make it through no matter how greatly we prepare and mitigate when the cataclysm of our un-doing starts raging, but we almost guarantee we will not survive if we do nothing but cling hunkered down as we are as if we are helplessly bound to the old authenticity of our inheritance. We are not. We are free to reinvent ourselves. The primal gift.

    Will we have laws? A new set if we do. Will we have god? A new concept if we do. Will we have science? A new paradigm if we do. Will we have government? A new body if we do. Will we have ecology? A new environment if we do. Will we have humanity? A new people if we do. And so on.

    Change is challenging. Radical change is a thousand-fold challenge. So what ever we each cling to, from the past, we all have the same challenge; to form a new authentic way out of the old, it will not be the same as what our ancestors formed. Our ancestors work up till now set us free in so many ways. They knew what they used in their time would be useless to us, as it is. As it is. They set us free from old chains and that was their dream. Will we realize it? Or will we refuse such responsibility to grow up and become our own power, as is our sentence compliments evolution, in exchange for the powers that be, which we still worship, in all our current but crumbling, if once authentic, and myriad old ways?

  • This comes out of left field. Don’t know what to make of it, but my BS meter is ringing off the hook. The Australian reports that the IPCC is working on a new report which claims global warming has been overestimated, and so far it isn’t all that bad. I guess all these extreme once in a thousand years events we’ve been seeing lately are just coincidences.

  • Kathy Cassandra:

    You have clearly pointed out the insubstantiality and illusoriness of the “I”, based as it is in the body-mind complex. The mind is multiple interacting hierarchical arrays of self-modifiable algorithms in the brain. Yet for most, it is well-nigh impossible to grok the fact that there is no “I”. There is however, no dearth of distractors and detractors. Recognising and ignoring them is a sine qua non for progress.


    One book that could be a nudge in the right direction:
    Mahamudra: The Ocean of True Meaning (free download, *.pdf format).

    It is unknowable: no one can know it, and no one knows it; but each and every one cannot but BE it, wittingly or unwittingly – although almost always unwittingly. The switch from unwittingly to wittingly is a journey without goal: one is already at the goal before starting, and never leaves it. What matters is not the nature or duration of the practice but the sincerity of the seeker.

  • Guy,

    this final essay in the series reminds me of what my high school poetry teacher told our class one day about our poems and when to stop writing. She said quite often poetry is written as an exploration of self in the half-mode of verse and meter of music to unlock the deeper vaults to our questioning, and if we reread the last stanza, it often contains our theme which may not have been obvious to us at the beginning.

    I propose this because I think the collapse issues, the destruction of the human and living world by empires, civilisation and patriarchy, which comprise a kind of grand arc of your intellectual and socio-political critique, which is on the back of a passionate scholarly investigation,(and shock and horror uncovering the lies) of the same, with respect particularly to North American ‘culture’ as a staring point, is at root a deeply spiritual revolutionary undertaking. And in particular to come to the ‘last stanza’ with the issue of Authenticity, I believe this is a great focus of your teaching.

    Your respect and admiration for Socratic modes of teaching are well placed IMO, because it is very clear that Socratic teaching and the challenges to culture that arise are inclusive of the questioner and the one being questioned. There is little difference in position between teacher and student if the old polarity applies here at all. The Socratic questioner is in the question too, like everyone else, but more than anything else the questions you describe Socrates promulgated are the very questions concerning who we should be, and to direct ethical attention to why we have the identities and cultural codes we actually live by.
    So what I am acknowledging here is I think this is a very deep beginning question of Authenticity that world-civilisation-wide cultures need to ask, but only some few individuals are. Who are we really, and from where do we actually obtain a deep sense of cultural authenticity, now that the cultures surviving in the main are corrupt, in every way it is possible to be? Can there be any more corrupt than the Near-Term-Extinction trifecta? Of all life?

    Understanding the ‘bankruptcy’ and ‘bondage’ of an existing identity-culture-complex nexus, around and in oneself is the beginning of the inner struggle to become a real human, that has real connections to whatever is a living force at its root in this loci of this world. Seeing it, and finding a path to a true-self-reality, uncorrupted and yes. Authentic, is the crux of a spiritual path, is it not?
    Too much accent on the failings of our particular culture offered on a plate from birth is a natural trap we fall into IMO, as we try to wriggle our way free from the straitjackets of identities that now make us puke, ( or is that Fukushima seeping in too ?) In a similar way the old saying that is said to youngsters fleeing dire recriminations for poor social actions, “You can run away from here, but not your self”. In other words, when we find a section of our learned identities,from family, village, religion (or none) or culture has corrupted us and it is obvious, how is it ethical to respond, and to then become what, or whom?
    That is where the ‘unlearning what you have learned’ bit from sage Yoda, the little green Zen master is so helpful, for one cannot be authentic, when what is still swimming in us, through us and ‘as’ us is toxic ways of being in the world, aka Koyanisquatsi- variously translated as : ‘Life out of Balance’ or the one I like best: ‘A state of life that calls for another way of living’

    So it soon become a ‘problem’ of what does an authentic post-culture Human look like? What culture can be sustainably created, or recreated, from people committed to such a revolutionary readjustment? The Western counter-culture-protest movements of the 1960s and 70s, which you write here about as looking like never existed at all emerged as well as the earlier Wilderness Society and Ecology movements were all IMO in part so stimulated by these deeper questions of culture and individual identity an Authenticity.
    Everyone has their own path beyond the recognition phase of- ‘all is not right here’. I have my own, no need to dwell there. But I am highlighting that to finish your essay series with the concept of Authenticity indicates to me a lot of your research/teaching in so far as it is presented in all you have put forward at NBL, lectures, and its communications, is not only centrally about our collective responsibility to the planet and other life forms, but also ‘who’ is it that has done this, an what is a better more honourable and sane true human form of biosphere involvement? ( noting the 7.1 Bn pop count and rising on top of that)

    One early sentence above comes to mind I’d like to comment further on:

    “Shades of existential gray are evident in our pursuit of meaningful lives. How do we differentiate between necessity and luxury? How do we distinguish what we want from what we need? And are these distinctions important?”

    As you and many here, including myself, have used Hunter-Gatherer human societies, and to some extent Tribal existence as a kind of pre ‘civilised’ human way of life, that we know we evolved through for many millions of years, I think Australian Aborigines have lived a way of drawing a line in the sand, as it were, on this.
    Although there were many other cultural reasons that went alongside the practice of ‘Walkabout Initiation’, many of which I am ignorant, it did serve a very direct test.trial, experiment, and adaptive period concerning what is a need, and what is something else, beyond that – you use the term luxury. Maybe the binary concept for these ancient cultures was not there? But certainly your pared down 4 human needs to survive, are evident then and now:


    This wiki entry is somewhat incomplete but does serve as a way of showing how the culture of Empire did not understand nor esteem and value how indigenous culture operated.

    On these ‘walkabouts’ an initiate was called to grow out of dependency on child forms of engagement in both world and culture, and establish a direct and thenceforth lasting personal knowledge with traditional place song lines; find food and water on country, and remember their relations to larger geographic orientation and storylines; but also to connect to ancestral spirits an the intuition/dream cycle manifestations of their living culture.
    This latter aspect was not well known to early anthropologists as it was not made clear(very often intentionally) to them because of obvious trust issues,( read – rape, killing, disease, dispossession of land, slavery and such). It is only really in the last two or three decades has some workable trust emerged and knowledge of the profound spiritual connections Aborigines have to the land.
    I think at this stage in our world culture that floats in the ‘Prolapse of Materialism’, we lack clear cultural mechanisms to discover our authentic ‘human’ selves. Toxic cultures swarm around us, and debt-life demands overwhelm most, so many do end up falling into the sleepy wheel-ruts of ‘ecocidal-end-time-culture’.
    The simple antidote, in my experience, for me, has been to walk the country I was born into and now live in, and also to get out into unscripted wild bush. I also discovered ‘things’ on this journey that began to inform my adoption of using the discarded ‘waste’ or Debris of the Oil Age, to honourably use the toxic crap we leave in our wake, as a culture. The unvalued thing in a sick culture must have some significance, an give an insight if we look at it carefully. I do that now, not just by researching how something is now slave made,(e.g.Bic Lighters made in drug criminal slave labour Chinese prisons)

    It is also pertinent to say that it is not a quick fix process, if it is going to reveal a, or the true you, the deeper authentic self of which you are somehow constituted, it must be for keeps, and it will most likely involve venting the toxic culture from your body-mind.
    It will also require persistence, that is often called colloquially heart, but I call Heart.
    To conclude, I praise you Guy for being a lover of the world, and going on the journey as well as looking at the journey as most academics can choose comfortably to do, but I hope you might agree with me when I write, once one foolishly embarks on the path, why would you ever want to be how you started out? This sentiment of mine, confirms to me the trite but nevertheless deeply resonant truth from Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha tale – the river, the journey, and destination are one.

