Right now, as of today, the 2023 Alberta, Canada wildfires have burned over 842,000 hectares that is casting smoke that can be smelled in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, Typhoon Mawar is bearing down on the island of Guam. This is a Category 4 Typhoon with sustained winds of 135 mph and storm surge expected to be as high or higher than roofs of one story buildings.
These are dangerous events that threaten lives and will destroy property totaling millions to billions of dollars. And these are just the latest in a series of serve weather events bearing down on the world--be it astounding flooding events, tornadoes, derechos, fires, and many other severe weather events (click on link to see just the list of 1 billion dollar disasters in 2022).
Layered on to all this killer geologic events such as recent killer earthquakes in Turkey and Syria or the Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption and tsunami that impacted the entire Pacific Ocean in 2022. And now, Popocatépetl a massive volcano is waking up outside of Mexico City.
Layered on top of these events are mass shootings in the USA...a civilization so polarized, it's paralyzed.
Layer onto all of this the War in Ukraine with 18,280 casualties (6,596 killed and 11,684 injured -- stats by Radio Free Europe) along with nuclear saber rattling by the crazy tsar Putin driving Russia into the ground and North Korea accompanied by Xi Jinping, China’s very uptight and control freak ruler, eyeing Taiwan
Human beings have always lived in uncertainty. It is only recently we feel it isn’t normal to feel uncertain about something.
But what if we need uncertainty to thrive?
Uncertainty has largely been replaced by routines made very predictable and reliable by all our technology. Living life today is so much more predictable than living it just 70 years ago, much less 150 or 700 years ago. Some may say modern human life is downright boring until something unexpected, unplanned, unpredictable occurs. Then, suddenly we may feel uncertain, anxious, uncomfortable, frighten. We want these feeling to go away because these aren’t the nice feelings we are suppose to feel in our technology rich, everything is at your finger tips society.
But wishing this to be so would be a huge mistake…
Do you want to know why?
Well, I’m not going to tell you. I’m going to let you dwell in a place of uncertainty and let you see what you find out.
However, I will provide a few road markers, if you are willing to take the voyage into the uncomfortable space of being uncertain, not knowing, a place that feels more than a little bit unhinged.
Are you a voyager?
Let’s find out what your look of today really is? Let’s dive into if it may be possible to imagine and see a different look… another way to live a modern life? Does this make you feel uncertain? Is this a bad feeling or a good one? Why?
Let’s explore some more….
The first road marker on this voyage into uncertainty comes from Humankind Public Radio in an episode called Constant Emergency.
This audio documentary explores what constant emergencies do to people. It delves into what living in constant states of anxiety and fear does to a person’s psyche and sense of wellbeing. One thing we know is that constant states of emergency translates in our bodies as constant Fight or Flight mode. Being constantly in Fight-or-Flight can generate unrelenting stress and anxiety that can further translate into violent self-talk as well as violence to others.
Have we entered an age of unrelenting chaos? As we grope for a “new normal”, has humanity reached a kind of turning point?
It feels that way — in the wake of the Covid pandemic, intensifying impacts of climate change, the war in Ukraine, mounting threats to our democracy, repeated mass shootings and so much more.
In this timely audio documentary, you’ll hear inspiring stories of survivors. We also listen to health care providers, clergy and others who offer specific guidance to help people navigate these choppy waters. They conclude that new, hope-giving possibilities are emerging.
You’ll learn about a fascinating group of caregivers who travel to trouble spots and train local residents in proven techniques that can help people to heal from trauma. In the lyrics of folksinger Carrie Newcomer: “there’s something holding steady and true, regardless of me and you.”
In this provocative Humankind program, we consider: 1) What resources are needed — for emotional and physical health and for the functioning of our communities? 2) What are ways out of thinking that, in all this commotion, we’re in a downward spiral, with no other options? 3) What simple self-care techniques can relieve the tensions now being felt my so many? -- HumanKind Radio | Constant Emergency
Following are quick insightful impressions I gleaned while listening to the speakers:
Insights From Melissa Barnett
Each of us carry a full spectrum of emotions concerning our environment that range from love, fear, grief. And there is a lot of un–metabolized fear out there. My perception of the forest had changed after coming back from the fire. Instead of seeing quiet and green and calm, I saw fuel for fire resulting in panic. It was primal fear and hard to be there after the fire. After a catastrophe, isn’t having one’s faith shaken meant to do? Shouldn’t we re-think our patterns, our behaviors, or beliefs?”
“Working with children who came back after the fire, we did art, deep breathing, connection with animals, being outside and looking around their family and friends to see who is there to support them and thinking how they can help them.”
