Archive for February, 2013

Reason, danger in Vedanta

I am in the middle of watching Frank Huguenard’s movie “Beyond Reason”. It turns out that the movie is about Vedanta, I have nothing against Vedanta – it is not my tradition – but if I had known I probably wouldn’t have watched it.

Before I go into the movie I must make my usual caveat. Vedanta is a long established tradition, from before the Buddha, so in discussions about Vedanta it is understandable that they don’t talk about the 1%, but in his introduction to the actual Vedanta (32.00 mins) Frank discusses happiness. Basically he says science does not bring happiness, his emphasis being on the development of science and why it hasn’t brought happiness. At this point it could have been appropriate to say that the 1% are the problem, but throughout the movie’s emphasis is on science because they are emphasising that Vedanta is a type of scientific method. But in so doing they ignore the reality of socity as it is, they do not explicitly express the awareness that the primary factor that contemporaneously is preventing spiritual development is the 1%-system.

I was first attracted by the clear exposition of the history and dichotomy of knowledge by the Elder Brothers, they then went on to discuss quantum mechanics which I found interesting, which I suspect is true because of their understanding of science, but which I don’t know for sure. But then began discussion of Vedanta, literally the “culmination of knowledge”. Basically there was an appeal to the rational. There was an attempt to show that Vedanta was a scientific method with its own axioms and methodology – primarily raja yoga. They are the teachers – it is their tradition, but for me this leaves a gaping chasm that can lead to poor practice. The axioms and methodology of Vedanta are concerned with an examination of the mind through raja yoga. It is not about books, Frank’s analogy was that to learn to swim you must go in the water – no amount of reading about swimming can teach you to swim.

But here is the chasm that I am so concerned about. Our education system teaches us that all is rational, and if a system of understanding such as Vedanta places itself on a parallel with that supposed education system of rationality, then western students are instinctively drawn to reason and so will not go “Beyond Reason” – Frank’s title and purpose of the movie. Undoubtedly the movie makes clear that currently science does not seek knowledge (the 1% don’t want us to know they want us to accept their system), what needs to be emphasised is that Vedanta is a genuine search for knowledge as opposed to the rational science and technology that has been hijacked by the 1% for their profit-making. Vedanta is not concerned with profit, it is about understanding, truth and therefore happiness, values completely alien to the science the 1% has diverted.

Here is Frank’s scientific approach:-

This is a compromise game on the part of the teachers and presenters whose rationale goes something like this:- western students accept academic science so to involve them in Vedanta we will use the same terminology that academia uses. The danger is that western students will then use the same distorted minds – distorted by an extreme over-emphasis on the faculty of reason, and approach the learning of Vedanta with the same academic distortion of their upbringing – NEVER going beyond reason.

Now I am certain that Vedanta, as a scientific methodology in its own terms of searching for knowledge, can lead to an understanding of the spiritual Path – even though I don’t practice it, but the scientific methodology that Vedanta must practice has to be greatly different to the scientific methodology practised by academia. I met an academic and we got involved with a long discussion about Insight and reason. He sought the transcendence discussed in the movie. However all that he did was take the discussion of Insight to be an expansion of the academic rationality, so whilst he knew in some sense the importance of transcendence he never transcended because all he saw was rationality. Beyond reason is essential, comparing Vedanta methodology with science creates dangers.

There are a series of movies by Frank Huguenard entitled “Beyond”:-

Beyond me

Beyond belief

Beyond reason

Anything that is beyond pleases me. However they haven’t gone down too well, Beyond Me sent me to sleep. The creator, Frank Huhuenard, is from a Vedanta tradition. This doesn’t make him right or wrong – it is just not my tradition so I am not knowledgeable about it.

But anyone who is beyond his tradition has got to be listened to so I must persevere. And I did so a little to hear the Elder brothers giving an excellent description of science. There are discussions about science and knowledge in my earlier blogs but for sound-byte culture here is a short clip (15 mins) of the dichotomy of knowledge into science and religion relegating non-measurable knowledge into the realms of superstition.

Because that was so sound I have included this clip on quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is beyond me, not a good beyond – I don’t understand it. Because their discussion on science so resonates with me I have included this clip on quantum mechanics without understanding it. The clip on science exposes science as not being knowledge, quantum mechanics has an image of explaining all; the Elder brothers places parts in the realms of intellect and not knowledge. I don’t know how to go into the intricacies of what they presented but I am happy with what they say.

