25 October 2012

Some Words from Philip K. Dick


Philip K. Dick is one of the most influential names in science fiction. If you're unfamiliar with his name, it is unlikely that you are unfamiliar with his work. His stories have been made into major motion pictures like Blade Runner, Total Recall, Screamers, Paycheck, and Minority Report.

I highly recommend that you read him. There are several collections available in print, and since many of his stories are very short, they are ideal for those times you're sitting on a bus or waiting in a doctor's office.



22 October 2012

Demystifying the Mystical - Language and The Master Who Makes the Grass Green



One of my favorite authors, the polymath Robert Anton Wilson, used to discuss the koan: Who is the master who makes the grass green?

When I asked a friend this question, his logical response was chlorophyll. As we all have learned in elementary biology studies, chlorophyll is the essential element of photosynthesis by which plants absorb sunlight and convert the energy into a usable form. Without chlorophyll, grass would not appear green to us, so my friend's answer makes perfect sense. It is scientifically accurate. It is totally correct…and completely untrue.

01 October 2012

Demystifying the Mystical - Overcoming Stereotypes and Misconceptions


Jacob's Ladder - William Blake
I don’t know exactly where to start – it would make sense to start with the very beginning of mysticism, but the truth is that no one can really put a date to it. It might make sense to begin with a definition, but even a definition is somewhat difficult because it is a broader term than one might think. I can turn my attention to what mysticism does, and even that might be somewhat difficult to describe in objective, pragmatic terms because of a befuddling plethora of traditions. Of course one of my main goals is to clear away all of the mystical, magical language and funny words associated with the subject so that anyone can understand what it’s all about. Greater minds than mine have attempted such introductions with the same goals – and have done a much better job than what I’m doing now – but both time and the volume of new information have put us back in the same situation as when these greater minds were at work. That is – gross misunderstanding and prejudgments made from ignorance prevent many people from taking a serious look at mysticism.

Be that as it may, ignorance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably the very best place to begin. If that sounds strange to you, visit my previous post on ignorance to find my explanation. Otherwise, read on for an introductory glance at:
  • The roots of the word “mysticism”
  • The fundamental branches of mysticism
  • What mysticism is
  • What mysticism is not



10 September 2012

Why Is It Necessary to Demystify the Mystical?


Let me begin by stating that this is a very incomplete thought. I typed the following words one night after staying awake much longer than I should have (a habit I have held longer than I can remember). Tonight, pain in my back makes comfort and sleep difficult, so I am currently awake at a time much later than I should be (I'm supposed to be waking up in about 4 hours).

But I've got a few things running through the back of my head - in an area of my mind of which I am conscious, but can not pull into consciousness. Somewhere behind the constant hum and chatter of my thoughts lie the machinery that creates those thoughts and its operator. When I attempt to pull the operator out of his work station - so that he may better discuss his work and the equipment at his disposal, to explain the inner workings and the mystery of it all - all I get are the hum and chatter which are the result of his operations. He speaks only when I am not awake, yet I can not share his words while I am asleep.


27 July 2012

Why the Sparrow?

You may have noticed the dedication at the bottom of this page and the profile image I use here and on Facebook, and perhaps the question popped into your head - "why the sparrow?"

The answer is fairly simple, though perhaps not obvious, and I'd like to take a moment to answer this question in brief.





21 May 2012

Ignorance: It's a Good Thing

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.” - Sir Francis Bacon

"I know one thing, that I know nothing" - Socrates

It seems counter-intuitive, but the state of ignorance is important to one's personal development.

How could that possibly make sense? My mind reels against the very idea - the very absurdity - in this, the "information age," where so much knowledge is readily available at the speed of the beasts that pull my chariot (modem, router, etc.) through the ethereal realms of knowledge - on safari, so to speak, to hunt down the big game and haul back the answers to life's big questions.

