The Promise of American Life

by Alton C. Thompson

It has been said of Herbert Croly’s The Promise of American Life that:

If any one book can be said to offer a manifesto of Progressive beliefs, it was Herbert Croly’s The Promise of American Life. Croly (1869-1930), a political theorist and journalist who founded The New Republic, was Progressivism’s preeminent philosopher. Published in 1909, his book argued that Americans had to overcome their Jeffersonian heritage, with its emphasis on minimal government, decentralized authority, and the sanctity of individual freedom, in order to deal with the unprecedented problems of an urban and industrial age. Industrialism, he believed, had reduced most workers to a kind of “wage slavery,” and only a strong central government could preserve democracy and promote social progress.

Croly was bothered by the inequality that existed in the early part of the last century, and became convinced that this inequality had arisen because of the lack of any institutions capable of countering it. That conclusion led him to the further conclusion that the national government must be strengthened, “as a bulwark against what he regarded as overbearing self-interest, greed, corruption, and unchecked power” that existed in the private sector.

(The pejorative term) “big government” may have had its philosophical basis in Croly’s book (although some would trace the roots of big government back to Alexander Hamilton), but:

The origins of federal growth [claims this source] are in the Constitutional Convention. But the modern period of growth began with the Progressive Era before World War I. Contrary to popular belief, that growth continued through the 1920s. The percentage by which the federal government grew was greater during Herbert Hoover’s four years as president than during the first seven years of the New Deal. [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt merely continued a long-standing trend.

Regardless of the matter of when our national government became “big,” the fact of the matter is that it is now. More importantly, however, the hope that “only a strong central government could preserve democracy and promote social progress” has been shattered. Not only has our national government not been a “bulwark” against growing inequality; it has become a mere tool of the rich—this best illustrated, perhaps, by the Koch brothers (Charles and David). For example, “In 2008, the three main Koch family foundations contributed to 34 political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct.”

From the vantage point of today, Croly’s recommendation of an enlarged role for the national government appears naïve. After all, our society has long contained feudal elements. As Karen Orren notes in her Belated Feudalism: Labor, the Law, and Liberal Development in the United States (1991, pp. 2 – 3):

At the time the United States entered upon full-scale industrialization after the Civil War, its politics contained, at the core, a belated feudalism, a remnant of the medieval hierarchy of person relations, a particularized network of law and morality—a system of governance—that the word “feudalism” conveys. It had been dislodged neither by the American Revolution nor by the advent of the U.S. Constitution, but remained embedded within American government—a state within a state—dividing public power, limiting the reach of legislation, setting the bounds of collective action, well into the current century.

With the rise of capitalism (stimulated by Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations), and western expansion, the rigidity of feudalism began to disintegrate; but what remained was still a social class system, fueled by a value system that emphasized individualism, competition, materialism, and selfishness. Given that situation, why would one expect that enlarging the national government would—or even could—serve the common good? To a degree it has, of course, but our society is becoming increasingly inegalitarian, and the rich are using their money to control our politics—i.e., we are now a plutocracy!

If the “leaders” of our country—political and corporate—were able to adopt a societal, and even international, perspective (which seems to have been Croly’s hope), they would make decisions on the basis of the “general welfare” while simultaneously giving special attention to “disadvantaged” groups. However, the value system that guides their decision-making is parochial in the extreme—one oriented to the short run, and to businesses and to profit-making. As a consequence, it would be foolish to expect them to make such decisions.

An extremely important implication of that fact is that our “leaders” show no awareness whatsoever of the fact that we humans are a part of a vast Ecosystem comprised of numerous smaller ecosystems. In not being so aware, they easily make decisions that impact local ecosystems and Earth Ecosystem—doing so unaware of the fact that in so doing they bring about changes in ecosystems that have implications for their own lives. And, for those of us—which is most of us!—who are not in leadership positions!

For those of us in this latter category who are aware of our (as humans) deleterious impact on ecosystems—and ourselves, eventually—it is easy to become both frustrated and depressed. We may be able to conceive “promise” in American life, but are unable to entertain the belief that that promise can be realized. Thus, it is by no means surprising that Michael Ruppert committed suicide last year (on April 13, 2014).

Hopefully, those of us who are aware of our negative impact, as humans, on ecosystems will follow the lead of Guy McPherson rather than Michael Ruppert, each charting his or her own course through life (in the process discovering, if not “following, one’s bliss”).

Comments 57

  • Alton, I can’t disagree with anything you said. For what it’s worth, however, I don’t conclude, as some might, that a weaker/smaller federal government would be preferable to what we have now. As it is, there are many states in the U.S. that are doing incredibly stupid things on any issue one can name. At least we still have a (barely) functioning Supreme Court to stave off the worst of that nonsense. Cold comfort, I know.

    Paul Chefurka, thanks for the book recommendations. I will check them out. Along those same lines, you might also like Jed McKenna’s Enlightenment Trilogy and his Theory of Everything.

    Guy, I just learned that Alfred, Lord Tennyson, said this before Edward Abbey was born: Thought you might like to know!

  • Sorry, there was a glitch. The quote I wanted to enter is this: I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.

  • Size is not as important as character and maturity.

    A baby cannot govern an adult, and some adults cannot govern a baby.

    Don’t confuse domination with governance.

  • Alton,

    You wrote: “With the rise of capitalism (stimulated by Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations), and western expansion, the rigidity of feudalism began to disintegrate …”

    I disagree.

