Sunday, July 31, 2011

Love Confusion

"Nobody knows you.
You don't know yourself.
And I, who am half in love with you,
What am I in love with?
My own imaginings?"

- D. H. Lawrence


I live, but I am not living.


The voices seldom venture outside.

Body is the tomb of soul,

for now.

The wolf howls at the moon.

The moon never howls back.

Is it listening?

- Teddy Grahams -

Friday, July 29, 2011

The True Meaning Of "100% Orange Juice"

"Making OJ should be pretty simple. Pick oranges. Squeeze them. Put the juice in a carton and voilà!

But actually, there is an important stage in between that is an open secret in the OJ industry. After the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and, critically, the oxygen is removed from them. That essentially allows the liquid to keep (for up to a year) without spoiling– but that liquid that we think of as orange juice tastes nothing like the Tropicana OJ that comes out of the carton. To bring the flavor back in, the company adds 'flavor packs':
When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor. Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate. Flavor packs fabricated for juice geared to these markets therefore highlight different chemicals, the decanals say, or terpene compounds such as valencine."
- Entire Blog Post: 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thomas Berry, "Religion in the Global Human Community"

"Still, the entire dynamics of the modern world is, to an increasing degree, throwing people and societies together in close exterior proximity but without the capacity for interior communication. This failure to communicate interior human realities is the main difficulty we face. Formerly, peoples and traditions met on a limited scale, with limited personal contact, but within a fundamentally human and religious order of life. Now, communication has been intensified on the exterior without satisfactory deepening within: thus the reduction of human relations to economic, political, and social orders, with an overlay of aesthetic and the spiritual. It may seem rather distant to speak about interreligious hermeneutics in such a context, but certainly we will need to interpret our deeper selves to one another if the human venture is to meet the challenges of the future for cultural and ecological survival."

- Thomas Berry, The Sacred Universe

TED Talk: Synthetic Happiness

Fascinating stuff.

"Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our 'psychological immune system' lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned."

Saturated Fats Are Not Bad For You: A Comprehensive Overview

Vegetable oils are much more
dangerous than butter or beef tallow.

This article explains saturated fat, a type of fat that the USDA has tragically classified as unhealthy.

Media Monopoly

So remind me again why I should trust anything in the mainstream media?

Source:  Media Source Information Center

The Real MyPlate

Something just about all nutrition-conscious individuals can agree on, from paleo dieters to vegans.

GMO Boycott


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Bright Perspective

"I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me."

- Sir Thomas Browne

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chris Hedges, Paradoxical Progress

"Our faith in the inevitability of human progress constitutes an inability to grasp the tragic nature of history. Human history is one of constant conflict between the will to power and the will to nurture and protect life. Our greatest achievements are always intertwined with our greatest failures. Our most exalted accomplishments are always coupled with our most egregious barbarities. Science and industry serve as instruments of progress as well as instruments of destruction. The Industrial Age has provided feats of engineering and technology, yet it has also destroyed community, spread the plague of urbanization, uprooted us all, turned human beings into cogs and made possible the total war and wholesale industrial killing that has marked the last century. These technologies, even as we see them as our salvation, are rapidly destroying the ecosystem on which we depend for life."

Entire Essay:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Forest Within

"This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed."

- D. H. Lawrence

"Waking Life" (2001)

"Waking Life is about an unnamed young man in a persistent lucid dream-like state. He initially observes and later participates in philosophical discussions of issues such as reality, free will, the relationship of the subject with others, and the meaning of life. Along the way the film touches on other topics including existentialism, situationist politics, posthumanity, the film theory of André Bazin, and lucid dreaming itself."

This is one of the deepest, most abstract films I have ever seen.


“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.”

- William Shedd -

Friday, July 22, 2011

Soul Burn

There is a price to be paid when you dance around the fire with your shadow.  

People will be drawn to you.  There will not be many, but the ones that do--those courageous individuals--they will show you their scars, their burn scars.  Can you handle this?  Can you balance safety, guidance, and love?  Might you simply add more scars to their already burnt-up souls?  Might you go through so much a difficulty to prevent this, that you end up burning yourself instead?  

