“It’s the end of the world as we know it! It’s the end of the world as we know it!” Things were looking pretty good when REM declared they felt fine about it. Times have changed, though, and not as many people are feeling all that cheerful.
I just stumbled across a Reuters Mayan calendar poll that says an incredible 15% of the people in the world believe the end of the world will come in their lifetimes and a full 10% believe it will happen in 2012, the Year of the Mayan Calendar. I’m not going to argue about the merits/lack-of-merits of the Mayan calendar debate: it’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that so many people are feeling so pessimistic.
Scratching a little deeper beneath the surface of the poll, a whopping 22% of Americans believe in the 2012 apocalypse story. Of that 22%, the majority are under the age of 35. That’s a big chunk of younger Americans. Why are they all feeling so pessimistic? Karen Gottfried, the research manager at the company that conducted the poll for Reuters, offered this explanation:
“Perhaps it is because of the media attention coming from one interpretation of the Mayan prophecy that states the world ‘ends’ in our calendar year 2012,”
That’s a pretty lame excuse, if you ask me. Nobody would be paying any attention to an ancient Mayan prophecy if there was no reason for taking it seriously. Perhaps the real reason for all the pessimism has something to do with the breakdown of belief in capitalism. Maybe it has something to do with 9/11 and the niggling feeling that something’s not right about the official explanation. Perhaps Americans aren’t so sure their country is a force for good in the world. Maybe they don’t like being treated like puppets by corporate America. Maybe the rhetoric about America being a democracy “of the people, for the people and by the people” is starting to have a hollow ring. In other words, maybe they can see the impending end of the world as they know it and extrapolate from there.
It can’t be just the financial mess America is in. France is doing it tougher and only 6% of that population believes the end is nigh. Great Britain is a mess, but only 8% of Brits buy the 2012 apocalypse line. Nope, America and Turkey are tied for most paranoid (or clued in?), followed closely by South Africa and Argentina. There must be a connection there. You figure it out.
REM released It’s the End of the World as We Know It in 1987. Check out the happy young faces at this 1990′s concert. Most of them are still under 35. If the Reuters poll is anything to go by, as many as a third of them or more are no longer smiling. That’s depressing:
That’s great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane -
Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn -
world serves its own needs, regardless of your own needs. . . . . .
The past few weeks haven’t exactly been good ones for me. They haven’t been all that bad, either, but they’ve been bad enough for me to come up with the title of this blog, My Slough of Despond.
Christian in the Slough of Despond by William Blake
It started with a flu that happened to coincide with a downturn in work. At the same time my flu degenerated into a reasonably bad case of bronchitis, members of my family started falling ill and a neighbour suddenly died. All of these events put an enormous strain on my limited income and made me wonder, once again, how I’m ever going to be able to provide for my Cambodian family indefinitely.
On a more global scale, I read about how the fallout from Fukushima is much worse than has been reported and have watched the rhetoric for war in Syria, Iran and Central Africa pick up speed. Here in Cambodia, a Chinese company is turning a large chunk of virgin rainforest and turning it into a city sized resort/casino and a Cambodian rubber baron is destroying another swathe of land in Ratanakiri.
I didn’t write a post last week because I was just too depressed. On Sunday, my title came to me, but stuck in the slough as I was, I couldn’t get beyond it. Looking for inspiration this morning, I googled ‘slough of despond’ and discovered that I’m not the only one who is feeling or has felt this way.
My first search took me to the transcript of a podcast written in 2006 on a blog simply called Shane’s Pages. This is how it begins:
Do you still listen to or watch the news or have you given up in despair? Do you often have a real sense of foreboding and unease? Do you find yourself staring off into space wondering what our world is becoming? If you do, you’re not alone.
A little further along, Shane says:
We hear, read or watch the suffering of innocent civilians caught up in somebody else’s war and identify with them. We cheer on the aid workers and medical and relief teams as they do their work in trying to alleviate the suffering. At the same time we watch, read or hear about the importation of more weapons at another port that will, in a few short hours, be used to inflict more carnage in the innocents. All this is information is thrown at us and in some way we try and cope.
Had the page title not simply been August 2006 #1, I would have thought it had been written yesterday.
Shane, who sounds like a really interesting guy, by the way, went on to say something spookily relevant to my personal slough of despond.
