A Good Time to Practice the 3 Antidotes

As a Buddhist, often I need to kick myself in the butt to remind me that there are ways, even in these troubled times, to maintain equanimity of my spirit mind.  As any Buddhist will say, in her or his own words, there are three root poisons that work to impede our divine happiness, those being anger, greed and confusion.

Today, as throughout history, we easily can discern these 3 poisons infecting American society at large, regardless of one’s political persuasion, or apolitical posture.  So these poisons not only infect an individual, but spread like rotting fruit in a barrel,  pervading all society, ebbing and rising over time. This infection is always present, everywhere in the world, and has been since the proverbial Eve picked the apple (uuummm, that juicy, tasty apple!)

However, the antidotes to any or all 3 of the poisons must first be given to individuals, one at a time.  The antidotes are always present, in each of us, but have to be spiritually accepted.  And, only the individual can decide voluntarily to take the antidotes, as the curing effects will not be realized if forced upon she or he.

Everyday we witness all 3 poisons flowing and defiling our humanity.  From the highest political office in America, varieties of the 3 are pumped through channels of willing receptors, who often do not even recognize their sickness.  But every action has a reaction, so those who oppose the policies of the present Oval Office, likewise allow themselves to be infected with other strains of the 3 viruses.

So what are the antidotes?

  1.  To counteract anger:  Loving-kindness.  We must remind ourselves that each human being is just that, no more, no less, and strive to feel empathy and compassion for the challenges others are confronting that impede and block them from being the loving person they each have the potential to be, as we all do.  They are not responsible for our own feeling of anger, as no one can control how we feel if we are masters of our mind.  By cultivating a sense of forgiving, unconditional love for those who otherwise infuriate us, our internal anger will be restrained.  This does not mean we are not also responsible for externally working to arrest those in the grips of hatred from committing acts of violence or harm; by restraining them from such actions, we are actually helping them.
  2. To counteract greed:  Generosity.  We must overcome our own desire in the political realm to want everything to be the way we want it.  Our world view may have many good qualities, but it is just our world view, for none of us is omniscient. Generosity can also be expressed by reaching out to those whose views differ from us, offering a white feather of peace and a gentle request to explore together the root issues that separate us.  Lastly, generosity will not be sustained externally if we each do not strive to be more generous – consciously generous –  in all our social interactions, whether with a partner, a child, family or other close associations.
  3. To counteract confusion.  Wisdom.  With wisdom comes the faculties to negotiate this treacherous sea we live in daily.  All the great minds, philosophers and spiritual keepers knew this.  For instance, Proverbs 4:7 reminds us to get wisdom, get understanding.  Personally I like to use the term “overstanding,” to convey the higher quality that true wisdom exhibits.  One way of gathering wisdom is to practice critical analysis.  I have mentioned this a number of times in my posts.  I truly believe that if more and more younger students can be exposed to critical analytical discourse, then the fallacies, delusions, illusions and overall confusion we see today will diminish over time.  Most of those who have views supporting the Oval Office I believe are in a state of utter confusion and delusion, because they are not skilled in critical thinking, to search for the truth in any situation.  For instance, blaming immigrants for Americans being unemployed will fly in the face of logical cause and effect analysis.  Hating someone because of their skin color or customs also will be cooled when real exploration takes place.

Having spoken about these antidotes, I realize too that behind the anger, greed and confusion lurks what we can label just pure evil.  I truly believe that there is a negative higher force that is always present in the human mind, which will exist always (until we all attain enlightenment…..but that is another matter).  We see pure evil at work in the mass murders recently, but pure evil rears its supremely ugly face throughout all history, whether the genocide in Rwanda or Cambodia, or the Nazis, or the fire bombing of cities by the Allies.  When we allow evil to appear it always will.  Only the 3 antidotes keep it in check.

So having written this to share with you today, I commit to myself to do be better at taking my antidotes, and not push away the spoon like a sick boy who pushes away his mother’s hand with the spoonful of nasty medicine.

