Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gospel of Mary

The Gospel of Mary, as fragmented and short as it is, remains a profound and powerful literary work with imagery too real not to be shared. Let me know your thoughts.

A few years ago I attended a class on the religion of Islam. The instructor stated if you had to boil Islam down to one sentence, it would be "There is no god, but God."  Whereas the lower case "g" represents false gods, illusions, that keep us from focusing on the real upper case "G" God. The lower case "god" represents everything else that we may mistake for being a God. Whether its coffee, money, power, these false gods are nothing more than illusions and are not real. They are distractions from the ultimate reality, that is, a distraction from where the rest of life flows and makes sense.

In the Gospel of Mary, the soul is personified and walks through a valley of darkness. As soul travels along it's confronted with the ugly heads of "ignorance" and "desire". The allure of these ugly heads are trying to persuade the soul to remain on its current path, but the soul defies the heads and ascents into a new level of understanding.

According to the Gospel of Mary, Sin isn't dictated from a list of right and wrongs or comes from a stone tablet. Rather, sin is the disconnection of yourself from the divine, nature, the ultimate reality. Not living consciously of your actions and realizing and understanding the beauty of your conduct is a sin.
I'll stop now, Enjoy.

Gospel of Mary

"Will the matter be destroyed or not?" The savior replied, "All natures, all formed things, all creatures exist in and with each other, and they will dissolve into their own root. The nature of matter is dissolved into the root of its nature. Whoever has ears to hear should hear."

Peter said to him, "You have explained everything to us. Tell us also, what is the sin of the world?" The savior replied, "There is no such thing as sin, but you create sin when you mingle as in adultery. and this is called sin. For this reason the good came among you, to those of every nature, in order to restore nature to its root."

He continued, "That is why you become sick and die, for [you love] what [deceives you] Whoever has a mind should understand. Matter gave birth to passion that is without form, because it comes from what is contrary to nature, and then confusion arose in the whole body. That is why I told you, Be of good courage. And if you are discouraged, be encouraged in the presence of the diversity of forms of nature. Whoever has ears to hear should hear."

When the blessed one said this, he greeted all of them and said, "Peace be with you. Receive my peace. Be careful that no one leads you astray by saying 'Look here' or 'Look there; The child of humanity is within you. Follow that. Those who seek it will find it. Go and preach the good news of the kingdom. Do not lay down any rules other than what I have given you, and do not establish law, as the lawgiver did, or you will be bound by it." When he said this, he left them.

Mary Consoles the Disciples and Peter Challenges Mary
The disciplines were grieved. They wept proudly and said, How can we go to the Gentiles and preach the good news of the kingdom of the child of humanity? If they did not spare him, how will we be spared?

Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brothers, "Do not weep or grieve or be in doubt, for his grace will be with you all and will protect you. Rather, let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us and made us truly human."

When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the good, and they began to discuss the words of the savior. Peter said to Mary, "Sister, we know the savior love you more than any other woman. Tell us the words of the savior that you remember, which you know but we do not, because we have not heard them. Mary answers and said, "What is hidden from you I shall reveal to you." She began to speak these words to them. She said, "I saw the master in a vision and I said to him, 'Master, today I saw you in a vision.'

He answered and said to me, 'Blessings on you, since you did not waver when you saw me. For where the mind is, the treasure is." I said to him, 'Master, how does a person see a vision with the soul or with the spirit?"
The savior answered and said, 'A person sees neither with the soul now the spirit. The mind, which is between the two, sees the vision...."

Mary Recounts Her Vision of the Soul Ascent
"Desire said, 'I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why are you lying, since you belong to me?' The soul answered and said, 'I saw you, but you did not see me or know me. To you I was only a garment, and you did not recognize me.'
After the soul said this, she left, rejoicing greatly.
The soul approached the third power, called ignorance. The power questioned the soul, saying, 'Where are you going? You are bound by wickedness, you are bound, so do not pass judgement.'
The soul said, 'Why do you pass judgement on me, though I have passed judgement? I was bound, but I have not bound. I was not recognized, but I have recognized that all is to be dissolved, both what is earthly and what is heavenly.
"When the soul overcame the third power, she ascended and saw the fourth power. It took seven forms:
The first form of darkness.
the second, desire
the third, death wish
the fifth, fleshly kingdom
the sixth, foolish fleshly wisdom
the seventh, angry person's wisdom.