While waking up to the news of a child who will forever wear the scars of her ripped face due to some bullshit masculinity which deems keeping animals bred to kill in your backyard as a rational thing to do, you overhear the waking whimper of your own children and wonder if its luck, genetics or just good timing that separates you from parent of the other child.
Fortunately, the story is not quite as tragic here, but another source of frustration and despondency for me and my neighbours has been the pit bull some idiot brought over from America. After killing two street dogs, the neighbours asked him to destroy his dog before it attacked a child, but he refused on the grounds that it was an expensive dog.
That story has a “happy” ending. Even though he promised to keep it enclosed or on a lead, he continued to take it out for exercise and it was hit by a car the other day.
The next place I looked for the slough of despond was in images. I found this one by Wm. Blake on a blog called this Public Address. Interestingly (to me), the author is also a woodworker as I was and still am inside and also likes Stickley furniture. There was no text with the image, but on the home page, I came across an excerpt from an interview with artist Jim Dine, who says:
Yes, that’s the running thread—the alchemical aspect of it—turning shit into gold, hopefully. That’s always been my intention.
Last week, my daughter Chloe brought my attention to Kony 2012, a documentary about the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. The documentary has gone viral and has brought Kony into the public spotlight for the first time. However, Kony and his army have not been active for years and it’s only recently that the United States has decided to do something about it. Is it a case of “better late than never” or is there something sinister behind it?
Edward Bernays believed that society could not be trusted to make rational and informed decisions on their own, and that guiding public opinion was essential within a democratic society. Bernays founded the Council on Public Relations and his 1928 book, Propaganda cites the methodology used in the application of effective emotional communication.
He then goes on to examine why the video may be part of a propaganda campaign aimed towards garnering “mainstream acceptance of US presence in Africa through a proposed archipelago of AFRICOM military bases in the region.” He questions the necessity of such bases with lines like this:
According to Invisible Children’s own LRA Crisis Tracker, not a single case of LRA activity has been reported in Uganda since 2006.
I’ll leave it to you to read the article if you choose to do so. I definitely recommend reading it before or after watching Kony 2012.
I like to wrap up my posts with something positive, but I’m still in the slough of despond and nothing’s coming to me. How do you turn the “shit” that’s happening in the world into gold? I suppose you can get all your information from CNN and CNBC and believe that the world’s only superpower and its allies are engaging in “humanitarian intervention” and that an “economy recovery” is occurring. Maybe you can pin your hopes on the outcome of the next election or the one after that. I can’t, but maybe you can.
Right now, I’m pinning my hopes on karma. The man’s pit bull was killed by the car and no longer threatens our neighbourhood. Was it a random accident, divine intervention or karma?
Christian dragged out of the slough of despond by Help - Wm Blake
Of course, seeking karmic vengeance when you feel otherwise hopeless is a pretty pathetic way to feel hope, but right now it’s hard for me to “love everybody” as Neem Karoli Baba suggested we do. I think I’ll take my readers’ advice and finish My Guru Who is Not My Guru pages and see what happens. Thanks for your words of encouragement, everyone. That’s a story that’s worth telling and one of the few that only I can tell. I promise, I’ll do it this week.
In the meantime, this cover of Nirvana’s Come as You Are by Malaysian artist Yuna definitely helped restore my faith in some parts of humanity. Thanks, Chloe, for helping me out of the slough by recommending it.
At the beginning of this post I promised you a possible way to end the battle of the (individual) brains. Well, here it is. I try to make it a point to insert “in my opinion” in all my, well, opinions, no matter how dear to my heart they are. For example, it hurts when I stub my toe and I form a firm opinion that the stone is a more solid object than my toe and is therefore able to hurt me. However, as Einstein pointed out, “Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” On a molecular level, there isn’t much substance to either my toe or a stone.
Well, I think there’s a problem with that theory. Thanks to Rowdy Mason, I was led to explore Robert Anton Wilson and Eprime a little bit. In Toward Understanding Eprime, RAW writes: “A revision of language structure, in particular, can alter the brain as dramatically as a psychedelic.” I can attest to that, because when I started replacing “facts” (or ‘to be’ verbs’) with the more open-ended “in my opinion,” worlds of possibility opened up and “miracles” became more commonplace in my life (really!). However, I also started to become a little bit wishy-washy.
