American War: A Novel About How Damage Begets Damage

I was captivated by another Throughline that aired on January 19, 2023. This episode explores possible Extremist Futures as envisioned by Omar El Akkad in his novel American War.

Omar’s novel is about America’s second Civil War. He imagines 50 years into our future. A time when climate change has turned Florida into an underwater theme park and climate disasters devastate the world. His vision is very similar to mine in my novel Sapience: The Moment Is Now (not yet published).

In American War, the world finally understands that it has to stop burning fossil fuels and bands them–but it’s too little too late. The US is the last to band fossil fuels. All states agree to switch to more sustainable energy except Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. These three states take up arms, deciding they would rather secede than stop burning fossil fuels.

They lose, again, but what follows is a years-long insurgency. This is where his story is mostly centered.


Ignorance

Something Omar says in the beginning of this Throughline needs to be emphasized. He says, “We read to feel into another.”

This is how we come to know and understand each other. A country or a state (I’m thinking of you Florida) that bans books because they might be subversiveGod Forbid… they might give children ideas… is a system that seeks to keep its citizens in ignorance.

Break down the word: ig nor ance. States and countries that ban books are teaching their people to ignore what they see with their very own eyes.

And, people who are kept in ignorance are a heck of a lot easier to manipulate too!

He also says, “Story is the final act of Resistance!


Disturbingly Plausible

The New York Time’s describes his novel: “Omar El Akkad’s “American War” is a disturbingly plausible case in point — a tale of a future America torn asunder by its own political and tribal affiliations.

This is what caught my attention too.

Throughline plays some from the audio book of American War that includes sound effects. Had I not caught the beginning, I might have thought I was listening to real, on-the-ground reporting.

Omar’s story feels real, very real. It feels like it is already happening.

He grounds his story telling by his real life experiences as a boy in Lebanon where he was a witness to the devastation of war and what happens to people in refugee camps.

Omar says, “A society subjected by warfare is akin to moving backwards in time.”

Think of what Putin is doing to his people and to the beautiful people of Ukraine. Every image coming out of his sick ego trip is likened to images from WWI.

The Academy Award nominated movie All Quiet on the Western Front vividly paints the insanity of rich, powerful men who send other men to die for their personal power and glory. In this movie (and of course the book), Paul Bäumer and his classmates are just cannon fodder for a fatherland that has gone mad.

All Quiet on the Western Front | Official Trailer | Netflix

If you are having a hard time remembering the horror and senselessness of death of WWI, then watch All Quiet to remind yourself that quiet means dead. Watch as these young, gifted boys sign up for service and get pumped up by grumpy, old narcissistic men who stuff them full of overly romanticized, patriotic notions of war and how they are defending the fatherland. It’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse.


Euphemistic Fraudulence

Omar describes this souped-up patriotic messaging as euphemistic fraudulence.

Texas University’s McCombs School of Business published an article that was written by Robert Prentice titled: Euphemisms Inflict Collateral Damage on Integrity.

This article begins with the college admission scandal that caught up actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli in acts of fraud to get their children into the best schools.

Robert writes, and this is important:

In an earlier blog post we suggested some reasons, grounded in behavioral ethics, that might help explain why reputable people and loving parents became involved in these frauds.  The conformity bias, the self-serving bias, and incrementalism all may have contributed. The evidence disclosed in the indictment offers additional clues.
A euphemism, say’s Webster’s, is “the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.”
Famed Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura writes of “moral disengagement,” suggesting that people, such as Loughlin and Giannulli, who think of themselves as good people can do something bad so long as they can selectively suspend morality for their activities. One way people do this is by use of euphemisms.  Bandura notes:

“Language shapes the perception of events and the thought patterns on which people base many of their actions. The personal and social acceptability of given activities, therefore, can differ markedly depending on what those activities are called. Euphemistic machinations are used widely to detach and depersonalize doers from harmful activities. Cloaking detrimental activities in euphemisms can be a powerful weapon.”

“Working the System” – Euphemisms Inflict Collateral Damage on Integrity
Examples of the “sanitizing and convoluted language” (Gambino) of euphemisms that have helped people make their peace with wrongdoing include the following:
  • Dead civilians = “collateral damage”
  • Mass firings = “right-sizing”
  • Lies = “alternative facts”
  • Burning down villages = “pacification”
  • Fraud = “creative accounting”
  • Genocide = “the final solution”
Empirical studies indicate that “euphemistic labels can psychologically sanitize unethical practices, facilitating our participation in them.” (Moore & Gino).

The World is Either Good or Evil

This is a lie. Every modern human being born today is told this lie.

Omar talks about how this idea is used to twist us into doing all sorts of evil things. It is a notion, an idea, a belief drilled into us since the day we are born until the day we are dead.

It is this very idea that the world can be cleaved into a good side and a bad side that allows us to be manipulated.

I would add it is precisely splitting the world into Good and Bad parts that lets us justify just about any abominable violence we can dream up.

It is also what allows ruthless rulers to turn plain, ordinary, decent human beings into killing machines and monsters.

Ruthless Rulers are already monsters and include men such as Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-um, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Abdullah Aziz Al Saud, Bashar al-Assad, and there are many more (see the list of Current World Dictators).

World Dictators In 2022 By Location

We live with these monsters right here, right now on our planet. And they are pounding our world straight back to the Stone Age just as fast as they can.

This is a comprehensive, up-to-date list of the current world dictators and authoritarian regimes. In 2022 there are 57 dictatorships in the world. We define a dictator as the ruler of a land rated “Not Free” by the Freedom House in their annual survey of freedom.

What do you think? Are they winning? The Red countries that is… are there more red countries than yellow or green?

That is exactly what they want you to believe. But, perhaps you are beginning to sense out it is precisely this idea of division that is the problem.


Empathetic Liars

One of Omar’s characters is an empathetic lair. He is the character that goes into the refugee camps and radicalizes the kids there.

Omar says there is no such thing as exotic suffering, but empathetic liars make you believe there is. Empathetic liars parse the fine threads of what we do and what is done to us. Empathetic liars play upon the lack of self-agency in a place like a refugee camp (or one of Putin’s prisons) and use it like a gleaming lure to hook their targets–kids (or Russian prisoners) whom they plan to turn into cannon fodder.

Omar says, “People go to bad place when their self-agency is taken away from them.” And the more damaged a person is, the more their circle of Trust closes in, making them extremely vulnerable to empathetic liars

And that is exactly what autocrats, dictators, and pretty much most of the Republican Party in the United States are doing. Whoever they are…all close ranks around their strong man, hype their followers up on Fraudulent Euphemisms, and close the circle of Trust until only one man can be trusted.

And, there sure are a lot of want-a-bee dictators who desire to be the one and only man the entire human race can trust–Putin, Trump, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-um, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Abdullah Aziz Al Saud, Bashar al-Assad, or pick your poison.

Yes, Omar is very right to envision the coming of America’s Second Civil War! Heck, we might be staring down the path to WWIII.

I think Empathetic Liars is another name for Dark Empaths. Dark Empathy is not a good thing. Dr. Ramani does a very good job in this video explaining why all of us need to be on the look out for Dark Empaths and Empathetic Lairs.

The Dark Empath VS the Narcissist: The Signs | Med Circle

Reality? What Reality!

Omar talks about when a group of people believe anything they want to believe is real… you’re living in a very dangerous place and time.

Add the element of violent insurrection being a central part of a country’s narrative, and you have a tinderbox waiting to explode.

He admits he’s been amazed how reality has out did his fiction.

He warns, “There is a particular Force that when it emerges within a group of people, it must be stared down directly.”

I would add that when this Force is encountered: You cannot blink. You cannot turn away. And, if you falter, it will destroy you.

I’m writing about such a force too. I was reminded of a prologue I was playing around with to describe my story. I realize it is exactly what Omar is warning us about.

The Last DJ on Earth | I wrote and read the beginning of this video. My husband plays the Last DJ and my friend Brain (who has since passed) plays the Persuader

Will we listen? Can we listen anymore?

Feature Archetypal Animation

Image from: American War by Omar El Akkad, book review: Should be read as a cautionary tale | The Independent — This impressive debut imagines a second American Civil War set from 2074 to 2095 and is set apart from other dystopian novels because of the fully realised plausibility of the scenario 

Image from: Penguin Random House Audio | “Powerful . . . As haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy [created] in The Road, and as devastating a look as the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. . . . Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Image from: The American Civil War, a Summary | AAREG

Music: 1865: Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War Anonymous 4 | [15] Home, Sweet Home / Polly Put the Kettle On   

First Archetypal Animation

Music: Heaven Or Hell | Don Tolive | [1] Heaven Or Hell    

Free to Choose

The past reflects eternally between two mirrors -the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn’t do or say.” 
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

In the second episode of Shantaram, available on AppleTV, Lin steps out of his friend Prabaker’s tent in one of Bombay’s sprawling slums. He looks around at all the people in the bustling slum who are looking at him and wonders if they are afraid of him and hate him. He knows he doesn’t belong there, but fate has put him there.

Thinking to himself, he says something like this: “It is what people know about themselves that make them afraid of you.

In A World…

I rewound and watch this moment again. I was not expecting a nugget of wisdom in this drama. But, there it was…something real, something true, something very pertinent to the world we live in now. Today, no matter where you live, we live in a world….

…where MAGA Republicans think all Democrats are evil beings who drink the blood of children. This belief makes liberals and Democrats not really human. If they aren’t really human, then that makes it all right to kill them, all of them.

“Oh? You don’t believe me?”

Listen to this man right here. He’s the man with the littlest Wiennie of them all. The man in the middle touting hate, lies, deception, stories of separation, fear, and division. He’s Steve Bannon.

Steve Bannon Swears Revenge On His Democratic Enemies After Being Sentenced To Prison — Politicus Media; 10.2K subscribers

This little man, Trump’s Rasputin, knows that a democracy divided is easy to control. And he wants to control everything. Look at his beady eyes and scrubby stubble. He’s a tormented man doing everything to create confusion, chaos, and destruction so he can rise as a Christ for a world of sinners. If you have not seen CNN’s special report Divided We Fall, it is time to watch it.

CNN SPECIAL REPORT: STEVE BANNON, DIVIDED WE FALL Reported by Drew Griffin

Oh — you don’t trust CNN?

You say it’s the radical left touting Joe Biden’s radical agenda…and before that it was Hillary….and before that it was Obama…and before and before…

How far back should we go with the blame game and ‘I don’t trust you‘ contest? To Adam and Eve? Is it really that nasty little snake who started it all?

If you’re playing this game, you have already swallowed the Red Pill, and it’s working its toxic poison deep inside of you. It’s a poison that makes you deeply afraid of others and deeply afraid of your own shadow. And, you probably should be deeply afraid of your own shadow.

That is what Lin is aware of while standing alone in the slum of Bombay. That sneaky shadow that lives inside all of us casting its evil intensions and desires onto everyone else, except for you.

If you are playing this game, you have joined the ranks of people who violently participate in the denial of diversity. You do this to legitimize your own violent fear of anyone who doesn’t walk like you, talk like you, look like you, act like you, or think like you. You secretly believe and harbor a wish to bring into being a world that obeys and worships you.

The dirty little secret is hidden deep inside of you is a greedy, little, bloodthirsty thing who rages and whines about inflicting pain and suffering onto others. You want to do this so that you can enjoy your comforts and privileges. You need to do this because how would you know you are enjoying comforts and privileges unless others are suffering?

When you get called out on your racism, homophobia, antisemitism, and racism, you rage. You rage against the radical liberals who are merely pointing out your evil shadow. But, you don’t want to see the evil inside of you. So you build a wall. It’s a really tall wall that is made from the seething anger and rage boiling inside of you. If anyone gets too near, it burns like a living fire.

‘God damn it!’ if anyone is going to penetrate you inner wall and see that howling, wounded, frighten, greedy thing that lives inside of you.