“Peace begins with me.” — Say this as a mantra while you breathe
— Melissa Barnett
yoga instructor Sonoma, California
Insights From James Gordon, MD
“Training people who are former caregivers (doctors, mental health workers) but also training teachers, preachers, household workers. First step is to shut up and focus on breathing, being here and now. This is a concentrative meditative exercise that calms down the flight or flight response. It lowers heart rate and blood pressure. It calms activity in the amygdala (responsible for violence) and places focus in Frontal Lobe (responsible for compassion, kindness). Deep breathing also activates cranial nerves (responsible for recognizing emotions in others) and frontal lobe come into function when we breathe slowly. When trauma is overwhelming, people go into freeze effect. People release neurotransmitters and disassociate from what is happened. It is a life saving response, but being constantly in freeze response it is deadly. We get people up and moving, maybe dancing, and something shifts inside. A man from Sarajevo who witnessed his entire family massacred after participating in Dr. Gordon’s deep breathing, relaxation, and dancing for the first time was not oppressed with visions of his family being killed.”
“To help people feel safe again in their lives requires hope, an internal shift that our lives can heal. Many people who have suffered trauma believe their is nothing they can do to change their lives. Trauma disables the healing aspects of our brains and minds.
— James Gordon, MD
Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Washington, DC
Insights from Rev. Susan Beaumont
“For a vast majority of people living now there is a longing for simpler, easier, and more pleasant times. There are some eager to rush forward to resolution, but most want to turn back. There is a lost of hope. This is process of disintegrate of systems for new things to emerge. We have to live in this in-between place for the new thing to emerge. It is very hard to sit with Not Knowing. Lost of hope is biggest problem because we loss the ability to be creative in fixing what is wrong. In addition, there is a rush to restore the status quo. We have to remain unsettled so we keep creating, we keep innovating, but rather institute old practices as the New Normal (fueling the fire of collapse). For leaders finding the balance of feeling unstable and stable is very difficult.”
“New community needs to emphasize compassion and teach people how to sit with others and be present with each other in suffering without wrapping it up and putting a pretty bow on it. When people are in need, people benefit most simply from another person willing to listen and be present to the other person’s suffer and suffer it alongside of them… no solving, so strategy. We can be in it but not of it. We can surrender to the circumstances instead of rallying against them and then let it pass through us. A lot of our suffering comes from rallying against them.”
— Rev. Susan Beaumont
Insights From Nichole Warwick
“Grief is the BIG Elephant in the room. Not wanting to sit with our losses and our grief. Grieving is a sublet, multi-level process. Went through Al Gore’s Climate Change course, but after seeing so many images of devastation I was overwhelmed and grief struck but I couldn’t articulate it or see it in myself. So there was an element missing in the course for a long-time after I just couldn’t land what it was. A few weeks after the Climate Reality class, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and then I understood what was missing. We live in a culture ill-equipped to deal with grief. Our culture wants people to hurry up and get back to “normal”. With this diagnosis, I didn’t have a choice about my grief. With the tsunami of feelings and emotions, I had to take my time and process is it all.
“It takes courage to see the things we don’t want to see. It take courage to act and show love to people in pain, experiencing loss, or trauma. Look for ways you can help others and this grows your courage to endure your own pain and trauma.”
— Nichole Warwick
Sonoma, CA Community Resilience Collaborative
Insights From Sabrina N’Diaye
“Something amazing always grows from bad experiences. There is this tree that grows in the middle of abandoned buildings and rubble. I have witness the darkness and I have witnessed the beauty that rises through it. Sit with yourself, be with all of your feelings and emotions, do not run away so you can be there to see the tree when it rises. When I think of all the people I admire, all of them had to walk through trauma. When I’m doing my work, it is to remember I am supposed to have the experiences to make me afraid, angry, frustrated, joy, love, and laughter… (all of this teaches me who I am.)”
“When feeling overwhelmed, I let myself cry when I hear another person’s story of pain and trauma. I give myself permission to feel what the person is feeling. Also, so many leaders of countries are hurting people. I cannot change the President of Russia, but I can change how I talk to my husband and my children and everyone around me and this changes the energy around us.
— Sabrina N’Diaye
Psychotherapist, Baltimore, Maryland
Zen Bones: Being in the Way
The next road marker comes from one of my favorite philosopher-entertainers, Alan Watts. This is a podcast series hosted by Mark Watts, Alan Watt’s son. This one in particular is essential for understanding the beauty and value and necessity of uncertainty.
To learn more about this podcast series, visit the Be Here Now Archives.
The third road makers comes from the Library of Consciousness (I love the name of this website-resource). I was looking for something Alan Watts said for my story, so I have highlighted nibbles from this transcript from one of his lectures.