In the same post, I wrote: “For example, it hurts when I stub my toe and I form a firm opinion that the stone is a more solid object than my toe and is therefore able to hurt me. However, as Einstein pointed out, ‘Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.’ On a molecular level, there isn’t much substance to either my toe or a stone.” When I stub my toe, it hurts, no matter what my opinion about the ultimate reality of stones and toes may be. It would be foolhardy (notice ‘be’ word) of me to say to myself, “This seems to hurt” and kick it again, while holding the thought that “matter is (another ‘to be’ factoid) an illusion” firmly in mind in hopes that my toe would pass harmlessly through the stone. With enough re-programming, I believe that is a possibility, but after a lifetime of stubbed toes, starting from the time I learned to walk, I apparently have become too firmly convinced that matter is solid.
In order to function, we make some fundamental assumptions and behave as if they were “facts.” Prior to 9/11, I operated on the assumption that the United States, while deeply flawed, was fundamentally a society based on humane values. Since then, I’ve increasingly formed the opinion that it is an “Evil Empire” hell-bent on achieving world dominance and dominance by the few at the expense of the many. In the past year, I’ve formed the opinion that if there is a chance at all for America to redeem itself, that chance is Ron Paul. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever backed a Presidential candidate and I’ve never voted. While I’ve kept my opinion open-ended enough to allow for debate, no one yet has convinced me to change that point of view.
I’m sure Ron Paul is as flawed a human being as any, but he represents positive change almost as profoundly as Gandhi or Martin Luther King did. As Paul Craig Roberts recently wrote in America’s Last Chance, “he is the only candidate who is not owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military-security complex, Wall Street, and the Israel Lobby.” He goes on to say that even in the unlikely event that he was elected, he would be prevented from implementing any of his policies, but that he should be backed and, if possible, elected anyway. This is why:
The reason we should vote for Ron Paul is to signal to the powers that be that we understand what they are doing to us. If Paul were to receive a large vote, it could have two good effects. One could be to introduce some caution into the establishment that would slow the march into more war and tyranny. The other is it would signal to Washington’s European and Japanese puppets that not all Americans are stupid sheep. Such an indication could make Washington’s puppet states more cautious and less cooperative with Washington’s drive for world hegemony.
So, while I still believe that all our opinions should be taken with a grain of salt, there are times when firmly standing behind our opinions becomes vitally important. I welcome voices of dissent, but if you’re an American living in America, I’d like you to look beyond domestic issues to the bigger picture and realise that the President you elect has an effect on all of us. If we all had a vote, I am almost certain that Ron Paul would win by a landslide because he is the only candidate telling America to stop messing with the rest of the world. Also, please read America’s Last Chance before commenting. Thanks.
Who is this guy?
Okay, I’ve stated my opinion. Now I can go back to being a cosmic schmuck for a little while. By the way, there’s no reason why the pyramids couldn’t have been built by master craftsmen who spotted a few curious aliens while they were working. That would be one explanation for this very alien looking creature.
I’m really pleased with myself this morning. In my last post, my primary point was to suggest that, in so many words, if we put our heads together cooperatively, we could come up with solutions to problems. I used a couple of examples to illustrate my primary point, which was that in nature we see examples of brilliant engineering and cooperation towards reaching a desired goal without having to sit down and work it out on paper, whereas, it seems to me, we humans have become a fractured species.
I also wrote about the building of the pyramids. I knew that by putting forward the aliens argument I was heading for trouble and wrote:
When you read that I found it more plausible that aliens helped make the pyramids above, did you heartily agree with me, laugh and cancel your subscription to my newsletter or something in between? Had it been something in between, we could have started a dialogue.
Well, my two comments illustrate what I was getting at perfectly. In the first one, Neil Slade took the time to rationally explain another, even more rational solution to the aliens-in-charge theory. In the second one, a reader just whipped out a couple of insulting sentences, calling me a “cosmic schmuck.”
One thing I did leave out of my argument was an interesting tidbit about the building of the pyramids that I read someplace and that was that graffiti has been found etched in some of the stones. The graffiti strongly suggests that the builders of the pyramids were not slaves, but willing and enthusiastic workers working together towards a common goal.