    Though many are and do feel trapped, there are always creative alternatives, if only, IMO, we are prepared to risk the radical path,(or even to contemplate about it…).
    Guess that makes me a non Doomer.


  • Lidia thanks.

    U again if you think I am wrong you won’t mind at all if some trigger happy cop puts a bullet in your brain.Google NC cops shoot unarmed man (he had a bad traffic accident and was trying to get help – age 24) Evolution gave us pain to protect our body, ribs to protect our heart and a cranium to protect our brain. Now why would evolution provide such a strong protection to our brain if our brain is inconsequential???? It lets us burn our fingers and reminds us not to do it again with pain, it provides some protection to our heart and lungs but it invests the most protection for our brains, encasing the brain with bone and a shock absorber of fluid. But you are free to cut your own head off to prove that the brain is not us. Or get some Syrian rebels to help you out.
    But of course I don’t want that to happen to you or anyone. I don’t want your brain to turn to mush from Alzheimer’s or to be shot through by a trigger happy cop. And neither do you, because you know full well your brain is you regardless of the theories you spin, Theories you spin because you also know you are mortal will die and your brain will disintegrate. You just can’t handle that knowledge.

    re the monogamy question, Tibet had their own solution – in Tibet polyandry has long been the norm. I read one account in which that worked very well for the women, the multiple men were very attentive to their wife – treating her like a queen. Google polyandry tibet for more info. per wiki it is the defacto norm in Tibet. and Studies have attempted to explain the existence of polyandry in Tibet. One reason put forward in traditional literature is that:
    By not allowing land to be split between brothers, Tibetan families retained farms sufficiently large to continue supporting their family. A compelling socio-biological justification for polyandry is that it makes good genetic sense for brothers to raise one another’s children since a brother possesses the next closest gene pool to their own. most they call father to eldest brother.
    Another reason for polyandry is that the mountainous terrain makes some of the farm land difficult to farm, requiring more physical strength. Women take multiple husbands because they are strong and able to help tend the land.
    Much better deal than most women in the world get. In Tibet then the wives keep both husbands working, keep them competing for the marriage bed, get them both to support the kids. Not bad at all…Of course while wiki doesn’t mention it, infanticide of girl babies no doubt was a part of this equation. Given that, polyandry served to keep the resulting imbalance from becoming a problem.

    Oz man you wrote “Though many are and do feel trapped, there are always creative alternatives,” I disagree. We are mortals and no matter how many creative alternatives we might have to keep us alive a bit longer, at some point they fail and we die. Likewise civilizations and species. Tainter’s book The collapse of complex societies, says the collapse of civilizations is in fact because ever more complex solutions return less and less benefit and civilization collapses under the weight of its solutions. And when this one collapses, the coal plants in China shut down, dimming ceases and warming increases. Meanwhile the grid fails and the 427 nukes running, and those still in Safestor shutdown (takes 60 years) go critical or burn. Meanwhile the ability to fight forest fires ceases and nuclear waste dumps get overrun by fires. We have like other civilizations solved ourselves into a dilemma which cannot be solved. All the previous solutions of this the most advanced civilization in the world have doomed us – solutions ARE the problem.

    If someone pushes you off a 100 story building it might help pass the seconds to try to come up with a solution, but wouldn’t prevent you from going splat when you hit the ground. There ARE NOT always solutions, and this species is soon to go splat.

  • @ Lidia

    You think Shunryu Suzuki lacked agency ?

    @ Robin Datta

    The mind is multiple interacting hierarchical arrays of self-modifiable algorithms in the brain.

    You got any peer reviewed citations to support that, or do we have to take your word for it just because you assert it is so ?

    Yet for most, it is well-nigh impossible to grok the fact that there is no “I”.

    Because for most, it’s a self-evident fact that everyone, including themselves, has got one, so unless you can explain what you actually mean, and why you make the statement, contrary to everyone’s experience, you’re just spreading more confusion, as per usual.

    There is however, no dearth of distractors and detractors. Recognising and ignoring them is a sine qua non for progress.

    Progress ? Progress to where or what ?

    You see, Robin, my impression is that you try to project a persona as a wise guru figure who has insight into profound wisdom which nobody else sees, but when it comes down to it, it’s all smoke and mirrors, cut-and-paste from here and there. You don’t really have any idea what you are talking about. Do you ? If you did, you’d be able to answer questions and explain what you mean, which you always avoid doing.

    Let’s return to your previous comment.

    Consciousness vs. awareness is a matter even more basic. Awareness is in the sense “someone” is aware “of something”. Consciousness is when the “of something” is dropped. It may prove impossible for some, even after decades of various practices. To such people this would be a total absurdity.

    For the benefit of Librarian, and anyone else who wants terms defined, I will define these terms, as I see them. If my definitions are not the same as Robin’s or anyone else’s then they are free to contribute their own, and perhaps we can arrive at a deeper insight and clarity.

    Sit down at a table. Place some small item, maybe somewhere between the size of a coin and an apple will be convenient, in front of you.

    Now, focus upon that item. It would be good if there are no distractions, so that you can concentrate. Try hard to give all your attention to this task, and no attention to anything else. Full attention to the item, not thinking about it, or noticing its details, just the generality of its existence.

    Then be fully aware of this action of attending to the item.

    Awareness of attention.

    Do this for thirty seconds or so, however long it takes you, until you feel you have a clear sense that you are noticing that you have established attention, and awareness of attention, directed to this item that you are looking at, and also the fact that you are not attending to the rest of the whole Universe that surrounds you.

    Fix this condition. Try to freeze frame it, as it were, so it doesn’t change. Then, close your eyes.

    The awareness and attention should be exactly the same, but now the item has vanished from view, and you are ‘in here’, in the space inside your skull.

    What is this ? This is consciousness. This is the ‘I’, the ‘conscious me’ attending, and being aware.

    See how long you can keep it fixed, just out of interest, and what happens next…


    Okay. That’s my approximate definition of the terms.

  • @ Kathy C.

    U again if you think I am wrong you won’t mind at all if…etc

    What ON EARTH are you talking about ? That has no connection to what I was saying or what the subject being discussed was, it is an irrelevant red herring.

    Did you READ what I said ?

  • TIAA
    You wrote:

    “…..So we must re-authenticate in a dramatically changed and changing world environment. Time to recognize what value the old cultural forms will have, only as vessel, ark to contain us till we are through this time of passage from old to new. This is the necessary set up for timely work.”

    Your comment brought up the idea for me that as in movies, and good stories, main characters go through major growth and changes, in the compressed time the story takes place, and we are going through a dramatic and traumatic period of change in the world, so why not go with it, and be a real person in change and growth ?
    Live not as a movie, but real.

    It is time to adapt and let go, now.

  • run, rabbit run

    The typhoon also hit the northeast, including the Fukushima area, bringing heavy rain to areas near the broken plant run by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO).

    Workers were pumping out water from areas near tanks storing radioactive water, from which leaks are believed to have seeped into groundwater.

    “But we decided to release the water into sea as we reached a conclusion that it can be regarded as rainfall after we monitored levels of radiation,” TEPCO spokesman Yo Koshimizu said.

