Saturday, January 24, 2015

Human Who

Space Baby by kerenper

Not long ago I read a book....Divisidero by Michael Ondaatje...and was asked to consider the nature of identity while reading it. I could have written an essay on that subject far longer than was required, but suffice to say it took my normal course of contemplation, the habitual thought path, and knocked it into a different trajectory....definitely a sign of a good book.

I have often wondered at the conflicting beliefs and attitudes that live within this person that I call 'I'. I observe the behaviour of myself and others who, in one moment, can be friendly, loving and generous and next moment, cruel, angry and hateful. All these different masks and personae. I read about and watch how different cultures treat each other.  And I wonder where those responses come from. Divisidero made me ask - What stories about ourselves are we telling ourselves and where did they come from? Why do we believe them so unquestioningly?

If I was asked about my identity - who I am - you know, like at a job interview..."Tell us a bit about yourself" would I describe/define myself, would that really be who I am? Am I the identity that hangs on the name? Are you? What is identity, how was it formed or was it there from the moment we were born (or before)? Which aspects do we value or despise? Where did our judgement come from? And....if our identity was formed....who were we before that?

When we were born we, the writer and the readers of this, were alive...did we have a sense of awareness, a sense of 'being', before we were taught our name, sex, race, culture, religion, customs, right, wrong etc.? I am not talking about the intellectual awareness of self, I'm talking about something much more basic. All the senses were, and hopefully still are, operating, there was an observer present, an intelligence, else how could we learn....

Who was I then? I'm pretty sure that I was the same as you...a human being, new to world, a blank slate. I'll just repeat that....I was the same as you.

A blank slate onto which others wrote. How much of what I think I know is really mine? My unique experiences of the world, I might say. But surely they are filtered through all the other levels and minutiae of the writing on the slate. Eckhart Tolle calls it the ego or false sense of self. It is our fierce grip upon that egoic self, all those different stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, that has us living unconsciously or as I like to call it awake sleep.

The following article  is from Huffpost Healthy Living. Eckhart Tolle's description of unconsciousness is far superior to anything I could manage. I believe that for all but a very small minority of humanity the vast majority of our lives is lived in unconsciousness. That statement is bound to offend some and make them angry enough to shout in denial...that's fine...those 'shouters' prove the point. So here it is.....

In part one of this new interview series, Changing the World From Within, Eckhart Tolle speaks to Suza Scalora about the violence in our world -- and how human beings can lose their sense of humanity and empathy, inflicting suffering on one another.

Suza Scalora: We are constantly hearing about a world that is violent, chaotic and frightening. It seems as though we're inundated with painful, horrific stories by way of the Internet, newspapers and other media outlets. The newest headline, for example, was about another possible beheading by the terrorist group, ISIS. How can we find inner peace with all this insanity around us?

Eckhart Tolle: There are many aspects to this. It is important to realize that a large percentage of what we hear or see on the news focuses on those places where there is violent conflict. These tend to be the more unconscious pockets of the planet, where there is still a considerable degree of collective unconsciousness.

SS: Can you explain what you mean when you say, "unconsciousness?"

ET: It is important to understand that when I call a person "unconscious," I am not referring to somebody who has fainted or blacked out. I am referring to someone who is spiritually unconscious. This is to say that the person is completely in the grip of their ego -- their false sense of self. The ego gives rise to a sense of separateness between oneself and others, or between "us" and "them." A human being in the grip of the ego is identified with mental images or ideas about who they are. The mind creates these mental images, or stories. Then a person's identity, their sense of who they are, is defined through those images or stories. When this happens, there is a tendency for the egoic person to compulsively judge others, thereby making them into enemies. The ego does this to strengthen its ultimately fictitious sense of self. Whatever a person thinks or believes is, of course, conditioned by the past: their upbringing, the culture they live in -- including the collective belief systems of that culture -- their education, family background and so on. A person who is in the grip of the ego is totally identified with the conditioned content of their mind.
Such a person's thinking, as well as behavior, is therefore completely determined by the ego. This is what I mean by the term "unconscious."