Unity despite a 1% system

When I first started Mandtao I was more interested in science. Bruce Lipton’s discussion on genes fitted in with much of the delusion I felt about science. And then I came to a personal crossroads when discussing the movie of that name. If I ignore the context in which we live I am avoiding the real issue the same way as the intellectuals I criticised in the movie.

The original sound-byte for the blog was the point and wave. This is an important realisation that I came to when young and reading “Tao of Physics”. But did Capra fully embrace the notion of the system we were in? He discussed paradigms, and at the time the notion of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm in Turning Point rocked my world. But in the same way that the Crossroads movie blames society so did Capra.

What has made me reject the notion that it is society is the fact that in my 20s I came to these realisations, entered a world of work to some extent cognisant of Unity and Path, and spent my life battling. This conflict grew from a lack of willingness to compromise when I was right, an erstwhile friend correctly called me a “right f—er”. If I was right I stuck to my guns and alienated others.

The tolerant Buddhist in me now says that perhaps my attitude was wrong, an outsider causing alienation. Maybe? Or maybe it was aggression or belligerence on my part that caused the alienation. I was on the receiving end of alienation by idealists for 10 years. This alienation was caused by people placing political ideals before the interests of the people themselves. This lesson came to me most forcefully through an education I received working in the trade union movement backed up by some sound communist theory. It is not ideals we work for but the “Mass Movement”. Or much better Unity – the Path of Unity.

Unity in the 1% system sounds a contradiction in terms. When the concept of 1% first started being raised I read a Buddhist writing it is not 99% we want but 100%. I immediately thought what a dickhead, wonderful theory that has nothing to do with reality. These people, the 1%, have chosen to leave humanity. Their separation takes the form of greed at any price including the price of tens of thousands of lives. These 1% must choose to rejoin, it is they who are creating the problem, not those who are demanding Unity however forcefully. It is simple for the 1% to stop putting profits before people, their own material wealth before humane considerations of poverty, hunger and a “roof over the head”. Whilst their compromise might be seen as financially more substantive the reality is that there is no restriction on their choosing – other than their family. I compare that with myself. When I came to the Path – forced on the Path, not only did I face the wrath and ridicule of my family I also faced similar emotions from people around me. Still do. But with nearly 40 years of such conflicts I have learnt how to deal with them better, but mostly that means a form of separation. Such is a real irony, to gain unity I often separate. There is no doubt in my mind that any steps forward on the Path of Unity are taken because I am able to separate myself in retirement, something I could never do in the world of work.

The Path of Unity becomes that of sila – moral integrity, people before profits. Consideration needs to be at the forefront and such consideration does not exist in the minds of the 1% for whom profit at all costs is the reality.

For the majority of people the choice is neither giving up wealth nor a life of conflict based on what is right. Most people work within the 1% system of wage slavery, and the more fortunate spend the majority of their working lives doing something they can tolerate – or even partially enjoy. But what is significant about all wage slaves is that they have to compromise. When the 1% system pushes them a particular way, there is compromise. What the 1% system has developed is mechanisms that make these compromises palatable. The middle level exec does not kill Afghans, nor do they give orders to do so. Oppenhaimer built the bomb out of a genuine desire for knowledge. He compromised with concerns about its use, but there was a commitment to learning in what he did. But look at the results of his compromise. Do the inventors at Apple think about their own compromise for Apple’s significant military use? And Steve Jobs a Zen Buddhist?

The soldier kills the Afghan or pushes the drone button, but soldiers are groomed from early years to accept this. Is the university geek who builds components for the drone? Far from it, so they are kept from the front end, the battlefield, the place where people are killed.

Do the echelons of workers at Monsanto accept responsibility for the suicides in India? Of course not. No-one, not even the Board, told these farmers to kill themselves, but in each death there is a contribution from every Monsanto employee. It is the sum of the compromises that leads to policy that induces suicide, which compromise was yours?

It is by intention that most compromises are not recognised as disastrous, if we were all to be made conscious of the consequences of compromise then more would stand up for the 99%. How different are the people of Occupy? The endless letters from people who explain why they are 99%, is their story much different to yours or mine? I had a full grant and ended up with drinking debts that I was only able to pay off at work because I was on crutches for two months – and kept myself out of bars.