    American feudalism has never been stronger.

    Inequality is but one fingerprint of it.

    The attack on the word “feudalism” was planned in the daze of Bernays in order to cover what was placed under the hood.

    It is still there, burning fossil fuels until our death ((American Feudalism, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

    The only antidote to feudalism is peace.

    Peace is what has degenerated out of existence, but feudalism, the first born of war, is growing unabated.

  • Learn why Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein and the NIC (Non-profit Industrial Complex) are funded by Wall Street.

    The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard, Lies, Racism, Omnicide

    The Corporate Sponsors Of Bill McKibben’s Divestment Tour

  • Alton, Joseph Campbell is best described as “the hero with a thousand giant holes in his childish philosophy.”

    Campbell is the epitome of an imaginative literary fool – a classic bullshitter.

    Bill Moyers completely destroyed his credibility when he hooked up with bullshitting Campbell.

    Campbell wrote millions of words – signifying nothing.

    To this day Moyers will not admit how much money (it was plenty) he made from his convoluted scamming with Campbell.

    Joe’s asinine prescription; “Follow your bliss” was a big hit in Supernation’s culture of self-indulgent narcissism.

    “What about me?”

    Georgie Bush, Dick Cheney, Hilariuos Clinton, Lt. Calley, General Koster, Robert Macnamara, Victoria Nuland, Jeffrey Dahmer, Bubba Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni, the Koch Bros, & Jack-the-Ripper always follow THEIR bliss.

    Would you give such selfish & superficial advice to a child?

  • I’m the epitome of an imaginative illiterary fool – a neo-classical bullshitter who writes hundreds of words signifying nothing. The pen is not mightier than the sword. words are wind, and nothing will change because of them, but they do manage to hide my self-loathing behind big ideas. I love the ludicrous descent of the high and mighty, even if it is myself. Although, I suspect I’m caught in a self-reinforcing narcissistic feedback loop.

  • Callaghan, the truthful simple words from Lumumba Di-Aping made me weep.

  • “With the rise of capitalism (stimulated by Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations), and western expansion, the rigidity of feudalism began to disintegrate; but what remained was still a social class system, fueled by a value system that emphasized individualism, competition, materialism, and selfishness.”

    Historically inaccurate in the extreme. Capitalism was already a roaring giant when Smith penned The Wealth of Nations in 1776. It had been going on for a couple of centuries, having emerged via the Enclosures in late medieval England. Search for The Agrarian Origin of Capitalism by Ellen Meiksins-Wood (leaving out a URL to avoid tie-ups in posting, it’s easy to find). Smith’s book was merely an apology for a process which had already been going oh, which had already extended to Scotland, Ireland and the European continent and beyond. In fact, Smith totally left out the crucial, central role of Enclosures in the emergence and growth of capitalism, thought he himself was involved in more than a few court cases on behalf of Enclosure efforts. See The Invention of Capitalism by Michael Perelman regarding Smith. His political economist colleague James Steuart was far more honest, calling openly for the state to pursue Enclosures.

    And your conclusion, Alton, is really laughable. Downsizing the state while leaving capital intact simply means that large corporations will directly run the state, without even the token allotment of any social power to the rest of us. It’s not like i favor big government either, capital and state are two sides of the same shit pie.

    As far as the Elon Musk snow job which Jean Turcot is trying to sell, search for “Zero Hedge Tesla,” and you’ll find a bunch of articles such as this one.

  • After a couple of decades working with various personality disorders, I realized there are certain types that will always rise to the top. They have zero, or nearly so, consideration or regard for others. Their needs come first in all situations. In fact, they are most excellent in reading people and taking advantage of the slightest “weakness”. Type of government does not really matter in my opinion. All one has to do is watch the typical politician. They are extremely adapt at telling the public exactly, or nearly so, what they want to hear. All things to all people meaning, of course, they stand for nothing.

    The more brutal types simply kill. The more sophisticated types utilize all sorts of verbal and legal methods of domination. The naïve who are endlessly seeking a “messiah”, so to speak, to save their sorry asses from whatever situation they are in. If one sees through the BS, one becomes a “doomer”, too negative to talk to and a pariah in all social situations. As Vonnegut said long ago: And so it goes.

  • One who publicly shames anyone who suicides “doesn’t hold a candle” to them.

    The great Welsch scientist/author David Whyte has long observed that acculturation blocks the honest assesesment of suicide, that all suicide is a valiant human achievement.”

  • The United States of Mindfuck! The name of the game: total degeneration of everything worth doing, having, knowing or believing. The U.S. personifies the greatest of all condemnations, that in its very soul, “the best is the worst and the worst is the best”.

    In the United States of Mindfuck, most people, men and women who consider themselves to be most closely associated with The United States of Mindfuck’s god, do everything they can to prove their god is wrong about everything he stated in their own holy book. They teach everyone, by word and example, that their god was wrong about even his most basic teachings like, “Love your enemies, serve the poor, a rich man can’t get into heaven, it is impossible to serve god and worldliness”! Thus, the “best” people of the United States of Mindfuck birth and nurture the worst aspects of their society: war, exploitation of the weak, worship of money and materialism, suicidal destruction of their own planet, etc., etc., etc.!