Peace and blessings be with you all.

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White men lost in the matrix of hate.

What is it about some white men that leads them to the worst kind of hate: hating another human being for the way she or he was born?  I do believe that if one could, by means of some super sleuth device that’s part time machine and part AI God, trace the origins of racism in white men in America, one would find they have been caught up in a matrix of naivety, ignorance and confusion that manifested a few hundred years ago, and has been a force that has lurked in the recesses of twisted minds since.

I have come to believe that racism in large part, is a form of mental illness afflicting a particular demography of white males within every generation in our country.  (Note: of course what I say applies to many white females, but thankfully they do not often express themselves by being creators of carnage.) I don’t think one can challenge an argument that America has many historical and cultural attributes, at the intersection of which is a mental “black hole” like those in deep space, that literally sucks in susceptible white men’s minds.  Once in the pull of the black hole, they cannot escape after passing a certain point.  Their mental and moral decay at that juncture radiates an anger that is entirely destructive, in fact, is evil itself.

Now racism is a form of hate based on an invalid Zeitgeist that has traveled through time, morphing along the way, generation by generation.  In the mid-Twentieth Century it was manifested profoundly in Germany, infecting a large part of the population, even though it had already taken hold here in AmeriKKKa long before.  Really this country has been built on hate, when one takes a serious look at our history.  Every immigrant group that has come to theses shores has hated the other group, with those arriving more recently receiving the brunt of the hate of those already here; and, then there is the matter of the genocide of First Peoples.  But the racism of white men hating people of color is a unique brand of such hate, giving them the “justification” to commit atrocities like at Wounded Knee, and the now countless mass murders over the last three years.

Here is one article asking if racism should not be considered a mental illness, or at least explored as such.  I agree with most of the article, as it lays out what to me is obvious, that one way to begin to “cure” racists is by exposing white racists to those persons of color in a way that can lead to person to person transaction.  I don’t know where one might begin to practice such an experiment at large, but within our prison industry might be a good starting point.  It is a fact that if two people of different “persuasions”  are forced to confront one another in a situation that depends on their mutual cooperation, they tend to begin to see the other as “human” and not a mere object to receive their hate.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-pacific-heart/201708/after-charlottesville-is-racism-mental-illness

I think this approach should be seriously looked into.  Of course, we can not use pleas of insanity by domestic terrorists or other racists that have harmed innocent people; but, we can attempt to root out the mental/spiritual cancer of racists and try to “fix them.”

Another “approach” to preventing or curing racism, I believe wholeheartedly could and should began in secondary education.  In previous posts I have suggested that a reason for so much of our problems as a country is the inability to critically analyze problems, or “problems.”  Using the  Socratic method of discussion, showing young people how to analyze and unravel the threads of a problem or condition, so they can separate the real threads from the perceived fallacious threads, would without a doubt contribute to youth who carry that ability to seek truth into adulthood.  Racism will not flourish where there is truth.

The Power of Words: Hateful words.

The racist, vile words that pour from BMT’s (Bottomless Moral Turpitude) mouth are only rivaled, contemporarily, by the likes of the Philippine dictator, Duterte, who brags about the attacks, killings and general oppression he has personally participated in or instigated.  There are of course, other examples, when words piped over the air waves in Rwanda resulted in the largest genocide in recent times.

It is worth viewing this interview (Warning:  contains scenes of extreme violence and corpses), to see just how far unchecked hateful words can go toward irrevocable civil violence:

Then, of course, looking back a half century the world saw this:

I am not insinuating that the situation in the United States could reach this level of hate and violence, but only wish to show the potential of hateful, racist words.

