The Role of Charities

Many charities appear to be about finding solutions to dysfunctional situations, about ending things.

Oxfam: "Mission possible: ending poverty"
NSPCC: "we aim to end cruelty to children in the UK"
RSPCA: "It's our vision to work for a world in which all humans respect and live in harmony with all other members of the animal kingdom."
Unicef: "To protect the rights of every child, and invest in her or his well-being, is the surest way to end poverty and to build peace and security in the world."
Breadline Africa: "Ending Poverty Through Charity Donation"

Whilst many who are involved in charity work may want to contribute towards finding solutions and ending things, we must ask if these solutions are really to be found through the current tactics of certain charitable organizations.

Picture this scenario.

A person is trapped within a cell. Conditions within the cell are not good, and our prisoner suffers from a number of physical and mental wounds caused by his imprisonment. He is visited regularly by a medic, who tends to his physical grievances, and a psychologist, who tends to his mental grievances. Between them they manage to keep the prisoner at an apparent equilibrium. He neither gets too ill, nor too well.

We can see charities as being akin to these health professionals, tending to the wounds of those in need. Our professionals stick firmly to their remit. They are trained in tending wounds, and this is their role. They are not there to ask why the prisoner is held captive, because questions like these may well be beyond their jurisdiction, and could land them in trouble with their superiors. After all, their duties provide them with a steady income, and they have families to support. In the last, our professionals have no real concern with seeing an end to this scenario. They may not like it, but they do not see how they can end it. It does not seem to be something that can be changed. The best they can do is to make conditions for our prisoner as bearable as possible.

Our professionals think in the small-scale. They know the borders of their roles, and they do not travel beyond them. They are specialists, and their forte lies in tending wounds. This is the role that they play, and the shape that they assume in order to fit a larger pattern. A charity can likewise think in the small-scale. In doing so it concerns itself with its mission, tending to whatever wound it happens to specialize in. Like our small-scale medics, it would not be concerned with looking beyond the borders of its remit; with asking why the prisoner is held captive, or with questioning the effectiveness, the purpose, or the ideology of the prison.

A charity that thinks large-scale, on the other hand, would be interested in such questions. It may be concerned with his wounds, and may tend to them; but it would also see that if the larger context - the cell - is not dealt with, is not changed, then the wounds will continue to be inflicted; and eventually our prisoner will simply not be able to take anymore, regardless of the help he receives.

A charity that thinks in the large-scale must always have one eye on the larger picture - the prison - and must always be asking questions of it, regardless of where they may lead. Whilst it may be difficult to trace back the causality of any given situation, this is no excuse for not engaging in an investigation. It cannot simply stick to its remit as medic, otherwise it becomes complicit in the drama, another player on the stage.

Such a charity must be interested in systems. It must be interested in how one thing leads to another. Its natural role is a dual one; both medic (zoomed-in, seeing and tending to details) and systems-analyst (zoomed-out, seeing patterns and connections). It must always be seeking to see the larger picture, to push back the boundaries of causality until it can go no further. Only once it has a wide perspective - once it has climbed the mountain of causality, traced the thread all the way back through the labyrinth - can it truly act effectively to eliminate dysfunction.

To zoom-in and look at things in isolation is characteristic of the way that we currently approach the world in most "advanced" Western societies. Traditional societies tend to adopt different approaches. When it comes to health, Native Americans, for example, see things holistically. If a person is unwell, then their illness will be seen as part of a larger picture, and the whole person will be treated rather than the illness in isolation. The essential connectedness of things is acknowledged, instead of one part being split off and seen as separate.

"For the Native American, healing, spiritual development and quality of life cannot be separated from other life aspects to include politics and economics. Harmony with the Earth is essential for health."

In attempting to heal the various wounds of our current way of life, charities could learn a lot from this holistic approach.

However, perhaps most charities only seek to alleviate dysfunction, as opposed to remedy it. In this sense they are a bandage, as opposed to a cure. They become part of a balancing act: through mopping up the mess that is made by the larger system (capitalism) they make it presentable - acceptable - thus allowing it to continue. Without them it would slip into a massive imbalance. The wound would worsen beyond repair, and we would be faced with the full consequences of our actions. As it is, the system appears to be held in perpetual motion - nothing gets better, nothing gets worse, and things go on as normal. The wound is left to bleed, and a new bandage is constantly applied. But this can only go on for so long. Despite the combined efforts of all of the worlds charities, they cannot balance out the ongoing destructive impact of the system, and our state of "equilibrium" is really nothing more than an illusion. Eventually the wound will cause problems that no bandage can deal with.

