Thursday, September 29, 2011

14 AHA! Moments

These thoughts from "I am That"

Reading this Q&A session, I lifted the following thoughts from the discourse, because they lit up another "AHA" moment for me.

1. Of all the innumerable steps there is only the last which brings you to your destination. Yet you will not consider all previous steps as failures. Each brought you nearer to your goal, even when you had to turn back to by-pass an obstacle. In reality each step brings you to your goal, because to be always on the move, learning, discovering, unfolding, is your eternal destiny.

2. The self understands that success and failure are relative and related, that they are the very warp and weft of life. Learn from both and go beyond.

3. Once you know with absolute certainty that nothing can trouble you but your own imagination, you come to disregard your desires and fears, concepts and ideas and live by truth alone.

4. In the great mirror of consciousness images arise and disappear and only memory gives them continuity. And memory is material -- destructible, perishable, transient. On such flimsy foundations we build a sense of personal existence -- vague, intermittent, dreamlike. This vague persuasion: 'I-am-so-and-so' obscures the changeless state of pure awareness and makes us believe that we are born to suffer and to die.

5. One must not draw conclusions without understanding all the factors. Above all, one must not make judgements of inferiority or superiority.

6.Youthfulness is more a matter of vitality than of wisdom.

7. But the self is beyond both, beyond the brain, beyond the mind. Why should a liberated man necessarily follow conventions? The moment he becomes predictable, he cannot be free. His freedom lies in his being free to fulfil the need of the moment, to obey the necessity of the situation.

8. Still there must be some way of making out who has realised (truth) and who has not?
He who knows himself has no doubts about it. Nor does he care whether others recognise his state or not.

9. You mean to say everybody's life is totally determined at his birth? What a strange idea. Were it so, the power that determines would see to it that nobody should suffer.

10. Man alone can destroy in himself the roots of pain. Others can only help with the pain, but not with its cause, which is the abysmal stupidity of mankind.

11. Not to know, and not to know that one does not know, is the cause of endless suffering.

12. Is there no salvation for the world?
Which world do you want to save? The world of your own projection? I am not aware of any world separate from myself, which I am free to save or not to save. What business have you with saving the world, when all the world needs is to be saved from you? Get out of the picture and see whether there is anything left to save.

13. The description and causation are the remedy for a disease caused by obtuseness and stupidity. Just like a deficiency disease is cured through the supply of the missing factor, so are the diseases of living cured by a good dose of intelligent detachment.

14. The root idea is: 'I am' .

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Enemas and False Belief

I just read a wonderful psychology study on humankind's ability to develop false beliefs. Heaven (there I go again) knows - it seems intrinsically obvious to me that this must be so, based on the number of bullshitters riding around in anything from Mercs to Ferraris, Bentleys etc. I long ago realised that wealth and intelligence have no correlation whatsoever - to the contrary, some of the biggest morons seem to have a limitless supply if it (wealth, that is - not intelligence). And, as the saying goes - fools and their money are soon parted - there's ample evidence of that, these days.

The commentary notes (politely) that cognitive psychology studies have made it clear that humans can be "exceptionally gullible". In other words - there's one born every minute. I would maybe say it a different way - a large proportion of humanity appear to be completely dumb shits (which fits in nicely with the title and theme of this piece) - based on their actions and belief systems.

The study asks the participants to rate certain events, from extremely likely to very unlikely. Then they are exposed to false information that shows that many of the unlikely events occur fairly regularly (e.g. false news articles). Then they rerate the likelihood of these events - at which time many people decide the events are far more likely, and in fact some have happened to them!

In this way demonic possession became more plausible, and even the instance of having received barium enemas as children! I ask you with tears in my eyes - how many times in your life has somebody stuffed a pipe up your backside and injected you with copious quantities of barium, without your knowledge? Would I remember being assaulted with radioactive chemicals? Not to put too fine a point on it "you bet your ass I would."

In short making something seem more likely to happen, sways some people into believing it might have happened to them. The article concludes that people walking around this planet are susceptible to developing false beliefs and nobody except the brainless is exempt. OK - we are forewarned - be careful what you believe. But one is tempted to make a pithy comment to the effect that given the number of evidentially brainless people around, it's hard to understand why so many of them believe shit.

Maybe there's another way of thinking about it : the very act of believing shit is proof that we have brains! Maybe we should have had more enemas when we were kids.....

Will the Real Christian God Please Stand up?

OK OK - humour me. I'm still getting over being lied to for over 50 years. I need a little more time to get it out of my system.

Rule no 1 : God is Eternal. He's the same yesterday, today and forever. From the foundation of the world.
Rule no 2 : God never makes mistakes. not ever. He's perfect.
Rule no 3 : Man was made in the image of God.


Ok - this is where it gets interesting. We have the Old Testament in the bible, where God, quite plainly is short tempered, a stickler for His Creations following his instructions to the letter of the law, and He spends a lot of the time turning people into salt pillars, dropping them into holes in the ground, and generally kicking their asses around the place while they wander around like headless chickens. Moses gets his reward for striking a rock twice instead of once, by being banned from ever reaching the promised land. In short - God does NOT have a sense of humour, and his behaviour is very similar to the ancient Jewish Patriarchs.

And then suddenly, the Old Testament is over, and God is this loving understanding heavenly father who has just woken up and finally decides that in fact His creation is just too bloody stupid to be able to cut it in the world He has designed for it. It seems the creation can't take instructions, it forgets things, it starts to think it's just the bees knees and wants to run the world itself - it's just too sordid! So God decides to send His Son who just seems to have been hanging around in the wings waiting for a chance like this, to pop in and become a sacrificial lamb for humankind, so dad can enjoy the smell of a good braaivleis (barbecue for our American and Australian readers). This will apparently sort out all the problems and make sure mankind is always going to be reconciled to God, and they're all going to be happy in the end. As long as everyone does exactly as God wants - free will or not.

The Bible doesn't explain why it is necessary for an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient God to bother to have a son in the first place. Maybe God thought he might get old one day, and wanted somebody else to run the business? Maybe all this "eternal" stuff was getting a bit over-rated and He was getting tired. There is evidence that God got tired in those days - he rested in the Sabbath day after working round the clock for the previous 144 hours (it's literal - it's 6 x 24 hours, dummy. It's not a perfect biblical number, in this case). Maybe the "omnipotent" bit was getting a bit too much and he needed a bit more help from his kid. Who knows?

And this is where I get bothered. Because God starts to make mistakes and contradict himself. Remember rules 1, 2 and 3 above?

God is eternal - the same yesterday, today and forever. Except that he suddenly changes his character and decides to be a nice guy to his creation, after kicking the creation's ass for the past several thousand years. So God decides not to be the same - he changes the rules. Oops.

And just when you decide that God never makes mistakes, He stuffs up his creation of man completely, by making something that plainly is not up to the desired standard. The man is useless. He goes off and learns a bunch of stuff after eating some fruit, instead of staying ignorant, then he gets delusions of grandeur, then he starts to go off the rails and has bizarre encounters of a sexual kind at good old Sodom and Gemorrah. Then man gets all lawless, and God decides to drown his creation in a flood. I won't bore you with all the other sordid stuff. In short - man is a huge mistake. But God never makes mistakes - does he? And He can see everything into the future - including the fact that his first Man design is going to be a mistake. But what does He do? He makes the mistake anyway, because he knows one day soon He will send his Son to sort out everything the Old Man couldn't get right. Oops.

And then He makes man in His own image. Man is a carbon copy of God - or so we would be led to believe. Except that man is a stuff up, and God isn't. Oops.

How many mistakes is God allowed to make and still remain perfect? Does anyone else see some apparent contradictions in all of this soap - opera-ish twaddle?