That thing…. that scoundrel, that fiend, rascal, rogue, fraudster, trickster, beast, son of a bitch, deviant thing, loser, weirdo, cry baby, stupid brutal bastard, and bully. But guess what? So am I, and so is everyone else you know. We all have this evil thing living inside of us.

It never goes away. It bubbles and boils and burns inside us all. It pursues and terrorizes us in our dreams. Lin says, “A dream is when a wish and fear come together. A nightmare is when they are the same thing.”

Remaining ignorant of your evil being merely locks it inside of you where it is hidden behind the carefully constructed idea of yourself (your persona: the role you play in your community and for your family). It is your personal internal prison cell behind the giant wall that you built to conceal your evil being. You built the wall so well, most of the time you can’t even see your evil being locked inside your mental prison cell with you.

This thing inside of you is relentless and torments you night and day. In an act of utter desperation, you spew it out onto others and shout in a voice dripping with rage and fury:

“There! There is the boogeyman!

There is the Devil!

There is the Evil Thing that must be annihilated!”

Or, if the other person (the boogeyman) was once part of your exclusive club of people who know the Truth and what is really going on, you might shout:

“Hang Mike Pence!!”


In a world where Putin calls the people of Ukraine Nazis. Never mind he is the one acting like the Nazi. He is the one full of hate. He is the one who has driven out close to a million Russian men because they don’t want to fight in his barbaric, poorly equipped, and pretty bad army. He is losing. So he resorts to lies and double downs on stupid while waging his limp, impotent Nuclear Weiner.

Do not be fooled by Putin’s weak, victim-based, impotent hysterics! He is exactly the type of man who would push the button.


In a world where Iran’s Moral Police beat up and kill young women simply for wearing their hijab too loosely. But it is themselves they are really policing. They are afraid that if they see a single strand of hair sticking out from a hijab, their Limp Weak Weiner will grow. And if this happens, they are afraid they’ll lose control and turn into the Devils they know themselves to really be deep, deep down inside. This corrupt and bankrupt regime has already killed 272 young people and beaten and/or tortured 1,110 others.

In each world outlined above, each man’s rigid, inflexible thinking and bullshit is camouflage for the shitty little men they really are. They lust after power and cluster together helping each other hold onto power and control in their stinking palaces riddled with long, long corridors of terror.

Maps of Hate

This is what the corruption is and this is what it does to human beings. It is a kind of moral bankruptcy. It takes root inside individuals who find each other and clump together in groups that try to take control in order to enforce their style and way of thinking. If they do get control, they quickly create systems that exclude diversity and impose their way of doing things in brutal ways meant to terrorize everyone else into compliance. When a government becomes populated by such individuals, it turns into a structural system of terror bent on brutalizing anyone who is not exactly like them.

There are three main mappable categories of this deadly psychic virus: Dictators, Terror Groups, and Hate Groups. But the corruption lives inside everyone and is readily expressed in every day transactions. You see it in families, in workplaces, in schools, between friends and lovers. It thrives in ignorance and lack of self-awareness. It particularly loves to reside inside narcissists!

Dictators of the World

Current World Dictators
This is a comprehensive, up-to-date list of the world's current dictators and authoritarian regimes. In 2022, there are 57 dictatorships in the world. We define a dictator as the ruler of a land rated “Not Free” by the Freedom House in their annual survey of freedom. See the interactive map and photos below or click to visit the current dictators category.

Of course, the dictators of the world will point to all the yellow areas of this map and claim, “There! There is the evil capitalists who are draining the world of resources and polluting our planet!

They are not entirely wrong, expect they think in black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. They split the world into opposite halves. Then, they step inside the Good Bubble, created entirely inside their mind and spew out their pent-up boiling hate, vengeance, and destructive tendencies on everyone else. They never take responsibility for themselves. They are the consummate victim, and always the hero in their narcissistic story. And so, it is in this way that we (the human race) will split the planet into two unreconcilable halves and all die together in a seething puddle of hate.


Terror Groups

One step behind dictators and authoritarian rulers of the world are terror groups such as Boko Haram, ISIS, and Taliban (which actually managed to retake control of Afghanistan bumping them back up to the dictator map above). The map below shows terror groups around the world and provides a list of largest terrorist groups worldwide.

These are groups of people who twist words and religions to bolster their brutal causes. They are mostly stateless centers of terror who are trying to grab some land and people who they can crush and ruin.

2021 Global Terrorism Index
Overall Terrorism Index Score: GTI is a composite measure made up of four indicators: incidents, fatalities, injuries and property damage. To measure the impact of terrorism, a five year weighted average is applied.

Hate Groups

One step behind terror groups are hate groups. Rather than centering their brutal activities in one spot or country, hate groups operate like a distributed network that hock, sell, and propagate hate. It is easier than ever to breed hate with the advent of the Internet and people who live their lives online.

Hate groups traffick outrage and outlandish accusations designed to divide the world into Us and Them, into people you can trust and people you can’t trust. Hate groups are insidious and invade peoples minds like a drug. Once you become addicted to hate, it is an addiction that is harder to kick than heroin. It is a poison to your mind that is more destructive than Meth. Hate literally changes the neural pathways of your brain.

The following images are from Jigsaw, an incredible website that helps you visualize hate.

Red Pilling: Signalling allegiance to a group or ideology often becomes an all-consuming project for extremists. Even once an extremist has been formally admitted into a group or online forum of extremists, formers described the need to prove themselves as “down for the cause” or “white enough” by committing more and more time and energy. This performance of dedication often escalates in a competitive fashion, resulting in hate speech and violence.
Red Pilling: The rise of informal white supremacist communities online over the last 20 years has made it easier to find, join, and become radicalized into white supremacist groups. Whereas groups in the past might have recruited at white power rock shows or amenable bars, online radicalization no longer requires this investment of in-person time and physical vetting. Today a person can spend hours online moving through increasingly radical content and discussion forums. The immersive nature of these online forums and communities can create a “new normal” that contradicts offline social norms28. This also means younger children and teens, who could not be recruited at bars or white power concerts in the past, can more easily join white supremacist groups at impressionable ages. One former interviewed had entered a white supremacist forum at age 13 and, drawn to the provocative memes and secretive chat forums, had adopted national socialist beliefs by 15. By 18, he was part of a neo-Nazi terrorist organization proscribed in the UK.
Formal and informal extremist groups often coexist online, playing complementary roles
White supremacy is a globally networked movement

Another excellent mapping project is the Hate-Map using real time data of hate events to create a map that shows hotspots and how hate is growing worldwide.

Interactive Hate Map | You need to go to the site embedded in the Hate Map, but as you zoom into an area, the number of incidences increases in the the places that appear white in the map above this one.
The Hate Map is populated with data submitted both by our internal researchers, the public and our network of volunteers. This data largely stems from publicly available news-sources and consolidations of information from other public data-sets and records. Existing records are however often limited in scope and fail to give a comprehensive picture of the global activities of the far right ranging from spread of propaganda and low-level activities through major terrorist incidents.
All data in the Hate Map is verified and quality controlled by internal researchers who are experts on far right extremism and experienced in the field of open source intelligence (OSINT) building on public sources and providing verifiable documentation before it is made available in our public-facing database and dashboard. Our researchers take great care to verify sources where there might exist any doubt. Links to external sources are provided for all our database entries in order to ensure that the public further can verify any incident independently.
Our dataset is cross referenced against the work of other institutions and organizations mapping the far right in order to ensure as comprehensive a picture of the global situation of the far right as possible, in keeping with the highest academic standards.
The Hate Map is a living document and both recent and historic events are added and verified on a daily basis. -- The Hate-Map

The Playbook

Regardless of if you are a dictator; an authoritarian ruler; a leader or member of a terror group; a leader or member of a hate group; a narcissistic boss, sibling, friend, or parent, you play from the same dirty handbook. That book repeats one mantra over and over, which is to inflict as much pain, terror, and suffering on your enemy (which is anyone who does not agree with you) while constantly claiming to be the victim. And if you can’t win that way, then you have the right to destroy everything.

This attitude, belief system, behavior is all a big cover up of who you really are. It is a smoke screen and distraction because deep, deep down inside yourself you feel inferior, impotent, dithering, confused, frighten, and like a limp Weiner. That’s why you run around the world hurting everyone else. If you can’t have it your way, then you want to be the first to destroy it!

Looking at these map, it is pretty clear we are not doing very well as species. No wonder we are not paying attention to Climate Change. Perhaps we won’t need to after all. The way things are going we will blow ourselves up before nature cleans us off the surface of the planet with climate disasters that are only getting bigger and more deadlier by the year… and this trend is only going bigger and badder not the other way.

Perhaps we all better stop, take a deep breathe, and listen to the Whale Songs again. The ones Vermont biologist Roger Payne captured and brought to us in the 1970s!

Songs Of The Humpback Whale – by Dr. Roger Payne
Gordon Snyder; 494 subscribers

Yetzer Harah

I realized this thing Lin said in the second episode of Shantaram is part of the puzzle of the Yetzer Harah.

I first heard about the Yetzer Harah while listening to Alan Watts lectures who describes it like this:

So, in Hebrew theology incidentally. That there is a thing called the yetzer harah. And in the beginning of time when God created Adam he implanted in him the yetzer hara and the yetzer hara means that wayward spirit. He put something funny in man so that man would be a little odd and it was a result of the yetzer hara that Adam was tempted by Eve who was tempted by the serpent to eat that famous fruit. And, but the Hebrew believes that everything that God created is good. Including the Yetzer Hara. Because if it hadn’t been for the yetzer hara, there would have nothing ever happened. Everybody would have obeyed God and God would have said well this is kind of a bore. 

Now that you see, you can’t you can’t just get up to someone and say disobey me, because if they do there are varying you. See that’s a double bind. Say to somebody disobey me but God is much more subtle than that. He didn’t tell Adam to disobey he told him to obey. 

But suddenly he put this yetzer hara thing in like that so that, God would say well I’m not responsible. For this thing’s going to happen on its own because what everybody wants is something to happen on its own. And everybody wants that. 

Because you see, this sensation of being you. This curious lonely center of awkward sensitivity, subject to the most peculiar feelings and pains and anxieties and all that sort of thing all that. Is an essential prerequisite for feeling something else. These two experiences go together. -- 2.4.9 Way Beyond Seeking Part 2; Alan Watts Organization

In short, the Yetzer Harah is why we do evil things, why we fear people we don’t know, why we wage wars, why we cheat each other… pretty much why we are living in the mess we made of the world today.

Shantaram tells the story of how Lin made a mess of his life (surely guided by his inner Yetzer Harah that tempted him into making a lot of bad choices that landed him in prison). Then, Lin makes a courageous choice, escapes from prison, and gets a second chance to live his life, which he is messing up again–gosh darn it!

I’m only on episode 2…so Lin is probably going to embark on different mistakes. And I bet he is going to grow from these mistakes because Lin demonstrates the capacity to reflect on his new situation and past mistakes, which pushing open the door of the prison cell inside your head, just a little bit, but if you look…there is vast and beautiful field of wisdom beyond your prison cell behind your wall of ignorance.

Is wisdom perhaps the reason God implanted the Yetzer Harah into man at the very beginning?

I suppose we will never know because clearly we are going to kill each other long before we can collectively learn how to embrace diversity and celebrate life in all its many facets and ways of being in the world.

Images For Archetypal Animations

Feature Archetypal Animation

Cucuy: The Boogeyman
Free Evil Fiend Art Prints and Artworks
Alice In Wonderland Clip Alice Falls Into a Rabbit Hole 2010 HD
Shop Alice Falling Down The Rabbit Hole Designs in Fabric
White rabbit runs and falls into a hole

Music: Down the Rabbit Hole: Emma Wallace [1] Rabbit Hole    2:02


Second Archetypal Animation

I was searching for exactly what Lin said to himself when he woke up the first morning in his friends tent in the Bombay slum. I could not find it, but I found a lot of other great quotes from Gregory David Roberts who is the author of Shantarm. So, I have sprinkled these in between the credits of where I found the images for this animation.