    In The United States of Mindfuck, to be “truly good” is to be automatically branded a traitor and an enemy as soon as you open your mouth. To be evil or a minion of evil in the United States of Mindfuck, is to take the fast track to relative riches and praise, if you’re lucky. Almost everyone in the United States of Mindfuck has been hopelessly fouled by overwhelming influences that hammer its subjects constantly. But, there are a few here who live, think and believe as if they know what can be lost by living in darkness.

  • “An extremely important implication of that fact is that our “leaders” show no awareness whatsoever of the fact that we humans are a part of a vast Ecosystem comprised of numerous smaller ecosystems. In not being so aware, they easily make decisions that impact local ecosystems and Earth Ecosystem—doing so unaware of the fact that in so doing they bring about changes in ecosystems that have implications for their own lives. And, for those of us—which is most of us!—who are not in leadership positions!”

    Every road and every building on undeveloped land further destroys ecosystem. So why should there be any further paving of undeveloped land?

    Wild animals, whose numbers have halved in the last 40 years, inhabit undeveloped land. Isn’t that enough justification to prohibit any further paving (development) of undeveloped land?

    And although city councils, county commissioners, newspapers all allow the public to speak up to affirm the above, it’s as though everyone was struck dumb. What’s up with that?

  • Christian Parenti is now promoting the big state as a possible mitigation to global warming and climate catastrophe. Who else is going to do it?…Basically that’s the rationale, and no one else has any hope whatsoever of having the power to put any imaginable check on private business. Also in the talk, Parenti says in 1980 under Reagan business captured government totally and absolutely. Having observed the past 35 years, I can’t image these people ever admitting defeat, admitting they are dead wrong, much less going peacefully and in an orderly polite manner. How he can reconcile this under current political conditions, I am dunno.

    “Climate Change and the Political Ecology of American Power”
    International House, University of Chicago 2015-04-23


    Me personally, however, I am not a prof at NYU, and I have no skin in the game of el monstruo capitalista, and I could care less if it’s facilitator and enforcer, el gobierno de los gringos, continues to exist even at all. Parenti, however, I think, digs that New York state of mind.

    Following my thinking that the only viable way of life is chilling it for the rest of forever like dirt broke, boring as hell, nothing to do upcountry Lao and Cambodians who, you know, live beat on well swept dirt floors, comparatively never burn carbon, eat downscale, and have endless catastrophes to deal with, yet no interest, willingness or even cognitive comprehension of the necessity or ability in maintaining Disney World, Herrods, or the Narita Airport in Tokyo.

  • Eugene, very well said.

    Good definition of “doomer”: someone who sees through the BS. When one sees through the BS and when one realizes the scope of the problem (the majority do not see through the BS), one becomes a doomer.

    A Papuan Tribesman once wrote a letter home to his tribe describing the four pillars of oppression that tribal people face: governments, corporations, mega-religion and non-profits/charities. These are the same institutions that enable centralization of power and have served as highly effective tools to shape mainstream society as well. The sociopathic elite have been very successful in employing these tools to meet their ends. The vast majority of people have more in common with tribal people (although they don’t realize this) than with the elites who have cast a spell on them. The elites are able to think like the common man but the common man is not able to think like the elites and hence is unable to see through the BS.

    I’m sick and tired of including myself in with the common man when I know I think and feel differently. Emphasizing this difference does not amount to a claim of superiority of any kind. If anything, it’s those who despise hierarchy and miss a more egalitarian society (that I believe the ancients used to have) who notice that they are different from the common man who has been brainwashed to believe in the “naturalness” of hierarchy. I’m surrounded by educated professionals who are quick to defend a hierarchical society. These are the people who will save the planet?


    chief gomo,

    Good point. I don’t understand why we are so quick to denounce what Michael Ruppert did. One can only empathize with him. In attempting to do so, I have come to believe that he experienced the suffering of Mother Earth at such a deep level that most of us can hardly comprehend. It’s not something to be comprehended, in fact, but felt and perceived very intimately. For we are one with the planet and we’re dying too.

    Suicide has nothing to do with cowardice and “giving up” as modern culture makes it seem.

  • “In his autobiography, Bertrand Russell identified the 3 passions that had formed his life. The longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of humankind.”

  • Central Valley’s growing concern: Crops raised with oil field water

    The use of treated oil field water to raise Central Valley crops raises questions about food chain safety


    Oil giant Chevron recycles 21 million gallons of that water each day and sells it to farmers who use it on about 45,000 acres of crops, about 10% of Kern County’s farmland.

    [eat your vegetables]

  • i just wrote,
    ► At current growth rates our energy demand will exceed the output of the sun in 500 years.

    does anyone remember the actual number of years?

  • Satish and chief gomo,

    your comments ring so true with me and have encouraged me to put down my own thoughts on the subject of suicide or voluntary death.

    I can feel very strongly, that when one “experiences the suffering of Mother Earth on such a deep level” that you would want to end you life. I only feel joy and good mental and physical health because I can still connect with the plants and animals here where I live. On that very personal level I can “ignore” the pain of the Earth form moment to moment. That’s quite an art and maybe a more ancient way of feeling… I’m always happy just to be here for another season, seeing and experiencing beauty. I am content and could never feel depressed. For some, this is a true paradox, not for me.

    Once all that is going, when there’s too much suffering all around me, why would I want to live, on a barren Earth, hanging on as long as possible just because I was born? If a person doesn’t feel like that, fair enough, but never make rules and judge others whose pain might be on a very different level.