Will the real Christian God PLEASE stand up? I'd like to admire your perfection.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Silent Hill Meets Popular Media Wet Dream

I loved the news item I saw on Sky TV tonight. It seems that they had recently flighted a documentary on British TV outlining how Gaddafi had provided arms and support to the IRA. Nothing like a little funding for the IRA to get all the Brits up in arms.

The problem of course is that somebody in the public domain noticed after the documentary was flighted, that part of the footage in the doccie was from a video game. What? A video game? What was more revealing was that the mealie-mouthed explanation was that the video game footage was "accidentally included".

Let me get this right. Help me to understand this : the video editorial staff are sitting in a studio working with video tape (probably more like digital disc footage) and stills pictures and audio, and they are busily grafting and editing and suddenly (ta ra!!!!),a random XBox lying on the floor surreptitiously gets up and plugs itself in and deposits a section of vid game footage onto the final production edit without any of the team being aware of it. Nobody notices that the final edit is some seconds longer than before. Nobody sits up and says "Oy Mate - that looks like Silent Hill I was playing a few hours ago - what's it doing on the tape?" It just "accidentally" finds its way past all of the eagle-eyed video mastering staff, and onto the tape.

Excuse me - who in the current audience has the words "dumb shit" written on their foreheads in flashing neon? Well I think maybe many - otherwise they wouldn't have resorted to such a stupid explanation. We're all so dumbed-down these days. We believe anything. The tooth fairy exists. The cheque is in the mail. Pull the other one - it's got bells on.

I wonder if they would have found their accidental gremlin if somebody hadn't noticed the game footage? Ah! Clever game graphics these days - you never know where it will crop up next - or where it will be used and for which purpose.

"The camera doesn't lie"  - an old saying, prior to the days of digital editing and the wizardry that exists these days. All the more reason to stay awake and stop believing everything you see on TV. Who knows? Next thing they'll be trying to tell us the Americans have killed Bin Laden - 9 years after he already died.

Can't wait for the next release of Silent Hill - never know where we can use it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Shame of Self-Deception

What do you see everytime you turn on a TV? Adverts. Adverts telling you that it's not OK to be fat / tubby/ overweight / anorexic / to own a car older than a year / to live without credit etc.

It's fashionable to party with the Miller-crowd, who somewhere in some mythical resort are having one hell of an eternal party, and you can join them! It's fashionable to trade your "old" car for something brand new with some fancy financing scheme designed to leave you broke at the end of the repayment period, with a 30% residual still to pay to some or other bank, with an old car as collateral and probably a life insurance policy ceded ad-infinitum to the holder of the debt. You're just the moron who pays - but hey! Be who they want you to be! I won't get in your way.

But in case you (like we) are thinking about why you are so routinely made to feel embarrassed about who you are, think on this. It's called consumerism, and it's rooted in our erroneous belief that we have to be perfect. Think about it - the average Joe Soap kid grows up (we hope) in a normal(ish?) family and his parents both work and spend the better part of his school life not seeing him because they're working to make ends meet. And if the parents are old and square, they'll tell him "you don't need to wear designer labels, and in any case it looks dumb having your clothing label on the outside of your pants. You look like you got up this morning and put them on inside out". And little kid Soap won't pay a blind bit of attention - he wants his designer labels, because all the other kids in his class have them, and they are telling him he's a git and his parents are a couple of sad poor slobs because he doesn't have what they're wearing. And besides, only the cool kids are going to the beach braai on Friday nite - 8 till late and we're gonna party with the girls in the surf.

So by now, the young Soaplet is starting to do naughty things in his pants thinking about all those young nubile teens in the surf that he's not going to be able to eye up and down, or come into closer contact with, and there's a really big grudge brewing against his archaic old-fashioned parents. And in the meantime, Solly Socialclimber and his good wife are into the "keep ahead of the Joneses"- thing, they are on the vanguard of dressing junior Climber to the nines to make a statement "hey everyone - I'm cool, and so's my family. We're into the scene and we know how to rock! We only wear designer labels and we're going to Milan in the summer!"

So there's a whole bunch of unenviable peer pressure stuff going on - no wonder the kids wish the parents would just shut up and part with their money. Well many do, and that's also a problem, because it fuels the ongoing cycle. Why is there a fashion industry? Because people believe what they're told - this season what you are wearing is now crap and what you need to get to be part of the crowd, is in fashion. It creates a market and a buying frenzy - on and on and on. Wonder if somebody will show me where the umpty-zillion tons of perfectly good clothes get thrown every year?

But this is not primarily a swipe at the fashion industry. It's a swipe at the mentality of people who think that unless you are going with the flock (and leading it, mind you), you are unworthy. How are we brought up? You need to be a winner. End of story. Second is not good enough. Trying your best is just bullshit. The end justifies the means, so you get up there and if you have to cheat, then do so. If you have to take credit for someone's ideas or work, do that too. If you have to lie and double-deal, and duck and dive - it's justified, because if you don't win, then you're a loser. Everyone except the very few who win, are losers. LOSER!!!!!

There - now you know you're a loser, how do you feel? Well, I suspect that your self-worth is now at an all time low, and you are looking for a pick-me-up. So you pop a pill, or you do some booze, or you suck on a tub of ice-cream. And you turn into an addicted blimp with low self-esteem. Thin end of the wedge territory - it's all downhill from here - loser. I suppose most people can't be blamed for never stopping to think about the paradigm that envelopes them. It's all they've ever known "It's shameful not to be a winner".

And being a winner is different to everyone. To the teenage girl, it's never being overweight, while having wonderful boobs, a tight little ass and long looong legs. Oh yes - you also are part of the in-crowd / victrix ludorum and you are a straight A student. To the boy, you cannot have zits, you're built with a sixpack and shoulders to die for, you're funny, intelligent and you're a jock. A geek is a no-no. And you are a chick-magnet. And you'll also do incredibly well in your studies - without ever spending a day in front of a book. To the professional adult, it means a string of promotions, never getting anything less than A+ performance review, a 7 to 8 figure salary and chairman of the board. Winning women NEVER stay at home to give their kids a decent upbringing - they're too busy being social debs and running fabulous parties, or jet setting between running their international conglomerates. The kids travel with them and they're educated with private tutors and carted around by au-pairs. It's the people who Top Billing love to feature - you know the ones with a Ferrari, a Bentley and 2 Beemers in the garage (these 2 are for the cook and the gardener), a jetski, motor launch and a retractable electric roof on their house so the pool deck can be bathed in sun all day. You get the picture of the perfect winning life.

And the rest of us losers? We're the slobs who tune into this garbage week in and week out to drool over what we're missing, and to max all our credit cards while we satisfy our pretension to be nice successful people. To satisfy our self-deception.

Here's my shot at the real world. We've been brought up with a really screwed up idea of what it means to be a winner in life's long race. We've forgotten about love (real love - look at the divorce rate for heavens sake), real friendship (forget about facebook - there are no friends there who weren't your friends in the beginning), truth, personal integrity and the value of giving to others so that we all may succeed. I'm not talking here about being a doormat - I'm talking about not using others as a convenient footscraper so you can get ahead at their expense. I'm talking about going to sleep at night knowing that you have done an honest day's work. That you have not knowingly gone out of your way to deceive someone else. Knowing that what you said you'd do, actually got done. Nobody was disappointed because of you, at the end of the day.

And in case you think I'm talking crap, take a long hard look at the way the world is right now and how fast we seem to be falling down the garbage chute. The way we live is stupid. It's materialistic, manipulative, exploitive, and it is an empty consumerist society that gives nothing back, and that doesn't work unless there is an infinite resource - which there isn't - which is why the shit is starting to hit the fan.