Burn, you will.  You will get burnt badly.  Over and over again, each time in a differently similar way.  And who is to say the others will not get burnt just as much?

Playing with matches is dangerous, but it hasn't stopped me yet.  Why should it? To be fireless is to be dead.  

Even so, take heed:  Beware the fire.  There are great risks involved.

You have been warned.

- Teddy Grahams

The Many Benefits Of Smiling

How could a blog titled "Grandfather Smiles" NOT post this video?  It would be insane!



"They were so strong in their beliefs that there came a time when it hardly mattered what exactly those beliefs were; they all fused into a single stubbornness."

- Louise Erdrich

Terence Mckenna Explains Institutions

What exactly am I? How have I been deceived by my culture, by these "institutions"? Terence offers an explanation in this video.

Relating With Others

"Differently than before, he now looked upon people, less smart, less proud, but instead warmer, more curious, more involved. When he ferried travelers of the ordinary kind, childlike people, businessmen, warriors, women, these people did not seem alien to him as they used to: he understood them, he understood and shared their life, which was not guided by thoughts and insight, but solely by urges and wishes, he felt like them. Though he was near perfection and was bearing his final wound, it still seemed to him as if those childlike people were his brothers, their vanities, desires for possession, and ridiculous aspects were no longer ridiculous to him, became understandable, became lovable, even became worthy of veneration to him."

- Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse

The Chronicles Of Domination

"What we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument."

- C. S. Lewis -

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Johann Johannsson

This work is a paradox.  It is somber and dark, uplifting and joyous.  It is life.  It is love.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Attunement, Love, And Life

"The body is like an earth.  It is a land unto itself.  It is as vulnerable to overbuilding, being carved into parcels, cut off, overmined, and shorn of its power as any landscape.  The wilder woman will not be easily swayed by redevelopment schemes.  For her, the questions are not how to form but how to feel.  The breast in all its shapes has the function of feeling and feeding.  Does it feed?  Does it feel?  It is a good breast.

The hips, they are wide for a reason, inside them is a satiny ivory cradle for new life.  A woman's hips are outriggers for the body above and below; they are portals, they are a lush cushion, the handholds for love, a place for children to hide behind.  The legs, they are meant to take us, sometimes to propel us; they are the pulleys that help us lift, they are the anillo, the ring for encircling a lover.  They cannot be too this or too that.  They are what they are.

There is no 'supposed to be' in bodies.  The question is not size of shape or years of age, or even having two of everything, for some do not.  But the wild issue is, does this body feel, does it have right connection to pleasure, to heart, to soul, to the wild?  Does it have happiness, joy?  Can it in its own way move, dance, jiggle, sway, thrust?  Nothing else matters."

- Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves

EPA Aims To Get Rid Of Fluoride In Pesticides

"On January 10, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed order to phase out sulfuryl fluoride, an insecticide and fumigant used on stored grain, such as wheat and oats; driedfruit; coffee and cocoa beans; and other foods. It is also used as a fumigation treatment on wooden structures, against termites and other wood-boring insects. If EPA’s plan becomes final,many food uses of this fluoride-based pesticide would stop within 90 days. A three-year phaseout period would be extended for certain applications, including dried nuts and fruits and spraying in food-processing facilities such as flour mills.

The Environmental Working Group strongly supports EPA’s proposed order. It reflects a growing consensus that the American public is exposed to excessive fluoride. For decades, public health agencies have erroneously reassured the public that fluoride is entirely safe. As a result, generations of children have been exposed to amounts of fluoride that could damage teethand bones and that emerging science indicates could harm thyroid function and increase risks ofbone cancer."

Article in its entirety:

This is a step in the right direction. Maybe next the EPA will recommend removing fluoride from municipal water.


"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief."

- Gary Spence

What Is In A McNugget?