If a person or an organization is serious about bringing an end to a dysfunctional state of affairs - to find a remedy, to bring about change - then it is not enough for them to simply tend to the wound. They must be prepared to think holistically, balancing small-scale thinking with large-scale thinking. As the Native Americans remind us, it is a mistake to think that the only way to help a sick man is to take away the illness. And inasmuch as a particular illness is found to be related to a larger state of affairs, then any such charity that is not radically opposed to the status-quo cannot be rightly described as being serious about its aims.

If we decide that our society is sick then in order to heal it we may need to do more than simply attend to its various wounds.

Holding Each Other

Whether on a personal or collective level, we are discovering that the stories of separation are untrue. What we do unto the other, inescapably visits ourselves as well in some form. As that becomes increasingly obvious, a new story of self and story of the people becomes accessible to us.

[...] The new story of self is the connected self, the self of interbeingness. The new story of the people is one of cocreative partnership with Lover Earth. They ring true in our hearts, we see them on the horizon, but we do not yet live yet in these new stories. It is hard to, when the institutions and habits of the old world still surround us.

[...] "It is impossible to abide in Nirvana alone. If any sentient being is left out of it, then part of me is left out of it." Only someone under the delusion that he is a discrete, separate soul would imagine otherwise.

Enlightening as these teachings might be, mere information is not enough. As many spiritual traditions recognize, a living teacher, a guru, is necessary to bring the teachings to life in their unique application to each individual. We need something from beyond our old selves, someone to illuminate our blind spots, to humble our conceit, to show us the love we didn't know we had within us. This presents a problem today, because the age of the guru is manifestly over.

No human being can hold the guru energy in post-modern society. This is old news - the age of the guru has been over for at least thirty years. In the 1960s and 70s, any number of masters came to America from the East and, absent the cultural structures that traditionally kept them in an insulated realm, succumbed one after another to scandals involving money, sex, and power.

Spiritual self-sufficiency ignores the fundamental truth of our interbeingness. Without each other, we cannot make those peak experiences, those glimpses we have all had of a more vivid way of being, into anything more than glimpses. How can we make them into a new baseline for life? How can we enter into the world that they show us, how can we redeem their promise? How can we bring into living reality the knowledge that we have been shown something true and real? Each time, the old world drags us back.

The inertia of our habits and beliefs, the expectations of the people surrounding us, the way we are seen, the media, the pressures of the money system all conspire to hold us where we were. Coming off a peak experience, we may try to insulate ourselves from all these things, to live in a bubble of positivity, but eventually we realize that is impossible. The negative influences find a way to creep back in.

[...] Each one of us is pioneering a different aspect of the connected self in the age of reunion, and each one of us as well carries vestigial habits of the age of separation that are invisible to us or that, if visible, we are helpless to overcome on our own. Quite practically, to inhabit a more enlightened state we must be held there by a community of new habits, new ways of seeing each other, and new beliefs in action that redefine normal.

In other words, in the age of the connected self our guru can be none other than a collective, a community - as Thich Nhat Hanh put it, "The next Buddha will be a sangha." By a community, I don't mean an amorphous "we are all one" mass devoid of structure, but rather a matrix of human beings united in a common story of the people and story of the self. Aligned with these defining stories, this community can hold us in the vision of what we are becoming.

[...] This realization often manifests as a desire to find one's true purpose in life, one's service to the world. Such a purpose is never just about the separate egoic self. It is always about service; it is about one's gifts and how to give them. Purpose is about gift and relationship. The emerging state of vitality, joy, and love that humanity is entering is not a place where we can abide for long on our own. We need each other.

[...] To be dependent is to be alive - it is to be enmeshed in the give and take of the world.

[...] We can do for each other what a guru does for a disciple: hold each other in the knowing of who we really are, and teach each other how to live there. Each of us, as we experience our own piece of the age of reunion, becomes a guide to a small part of that vast new territory.

[Charles Eisenstein]
'Why the Age of the Guru is Over'

The Path of Maturation

Elders speak about everyone, but they do not ask to spoken about. They see everyone, but do not ask to be seen. The self is sacrificed, put to one side.

As we mature our gaze gradually turns away from the self and out towards others. We see more and become responsible for more. The less we look at the self, the more we see of our surroundings.

We begin to speak less in terms of "I" and "me" and more in terms of "we" and "us." We recognize our connectedness and become communalized.