On the Zandtao blog and on this blog I have a One Planet page. Towards the end of Crossroads ideas approaching One Planet – Unity and connectedness began to be discussed more fully. First Bruce Lipton discussed a causal relationship involving plants, animals and humanity. In a world of plants there would be an excess of oxygen in the atmosphere that could lead to fire. The introduction of oxygen-breathing animals who emit carbon dioxide creates a balance, and the power and intelligence of man ought to provide an adjustment if ecological balance goes wrong. This is a functional relationship between man, animals and plants that is part of One Planet. In theory! In practice the 1%-directed humanity is destroying the ecology in search of profit.

There was then introduced the idea that humanity functions as a school – as in a school of fish, an army of ants, a flock of birds etc. When you look at a school of fish you see a large number of distinct creatures but if you look again you could imagine the fish as one. I believe, and the suggestion in the movie is, that humanity functions as one. I would perceive a single school of fish moving through the ocean in search of food. If we accept a school of humans then what is their direction? Above is the answer – 1%-directed. Examine a school of fish, on the leading edge move certain fish – the leaders. The rest of the fish follow, they are directed. This is a similar analogy to the use of the word herd to describe humans, most humans function in a herd but there are some that make decisions. It is the direction and decision-making process that is important to understand in considering a movie such as this. Because the movie asks intellectuals, they describe the ideas as the direction because ideas are the tools of their trade; but ideas do not have intrinsic power and are only allowed to direct when it suits the interests of power – at present the 1%.

Throughout the movie there is a vain hope built up concerning the Tipping Point – that if 10% of humanity adhere to an idea that idea will happen. In some cases ideas will come to fruition with 10% support but those are ideas that do not threaten power – those are ideas that move within the sphere of intellect alone and as such are not significant in the direction of the school. They might be ideas concerning relationships within the school but not of the school itself. Ideas that affect the power and influence of the 1% do not require a 10% Tipping Point, how many revolutions (changes of power) have changed based on 10% accepting an idea?

The movie wishes for 10% acceptance of an idea to be all that counts. This wishy-washy understanding of global power would enable intellectuals to mutually disagree, propound ideas and academicise whilst the world suffers. And then magically comes a consensual 10% and the world will change. Such will not happen and for intellectuals to conceive that it might is a chimera the 1% throws out as bait. The reality is that those that have some form of leadership mantle within the school of humanity cannot faff around in the hope of 10% cohesion, they need to make a decisive move to reshape the power of the whole school.

This is all connected with responsibility and power. We have power dominated by the 1%, and this power is used to the detriment of the planet. The Human school is misdirected. The 1% have recognised that they need to influence – control – the other leaders. And who are those leaders? They are the people with ideas, ideas for change. What the 1% cannot have is those ideas becoming action, coordinated action for one direction of the human school. So they find ways of controlling these ideas. In most cases those people with ideas are bought off by academic positions. They are told these positions have power but in truth all they are given is control of an institution that goes nowhere in terms of change, and often contributes to the power and direction of the 1% such as Harvard, Yale, Oxbridge etc. Whilst the academics in these institutions might propound ideas for change, the minds of the next 1% minions and corporate execs are fashioned in the lecture theatres and through the Hidden Curriculum.

When Ernst Laszlo describes the people who could make change as being those with ideas, he does not turn around and say they have been bought – because it is his colleagues who have been bought – and him (I don’t know him)? It is important to begin to recognise that for change to happen all those that see the need for change begin to work together, bury differences, and address the one “idea” that matters – the power of the 1% and how we can overcome that power. This “idea” that matters cannot be solved by 10% tipping, it cannot be solved by these active colleagues on the streets, it can ony be solved by an uncompromising attitude of all those who know taking a determined position against the 1% and their minions of politicians, police and military, enslaved bureaucrats and corporate execs. A big ask, not a 10% Tipping Point.

It is hard to write about such a movie as Crossroads that does not recognise the power issue. My continuous reaction is good idea but what about the power reality.

The first X-roads theme was interdependence, and it began with a global risk strategist talking about the connections. The strategist did not say that the 1% allow these problems to happen because they still maintain their income.