The contents of Chicken McNuggets:
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning [autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid], sodium phosphates, natural flavor (botanical source). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, corn starch.
Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
As a side note, the sauces also have about 20 or 25 ingredients each.

Overall, this is very typical for most fast food items, or even processed foods from the grocery store, really.

Here is what Michael Pollan in The Omnivore's Dilemma has to say about just one of the ingredients in a McNugget:
But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to 'help preserve freshness.' According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause 'nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.' Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.
Source of ingredients:

Monday, July 18, 2011

John L. Petersen, "Transparent Love"

"It is hard to overstate the significance of this. From the time that we are born throughout all of our education, employment and partnering, a full-up set of social conventions are driven into our minds. Authorities and important people in our lives reinforce a core set of rules and guidelines and we observe what society does to those who don't conform. We call them quirky, crazy, unreliable, immoral, and insane. The system expects that you will live in fear of the social implications that will result if you don't follow the 'rules', either explicit or implicit.

Those rules -- and, with them, a social structure -- are what has given us the world we presently live in. It is axiomatic, therefore, that if you want to become enlightened or awake (or whatever you want to call your personal development) you will have to depart from the level of conventional beliefs and begin to think for yourself. If you don't, and instead keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting.

Here's the bottom-line presumption: the more love-light that illuminates your life, the better it will be. One way to state the purpose of life, then, is: to systematically eliminate the filters that hinder the ability of love to color all aspects of your life. Put another way: anything that hinders the proliferation of love must, by definition, be holding you back from what you can become.

There are two imperatives then, that must be put in place to become this new human: you must shed the conventional filters of fear-based rules that constrain the God-love light from fully illuminating all aspects of your life, and you must become an explorer, actively striking out into the relatively unfamiliar to find those new ideas and approaches that will allow you to become who you are next supposed to be.

'In the end
these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?'
- Siddhãrtha Gautama"

Essay in its entirety:

Thomas Edison, Health

"Doctors of the future will have less use for medicines of any kind. Instead, they will instruct patients in the proper care of the human mind and body through correct ways of eating, proper care of the human frame and the right attitude that facilitates healing of both the mind and body."

– Thomas Edison

Pill Poppin' Persuasion

“Judges do not hear cases in which they have a financial interest. Reporters do not write stories about companies in which they have a financial interest. By the same token, doctors should not have a financial interest in treatments they are evaluating, or accept gifts from the makers of drugs they prescribe.”

- Dr. Marcia Angell

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Spiritual "False Start" - Acting Too Soon

"There are two sides to the insight of integration, after all: both what is being integrated, and what it is being integrated into. Often we possess the former but not the latter. I may have a great insight into nothingness, for example, but if I think I'm integrating it into a real world, I'm still confused. Really getting emptiness (ayin, in Kabbalistic language) means really getting form (yesh) as well, seeing it as real, perhaps, but translucent, luminous, a dream in the mind of God. That is very different from 'I've had my experience of God and now I can bring it back to my everyday life.' Reading the best-selling Eat Pray Love, I had just this experience. Elizabeth Gilbert writes beautifully of her peak experiences in India, but seems to believe that the experiences are really 'once and for all' moments. That is, she gets it, she sees the Point, she's one with God -- and then she writes as if that insight will never fade. But all insights fade, and simply calling for integration is not enough. Peak experiences do change us permanently, at least in my own experience, and in what I've heard and read from others. But they don't flip a switch from off to on, and there's a lot of pressure to move back to the 'off' side of the sliding scale back in the conventional world. What's needed is not the threading of the peak experience into a pre-existing life pattern, but further work to create new and stronger threads that can then be woven in.

There are experiences, and then there are more experiences. The Kabbalists, the Hasidim, all schools of monastic Buddhism and Hinduism, Sufis, Christian mystics -- all of these emphasize that powerful experiences are but the entry point to even more powerful ones, and more crucially, the stage-changes that are so much more difficult than simple changes in mindstate. The point is not to get ever higher, like a dope fiend needing more and more junk to feel good. The point is to continue to burn away the illusion that you are a separate entity, to undermine the natural selfishness of the self through long and serious effort. Jumping too soon to 'integration,' which should come toward the end of the path, cuts one off from the possibility of these deeper experiences and changes in the self. It's like going to a high-end restaurant and leaving after the appetizer course. Pretty soon, you will get hungry, and will eat whatever's available."