For an elder to ask to be seen or spoken about is a perversity, and goes against the natural order. Just as water flows downhill, our gaze should also flow downwards, so that we see and speak about all those beneath us - less mature than us - and are in turn seen and spoken about by those above us. And as we wouldn't expect water to flow uphill - and would be engaging in a fruitless activity if we were attempt to make it - we shouldn't expect to be seen or spoken about by those beneath us. As we become older the self should become less important, and should not need to be stroked as much as when we were younger.


o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o This is one of the reasons why it is so disturbing when we meet an older person who is still consumed by selfishness and vanity, and who demands that we see and hear them, rather than the other way around. They may be older than us, but through such behaviour we see that they are no more mature. Often in cases like this, we must become the adult, sacrificing our self so that theirs is satisfied. An old person like this has ducked their duties and cannot rightly be seen as an elder. They are frozen in time, perpetually immature.

How can we hope for a mature and wise society if our grown-ups refuse to grow up?

"I will speak about others, but I will not expect or demand to be spoken about."

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In many indigenous cultures, elders are accorded great respect. To be an elder is more than being old; it means being a person who has learned some wisdom from their life experiences, including their mistakes. An elder may be someone who has lived a blameless life of complete integrity, or a recovering alcoholic who knows from personal experience how hard it is to struggle with an addiction, and so can guide others.

Not everyone old is wise. For some people, aging can simply rigidify longstanding patterns of dysfunction. And some "elders" may be young, blessed with good judgment, compassion and sound sense from an early age.

Groups need elders: people who put the needs of the group first and help keep its balance. We may become elders and gain social power in many constructive ways.

- By Taking on Responsibility and Fulfilling It
- By Helping the Group Function Smoothly
- By Good Judgment
- By Making Mistakes and Acknowledging Them so They Become Part of Group Learning
- By Showing Compassion and Forgiveness
- By Integrity and Upholding Values
- By Bringing Experience, Skills and Training to the Service of the Group
- By Mentoring and Being Mentored
- By Commitment and Time
- By Modeling Good Self-Care

[Starhawk]
http://www.realitysandwich.com/developing_elders

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Giving and Receiving

The principle of cause and effect is at work everywhere, and somebody has to receive the results of everybody's doings. Every sentence or thought or act has an effect on somebody. If someone has a destructive thought or wish, it has to have an effect on someone. If it doesn't work on someone else, it works back on the person who created it.

[...] There's no need to create any opposing destructive force; that only makes more negative energy and more results and more problems.

If you have a sense of opposition - that is, if you feel contempt for others - you're in a perfect position to receive their contempt. The idea is not to be a receiver.

You people have such anger and fear and contempt for your so-called criminals that your crime rate goes up and up. Your society has a high crime rate because it is in a perfect position to receive crime. You should be working with these people, not in opposition to them. The idea is to have contempt for crime, not for people. It's a mistake to think of any group or person as an opponent, because when you do, that's what the group or person will become. It's more useful to think of every other person as another you - to think of every individual as a representative of the universe.

Every person is plugged into the whole works. Nobody is outside it or affects it any less than anyone else. Every person is a model of life, so the true nature of a person is the nature of life. I don't care how low you fall or how high you climb, economically or academically or anything else, you still represent the whole thing. Even the worst criminal in life imprisonment sitting in his cell - the center of him is the same seed, the seed of the whole creation.

["Mad Bear"]
Rolling Thunder, p. 244-5

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Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba (植芝 盛平 Ueshiba Morihei, 14 December 1883–26 April 1969), referred to by some aikido practitioners as Ōsensei ("Great Teacher"). Ueshiba envisioned aikido not only as the synthesis of his martial training, but also an expression of his personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation.

Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on.

[...] Today aikido is found all over the world in a number of styles, with broad ranges of interpretation and emphasis. However, they all share techniques learned from Ueshiba and most have concern for the well-being of the attacker.

"Aikido"
Wikipedia

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In traditional violent and nonviolent conflict, the goal is to defeat the opponent or frustrate the opponent’s objectives, or to meet one’s own objectives despite the efforts of the opponent to obstruct these.

In satyagraha, by contrast, these are not the goals. “The Satyagrahi’s object is to convert, not to coerce, the wrong-doer.” Success is defined as cooperating with the opponent to meet a just end that the opponent is unwittingly obstructing. The opponent must be converted, at least as far as to stop obstructing the just end, for this cooperation to take place.