"These are the seven powers of wrath."
"The powers asked the soul, 'Where are you coming from, slayer of humans, and where are you going, destroyer of realms.'

The fetter of forgetfulness is temporary. From now I shall rest, through the course of time of the age, in silence."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nothing more.

I have reached the point in my life where all I want is nothing more than to live on the water, and spend my days with genuine conversations with grand and epic sunrises and sunsets, dabbled with reading and writing, drinking good coffee, good beer, good wine, and tea.

...and maybe a girl thrown into the mixture would be nice as well.

Rereading God is Dead.

"Where is God?" proclaimed Nietzsche. Through his writings, the questions he poses contain more spirituality  than most pastoral sermons. Nietzsche continues....

"I shall tell you!, We have killed him-you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done this? How were we able to drink the whole sea? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God's decomposition. Gods too decompose. God is dead, and we have killed him!"

My Commentary
We have killed God and the value system that comes with him. Through our "supremacy" this can be seen through the subjection of our fellow brothers and sisters whom we have brutally murdered, violated their natural rights, forced into slavery, burned at the stake, etc, throughout the course of human history. Nietzsche poses the question; where do we go from here?

Many tend to think Hitler incorporated Nietzsche's idea of a superman that later resulted in the death of  millions of mentally handicaped, homosexuals, witches, and Jews. What Hitler did was in complete violation of what Nietzsche envisioned of a "superman." Nietzsche does not call for a superman with specific physical
features, nor a particular superpower for that matter. Nietzsche rather calls us to decide what we should set as the highest value in our society and try to attain such a goal. If our highest value is really love, let's begin to set down our guns and have a conversation. Let's act, not speak nonsense. Nietzsche presents humanity with the opportunity to "re-create" ourselves and restore and uphold the values that will benefit all of society. The choice is ours and always has been.

What does Globalization mean for you?

Globalization is revolutionary. I am writing this to you on a computer made in Suzhou, China, using software developed in Redmond, Washington, typed and printed in central Puget Sounds, and later discussed in classroom in Mt. Vernon, Washington. This short piece will be reviewed within a 20 mile radius of Mt Vernon, and the scores could be posted on Blackboard. Understanding that tomorrow I will wake up by a clock made in South Korea, and then I’ll put on my shoes that were made in Vietnam, and drive my Volkswagen Passat, which was assembled in Europe, and travel to Skagit Valley College. Shortly after arriving I will drink coffee that supports a farmer and his family in Africa, and later on, I’ll chair a Student Government meeting with Chinese Student Government Representatives. After class gets out, I’ll stop by a Thai food restaurant and pick up some delicious Chicken Phai Thai with my friend from the Middle East, Abdullah. We'll then engage in a discussion about the future of South America, and the implications for the West. This should give you an insight to my opinion on Globalization. 30 years ago, or even 20 years ago for that matter, none of this would have ever been possible.
Globalization has made my life easier, and has allowed me to focus on more important matters. Globalization has allowed thousands around the globe the opportunity to rise out of poverty. While critics would argue against the destruction of the “global village“, one must ask themselves 20 years ago, did you have the access to listen to an African folklore, and Chinese music like you do today? Not at all, when the culture were destroyed, music, oral traditions, dance were silently elimination from the earth with it. Today, I am able to appreciate other cultures music, theatre, food, etc. from the comfort of my own home.
My socio-economic status is a middle class, white male whose working his entire way through school, paying tuition quarter by quarter. Therefore, my personal income is limited, and this pressures me to search for the greatest bargains. Globalization has allowed for the production of cheap technological goods, and the mass distribution of them. I am able to purchase shoes and computers at a fraction of the price than if they were created in the United States. I am able to write on a net book that cost a little over $300 from the comfort of my own bed where my thoughts run rampant. Through globalization, I have become my own writer, publisher, and distributor for my own media.
Throughout my lifetime, I will see the rise of other developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil. As the global market continues to open up, the playing field will expand. Sooner than later, I will no longer be competing against John Smith two blocks down the road, rather I will be competing against individuals in China, India, and Brazil. All the more reason I will need to further my education to stand out among everyone.
Karl Marx argued that over time, a capitalist system will inevitably become socialist as the workers demand more rights and better wages. As the the workers wages increase, the employer must find a way to continue increasing output and efficiency, in order to save money the company will outsource to other countries to pave way for the production of cheap technological goods. As developing countries advance, the playing field expands, and makes way for greater innovation, and self expression. I will no longer by competing in the workforce against my next door neighbor John Smith, but I will be competing against Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian individuals. All the more proof I need to further my education. With the rise of the Internet, Blogs, Facebook, p2p sharing networks have allowed for the transfer of knowledge, music, and has helped build social connections.

