August 2006


It’s a sad day when the term ‘Owellian’ has become a cliche. I can’t believe this is for real…

Electronic spy ‘bugs’ have been secretly planted in hundreds of thousands of household wheelie bins, reports Sunday’s Daily Mail. The gadgets – mostly installed by companies based in Germany – transmit information about the contents of the bins to a central database which then keeps records on the waste disposal habits of each individual address. Already some 500,000 bins in council districts across England have been fitted with the bugs – with nearly all areas expected to follow suit within the next couple of years.

Until now, the majority of bins have been altered without the knowledge of their owners. In many cases, councils which ordered the installation of the devices did not even debate the proposals publicly. The official reason for the bugs is to ‘improve efficiency’ and settle disputes between neighbours over wheelie-bin ownership. But experts say the technology is actually intended to enable councils to impose fines on householders who exceed limits on the amount of non-recyclable waste they put out.

… According to conservative MP Andrew Pellingm ‘This is nothing more than a spy in the bin and I don’t think even the old Soviet Union made such an intrusion into people’s personal lives. ‘It is Big Brother gone mad. I think a more British way of doing things is to seek to persuade people rather than spy on them.’

Anyone who removed a bug and threw it away might not get their bins emptied, warned Paul Bettison, the Association’s environment chief.

Link

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It is, however, true that much of the evil in the world is due to the fact that man in general is hopelessly unconscious, as it is also true that with increasing insight we can combat this evil at its source in ourselves. As science enables us to deal with injuries inflicted from without, so it helps us to treat those arising from within. — C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Life is a great gift and consequently it should be treated with utmost reverence and gratitude. It would be a shame to waste what is given to you during your time on Earth. Many people have to deal with loss, sadness, alienation and ostricization before they even see the possibility of leading a happy life. The trick is to find ways to alleviate the sadness or turn it around. Instead of feeling suffering pain and sadness, it is possible to use reason to find ways to change the perspective and look at things from a different light. All that is needed is to understand that much suffering is self-induced, then you can look for ways to get out and already you’ll be feeling better. (I do not mean invalidate the suffering of people who have been through horrible things or lossess outside of their control by calling their suffering self-induced. Instead I try to inform of the possibility that a different view or perspective on that loss could alleviate from the suffering.)

– act opposite to emotion: Be active, say yes to all opportunities, be social, fake happiness.

– put things into perspective: Escape the drama that your mind throws your way and watch the problem as if it was on TV. That way, things will become clearer and more answers will present themselves.

– avoid victimization: Something bad is bound to happen but try to avoid making it worse than it already is for any reason, especially to gain attention. The sympathy of others can be helpful but overemphasizing the problem will reinforce the occurrence and depth of negative feelings.

– do things that make you happy: Go to the cinema, practice your hobby, go out with friends, and call old friends…

– do not avoid the problem: Don’t drink to forget, don’t watch TV or play games to escape, don’t do other things that are less pressing. Deal with the problem as soon as it appears – you will feel better as soon as you start doing something about it.

Suffering is not always self-induced, but the intensity of suffering can be controlled. It is often the individual who makes it worse for himself.

Many traumatic events, such as operations, injuries, birth, sexual and physical abuse, have strong somatic, or bodily, components. Some aspects of these events can become encoded in our muscles, our tissue, or perhaps even in our cells. We can also somatize experiences that are not specifically physical. We might somatize our reaction to verbal humiliation by locking our anger, fear, shame, or guilt into our bodies rather than expressing them. Unaware that we are carrying these memories or emotions, we become conscious of them when they manifest in forms such as muscle tension, headaches, digestive problems, skin rashes, numbness, or heightened blood pressure. When we dissociate from an abusive encounter, chances are the event leaves its impact on the body, even though we have separated our awareness from it. — C. Grof, The Search for Wholeness

 

It is important to be healthy in body, mind and ‘spirit’. ‘Spirit’ does not mean anything other than that which is left out by the body and mind. ‘Spirit’ means the ungraspable, the indescribable. We will touch on that in a later post. Body and mind interact on very certain terms and influence each other in both positive and negative ways. It is imperative to have a healthy body. To do so one should have a fairly reasonable diet (don’t eat too much sugar or salt, don’t overeat, eat your greens and fruit, drink water instead of coke or pepsi). There should be some exercise on a frequent basis – morning jogging, football, anything… Exercise has a direct influence on serotonin and the chemical reaction that ensues creates happiness and has an overall calming effect. Exercise will make you happy – that is a proven fact.