The essence of Satyagraha is that it seeks to eliminate antagonisms without harming the antagonists themselves, as opposed to violent resistance, which is meant to cause harm to the antagonist. A Satyagrahi therefore does not seek to end or destroy the relationship with the antagonist, but instead seeks to transform or “purify” it to a higher level.

A euphemism sometimes used for Satyagraha is that it is a “silent force” or a “soul force” (a term also used by Martin Luther King Jr. during his famous “I Have a Dream” speech). It arms the individual with moral power rather than physical power. Satyagraha is also termed a “universal force,” as it essentially “makes no distinction between kinsmen and strangers, young and old, man and woman, friend and foe.”

Wikipedia
Satyagraha

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The Sacred Circle

We cannot all sit on the same side of the Fire. A Council Fire forms a circle, not a line or a square. When we move to the side, we still sit at the Fire with our Brothers and Sisters, but as we move away from one we move toward another.

The circle, like the Dream Hoop, brings us ever back to where we start. Any time words of respect and love are spoken, they will return as given. A harsh word runs forever in the circle, eventually vanishing from the wear against itself. Love settles within the Circle, embracing it and thereby lasting forever, turning within itself.

The Medicine Wheel is the circle of life (sometimes referred to as the Sacred Hoop). Starting with birth and continuing through out our lives until death, when we have gone full circle. The Medicine wheel has four Direction, each direction offering it's own lessons, color, and animal guide. There are two paths shown which cross in the center, at which point for me is the heart (for when you work from your heart, you can reach all directions). The path from East to West is the path of spirits, (the Blue Road) the path from South to North is our physical Walk (the Red Road ).

East - Beginnings, purity, family, innocence, amazement of Life

South - Youth - passions of life, friendships, self-control

West - Adulthood - solitude, stillness, going inside oneself, reflection

North - Place of the Ancient Ones who have gone over - place of wisdom

Above - Freedom of mind, body, spirit

Below - Nuturing, Mother, life

[Luther Standing Bear]
Oglala Sioux 1868-1937

Familiar Territory

Celine: When you talked earlier about after a few years how a couple would begin to hate each other by anticipating their reactions or getting tired of their mannerisms ... - I think it would be the opposite for me.

I think I can really fall in love when I know everything about someone. The way he's gonna part his hair; which shirt he's gonna wear that day; knowing the exact story he'd tell in a given situation ... I'm sure that's when I know I'm really in love.

Dialogue from Before Sunrise

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His tribal position was hereditary. His father and fathers before him had been subchiefs of the Shoshone. He knew the vast Shoshone lands.

Like the typical Indian scout he knew every hill and valley, every river and stream, and the location of all the trees and plants that his people once depended on for food.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.54

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The universe was a place of wonders, and only habituation, the anaesthesia of the everyday, dulled our sight.

[Salman Rushdie]
The Satanic Verses

PC: What tends to make love disappear for you?

SR: Excessive habituation ... I think its a loss of mystery - both ways round ... I think to be too well known, and to know too well.

[Salman Rushdie]
in conversation with Pamela Connolly
Shrink Rap, Channel 4

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Native Wellness

Native Wellness is not just the absence of disease. It is living life in a circle, embracing the teachings of the old ways, where the individual is in balance with oneself, mind, body, spirit, and emotions.

It means living in harmony with oneself, others, the Creator, and with all aspects of one's environment. It is having a sound cultural identity. Illness happens when this harmony or balance is broken.

[...] As seen from the indigenous perspective, health is synonymous with wholeness. The ultimate source of this a wholeness is the Great Spirit, or Creator, a divine essence of which everything is a part. As such, health is understood only within the context of the whole, with spirituality a primary focus and aspect of the diagnosis and treatment of all afflictions. Health involves the restoration of balance and harmony to body, mind, and spirit, and to relationships with family, community, and nature

"What is Native American Wellness?"

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According to Native American traditions, balance is a state of being in harmony with the universe. Walking in balance is walking in accordance with the natural way of things, where there is harmony among human, natural, and spiritual systems.

Balance is often referred to as Good Medicine. On the other hand, Bad Medicine is the result of being in a state of dis-ease or disequilibrium. When one is not living harmoniously with self, others, the environment and spirit, illness happens.

Thus, healing involves the restoration of balance.

