January 2008


From Wikipedia: Vipassana is a practice often taken up in prison, especially in Burma.  In 1993, Kiran Bedi, a reformist Inspector General of India’s prisons, learned of the success of Vipassanā in a jail in Jainpur, Rajasthan. A 10-day course involved officials and inmates alike. In India’s largest prison, Tihar Jail, near New Delhi, another attempt was made. This program was said to have dramatically changed the behavior of inmates and jailers alike. It was actually found that inmates who completed the 10-day course were less violent and had a lower recidivism rate than other inmates. This project was documented in the television documentary, Doing Time, Doing Vipassana. So successful was this program that it was adopted by correctional facilities in the United States and other countries as well. Unfortunately, the prisoners involved in the study were a biased sample, however, due to the fact that they volunteered for the program, while many who were told they would miss the Super-Bowl if they joined the program chose not to participate. Therefore, it is possible that only prisoners who were willing to make a significant personal sacrifice to “improve” themselves participated in the study. A less biased study would have taken this self-electing prisoner pool and randomly assigned them to either Vipassana training or a “placebo” meditation training and evaluated the results according to a double blind protocol.

I am always excited by the amount of spiritual practice thrown in the face of those ‘in the need’, very usually with (un)surprisingly positive results. While I do not disagree that some people who have crossed the edge are more needy of such treatment, I do not hold the belief that ‘normal’ people can not significantly benefit from following the same instructions and modes of practice. This prison story strongly reminds me of dialectic behavioural therapy, a therapeutic system used to alleviate and cure Borderline Personality Disorder.

From Wikipedia: The treatment itself is based largely in behaviorist theory with some cognitive therapy elements as well. Unlike cognitive therapy it incorporates mindfulness practice as a central component of the therapy.

Anyone who has spent some time in self-observation has probably come to a very similar conclusion as G.I.Gurdjieff, that is that people are robots, controlled by their conditioning, triggers and wishes (reactions) mostly based on their current emotional state. Gurdjieff’s answer was to come up with his own system of self-observation (based on Sufi teachings, sacred dances, Christian mysticism and numerous other sources), but as time went on other systems from around the world became available to the contemporary experimenter – be it Aleister Crowley’s exercises, Osho’s dynamic meditation, mindfulness, or vipassana.

This week I have added to my daily practice of mindfulness a reversal practice as well – doing as many physical tasks in reverse (using the opposite limb) as I can. The immediate effect is the availability to stay mindful for longer periods of time. There also seems to be a peculiar effect on my body (some new unexpected pains, mainly in the lower back and the disappearance of some psychosomatic baggage).

Some of the practical exercises: wearing my bag on the opposite shoulder, crossing my legs in reverse, opening doors with my left hand and so on are particularly effective. This obviously necessitates the ability to be mindful of how your body is acting right now. I have also found the physical centering of my body to be fairly practical in deconstructing past physical difficulties, sleeping without crossing my legs, sitting straight (without crossing my legs), walking slowly and with straight back, while not looking down. Anything that challenges the conditioned physical routines that I have built for myself seems to be equally effective.

Whatever you do, practice every day.

I don’t know what this is about exactly, but it’s related to the recent Anonymous vs. Scientology. Maybe the London event?

P.S. They fixed the yellow van that Fox News blew up! Holy shit!

The Knight recently posted a short video of Alan Moore being interviewed on his magickal views. Unknowingly he reminded me of an insight I have gained last year from reading V for Vendetta, one of Lana Moore’s masterpieces.

Alan Moore is an English author, most famous for his work on comic books such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, Watchmen or From Hell. Some of his more famous works have been adapted into films, with varying (lack) of success. Alan Moore does not limit himself to writing comic books, among his other areas of study are literature, poetry, music, drama, occultism and magick. His occult interests interest me as they are one of the prevalent influences evident in his literary work.

do what thou wilt

V for Vendetta deals with a dystopian future in which an anarchist fighter who calls himself V wages an uncompromising war on a fully totalitarian British government. This parallel reality gives us a view of a Britain whose citizens have very little personal and political freedom left, most of it being given away by themselves in return for personal security as a result of a brief nuclear war and a subsequent coup d’etat by a fascist group offering immediate protection to the citizens.