To read the whole transcript in its entirety, go to DO YOU DO IT OR DOES IT DO YOU?
On Living By Rules
“To act without being motivated by the fruits of action, [this is the way to get out of the wheel of karma.]”
“So long as you’re looking for results—be they good or evil—you’re still bound [by the laws of karma].”
“The word dharma—sometimes meaning “the Buddhist’s doctrine,” or a certain way of life when you talk about a person’s svadharma—you mean “their own function.” We would translate svadharma as “vocation.” Sva is the same as the Latin sus: “one’s own.” Dharma: “function,” in this case. “Operation,” “way of life,” “style of life,” “profession,” “trade,” “role.” It means all those things. And the one thing that dharma really never means is “law,” although it’s often translated that way.”
“Because, you see, you don’t get the idea of law until you move to a culture where order is based on the idea of obedience. In the West, you see, the origins of law spring from where? The laws of the Medes and Persians, the Laws of Hammurabi, the Laws of Moses, and later Roman law. The only healthy legal tradition we have in the West is British common law, which proceeds in an entirely different way from code law.”
“Because, you see, the difference between code law and common law is that code law is laid down by the wisdom of an all-powerful ruler who tells everybody how they must behave, and they must obey him. But common law is evolved by discussion of particular cases rather than referring all the time to abstract principles which are put down in words. And the judge—the good judge—is a wise man, a man with a sense of equity and fair play who arbitrates an issue which is debated in front of him. And from the precedent from which he creates by his decision, common law evolves. You see, that’s a more organic way of producing law. The code law system, which we inherit from our most ancient theological backgrounds, is a tyrannical method of law by imposition.”
“And so you must understand that—in both Hinduism and Buddhism—there is really no fundamental idea of obedience to a personal ruler. Certainly not in Buddhism. A little bit, sometimes, in Hinduism. But even then we get terribly mixed up because, for example, I was talking of the Bhagavad Gita: this is often translated “The Lord’s Song.” Now, for Bhagavān (or Bhagavāt in Sanskrit) “Lord”—as an English equivalent—is quite inappropriate. Because a lord is one who lords it over you. Bhagavān is a title of reverence and respect and love. “The Song of the Beloved” would be much better, in a way—although it’s not quite correct from a strict point of view. We don’t really have an equivalent for this word, the Bhagavān.”
“So although, you see, there has been—in India itself—tyrannical rule, and although the Arthaśāstra (as a manual of politics) gives directions to a tyrant as to how to govern by absolute power, going along with this exposition of this very Machiavellian point of view to government is the constant advice of the sage: yes, this is what you have to do in order to fulfill your office as a ruler, but never forget that you’ll never succeed. The more you try to rule things by force, the more you will stir up violence against you. And so you can never hold on to your power and your possessions; it will always flow away from you.“
On Living With Uncertainty
“So there was one of those great rajas of ancient India who asked a jeweler to make him a ring that would restrain him in prosperity and support him in adversity. And the jeweler wrote on the ring: “It will pass.” But when we come to the deep cosmological and metaphysical ideas, we don’t have law in the Western sense, and therefore nature is not looked upon as something which is an orderly system because it is obeying a commandment.”
On Backward Thinking
And we get into the same confusion when we imagine, for example, that money is wealth. Here we have fantastic wealth, you know, and we have the technological possibility of making everybody on Earth the enjoyer of an independent income. We can’t do it because people say, “Where’s the money going to come from?” Because they think money makes prosperity. It’s the other way around: it’s physical prosperity which has money as a way of measuring it. But people think money has to come from somewhere, like hydroelectric power or lumber or iron, and it doesn’t. Money is something we invent, like inches. So, you remember the Great Depression; when there was a slump? And what did we have a slump of? Money. There was no less wealth, no less energy, no less raw materials than there were before, but it’s like you came to work on building a house one day and they said, “Sorry, you can’t build this house today. No inches!” “What do you mean, no inches?” “Just inches! We got inches of lumber, yes. We got inches of metal. We’ve even got tape measures. But there’s a slump in inches as such,” you see? And people are that crazy! They can have a depression because they have no inches to go around, or no dollars. That’s all a lot of nonsense!”
There Are No Separate Events
“There are no separate events. This is startling to people. But it’s really quite easy to see that there are no events in nature, because you can ask very simply—let’s take something called an event: how do we demark it from other events? At what point, shall we say, were you born? Were you born at parturition? Or when the doctor slapped you on the bottom? Or cut the umbilical cord? Or when you were conceived? Or when your father and mother were first attracted to each other? When was it? When did you begin? There’s no way of deciding except arbitrarily. And for legal purposes we say you were born at parturition. And that’s when the astrologer casts your horoscope—except that other astrologers disagree and want the conception time, and say that’s the real beginning. There isn’t a real beginning. It goes back and back and back in an inseparable continuity. When are you dead? That’s another big argument. And you can get all kinds of ideas about that.”