  • U – My position is that who we are is in the brain and no where else, and as Robin would say the I ends when the brain dissolves at death. Period. If you agree with that, say so. If you disagree, you won’t mind dying because it won’t be the end of you. I really don’t think there is anything else to say on the matter. I have been of the opinion that you are trying to say we are more than meat robots. If I misunderstood you, well say so. If I didn’t misunderstand you then death should not frighten you. I really don’t think there is anything more to discuss.

    But as Robin said “You have clearly pointed out the insubstantiality and illusoriness of the “I”, based as it is in the body-mind complex. The mind is multiple interacting hierarchical arrays of self-modifiable algorithms in the brain. Yet for most, it is well-nigh impossible to grok the fact that there is no “I”. There is however, no dearth of distractors and detractors. Recognising and ignoring them is a sine qua non for progress.”

    And I know that Robin is right and ignoring you would be progress. So this is a test of free will. I freely will to never discuss anything you write, never address you again, never read any of your posts again. If I succeed then the case can be made for free will.

    Meanwhile the typhoon may hit the fan in Fukushima and what that will mean is to be seen…. All our little I’s may soon become not I’s and then nothing….blessed nothingness.

  • ‘(3) What is virtue?
    In modern society, perhaps to be the top dog? Maybe that’s why the next one down is “Vice”, as in Vice President, Vice Principal, etc.’

    robin, i see u were in fine form last night!

    ‘(4) What is courage?

    The ability to act appropriate to anticipations but without expectations in the face of adversity. ‘

    how can one anticipate without harboring expectations of negative consequences in the face of adversity? don’t anticipations naturally beget expectations?

    on a similar note, from lidia:

    ‘I’ll continue to try and comprehend your distinction between awareness and consciousness but, for now, to me they remain synonyms.’

    kathy, thanks for sharing your perspective on nde’s. i think one’s credibility must take into account the totality of one’s claims. that nde proponent raymond moody wrote a book about supposed psychic experiences of elvis after his death, it does cast a large shadow of doubt upon his nde claims in general. that such or similar experiences can be induced in some merely by depriving the brain of oxygen casts a lot more doubt. the final nail in the coffin of doubt for me is our species long and consistent track record of deceitfulness. just as there are inconvenient truths, there are very convenient lies. plus delusions/insanity are simply much more common than generally acknowledged.

    ‘We can also begin to work harden ourselves’

    i’m now trying voluntary caloric restriction (relatively frequent short term fasting). baby steps. getting away from extreme entitlement and privilege, ahead of the curve, before such things are imposed. i find it quite easy thus far, with some psychological benefits (somewhat greater sense of peace while fasting, greater appreciation of food when indulging).

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #47

    Vista Point – lovely!
    Pulled over for some nature;
    big-rigs block the view.

  • Ah, authenticity. I’m reminded of this advice – ” The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”
    Authenticity is difficult.

    I’ve actively participated in a few unusual teachings in the course of my life. Some 40 years ago I read all of the available Gurdjieff writings, but never joined a ‘group’. However, some of the ideas stuck with me. Here is one explanation of Human Psychology that I’ve struggled with but never resolved or decided that it was incorrect. This could be one of the reasons for humanities continual misunderstanding of ourselves and others.

    “One of man’s important mistakes, one which must be remembered, is his illusion in regard to his I.
    Man such as we know him, the ‘man machine,’ the man who cannot ‘do,’ and with whom and through whom everything ‘happens,’ cannot have a permanent and single I. His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings, and moods, and he makes a profound mistake in considering himself one and the same person; in reality he always a different person, not the one he was a moment ago.
    Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation, says I. And in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I belongs to the Whole, to the whole man and that a thought, a desire, or an aversion is expressed by this Whole. In actual fact there is no basis whatsoever for this assumption. Man’s every thought and desire appears and lives quite separately and independently of the Whole. And the Whole never expresses itself, for the simple reason that it exists, as such, only physically as a thing, and in the abstract as a concept. Man has no individual I. But there are instead, hundreds and thousands of small I’s, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, Man is saying or thinking, ‘I.’ And each time his I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man’s name is legion.”

    In Search of the Miraculous, p.59

    There are many commenters here that are smarter and more learned than I. Maybe they can amend, disprove or shine another kind of light on this issue.

  • Dear Ozman,

    Excellent comment to Guy above. Could be re-posted as excellent essay for this site to dwell on.

    Yes to your comment to me, eventually as time permits and the blue-print for re-authenticating continues to materialize, many will do their best to re-do.

    I appreciate this site immensely for it’s goal seems to be to awaken from the grips of the nightmare as we huddle fitfully at the edge of an ever growing precipice. Some here have unwittingly staked their reality to falling in, with no hope for an alternative, evidence of the prophecied nihilism and signpost for the death of old authentic cultural mores. This is all to b expected. Each must play a vital role and so we do. We, the dreamers of a new beginning call into existence with our songs of love and belief, a bridge beyond the precipice. Not all will cross but the point is, some may, if they can, they will. But the bridge has not been finished. We are conceptualizing it now. Hard, wicked, toilsome, yet gratifying work. Ivanesque work. Nothing like a brood of unruly humanity fighting innocently but not harmlessly at the edge of life on earth to goad us on.

    Cheers Ozman and onward.

    A Voice from the Margins
    .…the margin is more than a site of deprivation “it is also the site of radical possibility, a space of resistance…a site one stays in, clings to even, because it nourishes one’s capacity to resist. It offers to one the possibility of radical perspective from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds.” Bell Hooks

  • Credence Clearwater asks:

    Have you ever
    SEEN the rain?

    No, was the answer I got from my neighbors. Not rain like THAT anyway, not rain like we had last night.

    Our backyard slants downhill, and past the back fence is the arroyo. We were among the lucky ones. But when the arroyo threatened to flood its banks, our immediate neighbor, who is at lower elevation, called to say he was packed and ready to evacuate. He was too polite to ask directly if he and a friend could take refuge at out place. We slowly figured that out and called back to say come on over if it gets worse. This was clearly NO time to be driving. But the rain eventually subsided and the arroyo level went down.

    A woman (OUR Gail) checking out the damage in town said that in her 33 years in these parts she’d never seen the likes of this. She showed me where, across from us, the entire edge of a yard had crumbled away, along with the fence. A woman walked by and said her house was flooded and she’d soon be going back to clean it out. A friend of the immediate neighbor was trapped in his house, and not even the fire truck could reach him. Dirt roads all over were washed away.

    Gail’s dog, seemingly no softy, had been terrified by the thunder and lightning last night. I tell him he should visit Jamaica. It’s like when a hood pulls out a knife at Crocodile Dundee, who pulls out a knife 10 times as long. That’s not a knife, he explains. THIS is a knife! To me, THIS wasn’t rain. Go to Jamaica in a hurricane, and THAT will be rain. Gail assures me that my enthusiasm for the rain puts me in distinct minority hereabouts.

    But there’s work to be done. The ditch along the road shoulder is washed clean of its fill, down to bedrock. To the south of the lot in front, where my car is parked, the flood from across the street roared in, seeped under the patio fence in torrents, spreading a ton of mud all over it. I already filled up the part of the ditch where the missis needs to traverse to leave and enter her carport. I look at the patio flagstones and think of Jobim’s The Waters of March where it goes, “…And the car that got stuck, it’s the mud, it’s the mud…” It’s been pretty strenuous work so far, but maybe nothing compared to when she returns and issues me my marching orders…

  • how can one anticipate without harboring expectations of negative consequences in the face of adversity? don’t anticipations naturally beget expectations?

    Yes, tvt, in most people they do indeed. But since you have some Catholic background, you will understand the idea of saints who worked selflessly in the service of the Divine, while accepting whatever sere the outcomes as none other than the Divine Will.

    That is where expectation parts company from anticipation. Anticipation is the rational analysis and projection that suggests future outcomes; expectation is the emotional positive or negative attachment (attraction or aversion) towards outcomes. The saints’ emotional attachment to the Divine and their submission to the Divine Will kept them from developing emotional attachments to other things including outcomes, even in cases where those outcomes included martyrdom.