[...] According to traditional Navajo beliefs, being in balance is to be in harmony with the universe. Balance is expressed in the phrase Walk in Beauty. To Walk in Beauty is to have faith in healing, and to act in accordance with natural and spiritual laws. It is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason, with the wellbeing of all as the underlying intention

"Native Wellness"

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Native American values most pertinent to rehabilitation are:

(a) Happiness and harmony between and within individuals, the society, and nature;

(b) generosity in sharing of self, resources, and possessions;

(c) transmission of knowledge through an oral tradition;

(d) an orientation to the past which honors tradition, and to the present in taking life as it comes;

(e) a fluidity of lifestyle which is without external constraints other than those voluntarily chosen;

(f) work which is in harmony with the individual and meets present needs;

(g) discrete and respectful communication with little eye contact and an emphasis on listening; and

(h) a universal spirituality which is integral to all life and every lifestyle.

[Susan D.M. Kelley]
"Traditional Native American Values: Conflict or Concordance in Rehabilitation?"

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Revolution Begins at Home

You've got to hit 'em where it hurts. Pull your money out of the too-big-to-fail banks ... put it in a hometown bank.

Quit flying.

Burn as little gasoline as possible.

Grow your own food.

Don't spend another dime viewing Hollywood propaganda.

Don't play their lottery.

Wean yourself off professional sport amusements ... they're intended to distract you.

Get out of debt and stay out.

These things are a good start - your personal revolution.

[katzcradul]
YouTube comment

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Believe it or not, growing your own food or visiting your local
farmers market is more revolutionary and constructive
than burning down your own city and killing security forces
.

[...] They need us, we don’t need them. That’s the big secret. We get our freedom back as soon as we take back our responsibilities for food, water, security, the monetary system, power, and manufacturing; that is independence. Independence is freedom, freedom is independence. We’ll never be free as long as we depend on the Fortune 500 for our survival.

Fixing these problems unfolding overseas starts with fixing the problems in our own backyards. Boycott the globalists, cut off their support, undermine their system, and they lose their ability to commit these atrocities. That will be a real revolution and it can start today. Not burning cities and masked rebels waving flags, but communities no longer dependent and fueling a corrupt system we all know must come to an end.

[Tony Cartalucci]
"The Real Revolution"

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Also, give to charities that act locally as well as to charities that act globally.

Karma Yoga

Karma yoga is described as a way of acting, thinking and willing by which one orients oneself toward realization by acting in accordance with one's duty (dharma) without consideration of personal self-centered desires, likes or dislikes. One acts without being attached to the fruits of one's deeds.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:

Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty, for by working without attachment one attains the Supreme.

Krishna then goes on to describe how Arjuna should surrender the fruits of his actions (good or bad) to him, Krishna, (as the Supreme Person or avatara):

Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight.

Krishna explains that work done without expectations, motives, or anticipation of its outcome purifies one's mind and gradually makes an individual fit to see the value of reason. He states that it is not necessary to remain in external solitude, or remain actionless, in order to practice a spiritual life, since the state of action or inaction is primarily determined in the mind.

In order to achieve perfection of life, Krishna explains that it is important to control all mental desires and tendencies to enjoy pleasures of the senses. The practice of karma yoga in daily life makes an individual fit through action, meditation and devotion to sharpen his reasoning, develop the intuitive power of acquiring knowledge, and to transcend the mind itself.

Karma Yoga
Wikipedia

The Real Thing

In the West, we tend to live our lives at one remove from reality, relying on images and concepts.

As Tashi Rabgyas said after spending a few months in England, "It's amazing how indirect everything is here. They write about the beauty of nature, they talk about it, and everywhere there are potted plants and plastic plants, and pictures of trees on the wall. And all the time television programs about nature. But they don't ever seem to have contact with the real thing."

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.190

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Then came the age of technology. In the eyes of Indians, white Americans became interested only in the shadows of things and strove to ignore and even deny the realities behind them.

Many researchers and historians have published accounts of American Indians that told of impressive feats and healing techniques, yet contemporary professionals seemed afraid such accounts might contradict "modern science."

The dominant attitude was an insistence that modern methods and views had to be superior to the past, and Indians were prosecuted for their practices, for performing healings, religious rituals and sacred dances.

Modern America had new ideas of religion - popular Sunday morning activity, convenient source of social virtue - but when religion pretended to deal with facts about the universe it became a threat to modern science.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.59

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Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: "All that was once directly lived has become mere representation." Debord argues that the history of social life can be understood as "the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing." This condition, according to Debord, is the "historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life."