The mind is harder to keep healthy. Alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, caffeine and sugar all have a negative effect on the mind if taken continuously. A slice of cake once in a while or a pint of beer are okay – there will probably be no detrimental long-term effects. Over-indulgence on the other hand can lead to serious negative long-term effects including depression, behavioral change, mood-swings and paranoia. Don’t believe us? Lead a healthy life for two weeks and see for yourself. Be aware that your body needs two weeks to get used to the new regime and release all the toxins – the positive effects will come to the foreground fully only after 2 whole weeks. The first week of conscious avoidance of something to which you have become addicted will show you just how hooked you actually were. Don’t succumb to it, just be horrified to see how much you crave for that substance that you have cut out from your diet. I read a study somewhere stating that 70 % or so of human adult population is hooked on caffeine; the numbers for sugar addiction in the developed world are going to be even higher.

I began to see that I was facing two different phenomena: there are some things I do in my life that are definitely addictive, that can lead to severe repercussions if I do not stop them, and there are others that have similar characteristics but will not cause me or other people obvious harm. Some of them even bring genuine pleasure and enjoyment. However, just as with alcohol, these activities, substances, or relationships do bring pain, however mild. When I do not have them, I feel pain. If I want them but cannot reach them, I feel pain. If I get them and realize they will not last very long, I feel pain. If I have had them and want them again, I feel pain. — C. Grof, The Search for Wholeness

The root of all suffering is attachment or clinging to other peoples, places, objects, or behaviours. — Buddhism

 

What else? Enjoy yourself and don’t let your fears stop you. You know what you want to do with your life on one level or another. Do the hobby that you want to do, learn that language, improve your inter-personal skills, get that job, kiss that girl, become active. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you – including yourself. The more often you face your fears and do things that are uncomfortable the easier it becomes. If you want to change yourself, change your behavior and the rest will follow.

Also, one of my personal favorites, DON’T TAKE LIFE TOO SERIOUSLY! When times seem to be at their worst, try to laugh at your predicament. Sometimes you may feel that the universe is conspiring to make you feel bad, so much that it becomes absurd. Well, laugh at the absurdity of it all! As Bill Hicks used to say:

“The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, ‘Hey – don’t worry, don’t be afraid ever, because this is just a ride …”

 

Cities of the past embodied their local culture, reflected in many ways but most visible in the uniqueness of their architecture and street patterns.

Today, the grid plan is a result of the appeal of science, industrialization, technology, and the perhaps most of all the economic rationale. The physical difference between newer cities and their cultures has decreased because of the spread of this logic. You will find older cities are beginning to transform as well. Their street plans are not necessarily changing but the locations of residential and nonresidential areas are.

What we see in most cities in the US is the agglomeration of places for distinct purposes. Places for play, work, learning, spending, and relaxation are grouped together and separated from people’s homes. This is a well planned and conscious districting of areas in the name of economics. The divide necessitates more frequent use of the services once away from home. If you pay attention you’ll notice that many shopping centers can only be accessed by car. It would be naive to think the lack of a sidewalk is due to an oversight by the planner. It is more likely that the shopping center is designed to pull in a certain consumer while keeping others out.

In the grid plan’s defense, it is an important form of communication and the center of urban planning. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather live in a city than in suburbia but we should study what impact our intense focus on economic efficiency has on our minds.

In the vast majority of cultures all over the world, there exists some form of cosmology. The home and village exists as a microcosm of the universe. They usually reflect the creation myths of the culture in some way. The town center being was of utmost importance, used as a meeting place or a point of orientation. Today, we can see that in the center of our major cities are places to spend money. And in a way, this is our capitalistic creation myth. It’s Edward Bernay’s idea, free market capitalism is what guarantee’s life, and therefore we must spend in order to sustain ourselves.