    But the same attitude can be cultivated sans deity: however this will not be done in Religion ™, since they are in the god business.

    On another topic, it would seem that Fukushihas is also Fukushiwill

    You acknowledge Lidia: distinction between awareness and consciousness but, for now, to me they remain synonyms

    Separating them in the case of awareness is problematic, because without consciousness there is no object (of consciousness) – nothing. However without an object, consciousness is “self”-illuminating and “self” aware, with no attention of effort just as water does not make an effort to be wet. But no”thing” is perceived. The difference is the difference between nothing and “no”thing: no difference, to most persons.

    One can describe the taste of a fruit to another in so many words, but the other will not know that taste without actually eating the fruit!

    There is no point in trying to grasp it intellectually: words do not constitute evidence in such cases. At best they may point at the moon. One has to look at the moon for oneself.

  • oh here we go with the “enlightened” nonsense.

    Seriously, anyone that claims to be “enlightened” can just eat my shorts. These people are about as useful as windshield wipers on a goat’s ass.

    If the question remains that it is CIVILIZATION that killed us (and Every Living Thing on Earth) and Industrial Civilization just sped the whole thing up exponentially, then it would seem to me that these intellectual mind games are only possible as a result of civilization. Only via Division of Labor, Ruling Heirarchy, etc, do you have the time or inclination to sit on your ass and “reflect on the nature of man.” Baloney, all of it.

    These intellectuals sitting in their ivory towers while millions and millions of children starve – it makes me sick.

    Civilization killed us. But some of us had a better ride than others.

    Oh yes, I am as guilty as the next guy – Thales, Heraclitus, Socrates, Lucretius, Descartes, Montaigne, Dante, and Eastern philosophy of Confucius, Tao, Yin-Yang, etc., etc., etc., throughout the ages – I read them all – and I loved Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell – fancied myself “enlightened” as I left my big fat house and drove my big fat car to my big fat job and paid my monthly big fat debt payments… and paid my big fat taxes – so that millions of children could suffer and many more die so that I might have the latest fashion in Nike shoes.

    Oh yes, I took a big bite out of the apple.

    “If you are falling….dive.”
    ― Joseph Campbell

    The children suffer, there is no redemption.

  • @ Kathy C.

    My position is that who we are is in the brain and no where else, and as Robin would say the I ends when the brain dissolves at death. Period. If you agree with that, say so. If you disagree, you won’t mind dying because it won’t be the end of you. I really don’t think there is anything else to say on the matter. I have been of the opinion that you are trying to say we are more than meat robots. If I misunderstood you, well say so. If I didn’t misunderstand you then death should not frighten you. I really don’t think there is anything more to discuss.

    I’m talking about science, strictly secular zone, that means evidence plus deduced, inferred, logical reasoning.

    This has nothing to do with what I believe, or you believe, or any of the 7 billion believe. What I am saying is that your position is not scientific. You cannot justify it, in the light of the evidence, and your reasoning is hopelessly flawed.

    Look, if you have a laptop, with a youtube video playing, and you destroy it with a hammer, what you are saying is ‘That PROVES that the youtube video is created by the laptop. End of story.’

    That’s not intelligent thinking, is it. All you’ve demonstrated is that there was a CORRELATION between an intact computer and a functioning video.

    We know, on this case, that the video does not depend upon the computer, it comes from a server thousands of miles away, and its created by video camera and a crew in a studio, and musician and artists, and all the rest.

    Plug in another computer and the exact same video is still there and unchanged.

    Now, in the case of the brain, it’s a zillion times more complex than any computer, and all we can safely say, is that there is a correlation between its functioning and the mind and the life force. That’s all. CORRELATION.

    And we have, as I said, tens, hundreds, of thousands of documented and highly responsible cases of ANOMALIES, which your model cannot account for. So something is wrong with your model.

    Until the matter is clarified, the only honest position is agnostic.

    If you were following the spirit of science, you’d welcome the argument, and search for the truth, but all you do is ignore the stuff that goes against your position and think this is about some contest, a battle with your will power, a struggle to defeat me. Totally ridiculous.

    None of this has anything whatsoever to do with whether or not I personally am afraid of death or not, or what I personally believe happens when I die.

    Do you not understand what Science is and how it works ? Has that been the problem all along ? Look, I might personally be terrified of flying in planes. What would that have to do with the principles of aerodynamics or how jet engines work ?

    @ Anomalous

    There are many commenters here that are smarter and more learned than I. Maybe they can amend, disprove or shine another kind of light on this issue.

    That’s a refreshing change, Anomalous. I also went down that path, thirty or forty years ago, via C.S. Nott.

    As I understand it, the late term foetus is already developing an I, a sense of self, in the womb, and thereafter the baby and child goes through many stages of selfhood as it grows toward an adult, which are retained, somewhat analogous to tree rings, and then the adult has many selves or sub-identities, which present under different circumstances, e.g. one person when you’re with your sister, another at work, another when stopped by police, etc, etc. and they all live together in a sort of chaotic community, with one or other jumping up into dominance at any one moment in time.

    The various schools of psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, wisdom traditions, sects and religions, all have different takes on this, the general idea being to try and integrate these ‘I’s so that they can all get along more or less harmoniously, reducing psychic conflict.

    In practice this typically meant giving up your crazy ambition to be a rock star or round the world sailor, accepting that you’ve got two kids and a wife to support, and accepting that you’re going to have to do the shitty job with people you hate, for a boss you despise who makes your life hell, because that’s the way it is, if you’re going to be a ‘responsible adult and citizen’ kinda thing, helping to trash the planet.

    If you crack under the strain, the doctor will give you pills to help you, and you can find a priest or therapy group to assist with your adjustment, or you can meditate and work at achieving insight and Enlightenment, etcetera.

    Personally, I parted company from all of that stuff. I don’t believe there is any ‘work to be done’.

    If you want complete and total liberation, it’s always available, free, without having to make any effort whatsoever.

    It’s very easy and simple. You ask yourself the question, ‘Who am I really ?’

    But you don’t do it the way Paul Chefurka and Robin Datta and all those similar people say you have to do it, years and years of slogging away in the hope of one day achieving or attaining or finding or discovering.

    As the old masters said, you stick your head into the tiger’s mouth, and then you ask ‘Who am I really ?’

    Then you know straight away, and you never forget, and never waste any more time.

    As the great Zen Master Joshu said about his Enlightenment, ‘Suddenly I was ruined and homeless’.

  • @Anomalous…and others here who are concerned with the “thing” variously labelled “identity”, or “self”, or “I”, or what-have-you.

    Bucky Fuller’s book title had it most succinctly.
    I seem to be a verb

    As always, he elaborated a bit between the covers with “I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.”

    Hope this helps a little.

    Meanwhile, there’s dancing & thunder…

    What shall we say, shall we call it by a name,
    As well to count the angels dancing on a pin.
    Water bright as the sky from which it came,
    And the name is on the earth that takes it in.
    We will not speak but stand inside the rain,
    And listen to the thunder shouting I am! I am! I am! I am.

  • @Robin,

    Your consciousness/awareness distinction was something I had a problem with at first, but I eventually understood what you meant. I think the difference between them may be harder to get for those who haven’t done a particular sort of consciousness work – the sort that ends with the realization of “The Illusion of I”. When I did that work, I ended up feeling that consciousness is a self-contained monism, a thing entire that does not depend on its contents to exist.

    I now have now unraveled three threads that point towards “me” being a meat puppet: the illusion of I, evolutionary psychology and MEPP. No matter how much it feels otherwise, I can come up with no convincing proof, even for myself, that I am anything but a bundle of programmed responses. Even when I think I’ve made a free choice in some matter, I don’t need to pull the curtain back very far before the underlying machinery of emotional reactivity and experience is revealed.

    Despite all that, I still think there is a thing called consciousness, as distinct from awareness-of. Is that true? Well, as I noted before, truth is a very subjective concept, prey to all the emotional reactivity and experience-driven constraints that shape the rest of our psyches. I must say though, that the meat robot finds the paradoxical idea of a conscious meat robot to be delicious.