What does Globalization mean for me? We can appreciate and continue the survival of culture, music, religious traditions that otherwise would've been lost. What does Globalization mean for you? It means that I must further my education, it means that we have the ability to unleash our human potential. What does Globalization mean for you?

Friday, April 22, 2011

A National Strategic Narrative

This could be the most important document to come out of the Pentagon. It sets the right precedent and direction to Americans and where we are heading into the 21st century. In the

The United States needs a national strategic narrative, if the United States wishes to remain a great power in the 21st century. "We want to become a the strongest competitor and most influential player in a deeply interconnected global system which requires that we invest less in defense and more in sustainable prosperity and the tools of effective global engagement." 

The strategic narrative of the Cold War was that the United States was the leader of the free world against the communist world; that we would invest in containing the Soviet Union and limiting its expansion while building a dynamic economy and as just, and prosperous a society as possible. Now that our circumstances have changed, our plan needs to reflect a change.

The report revolves around changing our strategy in the 21st century:  "From control in a close system to credibile influence in an open system, from containment to sustainment; from deterrence and defense to civilian engagement and competition, from a zero sum to positive sum global politics/economics, from national security to national prosperity and security."

It is time to move beyond a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment, from an empathize on power and control to an emphasis on strengthen and influence; from a defensive posture of exclusion, to a proactive posture of engagement.

Douglas Feith in War and Decision, George Bush started a fundamental cultural change of our governments role, and our American lifestyle. Acting in accordance to how Al-Qadea wanted us to react following the events of 9/11.

Douglas Feith remarks, America the place has often been to greatest antidote to United States Foreign Policy. The United States must be continue to be a open and tolerate society. The United States is a demographically vibrant society opposed to the ethnicity entrenched society of Europe.One of America's greatest strengthens is our "openness, human liberation, and personal freedom that defined our society" an idea that Al-Qaeda recongized and waged a war on.

A National Strategic Narrative
URL Link:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The State of Nothing-Alan Watts

Last night, I peeked through the cellar door of my subconscious mind....