Point-Instants Are Imaginary
“So once you see that an event is a term in an intellectual calculus—calculus being the way of measuring, say, curved formations by reducing them to point-instants and counting it, you see? But actually, the point-instants are imaginary. The curve wiggles along and it doesn’t stutter from point to point. But in calculus you make it do that. So just as there are no point-instants in the curve, so there are no events in nature. Nature is a constantly fluctuating pattern. You can only designate particular wiggles in a pattern arbitrarily. You can count a convex formation as one wiggle or a concave formation as one wiggle. Then you decide if you call it—if you give the convex properties the title of “wiggle,” you have to deny it to the concave properties, and vice versa.”
Have You Ever Watched A Snake Swim?
“When a snake swims, there’s nothing more beautiful than watching a snake swim in water. Lovely motion! But, you see, it wiggles along. And its wiggle is conceivable, you see, as convex—or was it concave? This way and that way and this way and that way. Now, which side of the snake moves first hen it wiggles? See, it’s very easy to see there.”
Now When the World Moves, What Starts First?
“Now, when we interact with the world, what moves first? Who starts it? The objective world or the subjective world? But they are related as this to that. You can’t have an object without a subject or a subject without an object. Can’t have something known without the knower. And that gives the show away. There isn’t any real distinction between the knower and the known. There’s two ways of looking at something, yes; two poles of a single process. But the knower and the known are subsumed as the knowing. And all life is knowing, being, becoming. And it isn’t something, in other words, that works by the idea of “all this happens because someone shoves it.”
What Is Karma–Really?
But if it’s your karma, everything that happens to you—put it in another way: everything that comes to you is a return to you of what goes out of you. Yes, obviously that’s absurd if you confine the definition of yourself to your voluntary, conscious behavior. That’s a ridiculous definition of one’s self. One’s self, by any stretch of the imagination, must involve far more than the conscious and voluntary aspects of our behavior. And if we see that it involves, intimately and inescapably, the behavior of what we call the “other,” the “not-self,” the “environment,” and see that these two are moving together like the two sides of the snake when it swims, then you get a very curious feeling. And you have to be careful of it if you’ve got a Western background.”
“Because this is what happens to a lot of people who play around with psychedelic chemicals. There are many, many cases of inflation among these people. That is to say, when you get this sensation that the two sides of the world—the inside and the outside—are moving together, you may think: “I am ruling it!” “I am God” in the Western sense of the word. Therefore, your ego—instead of being, as it were, integrated and transcended with all this process—merely assumes vast dimensions, has megalomania, is blown up by the mystical experience. And so you get the holier-than-thou people going around who seem to think that they’re above all human conventions and have no obligations to anyone or anything: because they’re divine, and they can do as they damn please.”
Choosing the Lesser of Two Evils
What they haven’t realized is that doing as you will isn’t a new kind of behavior that you suddenly put on and say, “From now on, I’m going to go around doing as I will.” You have to realize first that that’s what you’ve always been doing. And you could look at this from a very simple point of view—it’s not a complete point of view—but you can say: “Well now, what about the people who did good and who did the things that they didn’t want to do?” You know, everybody’s mother said to us, “Darling, sometimes we have to do thing we don’t like.” Well, what about that? Well, you can always say the kid obeyed the mother and did the thing that it didn’t like because that was the better part of wisdom. In other words, if he hadn’t done that, something worse would’ve happened. And we choose the lesser of two evils. And when you find yourself in a situation where you have to choose the lesser of two evils, then you say, “I want out of here!” and you take the easiest way; you take the line of least resistance. So that’s your doing.”
Praising and Blaming
““That’s not my fault, that’s your fault!” And so we go around apportioning faults to everybody. Because if we’re going to apportion praise the good things people do, you can’t make praise mean anything unless you also go around blaming. Praise and blame go together. Supposing everybody was acting in a praiseworthy way and we praised everybody for everything—they’ll get tired of it. They wouldn’t even notice it anymore. So, so long as you’re going to get a kick out of being praised, you’ve got to go around blaming, too. It’s very simple.”
Sermon on the Mount
And Ananda Coomaraswamy once described the life of the liberated being as a perpetual uncalculated life in the present. And you say, “Wow! I don’t think I could do that.” That saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount about “be not anxious for the morrow.” The uncalculated life. “If God so clothed the grass of the field, will he not much more clothe you, faithless ones?” And I’ve never met a preacher yet who would really take that up. They all say, “Well, of course, that’s too hard a saying for most of us. It’s not practical. Everybody has to take thought for the morrow and calculate.”