    @U – thunderbolt or long road – there is no one way to do it. I did a few years work, then had a thunderbolt. Some people get it instantly; others build their spiritual edifice brick by painful brick; for some it becomes a Sisyphean task that can never be completed.

    Does it matter? To the individual concerned it may be the greatest task they’ve ever undertaken. For others it’s so meaningless as to appear foolish. We all do what we gotta do, in whatever way works for us.

    So what does this say about “authenticity”? Is it a “real” idea? Is it even possible to be inauthentic? After all, we are what we are, and if that ain’t true authenticity then nothing is. Or perhaps nothing is authentic, not even those people who try their hardest to find and be their “true selves”.

    In the end, we’re all just trying to get through the night, and maybe keep people from tying our shoelaces together while we’re asleep.

  • And as we begin Summer here in ‘Afraia’, ‘surprise, surprise!!'(said in a Gomer Pyle voice)…..

    ‘Record early heat in Alice Springs’

    “Alice Springs has endured 20 straight days in excess of 30 degrees, and while the extended hot spell is likely to end today, it has broken several records along the way.

    In 71 years of records, the town has not endured such an extended period of heat this early in the warming season. The current spell heat began on the 27th of August and is likely to be ended today as a cooler air mass is left behind in the wake of a low pressure trough.

    There hasn’t been a stretch this long of 30 degree heat in September, or even October. Previously, the earliest there had been 20 consecutive days of 30 degree heat was in a period from late October into early November in 2002, which turned into 36 consecutive days.

    The unseasonably hot temperatures also meant the record for the hottest winter-to-spring transition, and hottest start to spring have been broken. This also follows the hottest start to the year on record.

    In fact, so far this September the town is averaging a maximum of 33.5 degrees, more than six degrees above its long term average. With the previous September record averaging a maximum of 30.7 set in 1980, it is almost certain the monthly record will be broken.

    With above average temperatures likely for at least another week, with it also set to reach into the mid 30’s again over the weekend, this month could make the September of 1980 look comparatively cool.
    Ben McBurney, Monday September 16, 2013 – 10:27 EST

    © Weatherzone 2013 ”

    For a location map:,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.52164340,d.dGI&biw=1136&bih=626&dpr=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&sa=N&tab=wl

    Kathy Cassandra

    I probably did not clarify what I meant by ‘ there are always creative alternatives’. I was referring to personal circumstances in which individuals feel trapped and isolated etc. like being in oppressive debt,a dysfunctional set of living arrangements, poor quality social relations, dietary influences, etc. I suppose one could include moving to the Southern Hemisphere in accord with Arnie Gundersen an Helen Caldicott’s advice regarding radiation poisoning an the unfolding from day one Fukushima world nuclear emergency in that, but how many have the means? That might be a good enough reason to go into debt, or even further into debt, it depends if one’s life and those of one’s family are really in danger, in one’s opinion.
    So I wasn’t necessarily including the global inevitable climate chaos above 2 C scenario, nor the terminal edge of an average life span in that passage you quote. I don’t know if that changes you critique on what I meant. But could not self realisation and putting an end to one’s own karmic-wheeel-of-fortune-return-to-Earth-zillions-of-times scenario qualify under the category of ‘creative alternatives’ ?

    But without quibbling, your comment stands and I will be more specific in future. Thanks.
    BTW do you have a ball park figure for your rooster to hen ratio in your chicken range? Just wondering. Also, I have recently recooped, as it were, our 1 rooster and 6 hens to a much smaller, but snug roost box, and sense a slight increase in egg production. The temps are getting warmer here, so there is no real ‘control’ with the ‘experiment’, but do you think an overall warmer brood in the roost, due to bunching up could be a factor in egg laying increase? Just a thought? Of course, if the hens are somehow ‘happier’ in their new home, then that may also be a factor. How do you measure chicken bliss? Is there an FDA rubric applicable to assessing chicken well being? How many clucks per hour observed?
    I knew a woman and her son as distant neighbours who bred several hundred chickens, domestically in rented housing. This meant constant complaints from neighbours, and she consequently knew almost every state and local by-law on chicken farming. Her comment to me, after we casually discussed her feelings of harassment by rangers, disgruntled neighbours, and council health officials, was that there are very strict laws in most affluent countries criminalising overfeeding chickens, but not humans (children).
    Go figure!
    Hope you have lots of chicken bliss in your yard.

  • @Anomalous — I participated in a couple of Gurdjieff groups for several years. We all manifest multiple faces, roles, personalities. For instance, I will talk differently, posture differently when talking to my boss, wife, child… A good explanation of how to observe this in yourself and others and use it for your growth can be found under ‘sub personalities’ James Vargiu. (available online) It is used in psychosynthesis, the therapy invented by Roberto Assagioli, which borrowed from Gurdjieff and others.

    @Ozman — I love your ‘bridge’…beautiful…

    @Gail — Having indicted and properly demolished the old “God” of our human childhood, is there a possibility for a “God” lacking some of the defects you so accurately keyed in on? The all-powerful and all-good “God” of ancient thinking reminds me of the question whether in a confrontation of the irresistible force and the immovable object, which would win? I can remember as a kid standing under a streetlight late at night debating this dubious encounter of imaginary absolutes with a friend, until a patrol car stopped and asked what we kids were doing out so late at night. We couldn’t answer, correctly realizing that adults could never understand the deep philosophical concerns of precocious teenagers…

    But seriously, there are deeper versions of the divine dimensions of reality that might be harder to dismiss than the Abrahamic myths…

  • @ Paul Chefurka

    thunderbolt or long road – there is no one way to do it. I did a few years work, then had a thunderbolt. Some people get it instantly; others build their spiritual edifice brick by painful brick; for some it becomes a Sisyphean task that can never be completed.

    Please don’t put words into my mouth. I never said anything about ‘thunderbolts’, that’s just more of your bullshit.

    My zen, what I’m saying, what I’m teaching, nothing special, nothing to get, nothing to be built, no task, no thunderbolts. The greatest miracle in the Universe is right in front of your nose all the time, 24/7/365 free, no effort required. The fact that you can’t see it, not my problem.

    You and Robin Datta and others want to make hard work for yourselves climbing mountains that don’t exist, that’s you privilege, you’re free to do that, I couldn’t stop you even if I had the time and energy to bother.

    …and maybe keep people from tying our shoelaces together while we’re asleep.

    You sleep with your shoes on ? Never wear anything but wellies myself, no laces, and I don’t sleep in them.

    Flyin’ Shoes

  • ulvfugl

    You wrote:

    “As the old masters said, you stick your head into the tiger’s mouth, and then you ask ‘Who am I really ?’
    Then you know straight away, and you never forget, and never waste any more time.
    As the great Zen Master Joshu said about his Enlightenment, ‘Suddenly I was ruined and homeless’.”

    Great. How does one respond to the dragon one cannot see ? That dragon poses the same life threat, just unseen. The consciousness-shock value is not there perhaps. But the death will surely come.

    ‘Fighting a dragon I cannot see’

    ‘Has the Fukushima “China Syndrome” begun?’

    ‘Hartmann: Fukushima…Has the China Syndrome now officially begun?’

    ‘Dr. Helen Caldicott on Fukushima and the Perils of Nuclear Power’

    Not pulling your chain.

    Could this wake up moment be collectively a ‘tiger’s mouth’ event, minus the intentional component on ordinary folk’s part? Or is it equally as possible a ‘Hamlet event’, where Hamlet dies as he fully wakes to the greatness of life.

    Just askin.

  • U said, “If you want complete and total liberation, it’s always available, free, without having to make any effort whatsoever.”

    U is U and I am U and we are U and we are all together! There IT is, the key! Hot damn! Zippity do da! Anomalus, you’ve been gifted. Take it to heart with joy and gratitude!