    I feel that humans who don’t experience themselves as separately as the “common man”, for what ever reason, will consider taking their own life when the pain becomes overwhelming. That doesn’t mean that a person has no joy in life, is depressed. On the contrary!!
    I feel this to be a mature and truly natural reaction. If you don’t, you’re in some kind of denial and need to dig deeper.

    People brought up in a Western culture have a lot of baggage there, mainly religious (even if they’re not religious). Consequently, our culture has declared suicide a dangerous mental imbalance which must not be talked about in an adult way. Our doctors and therapists know better! They have laid down the norm for “normal”, and all hell breaks loose if you don’t fit that norm.
    The sociopaths/psychopaths and their spell-bound servants who set up our “norms” naturally like to tell others how they must feel and act.

    But here on NBL, we shouldn’t take any heed of the “norms” laid down for us by our modern culture. Isn’t that one of the reasons why most of us come here?

  • @ Robert Callaghan Says:
    May 3rd, 2015 at 5:56 am

    i just wrote,
    ► At current growth rates our energy demand will exceed the output of the sun in 500 years.

    does anyone remember the actual number of years?

    Mr. Callaghan, perhaps this post on Galactic-Scale Energy will help.

  • Um, what happened to Guy’s Beauty Salon? I need a pedicure and was hoping for some advice. The thought of wandering around Heaven soon with me cracked up toes and feet is killing me. Coconut oil, anyone got any to spare? Ok, i know this is like putting lipstick on a pig, but I’ll take mine in ruby red.

  • Being born on Earth is like entering a game like Survivor on TV. This game has been in progress for a long time before your arrival, and initially you don’t have a clue about what is going on. Gradually you realize that you are expected to pursue your own individual interest, and that others are similarly engaged. In order to survive and get your way you need to have relationships with others, but only insofar as this does not interfere with your getting your way and increasing your power and security. Winning this game of life means being in a dominant position over others which often demands trickery and/or coercion of them.

    That these guiding rules of each against each and devil take the hindmost result in a stressful, dangerous, and unhappy life comes to be understood as “just the way things are” or “human nature”. To venture any other way of living is for individuals or small groups to become vulnerable to domination and abuse from others more committed to the ways of strife and selfishness. To be too trusting makes one open to betrayal. Marriage and other mutual arrangements are subject to continual instability and anxiety that one partner may be getting more from the relationship at the expense of the other.

    What is true of one on one relations is magnified in much larger groupings, and the same underlying causes of conflict can quickly lead to nations “taking off the gloves” and resorting openly to war, in an attempt to destroy those they cannot dominate. At some historic point the failure to live with each other on some other basis than crude self interest ends up destroying everyone, including large numbers of nonhuman life forms. The desperate attempts to avoid the insecurity our basic failure to love engenders ends paradoxically in our own destruction. This is the essence of hubris – what seemed a way to security and well being ends in disaster.

    Is there a way out of this self inflicted selfishness obsession? In our long history on Earth wise people have been working to discover and implement such ways. All spiritual paths have this taming of the crude tendencies of the human ego as a basic goal. All the envisioning of realms and beings beyond our visible sphere, have been attempts by skillful means to transcend and grow beyond our limitations. That these well intended efforts have so often gone awry is part of the sad history of our species. Indeed often what started as a healthy movement ended being only another form of the underlying sickness it sought to cure.

    Whether there is an effective escape from the trap we have woven ourselves into is not known. What is known is that if we do not find a way beyond, we are doomed by that failure. Look at it this way, given our situation – what have we got to lose by trying?

  • Addendum – It should not be thought that seeking a solution to our problems needs to be a painful process. In fact engagement in this quest can give one’s life unexpected meaning and even zest. Engaging with the daunting koan of life is to be already freeing oneself from it’s tentacles. My Sufi guide used to say of the arduous practice we often engaged in, “Make it like a game!”

  • Satish and Chief Gomo:

    “And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there must be in the grave.”

    The Pit and the Pendulum – Poe.

  • Fight fans really bummed out by constipated Vegas airport.

    Ain’t it awful?

    Las Vegas airport clogged with private planes ahead of fight.


    Jenny Agutter at 36:00 forward; “Where do they keep the watah?”

    at Youtube; Walkabout VOSTFR

  • Haydukes Monkey,

    Skin is skin is skin! Therefore the toothpaste should work for you too. Go on, have a go and try it out, the next time you’ve been grubbing in the soil. Just in case you’re invited to a ball afterwards. You never know…And don’t forget to recommend it to your wife.
    I’m imagining you with ruby red lipstick in heaven. Lovely!

    Which reminds me: When I was a little girl my dad told me that lipsticks were made out of lice blood and described exactly how to squeeze a heap of lice for that purpose. It never put me off lipstick though. All little girls need dads to tease them. It’s the first step in a life lesson of not taking yourself too seriously. I like to think that it worked for me.

    Your comments always make me smile :)

  • “Following my thinking that the only viable way of life is chilling it for the rest of forever like dirt broke, boring as hell, nothing to do upcountry Lao and Cambodians who, you know, live beat on well swept dirt floors, comparatively never burn carbon, eat downscale, and have endless catastrophes to deal with, yet no interest, willingness or even cognitive comprehension of the necessity or ability in maintaining Disney World, Herrods, or the Narita Airport in Tokyo.”

    Well said.