- Jay Michaelson

Essay in its entirety:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Untamed Books Unite!

"Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack."

- Virginia Woolf

The Decline Of Deep Friendship At College

"I taught a class several years ago on the literature of friendship. One day we were discussing Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves, which follows a group of friends from childhood to middle age. In high school, one of them falls in love with another boy. He thinks, 'To whom can I expose the urgency of my own passion?…There is nobody—here among these grey arches, and moaning pigeons, and cheerful games and tradition and emulation, all so skilfully organised to prevent feeling alone.' A pretty good description of an elite college campus, including the part about never being allowed to feel alone. What did my students think of this, I wanted to know? What does it mean to go to school at a place where you’re never alone? Well, one of them said, 'I do feel uncomfortable sitting in my room by myself. Even when I have to write a paper, I do it at a friend’s.' That same day, as it happened, another student gave a presentation on Emerson’s essay on friendship. Emerson says, he reported, that one of the purposes of friendship is to equip you for solitude. As I was asking my students what they thought that meant, one of them interrupted to say, 'wait a second, why do you need solitude in the first place? What can you do by yourself that you can’t do with a friend?'

So there they were: one young person who had lost the capacity for solitude and another who couldn’t see the point of it. There’s been much talk of late about the loss of privacy, but equally calamitous is its corollary, the loss of solitude. It used to be that you couldn’t always get together with your friends even when you wanted to. Now that students are in constant electronic contact, they never have trouble finding each other. But it’s not as if their compulsive sociability is enabling them to develop deep friendships. 'To whom can I expose the urgency of my own passion?': my student was in her friend’s room writing a paper, not having a heart-to-heart. She probably didn’t have the time; indeed, other students told me they found their peers too busy for intimacy.

What happens when busyness and sociability leave no room for solitude? The ability to engage in introspection, I put it to my students that day, is the essential precondition for living an intellectual life, and the essential precondition for introspection is solitude. They took this in for a second, and then one of them said, with a dawning sense of self-awareness, 'So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?' Well, I don’t know. But I do know that the life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical, resistant mind at a time. The best place to cultivate it is not within an educational system whose real purpose is to reproduce the class system."

- William Deresiewicz

Essay in its entirety: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education


“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”

- Albert Einstein -

Artwork by Sue Tower

Surrendering To The Divine

"The inquiry is not to be approached in a spirit of conquest or arrogance with the intent to achieve victory over a force of nature, which has characterized man's approach to the problems of the material world, but rather with humility, in a spirit of utter surrender to Divine Will and absolute dependence on Divine Mercy, in the same frame of mind one would approach the flaming sun. There is no other way save this open to man to arrive at the solution of an otherwise impenetrable mystery of creation, no other way open to him to find out what path has been aligned for his progress by nature, no other way for him to know and recognize himself, and no other way to save himself from the awful consequence of conscious or unconscious violation of the mighty laws which rule his destiny. This is the only method to bridge the gulf at present yawning between science and religion, between warring political ambitions and idealogies, more deadly than the most virulent disease and more awful than all the epidemics combined, between religious faiths, races, nations, classes and finally between men. This is the immortal light, held aloft by nature from time immemorial to guide the faltering footsteps of erring humanity across the turns and twists, ups and downs, of the winding path of evolution, the light which shone in the prophets and sages of antiquity, which continues to shine in the men of genius and seers of today, and will continue to shine for all eternity, illuminating the vast amphitheatre of the universe for the marvellous, unending play of the eternal, almighty, queen of creation, life."