As for the comment about the “great Anton Wilson”: yes, he’s a really interesting guy, but I’m not sure that putting him on a pedestal and suggesting that he would have sent me a searing rebuttal is the best way to go about making your point. The “great” Alfred Korzybski, who came up with the system that’s come to be known as general semantics, suggested something very similar to what I suggest about “in my opinion.” This is how they put it in the Wikipedia entry about him:
His system included modifying the way we consider the world, e.g., with an attitude of “I don’t know; let’s see,” to better discover or reflect its realities as revealed by modern science. One of these techniques involved becoming inwardly and outwardly quiet, an experience that he termed, “silence on the objective levels”.
Anyway, in my opinion, Neil Slade gets an A+ for his comment while Rowdy Mason gets a D-.
I really don’t know where to begin this post or how to write it convincingly. I know I’m going to insult some people and will get the usual baseless rebuttals, but I’ve been commenting on these issues long enough now that one thing I’m convinced of is that in spite of Occupy Wall Street, the relative success of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and other good signs, Americans in general are still in denial of or oblivious to the facts about their country.
Instead of writing a lengthy thesis and presenting facts that have been presented brilliantly elsewhere, this post is mainly a list of links. So, without further ado, here they are:
On 9/11: This is the latest and best out of a long list of articles that demolish the official account of the events of 911. For me, 911 represents a deception that must be exposed if you want to have a ghost of a chance of waking up:
I lived most of my adult life believing Gaddafi was a tyrant and a buffoon. That didn’t stop me from being appalled by the invasion of Libya by the United States and its puppet allies. I was equally appalled by Obama’s calling it “humanitarian intervention” when even a close look at what was being presented on CNN made it obvious that civilian targets were being destroyed and that it was not a popular revolution. It seems that I, too, got suckered by the mainstream media’s portrayal (caricaturisation?) of Gaddafi:
Do you feel all warm and fuzzy when you buy a pink ribbon on Breast Cancer Awareness Week? For about 20 years, I fell for all these Cancer fund raisers. Then I began to wonder why no progress was being made and why chemotherapy was still the “treatment” of choice. It took another ten years for it to sink in that the reason was simple: a cancer cure would cost the industry billions. Then I started looking into the subject and discovered that many of those “quack cures” are actually natural therapies that work. Here’s an article by Mike Adams about breast cancer:
Add up the evidence and it’s not a very pretty picture. By all means, do your own research and come to your own conclusions. My biggest complaint about Americans is that we so blindly accept what our authority figures tell us. I’ve been as guilty of that as anyone. Doctors, some Democrats, the odd spiritual guru and academics were a few of my trusted authority figures. Who are some of yours?
As you have probably noticed, I’ve added a sticky post at the top of my home page. It currently includes links to two of my favourite affiliate sites. Right now I want to introduce you to Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. I’ve joined The Natural News Store affiliate program because I’ve been following his newsletter and blog for some time now and trust his integrity.
The quote below is from his recent article, The top ten signs that you might be a zombie. I happen to be a big Ron Paul fan because, like David Icke, Mike Adams and a few others, he sticks with his convictions regardless of their affect on his popularity. Now that the public is waking up at least a little bit, perhaps his time has finally come. I’m not as keen on Occupy Wall Street. Although I like the message, the movement has no cohesion and therefore, in the short term at least, has no real teeth. With an election looming, I believe Ron Paul is the only practical hope for America and by extension the world.
Anyway, I’m not here to dictate to you. Read the whole article and see what you think.
Sign #9: If you find yourself rooting for any presidential candidate other than Ron Paul, you’re probably a political zombieRon Paul is the only Presidential candidate who has offered a genuine balanced budget all the other candidates want to keep spending us into financial oblivion. Ron Paul is the only Presidential candidate who stands firmly for health freedom, ending prohibition against medical marijuana, legalizing the farming of industrial hemp, and allowing nutritional supplement companies to make accurate, scientifically-validated health claims for their products. All the other candidates are just corporate puppets who have nothing to offer America other than a continuation of the problems that have driven our nation into economic and political turmoil.To vote for Romney, Perry, Cain or even Obama is to mindlessly vote for continuing the same broken system of puppet Presidents who answer to their corporate globalist masters just like Bush.
Here’s another article I came across, this time on Reddit. Mike Adams doesn’t make the distinction between different types of zombies or “sheeple”. This article mentions what I find to be the most annoying ones of all. I couldn’t help but add this to my growing collection of articles on the subject. Please read the whole segment, if not the whole article. It may even be better than Mike’s.