Shantaram TV Review

“Civilisation, after all, is defined by what we forbid, more than what we permit.” 
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

“Fear dries a man’s mouth, and hate strangles him. That’s why hate has no great literature: real fear and real hate have no words.” ― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

“For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love; the passionate search for truth other than our own. With longing; the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on.” 
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

“The past reflects eternally between two mirrors -the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn’t do or say.” 
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

Charlie Hunnam And Shubham Saraf Tell Us About How The Spirit Of Chaos (And One Drunken Night) Fueled ‘Shantaram

“While I was chained to a wall and being tortured, I realized, through the screaming of my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.” ~ Gregory David Roberts

“The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men,’ he said. ‘It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds, and bad deeds. Men are just men – it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good and evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone – the noblest man alive or the most wicked – has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward God.” ~ Gregory David Roberts

“It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.” ~ Gregory David Roberts

Charlie Hunnam Fell In Love With India While Working On ‘Shantaram’ But Also Fell Severely Ill!

“There’s a truth deeper than experience. It’s beyond what we see, or even what we feel. It’s an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and the reality from the perception. We’re helpless, usually, in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it, like the cost of knowing love, is sometimes greater than any heart would willingly pay. It doesn’t always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart, just as Prabhakar told it to me, just as I’m telling it to you now.” ~ Gregory David Roberts

“Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever.” ~ Gregory David Roberts

“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.” ~ Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram
Inde. Bombay ou Mumbai, il faut choisir son 

Music: Shantaram (Chapter Four)Various Artists [1] Aeternum    9:16 [2] Inner Fire – Yuriy from Russia Remix    9:15

Spirit of Emptiness | Chapter 6 — Tao Te Ching

The spirit of emptiness is immortal.
It is called the Great Mother
because it gives birth to Heaven and Earth.

It is like a vapor,
barely seen but always present.
Use it effortlessly.

Text From:

Microsoft Word – Tao Te Ching – trans. by J.H.. McDonald

Ancient Wisdom | Modern Images & Music

Feature Archetypal Animation Images

Stained Glass Spiral Circle Pattern Glass Religion | msandersmusic | Marybeth  •  Age 35  •  Arlington, VA/United States  •  Member since Jan. 29, 2016

Thành Phố City Sun Nature Beautiful Fantasy Alone | DesignND | ĐÔ NGUYỄN  •  Age 24  •  HÀ NỘI/VIỆT NAM  •  Member since Feb. 25, 2020

Woman Nature Environment Young Female Face | 0fjd125gk87 | Deutschland  •  Member since Sept. 3, 2013

Sunset Sunrise Continents Abstract Graphic | geralt | Gerd Altmann  •  Freiburg/Deutschland  •  Member since Sept. 15, 2012  •  #15

Yellowstone National Park Geyser Usa Nature Hot | cocoparisienne | Anja-#pray for ukraine# #helping hands# stop the war  •  Deutsch  •  Member since Jan. 10, 2014

Other Things to Wonder & Ponder

Throughline’s award winning episode on Afghanistan is well worth listening to and perfectly aligns with the sentiments of Chapter 6 of the Tao Te Ching.

Afghanistan: The Center of the World (2021)

Afghanistan: The Center of the World (2021)

Description: This episode was published days before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and just weeks after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan. It is the first part in Afghanistan: The Center of the World, our Peabody Award-winning series about Afghanistan, focused on the country and its people.

Afghanistan has, for centuries, been at the center of the world. Long before the U.S. invasion — before the U.S. was even a nation — countless civilizations intersected there, weaving together a colorful tapestry of foods, languages, ethnicities and visions of what Afghanistan was and could be. The story of Afghanistan is too often told from the perspective of outsiders who tried to invade it (and always failed) earning it the nickname “Graveyard of Empires.” In this episode, we’re shifting the perspective. We’ll journey through the centuries alongside Afghan mystical poets. We’ll turn the radio dial to hear songs of love and liberation. We’ll meet the queen who built the first primary school for girls in the country. And we’ll take a closer look at Afghanistan’s centuries-long experiment to create a unified nation.

Afghanistan: The Rise of the Taliban (2021)

Description: This episode was published days before the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and just weeks after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan. It is the first part in Afghanistan: The Center of the World, our 2022 Peabody Award-winning series about Afghanistan, focused on the country and its people.

How did a small group of Islamic students go from local vigilantes to one of the most infamous and enigmatic forces in the world? The Taliban is a name that has haunted the American imagination since 2001. The scenes of the group’s brutality repeatedly played in the Western media, while true, perhaps obscure our ability to see the complex origins of the Taliban and how they impact the lives of Afghans. It’s a shadow that reaches across the vast ancient Afghan homeland, the reputation of the modern state, and throughout global politics. At the end of the US war in Afghanistan we go back to the end of the Soviet Occupation and the start of the Afghan civil war to look at the rise of the Taliban.


Images for Afghanistan Animation

As Trump doubles down on Afghanistan, Russians shake their heads — The US president’s decision to extend the war, reversing his campaign pledges to withdraw from it, stand in sharp contrast to the lessons that Mikhail Gorbachev and the USSR took from the conflict almost 30 years ago.

Music: A Gift of Love – Music Inspired by the Love Poems of Rumi | Deepak Chopra [1] Valetine To Rumi    0:57 [2] My Burning Heart    1:00

Treat all life and everyone with dignity, kindness, and respect. It is the only way we move forward.

Unites All of Creation with Dust

Lesson from the Tao Te Ching

Microsoft Word – Tao Te Ching – trans. by J.H.. McDonald

Ancient Wisdom | Modern Images & Music

Chapter 4 | Tao Te Ching

The Tao is like an empty container:
it can never be emptied and can never be filled.
Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.
It dulls the sharp, unties the knotted,
shades the lighted, and unites all of creation with dust.

It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it .
It is older than the concept of God.

Previous Chapters | Tao Te Ching

The blog is about Chapter 3 of the Tao Te Ching | Emptying Minds…Filling Bellies
The blog is about Chapter 2 of the Tao Te Ching | Acting Without Doing Anything
The blog is about Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching | What Is Your Source of Engery?
This blog is about Pratītyasamutpāda, which states that all dharmas (phenomena) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist” …

Relevant Topics & Events to the Tao\Now

Reproductive Coercion is an American Cornerstone

Slaves, J. J. Smith’s Plantation, South Carolina, 1862
The J. Paul Getty Museum / Wikimedia Commons )
Conservatives have long invoked the specter of the 1857 Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott vs. Sandford in their fight against abortion rights, likening embryos and fetuses to slaves with no due process. Progressives now, too, are drawing parallels between the stripping of rights from people who may get pregnant and the infamous majority opinion penned by then-Chief Justice Roger Taney, who wrote, "a Black man has no rights which the white man was bound to respect." 
Missing from this historic analogy, however, are the experiences of Black women, whose enslavement and forced reproduction was fundamental to America's rise. We speak with Dr. Deborah Gray White, Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, about this not-so-distant history and the possibilities it holds for all American women. 

My take away: In the wake of Roe vs Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court, Deborah Gray White was watching the dystopian story the Handmaid’s Tale with her daughter who said, “Oh my God, we’re becoming this!” Deborah replied, “We already are this. America has used black and brown women as reproductive commodities since its founding. What’s changing is now white women are getting closer to becoming commodities again.”


Alok Vaid-Menon Defies Definition

Portrait of Alok Vaid-Menon
( Celeste Sloman ) | From The Take Away
Alok Vaid-Menon is a gender non-conforming writer and performer who grew up in Texas to Indian immigrant parents. They use their creativity and platform to explore themes of gender, race, trauma and belonging, advocating and bringing visibility to the trans community. We speak with Alok about their work and advocacy, and what they learned from their aunt, Urvashi Vaid, the beloved LGBTQ rights activist who spent more than a decade working for equality at the National LGBTQ Task Force.

My take away from this amazing interview: The gender non-conforming community is showing the world how to love during a time of great division, growing hate, tremendous suffering, and huge oceans of human anxiety.


The definition of a constitutional right

SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images | From 1A
The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that established a constitutional right to abortion. The decision could lead to abortion bans in half of U.S. states.
In response, states like California are moving to amend their constitutions to include abortion rights. Now, citizens and lawmakers are thinking about what defines a constitutional right and how different interpretations of the constitutions affect those rights.
We talk about changing the Constitution and what comes next after the reversal of Roe.
This conversation is part of our Remaking America collaboration with six public radio stations around the country. Remaking America is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

My take away: I loved listening to Olatunde Johnson, professor at Columbia University School of Law | The United States Constitution was made by a bunch of slave owning, patriarchal, misogynistic pale males. It is ludicrous to think we cannot update or change it as our society changes and grows. This is what overturning Roe vs Wade is about. This is what Jan. 6, 2021 is about. It is about a bunch of people who want to live 18th Century lives in the 21st Century.

Sources of Feature Image

Glass Containers Glass Empty Clean Transparent | ha11ok | Hungary  •  Member since Dec. 17, 2015

Rock Tower Top Tufa Rock Formations Erosion | Hans | Hans Braxmeier  •  Neu-Ulm/Deutschland  •  Member since Nov. 24, 20

Vine Tendril Embrace Green Noose Grapevine Knot | stevepb | Steve Buissinne  •  Age 73  •  Sedgefield/South Africa  •  Member since June 4, 2014

Light Architecture Shades Church Pillars Baroque | davidosta | David Osta  •  Age 44  •  Ansoain/España  •  Member since April 19, 2020

Ngc 2818 Planetary Nebula Constellation Pyxis | WikiImages | Deutsch  •  Member since Dec. 13, 2011

Shiva The Hindu God Shiva India Rishikesh | InspiredImages | UK  •  Member since Sept. 27, 2013

Music: Remixes, Vol. 2 | Various Artists [1] Wenkweur – Advanced Suite Remix    5:04 [2] Multidimensional Bong – Advanced Suite Remix    7:45

Hate Arises… Rainbows Become…

Pride Parade in DC

On June 11, 2022, the Washington, DC 2022 Capital Pride Parade began with full regalia and ceremony followed by rowdydow fun and celebration. This is the first of four videos from this day.

Into A Rainbow | Washington, DC Pride Parade 2022
10 views, Premiered Jun 13, 2022

For the video, I wrote this:

Today was like walking into a rainbow. After more than 2 years due to COVID, the WDC Pride Parade of 2022  took place in an embrace of joy and celebration. It was one big mass of human exuberant celebration. Such a different energy than the Trump rallies that twisted and deformed into the raging, dangerous mob of Jan. 6, 2021. 

I filmed one of the earlier Trump rallies, and I filmed one of the Black Lives Matter marches after the murder of George Floyd. The paranoia and double-standard of the Trump years faded to a distant unpleasant memory in the embrace of so many people celebrating differences, diversity, and inclusiveness. 

What kind of world do we want? 

Do we want one that is angry, overly righteous, mostly white men who want to control women's bodies and turn America into a desolate land of mediocrity and conformity? 

Or do we want one that celebrates diversity, lifts up inclusivity, and makes space for everyone to shine their truth and colors as they feel them? 

I choose the rainbow hands down over The Divine Republic of Gilead as depicted in Canadian author Margaret Atwood futuristic dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale that feels more and more possible each passing day, especially since the Trump years that made hate great again in America. 

Hate is not what makes us a great nation: Love is what makes us great and moments like this Parade are more important than ever, especially with the plotters of Jan. 6 still scheming how to turn America into a totalitarian state like Russia... 

I suppose so we could exterminate the world in a mutual annihilation of scapegoats because that is what cheap, cowardly, hate filled people do...blame everyone else for their problems and who they really are inside.