We Are Just Kids WithPlastic Steering Wheels
“Well, at this point people can go in two directions. There’s one class of people who will say, “Alright, let’s live the uncalculated life. Let’s not make any plans.” And before you know where they are they’re living in a filthy pad, and scrounging around, and living on petty thievery, and so on. This is the usual thing. This has got into it the wrong way. The first thing to do is just as I said: whether you like it or not and whether you know it or not, the relationship between you and the environment is always one that is harmonious. So, in the same way, you are always living the uncalculated life. And you have to find out, first of all, that you’re always doing it, and that what you call your calculations and the things you did were funny little rationalizations. In other words, your ego has about as much control over what goes on as a child sitting next to its father in a car with a plastic steering wheel that is turning the car the way daddy drives it. Because, as I pointed out, most of the functions, most of the goings-on in you, around you, the circumstances of life, have nothing to do with your ego at all. And you don’t even know why you make up your mind to do certain things. We know superficially; we have a few ideas.”
The Pretender — “It’s All Fake”
“So whenever you do a thing like that, you see, you make a forced change. Now, if the change is to happen in the same way that a seed (at proper season) breaks open and sends up a shoot, see, it comes from the whole force of life itself. Now, when you see that, without your having to do anything—see?—you are living the uncalculated life and you’re only pretending you’re calculating it and arranging it, then—as it were—you will have a grasp of the total situation. And you can allow it to produce changes in action which are not forced. So this is why there is always a trend in every kind of spiritual doctrine which says something about grace. Divine grace. There must come about something in you, a change, which you can’t produce. And if you try to produce it you will be a victim of spiritual pride. But on the other hand, all teachers at universities are saying, “You’ve got to make an effort.” There’s some discipline. There is something you must do. Well, that’s the only way to get it across to people that you, as a separate effort-maker, are a myth, are a phantasm. Because if you really try to control your mind and only think the thoughts that you think are good thoughts to think, you will find that you’re going ’round in a circle. Krishnamurti’s awfully good at pointing this out. When people ask him, “How do you meditate?” he says, “Why do you want to meditate?” “Why are you concentrating?” “Why are you saying prayers?” “Why do you think you should believe in God?” And it always comes up: “Because I’m just a son of a bitch. I’m out for my own good, and this seems to be the way.” So he says, “You see? You don’t have any genuine love at all. It’s all fake!”
“My Basis for Moral Behavior Is Pure Selfishness”
And so you have to find, first of all, where the genuine love is. Now, you love you, don’t you? That’s genuine. I won’t argue about that. But then, when you start from this—I gave a talk some time ago to the Air Force; their camp or lab where they make weapons, do all the research. And they got a bunch of us there who were ministers and philosophers, and they had the nerve to ask us: what was our basis for moral behavior; personal moral behavior? Well, I said, “My basis for moral behavior is pure selfishness. And I’m talking, after all, to realistic people here, and I don’t think we need be sentimental and beat about the bush. After all, you’re all warriors and fighters and so on, and you know how rough things are. So I’m going to say to you, frankly: I’m out for me. But, of course, I don’t do it in a tactless way. I don’t go around and hit people over the head and say, ‘Give me this’ and ‘Give me that.’ I’m much more subtle. I say good manners, and ‘please,’ and ‘how nice you all are,’ and so on, and finally people feel massaged, psychologically, into a state where they’ll give.” But then I said after that, “There’s some things that bother me. The first one is: if I love me, what do I want? And furthermore, who am I?”
I Cannot Experience Me Without You — To Love Another, Is to Love Myself
“Because if I’m going to be realistic about getting what I want, I’ve got to be pretty sure what it is that’s me, and what is the state of desire in me. If I am desire, you see, if I am a center of desire, what’s it all for? Well, I think of all the things I want. Well, it so turns out that none of them are me. I might say, “I want dinner.” Doesn’t mean I’m going to eat me up. Any pleasure I can think of is the enjoyment of something that I haven’t thought of defining as myself. Because I like my sensations, I like what happens to my body when I take a fine wine and down it. But then, what’s the difference between my body and the wine? If I say I like the wine, I also mean I like me and the wine together; the mixture. But then I don’t eat you, or a friend, or a lover, in the same way as I drink wine. I live in association and like this. But then I’m loving things that aren’t formally supposed to be me. And as I go into it—in other words, as I investigate what I mean by “me,” I find that I can’t put any limits on it; that I cannot experience “me” without “you,” or without the “other.” They’re inseparable. But you don’t find this out until you investigate it, until you really go into the question: “What do I want?” And that’s the most important investigation anyone can make (which I’m going into in the next session): the question of power. And all these military men, they think they want power. And so I said to them some very subversive and undermining things without anybody knowing it until long after I’d left!”