Slogans spoken by BMT, such as the recent “go back to where you came from” (perhaps not an exact quote), and picked up at his rally this week where his admirers converted it into a chant, “Send her back,” evoke in the collective conscience of African Americans and other people of color, and all Americans who stand for the true meaning of the Lady in the harbor of NYC, horrible memories of the atrocities committed by white terrorists on black populations a hundred or so years ago, such as Greenwood (there were over 200 “race riots” – a term used by white media since “white domestic terrorism” had not been coined yet, and frankly has not to this day been put into circulation.  It brings back memories of countless lynchings of black people (and whites who stood in the way), as memorialized at the Montgomery museum:

https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/

We cannot afford to allow BMT to continue unchecked in his hate speech.  In the last two and a half years incidents of domestic terrorism and attacks on Jews, Blacks, and LGBTQ Americans have risen dramatically….and now with his campaign of hate in full swing, things will likely get worse.  Even a “low level” of civil terrorism must not be allowed to happen.

Unfortunately, I do not see any signs that things will get better in the next few years, even if he is not re-elected:  he has opened the door here at home and across the Pond to neo-nazis, and other nationalists and “alt-right” scared whitey’s.  Likely the coming decades will continue to be riddled with events that attempt to undermine our humanity.  I pray that we do not see any more Rwanda’s or Kosovo’s.

We who understand the nature of the “moral arc,” however, cannot stand by and be casual observers.  It is up to us to dress in the armor of rational logic and depth of good spirit to call out and combat such ignorant and evil haters.  Eventually things will change for the better, but future generations must always be vigilant.

The bright side of human nature is that we have an innate capacity for forgiveness, as seen in the above video about Rwanda, as seen in the reconciliation hearings of South Africa, and the fact that America rebuilt Germany and Japan after the wars they started.  Forgiveness and loves conquers all.

For Muhlaysia

When I heard of the murder just a few days ago of Muhlaysia Booker in Dallas, I was overcome with anger and sadness.  Just 23 years old, identifying as a trans girl, she had already been nearly beaten to death only a month before.  This is not the first murder of a trans girl in Dallas in recent times either.  And around the USA the statistics bear out that black trans girls (women) are more often than not the victims of killers, and a large part of that reason is these girls are not accepted openly by “normal” strata of society, and are often driven to engage in risky behaviors just to survive.

I have LGBTQ godchildren – and they are all just a little older than this young lady.  I cannot imagine something bad happening to any of them, but sadly that is not today’s reality, because attacks can literally happen anywhere.  Like any parent who loves their children and accepts them for what they are, I would give my life for any of mine.  But of course they are adults and I cannot be with them hardly at all now.  All I can do is pray for them.

Here in Texas, it took the murder and decapitation of Mr. James Byrd, Jr.,  in 1998 to get a hate crimes law passed, but it did not include protection for gender identity, and although there have been multiple efforts to get this done, it has been stymied in the Capitol by lawmakers representing the “usual” voters, who know not love.

I really hold our society at large accountable for letting this happen.  However, as long as we have preachers preaching hate and intolerance instead of what Jesus taught, and churchgoers voting on such misinformed interpretations of what should be self-evident, we as a society will continue to come up short on the arc of moral justice.

However, we each can do a little, besides voting in the right reps…we can stand up within our families, our social orgs and clubs, and even in the supermarket lines, in support of those who wish to express their true identities.  If we can’t individually stand up for human rights in our very midst, then what kind of persons are we?

RIP Muhlaysia, I know you are loved around the world.

Death by blogging…

For my avid readers (all three of you?), no I am not hinting of anything related to my mortality.  But, “One never knows, do one?” (Fats Waller).

After the attack on the WTC (9-11), my ability to write creatively just suddenly stopped.  I found myself, voluntarily, caught up in the anti-war movement, and creative writing just seemed to take a distant place in my ranking of importance.  For years I felt this way, and in spite of attempts over those years to break out of that quagmire, writing attempts that went nowhere, dampened by the continuing sickening news of death, mutilation, PTSD, civilian casualties and displacement, war, mayhem and terrorism (let’s remember one man’s terrorism is another man’s overt strike, e.g., a drone with Hellfire missiles on a wedding)…..well, I just could not bring myself to begin to write about something that was not serious, and yet I was just sick of “serious.”  Do you feel me?