This is the inspiration for this blog: the idea of diversity and the mutual arising of opposite things in the world because on this same day, 31 members from the group Patriot Front were arrested in Idaho.

Pride Parade in Idaho

Thirty-one men, faces covered with masks and carrying baseball bats stood packed in the back of a U-Haul like illegal immigrants sneaking into the state. The truck was heading to the Pride Parade in the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Their purpose was to start a riot.

Police said the men came from at least 10 states. They are members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front, previously known as the white nationalist hate group Vanguard America. It rebranded itself after a neo-fascist was photographed holding their shield just before he ran his car into a crowd of people, killing Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, VA.

Interview with Mother of One of the Men Arrested

Earlier this week, a mother of one of the men arrested gave an interview with Sara Sidner.

She says her son’s hateful ideology sickens her after he was arrested with alleged Patriot Front group. She tells Sara that: “He’s trading Compromise for Hate, and this is not how I raised my son.” (Click underline text to see interview with Sara Sidner).

Report About Who Patriot Front Is

What we know about Patriot Front and its origins
132,051 views, Jun 14, 2022
From the video above: When "a little army" of men with shields and other riot gear was spotted near a Pride parade in Idaho on Saturday, authorities soon linked the men to a relatively new White nationalist group and charged them with conspiracy to riot. Most of the men arrested had logos on their hats "consistent with the Patriot Front group," and some had other clothing associated with the White supremacist group, Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Lee White said. CNN’s Sara Sidner reports

This Same Hate Perpetuates Racism & Wars

This is the same hate that fuels racism and perpetuates continuing inequalities and brutality against black and brown people in the United States. Slavery is barbaric, and so too is racism. Americans went to war and died over ending slavery in America. This war began on April 12, 1861 and lasted until April 9, 1865. In the end, more than 620,000 men were dead, roughly 2% of the U.S .population.

However, this is far less dead than the number of men, women, and children who died being transported from Africa to America, who died as slaves from violence and mistreatment, and who have died since emancipation due to the continuing violent beliefs and hate embraced by white supremacy.

Black Live Matter March

Black Lives Matter
111 views, Jun 8, 2020

Photos From Gettysburg National Military Park 

Emancipation Proclamation & Juneteeth

Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. It was the most ambitious push of General Robert E. Lee into the North. Each side fought fiercely. This battle turned out to be the turning point of the war. It is also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address.

Word of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans finally reached Texas on June 19, 1865 where people were still being held as slaves. More than 150 years later, Juneteenth has finally been made a federal holiday commemorating and remembering the legacy of slavery and the emancipation of slaves in America. 

Yet, this horrible battle still rages in the hearts and minds of far too many white Americans still to this very day. Hate still has a home in America.

Photos From Gettysburg National Military Park 

One of Trump’s Rallies After Losing the 2020 Election

Cacophony — The Beautiful Humans of Earth
127 views, Premiered Nov 14, 2020

A Call To All Humans Who Value Freedom and Democracy

Help Ukraine | Calling All People Who Value Freedom in the World
44 views, Premiered Feb 27, 2022

This Arises… That Becomes

I finally came to understand the idea of This Arises… That Becomes… from a lecture Alan Watts gave.

Alan Watts – Interdependent origination
3,739 views, May 1, 2015

Pratītyasamutpāda

It is the basic principle of dependent origination as described by Buddha. In Buddhist doctrines, it is called Pratītyasamutpāda.

Pratītyasamutpāda consists of two terms:

Pratītya: "having depended."[26] The term appears in the Vedas and Upanishads[note 2] in the sense of "confirmation, dependence, acknowledge origin".[27][28] The Sanskrit root of the word is prati* whose forms appear more extensively in the Vedic literature, and it means "to go towards, go back, come back, to approach" with the connotation of "observe, learn, convince oneself of the truth of anything, be certain of, believe, give credence, recognize". In other contexts, a related term pratiti* means "going towards, approaching, insight into anything".[28]

Samutpāda: "arising",[26] "rise, production, origin"[29] In Vedic literature, it means "spring up together, arise, come to pass, occur, effect, form, produce, originate".[30]

Pratītyasamutpāda has been translated into English as dependent originationdependent arisinginterdependent co-arisingconditioned arising, and conditioned genesis.[31][16][note 3]

Jeffrey Hopkins notes that terms synonymous to pratītyasamutpāda are apekṣhasamutpāda and prāpyasamutpāda.[37]
 -- Wiki
Photos from DC Pride Parade — June 11, 2022
The term may also refer to the twelve nidānasPalidvādasanidānāni, Sanskrit: dvādaśanidānāni, from dvāvaśa ("twelve") + nidānāni (plural of "nidāna", "cause, motivation, link").[quote 2]Generally speaking, in the Mahayana tradition, pratityasamutpada (Sanskrit) is used to refer to the general principle of interdependent causation, whereas in the Theravada tradition, paticcasamuppāda (Pali) is used to refer to the twelve nidānas.
 -- Wiki
Dependent origination is a philosophically complex concept, subject to a large variety of explanations and interpretations. As the interpretations often involve specific aspects of dependent origination, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive to each other.
 -- Wiki

One interpretation (which I feel is closest to what Alan Watts refers to in his talk) regards this doctrine…

...as describing the arising of mental processes and the resultant notion of "I" and "mine" that leads to grasping and suffering.[8][9] Several modern western scholars argue that there are inconsistencies in the list of twelve links, and regard it to be a later synthesis of several older lists and elements, some of which can be traced to the Vedas.[9][10][11][12][13][5]
 -- Wiki

Rocks of Ignorance & Rainbow Flags

In other words, we only know inclusivity and love in comparison to callousness and hate. Like a river diverted by a rock–some water flows to the right, some flows to the left. The rock in the river is an idea, a symbol of reality, but it is not reality. Indeed, all words, all thoughts, all ideas are poor substitutes to what is really going on in life.

What should be noted is that both streams flowing around the rock are of the same river of being. They are only being briefly divided and diverted by a rock of thought that got lodged in the river of being.

Maybe, One Day

Another way of looking at this idea is that inclusivity and love are the polar opposites of callousness and hate. Although opposites, both qualities and ways of being in the world go together just as a magnet has a North and South pole. If you chop a magnet in half, there is still a North Pole and a South Pole because a magnet is one cohesive whole thing.

Since I choose to support rainbows and Pride Parades, I stand on this side of our polarized America. It is a conscious choice to flow in the stream of being that includes rainbows and diversity. And it means I am making a conscious choice to embrace all sorts of people and their differences as well as recognize how similar we are because deep, deep down I believe what Alan Watts says that we are the fabric of existence itself.

Maybe one day, we can let go of our rocks of ignorance that we cling to for security and comfort. By letting go, we can grow as a species. And if we grow, we might be able to really feel one day our oneness with each other and all life on this planet. When rocks of thought due appear in our river of being, we can better navigate the currents of division driving us apart and pushing the entire world to a tipping point that we may not recover from due to a mutual massacre of scape goats.

Maybe one day we will know we are all part of the stream of humanity no matter our skin color, sexual preference, our religious beliefs. It has always been this way. It is only when we cling to our rocks of thoughts and rocks of ignorance, which if we are constantly anxious, nervous, angry, and afraid–we are clinging to an idea, which is one of these rocks dividing us and causing so much suffering and pain in the world.

Let go and flow!

One Day | Yellowstone

One Day — Yellowstone
77 views, Jul 26, 2020

One Day Lyrics

Sometimes I lay under the moon
And thank God I’m breathin’
Then I pray, “Don’t take me soon
‘Cause I am here for a reason.”Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around becauseAll my life I’ve been waitin’ for
I’ve been prayin’ for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There’ll be no more war
And our children will playOne day, one day, one day, oh
One day, one day, one day, ohIt’s not about win or lose, ’cause we all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent
Blood-drenched pavement
Keep on movin’ though the waters stay ragin’In this maze
You can lose your way, your way
It might drive you crazy but
Don’t let it faze you, no way, no way!Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around becauseAll my life I’ve been waitin’ for
I’ve been prayin’ for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There’ll be no more war
And our children will playOne day, one day, one day, oh
One day, one day, one day, ohOne day this all will change, treat people the same
Stop with the violence, down with the hate
One day we’ll all be free, and proud to be
Under the same sun, singin’ songs of freedom likeWhy-ohh! (One day, one day) why-oh, oh, oh!
Why-ohh! (One day, one day) why-oh, oh, oh!All my life I’ve been waitin’ for
I’ve been prayin’ for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There’ll be no more war
And our children will playOne day, one day, one day, oh
One day, one day, one day, oh

— Lyrics from One Day by Matisyahu

Sources for Feature Image

War Destruction Despair Fear Helplessness Sorrow | Alexas_Fotos | Alexa  •  Steh über den Dingen/und finde DEINEN Weg  •  Member since Jan. 6, 2015  •  #25

Plant Sprout Dicotyledon Life Growing Seedling | lanailic | English  •  Member since Feb. 6, 2014

Rainbow Beautiful Devon Nature Sun Sunset Sky | PublicDomainPictures | English  •  Member since Dec. 11, 2010

Family Love Rainbow Boy Child Chromatic Colorful | GDJ | Gordon Johnson  •  USA  •  Member since June 3, 2015  •  #2

A Few Other Things

Deeper Into A Rainbow | Second Video of DC Pride Parade

Deeper Into A Rainbow | June 11, 2022
4 views, Premiered 29 minutes ago

Music: Hot Foot (Groovy, Groovy) — Chico Mann [as featured on iPhone!] and Roof Down — Daniel Health [as featured on iPhone, music for the soul!]

Series: Have You Been Outside Today?

Photos/Videos/Editing: Me

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The intersection of gay rights, racism, and white supremacy continue intersecting through time. Will we ever grow up as a species to embrace and hold all of who we are as human beings? Or will we simply continue to label, divide, and conquer each other with hate and despair? See Hate Arises… Rainbows Become… to explore more on these ideas.

**** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** ****

For other blogs on being human, see:

What is Your Source of Energy – 5/2/22
Kindly Let Me Help You or You’ll Drown
Ukraine Letters | Four Letters to the World of Free Men and Women: Letter to the Ukrainian People; Letter to the Free World; Letter to Russian people; Letter to Americans

Walk Through Time | Gettysburg National Military Park

Walk Through Time | Gettysburg National Military Park | May 23, 2022

Music: Airtime — Justin Hori [as featured on iPhone, music that gets you moving!]

Series: Have You Been Outside Today?

Photos/videos/editing: Me

**** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** ****

We stopped at Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania on our way up for our daughter’s graduation from Middlebury College in Vermont. It was late in the day, cloudy with a little drizzle–perfect weather to walk the roughly 6000 acres of historical pasture and woodlands where Union and Confederate soldiers met in General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North.

It was the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion”, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, and the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal “Gettysburg Address”.

My husband found a monument dedicated to the 13th and 16th Vermont regiments. From their forward position, the nearly 1,500 men of these regiments poured devastating point-blank fire into the enemy ranks. They inflicted terrible casualties and ravaged the Confederate flank. The battle that was going in favor of the Confederate side began to slip. The Vermonters helped turn the tide of the battle and because of this win, turn the tide of the war itself. It would turn out that we were staying in a valley from where one of these regiments came from in Vermont.

Today, in 2022, it seems like the battle that took place on July 1, 1863, occurred so long ago and that the wounds inflicted from a country being torn apart by different ideas and ideals of how to live a good and just life would be long healed. The pictures of the wildflowers and wildlife are a testament to time and nature’s ability to regenerate.

However, the human heart and soul seems to still be torn and hurt. There are people alive today ready to do damage and tear apart America’s delicate democracy. There are people willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get more than they deserve or inflict their own will on the will of the people. Democracy isn’t easy. It requires compromise, and word that seems to have disappeared from American political and culture vocabulary. It does not require every share the exact same beliefs or values, but it does require tolerance and willingness to learn about the beliefs and values of people who are different from oneself. It requires curiosity and a basic agreement of facts and shared reality.