Maybe you need to rethink your paradigm :
I am as I am, because of the way I was made. And the way I was made is the product of my heredity and my environment. I cannot change my heredity, because that's genetic, but to the extent that there are things in my life from my environmental upbringing that are sub-optimal, I will choose to modify these by relearning what I was brought up with. Some of it was right, and some was not. And I will search diligently for answers to why I am what I am and why I do what I do. And I will not be swayed by others' opinions about what makes "good" or "bad". They don't know anything about me anyway. I am not a  "loser", because even though there may be a winner somewhere at the front, that's not the point. The point is that we are all running the race of life, and we all have to do it at our own pace with the best tools at our disposal. And where I cannot run as fast as you, I'm not a loser because I'm a better photographer than you. And just when I'm starting to feel smug, I find out my wife can speak French better than me. Are we all winners and losers? Not at all - we are all participating in a rich tapestry of life experiences and as is the case in the real world, in some things we will be better than others. And in most things we'll probably be purely average - that's statistics for you. Is Michael Schumacher a good gardener? Could Keith Kirsten drive as fast as him? Which one is then a loser? Both - and neither. Like all the rest of us. The "winner/loser" tag is put there to sell you stuff - whether it's a religion or a commodity.

So, if you have a problem because your belly is sagging on the ground, you're not a loser - you merely have a personal goal to achieve a target weight in a certain time, and you have the tools to do it - an exercise plan, a sensible eating plan, and you will accept that you will have to routinely burn more kilojoules than you consume. You want to do it, this is a lifestyle change, and there is no other way. Show me the diet plan which once your diet is completed and your money is spent, you can stay thin but go back to the way you used to eat. What if you're happy with your sagging belly? As long as you are not morbidly obese to the extent that your health is suffering, if you are happy with yourself, that's OK. You're a winner. You are at a happy place in your life - which beats the hell out of a lot of people. (I'm not talking here about compulsive eating disorders, which have other underlying problems. Here the person is not intrinsically happy with themselves, anyway).

Am I a loser if I smoke? Am I a winner if I smoke? Surely I can go to Cancun on holiday if I smoke Peter Stuyvesant, and have fun with all the other winners - that's the implication of the adverts anyway. Am I happy smoking? If I am, why should I think of myself as a loser? But the day I want to quit for myself, and I do so, I'm also a winner, because I have overcome a health impediment. I feel good about myself, I feel healthy and my breath doesn't smell like an ashtray. I've done something positive.

Aren't we strange? We live our lives in misery because we believe we're never good enough according to somebody else's definition of us. We are trained up into liars, cheats and deceivers, by the media and a bunch of people around us who have bad self-images - and worst of all, some of us actually believe our own deceits, because it's unthinkably shameful that we cannot be perfect. And we continue to jump every time an advertiser pops his head up. Advertising works - that's why they do it.

No wonder there are a lot of people around manifesting traits of NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) with incredibly poor self images. No wonder the shrinks are on a roll. As are the churches who promise their religion as an instant panacea. Come to Jesus and cast your cares away. Press the button marked salvation. But nothing gets really fixed - does it? Your demons come back and bite you in the ass when you least expect it - but you wouldn't DARE admit it to your church "friends" would you? "You're denying your salvation - you've taken your eyes off Jesus. The implication of course is "you've failed - you're a loser". "Oh Jesus help me, a miserable sinner. I'm a 3-time loser and I don't have a Ferrari" (unlike Benny Hinn and the charismatic preacher brigade). That's where "the devil is attacking me" comes from. Another attempt to blame something external for your misfortunes. In fact I have as much chance of being a winner by being a charismatic Christian button-pusher, as I have being in the jet set because I smoke Peter Stuyvesant.

Re-programming yourself takes hard work, a long time and lots of insight. It also takes acceptance and grace to admit you blew it, you lied to others and mostly yourself, and you believed a lifetime of the crap others told you and said about you, to your face and behind your back. And after that, you take steps to put yourself on an emotional and mental diet plan to get better in the long term. It's a lifestyle change, remember?

"I am enough" - remember?

The real shame is having to live with a mask in front of your face. Everybody can see it's false, but they're too busy holding their own masks and don't want you to retaliate by revealing their deception either. I discovered some years ago, that the most empowering and disarming thing to say is "sorry". "Sorry - I blew it. I made a mistake. We all do, don't we?" - and then look them square in the face. And of course none of them are hypocritical enough to tell you that they never make mistakes, so that's where it ends. They might think they never make mistakes, but that's their own self-deception talking.

Pass Me Another Guru

We smirked a bit. It seems there's a local spiritual get-together on the cards fairly soon, where we will be graced with the presence of a couple of gurus - a him and a her - who will be expounding their weighty spiritual truths for our edification and delight.

I'm not a fan of putting labels in things, but possibly the best way I can explain it is "new-age- ish". Now I have nothing against folk who have adopted some new age beliefs - and it's long past time that we stop strutting around and pontificating on as if we have all the answers and nobody else does. So, cut them some slack.

No - the issue is not about the belief. It's about the payment.  And that's why I referred to the new-age thing. The note that went round indicates that even if you're a local and you will be staying in your own accommodation, you are requested to make a sizeable donation (the minimum value acceptable is specified).

Now, New-Agers have borrowed a considerable amount of what they believe, from the Native American Indian tribes and, not surprisingly, these people get rather irritated when people jump on the bandwagon and start to charge for the truth they impart for free. This is truth and insight these remarkable people have had for centuries. Their philosophy is that it is an eternal truth and it is nobody's to own. It comes free and it must be given free - and when people start to charge for it, you need to examine their motives.

OK - so why do people charge for delivering all this wonderful truth? Well, to cover their costs in travel and accommodation expenses and to provide them with a living because they are doing this as a profession.

AAAHH! There's the point! Who asked them to do this as a profession?   The Native American tribespeople  didn't go about proselytizing to anyone who would hear it (and forcing it down the throats of others who didn't). Leave that to the Europeans - French, English, Spanish, Portuguese etc. What they had to say was so very VERY important that everyone had to hear it - on pain of death, most of the time. And today we have a culture that when we think we have found some truth, we make a doctrine out of it, and we package it and we take it on the road with us, and the sheer brilliance of our oratory convinces others to part with their cash - because I've got to live, don't I?  Actually, no you don't - not like this.

Why don't you stay at home and get your insights of truth, and occasionally when you're not working to sustain yourself, you can give these away freely, as you have obtained truth freely from others? And in any case, who said your grain of truth would benefit me? Who said my grain of truth will assist you? It might - and in case it does, I'm going to give it away freely - but there is no cornering the market on truth - there's plenty of it to go around. All we need is to be perceptive to it, and to open our minds and our hearts and shut up talking for a moment and listen. But I'm not going to pay you for yours.

I expect the sheeple will all be there to celebrate and get their emotional thrills down the spine while jolling it up with the gurus. And a few days after it's over, they will be back to normal and the euphoria will have settled, and the money will have been spent. And depending on how they feel (there are those feelings again), they may view it as money well spent (or not).

When we get an urge to research something, we go for it.  We explore and dig and ask dumb questions. And you'll be surprised what truth you get back. The internet is an information superhighway, full of wonderful gems. All free. But keep your minds open and stay awake for the obvious freeloaders looking to make a quick buck by charging you for a download. Eternal truths and insights are always free. They're a common currency. They're part of who we are, and I'm never going to pay anyone again for supposedly giving me something I can't do without.

Emotion and feelings are transitory. Maybe it's a good thing the sheeple come down off their euphoric highs, so that there's an opportunity for the next travelling medicine show.