The State of Nothing Lecture by Alan Watts
If you are aware of a state called is, or reality, or life, this implies a state called isn’t. Or illusion, or unreality, or nothingness or death. You can’t know one without the other. And so as to make life poignant, it’s always going to come to an end, that is don’t you see what makes it lively. Liveliness is change it is motion, and motion is going to fall out and be gone. You see, you are always at the place you always are..[Laughs] Except it keeps appearing to change. And you think wowie we’ll get that thing. I hope we don’t go further down so that we don’t lose what we have. But that’s built into every creature’s situation or matter how high or how low. So is this sense, all places are the same place. And the only time you ever notice any difference is the moment of transition. When you go up a bit you gain, when you go down a bit you feel disappointed, gloom, lost. You can go all the way down to death. Somehow, there seems to be a difficultly getting up. Death sees so final. Nothing seems so very very very irrevocable and permanent. 
Then if it is, what about the nothingness before you started. So don’t you see, what we’ve left out of out logic and this is part of the game rule to the game we are playing. The way we hoodwink ourselves is by attributing powerlessness with nothingness.
We don’t realize that is a complete logical fallacy. It takes nothing to have something. You wouldn’t know something without nothing. You wouldn’t know what the form is, without the background space. You would’t be able to see anything unless there was nothing behind your eyes. Now imagine yourself with an anestical eye, and you can see all round. Now whats in the middle? Even if I have all this behind me within view suddenly I will find there is something in the middle of it all and there is a hole of reality. Like now there seems to be wall, not so much a whole, but you see if I was an animal that had eyes in the back of its head. You could feel the sensation I’m describing.
Now you may say to me, now that’s all a bunch of wishful thinking, because when your dead your dead! Now wait a minute, what is that state of consciousness that talks that way? This is somebody saying something that wants to make a point, but what kind of point are they trying to make? When your dead your dead see. Well that’s one of the people that want to rule the world. That’s what frightening about death. Death is real. No indulge in wishful thinking, all you people who dream of an afterlife, and heavens and gods and mystical experiences, and eternity. You are just wishy washy people, you don’t face the facts!
What facts? How can I face the fact of nothing. Which is by definition not a fact. All this is toddle whatever way you look at it. So if you really go the how way and see how you feel at the prospect of vanishing forever. Of all your efforts, and all your achievements, and all your attainments turning into dust and nothingness. What is the feeling? What happens to you?
Is a curious thing, that in the world’s poetry, this is a very common theme. “The earthly hopes men set their hearts upon turns ashes, and or it prospers, a non like snow settles on the desert dusty face lighting an hour or two and is gone” All kinds of poetry emphasize the theme of transcendence. There is a kind of nostalgic beauty to it. "The Banquet Hall deserted, after the revelry, all the guests had left and gone on their ways. The table with overturned glasses, crumbled napkins, bread crumbs , and dirty knives and forks lies empty. And the laughter echoes only in one’s mind. And then the echo goes, the memory, the traces are all gone. That’s the end you see."
Do you see in a way, how that is saying the most real state is the state of nothing? That’s what it’s all going to come to. With these physicists who think of the energy of the universe as running down dissipating into radiation, and gradually and gradually, and gradually, gradually, until there is nothing left.
And for some reason, we are suppose to find that depressing. But if somebody is going to argue that the basic reality is nothingness. Where does all this come from? Obviously from nothingness. Once again you get how this looks behind your eyes. So cheer up you see, this is what is meant in Buddhist philosophy by saying ‘we are all basically nothing.’
When the Six Patriarch says “the essence of your mind is intrinsically pure”. The pure doesn’t mean a ‘non dirty story state of mind’ as is it apt to mean in the word Puritan. Pure means “clear “ void. So you know the story when the Six Patriarch was given his office to his successor. Because he was truly enlightened. There was a Poetry contest. And the losing one wrote the idea that the mind, the consciousness was like a mirror.
So I’m detached, calm, and pure headed. Buddha-ed. But the one who won the contest said there is no mirror, and the nature of mind is intrinsically void. So where is there anywhere for dust to collect? See so in this way, by seeing that nothingness is the fundamental reality, and you see it’s your reality. Then how can anything contaminate you? All the idea of being scared, and it’s nothing it just a dream. Because your really nothing. But this is most incredible nothing. All the Six Patriarch went on to contrast that emptiness of indifference. Which is sort of blind emptiness. See if you think of this idea of nothingness as blankness, and you hold onto this idea of blankness then kind of grizzly about it, you haven’t understood it. Nothingness is really like the nothingness of space, which contains the whole universe. All the sun and the stars and mountains, and rivers, and goodmen and bad men, and the animals, and insects, and the whole bit. All are contained in void. So out of this void comes everything and you it. What else could you be?