A guy, Jairon C Guesta, talks about Nature, how our economy exploits Nature, that is then based on our social values that is connected to our psychological and emotional systems and all our actions. This again is an important error in focus. Who is the we? I have never made decisions that would support the exploitation of Nature as discussed by Jairon. The vast majority of people do not support such exploitation. At worst a significant proportion of people trust government to control corporations to prevent unnecessary exploitation, but such blind faith can only tentatively be called a value of such people, it would be better described as abdication of responsibility. It is the same point, it is not we who decide it is a decision of the 1% that most people cowtow to including tacitly the speakers in this film who make their money from the existing system, compromise with it and don’t spend their time fighting the misuses of the 1%.

The next speaker, Michael Laitman, in this clip talks of governments not having the ability to manage the people. The governments are still the same, the economy still provides the 1% with profits in all the countries, and these vast numbers of people are on the streets fighting the 1% whilst academics pontificate. Laitman cites these struggles as being interdependence demonstrating a “law that is characteristic of integrated systems”. He claims world leaders cannot realise their decisions and in the movie actors portray headless chicken activity. This is far from reality. The reality is that business continues to accumulate profits, governments are blamed for ineptitude, and politicians get their pay-offs when leaving office after being the required receptionist in government. Such an analysis whilst correctly identifying the importance of interdependence, what used to be called the mass movement, does not sufficiently analyse the power structures and their objectives.

The next speaker, Amit Goswami, talks about Egolution recognising that the problem is ego. He then goes on about this ego in terms of the survival instinct producing competition as if it is the survival instinct that is the dominant idea leading to the egotism that is screwing up the world. Very simply competition has become misplaced, instead of it being a drive to help personally improve ourselves by competing with ourselves. No, the idea of the survival instinct leads to competition leading eventually to exploitation by the 1% – he didn’t make all those leaps. Misplaced competitive ego contributes to the problem but the few controlling the reins of power prevent those who want to withdraw from the world of competition from doing so. It is not an idea, an individual choice but power, power that misuses competitive ego.

They then go on to suggest that this power is simply social control ie that it is society trying to control itself. Of course there are cultural impositions in society that control. The Ash experiment is one example of social control – 10.31mins, and it led Jairon C Guesta to ask what way have we been using the influence of society? This question is of course completely misdirected, in what way have the 1% been manipulating society to enable their profit-making? It is not we, society, who are at fault but those who are manipulating society for their own greed and ego. It is not social control but 1% social manipulation, an important non-intellectual difference. There is a term, social contagion, described from 15.00 mins, we identify with group characteristics. Actions, happiness etc depend on those in the group. This type of conclusion is fundamentally describing herd responses but we are not just herd animals. Sadly some humans are herd animals, some choose to behave like herd animals abdicating reponsibility, and others begin to seek out their own individuality not as separate beings but as being on the Path. Would someone on the Path have been weak-willed enough to agree with the actors in the Ash experiment? People cannot tell me there is no chi. One guy, James Fowler, described norms as being transmitted through networks, our friends. Peter Joseph, their integrity is only as good as the integrity around them effectively describing all as herd.

This classification of humans is important in identifying the needs for change. We cannot find change in herd animals nor in those abdicating their responsibililty hiding as herd animals so that leaves the few who are not herd animals who need to effect change, by my description refuse to accept their non-herd responsibility to not compromise with the 1%. But most of these accept being bought off, accept compromise, and can be seen in interviews in films such as Xroads.

In truth though what do they do to get their views across? With this film let me try and answer that. The issue is not getting ideas aired but refusing to compromise with the 1%. Xroads is a movie that supports the 1% because it does not attack them as being responsible. So simply by appearing in this film these people are compromised, no matter that this movie in the end talks about Unity. In a similar vein I should not support Xroads, am I compromised in discussing the movie at length in this blog? Yes. But I want to note what are the contemporary ideas, even so – compromised.

I want to discuss creativity, imagination and their relationship, and I began with a John Cleese talk.

Firstly however I am comfortable in describing myself as creative but here is some justification. I write science fiction stories so the question is because I write am I creative? The easiest route for creative justification is one I reject (sour grapes?), I have not been published or paid any money. Such social accolades can be attributes of creative people but equally they can just be attributes of people who play the game. I equally reject the notion that because a book sells the person is a writer, selling books means that they are a product which has been marketed and distributed. And I say this with all due deference to the many creative people who have toiled for years making a living in the publishing business.