What Do You Desire?
“Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do? And when we finally got down to something which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, “You do that, and forget the money.” Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living; that is, to go on living doing things you don’t like doing—which is stupid! Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way. And, after all, if you do really like what you’re doing—it doesn’t matter what it is—you can eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something: to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much. Somebody’s interested in everything. And anything you can be interested in, you’ll find others who are. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like in order to go on doing things you don’t like, and to teach your children to follow in the same track. See, what we’re doing is: we’re bringing up children and educating them to live the same sort of lives we’re living, in order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to do the same thing. So it’s all retch and no vomit: it never gets there!”
What Do You REALLY Desire
“And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question: what do I desire? Well, when we answer that question in a naïve way, we figure out that what we want is to control everything: to create girls that don’t grow old, apples that don’t rot, clothes that never wear out, conveyances that get from one place to another instantly so we don’t have to wait, power available to do anything that you could conceive and do it just instantly; like that. To get this funny technological omnipotence. But if you take time out to think about that, and really go into it with your full strength of imagination and find out whether that’s where you want to be, you will soon see: that’s not what you want. Because the moment you have a situation where you are really in control of things—that is to say, in which the future is almost completely predictable—you will see, as I said last night, that a completely predictable future is already the past. You’ve had it. And that’s not what you wanted. You want a surprise. You don’t know what that’s going to be because, obviously, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you did. You want a pleasant surprise.”
Putin’s HELL… And All Other Tyrants Who Want to Control Everyone
“Imagine the situation of Big Brother: Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, Heinrich Himmler. To be glued, day and night, to a highly defended office with telephones, television screens, watching, peeking, spying on everyone and anything. Getting all this information together. Why, you could never leave the office! I mean, a character, I suppose, like J. Edgar Hoover goes home in the evening. But when he’s back home, you know, there are guards sitting outside the door, there’s that hotline telephone going to something. He’s always having to be in control. And he can’t take any time off, he can’t go for a walk in the park with a friend, or go innocently to the movies, or sit down and just relax and have an undistracted party in the baths at Big Sur. What a pauper this guy is! Completely deprived! Because he wants to be in control, because he wants power. People are frustrated in love; if you’re jilted. There’s a natural tendency in a human being to seek power as a substitute. And that’s a very negative thing. It’s like having a bad temper, to seek power after you’re frustrated in love. You should try and get back on the love beam. Because nobody wants power!”
Psychic Technology — Now That’s Power!
“Now then, when Oriental philosophy and religion was first introduced to the Western world, it was introduced under the auspices of people who were fascinated with power. It was introduced in the latter part of the 19th century, when we had heard all about evolution and how the human race was going on to ever greater heights, and we would eventually develop superman according to Nietzsche or G. B. Shaw and H. G. Wells. Remember all that early fantasy of where evolution would lead through the development of technology. And so, at this time, people like H. P. Blavatsky were talking about the mysterious wisdom of the East, and they phrased it, they commended it to us, in a technological spirit: that there was psychic technology, that there was something, that you could go way beyond anything that could be done through the physical sciences. You could cause your physical body to disintegrate to another level of vibration, and then transmit it and reassemble it somewhere else. You could live as long as you like because you control the fundamental processes. You could determine, if you decided to die, where you would be reborn, exactly. You would be a complete master of life. And so there are still innumerable books being sold which present Oriental philosophy and religion in this light. That charlatan, Lobsang Rampa, who writes about Tibetan mastery—people read that because they think that there may be a way of beating the game.”
Thinking Psycho-Technology All the Way Through to the End…
“So, therefore, the wise men of Asia were represented through this kind of propaganda as masters of life; as, for example, people whose emotions didn’t bother them, who could put up with any amount of pain by simply turning off their feelings, who could foretell the future, who could read your thoughts, and who were above all kinds of ordinary human frailty. Well, when I first met Buddhist priests, Zen masters, swamis, all these wise men from the East, one of the first things that impressed itself upon me was that they were perfectly ordinary human beings. They had bad tempers, they were fussy about certain things, they just acted as I would expect human beings to act. And so, at first, I was very disappointed. I thought they had feet of clay, but they didn’t come up to these promises of psycho-technology.