Now, I’m not advocating having a day of rest but it did serve a purpose. It wasn’t necessarily to designate a day of worship but to take a break from work. It was believed by some that one’s soul would become corrupt if they would be focused on their trade seven days a week. If we apply this idea to the organization of our cities, a potential danger becomes apparent.

I’m not against progress but we need to find some sort of balance between being able to have the freedom to spend money and live a healthy lifestyle. Ultimately, how you spend your money is your choice but don’t underestimate the influence of marketing and planning.

See my previous post: Changing the Grid Plan

QVI NON INTELLIGIT, AVT TAGEAT, AVT DISCAT. He who does not understand should shut up or learn. — John Dee

No president, Academy, Court of Law, congress, or Senate on this earth has the knowledge or power to decide what will be the knowledge of tomorrow. Wilhelm Reich

This blog is a manifestation of the need of two different people, who are bonded by similar beliefs and experiences, it is a need of them to educate themselves by informing others, and seeing whether their ideas will survive the test of exposure.

I understand that many people end up on this blog looking for things that will never be here. Many people will end up on this blog not looking for things that we have to offer. Many people will ask why two intelligent men felt the need to write about things that are seemingly insignificant. In here I will offer an answer, a very personal answer, by explaining the last 8 or 9 months of my life that led me where I am now. That is – sitting in front of a computer, typing away.

At the root of my transformation was a drug experience, I was asked by a friend of mine whether I would be interested in doing MDMA with him and his friends, for the benefit of looking deeper into myself. I agreed with no expectations, fears or qualms. The experience itself was very interesting. While meditating under the influence of MDMA I found how far the rabbit hole goes, without getting to the end of it. My meditation got me farther than I ever got before and I felt connection and happiness. I also revealed some of my past to myself that I have kept hidden for years, on other things I received a new viewpoint.

(With me one of the beginnings was a drug experience. With others they were meditation, contemplation, intellect, near-death experiences, or any one of the myriad of ways in which to experience the inexplicable. It is said by many that drugs are a shortcut that could lead you astray.)

That particular experience left me with the need to research what actually happened to me and whether what happened was real and natural. I knew that the experience was positive and life-changing but I really didn’t know what to make of it.

Now I understand what was really going on and why I felt the need to answer the questions that were going through my head. Much of my later philosophy stems from this very beginning. All I wanted was to find myself, get to know myself better, and see where else I could go. This was not because I was unhappy or unsatisfied with my life – exactly the opposite – I saw the possibilities behind the horizon and wanted to get closer to them.

Finding out more about myself was as pleasant as it was painful. I awakened to finding faults in me, to finding the concept of avoidance, which was one of my rulers for the vast majority of my life. I learned how to face some of my fears, I learned how to be alone with myself and not feel the need to be with other people to be happy. I learned that judgements of other people did not make me who I was, this truth I have still not fully integrated, but I do understand it. I have found out more about myself and spent the rest of the time trying to integrate this knowledge into my personality. I have lost the certainty in beliefs, truths or reality.

No-one can realise themlseves just for their own sake. When a man frees himself, it will always have an effect on his surroundings and the area of his influence will increases along with the intensity of his effluence. The more people who deal with their problems internally and in accord with themselves and with the world, the better for their little world and for the big world. I have lived through times when individuals unobtrusively changed the clinic, firm or district, just with their essence. The more people take themselves seriously enough to give room and time to their spiritual and soul-fulfilling expansion, the more likely it is for the world to change following the microcosm=macrocosm formula. — R. Dahlke, How has the world become ill (translated from Czech)

From this period comes my vital realisation of the need for self-betterment. I still sincerely believe that the only way to make humanity, society, and our cultures work and co-exist, is to start improving the world on the individual level. It is the duty of every living individual to be as good as he can so that everyone he comes into contact will benefit. This is the only way to make people who are close to us better, the only way to bring up our children in peace and happiness, it is the only way to be happy individually and globally. Self-betterment is the only path to the betterment of everything. Lots of people whine that the world is going down the drain-hole, well, let’s do something about it. Self-betterment is a very broad concept and it entails all aspects of the individual life – active, passive, individual, and interactive.