Will America be able to keep this fragile flower of self-governance in the face of a Republican Party that prefers to stick to loyal tests rather than truth, in the aftermath of Jan. 6, in the ongoing disenfranchisement and brutality to African Americans and any people with a darker skin tone, in the double standard that it is OK to regulate a woman’s body, but it is not alright to regulate guns?

  • Every day, on average, 316 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention.” — Team ENOUGH
  • Guns have become the leading cause of death for American kids. early two-thirds of the 4,368 U.S. children up to age 19 who were killed by guns in 2020 were homicide victims, per the CDC. Motor vehicle crashes, formerly the leading cause of death for kids one and older, killed nearly 4,000 children.” — Axios

If you are upset by these statistics, by politics, by anything that gets you shouting at your TV or computer screen. It is time to get outside. If you find yourself getting enraged by a rainbow flag celebrating Pride Month or want to join the next raiding party of the Capitol, why not try going to a place like Gettysburg? Walk the park rather than drive. Let yourself sink into the blood-soaked earth where flowers now grow and birds once again sing. Talk to the park rangers, read about what happened, feel yourself being transported back to that time when the sound of gun fire and exploding canon balls rang continuously like a speeding train.

War is bloody. Conflict kills. There are other ways to solve conflict arising from diversity. We have one of those ways. It is called Democracy.

The people of Ukraine are fighting fiercely for this way of organizing society. They are showing us what it means and takes to defend freedom, liberty, and justice for all against a brutal, totalitarian regime; a regime that lies to its people, that exterminates anyone who becomes a threat to it, that concentrates wealth and power among a very few.

In America today, it seems we are choosing whether to stay a democracy, which means making room for tolerance and compromise again. Or will we choose to become a dictatorial regime (like Russia) where lies and distortions are used to whip up dissent and division so that truth, justice, and liberty for all becomes a distant dream.

Stay Human! Go outside today and hug another living being!

Acting Without Doing Anything

Lesson from the Tao Te Ching

Microsoft Word – Tao Te Ching – trans. by J.H.. McDonald

Ancient wisdom blended with modern images and music.

Chapter 2

When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created.
When people see things as good, evil is created.

First Stanza & Archetypal Animation

When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created… | Music: The Beauty in Ugly – Ugly Betty Version | Jason Mraz

Being and non-being produce each other. Difficult and easy complement each other. Long and short define each other. High and low oppose each other. Fore and aft follow each other.

Second Stanza & Archetypal Animation

Being and non-being produce each other. Difficult and easy complement each other… | Music: High And Low by Andreas S. Möhle

Therefore the Master
can act without doing anything
and teach without saying a word.
Things come her way and she does not stop them; things leave and she lets them go.
She has without possessing,
and acts without any expectations.
When her work is done, she takes no credit.
That is why it will last forever.

Third Stanza & Archetypal Animation

Therefore the Master
can act without doing anything
and teach without saying a word…
| Music: The Giver | Livingston

For Chapter 1, see What Is Your Source of Energy?


Feature Archetypal Animation

Wall House Art Graffiti Elephant Decoration Home | RichardMc | Richard Mcall  •  Ireland/UK/Thailand  •  Member since Jan. 1, 2016

Rajasthan Camel Safari Trekking Evening Dusk | RichardMc | Richard Mcall  •  Ireland/UK/Thailand  •  Member since Jan. 1, 2016

Cobra Snake Reptile Basket Danger Serpent | RichardMc | Richard Mcall  •  Ireland/UK/Thailand  •  Member since Jan. 1, 2016

Art Painting Lady Woman Girl Head Shoulders | RichardMc | Richard Mcall  •  Ireland/UK/Thailand  •  Member since Jan. 1, 2016

Large Bronze Head Pietrasanta Plaza Italy | RichardMc | Richard Mcall  •  Ireland/UK/Thailand  •  Member since Jan. 1, 2016

Body Painting Makeup Cosplay Portrait Dark  | Vic_B | press 👍 and ⭐  •  Moscow/Россия  •  Member since Aug. 30, 2017  •  #12

Bulb Idea Fantasy Lighthouse Art Birds Beach | Vic_B | press 👍 and ⭐  •  Moscow/Россия  •  Member since Aug. 30, 2017  •  #12

Fantasy Space Stars Universe Starry Sky Galaxy | Willgard | Willgard Krause  •  Age 59  •  Lutherstadt Wittenberg/Deutschland  •  Member since Feb. 25, 2017  •  #449

Music: Time | Mr.Kitty | [15] Child of the Earth   


First Archetypal Animation

 Dandelion Seeds Dew Dewdrops Droplets Weed Plant | InspiredImages | UK  •  Member since Sept. 27, 2013

Art Portrait People Old Antique Retro Mirrors | SarahRichterArt | Sarah Richter  •  Deutsch  •  Member since Oct. 21, 2015

The Ugly Duchess Painting Portrait Quentin Metsys | Zephirx | Pascal  •  Age 23  •  Germany  •  Member since Dec. 17, 2020

Girl With A Pearl Earring Painting Portrait | Zephirx | Pascal  •  Age 23  •  Germany  •  Member since Dec. 17, 2020

Environmental Protection Environment The Atmosphere | Inactive account – ID 81349

Clown All-In-One Character Fun Evil Bad | isabellaquintana | Isabella Quintana  •  Cali/Colombia  •  Member since Sept. 22, 2014

Music: The Beauty in Ugly – Ugly Betty Version | Jason Mraz


Second Archetypal Animation

Woman Yoga Pose Wellness Well-Being Meditate | Pexels | English  •  Member since March 26, 2016

Star Child Star Children Angels Meditation Unity | PapaOsmosis | Anthony  •  United States  •  Member since Oct. 4, 2016

Maze Labyrinth Solution Lost Problem Challenge | qimono |Arek Socha  •  Stockholm/Sweden  •  Member since Jan. 27, 2016

 Giraffe Animal Mammal Tree Long-Legged Long-Necked | HowardWilks | English  •  Member since March 31, 2017

Danbo Nyangbo Figure Doll Gray-Scale Loneliness | IraEm | M K  •  Ch/Korea  •  Member since Feb. 3, 2014

Storm Sea Lightning Ship Adventure Ominous | ChadoNihi | Alexandr  •  Age 29  •  Cambridge/UK  •  Member since Dec. 8, 2014

 New York Sea City Skyline Buildings Cityscape | Pexels | English  •  Member since March 26, 2016


Music: High And Low by Andreas S. Möhle


Third Archetypal Animation

Hip Hop Dance Girl Woman Young Lifestyle Artistic | ArtTower | Brigitte Werner  •  Age 68  •  Canim Lake/Canada  •  Member since June 15, 2012  •  #72

Waters Move Flow Action People Rope Waterfall | Dieterich01 | Lothar Dieterich  •  Age 62  •  Germering/Deutschland  •  Member since June 26, 2016

Colorful Five Fingers Kid Fingers Playful Rating | yohoprashant | Prashant Sharma  •  Age 37  •  Bhaktapur/Nepal  •  Member since Feb. 22, 2018

Girl Cat Moon Wall Melancholy Sad Alone Romantic | Tumisu | Tumisu, please consider ☕ Thank you! 🤗  •  English  •  Member since Feb. 3, 2014

Child Girl Winter Snow Face Fairy Tale | Pezibear | Petra  •  Österreich  •  Member since Oct. 22, 2014  •  #82

Hand Gift Bouquet Love Congratulate Give Flowers | klimkin | svklimkin  •  Age 45  •  Moscow/Russia  •  Member since Aug. 13, 2015

Fantasy Galaxy Universe Stars Cosmos Night | JuliusH | Julius H.  •  Age 69  •  Niedersachsen/Deutschland 🇪🇺  •  Member since Dec. 4, 2016  •  #165

If It Was My Last Day on Earth?

What would you do if this was your last day on Earth today?

Perhaps write a poem?

It is our perception of reality that determines so much of what we allow ourselves to accept or not accept, what we allow ourselves to believe or not believe, how much we allow ourselves to love or not to love.

Poems are wonderful transformers of perception.

Here are some poems about nature, Earth, and life that have been written at very different periods in time, and yet, there is something universal, something incredibly current, something worth paying attention to in each and every one of them, especially today.


A Minor Bird by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

I have wished a bird would fly away,

And not sing by my house all day;

Have clapped my hands at him from the door

When it seemed as if I could bear no more..

The fault must partly have been in me.

The bird was not to blame for his key.

And of course there must be something wrong

In wanting to silence any song.

From 7 Poems To Read In Honor Of Earth Day, Bustle, By E. Ce Miller, April 14, 2016

“I have wished a bird would fly away… and not sing all day…” | Music: A Minor Bird by Victoria Darian

Ryokan (1758-1831)

When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd’s purse.

From Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf:  Zen Poems of Ryokan, translated by John Stevens. Published by Shambala in Boston, 1996.


Basho (1644-1694)

Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die.


The bee emerging
from deep within the peony
departs reluctantly.


Summer grasses:
all that remains of great soldiers’
imperial dreams.

From The Essential Basho, Translated by Sam Hamill.  Published by Shambala in Boston, 1999.

“Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die…”

Music: When Dragons Cry by Bo Johnson

Ikkyu (1394-1481)

My Hovel

The world before my eyes is wan and wasted, just like me.
The earth is decrepit, the sky stormy, all the grass withered.
No spring breeze even at this late date,
Just winter clouds swallowing up my tiny reed hut.

From Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu, translated by John Stevens. Published by Shambala in Boston, 1995.

The world before my eyes is wan and wasted, just like me… | Music: Time Travelers Coyote Oldman [4] The Fourth Dream    5:26

These Zen poems come from A Sampler of Zen Poetry. The author of this sampler says, “These are a few of my favorite poems by three of Japan’s greatest Zen monk-poets, Ikkyu (1394-1481), Basho (1644-1694), and Ryokan (1758-1831).”

They are indeed very beautiful and holy.


Today is Earth Day!

Go ahead, write a poem! Transcend space and time and perceptions of reality using nothing but your mind.

We never know when our last day on Earth will be.

Seize the moment, see more, feel your rightness in this moment, know you belong and you matter, right here, right now. You are it!