Pass me another Guru - I put the last one out an hour ago. Baa-a--aa.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Am Enough

The other day I was looking through some of the publications on Stephen Hawking's website. For anyone who doesn't know who Stephen Hawking is, just google it. Stephen Hawking like any scientist of note, is not in the habit of saying things because he likes to hear the sound of his own voice (he can't - he suffers from MNS - motor neuron syndrome and was supposed to be dead many years ago). In fact, he has occupied the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for somewhere in excess of 30 years, and has recently vacated it. He is the acknowledged world expert on black holes.

And somewhere in all the writing (apologies to Prof Hawking if it was not directly from his website, but from a link to another site), I came across a wonderful analogy of the universe in terms that the rank and file human can understand. Realise first that the scientists are now talking about "Multiverse" rather than "Universe", because there is likely more than one, and "uni" means one.

OK - so the analogy is that the Multiverse is like a huge mansion filled with black holes, the vacuum of space, dead, cold, inhospitable, supernovae etc. - and all evidence suggests to us that the one thing the universe is good at, is manufacturing black holes - and somewhere in the middle of this enormous black void, is this MICROSCOPICALLY SMALL pinprick which if enlarged a whole lot, turns out to be our solar system. And within this solar system is this rather insignificant blue-green planet which orbits a local sun at just the right distance to sustain life.

And on the surface of this rather silly little microscopic speck, we have a bunch of humans who are arrogant enough to think that they have a god who has manufactured all of the Multiverse, for the sole purpose of creating them. And worse than that - not everyone on the microscopically small speck of a planet in the microscopically small silly little solar system we inhabit, is going to be "saved" (whatever that is), by the god who has created all the other stuff in the universe, which is too far away to have any bearing on anything we do anyway. No no! All the Hindus are going to hell. All the Buddhists are going to Hell. The orthodox Jews are even going to hell. The Shintos, Athiests, Candomble's, Baha'is, Mormons, Santerias, Spiritualists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, Jehovah Witnesses (unless you are a Witness - of course), Unitarians etc. - are you starting to get the picture?  - are all going to hell. The whole bang toot of them.

Yep. the Christian God of the Bible created the infinite expanses of the Multiverse, so a tiny subset (not even the majority religion on the planet - there's that dirty word again : religion) of Earth's peoples can feel comfortable and complacent in their spiritual immaturity. And all of this on that tiny insignificant planet in that microscopic solar system in the ridiculously small Milky Way Galaxy in our own universe, a subset of the Immense Multiverse.

Damn - DO YOU KNOW HOW STUPID AND INFANTILE THAT SOUNDS? When are we going to mature into spiritual adults? Maybe one day we will even have to admit (heaven - if you will excuse the word - forbid), that there isn't a God as we understand it. But I don't want to frazzle your brain too much right now. Maybe it's all a concoction of an early church, greedy to corner the market on gullible adherents? I suspect that in fact, let's assume for now that there is in fact a universal force which caused the universe to come into existence. I'm on a journey here - don't castigate me if you already discovered there isn't one. I think though we can all dispense with the concept that there is a "Christian God" who is a wrinkled old man sitting on a throne and who meddles in the affairs of men on a whim.

Of course if we believe the garbage we are given, this god (small g) is a god of love and he sits and decides who makes it and who doesn't. Of course he knows everything "from the foundation of the world" and can see into the future. And we are given "free will" to do whatever we like - as long as it's exactly what the bible and our Christian God want us to do. Sounds like Henry Ford - any colour as long as it's black. Hey - either god knows what's going on or he doesn't - and if he doesn't, the Christian (I'm still spelling this with a capital C - for now) bible is a lie. So let's believe he does. So he creates everyone (at least that's what the American fundamentalists tell us, in opposition to scientific discovery of an evolution of the species) - and in the process condones incest (who had sex with Adam and Eve's offspring to make more babies, if we are to believe the garbage we are fed in the bible? Or was DNA only invented later, as one particularly frontally-lobotomised Christian school teacher told one of her disbelieving children?)

And before he has created you (God knows the future, remember?), he knows you're going to turn out a drug addict, or be mangled by a train at the age of 3, or be born with a brain defect and be a mental cabbage all of your short life, or in fact you will be an upright Christian Soldier (marching off to war - yeah, right), and one day you have an AHA!- moment, and you start to use your brain for the first time in your life, and you stop chanting a bunch of dingos kidneys ("never again will I, bla bla bla....."). And you think (deeply), and you say "If God (capital G) had wanted to create only us in the universe, like the American fundamentalists believe (and of course therefore the rest of the civilised world), why would he bother to create all the other bullshit in the universe which has no bearing on our miserable little lives, and never will have? It seems to me perfectly possible to only have our own solar system in order to sustain life. We could all just orbit merrily around the sun, and God could keep us in a little cosmic goldfish-bowl. No need for all the other black holes and crap.

And then of course you and all the others who didn't quite shape up, end up going to the Christian hell - but the god of love knew this, didn't he? He just likes playing roulette with his creations. And in case you are a closet amateur astronomer who has astrological tendencies and believes that next week pluto is into uranus (pun intended) or somesuch, I challenge you to prove any of this, and that the greater universe in fact has any effect on our day to day lives. In fact, you may find yourself hard-pressed for any reliable evidence for your case. But you're free to believe anything you like - be my guest.

And then you have one or two people who are brave enough to challenge the status quo, and to use their brains and start to think about these issues, knowing that the establishment will condemn them (people who swim against the current are never popular), and they draw the logical conclusion : that the God of Christianity doesn't exist. You know - the one who sits on the throne and meddles at will with bits of his creation, for the benefit of a few (usually American,  but includes a few other).

The Eagles put it well in their album (not accidentally) entitled "Long Road out of Eden". In "Frail Grasp on the Big Picture", they say

"And we pray to our Lord, who we know is American
He reigns from on high and speaks to us through middle men
And he shepherds his flock; we sing out and praise His name
He supports us in war; he presides over football games
And the right will prevail, all our troubles shall be resolved
We hold faith above all, unless there's money or sex involved
Frail grasp on the big picture"

And you know what G (not god - the more intelligent one that I am married to) got in her head while she was pondering on these weighty and infinite thoughts?

I am enough. That's it - I am enough.

We're on our own, and that's OK. Those who cannot stomach the fear of realising that once and for all you have nobody but yourself to guide your way through this life, are free to leave. If there is an overarching creative force in the universe, it doesn't spend any time worrying about what each one of the little specks on the microscopic speck called the Earth in the tiny little speck which is our solar system, in the rather insignificant galaxy we call the Milky Way, in only one of a myriad of universes; happens to be doing each moment.

It doesn't care if Victor Ortiz beats Victor Galindez in the boxing ring, or in fact if they are even in the same weight class. It doesn't even care if Juan Pablo Montoya runs over Gabriel Montoya with his race car, while he's still lacing up his boxing gloves. And It doesn't care if the USA get 100 gold medals in the next olympics, or not - or if South Africa gets none. And It will not interfere to ensure that regardless of how bad Russia are at playing rugby, they are going to win the rugby world cup. And Benny Hinn and the hour of power and Robert Schuller and the Crystal Palace - or whatever the monstrosity is called -  and the other spiritual leeches who prey on the unwary will be benefited only by their wits and their mouths and their business acumen, but not by their commercialistic Christian god (small g).

Time to grow up. I am enough. And that's enough.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Singing Your Own Song

I recently saw a nice little tale of a bird in a forest who decided that the song he was singing didn't quite hit the spot. Turns out one of the other creatures told him that although the melody was OK, the style and words were not very uplifting - rather too melancholy for the times.