  • Sabine,

    Ok, so I rubbed some toothpaste on my feet and toes and went out grubbing about in the dirt like you said…

    So, what I’m wondering, is all the leaf litter, twigs, and dirt now adhered to my feet and between my toes a good thing? I kinda feel like a tree ent, which I’ve always liked. But my wife thinks I’m an idiot and won’t let me in the house.

    Maybe I used the wrong toothpaste?

  • Infuriating MSM excerpt from the front page article in NY Times Sunday Review section by Tim Egan entitled; The End of California (

    “Surprising, perhaps even disappointing to those with schadenfreude for the nearly 39 million people living in year-round sunshine, California will survive. It’s not going to blow away. The economy, now on a robust rebound, is not going to collapse. There won’t be a Tom Joad load of S.U.V.s headed north. Rains, and snow to the high Sierra, will eventually return.
    But California, from this drought onward, will be a state transformed. The Dust Bowl of the 30’s was human caused . . . . the California drought of today is mostly nature’s hand, diminishing an Eden created by man.”

    “Schadenfreude”? Really?
    How about the fact that California is interconnected with the rest of the planet and we are all being subjected to extreme weather and a depauperate biosphere due to AGW (in addition to human caused pollution, ocean acidification etc.) Obviously some places worse than others at this point but I imagine that should even out in the not too distant future.

    “An Eden created by man”? Really??? What the hell kind of definition of Eden is he talking about? What I would give to go back in time and see California for just a few minutes pre industrial civilization before dams, sprawl, industrial ag and Silicon Valley.

    Tim Egan should be fired for this article with NO mention of human induced climate change as the reason for this drought.

    But then again, it’s the NY Times.

    RE: the missing arctic explorers from Neven’s site:
    At least the dog has been rescued:
    “Due to blizzard warning and rough weather, a helicopter flight to the site yesterday was cancelled. A new attempt was organized today 2 May (Canada time). The helicopter was able to fly over the site estimating necessary equipment for the recovery operation and taking pictures to be analysed by the experts. There is no news yet what will be done next.
    When it was safe to land, the crew were able to rescue the dog Kimnik who has been such a loyal team member, protecting the site from polar bears. Kimnik is besides a little bit hungry doing well and will be reunited with her owner, the local wildlife ranger from Resolute. We thank Kimnik very much for her dedicated work protecting our team members Marc and Philip.”

  • “does anyone remember the actual number of years?”

    … surround the sun with solar panels. And while we’re at it, let’s again make them 100% efficient…
    Doing so allows us to continue 2.3% annual energy growth for 1350 years from the present time.

  • Alton says: “For those of us in this latter category who are aware of our (as humans) deleterious impact on ecosystems—and ourselves, eventually—it is easy to become both frustrated and depressed. “
    Yes indeed.
    Depending on support systems (or lack there of), genes and many other nature/nurture factors depression can be quite severe for those who see and feel deeply. So important not to judge. Then there are those who are seemingly blind, oblivious . . .
    It seems to me that some people will never have deep reverence for nonhuman life—-no matter what.
    And I’m not talking about sociopaths, psychopaths or narcissists.
    I’ve seen children raised in beautiful rural settings by parents who value Creation (to borrow Hayduke’s term) that grow to have no connection/love for nonhuman life. I’m not convinced that loving the natural world can be taught. Sometimes it seems innate to me—–perhaps genetic. I don’t know and don’t think I’ll ever know. Am letting go of the need to know, in fact because at this point, it really doesn’t matter. Going to follow Iris Dement’s advice and Let the Mystery Be. As an aside, can’t get my head around Paul C’s thoughts and latest inspirations.
    I’d much rather understand the necessary growing conditions for white lady slipper orchids or the mysteries of mycorrhizal fungi while they are still here on earth!

    Sabine; I really look forward to hearing from you here on NBL.
    I agree wholeheartedly with your post above on suicide (verdict is out on the toothpaste!) I would not want to live in a world without birds or wetlands or trees or monarch butterflies . . . . but for now, like you, I find immeasurable joy in the nonhuman world (sometimes great joy with humans too!) along with the fact that I have a teenage daughter (don’t tell Lidia) and I must carry on for her.

    Haydukes and Sabine you 2 are cracking me up!

  • “All spiritual paths have this taming of the crude tendencies of the human ego as a basic goal”

    That “all” does not include the non-theistic traditions. The Divine (satchitananda), the Buddha-nature, ain’t something out there, separate, in the realm of “not-I”. There is no need to teach water to be wet; all that is needed is to recognise one’s nature.

    “attempts by skillful means to transcend and grow beyond our limitations.”

    The limitations are confined to the insentient meat-robot, the body-mind complex. Neither transcending it nor growing beyond it is possible, but these seem possible and necessary because of the misidentification of sentience with it.

    “Whether there is an effective escape from the trap”

    There is no escape, because no one was ever trapped. It is an appearance of being trapped. No escape, only recognition is possible.

    “sweet rest there must be in the grave”

    That sweet rest has neither beginning nor ending, being outside of time-space-causation. It is here and now, if one should choose to recognise it. Two of its concomitants are the absence of any sense of doership and of any sense of “experiencership”.

  • “My Sufi guide used to say of the arduous practice we often engaged in, “Make it like a game!””

    does it say what to do when the game is over?

    the (my) whole life revolves around pushing back chaos
    every minute, every millisecond
    knowing very well it is going to win
    in an uraveling of all levels of organization

    what a way to go

  • Caroline, Timothy Egan DID make a clear statement of his position regarding human caused climate change, & you quoted him accurately in your piece above.