But after a while I got to realize why not: that they had already thought all that through. They had thought through what might be done if one had all these powers, and had decided that wasn’t what they wanted. The powers of this kind, in Sanskrit, are called siddhi. But there is hardly one decent scripture or text on yoga that does not say, again and again: if you get siddhi, ignore them. Go on to something else. These are only the foothills. These are, furthermore, not only foothills, but they are seductive, blind alleys. Won’t take you anywhere at all.”
Do You Really Want That Plastic Doll? That’s All?
Now, I think that this is the greatest possible lesson for the Western world to learn, because we are so hung up on the idea of power, of control, of being able to make everything go the right way, and we’ve never thought it through. When you get control of it, what are you going to do with it? Supposing I’m an alchemist and I have a whole secret closet full of love filters; very potent ones. And if I see a desirable woman, all I have to do is to offer her a cigarette or give her a glass of wine with one of my secret potions in it, and instantly I’m her master. Now, when I think that through, what would I do with a situation like that? Because all I’ve got, again, is that plastic doll that, when I push it, it does what I tell it to and doesn’t have any comeback. What you always are looking for in things is where the surprise is there, where there’s a comeback. And you say, “My god, this thing is alive! It has a will of its own. It is not in my control. And I would like to have a relationship with something like that, because it would never be dull.” And also, you would feel true affection. After all, you can make love to yourself in a mirror. You can have one of those Dutch wives; you buy them in a place in Kobe, where you get these rubber girls that you fill with hot water. And sailors take them on long voyages. But what an awful thing, you know, when you realize that this thing has no surprise in it, no thing that it does on its own, you see?”
Pursuit of Pure Pleasure Leads You to the Naraka Worlds
Because, you see, pursuing pleasure beyond a certain place takes you into what the Buddhists call the naraka world; that is to say, to hells. When you have explored pleasure to its ultimate limit, the only thing you can get a kick out of is pain. So naturally, you descend from the deva world at the top of the wheel to the naraka world at the bottom, where it shows all these beings in states of torture. Now, of course, the priests say—when they’re bringing up children—if you do bad things you will end up in the hell world. But this is a very inadequate way of showing how one gets to the hell world. You get to the hell world as a result of not knowing what you want, as a result of thoughtless pursuit of pleasure which ends you, eventually, in the pursuit of pain. So if you’re in the hell world, that’s where you want to be!”
What Do You Really, Really Want?
So then, we ask the question: if the motivation of power-gaining disappears—you’ve seen through it and you know that’s not what you want—what other motivation takes its place as the origin of actions? And it seems to me that the answer here is compassion. Simply because, when you want to relate to another living being, what you really are asking of them is that they be in the same situation that you are. You want to meet and encounter someone else who has your problems, your fears, and your delights. You don’t want a doll, you want another “you,” another “self,” because that would be at least as surprising to you as you are. And so, then, at once, when you see that that is the case, and that the most interesting thing in the world is the relationship with these others, and you can see at once yourself in the situation of all the other people, and then you think: no, I don’t want to control these people. I would like them—yes—to be controlled in the sense that they were happy to do the things I would like them to do. But obviously, I can’t force that. Because if I forced it, they wouldn’t be happy.”
This Is the Magic We Have Lost
“But there is, despite a lot of foolishness that goes on this, is a sound thing, you see? That there really is no greater satisfaction that you can imagine than that kind of personal relationship wherein you can trust a being who is other than you and not under your control to do for you what you want—because they like it. As you, on your side, would want to do something for them in that way, and so as to give pleasure to the other person. Just take, in sexuality, where you get a kind of a critical example of this: the biggest fun in sexual relationships is giving orgasm to women. And if that doesn’t happen, many men feel disappointed. Because a thing that they really wanted to do was to give pleasure and get their own pleasure out of giving it.”
Othering of the World
“So you see, it’s really, in a way, the same idea as the Hindu idea. When the Christian speaks of God giving the creature freedom of will, the Hindu says: no, God gets lost in that person and gives up power. And it’s really the same thing. It’s the idea that the all-powerful surrenders power. So that the more you give the power away, what you’re really doing is you’re “othering” yourself. Now, the more you “other” yourself by giving power away, the more of a “self” you are. Because “self” and “other” are reciprocal. So you find that people who, through a sādhanā (a yoga-discipline), have overcome their ego, have transcended the ego, are tremendously strong personalities. You would think, theoretically, they would all be non-entities and to lack entirely what psychologists call ego-strength. But actually, they’re nothing of the kind. They are—every one of them—unique. They’re all quite different from each other. And they are very, very (what I would call) strong characters. Because the more they have given it up, the more they get it.”