SS: It seems that our Western culture is gripped by the ego as much as other parts of the world. Could you explain what it means for a pocket of the world to be more unconscious than another? What does it mean to be collectively unconscious?

ET: In the West, as well as some other parts of the world, the personal sense of ego tends to predominate, whereas in other areas there is a more collective sense of ego. This collective ego emphasizes the "we" rather than the "I." The collective ego may be tribal, religious, nationalistic, or ideological. For example, there may be a religious or political belief structure that people identify with in the collective that makes up a large part of a person's sense of self or identity. It is less these days than it was in the 20th century, when millions of people were in the grip of collective belief systems. For example, when Mao Tse-tung was in power in China, millions of people were totally conditioned by their collective belief system. This was also the case with Nazi Germany and Soviet Communism. When people are so identified with their collective belief system, their ego becomes enormously pronounced. This collective ego begins looking for "enemies" in order to strengthen the sense of separateness on which the ego depends for its survival.

The personal ego already has a strong element of dysfunction, but the collective ego is, frequently, even more dysfunctional, to the point of absolute insanity. The greatest atrocities that have been committed on the planet were perpetrated by the collective ego. For example, if you go back to the Middle Ages, during the Inquisition, it was a time in which torture and persecution was enacted in the name of religion. The Christian message was completely misunderstood and so the religion became an egoic mind structure. People committed atrocities because their entire sense of self was bound up with that belief structure. Even worse things, of course, happened in the 20th century -- as we all know.

SS: How does one become that detached from their humanity? How do people get caught up in this collective mindset?

ET: When people get taken over by the ego to such an extent, there is nothing else in their mind except the ego. They can no longer feel or sense their humanity -- what they share with other human beings, or even with other life forms on the planet. They are so identified with concepts in their minds that other human beings become concepts as well. This causes a sense of separateness, on which the ego thrives.

If you are an Islamic Extremist, for example, you view others as infidels who do not share your belief system and so they are pronounced 'evil.' You can no longer sense the humanity, or Beingness, of those who don't share your belief system. Once you have conceptualized a person, violence becomes almost inevitable. This is because you are not seeing them as a human being anymore. It becomes impossible for you to have any kind of empathy with another individual who does not fit into your collective mind structure.

We often ask, "How is it possible that human beings can inflict such suffering on their fellow humans?" The answer is that they are totally in the grip of the ego. The ego's complete inability to have empathy for others explains how such atrocities can be committed on the planet. Jesus on the cross is reported to have said, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." In contemporary terminology, he probably would have said, "Forgive them, for they are completely unconscious."
I hope that I can remember understand this allows feelings of compassion for the human state and sorority/fraternity to arise...for we are all walking around in awake sleep  or unconsciousness for periods of time far longer than we would like, or like to admit. If we are lucky, we remember...then, if we don't immediately become distracted and identified with some other story, we have a chance to wake up, to connect to the 'beingness' that is our birthright, through 'presence' or 'mindfulness'...but they are subjects for another time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Liberal Government’s most excellent economic sense or Chequebook euthanasia 101

Maybe I’m a bit slow but I’ve finally cottoned on - the current Australian Government views itself as a business (maybe they all do). And, as we all know, business is solely concerned with profits and will jettison those aspects of the business which are no longer productive or necessary for profit and growth.

I am not writing this to inspire outrage, hatred or despair. I offer this as an observation on the performance of a government that is no longer concerned with subterfuge or camouflage – they are flagrantly thumbing their nose at the public, doing exactly what they wish, with no attempt to hide it. It is an observation that disgusts me.

I am convinced that somewhere behind the doors in Canberra there are a group of policy makers who take this viewpoint and look at Australia like this:-

The Government is the board of directors. Taxpayers, although you may equate them to shareholders, are really only the “mum and dad shareholders” so they only get a little return for their investment e.g. infrastructure, education etc. The major and most important shareholders, even though they don’t pay their  fair share of taxes – their investment is made through donation, power and influence - are the banks and ‘big business’ (and they certainly must not be made to feel ‘pissed off’), therefore, the majority of policies put forward must be in their favour.