    “The California drought of today is mostly nature’s hand, diminishing an Eden created by man.”

    Timothy is not a neophyte journo either. He is 60 years old.

    In your defense may I suggest that much of the engineered “writing” is so obscene that some of us tend to block it out even when we see it.

    Timothy gets much worse with his closing statement, when he opines that our brilliant human capacity for “imagination” will deliver us & all California from thirst, conflagrations, dirty panties, pestilence, & perdition.

    Man is one imaginative creature alright.

    A really imaginative creature filled with sleight of hand & sleight of MIND.

    A bankster’s MIND knows how to work the mind fucking money imagination scam.

    A borrowing prole must pay the bankster 3 to 4 times more than the UNimaginative prole borrowed.

    The bankster is smaht & the prole is stupid.

    Way Gawd said it posta be, right?

    “What is your credit score?”

  • @Deb

    I’m a huge fan of Jed McKenna’s writing – he’s so much fun to read. I have the trilogy and ToE on my top bookshelf. Whoever he is, he’s there.


    We can only follow those paths that are important to us. There’s a lot of unimportant stuff out there in the world. No matter how earth-shaking Kastrup’s insights may seem to me, they will not resonate with most people. And there’s absolutely no reason why they should. There’s no Universal Truth™ in anything I read or write. We each have to find our own, local versions of it.

  • milendia Says:
    May 3rd, 2015 at 11:10 am
    “My Sufi guide used to say of the arduous practice we often engaged in, “Make it like a game!””
    does it say what to do when the game is over?

    When the period of intensive practice is over – usually in this case – two or three months, one returns to ordinary living, hopefully with some deep changes in one’s mind and consciousness, so that one can be in the world but not of it, that is less deluded and limited in one’s perceptions and understandings. To be more exact is not possible, and results vary for individuals and according to many variables. One cannot predict or command spiritual awakenings as might be the case with more ordinary matters. Thanks for enquiring.

  • @Robin – Your lofty pronouncements culled from the highest teachings of advaita are inappropriate when used to critique practices and understandings at more ordinary levels of learning. Such words are not only not useful to anyone, they may serve to confuse seekers hungering for the eternal truth. This is well known among those who seek to serve people well who are at less than ultimate levels of attainment, where most of us are in truth. The Gita specifically enjoins one from this mistake. Real teachers or even lay people should not be eager to impress others with there supposed superior wisdom.

    Of course you are free to share as you will. I only raise this issue with you because of my respect for spiritual teachings and those who seek them. The wise should not confuse people with teachings or understandings beyond their ability to use them.

  • There is nothing lofty about one’s being.

    Dualist and conditional non-dualist views which do not exclude non-dualism should be appropriately proffered, while not discarding the implication that there is nothing to be “achieved”, “acquired”, “attained” and such. This is the customary modern practice in the non-theistic traditions.

  • Paul,

    You wrote: “There’s no Universal Truth™ in anything I read or write.” But then you disprove yourself by writing: ”We each have to find our own, local versions of it.”

    See, there are in fact a lot of Universal Truths, just not any singular one and only UT™. And the best of them are usually found within the context of a place one settles into and cares about. Or as the poet Gary Snyder put it: “Find your place, and dig in.”


    I loved your infuriated indictment of the NYT’s article; but as you noted, what else does our preeminent Pravda publish but infuriating propaganda and hopium. None the less, thanks for the skewer — it was delightful!

    And so much else you write of and about is a feast to my way of thinking and experience too; so thank you.

    Sabine, the same is true for your thoughtful expressions here.

    However, I mean no slight to everyone else here. There are gems of expression from so many it is impossible to respond to them all. Borrowing from Robert Callahan: You are all bat shit crazy and I love you all for it!

    Meanwhile, a luscious full moon is up in the night sky and in my backyard woods a woodcock is singing (and winging) his corkscrew love song. With luck, I may once again get to see the results. Once out walking with my dog we flushed a woodcock, who fluttered off as if she was wounded. Turning back to my dog I noticed he was sniffing at something in the grass and then moved away. It took me a minute of looking more closely where my dog had taken notice with his nose before I spotted so still and well camouflaged two baby woodcocks. It was a marvel!

    Anyway, yesterday was mild and a good day for outdoor chores; especially seeing as I trying out my toothpaste pedicure. Today will be warmer. The ruby-throated hummingbird is back, staking out his claim for breeding anew in my yard. And somewhere in the woods, box turtles are back above ground and on the prowl for a chance to procreate. I ache for their prospects, but I’m thrilled by their presence. The least I can do is honor them too with all my heart.

    As George Orwell wrote:

    ”At any rate, spring is here, even in London N.1, and they can’t stop you enjoying it. This is a satisfying reflection. How many a time I have stood watching the toads mating, or a pair of hares having a boxing match in the young corn, and thought of all the important persons who would stop me enjoying this if they could. But luckily they can’t… spring is still spring. The atoms bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.”

    Now, where’s my electric toothbrush; it’s time to clean this mess off my feet.

  • “It is completely irrelevant what is discussed and agreed upon in Paris at the end of this year. The combined power of the world’s elites, and the governments they control, cannot change the laws of physics and the consequences that flow from those laws. In the public domain, we really need to pose the question: why do we continue to owe any allegiance, even civility, to governing elites of the world, whether they represent governments that are plutocratic, monarchic, pseudo-democratic, fascist, military dictatorships, socialist or communist. I do not have an answer to this question but I believe that there has been a massive failure of all forms of governance because of their fundamental failure to perform a basic duty of any government, which is to protect its people from harm.”