So, to cut a long story short, he went off by himself and practiced for a long time, and made little odd off-key parping noises until he finally worked out how to sing a good song that he had composed himself. And it seems that, after telling him what an oddball he was, and how screwed up he must have been not be conforming, he finally got to perform his song in the forest. And all the other birds and animals gathered round and thought it was a bloody good song, and eventually they started singing....

It seems that the driving force behind his motivation to compose a new song, was a combination of these factors :

  • the song he had been singing wasn't his in the first place. It had been given to him from the start, and like all the other birds, he was expected to sing it
  • the song didn't tally with his outlook on life - it was not a reflection of his true self - his own truth and understanding
  • the song said nothing about him as a bird (person)
So he figured he might just as well compose his own song. And this is where things started to get challenging, because firstly, all the other birds of his species started to exert some serious peer-pressure on him to conform to the status quo. They even thought he had lost it. And they tried some emotional blackmail, under the guise of conformity and comfort with the known - they resorted to the "we've always done it this way" argument. And the parents of the bird almost disowned him - they shook their heads and tut-tutted and decided they couldn't understand the younger bird's motivations.

And his response was to retire from the distractions and noise, to give himself time to think and focus on his mission to become his original self. He made small beginnings - he had to accept that perfection was not the object of the exercise and that with time, the new song would come more naturally to him. And he had to overcome the embarrassment of coming out of the closet of his own originality, in front of all the other birds and animals. But he finally understood that the courage of accomplishment of becoming a composer for himself, was more important than the quality of the singing. And what did he find out?

The more he did it, the better he became at it - practice makes perfect. And then he stopped thinking about how to perform right, and he started to become spontaneous and to celebrate life and love and nature and the wonders of life. And finally everyone else finally figured out that the little guy may just have something. The story doesn't record whether anyone else had the grace to apologize for being a miserable stick-in-the-mud and generally trying to throw iced water over his dreams and his quest to find his own better way. 

But that's the way of life, isn't it? Accept it - people are incredibly hung up with other people who go against the flow. They are bothered about people who don't fit neatly into a pigeon-hole. They are hassled by people who can't be easily classified. It's a bit like having a burr in your shoe - it bothers you every time you take a step - you are constantly reminded of its presence, and eventually it gets to the stage that you have to get it out before you go nuts. 

So what do these people do ? They try to dissuade the dissenter first - because they really don't want their loved one becoming a burr-like renegade who gets under their skin. To hell with how the "aspirant-burr" feels: it's the friend or family member who desires to remain comfortable! Then they try to do a little psychological number on the new composer - they try to convince them that they are a few waves short of a shipwreck. "Yep - you've lost it big time, bud". And then they resort to tradition - "hey, we've been doing it this way for a million years, and smarter people than you have conformed, so you must be wrong!" 

And lastly if none of that works, they disassociate themselves from the dissenter. Mainly because they're concerned about their shoddy reputations ("I don't want to be seen associating with that looney-tunes"), but also because it's just too much like hard work trying to sit down and have a serious discussion, with a view to understanding the other person's point of view (if they did it, it would probably be the first time in their lives).

But, the serious dissenter has to carry on - there is no option. They are driven by bigger things than tradition, and the "unity of consensus" and the need to conform. They are driven by the desire for truth. The need to find themselves as a person. To discover all the nasty, bent out of shape bits, and to understand how they got like that - because unless you do this, you're unlikely to be able to function properly in the future. Try ignoring the grinding noise from the front of your car by putting cotton wool in your ears. Guess what - I'll give you a few more miles and your car will die from a blown engine or whatever. The point is - you never bothered to stop and find out what the problem was, did you? 

Remember the burr? It will always be with you unless you identify what it is, why it's there, and how to get rid of it. And don't expect to walk properly the moment you remove it - you will have to relearn how to walk, before you run. Practice makes perfect. 

And in the process, don't people just looove to stick a pin up your arse with the words "damaged goods" printed on the tag? People have to find a reason why you are behaving like this - gotta have something to blame it on! It's not sufficient that maybe you have had an AHA!- moment. You have woken up after being in a coma for far too bloody long, and you have figured out that the world as it has been presented to you, is not actually the true world you want to live in. So you make a change.

And then people say "Aaah - you must have been hurt by the church", or "You are just all bitter and twisted", or "There there, we know that life's a bitch, but you're just not seeing it properly - take off the dark glasses", or perhaps even "Get over it- life's hard for all of us but we all have to go on, so forget about it - stop dwelling on the past". 

When all the while, maybe all you had was a moment of inspiration when you finally started to put some jigsaw pieces together and determined a better pattern for your life. You found a gem of truth, and followed it to its logical conclusion. And you know what? It's your life. You have to live with it - and hopefully even excel in it - so why not try to make it the best it can be? Nobody else - especially in this day and age - will lie awake for one moment at night wondering if you are singing your new song OK, or if you are right or if you are wrong, and the consequences for you if you had remained in your old (un)comfortable ignorant traditional status quo. 

Remember the burr? Will it stop hurting you if you pretend it's not there?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Ever been unfortunate enough to have a narcissist gaslighter in the family?

There has been much written about narcissists and their tendencies, but the passage about gaslighting below, really caught my fancy. Damn! We have seen this so often, in glaring technicolour widescreen sensurround in our own lives.

And at the end of the day, you (almost) are made to think it's you who is the crazy one. I said - almost. Luckily there is an abundance of psychological insights floating around the internet these days, so it's very easy to see all the nastier narcissistic nuances (did I mention I like alliteration?) of the favourite (not!) relation.

Besides - I know we're not crazy. We're as normally nutty as everyone else in the world - and let's face it - they say there is a degree of instability in all of us. I'm just not insane enough to claim that I'm sane though! So here goes - Gaslighting in all its glory :

“She makes you look crazy.

If you try to confront her about something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called “gaslighting,” common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.

Narcissists gaslight routinely. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you outright that you’re unstable, otherwise you wouldn’t believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative. You’re oversensitive. You’re imagining things. You’re hysterical. You’re completely unreasonable. You’re over-reacting, like you always do. She’ll talk to you when you’ve calmed down and aren’t so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic.

Once she’s constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she’ll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood. She didn’t do anything. She has no idea why you’re so irrationally angry with her. You’ve hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn’t know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you.

She has simultaneously absolved herself of any responsibility for your obvious antipathy towards her, implied that it’s something fundamentally wrong with you that makes you angry with her, and undermined your credibility with her listeners. She plays the role of the doting mother so perfectly that no one will believe you.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

911 Epitaph

It's 11 September again. 911 to all those who put the month before the day - anniversary of the fall of the World Trade Centre towers - all 3 of them. And an important anniversary - the 10th year.

G and I would like to take the opportunity to express our heartfelt condolences to all folk who lost friends, family and loved ones on Sept 11, 2001. I would like to hope that all truly caring members of humanity will spare a thought for these people, and draw close to them, in spirit if not in deed.

But I would also like to call on all Americans and anyone else who lost a loved one (and this is serious - it is not my intention to deliberately cause hurt to the grieving), to renew the call on the United States Government for a fresh unbiased independent enquiry on the whole 911 saga, with a view to clearing the air.


Because there are just too many unanswered questions left hanging in the air. There is too much evidence that has been confiscated or concealed, or literally- buried. Let me take you very quickly through just a little of it. There is a huge amount of detailed information on the internet.

Start with and, move to, , and then google architects and engineers for 911 truth, bilderberg, illuminati etc. and follow the links. And stay awake to discern the gems of truth.