One of the reasons why V for Vendetta (both in the film and comic book versions) gained such popularity in recent years is the way that individual security and personal freedom have been changing in recent years, closely resembling the story told in V for Vendetta. The so-called ‘war on terrorism’, (a war, which should be noted, by definition can’t be won) has been given as an excuse both in America and Britain to pass legislation that takes away more personal freedom than most people realise. Personal and political freedom is being quickly exchanged for perceived security from a danger that can’t be protected from, or if you are more cynical, does not exist. Leaving us…
V is an anarchist, he doesn’t believe that it is necessary to give away freedom to receive security. He doesn’t believe in chaos and disorder either. His beliefs can be summed up by a quote from Aleister Crowley: ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’ V agrees with Aleister Crowley that it is possible to know one’s True Will, True Will being the true calling, potential and will of an individual, rather than needs, desires or wishes that are constantly experienced and which control most personal decisions and choices. V calls this process of discovering one’s True Will ‘escaping the prison’. He ‘escapes the prison’ of his perceived needs, wishes and desires by being physically imprisoned in a concentration camp, where he and numerous other ‘test subjects’ are infected with a chemical virus, which apart from V kills all its recipients. He is physically imprisoned and lacks control over what happens to him, which makes it possible for him to awaken the parts of him, which can’t be controlled by anyone but himself. This episode gives V the intelligence, strength and knowledge to escape his prison and ultimately single-handedly challenge the government.

My favourite part of the comic book plays out on pages 148 – 172, where V puts another person, his disciple if you wish, or a girl he met by chance if you prefer, through a similar experience in order to produce the same effect, the same process of awakening. Perhaps the most revealing way of describing the effect would be to copy the last part of their conversation:

V: Welcome home.
Evey: You. You did this to me. You did this to me, yuh-you. Oh god. Yuh-you hit me, and cut off my hair… it was you. It was you all this time… You… tortured me… Oh, you tortured me…
V: Because I love you. Because I want to set you free.
Evey: Because…? Set me free? D-don’t you realise? Don’t you realise what you did to me? you nearly drove me mad!
V: If that’s what it takes, Evey.

Evey: I hate you. I hate you because you just talk junk and you think you’re so good that you don’t have to make any sense! Nothing you say means anything. You say you love me, and you don’t because you just frigten me and torture me for a joke… You say you want to set me free and you put me in a prison…
V: You were already in a prison. You’ve been in a prison all your life.
Evey: Shut up! I don’t want to hear it! I wasn’t in a prison! I was happy! I was hu-happy here until you threw me out.
V: Happiness is a prison, Evey. Happiness is the most insidious prison of all.
Evey: That’s warped! That’s warped and evil and wrong! When you threw me out I went to live with somebody. I… I was in love with him. I was happy. If that’s a prison, then I don’t care!
V: Don’t you? Your lover lived in the penitentiary that we are all born into, and was forced to rake the dregs of that world for his living. he knew affection and tenderness but only briefly… Eventually, one of the other inmates stabbed him with a cutlass and he drowned upon his own blood. Is that it, Evey? Is that the happiness worth more than freedom?
Evey: H-how do you know? How did you know what happened to Gordon?
V: It’s not an uncommon story, Evey. many convicts meet with miserable ends… Your mother. Your father. Your lover. One by one. Taken out behind the chemical sheds … and shot. All convicts, hunched and deformed by the smallness of their cells, the weight of their chains, the unfairness of their sentences.. I didn;t put you in prison, Evey. I just showed you the bars.
Evey: You’re wrong! It’s just life, that’s all! It’s how life is! It’s what we’ve got to put up with. It’s all we’ve got. What gives you the right to decide it’s not good enough?
V: You’re in a prison, Evey. You were born in a prison. You’ve been in a prison so long, you no longer believe there’s a world outside.
Evey: Shut up! You’re mad! I don’t want to hear it!
V: That’s because you are afraid, Evey. You’re afraid because you can feel freedom closing in upon you. You’re afraid because freedom is terrifying…
Evey: I can’t feel anything! There’s nothing to feel! Leave me alone!
V: Don’t back away from it, Evey. Part of you understands the truth even as part pretends not to. Woman, this is the most important moment of your life. Don’t run from it.
Evey: I don’t know what… you’re… Oh god. Oh god. I can’t… breathe… Asthma. Whuh-when I was… a little guh-girl…
V: Good. You’re almost there. Go closer. Feel the shape of it. Your mother died. They took your father away. There’s a little girl, Evey, and she’s screaming…
Evey: A-huh… aa-huhh… Oh, make it stop. Mummy, daddy, please make it stop. What… are you doing to me? Oh, I can’t breathe…
V: You were in a cell, Evey. They offered you a choice between the death of your principles and the death of your body.
Evey: Oh. Oh, I can feel it… oh, what is it… oh, I’m going to die, I’m going to burst…
V: You said you’d rather die. You faced the fear of your own death, and you were calm and still. Try to feel now what you felt then…
Evey: I… uhhh. oh god… I felt… huhh… I felt… like… an angel… Oh god, I’m so scared, I’m so cold. What’s happening to me?
V: The door of the cage is open, Evey. All that you feel is the wind from outside. Don’t be afraid. Try to stand. Try to walk. The lift will take us up to the roof.
Evey: To… the roof…? Outside…? I don’t want… to be blindfolded…
V: No, Evey. No more blindfolds. All the blindfolds are gone.