The ‘Quasi-Intellectual’ Sheeple:
My favorite kind of sheeple. These people hold themselves in very high esteem. Some even see themselves as part of the elite (though most of them are not). Normally from the “professional class”, they often hold positions as Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers, Investors, Professors, Scientists, etc, though some have not yet left the university setting, and are simply getting a head start on their superiority complex.
Note: this is a rejigged version of a post I wrote a couple of years ago:
Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man is my all-time favourite song. I heard it for the first time in about 1964 or ’65, when my sister Laraine was on a Spring break from college. It was her second semester of college, I think, and after a stifling youth in the conservative suburb of Manhattan Beach, California, she was still on a high (in more ways than one) from the liberation that comes from leaving the family nest for the first time.One evening, she dug out a 45rpm and set up our “portable” record player. It weighed a ton, but was pretty high tech for its day. She told me to lie down, close my eyes and just listen to the words. At that time of my life, I was a pretty shallow character, but I looked up to Laraine because she was the brains in the family, so I complied with her request.I think I must have listened to that song a dozen times that night and every time I did, it had the same magical effect. For the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to be transported. I’m not going to spoil the song for you or for me by analyzing it, but here is one of my favorite stanzas:
Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow
When Dylan went electric, many of his fans were appalled. While I was personally disappointed, I wasn’t appalled. It seemed to me like he was simply doing what he wanted to do at the time. Yes, I was critical and agreed with the general consensus that he had “sold out”, but it was his choice to make, not mine. Nothing of the magic of his early work was lost to me, but I quit looking for inspiration from him for decades.
I often return to those early Bob Dylan songs and for me they remain as magical as ever. I often wonder where the inspiration for them came. Apparently so does he. Here’s something I found in Great Inspirational Quotes:
“I don’t know how I got to write those songs. Those early songs were almost magically written.”
This is highly relevant to me today as I contemplate trying to find something to say about the big news online today: Occupy Wall Street. Something about it has been bugging me from the beginning. On the one hand, I sympathise with them. On the other hand, their herd-like behaviour disturbs me. I’ve watched dozens of video clips and three things creep me out the most:
The repetition of what is being said.
The “consensus” rule that decides who will be allowed to speak.
The collective high.
I saw all of that happen in the sixties, when my generation rebelled against the “establishment” only to become an establishment of our own. I learned this when I decided to cut my hair to make travel through the Middle East easier for me in 1970. Suddenly I wasn’t acceptable to my hippy culture any more. This wasn’t universally the case, but I certainly learned from the experience.
As time passed, so did the hippy era. Some clung to their ideals, but most got re-assimilated into the establishment. For the most part, those who embraced the American “ideals” of greed and selfishness the most were those who had embraced the hippy movement most ardently. Yes, while it was “cool” to do so, they passionately opposed the Vietnam War (especially those who were threatened by the draft) and called each other “brother” and “sister”, but it wasn’t long before the threat of military induction passed and “brotherhood” became an empty word.
I get the feeling that if today’s “establishment” wanted to bring OWS to a quick close, it could easily be done by offering the protesters jobs on Wall Street. Like the fear of the draft, most of them are driven by fear, not ideals. I hope I’m wrong and will be proven to be a cynical old man, but if you’ve ever seen a herd of sheep change direction out of fear or the promise of food, only to be sheered or slaughtered, you’d see what I mean. Why do I think this? It’s because so many of them were suckered into their college loans by the promise of high paying jobs and only got angry when the jobs weren’t forthcoming. Give them a job and they’ll go away and leave you free to rape and pillage again.
I’m going to close with a few more Bob Dylan quotes and a brief comment:
Everything passes. Everything changes. Just do what you think you should do.
I define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be.
I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They are both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.
Another Bob Dylan song that I love is “The Times They Are a’Changin’”. At that time, I believed his words, but time proved Dylan (and me) wrong. Most of our generation was assimilated by the system and America returned to its greedy, war mongering ways. I like to hope that this time change will occur, but I don’t think it’s going to occur on Wall Street.
I just googled “manifesting abundance” and took a look at some of the blogs and websites devoted to the subject. The first thing I noticed was that they all contained the same New Age buzzwords. They talk about the fact that we live in a vibrational universe, that with positive thinking we can achieve our dreams and that by tapping into the universal Law of Attraction, we can draw wealth into our lives. In other words, in the parlance of the abundance gurus, spirituality is equated with wealth. It follows, therefore, that one can ascertain another’s level of spiritual advancement by their level of wealth.