So here goes :

Sept 11 dawns and the Trade Centre towers get hit by 2 commercial airliners - said to be boeing 767's. Except that pilots for 911 truth dispute the speed that the aircraft were recorded as reaching prior to impact. Turns out these planes can't do the air speeds that were recorded at the altitude they were flying at, without special modifications - otherwise the wings would get ripped off.

Then we have the 1st and 2nd building in history which have steel skeleton constructs, collapse because of fire. Forget all the others with the same type of construct that were gutted by fire and still stood firm. No - these collapsed. And the fire from burning aviation fuel wasn't hot enough to melt steel.

What about the time to collapse? Simple physics - laws of acceleration. The formula is s= ut + ½ at 2
where s = distance (height of tower 1 = 417m), t = time, u = initial velocity and a = acceleration in this case, the acceleration of gravity 9.8 m/s2

We're going to use this formula in the case of the fallen trade centre tower 1 which was 417m high. In the case of a stationery tower initial velocity = 0, therefore we can use :
s = ½ at 2 as our formula.

Then lets solve for t, assuming the building is in freefall.
t = sq.root of (2 x s /a) = sq. root of (2 x 417 / 9.8) = 9.23 seconds.

This approach is a bit rusty and glosses over some of the other factors that need to be taken account of (see again the 911 research website), yet the essence remains true. At this stage, please note that based on seismic evidence and of timed videos, both proponents and opponents of the "official" report of the collapse, estimate the time taken for the towers to collapse at between 8 and 10 seconds. Now our answer of 9.23 seconds looks pretty much right on the button. And that means effectively the building was in freefall. And that means all steel and concrete supports had to be simultaneously sheared off, for the building to have fallen neatly down in a pile in under 10 seconds. That can't be explained by planes crashing into the towers.

Then we have a plane fly into the pentagon at zero feet, a manouvre so demanding that even experienced pilots are unlikely to manage it, let alone an acknowledged inexperienced pilot like the supposed hijacker. Pilots for 911 truth conclude that indisputably the flight data supposedly from flight 77, is not that of an American Airlines 757 . And neither was the single engine left lying on the ground.

What about WTC building 7 which collapsed around 5pm the same day? Due to damage from the falling towers, some have claimed. Except that other folk recorded basement and foyer explosions in WTC7 before the Towers ever fell. And then there is recorded testimony from an official admitting that they had to bring the building down for safety reasons. The problem with this is that it takes months to rig a building for demolition. It can't be done in a day. That means it was rigged with malice-aforethought, doesn't it?

And then the reports that some weeks before the collapse of the trade centre, the company renting the complex suddenly insured the buildings "against acts of terrorism" for an amount that conveniently exceeded the cost of the lease.

Or the very extraordinary volume of futures put options of stocks of :
-the airlines affected,
-the reinsurers who were expected to pay out billions,
-US treasury notes,
-Financial services companies affected, and
-a weapons manufacturer who was expected to gain from the attack.

Trading with knowledge of a future event is known as "insider trading", and it guaranteed an obscene profit to those who knew in advance that the attack was going to occur.

What about the US Senator who took breakfast in the Trade Centre every morning - but called on the morning of 911 to suddenly cancel?

Oh yes - nearly forgot! The president of the company providing security services to the WTC complex was.... the brother of President George "Dubya" Bush. My my - what coincidences.

There are many other inconsistencies - certainly enough to raise many questions - go and look up all these web references for yourself. Of course, if' you're happy to live on with your head in the ground, so be it.

But I would think it's time to wake up - US citizens should call their government to account openly and transparently for what happened on that day, and let's once and for all get the truth out on the table.

Let the consequences lead where they will - and I hope they will be dire for many in the echelons of power.

A Friend in Need....

So who needs friends? Well - all of us, we are told. At least I think we are. I'm not sure exactly what it's supposed to do to you if you don't have them, but I had supposed it is a kind of "good mental health requirement" or somesuch, to have a friend or 2, or more.

Personally, I've never been one for the "more the merrier" school of friends, preferring one or at most 2 close confidante friendships. These are the friends you can do anything with, say anything to, reveal your innermost secrets or fears, and who will accept you, warts and all without question. And when you are in trouble, they're there - no if's or but's. And your secrets stay secrets.

The problem these days seems to be that society has responded to the greater urgency of life - "hurry hurry hurry - make that fast buck, make another and another, geddit while it's going now now NOW" (etc - you get the picture) - by becoming a bit flaky on the friendships side of the coin. I think everyone thinks that we are not allowed the time these days to become really knowing and accepting of another person. And besides, we seem to have got really shallow as a society, and it seems our moral code seems to have slipped a bit.

What do I mean by this and what does this have to do with friends? In the "old days" which really don't seem that old, but to a bunch of sub-30 somethings are really really a long time ago, morality seemed to mean something, at least to many ordinary people. When we said things, we did what we said. If we were forced to change our plans, we informed the people thus affected as a matter of good ethics. Sure, we told the occasional lie, but we tried to limit the number of unnecessary lies and deceits, and we tried not to hurt people. And we tried to go to sleep at night not having anything worrying our consciences.

These days, we make plans with people which we don't keep. We don't bother to contact them and apologise. We tell whoppers of lies to suit our own agenda, not caring who gets taken in by them, and some of us believe our own lies. We deceive others and we think this is a sign of strength. We take credit for others work and we think this makes us smart. We call this "playing the game" and we're proud of it.

Then you get dickheads writing crap like the "48 Laws of power" which contain such gems as "Be wary of friends - they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy", or perhaps "Learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside of let public opinion hang them". Or perhaps my favourite sickie "Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armour, you can deceive and manipulate them at will".

Q.E.D. - I rest my case. Which of you would like to call either of the authors of this nonsense, "friend"? I most certainly wouldn't. Both these gentlemen go out with my personal pile of exceptionally nasty things that get thrown in the garbage. Besides, I've seen enough gutless, brainless smartmouths taking the credit for the good things others have done, and then smartly stepping out the way and convicting by innuendo, those who aren't there to defend themselves, should anything go wrong. These geniuses become tomorrow's business leaders. It's no surprise of course why business ethics have gone down the tube and satisfaction of the needs of the client, exists in word only - and only in order to con the next bit of business out of the unsuspecting sucker. It's also no surprise why so many businesses are foundering these days, if the smartass that got to the top did it by "cribbing" from somebody else's hard work. "Look ma - the boss doesn't have the brains to run the show, or the honesty either". Would I do business with him?

So why are our friendships flaky these days? Because we don't trust anyone, anymore. We think everyone else is like ourselves - smartass conmen out to take as much as they can from others and give as little back. People ready to walk over anyone in their way, in order to get to "the top" - wherever that is.

Sophia Dembling noted the following in The Introvert's Corner :

Researchers from the University of Chicago noted that loneliness has nothing to do with the number of friends a person has. Loneliness isn't just about being alone; it's how we feel about being alone.

We probably all know what it's like to feel lonely surrounded by people at a party. And to feel fulfilled in an empty house. And we agree that quality trumps quantity in our friendships. People with just a few friends are not sad and lonely. As long as our friendships--however many or few--are close and meaningful, we're good.

The word "friend" is tossed around too freely these days, anyway. I prefer to distinguish among friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Also between real-world friends and Facebook "friends."

"Dunbar's number," proposed by anthropologist Robin Dunbar in 1992, is a commonly used assessment of the number of relationships we are cognitively capable of keeping straight; that number is 150. I probably have a network of that many people in my life. I certainly wouldn't call them all friends, though.