A Lovely Irresponsible State To Be In
So, in this way of thinking—let’s put it in another dimension for a moment. Let’s suppose we’re thinking of a relationship that is not just of people. People are very obviously other and independent of one’s ego. But give it to everything. Say to everything—which, of course, is going to include as much of yourself as you can objectify. In other words, your stomach, your intestines, your everything, you see? Say to it all: “Now it’s your turn. Let’s see what you’re going to do.” Let it happen. You know? You do this complete let-off of control. And you find that you—I have to put it in a provisional way first—you get the sensation that everything else is living you. It lives you. That you’ve given away control, you see, to everything else. It’s a lovely irresponsible state to be in.
Bllwp! In giving away the control, you got it.
But then, you see, you do the flip. Bllwp! In giving away the control, you got it. You’ve got the kind of control you wanted. That’s to say, where you had a loving relationship to the world but you didn’t have to make up your mind what it should do. You let it decide. Now, do you see: that’s how your bodies work. You don’t have to make up your mind what your nerve cells are going to do. You’ve delegated all that authority. If the president the United States has to lie awake at nights thinking what every official under his command is going to do, he can’t be president. He’s got to make an act of trust in all those subordinates to be responsible and carry on their things in just the same way as you make an act of trust to all your subordinate organs to carry on their functions without you having to tell them what to do. And this is the secret of what we will call organic power, as distinct from political power. Lao Tzu puts it in this way:
The great Tao flows everywhere,— Lao Tzu
Both to the left and to the right.
It loves and nourishes all things
But does not lord it over them.
And when merits are accomplished
It lays no claim to them.
“Let’s see what you’re going to do.”
The more, therefore, you relinquish power—trust others—the more powerful you become. But in such a way that, instead of having to lie awake nights controlling everything, you do it beautifully by trusting the job to everyone else, and they carry it on for you. So you can go to sleep at night and trust your nervous system to wake you up in the morning. You can even tell it: “I want to wake up at six o’clock,” and it will wake you up just like an alarm clock. This seems a sort of paradox to say this, but the principle of unity—of coming to a sense of oneness with the whole of the rest of the universe—is not to try to obtain power over the rest of the universe. That will only disturb it and antagonize it and make it seem less one with you than ever. The way to become one with the universe is to trust it as an other—as you would another—and say, “Let’s see what you’re going to do.” But in doing that, you see—in saying that to everything else (that you have been taught to think is not you), you are also saying it to yourself.”
All the segments above come from the Library of Consciousness assembled by Organism Earth. I stopped at 1:28:18.
History Is Over!
The final road marker comes from an episode from Throughline titled: History Is Over!
As the end of the 20th century approached, Radiohead took to the recording studio to capture the sound of a society that felt like it was fraying at the edges. Many people had high hopes for the new millennium, but for others a low hum of anxiety lurked just beneath the surface as the world changed rapidly and fears of a Y2K meltdown loomed.
Amidst all the unease, the famed British band began recording their highly anticipated follow ups to their career-changing album OK Computer. Those two albums, Kid A and Amnesiac, released in 2000 and 2001, were entrancing and eerie — they documented the struggle to redefine humanity, recalibrate, and get a grip on an uncertain world. In this episode, we travel back to the turn of the millennium with Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood and the music of Kid A and Amnesiac.
Kid A & Amnesiac
Soundbites from this episode of Throughline
“It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” — SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE MATRIX” FISHBURNE: As Morpheus
“I’m not a bum. I’m a human being.” — SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1
“What is internet anyway?” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3
“You know, progress is not necessarily a good thing. Our success was not necessarily a good thing…” — YORKE
“Into the next century, anxieties will increase.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6
“Fire coming out from all over.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7
“The risk of the virus expanding worldwide.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8
“New cold war.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #9
“A field of tears.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #10
“Sea level rise.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #11
“Millions still struggling to be free.” — UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #12
“There’s no question that we must feed the monster. Because the monster has already won. It’s like a movie, but you can’t stop it unless you wake up.” — YORKE
“Florida is where WOKE goes to die.” — Ron DeSantis
“You need to name it… name the fear, the dread… and it will begin to diminish.” — YORKE
“There’s always a sense of dread and a need to get beyond that fear so we can imagine and express a world that can look different than now.” — YORKE
One Last Thing to Ponder on Uncertainty
What is the opposite of space element?
Neither. Space is best thought of as an empty vacuum, and the opposite of space is density. It doesn’t matter whether it’s earth, water, gas… anything collection of atoms starts to develop a gravitational field, pulling more atoms in as well as space.— Anonymous — Quora
It really is quite spectacular that we are even alive at all. Perhaps, uncertainty is the rocket fuel that powers us into the unknown so we can know. And anyone who really pushes the limits and explores knows how much we need each other in this voyage… perhaps now more than ever before.
Feature Archetypal Animation
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