The All-Seeing Eye of the Illuminati
The Illuminati are said to be the wealthiest people on the planet. Who are the Illuminati? Some call them the Economic Elite. Others call them the Shadow Government. Call them what you like, they are the small fraction of the world’s population that pulls our economic and social strings.
If “money is energy” as the New Age gurus suggest, the Illuminati have actually created money out of thin air and alchemically transformed it into fantastic wealth and power. They are therefore the most “spiritual” individuals on earth.
Enlightenment is another one of those words that means different things to different people. It can be interpreted in the sense of the Age of Enlightenment, when the printing press brought intellectual “enlightenment” to the masses and materialism began to replace blind faith in religious authority. Others define it as spiritual enlightenment. The broadest definition of the word includes anything that illuminates consciousness.
Click image for details about David Icke's Australia/New Zealand tour
Seen in this broader context, the Illuminati are by definition enlightened. If that’s the case, we should all happily pay tithes to them and seek to emulate them in our own lives. In America, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing since the time of the Founding Fathers. I think it’s time we re-examined our values and priorities.
Rather than waste my time or yours with more words, I’ll let you watch this David Icke video. I think David Icke understands what’s been going on in the world at all levels of consciousness better than most. This video is what inspired this post and really the only reason for my teaser title was to get you to watch it, so please do. Thanks.
Addendum: skeptopathy, “Pathological skepticism; an irrational belief that a phenomenon must be false merely because it is unusual” may have been a better word to discuss than cognitive dissonance, because some of those I write about below do not experience cognitive dissonance. They have resolved any cognitive dissonance with their irrational beliefs. Cognitive dissonance, though uncomfortable, is, in my opinion, a lot healthier. I learned the word here.
The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs for behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance. (source: About.com)
I experienced a bout of cognitive dissonance in the weeks and months following September 11, 2001, as did millions of others. What I struggled with was the dissonance between what the experts said and what I observed:
The official story was that the planes caused the collapse of the Twin Towers and, a little later, Building 7.
What I observed, as the footage became available, was the Twin Towers collapsing on their footprint and, even more incredibly, Building 7 collapsing on its footprint.
I am not an engineer or demolitions expert, so I had no way of reconciling these opposing beliefs until engineers and demolitions experts began to corroborate my suspicions. To be fair, not all of them agreed. As Wikipedia states:
Published reports and articles by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the magazine Popular Mechanics, and the mainstream media have rejected the 9/11 conspiracy theories. The civil engineering establishment generally accepts that the impacts of jet aircraft at high speeds in combination with subsequent fires, rather than controlled demolition, led to the collapse of the Twin Towers. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9/11_conspiracy_theories)
The problem for me lies in these words: “civil engineering establishment.” The civil engineering establishment includes only those engineers who accept the theory that the impacts plus the fires could have resulted in the freefall collapse of the buildings onto their footprints. Those civil engineers who sincerely doubted that line immediately became “conspiracy theorists.”
The subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, along with too many other revelations finally led to the resolution of my cognitive dissonance. I became a “conspiracy theorist” and remain one to this day.
I didn’t label it as such, but I alluded to another example of cognitive dissonance in my recent post, Why Does Science Have a Problem with Near Death Experiences. In my opinion, scientists and the medical establishment have way too much at stake in their belief systems to be trustworthy sources of information about anything that might shake us out of our materialistic trance. Just this morning I came across a fascinating video about an Indian yogi, Prahlad Jahni, who has not eaten or taken liquid in 70 years. He has been exhaustively tested and there is virtually no chance that he is a fake. The first four minutes of the video below provide the evidence you need.
The rest of the video comes from a 2006 Discovery Channel show about the Nepalese “Buddha Boy.” Like Prahlad Jahni, the Buddha Boy did not eat or drink and was seen to spontaneously combust (catch on fire). They point out that spontaneous human combustion is rare, but it happens. They failed to mention, though, that nobody else has emerged from it unscathed, as the Buddha Boy apparently did.