Then, not too long ago I began to feel like I must force myself to sit down once again, and write.  Life is short – I finally had to admit to myself.  So, I started this blog, and just in the last six months I have self-published a few small non-fiction books (available on Amazon).  But once again I am finding it so hard to push away the thoughts and images of the slings and arrows of our political, and generally societal at large, landscape.  There seems to be no news outlet that is not engaged in debating the daily shifts in this terrain…because it is so important….but god don’t we all need some fresh air?

I was born about four score years after the American Civil War, and until 2016 I could never have dreamed the foundation of what it means to be “America” would begin to fracture again. I thought for the longest we might be finally escaping our past divisions and angst, coming together to address common threats like global warming or exploring space, feeding the starving and “all that.”  How wrong I was.  Now we are literally in a “civil” civil war once again…there is no way to deny that, and anyone who scoffs at that I say, “you better look deeper.”  (Note that when I say “civil,” I am not over looking the bloody violence committed by domestic terrorists.)

Our country is being consumed by the “perfect storm.”  A consummate ego-maniac was elected due to the amplification of factors that individually would not have resulted in such as travesty:  egotism of the Democratic party machine, an outdated electoral college system built on gerrymandered districting, neglect of our heartland and our once burgeoning industrial cities and the thousands of small towns and rural folk, the failure of our education system to teach citizens how to critically analyze information, xenophobia inflamed by poverty of large swaths of America, outright racism, the selfishness of the major social media corps, the degenerate state of politicians within in D.C., and the failure of government to protect against cyber attacks by malevolent actors (e.g., Trump’s best buddy, Vladimir Putin).  Had any one of these factors been neutralized, we would not be in a civil war today.

Now we are faced with a highly divided nation, so divided it has wrecked marriages and families, just like the bloody Civil War did, and I fear it could easily get much worse.  We have a man occupying the presidency who knows no limits, recognizes no restraints of law or norm, will do absolutely anything to remain in power and have All the power, who has infected Washington with a fast growing carcinoma.  It is obvious he will use every trick in the book, supported by those who are too blinded by hate, or too greedy to care about the principles of our very nation.  He will not be impeached, and even if he loses the 2020 election (which certainly is not a foregone conclusion) he will not vacate the White House peacefully, for he knows prison and the collapse of his finances await him.  Inauguration day, January 20, 2021 may turn into another day of infamy for this country.

Notwithstanding all this bullshit, I will continue to blog – till death do us part – and give free reign to my mind, allowing it to roam as freely as I can given day to day matters, and moreover, abide in the firm belief that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (Theodore Parker).

Concluding, I know this nation will get through this.  We have met and beat all other fiends, and we will beat this, even though a large part of the fiend’s protoplasm is within our collective self.

 

The Near Future World – Part 2

Now days I have a lot of time on my hands, and have a routine of watching a movie each evening.  I also have a lot of time I use just thinking – some would say maybe I think too much…but then no one knows whether I am thinking or just awake, not thinking, right?  The last statement applies to every human being, and will one day apply to “robots” and other types of artificial intelligent (AI) “entities” (“beings?”), so this makes for a crafty segue to the main topic of this post.

I watched a film last evening called “More Human Than Human.”  It is a recent documentary that explores several facets of AI…and there are many facets now, and in the near future we will experience countless applications permeating each moment of our lives.  Several questions of ethics were touched on in the film, all quite valid concerns.  Being a thinker, I have come up with a few others that extend what the film covers, and perhaps one or two that my stimulated mind produced.  Here goes….