    “The carbon budget is now effectively zero; all that IPCC seems to be doing is buying time for the power elites of the world, by keeping alive false hopes.”

    Climate Change – Too Late To Halt? – By Sanjeev Ghotge

  • Haydukes Monkey,

    “I ache for their prospects, but I’m thrilled by their presence. The least I can do is honour them too with all my heart.”

    You sum up everything truly important with those two sentences.

    Turtles and hummingbirds, that sounds really exotic to my poor Northern European ears. I’ve never seen any of them in their natural habitat.

    I’ve only ever seen woodcocks once in my life. How lucky to come across a nest! And the behaviour of the parent bird, pretending to be injured when trying to lure a potential predator away from its chicks, is typical.

    Here in Europe, they’re often seen together with snipe, a very similar bird, but not quite as bulky.

    It sounds as if you live in lovely place. I do, as well – and I count my blessings every day.

  • Huge swarms of locust “black out the sky” in Queensland, Australia

    More than 150 swarms have been reported to Biosecurity Queensland so far this year, with some reported to be more than 40ha in size and thick enough to “black out the sky”.

    Dead zones: Places where no animal can survive found in Atlantic Ocean

    A team of German and Canadian marine biologists have for the first time ever witnessed so-called ‘dead zones’ in the Atlantic Ocean – places where no life can thrive, owing to there being almost no dissolved oxygen in the water.

  • Thanks Tom again,

    for having the patience and finding all these articles for us.

  • @Haydukes Monkey – Thanks so much for your reflections. You remind us that we live in two worlds, one of timeless natural wonder and beauty, and the other a nightmare delusion perpetrated by those who have lost their simple sense of appreciation for the miracles of existence. When I first came upon a woodcock sitting in the dirt road leading to my home in the woods, I thought, “I must be hallucinating.” The only place I had ever seen such a creature was in a painting by Hieronymous Bosch (The Garden of Earthly Delights). I took the creature he depicted to be the product of his fevered artistic imagination. When I got back to the house, I told my wife about my strange experience, and nature lover that she was, she informed me of the reality of the creature I had encountered.

  • Nobody on this blog or any other can know, for sure, anything for sure

    Much gibberish, the least of which is Guy’s.

  • shep, w/o any intention of meanness, can’t you see that your statement is stark naked, especially here.

    If nobody can know anything for sure, how can YOU know such a “fact” for sure?

    First you preach flabby relativism & all is gibberish, the you say that Guy isn’t spouting gibberish.

    Yes, there is plenty of gibberish everywhere, & some of are doing our best to avoid it.

    Guy doesn’t speak much gibberish, except when he justifies his continual flying with the Jevons Paradox & Kazooms Bazooms.

    Indeed degrees & credentials are offered in gibberish, peeyar, & lawyering – distorting & lying with a purpose.

    Routinely, the purpose is to get money, political power, & status.

    More than 50% of our national & local politicians are double-talking lawyers trained in gibberish & distortion.

    Our Senate is more than 60% lawyers on the take from the highest paying clients.

    Gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson wants to buy the next lawyer/president, & he can afford it.

    Our Supremes say that he has every “right” to buy whatever Sheldon wants – “it’s the law of the land” & we are “a nation of laws,” right?.”

    Obama, Mrs. Obama, Biden, Bill, Hilarious, Reid, Warren, McConnell, Holder, Lindsey Graham, Romney, Santorum, Rube-io, Cruz, the Supremes, Dizzy Livni …

    Am I supposed to believe that none of these lawyer/politicians “understand” that the law game is a big extortion racket with the public as the raw material?

    The double talking lawyer/pols “know” it full well, but the innocent public doesn’t know it or they wouldn’t go near the courthouse as the raw material to get milked.

    Never mind vote for a smiling double talking lawyer.

    Science is the precise opposite of the law game – it is our attempt to avoid gibberish – to tell the truth as best we can.

    How many times, especially lately, have we heard; “I am NOT a scientist.”

    What the laughing lawyer/pols don’t add is; “I am a lawyer working for the clients who pay the most.”

    Mitch McConnell is the epitome of a lawyer/politician.

    Mitch is owned by the Kentucky coal colossus.

    Like you have above, many literary/lawyer types even go so far as to claim that “there isn’t any truth.”

    If “there isn’t any truth;” then then the statement must be devoid of any truth.

    Again, a bullshitter/lawyer/politician is not interested in whether what they say is true or false – all is just verbal gamesmanship.

    Hilarious Clinton has proven that she is owned by the sinister Israeli/Zionist cabal.

    The “free market system” buys what it wants, & the system pays big. money.

    In a culture where everything is for sale – the government is for sale.

    The simple & basic LAWS of thermodynamics are NOT gibberish.

    Imagine what a world we could have had, if politicians “knew” & respected the laws of thermo?

    Richard Feynman’s whole life was searching for “true” knowledge about how the world works, & he opined; “I know what it is to KNOW something.”

    We are now trying to grasp what is happening to both the planet & ourselves based on what we claim to know.

    Guy claims to “know” that we are going extinct.

    He is making the greatest claim ever made.

    All the “scientific” evidence supports his claim, gruesome though it is.