Gopi Krishna, Kundalini - The Evolutionary Energy In Man

Free PDF of the entire text:

Gorillas, Cows, and Evolutionary Biology: Debunking Fat Phobia

Artwork by Jennifer McCully 

Ruminants (cows, goats, etc.) are plant-eating herbivores.  They eat no meat, so their fat intake must be very low, right?  Not so!  According to research displayed in the book, Perfect Health Diet, ruminants indirectly eat lots of short-chain fat.  Their special four-stomach digestive system promote bacterial digestion of plant foods.  The by-product of this is fat, which is utilized by the liver to repackaged and sent throughout the body.
After processing by the digestive tract, ruminant macronutrient ratios are: 0% carbs, 17% protein, 80% saturated and monounsaturated fats -- 70% short-chain, 10% long-chain, 3% polyunsaturated fats.
Note that there are zero carbs available for ruminants after food is digested by bacteria in their digestive tract.

A similar process occurs in gorillas, another mostly vegetarian mammal.  Gorillas only have one stomach, but they have a very long colon.  Since it is so long, it can store lots of bacteria, which again ferment plant materials into fats.  
As a result, gorilla macronutrient ratios are approximately as follows:  16% carbs, 20% protein, 62% saturated and monounsaturated fats, 2% polyunsaturated fats.
The authors of Perfect Health Diet, Paul Jaminet and Shou-Ching Jaminet, also show that all wild mammals have similar macronutrient profiles:
0% to 16% carbs, 15% to 25% protein, 56% to 77% saturated and monounsaturated fats, 1% to 14% polyunsaturated fats.
So where do humans fit into this?  Given that humans have larger brains than other mammals, and brains function solely using glucose (as opposed to the rest of the body which can also be fueled through fat), more carbs are needed, though not a substantial amount.  Fat still dominates.

Also, since humans have neither a long colon (at least compared to other animals like gorillas or pigs), nor four stomachs, they cannot ferment as much plant material into fat, and therefore should have more fat directly in their diets.
This predicts the optimal human diet to be about 20% carbs, 15% protein, 60% saturated and monounsaturated fat, and 5% polyunsaturated fat.
In comparison, the standard American diet (SAD) typically averages 52% carbs, 15% protein, and 33% fat.  

Needless to say, eating fat is an evolutionary and biological reality, it is not scary!  For clarity's sake, I should not generalize:  Fat is not scary if it is of the right type and proportion.  Most Americans eat a lot of polyunsaturated fat, specifically omega-6 polyunsaturated fat, primarily in the form of vegetable oil.  This kind of fat is in virtually all processed food and many cooked foods.  This is not in line with biological evolutionary evidence (nor is SAD's excessive carbohydrate content).  Needless to say, all mammals use fat as food either directly or indirectly.

Now, does this mean there is one optimal human diet?  Of course not--absolutely not!  What works for one type of body may not work for another.  The human body is the ultimate barometer.  No one cares about your health more than you.

- Teddy Grahams

The authors of Perfect Health Diet have their own blog.  It can be found here:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Derrick Jensen On Life And Control

"What if the point of life has nothing to do with the creation of an ever-expanding region of control? What if the point is not to keep at bay all those people, beings, objects and emotions that we so needlessly fear? What if the point instead is to let go of that control? What if the point of life, the primary reason for existence, is to lie naked with your lover in a shady grove of trees? What if the point is to taste each other's sweat and feel the delicate pressure of finger on chest, thigh on thigh, lip on cheek? What if the point is to stop, then, in your slow movements together, and listen to the birdsong, to watch the dragonflies hover, to look at your lover's face, then up at the undersides of leaves moving together in the breeze? What if the point is to invite these others into your movement, to bring trees, wind, grass, dragonflies into your family and in so doing abandon any attempt to control them? What if the point all along has been to get along, to relate, to experience things on their own terms? What if the point is to feel joy when joyous, love when loving, anger when angry, thoughtful when full of thought? What if the point from the beginning has been to simply be?"