When I was in India in 1970-71, I saw some blatant fakes, but I also experienced at least one completely inexplicable “miracle.” Nonetheless, I’ve remained skeptical of most claims, especially when there is money at stake. I don’t know what to make of the Buddha Boy, but I found some of the comments of one medical expert amusing; especially this one:
it’s very difficult when you have that belief that you have an individual who has transcended our normal biological needs of foods and fluid, it’s very hard to reject that if you truly believe it.
What I found amusing was her contention that those poor ignorant Nepalese who believed in the Buddha Boy were the only ones with a threatened belief system. She kept coming up with “scientific” explanations for his ability to sit inside his tree hollow meditating, but without apparently eating and drinking well beyond our known human ability to survive without food or water. They were all sound enough theories for you or me, who would surely die, but they didn’t account for Prahlad Jahni, who had been rigorously observed and tested. Did they account for the Buddha Boy, whose minders refused to allow him to be medically examined?
The 2006 Discovery Channel video has a cliffhanger ending. The Buddha Boy disappears. Was he seeking solitude or was he kidnapped? Wanting to know the answer, I googled his name and learned that he was found a year or so later. He apparently had just left on his own, possibly seeking solitude. One thing that seems apparent is that he had nothing to do with all the hoopla surrounding him, yet the skeptics have been out in force, calling him a charlatan, while others seem to be cashing in on his “holiness.”
Make of it all what you will, my only point is that cognitive dissonance is part of the human condition. We like certainty. The trouble is, we can’t always have it. We’re too dumb. What works for me is to be compassionately aware of my stupidity and open my mind and heart to the vastness of the possibilities. Some of those possibilities, such as the most plausible facts about 9/11, are unpleasant ones, while others open “doors of perception” too awesome and beautiful for our poor little mechanical brains to comprehend.
For what it’s worth, I believe that consciousness, when set free from the constraints of the earthbound brain, is infinite and capable of anything. But that’s a subject for another blog.
This blog has taken a turn in recent weeks as I write about social issues. When I began A Cookbook of Consciousness, it was in order to share my thoughts about higher states of consciousness. I was working on Sea of Joy at the time and was tired of keeping my thoughts to myself.
After Obama was elected, I assumed that America would back off its imperialistic ambitions and focus on fixing the U.S. economy. Like so many others, I was wrong. This, and the writing of The Curse of the Internet, led me to take an interest in politics and economics. The more I learned, the more upset I became. Although I’m just another voice crying in the cyberspace wilderness, I felt like I had to express my views on the important issues facing us today. In essence, I became an activist. I was a reluctant one, though, because in the past, I believed that spirituality and social activism didn’t mix. I’ve changed my mind.
Ram Dass and Friends
A minor miracle helped make my mind up. When I opened my email last week, an old newsletter from the Ram Dass Love, Serve, Remember Foundation miraculously opened. I say miraculously because it simply opened by itself. It contained this quote by Ram Dass:
You use the things that are on your plate, that are presented to you. So that relationships, economics, psychodynamics—all of these become grist for the mill of awakening. They all are part of your curriculum.
At that moment in time, I was having second thoughts about my decision to take on the responsibilities I’ve taken on in the past five years. I used to live a quiet, almost hermetic life and lived in an almost constant meditative state. Since moving to Cambodia, I have had to confront life head-on as I face the challenges of life here. Had I abandoned the spiritual life? That miraculous email, which I had only cursorily read the first time I saw it, convinced me that I had not.
I’ve been taking a lot of time off of my regular writing assignments to read and write about the social issues that face us today. You’d have to be blind not to notice that we’re on the edge of an economic and, more importantly, political precipice. I’m well aware that I don’t have a following, but also strongly feel the need to express my views. Is my foray into activism just a waste of time?
Although it isn’t as spectacularly miraculous as having an old email spontaneously open, this morning a new Ram Dass “Words of Wisdom” quote came to my inbox. This is what it said, in part:
does working on yourself have anything to do with whether you protest, march, drop out, drop in? No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with that, because at any moment you are consciousness involved in a nature package
Let me make it clear: Ram Dass is not my guru. I met him when I was in India. We both were drawn to the same guru – Neem Karoli Baba, the “guru who is not my guru.” However, in these two instances, at least, I believe that Maharaj-ji was speaking to me through Ram Dass. I am at peace with myself again. Acuun Trann (thank you), Ram Dass. I don’t have words to express my gratitude to Neem Karoli Baba. That’s okay. He knows what’s inside my heart.