13 May 2012

John Hawkins is Not Worth a Grand / Exploring the Supposed Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives

"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." - Voltaire

Be as Blind as Justice
So I ran across this article by John Hawkins, 7 Non-Political Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives. I don’t remember what I was looking for, but I found this article, read it and immediately remembered a critical thinking exercise from a class I took wherein we picked apart news columns (or by today's standards: the archaic version of blogs) to expose logical fallacies, poor reasoning and misleading information. Sorry, John, but your writing fit the bill perfectly, and I consider it a service to others that I should tear apart your article as an example of how too many “opinion leaders” exploit the ignorance of their readers - who, let’s face it, usually aren’t looking for compelling or persuasive information but for ideas that reinforce what they already think (see confirmation bias). Hence, most of Hawkins’ readers are conservatives looking for someone to justify their beliefs - and like any practiced entertainer, Hawkins gives his audience what they want (but not necessarily what they need).

29 April 2012

Nothing Is Sacred: Everything is a Product: Occupy Your Self

"I claim that human mind or human society is not divided into watertight compartments called social, political and religious. All act and react upon one another" 
- Mahatma Gandhi

"Your daily life is your temple and religion" 
- Khalil Gibran, The Prophet 

Things today aren't really that different than the feudal ages, except that now even our money is abstract. Someone else (a lord/company) owns the means of production (land/office/ factory) as well as the product (crops/cheeseburger/desk). We work for the owner in return for something we need (money, a scrap of paper with no inherent use or value or an imaginary number in the mind of a computer) so that we can trade it back to the owners-of-the-means-of-production for the very products we made. The shocking disproportion between the wealth of the owners-of-the-means-of-production and the rest of us is hidden from our eyes inside machines and left to the imagination to ponder.


22 April 2012

Out in Nature or Within Nature?

"There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal." 
LORD BYRON, Childe Harold



16 March 2012

And Justice For All: Santorum's Dogma Has No Place in U.S. Politics

Why is it that Fox News is always talking about the "Liberal Media" as if Fox News is both bipartisan and not part of the Media? It doesn't make sense.

Not to rant about Rick Santorum, but here is the very reason I sincerely hope that his (and anyone else of like mind) political career ends soon: the very fact that his platform includes the religious, "moral" agenda of preventing gay marriage.

I know that so far, I've talked a lot about civil issues relating to homosexuality, but the fact that homosexuality and the issue of homosexuals' rights regarding marriage - or anything else that they do - is both perplexing and troubling to me. It just doesn't make sense.

For instance - the Constitution proclaims that our government will not make any law respecting any religion. We can not regulate legal marriages based on a personal preference. The various religions can, however, regulate marriages based on religious law. But a religion has NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to regulate a union that falls outside the bounds of that religion's law (which extends only to those people who follow that religion). A church can excommunicate or otherwise disavow or disapprove same-sex couples wishing to be married, but it has no legal right to mandate legal marital laws for the citizens of this country. Define marriage however you want - no morality has the right to deny two people of being recognized as a joined couple for legal purposes.

Further, for the laws of the country to recognize the validity of a religious teaching on morality, would be to set the precedent for the Constitution to be altered to fit the moral dogma of any religion. When we cross that line, we are taking a step away from Democracy and opening the door for all of the evils from which we seem to be convinced we are liberating people in other countries.

Here is a bit of morality for Santorum: every individual is different, but every individual is capable of love, integrity, morality. We have no legal  or ethical right to deny another human being the freedom to express these characteristics in the way that they choose...so long as they are not getting in the way of another individual's rights to do the same. That is a morality that transcends religious dogma and adheres to the Spirit in which this great nation was founded. That Spirit itself is the Constitution of the USA, anything opposing it is not American, and I, for one, want an American to be President.

21 February 2012

A Cracker Is Just a Cracker, But An Idea Applied to a Cracker...



The inner experience of reality is just as valid as the perceived outer experience. To try to understand reality only in terms of what one finds "outside" of one's mind is a denial of oneself and a step away from understanding the whole. If you can't get a grip on yourself, how can you hope to get a grip on the outer world your-self is experiencing?

Imagination is not apart from reality, imagination is a part of reality.




10 January 2012

Drinkability

I just saw Jon Huntsman on CNN talking about how he has "electability" and it got me to thinking about Budweiser's "drinkability" ad campaign.