Feature Archetypal Animation

Fantasy Girl Rock Space Earth Moon Composing | Willgard | Willgard Krause  •  Age 58  •  Lutherstadt Wittenberg/Deutschland  •  Member since Feb. 25, 2017  •  #316

Space Galaxy Universe Sky Night Cosmos Star | gene1970 | English  •  Member since Dec. 10, 2017  •  #385

Eagle Girl Moon Mountains Fantasy Dream | gene1970 | English  •  Member since Dec. 10, 2017  •  #385

Astronaut Space Planets Astronomy Galaxy | gene1970 | English  •  Member since Dec. 10, 2017  •  #385

Earth Blue Planet Globe Gaia Planet People | spirit111 | beate bachmann  •  Age 59  •  berlin/germany  •  Member since April 6, 2017

Earth Universe Flammarion Science Spiritual | ChristianBodhi | Christian Bodhi  •  Santa Cruz De Tenerife, London/Spain and United Kingdom  •  Member since Aug. 19, 2018


First Archetypal Animation

Kerala India Manipulated Bird Nature | ambadysasi | Ambady Sasi  •  Age 28  •  Thodupuzha/India  •  Member since Nov. 15, 2017

Bird Singer Singing Chirp Tweet Chirrup Robin | Pfüderi | Age 30  •  Schweiz  •  Member since March 24, 2014  •  #810

Bird Songbird To Sing Spring Nature Park | jggrz | Jürgen  •  Age 66  •  Thüringen/Deutschland  •  Member since Feb. 10, 2018  •  #57

Bird Starling Crested Song Feathers Plumage | YK333 | Yadvendra Kumar  •  Age 62  •  Delhi/India  •  Member since July 11, 2021

King Medieval Celebration Man Handsome | Wadams | William Adams  •  Age 69  •  Manhattan/US  •  Member since April 20, 2015

Belgium Statue Knokke Beach Man On The Beach | pixel2013 | S. Hermann & F. Richter  •  Germany  •  Member since April 9, 2016

Music:

Music: A Minor Bird by Victoria Darian [1] A Minor Bird    5:08


Second Archetypal Animation

Canthigaster Cicada Fulgoromorpha Insect Trunk Long | Josch13 | Deutsch  •  Member since Aug. 17, 2013

Dragon Golden Dragon Statue Sculpture Art Artwork | Josch13 | Deutsch  •  Member since Aug. 17, 2013

Wild Bee Blossom Bloom Peony Close Up Yellow | jggrz | Jürgen  •  Age 66  •  Thüringen/Deutschland  •  Member since Feb. 10, 2018  •  #59

Mountain Field Sky Agriculture Nature Countryside | SwidaAlba | Leng Kangrui  •  Age 23  •  Beijing/China  •  Member since Feb. 13, 2018

Poppy Flower Nature Wild Flower Wild Flowers Field | Candiix | CANDICE CANDICE  •  Français  •  Member since Nov. 19, 2017

Warrior Fallen Combat Dead Injured Viking | Garyuk31 | Gary Chambers  •  Age 52  •  English  •  Member since Oct. 25, 2015

Carving Stone Rock Stone Carving Dragon China | PublicDomainPictures | English  •  Member since Dec. 11, 2010

Music: When Dragons Cry by Bo Johnson [1] When Dragons Cry    4:32


Third Archetypal Animation

Apocalypse Clouds End Time Atmospheric Mystical | Mysticsartdesign | Mystic Art Design  •  Deutsch  •  Member since July 3, 2014

Skin Eye Iris Blue Older Folds Wrinkled Skin Man | analogicus | Tom  •  Andernach/Deutschland  •  Member since Feb. 25, 2018  •  #144

Wood Statue Sculpture Statue Wooden | terimakasih0 | Dean Moriarty  •  Age 67  •  cardiff/United Kingdom  •  Member since Dec. 3, 2014

Thunderstorm Weather Storm Thunder Lighting Bolts | Inactive account – ID 12019

Nature Straw Hay Grass Field Wet How Come Swamp | EM80 | Deutsch  •  Member since March 13, 2015

Lakeside Reed Hut Timber Construction Piles | webentwicklerin | Gabriele Lässer  •  Österreich  •  Member since June 18, 2012

Mushrooms Moss Fungi Lichen Forest Nature | adege | Andreas  •  Age 65  •  Gelterkinden/Schweiz  •  Member since April 3, 2017  •  #128

Music: Time Travelers Coyote Oldman [1] Time Travelers    8:04[2] Dark Beauty    5:07[3] Peaceful Blue    4:09 [4] The Fourth Dream    5:26

The Peace of Wild Things

Please note Chrome works best for the Archetypal Animations in this post.

— By Wendell Berry

First Archetypal Animation & Stanza

When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s live may be,

When despair for the world grows…” | Music: Goodbye Then | Crippled Black Phoenix

Second Archetypal Animation & Stanza

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I go and lie down…” | Music: Wild Imagination | Kurt Vile

Third Archetypal Animation & Stanza

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

“I come into the peace of wild things…” | Music: The Peace Of Wild Things | Keith Kauspedas [1] Deep Echoing (Fox In The Snow)

Fourth Archetypal Animation & Stanza

I come into the presence of still water.

“I come into the presence of still water…” | Music: Watermark Enya | [9] River  

Fifth Archetypal Animation & Stanza

And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.

“I feel above me the day-blind stars…” | Music: Stars Night Mantra

Sixth Archetypal Animation & Stanza

For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

“For a time I rest in the grace of the world,…” | Music: Peaceful Piano Musicals Cover Kid | La la Lu (From “Lady and the Tramp”)    

Reflections On Wendell Berry’s Poem to This Moment in Time

When the forces of man’s collective psyche gather into a maelstrom sending destructive vortexes this way and that into the world, it is hard not to feel as Wendell Berry begins his timeless poem:

...despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's live may be...

Putin blows his devil’s breath from high within his isolated, depressing Moscow tower. A devil’s wind that makes his warrior vortexes go this way and that. Everywhere they go, the leave behind trails of blood, of dead bodies and blown up buildings, trees, and earth. Up there in his tower of desolation, he bloats in his madness as he congratulates himself over and over again about how he is getting away with unleashing his Hell-scape fantasies, deathly desires, and foolish folly into the world.

If you are a person with normal capacity for human empathy and compassion, then it is impossible to turn away and ignore what is going on in Ukraine. And you must not turn away.

We all must witness this wicked madness straight on, just as the Ukrainians are meeting Putin’s little devils straight on. If we don’t want to become like Putin, we must feel this destruction deeply and furiously. And we must feel down deep into our bones all the other tragedies unfolding in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, Central America, South America, in the heart of all major cities and super rick countries in this world.

If you do, this means you are still human.

Wendell Berry describes the monsters inside us all. And he also tells us how to quell them and to sink into the peace that passes all understanding.

I wonder when was the last time Putin went down to where the wood drakes gather? When did he last lay down on his back, belly exposed to the light, the air, the sun, the stars and breathe in the beauty of this world? When did he last see a heron eat a snake or ponder the peace of still water? When did he last look up into the night sky and wonder about how implausible any of us are here at all?

When did Putin cut himself off from his curiosity, his wonder, his inner grace and awareness that he is alive in a magnificent world with enough bounty for all, if only we would tap into our inner wild nature where the wild wisdom of life runs free with the knowledge there is bounty all, if only we take our fair share? When did Putin become a narcissist blob cut off from his body, his heart, and his humanity? When did he become a monster?

Seventh Archetypal Animation | When Grace Is Lost

“And then the sun went out bright…” | Music: Dark Bloom | Darkness | The Sun Went Out Bright    

Putin lost his inner grace long ago, and now, alone and cold in a forbidding world, he opens a gate for devils to tumble and fumble their way out into this beautiful world. They rape women, shoot children, bomb maternity hospitals, children’s hospitals, and recreation centers where 1,000 women and children huddle in the dark and cold hoping they might just stop their bombing. Instead, they are crushed under the rubble of another bomb.

I hate Putin. I hate Putin’s army of dead and dying souls. I wish the Free World would grow a stronger backbone and kill this man who has become a Dracula overseeing an army of Zombies. But, we are playing on the “civilized” game board, while Putin plays on the barbarian game board.

However, he won’t win. He might kill a Hell of a lot of people. He might even launch a nuclear bomb, but like so many Ruthless Rulers before him, he will crumble into the dust bin of life. Ruthless Rulers always do.

Oh yes, they might win for a time. And, they might press their smelly likeness onto other human beings, adding to the blob, but he will never win. His zombies will never rule over the multitude as he has promised.

Evil never wins! At least not for long…not as long as there is life to live. Not as long as wood drakes sail on lakes or great herons hunt and devour snakes. Not as long as a single human being wanders down to the waters edges and wonders why this whole thing exists at all. Ponders why we are here amongst the divine majesty of the trillion billion stars above.


Being Human by Being Connected to Each Other & the World

My friend Karen shared this poem with me. We both feel deep pain for suffering the of the people of Ukraine. We both feel helpless in the face of such evil, and yet, we live…and…in the face of such horror, in retaliation to the demonic evil unleashing death, destruction and horror on Earth, Ukrainians fight! They live!

And yes, they are dying by the hundreds of thousands because Putin is a coward and his army is ill-equipped and ill-prepared, indeed, they are unwilling to wage this war, expect for the beasts he’s imported in and the degenerate ones who glory in the gross and disgusting side of life…the ones who are too afraid to love or to know who and what they really are.

Ukrainians know the price of this evil, and they stand against it, and they are winning! They are winning because they remained connected to their humanity and grounded to this Earth–our home, our mother, our true nature. They show us, the Free World, each and every day how to fight for what is right and how to be better human beings!

Fight for the people of Ukraine! Glory to Ukraine!

Feature Archetypal Animation

Covid 19 Coronavirus Dystopia Dystopian | toyquests | Elliot Alderson  •  Age 35  •  Los Angeles/United States  •  Member since March 31, 2020

Male Wood Duck Duck Animal Wildlife Drake Pond | muskrat55 | Robin Arnold  •  Age 66  •  Port Clinton/United States  •  Member since June 9, 2017

 Iceland Arctic Fox Fox White White Fox Canine | Inactive account – ID 12019

Rest Relax Lie Comfortable Sleep Man Person | Hans | Hans Braxmeier  •  Neu-Ulm/Deutschland  •  Member since Nov. 24, 2010

Composing Woman Fantasy Face Beauty Mystical Root | KELLEPICS | Stefan Keller  •  Deutschland / Germany  •  Member since March 22, 2017  •  #391

Sunset Tree Water Silhouette Tree Silhouette Dusk | Cleverpix | Cindy Lever  •  Age 57  •  Melbourne/Australia  •  Member since May 4, 2016

Meadow Green Meadow Flower Meadow Grass Nature | spirit111 | beate bachmann  •  Age 59  •  berlin/germany  •  Member since April 6, 2017

Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls Iceland Falls Cliffs | Inactive account – ID 12019

Music: The Peace of Wild Things | Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild ThingsWendell Berry


First Archetypal Animation

Man Portrait Homeless Poverty Male Poor | Leroy_Skalstad | Leroy Skalstad  •  Age 74  •  Milwaukee/uSA  •  Member since July 14, 2015

Mental Health Brain Thinking Tree Branches Disorder | Tumisu | Tumisu, please consider ☕ Thank you! 🤗  •  English  •  Member since Feb. 3, 2014

Lights Candle Man Old Fire Flame Candlelight | Skitterphoto | Rudy and Peter Skitterians  •  Groningen/The Netherlands  •  Member since July 5, 2014

Covid 19 Coronavirus Dystopia Dystopian | toyquests | Elliot Alderson  •  Age 35  •  Los Angeles/United States  •  Member since March 31, 2020

Music: Goodbye Then | Crippled Black Phoenix


Second Archetypal Animation

Rest Relax Lie Comfortable Sleep Man Person | Hans | Hans Braxmeier  •  Neu-Ulm/Deutschland  •  Member since Nov. 24, 2010

Male Wood Duck Waterfowl Bird Swimming Wildlife | JamesDeMers | Charlottesville/USA  •  Member since March 6, 2012

Male Wood Duck Duck Animal Wildlife Drake Pond | muskrat55 | Robin Arnold  •  Age 66  •  Port Clinton/United States  •  Member since June 9, 2017

Heron Snake Wader Bird Kill Ardeidae Prey | mkzsfoto | steven arnold  •  reunion  •  Member since Sept. 11, 2018

Music: Wild Imagination | Kurt Vile


Third Archetypal Animation

Fantasy Butterflies Mushrooms Forest Insects | Stergo | Игорь Левченко  •  Age 32  •  Владикавказ/Россия  •  Member since Jan. 2, 2017

Composing Woman Fantasy Face Beauty Mystical Root | KELLEPICS | Stefan Keller  •  Deutschland / Germany  •  Member since March 22, 2017  •  #391

Tree Lake Water Nature Landscape Forest | Leslin_Liu | Shanghai/China  •  Member since June 16, 2017

Fantasy Eyes Forest Branches Face Portrait | KELLEPICS | Stefan Keller  •  Deutschland / Germany  •  Member since March 22, 2017  •  #391

Fantasy Deer Mammal Forest Nature Outdoors Light | peter_pyw | Peter  •  KUALA LUMPUR/Malaysia  •  Member since July 19, 2016

Fantasy Forest Dog Monster Girl Snow Winter | KELLEPICS | Stefan Keller  •  Deutschland / Germany  •  Member since March 22, 2017  •  #391