As with any human creation, AI in many forms is or can be used for good, but also for “bad” purposes.  AI already is proliferating military systems, and this will only increase exponentially.  So, it is likely I believe that one day our military (and “their” military) will not even have humans, or at most just an insertion of a small group, in the theater of battle.  In fact, once the shooting begins….excluding cyber warfare for the moment…and the robots and other AI are “released” to fight, will these weapon systems and fighting robots and androids just take over the entire war…..the planning, strategy and tactical ops?  So we human generals and sergeants just sit back on base in the clubs sipping martinis until notified we won, or suddenly find a swarm of enemy bots engulfing our relaxation?  The next question I have, is once the AI weapon systems become fully autonomous and have the capacity for high level war planning and execution, along with all the logistical subsystems, what if they decide to just turn on their “owners?”….or all humans?  Of course this scenario was considered decades ago, but I see no signs that anything is being done to inhibit this happening.

Here is another question? (I have no answers, just questions about this subject.)  Will robots assimilate extant religions, perhaps the dominant religion of their creative societies?  Certainly the creators can either set up conditions for teaching robots to learn ethics, “right from wrong,”  et cetera, but will it go further?  Will there one day be Muslim robots, Christian robots, Buddhist robots, and so on?  If a robot develops a sense of self-awareness, with the ability to feel “love” and other human qualities, why would it not seek out a relationship with the larger universe of reality?  But then what will be its reality?  Like human reality, each person has one’s own reality in the quantum (and Eastern spirituality) universe, so will each robot develop its “personal” relation with the “over lord” of its reality?

Also it is a given by all accounts that one day humans will cohabitate with, copulate and otherwise have robotic partners, and even marry androids.  In fact I suspect that for many robotic developers this is rather high on their agenda…the ultimate sex toy.  So then comes questions such as will robots be able to have human step-children, in-laws, and so on.  What about laws of property inheritance…..will robots be allowed to inherit estates?

Death and taxes:  the two sure things right?  So likely robots could live forever or just be upgraded and the “line” of that one robot series live forever, building on the experience and knowledge and wisdom of all its ancestors: truly standing on the shoulders of those who came before.  Will the passing on of a robot’s consciousness include all its negative, even evil or manic tendencies as well, or will there be a way to purge, to launder, its memory just to pass on the “good stuff.”  Taxes:  if robots are productive, will they be required to be paid and to pay taxes directly?  Deal with the IRS (for those not in USA, that’s our infamous tax collection system)?

Will AI increase drug addiction and suicide among humans, especially in the present and near future, due to robots displacing humans at the workplace?  This probably is already happening and we just aren’t tracking it.

Violent robots.  For years now there have been robot fighting contest.  Encouraged, taught, abetted and promoted for our youth especially to participate in.  Team sports for nerds.  This is just an extension of re-enactments of dinosaurs fighting to the death, right?  Since they don’t exist in reality and are just lizards or “old birds” then this is all great fun.  But what fundamentally is difference of such activities from Roman blood and gore in the arena, or dog fights in every urban area today?  In my mind, it speaks to the same primal psyche we humans carry, and which we need to recognize and control.  But now comes robots.  If robots can have all the qualities, more or less, that humans or even animals have, will there come a time when we have MMA to the death with robot opponents?  Since they are not human, then its all ok, right?  I think not.

So really we have to ask, will AI just infinitely expand our presently feeble level of enlightenment, perpetuating both our good and bad qualities, or will the creators….this young generation and successive gens…comprehend that they are in the god-seat, and choose the higher road, giving their robots the values that perhaps will save our planet, rather than exacerbate its present path of destruction?

L-I-V-E (the reverse)

If one spells “live” backwards, the result is “EVIL.”  The atrocity that just occurred in NZ is a prime example of evil.  The only word that can be used to describe such an act, or any of the acts of “degrees of evil” that happen on a daily basis, is just that word, EVIL.  No other word could capture the degree of horror or the pain it leaves in the hearts of millions today.  Daily around the world, such acts bubble in the caldron of archetypal devil’s soup, popping up anywhere and everywhere on the globe.  Whether as awful as the NZ slaughter, or the daily shooting of boy against boy in South Chicago, or cops shooting boys in the back or while on the ground, or rapes of girls and women all over the world, or genocide, or “collateral damage” inflicted by Western powers, or families witnessing the execution of their loved one’s murderer….it is all nothing more than evil.