- Derrick Jensen, A Language Older Than Words

Antidepressants Linked To Thickening of Arteries

"(NaturalNews) Millions of Americans take antidepressant drugs -- most are Prozac and related antidepressant medications in the class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). A gigantic money maker for the drug giants, the SSRIs bring in billions to Big Pharma a year. They are promoted and prescribed as safe treatments for depression, anxiety and even premenstrual tension -- despite a long list of possible side effects ranging from sexual dysfunction and headaches to dizziness and suicide.

Now you can add another reason to think twice before agreeing to take antidepressants. At the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans, Emory University School of Medicine scientists have just announced they`ve discovered that the drugs are linked to thicker arteries. The significance? The findings strongly suggest Prozac and similar meds could raise the risk of heart disease and stroke."

"In the new study, the scientists documented higher carotid IMT in research subjects who used SSRIs (60 percent of those who took antidepressants) as well as those who used other kinds of antidepressants. Curiously, higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with thicker arteries only in those taking antidepressants -- so the Big Pharma meds themselves seem to be the key to this disturbing change in the cardiovascular system.

'One of the strongest and best-studied factors that thickens someone`s arteries is age, and that happens at around 10 microns per year,' Dr. Shah stated. 'In our study, users of antidepressants see an average 40 micron increase in IMT, so their carotid arteries are in effect four years older.'

How could antidepressants have an effect on blood vessels? The Emory scientists think it may result from changes in serotonin. The SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants and they are known to increase the level of serotonin in the brain. Other kinds of antidepressant drugs also impact serotonin levels. And, although serotonin is a chemical that helps some brain cells communicate, what is often ignored in the hyping of SSRIs is that serotonin functions outside the brain, too."

Article in its entirety:

Time Alone

“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.”

- Henry David Thoreau -

Desert Song

There are so many things about this song and video that I love.

The Superfluousness Of "Civilized" Society

"Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails. Therefore we had no criminals. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorney or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We were in a really bad way before the white man came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along without the basic things which, we are told, are absolutely necessary to make a civilized society."

- John (Fire) Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Black And White Vision

Are religions really as black and white as they are made out to be?

From my perspective, when one starts taking religion seriously, the blacks and whites often contrast to an even greater degree.  Upon scrutinizing, the good appears more good and bad looks even more bad.  The blacks get darker and whites, brighter.   Whatever spirituality one is a part of is reassuredly white and all others are black.

People have spiritual differences because spirituality itself is tied to what one can see.  Vision, perception, and clarity are highly relevant in the spiritual realm, and seeing things differently will sway a group of people to understand their faith in different terms than others.

There is a paradoxical, deep-yet-shallow, fear-inducing societal pressure that we should have the most clear and perfect vision imaginable.  If you cannot see your set path for eternity, you may face criticism.  Your vision (or, in the case of what frequently is used, the vision of another that you choose to follow) does not have to make perfect sense.  It could be from a different era or from a land that is nothing like where you live.  Society won't mind.  Just pick one that society has already approved of and follow it, or more appropriate:  see with it.  You will most certainly be viewed in a positive manner.

Given this pressure, over the past few years I have tried to see even more black and white.  I squint and strain my eyes harder and harder, hoping to see it the correct way.

Nonetheless, as the years have passed, all that squinting and straining has actually damaged my vision.  Everything is now blurry.  Since everything has become so blurry, I am no longer able to decipher between black and white.  Everywhere I look, I only see gray.

So now with my societally imperfect vision, I am forced to look around and see things differently.  And here, once I stop squinting, a most peculiar thing happens.  Since I no longer can see the darkness of black, I am able to see in the night.  I cannot see everything, because it is still dark.  But this darkness is not black.  This darkness is a deep navy, teal, brown, and many more colors.  I like them.

And since my eyes are no longer overwhelmed by the blinding light of the bright white sun, I am able to see a plethora of bright colors too.  Brilliant marigold, smokin' saffire, neon pink, and beyond.  I like them, too!

This is joyous!  This is beautiful!  This is life!

Because of my imperfection I am given the gift of seeing a myriad of different, brilliant shades of nearly every color imaginable.

True, I cannot see pure black and white anymore, but at this point would I ever want to go back?