With the term spectacle, Debord defines the system that is a confluence of advanced capitalism, the mass media, and the types of governments who favor those phenomena. "... the spectacle, taken in the limited sense of "mass media" which are its most glaring superficial manifestation...". The spectacle is the inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which "passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity". "The spectacle is not a collection of images," Debord writes. "rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images."

Wikipedia
Society of the Spectacle

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It has been shown that concepts borrow their material from knowledge of perception, and that therefore the whole structure of our world of thought rests on the world of perceptions.

It must therefore be possible for us to go back from every concept, even if through intermediate stages, to the perceptions from which it has itself been directly drawn, or from which have been drawn the concepts of which it is in turn an abstraction.

In other words, it must be possible for us to verify the concept with perceptions that stand to abstractions in the relation of examples. Therefore these perceptions furnish us with the real content of all our thinking, and wherever they are missing we have had in our heads not concepts but mere words.

[...] Actually all truth and all wisdom ultimately lie in perception; but unfortunately perception cannot be either retained or communicated.

[...] Therefore, as a rule, the man of the world cannot impart his accumulated truth and wisdom, but only practice it. He rightly comprehends everything that occurs, and decides what is conformable thereto.

That books do not take the place of experience, and that learning is no substitute for genius, are two kindred phenomena; their common ground is that the abstract can never take the place of the perceptive. Therefore books do not take the place of experience, because concepts always remain universal, and so do not reach down to the particular; yet it is precisely the particular that has to be dealt with in life.

In addition to this is the fact that all concepts are abstracted from the particular and perceptive of experience [...]

Wisdom proper is something intuitive, not something abstract. It does not consist in principles and ideas which a person carries round ready in his head, as results of his own or others' investigation; it is the whole way in which the world presents itself in his head.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.71, 74-5

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Rolling Thunder had explained at Council Grove that his training was experiential. In his first conversation with me he said that truth cannot be expressed verbally, that it can only be experienced [...]

"[...] You can't just sit down and talk about the truth. It doesn't work that way. You have to live it and be part of it and you might get to know it. I say you might. And it's slow and gradual and it don't come easy [...]"

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.37, 71

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Wow, so interesting to read this about Lady Gaga. I see her as the exact opposite of Ammachi, as the epitome of Kali Yuga, the dark mother, a post-modern Madonna accelerating Time Wave Zero with her cut up pastiche videos that flash image, image, image towards the breaking point of narrative and meaning.

I see her as the goddess of Hubbert’s Peak, epitomizing pop culture morphed into its final-last-gasp-stage attempt at meaning making before the entire material culture we live in collapses. I see an emaciated woman that mistakes fashion for femininity as she dwindles away. I see spectacle without substance, a consumable product of the Kali Yuga age.

[Poeting]
Comment on article 'Lada Gaga: The Visionary Rebirth of the Divine Mother Monster'

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You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"
You try so hard
But you don't understand
Just what you'll say
When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you say, "What's mine?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone?"
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones

[...]

You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read
It's well known
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones

[Bob Dylan]
'Ballad of a Thin Man'

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Close Enough to Touch

[...] the more time I spent in Ladakh, the more I came to realize the importance of scale. At first, I sought to explain the Ladakhis' laughter and absence of anger or stress in terms of their values and religion. These did, no doubt, play an important role. But gradually I became aware that the external structures shaping the society, scale in particular, were just as important. They had a profound effect on the individual and in turn reinforced his or her beliefs and values.

Since villages are rarely larger than a hundred houses, the scale of life is such that people can directly experience their mutual interdependence. They have an overview and can comprehend the structures and networks of which they are a part, seeing the effects of their actions and thus feeling a sense of responsibility. And because their actions are more visible to others, they are more easily held accountable.

Economic and political interactions are almost always face to face; buyer and seller have a personal connection, a connection that discourages carelessness or deceit. As a result, corruption or abuse of power is very rare.

Smaller scale also limits the amount of power vested in one individual. What a difference between the president of a nation-state and the goba in a Ladakhi village; one has power over several millions of people whom he will never meet and who will never have the opportunity to speak to him; the other coordinates the affairs of a few hundred people whom he knows intimately, and who interact with him on a daily basis.

In the traditional Ladakhi village, people have much control over their own lives. To a very great extent they make their own decisions rather than being at the mercy of faraway, inflexible bureaucracies and fluctuating markets. The human scale allows for spontaneous decision making and action based on the needs of the particular context. There is no need for rigid legislation; instead, each situation brings forth a new response.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.50-1