So if I am creative, why? For creative people this question does not have to be asked, it is or it isn’t. I sit down and write a book, no choice, no financial motivation, no public accolades, the book is just written. That is creative. Is there a notion of quality attached to this? Again a creative person answers – certainly but there is no justification, none is needed.

And in the above discussion there is much that describes creativity, it just is. A person is creative or isn’t.

Let’s turn to the John Cleese talk. The Monty Python team were innovative, and I assume that he was invited to give this talk in 1992 in part because of the Python’s team’s innovation – I will discuss my use of the word innovative later. Apart from his humour I found the talk uninspiring. In truth he said at the beginning that he had nothing to offer, and I think that is true. He was there because of his fame.

However what is always useful is to listen to how creative people describe the conditions that lead to their creativity. Cleese listed five factors that enabled his creative process:-

1) Space – away from demands of daily life
2) Time – specified time away from daily life
3) Time – take time with the problem – don’t just take the easy way out.
4) Confidence – fear will prevent creativity
5) Humour – takes us from closed to open mode. A serious problem does not require solemnity.

But none of these actually described the creativity, they described the best situation he could put himself in in order for there to be a creative result. Question (there is assumption in this question) – is a weekly script for Monty Python genuinely creative? It is worth discussing innovative here. The Monty Python team changed the world of western humour, and because of this the word innovative easily applies. What is significant in their humour is that it was primarily new, but because it is new does that make it creative? I think not. In general the word creative is an apt description of Python humour, but perhaps not so for every sketch they did. However to describe every show as innovative would be appropriate. Perhaps some sketches might have been described as flat – did not work. Undoubtedly they were innovative but if they didn’t work were they creative?

Here comes imagination. How important is imagination in creativity? When I grew up art was being changed. Artists would come up with a new work, and because their imagination had thrown back the boundaries of established art the work was often assumed as creative, but because someone is capable of imagining something new does not mean that the imagined product is creative. My own sphere of art, science fiction, is new worlds of imagination, but are those imaginations creative? Perhaps so, perhaps not. It depends on whether there is mimicry or creativity, is there a genuine process of creativity or is the author simply copying another scenario? And there is only one measure, whether the writer feels s/he is being creative.

Creativity is a feeling but what sort of feeling? At my most creative – subjective view, I felt a presence. Such a presence could artistically be described as the presence of a muse, but the muse is mythological – having a creative muse doesn’t add any clarity to a discussion. So what is this feeling about? It is a measure of the relationship between the creator and the Path, and this relationship is creativity as we know it.

Is it innovation or imagination per se? No. These are faculties which can help with creativity. Is a work creative enough if the poet cannot imagine to wax lyrically? Is a work creative that is just innovative? If so, perhaps a computer could randomly “create” new works of art?

Imagination is not a creative process in itself, it is a faculty that adds to the work. For many there is a focus on imagination especially in science fiction. Without imagination there is no creativity in science fiction but the imagination itself is not a majority tool. It sets the scene, it describes Kirramura or Angellara or Kamden. But the creativity is in the story, the writing, what the writer wants to say. The imagination was a vehicle, it enabled the story to be transported into a reality – of sorts as no-one has read the book.

This focus on imagination brings me to another recognition. Imagination is a faculty of mind, like reason, and many others. But the creative process is connected to the Path and not simply a faculty of mind. It is this connection, this element of the Path, that is the spark, the uniqueness, the speciality. It belongs to us all, we can all experience it, creativity is not sectioned off for a few. But imagination is a faculty that we all possess, in some less developed than others. In some cultures imagination is hyped especially in drug cultures, the place of imagination, like the place of reason is raised beyond where it belongs.

Creativity directs, imagination and reason are faculties with places to be known under that direction.

Crossroads Irritation

I have just skim-watched “Crossroads: Labor Pains of a new worldview” and struggled through it. Yet another crossroads that a group of intellectuals or spirituals claim the world is meeting. To be honest my bias almost gave up on it. Then add the other failure of such intellectualism, the failure to recognise that the world does not change with ideas, it changes through power. There is a particular intellectual forlorn hope known as the tipping point. Basically an idea that has less than 10% of the world as adherents has no currency, more than 10% and people take it up. Here is an idea:-

The 1% control the world and 100% should control it, let’s call the idea democracy.