  • Por las personas quien viven en el sur-oeste (zonas seco y tropical) de los estados y las personas quien recibiran una transfusion de sangre deben cuidar infeccion de la enfermedad Chagas. Mas que 50,000 personas mueren cada ano y hay 300,000 personas ya infectado en los estados y aproximadamente 16 a 18 millones de personas en America Latina, incluyendo Mexico son infectado. Este peligroso enfermedad es causado por un parasito del insecto vinchuca o, “Kissing bug.” Normalmente, la persona no busca sintomas por el primero 10 a 20 anos. Se encuentran mas informacion aqui:

  • @robin, the word “vice and the prefix “vice” have different Latin roots:

    vice (n.1)
    “moral fault, wickedness,” c.1300, from Old French vice, from Latin vitium “defect, offense, blemish, imperfection,” in both physical and moral senses (cf. Italian vezzo “usage, entertainment”).

    “Horace and Aristotle have already spoken to us about the virtues of their forefathers and the vices of their own times, and through the centuries, authors have talked the same way. If all this were true, we would be bears today.” [Montesquieu]

    Vice squad is attested from 1905. Vice anglais “corporal punishment,” literally “the English vice,” is attested from 1942, from French.

    word-forming element meaning “instead of, in place of,” 15c., from Latin vice “in place of,” ablative of vicis “change, turn, office” (see vicarious). Sometimes borrowed in Old French form vis-, vi-.

  • @U

    There have been stories of sudden enlightenment, one of which you posted: “As the great Zen Master Joshu said about his Enlightenment, ‘Suddenly I was ruined and homeless.'”

    Most people don’t give a rat’s ass about the topic, which is probably the best way to go through life. If someone is interested in finding out intellectually what there is there to be found, and takes a few years taking themselves too seriously in the process, I have no problem with that. In the end, it just doesn’t matter. We’re meat robots, after all – we can’t help what we do. Or not.

    I certainly don’t tell people they have to spend years on some cockamamie path or other. If they ask, all I tell them is what I did. They are free to do what they wish with that, I have no part to play in that aspect of anyone’s life. I’m no master of anyone or anything.

    For me the interesting thing is to have the feeling of being consciousness, while at the same time, and with equal certainty, knowing I’m a meat robot. That’s interesting. Enlightenment isn’t.

  • from the end of #64

    Therefore the Master takes action
    by letting things take their course.
    He remains as calm
    at the end as at the beginning.
    He has nothing,
    thus has nothing to lose.
    What he desires is non-desire;
    what he learns is to unlearn.
    He simply reminds people
    of who they have always been.
    He cares about nothing but the Tao.
    Thus he can care for all things.

    and the beginning of #65

    The ancient Masters
    didn’t try to educate the people,
    but kindly taught them to not-know.

    When they think that they know the answers,
    people are difficult to guide.
    When they know that they don’t know,
    people can find their own way.


    Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
    Others call it lofty but impractical.
    But to those who have looked inside themselves,
    this nonsense makes perfect sense.
    And to those who put it into practice,
    this loftiness has roots that go deep.

    I have just three things to teach:
    simplicity, patience, compassion.
    These three are your greatest treasures.
    Simple in actions and in thoughts,
    you return to the source of being.
    Patient with both friends and enemies,
    you accord with the way things are.
    Compassionate toward yourself,
    you reconcile all beings in the world.

    good night my on-line friends

  • @tvt, glad to hear you are progressing well in the fasting!

    “What is more likely, that Nature should go out of Her course, or that men should lie?”
    I believe that’s from Thomas Paine.

    @ulvfulgl: the adult has many selves or sub-identities, which present under different circumstances, e.g. one person when you’re with your sister, another at work, another when stopped by police, etc, etc. and they all live together in a sort of chaotic community, with one or other jumping up into dominance at any one moment in time.

    This is why I could never bring myself to go on Facebook.

    You say “You and Robin Datta and others want to make hard work for yourselves…” But this is like the aha! moment I brought up earlier. YOU went through a lot of study and practice, and now you don’t want to credit that preparation towards your aha! moment, it sounds like…

  • Bodhi Paul Chefurka: the difference between them may be harder to get for those who haven’t done a particular sort of consciousness work – the sort that ends with the realization of “The Illusion of I”.

    That work is known as vichara, usually translated as “self-enquiry”, as in the Vedic question, “Who am I?”. But any path pursued with sincerity will lead to it.

    The work needed may vary widely, from the ones who find the difference obvious from the get-go to those who don’t get it in spite of a lifetime of effort. I don’t recollect any time when the distinction between consciousness and awareness was not obvious to me. On occasion the “I” can also come into question at a level so primal that the “I” seems weird, bordering on illusory.

    The ones with the discernment can usually count on the fingers of one hand (or the fingers of one foot) the others that they have known personally with similar discernment. There is no use of arguing these things with persons who have no experience of them; it is not a matter of intellection and group discussion, but of direct experience. Even as some may point at the moon, others will look at the pointing finger.

    consciousness is a self-contained monism,

    A monism is compatible the existence of distinguishable others within and without. In non-dualism there is no other: the One without a second, as in the Vedantic and Kabbalistic traditions. The Kabbalah also points out (Sefer Yetzirah, Chapter 1, verse 7) that even the designation of “One” is inadequate, as it carries the implication of other numbers. In that sense Kabbalah is more non-dualistic than the Vedanta.

  • Fukushima and Extinction

    Every serious doom connoisseur
    Thinks over what end they’d prefer;
    Radiation’s spread
    Won’t make us all dead,
    But might make us wish that we were.

  • we all die, there’s nothing more.

  • Rob at the public library, I must take offense, given my profession.

    If you think books and learning are responsible for our mess, why are you posting from a public library?

    Why are you even there, if you’ve decided to make such sweeping connections (which you fail to prove) between those thinkers (many of whom warned us AGAINST excess) and the mess we’re in now?

    Why even call yourself Rob at the public library, if you have nothing but contempt for a library’s contents?

    Heck, if we’d been more curious, rather than zoned out in front of the TV or chanting mindless war slogans, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

  • Who says the universe is uncaring and meaningless?

  • Paul Chefurka Says:
    @U There have been stories of sudden enlightenment…

    Most people don’t give a rat’s ass about the topic, which is probably the best way to go through life.
    Yes, that’s the way GE/TEPCO when through life when they deliberately put those Fukushima reactors below the historical tsunami height and put the emergency generators in the basement. That’s probably what the CEO of GE was thinking in 1961 when he said, “we’re going to ram this nuclear thing through.” And when the AEC engineers said their Mark 1 reactors containment was a defective and unreasonably dangerous design, but if they forced a redesign, GE couldn’t have made enough profit, and that might have killed off the nuclear power industry.
    I don’t know if there ever was a bodhi tree where someone once sought enlightenment on the site were Fukushima now stands, but if there was one, and you sat under it now, the radiation would kill you in about four hours…and its going to be that lethal for a long, long time. This slideshow takes a little while to load, Arne Gundersen reviews the crime scene. Fukushima was not an accident, it was a crime.

  • Regarding the efficacy of trying to communicate spiritual truths:

    “[U]nion with the Divine… can only be explored through praxis due to the inability of the finite mind (and its tool, language) to comprehend or express the infinite” – Wikipedia

    “Those who know, do not speak. Those who speak, do not know.” – Lao Tzu?

    “Speech is silvern, Silence is golden.” – Thomas Carlyle

    “The empty can rattles the most” – folk idiom


    The 5 stages of climate denial are on display ahead of the IPCC report – Antiscience forces running damage control in the media

    By Dana Nuccitelli
    15 September 2013

    (The Guardian) – The fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is due out on September 27th, and is expected to reaffirm with growing confidence that humans are driving global warming and climate change. In anticipation of the widespread news coverage of this auspicious report, climate contrarians appear to be in damage control mode, trying to build up skeptical spin in media climate stories. Just in the past week we’ve seen:
    •The David Rose Mail on Sunday piece that treated scientific evidence in much the way bakers treat pretzel dough.
    •Dr. John Christy interviewed by the Daily Mail;
    •Christy’s colleague Dr. Roy Spencer in The Christian Post;
    •Andrew Montford in Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian;
    •Matt Ridley in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal; and
    •Bjorn Lomborg in The Washington Post.

    Interestingly, these pieces spanned nearly the full spectrum of the 5 stages of global warming denial.