Embrace the colors, my friends!  Blur your perception!  And peace be with you all!

- Teddy Grahams

Living The Question

"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day."

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Michael Meade, Soul, And Goldfish Bowls

Are we still trapped in our own goldfish bowls?  If not, are we taking advantage of our freedom?

Michael Meade's Multicultural Foundation:

Journeying Through The Light Of Darkness

"The rays of the moon seemed to search the very bottom of the profound gulf; but still I could make out nothing distinctly, on account of a thick mist in which everything there was enveloped, and over which there hung a magnificent rainbow, like that narrow and tottering bridge which Mussulmen say is the only pathway between Time and Eternity. This mist, or spray, was no doubt occasioned by the clashing of the great walls of the funnel, as they all met together at the bottom --but the yell that went up to the Heavens from out of that mist, I dare not attempt to describe."

- Edgar Allen Poe, A Descent Into the Maelstrom

The Birth Of Immortality

"We’re so familiar with written language that we sometimes forget how outlandish a concept it must have seemed to our ancestors. Writing allowed people to copy and transfer their thoughts and their tribal codes of conduct to others, even unto generations they themselves would not live to personally instruct, affect or control. The words themselves must have seemed alive and immortal and as 'holy' as ghosts. Written law was thus a way of mastering time and influencing the future, a weapon greater than fire and steel, I hope you’ll agree. When read, the written word made the head buzz and ring and fill up with voices and commands from nowhere, as if God Himself had come thundering down through the symbols, off the page and into the room, fertilising and impregnating the mind with his Ghostly, unmistakable presence."

- Grant Morrisson

Television Messes Love Up

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Carlos Castaneda

"The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness. The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity."

"We talk to ourselves incessantly about our world. In fact we maintain our world with our internal talk. And whenever we finish talking to ourselves about ourselves and our world, the world is always as it should be. We renew it, we rekindle it with life, we uphold it with our internal talk. Not only that, but we also choose our paths as we talk to ourselves. Thus we repeat the same choices over and over until the day we die, because we keep on repeating the same internal talk over and over until the day we die. A warrior is aware of this and strives to stop his internal talk."

"Every one of us human beings has two minds. One is totally ours, and it is like a faint voice that always brings us order, directness, purpose, the other mind is a foreign installation. It brings us conflict, self-assertion, doubts, hopelessness: it’s ourselves as the me-me center of the world."

- Carlos Castaneda

Here is a great blog that explores Carlos Castaneda's writings:

Researchers' Err - Population Generalizations

"Our findings suggest that members of WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) societies are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans. Overall, these empirical patterns suggest that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature, on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin and rather unusual slice of humanity."

Entire Report:

Emerging From The Illness: Pepper's Beautiful Health Journey

"This year-long experiment of mine, I think, points to an important set of lessons. First: self-experimentation works, but, god damn, it can really take a long time. There is a reason something is going wrong in our bodies, and it takes all kinds of information and tests and experiments to figure it out. We shouldn’t ever give up on them. Why settle for poor health when an answer is lying right inside of us? We have to be patient. We have to give ourselves time to find the answers. And we have to be prepared to deal with the medical establishment and to turn to them for help, in addition to accepting the fact that some of our prognoses might not be the happiest endings. But nothing happens without cause (ignoring Hume), and we really can work out the answers in good time.

Another important take-away is this: our bodies require time. After going paleo, and after graduating from university, it took about six months for my hair to stop falling out. After losing thirty pounds about a year and a half ago, it has taken me about a year and a half to figure out the best (or a decent) way to eat to be both satisfied and healthy. After losing a lot of muscle mass in that time period, it took me about six months to achieve simultaneous leanness and muscularity. After removing all dairy save butter from my diet, it took three months for me to see a difference, and after removing butter and including a lot of good vitamins, I imagine it’ll be another six months before my scar tissue fades and my skin normalizes."