The most common way of understanding V for Vendetta is as a social and political commentary. After reading the comic book I was left with the feeling that that is only the very top layer of the meaning that V for Vendetta seeks to convey. V’s awakening and Evey’s initiation are both very powerful episodes in the main plot, explaining where the knowledge and information needed in order to understand oneself, not to mention knowledge needed in order to transform society is to be gained. Consequently, I find it difficult to limit the importance of V for Vendetta to its political and societal message. For me it is primarily a story of the individual, explaining the true meaning of the word. We build our own prisons.

This has been developing over the Internet for the past few days. I still take great enjoyment in learning about movements such as this online, days before they appear in the television media. Anonymous as been releasing secret Scientology documents, promoting various videos and insider stories of former Scientology members. If you’re interested in any of these things, simply search google and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

nines_poster.jpg Someone once expressed the opinion that ‘Butterfly Effect’ is comparable in quality to one of my all time favorite films, ‘Donnie Darko’. I disagree and have been waiting for another film to outdo it. Perhaps my hopes were too high for ‘Southland Tales’ and although it is a great film, which I await to see again in better quality, it had failed to capture the same essence of ‘Donnie Darko’. Richard Kelly’s first film will always have a special place in my heart, but I think it may have found a new contender.

‘The Nines’ is sort of like ‘Donnie Darko’ meets ‘The Fountain’ with a modern and quite timely twist. And for those of you who are fans, it’s quite Grant Morrison-esque. Not wanting to spoil the experience too much with my already excessive praise, I must mention that the film also defies genres, leaving the viewer in expectation of what could possibly come next.

This film is executed perfectly! If you like the ideas on this blog then you’ll LOVE this film. Do not read any synopses or reviews… just go out and see the film! Go!

P.S. Look For The Nines (or 23, to each their own)

Update: If the film wasn’t cool enough already…

The director of the hit 2007 movie ‘The Nines’ says he’s been monitoring BitTorrent for its inevitable leak: “Sony, Interpol and the MPAA will do their best,” he says, “but as the guy who made the movie, I honestly want people to see the movie. If the only way you’re going to watch The Nines is illegally, so be it.”

Via Torrent Freak
Download: The Nines Torrent

This supports what a lot of people have been saying for many years. I advocate transparent and unbiased research into these drugs and their effects. This is something that is difficult to do in a medical system that is primarily interested in  profit rather than the well-being of patients. Of course, it would be dangerous to dismiss these drugs based solely on these latest findings. We do not want to throw out the baby with the bath water, so to speak. However, a revaluation is sorely needed.

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