    [hardly a surprise to us, i’d say]


    NY Times Says Earth Has Unlimited Carrying Capacity, So Forget Climate Change and Party On, Homo Sapiens!

    In a collective act of media irresponsibility, the New York Times and Washington Post have joined the Wall Street Journal in publishing “don’t worry, be happy” articles days before the big UN climate science report will say quite the opposite.

    We expect the WSJ to be a haven for disinformation, and as I discussed Sunday, Matt Ridley didn’t disappoint. But it’s sad when we see at the very same time

    – The Washington Post publish a piece downplaying the climate threat from the well-known and well-debunked confusionist Bjorn Lomborg, and

    – The NY Times run a Pollyannish piece, “Overpopulation Is Not the Problem” which asserts, contrary to much recent science, that, “There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity.”

    Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University, “an expert on environmental communications,” emailed me this comment on the WashPost and NYT pieces:

    My opinion -– irresponsible, one-sided journalism on the part of both papers.

    This really looks like the beginnings of the cultural/media counter-offensive against the forthcoming IPCC report.

    That said – why are both the Post and Times publishing this nonsense? Either they are being played or are complicit.

    Obviously fact checking is not required for op-eds in either of our “so-called” leading newspapers.

    [and we wonder why the masses don’t get it . . .]

  • Paul – For me the interesting thing is to have the feeling of being consciousness, while at the same time, and with equal certainty, knowing I’m a meat robot. That’s interesting. Enlightenment isn’t.

    Yes, that is enlightenment – the sort that is well documented by Daniel Wegner in his book “The Illusion of Conscious Will”. While about will specifically it pertains to the illusion of conscious self as well. To tie this back to the topic, if will and self are illusions the question of authenticity is moot. Usually what we use our self aware brain to do is not direct us to some authentic path, but to rationalize what we find ourselves doing as authentic, moral, good – whatever. That may be the main purpose of extended consciousness – to negotiate the problems we face as a social creature living in a milieu of other big brained socail creatures.

    Mike K you wrote to Gail Having indicted and properly demolished the old “God” of our human childhood, is there a possibility for a “God” lacking some of the defects you so accurately keyed in on? A powerful god who acts in human affairs certainly cannot be seen as loving. A creator vengeful god who punishes humans for being well human, the way he made them is not good. There may be some other god out there but if some being can’t stop children from being sold into sex slavery, what good is that god. Frankly a god that can’t do anything about injustice is irrelevant to me. Inspiring us to do good – well people believe in all sorts of gods, or no gods and it doesn’t seem to change the mix of people who do good and who don’t as far as I can see.

    OZ man, yes we personally can have creative solutions to problems. If that is your meaning we agree.

    We want at least 5 hens to 1 rooster but its better to have more – say 10 to 1. We keep some extra roos that we want to breed in pens (I always tell people they are in jail for rape) The ones that run free have to earn it by not fighting ALL the time, treating hens well (ie calling for food, watching for hawks, maintaining good order) and well looking good :) The birds have 1 acre to roam on and sort themselves into about 4 flocks – its a bit fluid but during the day most can be found in the usual places, and at night they all go home to roost. Each flock has 1 head roo and usually a second or third roo that defers to #1. Recently a roo that reigned alone got hurt and penned for healing. Its interesting to see who will fill that slot. Its now getting pretty settled who will rule the roosterless flock, a second from one of the other flocks has seized the initiative and then hens seem comfortable with him. Fascinating to watch.

    Rob at the public library Civilization killed us. But some of us had a better ride than others. yep. Its all down there in print. The fall of Rome for instance can be read about at the public library. A good library will have “The Collapse of Complex Societies” by Tainter showing how the fall of civilization is inevitable and a really good public library will have Dilworth’s “Too Smart for our Own Good” showing how the failure of our species is inevitable. So yes the library is full of wonderful books of what people think we could have been, but a good library will offer other viewpoints as well as actual history and well it documents our failures over and over to life up to the “what could have been” Just watched the movie “Danton” which tells of what happened after the French revolution, the Reign of Terror, which in the end led to both Danton and Robespierre losing their heads. So much for the hopes of enlightenment. Well a good library will have books that note that Thomas Jefferson, not only had children by a slave, but kept those children AS slaves, and that the slave he fathered children with were from his wife’s half sister, the child of his father-in-law by a slave. I found at Gore Vidal when I was much younger at the public library and oh how I loved the way he shafted the hypocrisy of our founding fathers. And yes, the children suffer.

    What can we do – not much except not create any more children to suffer. Since the unborn by definition cannot have a say in to live or not to live, and we cannot guarantee length or quality of life, we have no right to conceive them. In fact it can be pretty damn sure that any child born now will have a short life mostly full of misery. The born will suffer. The unborn do not.

  • “We know, on this case, that the video does not depend upon the computer, it comes from a server thousands of miles away, and its created by video camera and a crew in a studio, and musician and artists, and all the rest.” – U.

    Exactly. You can go and see the server. It is real. You can meet and talk to the people who built and maintain it! So to choose this as an analogy of for consciousness is fatally weak. You’ll have to come up with something better to demonstrate the existence of something which doesn’t have any proof or evidence whatsoever.

  • @Kirk Hamilton

    Glad you’re feeling better.

    I (did I say that?) read your posts and appreciate your contributions to the NBL/NTE forum.

    Evolution is playing a cruel joke here in the land of pregnant men.

    Rob at the public library writes:
    September 16th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    “oh here we go with the “enlightened” nonsense.”

    Mr. Natural

    kevin moore writes:
    September 15th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    “Nevertheless, keep the essays coming, Guy. There are only a handful of websites I find worth following these days, as other individuals or groups fail to make the connections, fail to see the writing on the wall, or become mired in non-solutions to the predicament.”



    Thanks for that.

    Maybe you Gurus and Bodhisattvas can start a separate thread on your own servers? Except for Paul. He’s been doing that long time now. Too much studying is a weariness to the flesh.

    @Librarian writes:
    September 16th, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    “Rob at the public library, I must take offense, given my profession.

    If you think books and learning are responsible for our mess, why are you posting from a public library?”

    Uh, because that’s where the “free” computers are and maybe for some shelter from inclement weather? Haven’t you ever been homeless Librarian? Other good places are diners with free coffee refills.

    ulvfugl writes:
    September 16th, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Have you been reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead again?
    Try a lit candle or lit kerosene lamp as an object of focus. One may be able to hold the image of the flame a bit longer.

    Brought a mess of prime orchard fruit to the local food bank a few days ago. The deer spook easily for some reason and bucks are on the move. Canned some up as well. Acer saccharum – Sugar Maple are turning color now. Next week I’m (whoever that is) off to the north country to mill some rough sawn lumber with a friend I’ve (oops) known since the fifth grade. Should be fun.

  • Something that’s right on topic for this blog:

    David Spratt of Climate Code Red has published an excellent overview of the current situation – “Is Climate Change already Dangerous?” – with a long, hard look at tipping points. He doesn’t come right out and say “We’re screwed,” but he might as well have. A very well-done summary, IMO.

  • @ Librarian:

    I’m here because I use the computers for free and, if you get here when they open, the bathrooms are clean – pretty simple.

    The debate has been much discussed here at NBL whether it is Industrial Civilization that killed us or just plain old Civilization – starting when humans decided to settle down, plant crops, build cities. So, my point was that only through civilization do people have the luxury of “book learning” and, therefore, the “enlightened” ones here at NBL with their impressive pedigrees of learning credentials are simply children of the very civilization that killed us.

    Sure, pre-civilization humans had heirarchy, oral traditions, mythology, and learning of the ways of nature and the cosmos – no doubt, but as soon as they planted crops and built cities they created leisure – and this created fat people and educated people and “enlightened” people and, eventually, free internet porn.

    Survival was a full time job before civilization took hold.

    @ Kathy C.: Yes, this library is full of the stories of our greatness and our stupidity.

    Doubt is not a pleasant state of mind, but certainty is absurd. ~Voltaire, 1767

    The children suffer, there is no redemption.