In fact, I'm an avid Facebook user but I'm starting to feel like I have too many "friends" even there. I'm not terribly far above the number at which people might judge me desperate. Research reveals that the ideal number of Facebook "friends" is 302. That's enough so you don't seem pathetic, not so many that you seem needy. But I have accepted "friend" requests from people with whom I feel no particular connection. In some cases, these strangers have become virtual friends. Some have even become real friends.That's cool. But others have just remained little faces in a box. We have nothing to say to each other. And having lots of "friends" doesn't make me feel better about myself. It makes me feel kind of...phony.

And that's one of the reasons I gave up Facebook - because I have no desire to communicate one-way with a bunch of people who really don't give a tinker's cuss whether I live or die. I'm definitely not going to share my innermost thoughts with those people. Sorry guys - out you go. Next garbage collection is on Wednesday.

Do we know what real friends are these days, or are we all in the business of collecting acquaintances? And what for - to make us feel good? To be seen as part of the crowd? Shame, that you might have such a shaky self-image that you have to conform to other's expectations of you in order to feel good about yourself. None of these people is ever going to lift a finger to help you in a jam - a friend in need is a pest. And they probably talk about you behind your back, in none too complementary terms either.

Nope - I've found that with the uptick in distrust and emotional dishonesty, I have little desire to try and sift the wheat from the chaff in trying to work out my friends from my foes. I'd rather be in a battle on my own - at least I know who I can trust.

And do I have someone other than my family that I feel I can today call "friend"? Sure - one person. Let's keep it like that. And tough on you if you think that makes me seem "pathetic" because it's less than 302.

I prefer to think of myself as discerning.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Courage to be Free

“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”  (Thucydides)
"Free is when you don't have to do nuthin' or pay nuthin' I wanna be free"

That was Frank Zappa. It conveys a basic idea at a teen level, but doesn't follow through. You are free to do nothing - but you're also free to starve. And if you pay nothing, you get nothing - unless you have a benefactor hidden away somewhere.

We hear so much about freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of religion. But are we truly free? It seems all freedoms come at a price. There's no such thing as a free lunch. There's always a price to be paid. We are free to speak our minds as long as there is someone there to hear what we would like to say. The price is saying something that somebody else wants to hear.

What about freedom of worship or religion? In the main, you are free to believe whatever you like - as long as it fits within the framework of the group you are now affiliated with - otherwise you're out, bud. And you will find that with all religions - fit in or move on. In other words - you're not free to think what you want.

OK - so you decide to not adhere to a particular group - you will be a non-conformist and sail your own boat (in whatever facet of your life). But what is the price of being non-conformist? Maybe it's not knowing whether you have been cast adrift in an infinite sea, no knowing if there are any other beings who are experiencing the same thing. We do find it helps to have company, don't we? Makes us feel a little more reassured.

Ultimately, maybe it comes down to the question : " Do I want to live my life with a conditional freedom, a shadow of the freedom I could really achieve, or do I want to strive to break free and live my life on the edge?

The price will be not knowing what happens next, but I am willing to take the chance, because to retreat to the safety of the crowd means I sacrifice my new-found freedom. Am I prepared to do that?

Have the courage to break free!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Conformist

Whoohoo! Doom and gloom! So I have a very strong feeling that Jesus never existed. And before you throw up your hands in horror and proclaim that I'm going to hell, I have a very strong feeling that hell doesn't exist either. Sorry, but there you are. Did I get all bitter and twisted and wake up one day with a chip on my shoulder? Nope. But G and I did start to think seriously about these matters, and research and read from many different sources. And in the process, we feel a lot more free than we ever did as practicing Christians.

The bottom line at the end of all this (and the thinking will never be finished, nor the reading), is that most of what Christianity has dished up in the form of story line is in fact a bunch of fiction. Some of the wisdom is useful. And this has nothing to do with the existence of an eternal overarching spirit / God / Almighty / All Powerful Life Force, or whatever else you'd like to call it - that's another matter entirely.

No, this has to do with man's habit of taking truth and doctrinalising it and fiddling with it to fit a preconceived idea and formulating it, and forcing it down everyone's throats on pain of death and proclaiming it until everyone else thinks you must have lost your marbles if you disagree. And if you lived a few hundred years ago, you did lose your marbles, and many of your other accoutrements too, courtesy of the church hit squad. And then you were slow roasted if you were lucky.

But getting back to my heretical pronouncement about the non-existence of Jesus, the next question that arrived was "Do you still celebrate Christmas?" Fair question. Shall we say, I used to celebrate Christmas like 95% of pseudo-Christians celebrate it (see below). Do I like to give presents to people? Of course I do - I happen to get more of a kick out of giving to people and watching their faces, than I do getting presents back. But am I about to make a huge hoo-ha about putting up trees and decor and giving and getting stuff on a day which I now know has not the slightest thing to do with Jesus? I am not. Is this so bad?

OK so let's look at the vast majority of Christians who celebrate Christmas. If I was doing it, I suppose I would be one of these. They must be Christians, right? It is supposed to be a Christian celebration, isn't it? Wrong. Most of those who observe the Christmas holiday, never go into a church from one year to the next. But they celebrate Christmas (and they eat chocolate at Easter). And they celebrate Christmas by eating and drinking too much, and having very loud parties and waking up with a hangover the next day (if they get to sleep early enough - otherwise it's the following day). And a large bank overdraft, because they've overspent their Christmas budget. Eyes bigger than bank balance. You see - last year I bought Jack a R20 000 Hi-Fi theatre surround with a zillion speakers, and this year he's not going to be happy if I buy him a box of chocolates. You see, the measure of my love has everything to do with the size and cost of the present I buy him. So, because I love Jack very much indeed and I don't want him to get pissed off with me, I put my bank balance on the rack and I buy him a Maserati this year. God knows what I will buy him next year - maybe a desert island.

And while Jack smiles (for a while at any rate - research proves humans are never happy with material goods- they always want more), and I cry over the zillions I owe my bank manager, who are the ones really having a Merry Christmas? The retail sector. Hey guys - sales are up and the shareholders are happy, the share price is booming. And management are getting their extremely large bonuses and share incentives because we made target.

But I'm stupid- because my bank balance is so stuffed that I don't have any money to invest in the stock market so I can benefit from the booming share price - I spent it all on Jack and his family, and I still owe a ton of money to my bank manager. So who's got stupid written on his forehead in flashing neon then? Must be 95% of the pseudo-Christians.

So even if you are one of the 5% of Christians who doesn't spend Christmas eating and drinking and spending too much, you spend it going to church. Night of the 24th, also day and maybe night of 25th perhaps, then if that wasn't on a weekend, both services the next Sunday, where you will think about "the events that happened at this time of the year " (the preaching menu is governed around what happens at various times of the year, and doesn't change much). The problem with this is that even these pious Christians know that Christ's birthday was not on December 25th. How could it have been? Shepherds out watching their flocks (this is the northern hemisphere) - in the middle of snow and ice and sub-zero temperatures. Things get chilly in Isreal in mid December. If Jesus was around, he sure as nuts was born in the warmer months.

So I'm going to celebrate the birth of Jesus on a day I know was not his birthday. What am I - a lunatic? The queen of England has an "official" birthday which differs from her real birthday. Do I go out and celebrate her birthday on the official date, or on her real birthday? There are comforting places for people like me, if I do this - all warm and white and padded. Make no mistake - there are lots of people who will celebrate her birthday on the "official" date - I think we can safely put them with the 95% of pseudo-Christians, don't you? But if you give me a public holiday, I'll stay at home and have a rest, but I'm not going to be putting up streamers and bunting and toasting the queen on a day which is not her birthday. I might have a few drinks, but it has nothing to do with the queen.