    Of course, science is fallible, but it is the least fallible than any other method/system of knowing.

    I am preparing for my death in the near future based on the inescapable ugly FACT that millions of TONS of Arctic methane are being released NOW.

    I claim to “know” that human extinction is in process NOW.

    Hell on earth is already here for many, & this fact is not in dispute.

  • Gerald,

    I’m speaking about outside the facts. My statement is just an opinion. I simply dislike big show off words and long essays and what I consider to be gibberish.

    We agree on Guy except for the flying thing and planes are going to fly anyway.

    We also disagree that Hitler was a good man. I just can’t get over that one.

  • shep, may I suggest that if you research National Socialism & Adolph Hitler as an objective scientist seeking truth & true history, you will be shaken to your very bones.

    Adolph Hitler is the most maligned human being in all history.

    Ditto for National Socialism & the German people.

    Winston Churchill is the supreme murderer & monster.

    YES, THERE WERE CONCENTRATION CAMPS, but there is absolutely no material or physical evidence for any gas chambers or mass genocide anywhere.

    If 6 million innocent Jewish people were viciously gassed & burned by vicious Germans; it would be IMPOSSIBLE for there NOT to be overwhelming material & physical evidence.




    and PBS specials with “films” about the liberation.

    Nobody can present/produce the crucial material & physical evidence & end the dispute because the crucial evidence does NOT EXIST.

    I was devastated when I learned that I had been totally taken for my entire lifetime by malicious lying Zionist propaganda.

    I believed it all, for half a century.

    I even majored in it as an undergrad.

    The gas chambers/genocide is the greatest DESIGNED PROPAGANDA hoax of the 20th century.

    I am not afraid to say this because it is true.

    If it isn’t true; it should be easy to make me out a vicious liar & a absolute fool.

    For starters try;

    Hellstorm Of Germany – The Biggest Cover-Up In History.
    by Thomas Goodrich and Kyle Hunt

  • “Nobody on this blog or any other can know, for sure, anything for sure”

    Homo non sapiens.

  • Gerald –

    your Holocaust denial is pure delusion. people can write whatever nonsense they write about anything, and there will always be people, like you, who will buy it. such is the world.

    the existence of the Holocaust is unarguable fact. the perpetrators themselves were very careful to document everything they did, as they wanted to make sure, as much as possible, that they were successful.

    The goals of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) transcended verdict and punishment. The creators of the court were deliberately assembling a public record of the horrific crimes committed by Germans during World War II, including those of the Holocaust. American chief prosecutor Robert Jackson worried that “unless record was made … future generations would not believe how horrible the truth was.”

    In order to avoid any accusation of exclusive reliance on personal testimony, which later generations might perceive to be biased, prosecutors decided to base their case primarily on thousands of documents written by the Germans themselves. These masses of documents were translated into the court’s four official languages, analyzed for their significance, and reproduced for distribution to defense attorneys and other trial participants. The prosecution presented other evidence through artifacts, diagrams, and photographs taken by Nazi photographers in concentration camps.

    Gerald, you are much worse than a liar or a fool.

  • Gerald denies the holocaust? I’m flabergasted! Goes to show what I was writing about a few weeks ago: no matter how well you think you know someone, you can never really know what’s going on in their head.

  • yes, Kirk, Gerald denies the Holocaust, very adamantly, and he is also a rabid anti-semite. he has been openly this way for a long time on NBL, if you have missed all of that.

    via a mistaken identity, he was also the cause of Mr. Kling being wrongly accused of Holocaust denial on this blog by an essay writer here. Mr. Kling has cleared that up and the mistake was corrected, and Gerald, to his credit, is trying to be open enough about his ideas and feelings, and that will hopefully help avoid that kind of mistake in the future.

    through his Holocaust denial and various other expressions of ideas and feelings Gerald has made, I think Gerald harbors some truly evil feelings, ideas and malicious cruelty in his heart, and it is not just a “mixed up in his head” thing. that’s my personal judgement, and that’s all it is. nothing more.

    but I personally find it repulsive in the extreme. very vile stuff. a lot of the Nazi leaders were apparently very normal, pleasant-seeming people, when they were interacting with others. the things they harbored in their beings were quite something else.

    and Gerald has had some interesting, and heartfelt things to say here, from time to time.

    make of it all what you will. I am not even remotely perfect, or morally pure, and never have been, but I also have some hard limits when it comes to things like bigotry, hatred towards people based on their religious beliefs, and malicious cruelty.

    I’ve been much worse than merely bigoted or cruel on a freakin blog in my previous lifetimes, however. and it makes zero difference in my love of the One, or how much the One loves me.

    and of course, there is so much fucked-upness in the total picture of what civilized humanity has become, that it hardly makes any sense in some ways to try and separate out any groups of good guys and bad guys anymore. (I leave all indigenous peoples out of that picture, however).

    obviously there are levels of awareness, and sensitivity, and consideration, that do separate things out in all kinds of ways. but it is mind bogglingly complex.

    we are One, and there can be no other.

    I know that Gerald and I are brothers, in a much deeper way than anything genetic. that is the most elemental Truth possible to know, I believe. I genuinely wish him only the best, just as much as everyone else.

  • Try Hellstorm.
    It is very powerful, & very different from what we have been taught.
    It is a true documentary.
    Why haven’t we been taught the truth about Germany?
    Why don’t we know any of what this video says?