  • Guy,
    As a dreamer and a fool I have to disagree. An authentic life is easy as long as one stays true to the dream. It’s been said that, “the fool who persists in his folly eventually becomes wise”. Standing firm against the onslaught of the insanity that you so eloquently delineate would, in my humble opinion, constitute something akin to “authentic”… Let’s not waste time on semantics and keep resisting, besides it’s finally rained if just a bit too much.

    As a friend I wish you the best and some respite from the emotional storm of the probability of NTE. Perhaps I can find some refuge myself.

  • “Survival was a full time job before civilization took hold.” I think that is backwards, at least in some environments. It seems to me civilization – turning the 99% into slaves for the 1% – is what led to full-time work. I’ve read that many hunter-gatherer tribes only spent a small proportion of their time on essential work (finding and preparing food and shelter).

  • @ Lidia

    The ‘aha!’ moments, one was, there is no mountain, just here, now.

    I am no meat robot. I think the term is ignorant, demeaning, offensive, disrespectful of life, whether from the religious or scientific perspective.

    If Robin Datta and Paul Chefurka and others want to be meat robots, so be it, their problem, not mine.

    @ Afrizen

    “[U]nion with the Divine… can only be explored through praxis due to the inability of the finite mind (and its tool, language) to comprehend or express the infinite”

    Certainly true, however, much better job can be done than most gurus and zen masters and theologians have done, imo.

    Although infinity is impossible to imagine, in mathematics, its easy, you just represent something you can’t understand, God, whatever, with a symbol, X.

    So ∞ symbolises infinity. Then you can add 1 to it. So you have made it slightly bigger.

    Then you can have another infinity that you add 2 to, and then another 3, so you can have as many infinities as you like, in fact, you can have an infinite number of infinities :-)

    So, if that can be done by mathematicians, it can also be done by people re union with the divine, sort of an oblique approach by catching the tail end of what cannot be understood, but first they have to know what they are talking about, and not just be bullshitting.

    @ Mythodrome

    Who says the universe is uncaring and meaningless?

    Hahaha, quite a lot of people here say that explicitly.

    @ Melissa

    we all die, there’s nothing more.

    You know this ? How ? Did you die ?

    Possibly people have been saying that for tens of thousands of years, yet there is this, here we are, a world they could never have imagined.

    @ Tom

    Thanks !

    @ Paul Chefurka

    There have been stories of sudden enlightenment..

    You think I said that there have not been ? That is not what I said.

    Frankly, you seem to be hopelessly and utterly confused. You say you have done this and that, which lead you to agree with Robin Datta, that the self and the I are illusions and don’t exist, and then you come up with :

    For me the interesting thing is to have the feeling of being consciousness, while at the same time, and with equal certainty, knowing I’m a meat robot.

    So, if your self, your I, is an illusion, – as you stated above – what is it that is having this feeling, of being consciousness ( whatever that is supposed to mean ? ) and of knowing it is a meat robot ? Who or what is this ‘me’ making the above statement and posting it here ?

    And where does this judgement or knowledge of a non-existent ‘me’ reside ? Who or what does the observing ? Where are they located ?

    Presumably somewhere else, on some other non-existent observation platform which observes the non-existent illusion of ‘me’, and so you are into an infinite regression of ‘me’, all checking to see of they actually exist or not…

    and how do you know that the ‘knowing it’s an illusion’ is not itself just another illusion ?

    Are you really seriously suggesting that being tangled up in all that nonsensical verbiage has anything to do with anything useful, valuable or worthwhile at all ? Or even interesting, for that matter.

    No wonder people disparage and ridicule this stuff as navel gazing.

    @ Gail

    Exactly. You can go and see the server. It is real. You can meet and talk to the people who built and maintain it! So to choose this as an analogy of for consciousness is fatally weak. You’ll have to come up with something better to demonstrate the existence of something which doesn’t have any proof or evidence whatsoever.

    Ffs, please try re-reading what I said. It’s not ‘’an analogy of for (sic) consciousness’’ it’s an illustration of the flaw in Kathy’s logic, and that of the authorities she quotes.

    If you want an analogy re consciousness, we know that the entire Universe is suffused with microwave background radiation from the Big Bang, but we wouldn’t know that without the appropriate receiving device.

    Perhaps the entire Universe is similarly suffused with consciousness, and our brains are the receiving devices. Breaking the device produces the effect that K. describes.

    @ ogardener

    A candle flame or similar would be less suitable, you don’t want an after image, that’s just confusing the issue. My example has nothing to do with that book or buddhism.

  • @ulvfugl:

    You certainly do seem to get annoyed over what other people choose to think about! If I think I may be a “conscious” meat robot (whatever that means), how does that affect you in any way? I’m certainly not asking you to think of yourself that way. Why the sturm und drang?

  • @ Paul Chefurka

    Hahaha, what sturm und drang ? If I was bringing sturm und drang to this page it’d be considerably more dramatic than anything I’ve written.

    I find you and Robin Datta’s utterances on ‘spritual’ matters to be pretentious meaningless waffle, posing as wisdom, hiding behind opaque, obscure terminology which neither of you even understand yourselves, and when I call your bluff, what happens ?

    Neither of you have anything to say, as in this instance.

    I doesn’t effect me personally in any way, other than witnessing the moral crime of bringing more stupidity and confusion into the world, ‘Selling the wine of delusion’, as the buddhists call it, which is something buddhists are supposed to be firmly against.

    If either of you actually understand what these doctrines, these concepts, re illusion, self, consciousness, etc, etc, actually mean, and why understanding them might be of interest or important, and what relevance they have for ordinary people, then please, go ahead, explain, teach, in ways that we can all understand. Otherwise, no BS, thanks.

  • @ 44south. Thanks for turning us on to, Dirty Bloody Hippies! A great history of the movement in NZ, showing the beginnings and exposing the root of the downfall. Wasn’t it great to be part of what IMHO was the high-water mark of Western Civilization.

    And because I really believe a lot of gardeners and chicken growers here would especially like the ‘back to the land’ part. here’s the link:

  • @ Tom


    @ ogardener

    Very nice to hear that, my friend. If I weren’t so absolutely envious of your “garden,” I’d say nicer things. But what the heck.

    Careful with that wood-cutting gig. We need you here all safe and sound.

  • ogardner says, ” Next week I’m (whoever that is)”… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! :) :) :)

  • ‘What can we do – not much except not create any more children to suffer.’

  • @oldgrowthforest from the previous thread: “Comparing one of the nation’s finest perinatologists who is also a Hebrew scholar with “campus crusades,” is exactly what I meant by not being able to put information together in any meaningful way.”

    Well, here’s some further information from that time which I put together in a meaningful way, to me, at least. This floor in the women’s dorm ALSO had brilliant (as measured by IQ tests) Orthodox Jewish women living there. Now THEY didn’t proselytize, thankfully, but they did leave the freakin’ BURNERS ON THE ELECTRIC STOVE ON for twenty minutes to “kosher-ize” the stovetop, or some damn thing (even though the food stays inside their personal pan and the burner itself can’t really contaminate it, that doesn’t matter in Believer Land).

    Problem was, they didn’t attend to the stove, and the stoves back then didn’t have the little warning lights to let you know the burner might be hot… so people coming upon the seemingly-not-in-use unattended stove unawares ended up burning themselves on a couple of occasions. The hall meeting about THAT was a lot of fun, and so were the stinks the Jews made about the Christmas tree in the common area, which the Crusaders insisted upon. What this taught me is that people are fucking insane. That is the meaningful information I gathered from those years.

    I was in the student group that organized movies on campus. Another absurd thing the Orthodox Jews used to do was to give US the problem of how THEY could pay for a ticket to a Friday night movie in a manner that would jibe with their religious edicts of not doing work or entering into transactions or handling money on the Sabbath. They were never interested in the spirit of this law, just the legalisms. We couldn’t give them a ticket in advance, because the ticket was the same as money to them. Leaving their name at the door was ok for some (but not all!). And THEY’d be angry at US! If you’re so religious, stay home and pray on the Sabbath, why don’t you, instead of expecting to go out to the movies… Sheesh.