Why isn’t it happening? Because less than 10% of the world believe in democracy? Not at all. But because those in power manipulate that power so that the idea doesn’t happen. Some ideas might become currency if they do not affect those in power. But this movie was about a global crossroads, who has the power, and the effects of that power. So tipping points with regards to this are hogwash. To deal with that problem we need awareness of the ways of influence of the 1%, and certainly at the beginning this movie did not offer that awareness.

As usual in such films the propounders of the crossroads have been personally successful to some extent, writing books, academic positions and so on. As with my own situation as a teacher they have accepted some kind of compromise to earn their living, and any such compromise, including my own, allows the 1% to manipulate the power. Recognition of this compromise is also not part of the film, and we have a typical scenario of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed idealists presenting ideas as if the world only has to recognise these ideas and everything will be hunky-dory.

As an example of the groundswell that is leading to global change, they began with this short clip:-

January – Tunisia
February – Egypt
March – Spain
May – Greece
India – August

Lost the ability to manage the people? So examine these countries now, what is the state of change there? The repression, the 1%, has changed hue but not substance. I am not belittling the struggles of these comrades, their fights are powerful and the people deserve respect; but 10% tipping point idealism has got nothing to do with what is happening there. Are these struggles not managed? These people are confronting the 1% and the 1% minions through the army or the police are repressing them; this is the reality. The movie’s intellectuals need to face the reality, recognise how much their own compromises help create this reality and begin to face the real struggle. It is far from a struggle of ideas, it is about power. These same intellectuals wield some power as it is their creativity which is often the backbone of academic institutions and publishers that 1% minions exploit. Turn around and tell them, do something within your own compromise and not leave it to others.

There is also something worth considering, and that is subterfuge – a type of false flag. Over the years the 1% have always recognised how academia and reason can be used to maintain their own (1%) position of power. By repeatedly talking about ideas and reason intellectuals can convince themselves and others that those are the precursors of change, and rather than using their positions to the benefit of humanity they simply propogate ideas, their intellectualism deflecting focus away from the power of the 1% onto the supposed transformational ability of ideas. Be clear, ideas create change only if the powerful let them do so – unless there is a powerful mass revolution (a mass far more than the 10% tipping point). This film could be such a diversion – a false hope. Throughout the world young people are growing up to a realisation that the enemy is the 1%. Whilst the level of awareness of this inimical 1% is not high it must be worrying for those in power. The 1% response is not tolerant, peaceful demonstrations globally are repressed violently in a way that has not been seen since the anti-war protests of the 60s, a time when the establishment must also have felt under threat. Beginning a movie on unity with a message that the problem lies with the people only, that the people are in conflict, and that the people are going through a change suggests change can happen through ideas and ignores the immense power that is being used to prevent change.

On this false focus theme I am going to raise a further possible scenario, one that leaves me open to accusations about anti-Israeli racism. Let me first state a position I hold but cannot substantiate. The power bloc that is the 1% possibly has Bilderberg group connections, certainly has business connections including Jewish, Rockefellers, Rothschilds and so on. By recognising this am I being racist? Of course the 1% power bloc would say so. There are good Israeli people as there are good people of all nationalities, but are all nationalities part of the 1%? Here is a description from his website:-

“Joseph Ohayon is a filmmaker, writer and speaker based in Israel and New York.

“Known for his relentless quest to put pieces together and look at the big picture, Joseph directs, writes, and hosts documentaries and talk shows on Israeli television. Joseph also lectures for the ARI Institute to help raise awareness of today’s global challenges and the need to adapt to an increasingly interdependent world.” It is significant that in the movie there are no attacks on the US government nor on the Israeli government, and as I have said an intellectual focus that does not rest on the 1%. Where does this free movie get its funds from?

Even though the 1% are so powerful that is no excuse for apathy, we must agitate for change.

Having got that off my chest there is much in the movie that is helpful and positive and worth considering as primarily the movie addresses the notion that we are all one, and that the crossroads we need to face is that we remove separation and unite.