He concludes the lecture stressing the importance of realizing and understanding the nothingness principle. This is the underlying point religion was originally trying to address, and our modern culture has shut out everything that deals with nothingness nand death. And come up with other fanciful ways to avoid death.

If we understand this principle, who can hurt us? What can hurt us?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Lost Dimension

"The Lost Dimension", by Paul Tillich discusses origins of religion. the true intention of religion to begin with, that is to ask "passionately the questions of the meanings of our existence".

Religion in our modern world typically carries negative connotations as a set of rules echeted in stone with a God figure hiding in the clouds. Mr. Tillich expresses this concern about humans formatting their lives off consumerism and offers suggestions on human beings can return the rewarding fulling to the lost dimension religion offers.

Our understanding of the universe has changed, stem cell therapy is a reality, robotics are coming of age, and the internet has transformed communication between cutlures and ethinicities, as well as our abililty to acquire new information. A stone age mentality will not answer or address our the problems of the 21st century.

Only through realizing the depth of religion by

Paul Tillich continues in his writing, "The revivial of religious interest would be a creative power in our culture if it would develop into a movement of search for the lost dimension of depth" (page 34) The Christian Cruscades, fueled  by ego and control are perfect examples of what happens when the reality of depth is lost. Can you imagine the amount of compassion we would give to each other if we only realized that we don't know why we are here? Or what we are suppose to do? Imagine if we came to the understanding that all we have in life is each other.

The amount of life that's been taken in the name of God and religion is disgusting. Our brothers and sisters who think of the world as a spiritual battle ground in the fight for God vs. Satan are often the first to show intolerance towards others.

I do not follow religious rituals or doctrines. I follow my inner conscious and treat my fellow brothers and sisters with the respect they deserve. I would consider myself a "they" when Mr. Tilich writes, "They feel that the concrete religions fail to express their profound concern adequately. They are religious while rejecting religions"(page 32)

Death of the Liberal Class

Segment taken from "Death of the Liberal Class" written by Christopher Hedges

“I say let the empire collapse; sometimes we must die to be reborn. The political system as it stands offers little hope for influencing real change or social justice.” Ernest Bell, U.S. Military Veteran

Classical liberalism was formulated largely as a response to the dissolution of feudalism and church authoritarianism. It argued for interference or independence under the rule of law. The features outlining classical liberalism are as follows;

four principle features , or perspectives, which give it a recognizable identity, it is individualist, in that it asserts the moral primacy of the person against any collectivity; egalitarian; in that it confers on all human beings the same basic moral status; universalist, affirming the moral unity of the species, an meliorist, in that it asserts the open-ended improvability, by use of critical reason, of human life.

In a traditional democracy, the liberal class functions as a safety valve. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. It offers hope for change and proposes gradual steps toward greater equality. It endows the state and the mechanisms of power with virtue. It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements, making the liberal class a useful component within the power elite.

Corporate power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy to the power elite. The death of the liberal class means there is no check to a corporate apparatus designed to enrich a tiny elite and plunder the nation. An ineffectual liberal class means there is no hope, however remote, or correction or a reversal. It ensures frustration and anger among the working class and middle classes will find expression outside the confines of democratic institutions and civilities of a liberal democracy. The liberal class has become a useless and despised appendage of corporate power. In killing off the liberal class, the corporate state, in its zealous pursuit of profit, has killed off it most integral and important partner.

The anemic liberal class continues to assert, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that human freedom and equality can be achieved through the charade of electoral politics and constitutional reform. It refuses to acknowledge the corporate domination of traditional democratic channels for ensuring broad participatory power.

Journalists, who prize access to the powerful more than they prize truth, report lies and propaganda to propel us into a war in Iraq. Many of these same journalists assured us it was prudent to entrust our life savings to a financial system run by speculators and thieves. Those life savings were gutted. The media, catering to corporate advertisers and sponsors, at the same time renders invisible whole sections of the population whose misery, poverty, and grievances should be the principle focus of journalism.