Lots of people initially attack my views, they ask where my pressing need for self-betterment comes from – they ask whether I think that I am such a bad person that I feel the need to improve. They miss the point – I am neither good nor bad (in ethical terms) – I simply strive for improvement of everything I can touch. It makes me happy to improve and happier to see improvement in other people I have touched. I enjoy seeing the world turn into something better – on any level.

‘I have known true alchemists,’ the alchemist continued. ‘They locked themselves in their laboratories, and tried to evolve, as gold had. And they found the Philosopher’s stone, because they understood that when something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well. Others stumbled upon the stone by accident. They already had the gift, and their souls were readier for such things than the souls of others. But they don’t count. They’re quite rare. — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

One of the other big realisations was to do with the true purpose of religion. The purpose of religion is to be a guide to the personal experience of the Divine or God. The true purpose of meditation, yoga, and numerous other Ways and techniques, is to see, listen, feel and be God that is in you, but also everywhere else. Religions that do not offer ways to achieve this are false religions – they offer rhetoric in an arena where words don’t mean a thing, where logic and understanding become counter-productive. There are two religions in particular that are of interest to the true seeker – zen and sufism.

The world of inexplicable experiences that I entered those 9 months ago is referred to as non-ordinary states of consciousness by psychology, others yet call them mystical experiences, while others call them direct experience of God or the Divine. This may all sound very strange to atheists and sacrilegous to believers. To me the Divine or God are just words, they are descriptions of an experience, linguistic descriptions of the indescribable. As of now science has no understanding of this particular experience because the experience is immesurable, non-quantifiable and ultimately subjective. I do not seek to judge these experiences in any way, shape or form, I simply ask the reader to find out for himself the benefits that they have to offer. I do not believe in deities or gods – I believe in ideas, possibilities and personal experiences. Why believe what other people tell you when the only way to be sure is to find out on your own.

I have also come to understand the vastness of human potential. I am not an exceptional man, yet I have experienced things that the majority of the world population will never find out about, or what’s worse – other people may not give these things the importance and relevance that is due to them. Some of the things that I have learnt to do make me incredibly happy – I have learnt how to truly appreciate art, how to see beauty in nature, how to use my senses more efficiently, how to understand my emotions and feelings better than before, how to access memories I lost more than a decade ago, how to memorize things quickly, how to enter ‘the zone’ or ‘the flow’ that athletes enter. I do not know where the list stops, but I know that I won’t find the end of it before my death.

All I can say is that the mad search for answers has led me to places that everyone should visit. I learned, I changed, I experienced. The harm that came out of it was almost non-existent, I believe that I mainly misunderstood pain and suffering for harm. How could I experience what I experienced without going through pain and suffering – was there ever a worthy goal to which the way was not riddled by obstacles? There is a price on everything and the things that matter cost the most.

Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are. — Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

We have been subordinate to our limitations until now. The time has come to cast aside these bonds and to elevate consciousness to a higher plane. It is time to become part of all things. — Ghost in the Shell

Fear, panic, and terror have been used by all governments dead or alive at one point or another. Some would even go as far as to argue that the fear and paranoia created around and because of terrorism is a direct cause of the wish of certain individuals to enslave the citizens of their respective countries. In other words, fear and panic would be viewed as an artificial construct serving the purposes of certain people either getting to power or forcefully staying in power. Does that sounds paranoid? Not more than the litanies that normal people utter when asked about the problematic area of terrorism.