"Today I am acne-free (ish), happy with my body and it’s performance, feeling healthy, and, moreover, eating in a satisfying manner. I have learned, through years of trial and error, and bingeing and self-loathing and forgiveness and love and hate and so many other emotions, a pattern of eating that works for my body and that works for me. I have a lot to say about disordered eating, if you haven’t already been able to tell, but I have recently let it fade from my mind. There is a feedback loop at play here, and honestly I don’t know which way it runs. I think (and blog!) about food less, and I obsess about food less, and I eat food less. Along with my physical problems, the mental ones are fading, as well.

I had originally thought that, in place of my old obsessions, I would continue to fabricate and obsess over 'new' problems. But that’s actually not happening. In the place of my obsessions is descending a blank, peaceful space in my mind. It is as though I am, every day, walking into a large room with vaulted ceilings and high, arching windows, and it is quiet. What do I think about? What do I do? Why is it bright and breezy in here, instead of dank and dreadful? Why do I feel at peace, and why are there no demons sitting on my shoulders? This is a very new feeling for me. I have talked about mental freedom before on this blog, and certainly I discovered more mental freedom once I went paleo, but this is something new entirely. I don’t have anything pulling at me. I don’t hate myself in any way. Before, I loved myself in all ways but one. Now I love myself (not unconditionally) in all the ways that matter. I don’t have anything to dwell on. No foods, no men, no women, no social pains, no future worries… well, I worry about my stocks… but the point is: with little pressure in my life, both external and internal, I can breathe more deeply than I have in many years."

Pepper's Entire Insightful Blog Post:

Edward Murrow On The Dangers (And Theoretical Benefits) Of Television (1958)

Text of entire speech:

Monday, July 4, 2011

"An Amoral Spirituality"

"I would say that morality was a necessary stage in the development of human consciousness but in my view it has outlived its usefulness and shown its limitations. The inherent problem with morality is that it is indirect and limited. Morality is based on a set of guidelines for behavior that are dictated by someone else and conditioned into us without our consent. I don’t know about you but I never agreed to the moral codes of my society in advance. Rather they were more or less dictated. The indirectness of morality results in not only its failure but in the need to enforce it through laws and punishment which inevitably are not applied equally to all members of society. People obey the moral code out of fear of being punished or they seek ways to circumvent it altogether. Much of the impetus for imagining we need a moral code is the idea of original sin, that human beings are inherently bad so without an imposed moral code they would wreak havoc on themselves and the world.

When I speak of the indirectness of morality what I’m referring to is the fact that someone else is telling us what is right and wrong instead of us determining that for ourselves. This creates a disconnect with our inner guidance and wisdom which are the alternative to this disjointed approach to life. The alternative to morality is teaching our children to value a direct connection to spirit in whatever form is meaningful to them. If one operates from the assumption that our true nature is divine then a direct connection to that divinity serves as an inner source of guidance that we can fully depend upon. From there they can be encouraged to connect with their intuition and inner guidance and learn to trust it from an early age. When one is in touch with the actual experience of spirit in the intense aliveness of the present moment morality becomes meaningless. We intuitively know what is right and what is wrong for us and we live in accordance with spirit which cannot be nailed down into a code of laws but can always be counted on as the most trustworthy guiding force we could possibly imagine. If children were raised by parents that truly put this into practice they would learn by example while still having the freedom to allow their own unique connection to spirit and inner wisdom to form rather than having it squashed by an imposed set of standards."

- From Colin's wonderful spiritual blog, Awaken in the Now

Colin's entire post can be found here:

Alberto Villoldo On Western And Shamanic Mythology

This lecture is very enlivening. It stirs me. It excites me.

"In this video from the Palm Springs Prophets Conference earlier this year, Alberto Villoldo talks about his decision as an anthropology student in the jungle to throw away his notebooks and tape recorder and become a student of a shaman--setting him on a journey towards understanding the distinction between western and shamanic mythology--the former being based on a division and ownership of land, and the latter based on the division of time."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Personal transformation

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly."

- Richard Bach

This is a great song about personal transformation by Noah And The Whale called "Life is Life".