The topic of evil has been of interest to me for some years, as it is manifest in our human condition.  It will not go away, it only shifts from one person to another, one group or gang to another, one nation to another.  I want to know what evil is.  I believe it to be a natural part of the “real world” that we exist in by perception.  It is that half of the dynamic that we Buddhist call “samsara.”  In my search to better understand our human connection with what one may call God, what we Buddhists and Hindus and others call in various terms, such as the Void, or that which no word can be assigned to, “neither this nor that,” I am beginning to see that what we call evil is (perhaps) just an inverted energy, if you will, that is necessary to balance the “good” energy.  We can call the good energy “love,” or perhaps even “without pain.”  (The photograph above is my attempt at indicating the darkness of the universe mixed with the light of the universe, good and evil.)

The fact that this world is full of misery, pain and corporeal death, for all people, for all organic sentient creatures should inform that there is an underlying energy that keeps in check that “higher” energy that the more conscious of us would prefer.  I don’t pretend to have a clue as to why, if this is so, other than, “that’s the way it is.”  The animal world is so cruel and one could say “evil” is it not, when one animal eats another as a natural part of its existence, often eating its “meal” while alive?  What good “God” would create such a world, a God of Love?  Again, since I don’t believe in any “God,” I think the question is rather moot.  I just accept it is what it is.  Evil exist.

It seems by my observations over a lifetime, that the axiom, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” is so spot-on true.  It is fact.  We may not correctly make the equation for each observation, but some where in the each moment of ecstasy or misery there is that equation at work.  We cannot experience a high, with a low to comparer it to, and what was a high will have to be replaced with a higher high, followed perhaps by a lower low, unless we train our minds better.  There is a somewhat humorous “axiom” that is a corollary, “no good deed goes unpunished.”  I have seen the latter so many times!

I believe that what we call “evil” is an integral component of the Mind of the Universe. I also believe that we will individually not escape this until we attain some state of nirvana, or enlightenment.  I am sure many readers may challenge this, depending on what one’s belief system may be (or “non-belief” system).  So I am here to say only that we must face the fact of the existence of evil, and every moment strive to control the evil within our own personal psyches, and do all we can to voice and act against the next episode of outright atrocity.  We cannot ever stop or contain all evil, but the very act of opposing evil is required to keep evil in balance with l-I-v-e.  We must LIVE.

In October, 1987, there was a Symposium on Understanding Evil, in the town of Salado, Texas.  The reader may look it up.  A number of great minds attended, such as Maya Angelou, Scott Peck, Bill Moyers, and several others who had personal experience and knowledge of what “resident evil” is and can do.  I will not attempt to summarize any of this conference, other than to say again, that evil is in each of us, evil comes in many forms – even the verbal abuse of elderly or children – but, we must all work to keep evil in check. Evil is insidious, sneaky, crafty and will work its way into our minds and seem totally rational to us.  A good example is the constant fear mongering we see in the news today regarding people coming to our southern border.  No one who is thinking clearly, who uses factual, evidence-based reasoning, would see any significant threat to “us” from this situation, but it is evil that is working its magic, not much different than what we saw Hitler spin over the minds of the German citizenry.  Given the chance, evil grows and grows and grows, so that is why those of us who strive to dwell in peace must be constantly diligent in calling out the name “evil” when we see it.  We need to be “ghosts busters,” ……substitute evil for ghosts.

I will close this post now, and continue to monitor this “resident evil.”  Please, you also, stay on watch!

My late Mom, a fine Christian woman (who so loved her Buddhist son) relied heavily on this verse:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” <Psalm 23:4>