Nature Outdoors Ants Forest Light Bulb Light | peter_pyw | Peter  •  KUALA LUMPUR/Malaysia  •  Member since July 19, 2016

Music: The Peace Of Wild Things | Keith Kauspedas [1] Deep Echoing (Fox In The Snow)    6:06


Fourth Archetypal Animation

Still Calm Tranquil Moon Sunset Sky Ocean Lake | WelshPixie | Delyth Williams  •  Age 41  •  Western Cape/South Africa  •  Member since Sept. 14, 2018

Cutter North Sea Port Shrimp Fishing Vessel | ArtTower | Brigitte Werner  •  Age 68  •  Canim Lake/Canada  •  Member since June 15, 2012  •  #89

Sunset Still Water Splash Water Reflection Liquid | truthseeker08 | 🆓 Use at your Ease 👌🏼  •  English  •  Member since April 18, 2016

Still Calm Tranquil Sunset Sky Ocean Lake Water | WelshPixie | Delyth Williams  •  Age 41  •  Western Cape/South Africa  •  Member since Sept. 14, 2018

 Nature Waters Lake Island Landscape Thunderstorm | jplenio | Joe  •  Munich/Deutschland  •  Member since Jan. 9, 2018  •  #295

Sunset Tree Water Silhouette Tree Silhouette Dusk | Cleverpix | Cindy Lever  •  Age 57  •  Melbourne/Australia  •  Member since May 4, 2016

Music: Watermark Enya | [9] River    3:12


Fifth Archetypal Animation

Wall Blind Alley Dead End Impasse Lockup Deadlock | ChadoNihi | Alexandr  •  Age 29  •  Cambridge/UK  •  Member since Dec. 8, 2014

Red Planet Moon Alien Arid Abiocoen Ancient | ChadoNihi | Alexandr  •  Age 29  •  Cambridge/UK  •  Member since Dec. 8, 2014

Stargate Heaven Gate Science Fiction Futuristic | spirit111 | beate bachmann  •  Age 59  •  berlin/germany  •  Member since April 6, 2017

Meadow Green Meadow Flower Meadow Grass Nature | spirit111 | beate bachmann  •  Age 59  •  berlin/germany  •  Member since April 6, 2017

Wormhole Time Travel Portal Vortex Space Warp | Genty | English  •  Member since May 20, 2016

Galaxy Fog Kosmus Universe Milky Way Night Sky | spirit111 | beate bachmann  •  Age 59  •  berlin/germany  •  Member since April 6, 2017

Music: Stars Night Mantra


Sixth Archetypal Animation

Mountains Smoke Portrait Girl Field Romantic | manhhongdldhv | Hong Manh  •  Age 32  •  Vinh/Việt Nam  •  Member since July 4, 2020

 Sunset Mountains Trees Silhouettes Conifers | Inactive account – ID 12019

Mountains Hills Sky Clouds Sunset Dusk Twilight | Inactive account – ID 12019

Iceland Aurora Borealis Northern Lights Beautiful | Inactive account – ID 12019

Kingfisher Bird Close Up Perched Perched Bird | Inactive account – ID 12019

 Iceland Arctic Fox Fox White White Fox Canine | Inactive account – ID 12019

Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls Iceland Falls Cliffs | Inactive account – ID 12019

Music: Peaceful Piano Musicals Cover Kid | La la Lu (From “Lady and the Tramp”)    


Seventh Archetypal Animation

Black Hole Art-Optical Black White Contrast | dric | Français  •  Member since Nov. 30, 2016

Colour Farbklex Embroidery Blob Drops | Bru-nO | Bruno /Germany  •  Age 47  •  Thank you for your Donation!/Please like your download!  •  Member since June 29, 2015  •  #255

Abstract Astral Astrology Astronomy Background | Buddy_Nath | A Owen  •  Age 39  •  United Kingdom  •  Member since Feb. 4, 2016

Music: Dark Bloom | Darkness | The Sun Went Out Bright    

Moonlight Shaken from a Crane’s Bill

Note to viewers on iPhone, animations don’t load well on Safari…sorry for the inconvenience this causes.
Chrome on computers handle graphics pretty well.

Time for a Zen poem by Dogen about the art of living in the Now.


First Stanza

To what shall
       I liken the world?

First Archetypal Animation

To what shall I liken the world? | Music: Distant Worlds | Purrple Cat | Lunar Eclipse

Second Stanza

Moonlight, reflected
       In dewdrops.

Second Archetypal Animation

Moonlight reflected in dewdrops… | Music: Dew Drops On Spider Webs | Verne Langdon

Third Stanza

       Shaken from a crane’s bill.

Third Archetypal Animation

Shaken from a crane’s bill… | Music: Twisted & Shaken | Oscar Hollis

                    –    Dogen, 1200 – 1253
The Zen Poetry of Dogen
                         Translated by Steven Heine


The Eternal Now

Alan Watts refers to Dogen quite often in his lectures. I know so very little about Zen or Dogen, but I want to learn more.

A synchronicity as I was thinking about this blog, a Watts lecture, the book I am writing, and this poem t occurred on Wednesday, February 17, on 1A: Going back to the ’90s with Chuck Klosterman who says:

“What I mean by that is that it’s the last ten-year calendar span that seems to have immutable values, and immutable old fashions, and immutable ideas that make it seem separate from the period that it came previously. I think we are now more in a period of perpetual now where the difference between 2009 and 2019 seems almost impossible to perceive outside of discussions about politics.”

Watts talks about the eternal Now, which Dogen taught about as well centuries earlier, and yet today living and acting in the Now is harder than ever before. To describe how to do this to anyone tethered to modern Western man’s linear view of time and progress, teachings that have made us compulsive creatures ever seeking the big reward and perfection we were taught we should obtain, if we work hard enough for it, only to get towards the end of life and it never ever quite showing up.


Space-Time Isn’t Straight

And another fantastic synchronicity to the theme of this blog is from The Takeaway (NPR) and the interview with Physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein Expands How We Look at the Cosmos and her new book Black.Queer.Rising that talks about the work she’s done to rethink our understanding of the cosmos and make space for more Black, queer people in STEM!

In the interview she talks about how amazing it is that we are even here since most of the universe is made out of something invisible, light goes right through it, scientists call it Dark Matter, which has taken on an entirely different sphere of meaning for many black people. She also says, “Space-time isn’t straight…” and so does Watts in many of his leturces from the 1960s. He too echoes how amazing it is that we are here. My book also explores these ideas.

Feature Archetypal Animation

Meditation Man Meditate Quiet Yoga Moonlight Moon | Myriams-Fotos | Deutsch  •  Member since Nov. 10, 2015

Dragonfly Dew Spider Web Cobweb Web Dewdrops | AdinaVoicu | Adina Voicu  •  Age 42  •  Oltenita/Romania  •  Member since Oct. 4, 2014

 Dandelion Seed Dew Dewdrops Droplets Wildflower | iemlee | myungho lee  •  Age 60  •  seoul/korea  •  Member since June 25, 2017

 Earth Moon Space Planet World Blue Planet | qimono | Arek Socha  •  Stockholm/Sweden  •  Member since Jan. 27, 2016

 Migratory Birds Cranes Moon Flock Of Birds Birds | Lolame | Melanie  •  Age 45  •  Niedersachsen/Deutschland  •  Member since June 2, 2013  •  #274

Music: [15] Chants of Native Earth    3:11 | Shamanic Moon – Native American Drums for RelaxationNative Classical Sounds


First Archetypal Animation

Just Assumption Summer Solstice Just Flower | Ri_Ya | Ri Butov  •  Israel  •  Member since June 29, 2019

Water Lily Flower Botany Aquatic Plant Bloom | Couleur | IlonaF❤️🍀❤️🍀  •  🇩🇪Deutsch🇩🇪Land🇩🇪  •  Member since July 11, 2015

Fractal Digital Art Computer Graphics Abstract | Inactive account – ID 189748

 Earth Planet Space World Blue Planet Outer Space | WikiImages | Deutsch  •  Member since Dec. 13, 2011

Music: Distant Worlds | Purrple Cat | Lunar Eclipse


Second Archetypal Animation

Hot Air Balloon Lake Balloon Sky Clouds Night | Bessi | Besi  •  Age 36  •  Podujevë/Kosovo  •  Member since April 4, 2015

Night Moon Night Sky Moonlight Blue Trees Dusk | susan-lu4esm | Susan Cipriano  •  Buenos Aires/Argentina ♥  •  Member since Nov. 11, 2017  •  #65

 Flower White Flower Dew Dewdrops Petals Bloom | Myriams-Fotos | Deutsch  •  Member since Nov. 10, 2015

 Leaf Droplets Reflection Grass Water Drops | ju1959jjj | ju Irun  •  Age 62  •  Irun/Guipuzcoa  •  Member since April 5, 2017

Music: Dew Drops On Spider Webs | Verne Langdon


Third Archetypal Animation

Crane Bird Animal Zoo Wilderness Feather Plumage | KRiemer | Kerstin Riemer  •  Greifswald/Deutschland  •  Member since April 13, 2015  •  #246

Crowned Cranes Birds Animals Cranes | strh | Kassel/Deutschland  •  Member since Feb. 2, 2021

Peacock Feather Dewdrop Dew Colorful Water Liquid | michaelcalumross | Michael Ross  •  Age 44  •  Forres/United Kingdom  •  Member since April 11, 2021

Music: Twisted & Shaken | Oscar Hollis


Check out my Big Sky Series all about how nature grounds, nourishes, and sustains us during the most stressful times.

Reflections on Thoughts

Thoughts rise

Thoughts Rise

Like streaks of broken light

Like Streaks of Broken Light

Falling from the stems of freshly cut flowers

Falling from the Stems of Freshly Cut Flowers

Thoughts & Philosophy: The Philosophy of the I Ching

In the preface of the book, The Philosophy of the I Ching written by Carol K. Anthony, she describes how the I Ching addresses the limitations of only relying on one’s intellect (and the powerful ability of thinking) by saying the I Ching cautions the beginner that:

By limiting himself to his intellect, he will only see the surface and never experience the depths.”

Journal Drawing of this idea in The Philosophy of the I Ching by Carol K. Anthony

The depths referred to is the fullness of one’s inner Self (or as The OA says, the invisible self). This includes those parts of Self that are accepted by one’s Self, and thus exist in the conscious mind of Self. It also includes the parts of Self that are not accepted by one’s Self, and thus exist in the unconscious mind.

The unacceptable parts are often taught to us as being unacceptable early in life by parents, peers, teachers, and society at large. They tend to be the savage and most selfish parts of Self that must be tempered and controlled in order to live in a civil society, otherwise very bad things would indeed happen.

But when these parts of Self disappear underneath the demarcation line of consciousness and become unconscious, this is dangerous too. Indeed, this is the most dangerous thing that could happen to a conscious living being because we loose the ability to maintain balance and cannot navigate the challenges in life due to our inner lopsidedness.

Very often this occurs when we mistake the Mask of Self for who we really are. But it is not who we really are. It is only the most outer shell of who we really are. Essentially, it is the outer most crust of our Sphere of Consciousness–that mysterious thing that illuminates the world inside and out and gives us the feeling that We Know Who We Are.

This outermost crust is actually the smallest part of who we really are, and it is the most fragmented part of ourSelf. It is the part of ourSelf painstakingly assembled based on all the things we have been told to be or not to be by others. Most of these things are distortions of who we really are because the very same thing has happened to the people who are telling us to be this or that or the other thing.

This is the Story of Separation and Polarization. It begins inside one’s Self when the Mask of Self separates from the parts of Self that have been thrust deep into one’s unconsciousness. In the depths our unconsciousness, the lost and abandon parts of Self go to work making the rip between the Mask of Self and the Rest of Self into a rift that grows into divide that transforms into a chasm that mutates into a terrifying and endless abyss.