Cass Sunstein: Mortal Combat

‘The London air terrorist plot has touched off endless debate, much of it centering on politics: Will it help Republicans or Democrats in 2006 and beyond? Republicans say that national security is a winning issue for them; Democrats say the same thing. Social science evidence strongly suggests that the Republicans are right, because the politics of terrorism touches a chord that produces much more support for them than for Democrats: our own mortality. A crucial question is whether Democrats will be able to change the underlying dynamics.‘First, a little background. A focus on mortality–which voters obviously associate with terrorism–seems to have a quantifiable effect on decision-making. How, for example, are your judgments likely to be affected if you are asked to think, for just a moment, about the fact that, at some point, you are going to die? An intriguing body of psychological research tries to answer that question. Organized around the idea of “mortality salience,” this research finds that, if people are reminded of their own mortality, their views and behavior tend change. Once so reminded, ordinary people are significantly more likely to show racial prejudice. Once so reminded, people show more physical aggression toward other people with different political beliefs. Once so reminded, even judicial behavior changes: In one study, judges who were reminded of their own mortality gave stiffer sentences to nonviolent criminals (prostitutes).’ (New Republic article). Disinformation Website

Throughout my life I have been known as a very passive individual. Not so much in terms of not participating in outdoor activities or sports (I have actually attained mastery of several sporting disciplines, I shit you not), but rather in terms of not voicing my disagreement, distrust or anger. I always used to say that the big things can not be changed and that the best thing to do is to concentrate on improving myself and the people around me, thus creating a better niche of society, which can then grow to make the world a better place. That, in itself is commendable (if I say so myself) and anyone else taking part in a similar rationalization of their actions, will be an instant friend when I meet him face-to-face.

But recently I have started noticicing the small things behing the big things – the small weaves in the pattern that create the whole. The things that are wrong with today’s culture, society, way of life and politics have all been caused by a myriad of small things, all of them changeable. Once I understood this, I also understood that I could do something about individuals making the wrong choices or telling lies. I could now oppose them and do my little part in making the big things better. And all I needed to start was a computer.

What I propose for anyone willing to read this blog is simple. Make a promise that from today, whenever you see falsehood, evil, or even someone trying to pound your principles into the ground, tell them so. If you see an article which makes your blood boil, write an e-mail to the author informing him (politely) of the mistakes he has done. Leave comments on blogs, write e-mails to the media, make new contacts via e-mail – you know the jazz. Not only will this make you feel happy, but also you will consciously be changing the world and making it a better place. Trust me, there is nothing better than that.

I was very surprised to find a news piece on censorship of the Tom & Jerry franchise. Protesters in the Great Britain managed to convince the broadcasters of the Tom & Jerry series to censor all scenes in which one of the characters can be found smoking. All scenes in which Tom or another cat are smoking cigarettes or cigars have been meticulously cut out. The reasons for this are predictable but ultimately self-defeating.

Censorship is wrong. In an otherwise free society the effects of censorship are almost always negative. Censorship usually creates a sense of danger around the censored object, this feeling is extremely attractive. We all want what we can’t have, or what other people tell us is wrong of us to have. People who are most susceptible to this are the young ones – children, children reaching puberty, and teenagers. Censoring smoking from common culture and from growing-up activities will create a stronger drive for young people to smoke. Is this what the protesters wanted?

Hiding something does not make it disappear. But it creates questions as to why was it necessary to hide it in the first place. These questions lead to experimentation and individual search for truth. In the case of cigarettes it also leads to addiction. I am a cigarette addict – this is the third time in my life that I have stopped smoking, and somehow I doubt it is the last. I started because cigarettes were out-of-bounds, I wasn’t allowed to smoke them by my parents, by my school, and by the government (age) – so I did. I was lucky enough that I started experimenting with other things at a later age when I actually possessed a functioning self-sufficient brain, but I know of people who have been less fortunate.
What I propose here is for people to realise that their actions will not always have the desired effect. There are certain maxims that should be globally understood and followed: prime amongst them the rule that openness beats censorship. Informed decisions are productive, decisions made out of spite, fear, or anger lead to more of the same. If people are informed of both sides of the story – the good, the bad, and the ugly, then they will be able to think for themselves. If instead they are ‘protected’ by the authorities (of any shape or form) by witholding information from them, they will have a lesser chance of making the right decisions.

In this era of subconscious conflict and strife, it is safer not to settle with any concrete beliefs, not to believe everything at face value and constantly look behind the obvious.

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