Furthermore, each member of the population is a potentially productive unit. Those that are productive are encouraged and, to an extent protected, by government policy. However, there are many units that are....
  •  Old and worn out, and whose function has been replaced. Those who’ve managed to store enough energy, i.e money, to keep themselves going are okay. They have enough resources to keep themselves and the government happy. They are many others who don’t, and must rely on the government’s support in order to survive. or
  •  Sick or damaged beyond repair, or manufactured with inherent faults. If these units are lucky enough to have the support of other energy abundant units then they will probably be okay too. There are many who do not, and must rely on the government’s support in order to survive. or
  •  Capable of work but are either surplus to requirement or otherwise unattractive in some form. Again, if these units are lucky enough to have the support of other energy abundant units then they will probably be okay too. There are many who do not, and must rely on the government’s support in order to survive.
So what to do with these unproductive units that are a drain on profits? Well, I’m pretty sure that, if they thought they could get away with it, there would be people in favour of the gas chamber - at the very least, they've probably joked about it among themselves. Our anglophile Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, may well have been looking to the old country for inspiration. Here's what they’ve come up with - a slower more insidious form of homicide.

Depiction of Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions UK - but we may shortly be able to superimpose Scott Morrison, incoming Minister for Social Services.

The term is ‘chequebook euthanasia’. It works like this…the government cuts funds to as many support services as it can get away with. Where it feels it must pay, it pays as little as possible and preferably with some punitive requirement.

The outcome of this is that the unfortunate units listed above have insufficient energy for...

  • Healthy food. They either don’t eat enough or they are forced to buy cheaper food that is far less nutritious, at best, and detrimental to their health, at worst. Okay, so now these units are under stress in addition to having an under functioning immune system. This leads, inevitably, to ill health.
  • Housing. One of the things that is going to cause huge stress for people is the fear of having nowhere for themselves or their family to live. Good stuff! Here the government makes policies that will help the energy abundant units acquire more energy. Plus it invites investment from overseas units, all of which creates competition, making it more difficult and creating stress for the unfortunate units and homelessness for the least productive or wanted units. This stress impacts health - physical and mental illness, addictive behaviours and increased suicide.
  • Employment. Well, now here’s a great opportunity. If the government can create as much stress, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness as possible those unproductive units might just do the government’s work for them and opt out permanently. And don’t think that they wouldn’t pursue this line – you need look no further than accusations made in the UK for example.
  • Healthcare. The government ensures that receiving the healthcare of choice is a big financial burden for the units - not huge though because they want to be voted back into power. Either the units choose not to access healthcare or they cannot access enough to make much difference.
    What does this mean? Early death of unproductive units = less drain on profits.

    Through this method the government will rid itself of unproductive units. Yes, it’s a lot slower than gas chambers, and it may look inhumane to those at the mercy of funding cuts but to the rest of the units, unaffected, it is made to look like very good fiscal sense. But remember the government has to be careful lest its productive units view their less fortunate fellows with a ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I” attitude. Thus, the policies are ‘spun’ through the media – we are told of the benefit to the whole country, and any who suffer as a result of the policies obviously deserve it. In this way the government ensures that those that are in a comfortable position, or who have never really known what it’s like to be one of the unproductive units, or have never considered that the government would have anything but their best interests at heart, apathetically accept what is fed to them - the ‘sheeple’ sleep on and government quietly euthanize a portion of the population without anyone suspecting that that was their intention all along.

    Tumblr Quotes

     Do not despair though. There are millions of people waking up across the globe…Transition Towns… Switzerland’s proposal of an unconditional payment for everyone has great merit… There are communities pulling together everywhere so that those in need may be better supported…There are authors such as Charles Eisenstein with his book “Sacred Economics” illuminating our current situation, and proposing a shift to “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible”…and commentators such as the controversial Russell Brand bringing a much needed alternative viewpoint to the manipulated mainstream media…there is so much activity happening at the grass roots level that inspires hope and excitement for the future that surely it must overcome the destructive path our current government has chosen.

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    What or Who Are We Really Defending?