So, in exasperation, I ask G what trip these people are on. What's the point of Christmas? And the answer comes back clear and simple :

It's t- r- a- d- i- t- i- o- n. And if I am following tradition, I'm not free. I'm a little robot going round and round and doing what I'm told to do. I'm a clone. I'm a conformist. I'm going with the status-quo, even though I know it's wrong. My mind is programmed - it's made up. Please don't confuse me with reality.

I like the feeling that comes from being free. I'm swimming against the tide of the masses and it feels good. I'm starting to think that if you do something that everyone is doing, you are doing the wrong thing. Why? Because the vast majority of humanity are not thinkers. They're sheeple. They want to be told what to do and what to think and when to do it. In that way, they feel safe. It's cosy and it's comfy, but it's not truth and it's not a life I'd want to consciously lead.

So what will G and I be doing this Christmas? Probably having a picnic in the shade at the back, and a braai with anyone who'd like to join us, just for the fun of being together as a family, for no other reason but because we love each other and we like to spend time with our loved ones. And if nobody wants to join us, we'll do it alone. Public holidays are given for these occasions - no reason to waste them.

I don't mind you sailing your boat and I'm not about to dictate to you about how to sail it, but don't complain if I choose not to get into it with you - and please let me be free to sail mine.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ripping the Top off the Beliefs Box

One of my favourite topics. The box.

Out-of-the-box thinking, as we all (?) know, is thinking that doesn't limit itself to the known/familiar/well-tried, but that moves outward to take in new aspects, creative ideas and novel solutions in search of the more elegant, better result.

This is not to say that we have to spend all our time rejecting the good known solution in favour of being novel and innovative just for the sake of it, or even that the out-of-the-box idea is going the be the best idea. I think though, that what is key here is that out-of-the-box can be the best solution on occasion, if we give it a chance. However, by sticking to only the tried and familiar, we get ourselves into the rut of being blinded by familiarity and forget how to look for creative solutions to our problems.

In Robert Goerman's article about this, he states that "the best assumption to ever have is that any commonly held belief might be wrong". In a section dealing with how to get out of the box, he notes that being too close to your product/beliefs/group/organisation/church/club makes it difficult to see in a different way, and that it's key to listen to what others have to say, because they might have a new angle, as yet unexplored by you.

In her article "It's time to get out of the box", Connie Butler notes that the box is made up of attitudes, beliefs, ideas, choices and strategies that have served to diminish a person and make them limited in their thinking, talents and abilities. To live the best life possible we need to master the skill of moving into the unknown - this is scary - but that's where new opportunities and satisfaction are.

She goes on to mention the different boxes people create for themselves - in brief, the language box, familiar actions box, blame box (lack of personal power and responsibility) and negative expectations box.

I'm going to add as a separate box probably the most important in terms of it's potential to imprison us, and that is the Beliefs Box. It doesn't seem to be explicitly catered for in any of the others, yet our beliefs in who we are, what we will become, where we are now, our present and future potential, and our faith, are possibly the most key motivators to what we will do in our time on this planet, and where we think we will be going in the hereafter - if anywhere.

Almost from the time we are born, we are inculcated (is that a good word?) with the cultural/moral/religious/social beliefs of our parents, and taught the "socially acceptable norms" of the day. Most of us grow up with this set of beliefs and live out our lives in cosy acceptance of the status-quo. It's too challenging to take on societal belief-systems and run the risk of being ostracised, or worse, subjected to peer pressure to conform. But there are some of us mavericks who believe in opening up the box for ourselves and seeing what lies on the outside. In the case of the beliefs box, this has the potential to get very scary indeed, depending on our upbringing.

Take for example the belief of orthodox Christianity. Well tried, documented, the doctrine is in place with years of honing the right answer for the questions of the unbeliever. And what a bunch of questions and contradictions it throws up. So you lift the lid and peer outside this particular box, into territory where you have been told are the "heathens and unbelievers". Into territory where you have been told that if you venture, you will be going straight to hell. And Christians are told to "take every thought into captivity to Jesus", or somesuch nonsense - in other words "stop thinking - turn your enquiring mind off. Become a clone and a Jesus dummy".

If you don't believe in God - merely wake up and give your other belief systems a smack on the side of the head - dare to be different. Go out and look.

But if you do believe in God, you better believe He gave us the most fantastically powerful computer ever devised, and it sits almost unused on top of our shoulders. So powerful that geniuses function on about 15% of their brain capability. Most of the rest of us slum along on about 8-9% of our potential. And we are told to turn off our brain and shut up and believe what we're told to. The early Catholic church took all bibles out of the churches and vested them with the priestly class, "because the laity weren't capable of understanding the bible". Probably not - but it had nothing to do with the fact that we were all too thick. It had more to do with the fact that a bunch of early writings had been shoved together, certain contradictions had been spotted and some clever dick had decided to do a little original editing to strengthen their case - which of course only made the whole mess even more disjointed than before. And then they thought it might be a very good idea not to let anyone who was not directly under the control of the church, have any time to spend thinking about some of these anomalies and asking questions. Nobody likes a smart-arse. And if they still didn't succeed in quelling unfashionable beliefs, the church resorted to gently chiding her flock - with the Spanish Inquisition and their subtle methods of torture and death.

"But the bible is perfectly sound - I don't see any problems in it", you say. If you don't, then you haven't looked outside your beliefs box yet. Go and see really why the church has been threatening you with hell fire and damnation if you dare look outside. It's the normal bully-boy threat to scare you into submission and compliance. When you look at all the other major religions, and you will see many of the same ideas, but described many centuries before the advent of Christianity - so the latter is hardly original. And nowhere but Christianity will you find anyone condemning you for wanting to keep an open mind and believing whatever you'd like to. After redacting (diddling with) a bunch of disparate texts for around 1100 years to try to create the message they want to put over to their flock, the church has the absolute gall to insert a paragraph somewhere in the Revelation which in effect says "those who add or take away from this text are damned". What breathtaking hypocrisy - designed of course to keep the followers all mindlessly captive.

But Christians are masters of hypocrisy. They tell the world to love their brother as themselves, and yet they treat everyone outside their own limited denominational beliefs box as the enemy. They tell their flock that these people are cursed, or "of Satan", or "on the wrong path". It's the classical short sighted bigotry borne of supreme arrogance in their supposed correctness. How can they profess to love God (whom they have not seen), when they cannot love their brother whom they have seen? I suspect these people think their "brothers" are only those imprisoned in the same comfortable little box as themselves. Hello - Is it wake up time yet?

Why do all of the longest standing conflicts in the history of civilisation, have their roots in religious intolerance? Because we cannot stand anyone who dares to hold views contrary to our own. We want to dominate. It's always about power. Dog eat dog. It's so bad that we even have (Christian) Catholics killing (Christian) Protestants in Northern Ireland for upwards of a quarter of a century. Then we have (Christian) Americans jumping onto their modern war chariots and going to free the world from nasty Moslem oppression (I'm not a Moslem). Wake up and go and look at the preponderance of evidence about who actually brought down the World Trade Centre buildings - is a good start. It's always about money and power.

"We are the only ones who are right - and we're going to kill you to prove it". How arrogant. Get out of your stupid limited little box and start listening for a change - you may be surprised what you find. You see, inside your box, you can only see as far as the opposite corner. Yes, I know it's non-threatening and soothing, but it's probably mainly a lie. And are you happy living your life in a lie, or do you think that just maybe you would like the chance to become a spiritual adult, stand up and face the facts, and then move forward, knowing for the first time in your life you are truly, totally free?

Hey - far be it from me to "convert" you to anything - you're on your own, bud. But you're only here for a very short time, so you had better make good use of it. And when you die, make sure you're as clued-up on the real truth as you can be - there's no excuse these days.