Universities no longer train students to think critically, to examine and critique systems of power and cultural and political assumptions, to ask the broad questions of meaning and morality once sustained by the humanities. These institutions have transformed into vocational schools. They have become breeding grounds for systems managers to serve the corporate state. In a Faustian bargain with corporate power, many of these universities have swelled their endowments and budgets of many of their departments with billions in corporate and government dollars.

Universities, especially in political science and economic departments, parrot the discredited ideology of unregulated capitalism and have no new ideas. The arts, just as hungry as the media or academy for corporate money and sponsorship, refuse to address the social and economic disparities that create suffering for tens of millions of citizens. Commercial artists peddle the mythical narrative, one propagated by corporations, self help gurus, Oprah, and the Christian Right, that if we dig deep enough within ourselves, focus on happiness, find our inner strength, or believe in miracles, we can have everything we desire.

Such magical thinking, a staple of the entertainment industry, blinds citizens to corporate structures that have made it impossible for families to lift themselves out of poverty or live dignity. But perhaps the worst offender within the liberal class is the Democratic Party.

The party consciously sold out the working class for corporate money. Bill Clinton, who argued that labor had nowhere else to go in 1994 passed the North American Free Agreement (NAFTA), which betrayed the working class. He went on to destroy welfare and in 1999, ripped down the firewalls between commercial and investment banks to turn the banking system over to speculators. Barack Obama, who raised more than $600 million to run for president, most of it from corporations, has served corporate interests as assiduously as his party. He has continued the looting of the U.S. Treasury by corporations refused to help the millions of Americans who have lost their homes because of bank repossessions or foreclosures, and has failed to address the misery of our permanent class of unemployed.

We have to grasp, as Marx and Adam Smith did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill, lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself.

The Question: Where and how (as an individual, Washingtonian, and American) do we move forward in a country thats solidifying an oligarchy of large monied corporate power that is stifling the means to achieve social change?

Ideas? Comments? General thoughts? Please do share...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So What if We're the Richest Nation in the World.*

The United States isn't addressing the core issue behind our current economic situation. Jon Talton provides much needed clarity and direction.

Want fries with that recovery? Even the employed face continued crunch
By Jon Talton

It's telling that the major business story this morning is McDonald's saying it will hire 50,000 workers in the United States. Yes, the economy added 216,000 jobs last month, but of what quality?
March hourly wages were flat again. According to the Wall Street Journal, the 1 percent annualized growth is the weakest seen in a quarter century. This comes on top of three decades of largely stagnant or weak wages for most American workers, even though corporate profits are back to hitting records and CEO compensation is in the stratosphere.

The non-profit Wider Opportunities for Women released a report Friday about what it takes to actually be self-sufficient, a more telling measure than conventional yardsticks of wages. Even though the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour ($8.67 in Washington state), it takes more than $14 an hour on average nationally for a single worker to meet basic expenses, plus save for retirement and emergencies.

In Washington, that self-sufficiency number is $8.06 for one adult in King County, $16.62 for one adult and a pre-schooler, and $20.70 for one adult, a pre-schooler and a school-age child.

Unfortunately, in a service economy, many jobs pay low wages, particularly for those with less skills, or those whose skills are no longer in demand. Income inequality is already at levels not seen since the 1920s, by some accounts at record highs. The report says:
Low-wage jobs are unlikely to provide employment-based benefits, which leaves low-wage workers even farther from security. On average, a single American worker who supports two children and lacks access to employer- sponsored health care, retirement plans, or unemployment insurance must earn an additional $2.54 per hour-- more than $5,000 per year -- to pay for insurance, out-of-pocket health care costs, retirement savings and emergency savings.
This situation will only be worsened for the working poor with widespread state budget cuts. So what if we're the richest nation in the world.

Taken from the Seattle Times