The more we insist on believing we are only the good parts of ourSelves, which essentially is the Mask of Self that we projected to others for the benefit of society, the more neurotic and unstable we become. This is because the bad parts (along with all the undiscovered parts) haven’t gone anywhere. They are still very much there in our psyche. They have simply been rendered invisible because they are forced to exist in another dimension–the unconscious mind. And they very much want a seat at the Table of Self, just like the good parts have (or more accurately, the accepted parts of Self that we have pounded into our Mask of Self that can include bad things we have been told by others that we are and we believe them).

If the unconscious parts of Self are denied a seat at the Table of Self, they get projected outside of the Self. Suddenly, the evil that one refuses to see inside of oneSelf surrounds the Self. But, this is only you fooling yourSelf, as Alan Watts liked to say. And, Carl Jung called this man’s greatest evil, which is when man’s unconsciousness is projected onto others because he/she cannot bare to see all of who he/she really is.

The I Ching consoles the very same wisdom for this is a book about self-development and cultivating wisdom in one’s inner garden of consciousness. This can only be done by finding the hidden parts inside of ourSelves, especially the parts that have become buried in the unconscious mind. Of course, many good qualities of Self are buried there too. These are parts of ourSelf we have not found yet because we have not grown our inner light of consciousness bright enough and big enough to see them. And, so they remain unconscious too.

Time and time again, we find out eventually that both good and bad qualities are needed to feel successful, and even more important, they are needed to provide a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. Without doing the inner work necessary to grow our individual field of consciousness, these treasures inside of oneSelf remain hidden and out of our grasp.


Summary of the Book: The Philosophy of the I Ching by Carol Anthony

Chapter 1: This book presents the cosmological background of the I Ching and its many concepts. It describes the Tao, the binary system of numbers that forms the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching, the Sage who speaks through it, the I Ching view of existence, and the hidden Cosmic order that underlies all apparent chaos. Thus rather than: 'In the beginning there was chaos,' one sees that 'In the beginning there was order.' Chapter 2: describes what in the I Ching is called the 'superior man' or 'noble Self' as the unconditioned true self; the 'inferior man' is seen as the socially constructed self-image, or ego. The 'superiors' or 'helpers' described by the I Ching are revealed as inherent character-traits, such as natural modesty, natural kindness, and the capacity for patience and perseverance. The 'inferiors' are discussed as aspects of the bodily self that speak, as when they say, 'I am hungry, I am tired.' Also discussed are the many references in the I Ching text to cultivating the true self and that imply self-development to be necessary if we are to learn how to harmonize ourselves with the way the Cosmos works.// Chapters 3 and 4: discuss the anonymous wise Sage who speaks through the I Ching, and the attitudes that are important on the part of the I Ching student if he is to gain the Sage's help.// Chapters 5, 6, and 7: describe the process of self-cultivation undertaken when we accept the Sage as our teacher. It describes how the Sage teaches us mostly in real-life learning situations, so that what is perceived in the head is transmitted to the heart as wisdom. It also describes many important I Ching principles, such as coming-to-meet-halfway, and working through the power of Inner Truth.// Chapters 8 and 9: describe the more technical aspects of the I Ching within the context of its historical development: the development of the lines, trigrams, and hexagrams. It also describes its traditional methods of use, but gives an entirely new method discovered by the author that enables the student to understand its messages very precisely. 

  -- Description on Amazon about Carol Anthony's book

Thoughts & Time: This Too Shall Pass

In Buddhism, the Master and the Student strive to maintain balance in every situation encountered in life. While some situations that occur appear to be beneficial to one’s Self and considered Good Luck, if not extremely advantageous to one’s wellbeing and fortunes, other situations in life can seem harmful, injurious, and hurtful to one’s best interests and wellbeing. These are perceived as Bad Luck, if not down right evil. All experiences, regardless of how we feel about them or perceive them, help us grow as conscious beings, if we allow them to penetrate into deeper levels of ourselves and darker realms of consciousness.

In every situation encountered in life, we are always free to choose our actions. We are also free to choose how we express our feelings and emotions about these situations. Our ability to navigate the turbulence of our inner and outer world of experiences grows throughout our life, especially when we tune into our inner world rather than just reacting to the outer world.

Constantly reacting and defending one’s Self against perceived threats, adversity, and maleficent dangers is exhausting. This is because if all one’s psychic energy is constantly being poured into building walls against outer reality in order to defend a fractured sense of who we are, then we have less energy to live in the present moment, to be happy, to be successful, and to treasure family, friends, and life. This is truly the greatest treasure one can cultivated in life. To cherish and nurture time with others who can share the beauty and splendor of this beautiful world and who will stand by you when your fortunes turn in life as they always do.

People who have chosen to pursue fame, money, or power are really the most impoverished people you will ever met in life. This is because they have to sacrifice their time and attention to being first, to having more than others, to controlling everything around them, which they can never do but their inferiors keep trying. The karma for this foolishness is alienation from other human beings, including friends and family. These individuals are truly alone in this world with no one to share the good times with and no one who will stand by them when their fortunes turn the other way.

To understand the tremendous fullness of reality, which we all must share, means empathizing with another’s person perspective. It also means using one’s powerful intellect to ask questions about one’s own beliefs, opinions, and perceptions. We must do this in order to see and understand why another person might perceive a situation differently. This is important because no one exists exclusively in a bubble. Everything in this world, indeed the universe, has arisen mutually. Because of this, to understand the whole of reality, every person’s perspective, experience, and view point must be included. Not only that, all of life must be included and given a voice at the Table of Being–this includes animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and even rocks. This is not my wisdom. This has been known and understood for centuries by many peoples. And it is documented in the oldest book known to belong to humanity: The I Ching.

Perhaps this story may illuminate this ancient wisdom a little more concretely. It is a famous Zen-Buddhist story: 

To read the story, click on: Good Luck! Bad Luck! Who Knows?!

Thoughts & Character: The Importance of Self-Development

The I Ching was create to provide console to those who seek its wisdom and guidance during times of life experienced as times of elevation (e.g., elation, good times, good luck) as well as during time of life experienced as time of decline (e.g., misery, bad times, bad luck).

As one develops, one often comes to understand that we have no control over these cycles, although our ego (and what Carol Anthony says the I Ching refers to as our inferiors) will insist otherwise. They will kick, scream and have a melt down railing against fate, circumstances, reality. But all this will be for not because these cycles cannot be controlled by sheer concentrated of power of will or muscle force or any perceived power of the ego.

We can only find peace inside when we learn to put aside our feeling of frustration and fear that we will be destroyed by forces of evil or chaos perceived surrounding us. Most of the time, this is a false perception of reality cause by inner disharmony and separation.

But take comfort, for it is precisely when we feel like it is the darkest hour that the cycle of yin and yang swings the other way; when he vexing thing begins to fade away as a new cycle begins, a new reality gets underway.  

Everything we experience in life is impermanent and transitory–it comes and goes like waves on a beach.  Nothing stays the same. For if it does, it is undergoing a transformation of passing into something else (otherwise known as dying).

During times of decline, which is when one is likely to feel high degrees of fear, frustration, and extreme agitation, it is consoled by the I Ching to use this time on self-development (e.g., the I Ching hexagram 53 | Self-Development | Gradual process). This hexagram specifically refers to self-development, but all the hexagrams teach about developing one’s inner self and learning more about one’s inner world.

To learn more about one’s inner reality, the I Ching provides consoles through many hexagons of the importance of taking care of yourself, of practicing patience, of listening to others and their needs, and of listening to what is rising inside of you, especially from your inner Sage.

Most interestingly, it is precisely during times of decline (when things are not going our way) when we have the greatest opportunities to learn the most about ourSelf. This is because we have more time to explore hidden inner landscapes–that is, the parts of ourselves we have not yet discovered or uncovered.

During times of elevation, we often must focus our conscious attention in the outside world. Thus, we do not have as much time or energy to see inside, unless of course, we have previously completed the inner work needed to illuminate more of our inner world.

If we are able to change our inner attitude during times of decline from that of it being “a punishment” to an opportunity, then we unleash inner abilities such as forbearance, patience, and mildness that allow us to flow with adversity better.

Even the most horrible times come to an end.

Think of the hundreds and thousands of Afghan civilizations now trapped under the control of the brutal and barbaric Taliban. This is a truly terrifying reality for hundreds, even thousands, of people now living under Taliban rule–many may well end up dead. It may seem in our modern Western world that we face the same adversity (e.g., mask mandates or vaccine mandates). But this is a distortion of reality.

When we do not use our abilities to flow with reality as it comes to us, and rather choose to fall back into our inner fortresses of beliefs, opinions, convictions, and credences, we force the flow of reality to bend around our inner ramparts constructed long ago to defend us from all the cruel evil perceived surrounding us. Most of the time, these attitudes, opinions, and belief have become very rigid and worn out due to over use. Reliance on such rigid inner structures quickly turns into a heavy, heavy weight that we end up carrying around with us for the simple reason that we refuse to let go of them and put them.

Rather than feeling sorry for ourselves because of our circumstances, think of other people who are undergoing even greater struggles. This might just open a secret door inside of yourSelf that allows your consciousness to illuminate parts of yourSelf remaining hidden from view. You need these parts of yourself to navigate the storms life inevitably throws your way. Such inner work not only grows empathy for others but for oneSelf.

And aren’t you worth it?!

Thoughts & Now: The Importance of Suspending the Constant Barrage of Thoughts from Time to Time

I make videos documenting just some of the beautiful moments in life happening all the time. Moments I forget to notice because I get stuck in the steady train of thoughts that constantly worry about this, think about that, consider the other thing I forgot to do yesterday or need to do tomorrow or did and made a fool of myself. This is a neurotic way of being in the world and we have been taught to do it since childhood. It is hard to give up and just be here / now.

I have found a few strategies that help me root my attention in the present moment. Photo journeys are one way that works for me to switch off my spot light consciousness and tune into my flood light consciousness, as Alan Watts talks about in so many of his seminars.


Ways of Connecting to Now Through Photojournalism

It’s the little moments that count the most!

Music: Hard To Say Goodbye – Washed Out [as featured on iPhone — music that heals the soul!]  Series: Have You Been Outside Today? and Doggie Tails & Trails: Hunting for Beauty Every Day 


Music: Divide – Dualist Inquiry [as featured on Apple iPhone 7 — music that heals the soul!] Series: Have You Been Outside Today?


Journey Through Time — Age of Man

Music: Dreamer — Brian Reitzell [as featured on iPhone — music that heals the soul!] Series: Art Yoyages Photos/Videos: Me

Ways of Connection to Now through Blogging

Blogs related to nature, being alive, and cultivating one’s inner sphere of consciousness include: 

 * Part 1: The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality – 1/6/21 (79 hits)

Storytelling Species

 * Part 2: The Story of How We Created the Sea of Misery & Misfortune – 1/18/21 (35 hits)

Sea of Misery & Misfortune

 * Part 3: Story of the Death of a Father – 2/12/21 

Death of the Father

Part 4: Collective Storytelling: The Stories We Tell Become the Myths We Live – March 31, 2021

The Stories and Myths We Live

 * Part 5: Collective Storytelling: Who Is Q & What The Heck Is the Plandemic and Anti-Vaxxers All About?!! – April 12, 2021 

Who is Q

 * Part 6: Individual Storytelling | The Magic Ingredient – April 24, 2021

The Magic Ingredient | Individual Storytelling

 * Sisyphus | The Living Myth of Now – May 12, 2021

Sisyphus | The Living Myth of Now

 * Trolls! – May 17, 2021

Trolls

 * It Feeds on Fear and Sadness – 6/17/19 (1168 hits)

It Feeds on Fear & Sadness

What will you do with your plot of consciousness today? More importantly, what will your unconsciousness do with you today?

That’s all I have… it’s not much… but enough for this moment.

Synchronize