    Two persons - courtesy of

    I find myself shaken and disturbed by the behaviour of many of my fellow Australians, and not a few people from other lands, in their want of propriety in respect of the visit of Dr Tenpenny to our shores whose intent, while holidaying, was to share her conclusions on the dangers of vaccination with those that may be interested. This behaviour on social media is not new, it seems to follow any controversial subject...and I must be truthful here...I have, in the past, succumbed to its sweet poison...but no more...I have made a commitment to myself to be as respectful as I can...let's see if I can keep to it. So.....

    Any member of officialdom reading the volume of voracious hostility in the comments directed toward Dr. Tenpenny on Vaccines, on her facebook page and elsewhere, or to other opponents of vaccination, must be smugly congratulating themselves on the success of their pro-vaccination campaign and engendering fear (rightly or wrongly) in the minds of the population about non vaccination.

    I invite you to look beyond the issue for a minute. Are we being the sort of people we would like to live amongst?

    Whatever happened to 'treat others as you would like to be treated' or 'love your neighbour, or even your enemy, as yourself'? Where is our compassion? To an observer we seem to act as if we expect everyone else to be reasonable, no matter how illogical that expectation may be - i.e. to behave and think in a fashion wholly acceptable to us. But why should they? And why can’t we allow them the ‘privilege’ of unreasonableness, after all we expect it from them?

    It seems that we have a long way to go in the development of our emotional intelligence. No matter the controversial topic it seems we allow entrenched fear and insecurity to bypass manners and overcome all leanings toward respectful discourse – leading to outrage over ideology differing from our own. Subsequently, we indulge our need to pontificate on the obviously correct facts of the matter, comfortable in our superior knowledge whilst belittling and pouring scorn upon the opposition. Is this one-up-manship really to be applauded? Why do we assume ourselves to be omniscient, standing in the absolute truth? Who do we think we are to believe we have the intellectual and moral superiority to treat our fellows so viciously and with such contempt?

    Surely we all, as humans with equal inherent value, have the right to be 'wrong'. I'm not talking about criminal activity, I'm talking about opinions and thoughts. 

    You may say "Yes, but they are dangerous ideas, and deserve to be ridiculed". Really? Dangerous? Perhaps. Perhaps dangerous like a gun? It's only when someone picks it up and uses it that it becomes truly dangerous. Before that, it is merely potentially dangerous. And perhaps the danger lies elsewhere anyway...perhaps the danger is belief. In the case of the vaccination issue, everyone barring those that actually did the testing and research, and the peers that reviewed the findings, has taken the findings, for or against, on faith. Faith in the experts that give us the information. We trust them. We believe what we've been told is the truth of the matter. 

    Before we post our comments filled with righteous indignation and hostility towards those who dare to hold a differing/opposing view and, from our viewpoint, a ridiculous one, do we look in the mirror? Do we see the curl in our lips, or the snarl just beneath the surface, or the speak-to-the-hand-coz-I’m-not-listening flint hard eyes? Despite our highly valued intelligence, are we that far removed from the animal...defending…something? What is it in us that we feel needs defending? And how is it more important than another person’s ‘something’. Are we so unsure of ourselves that we must spit venom to ensure that ‘something’s’ survival? 

    Perhaps we might consider who we are? Are we the sum of our knowledge, thoughts and opinions? Or are we something separate from our intellectual constructs. After all, from where did those constructs arise? Are our 'truths' really ours or are they just the ideas of someone else that has found a comfortable place in our perception of the world? Are we just reiterating the information that has been poured into us from birth by parents, teachers, various accepted experts etc.?  What truths are honestly ours, and if they are ours and we know them as absolute truths then surely they cannot be destroyed and therefore there is no need for defence...or attack.

    A small P.S, I came across this, posted on facebook by a friend, and thought it an appropriate closing for this post.....

    "The good news is that I am not my personality. None of us is. At times, I think of the personality as a stubborn and demanding pet. We can train it to have better manners, but for the rest of its life, it will require a certain amount of affection, water, and kibble. It helps to have some humor in tending this pet, whatever its quirks are."
    ~ Jack Kornfield 

    Please note: if you wish to comment/debate/argue/abuse or otherwise on the subject of vaccines, please do so elsewhere - there are plenty of spaces on social media, for and against, for that purpose. This blog post discusses behaviour and respect or rather the lack thereof.