Thursday, December 12, 2019

Awareness and Consciousness

If consciousness is the pervasive, intelligent energy from which all things emanate, what exactly is awareness? Is it a localized expression of consciousness within a living creature? I say "creature" because animals and plants are aware — although, perhaps, less self-aware than humans — yet probably more aware in and of their natural surroundings than we humans are.

A person's senses are less tuned to their surroundings because civilization offloads various tasks to specialists: food cultivation and gathering, security and protection, habitation and sheltering come to mind. Not having to do these things, the things we take for granted, actually dulls our overall awareness, making it more difficult for us to be, or to become, self-aware.
"To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are… Yet it is remarkable that the very people who are most self-dissatisfied and crave most for a new identity have the least self-awareness. They have turned away from an unwanted self and hence never had a good look at it. The result is that those most dissatisfied can neither dissimulate nor attain a real change of heart. They are transparent, and their unwanted qualities persist through all attempts at self-dramatization and self-transformation."
~ BRUCE LEE - Bruce Lee on Self-Actualization
What role does awareness play in our lives? Is it necessary? Is it a quality or a skill we can learn or acquire? Is it incremental? Something we can gradually snuggle into? Something that connects us to higher consciousness? Something that illuminates and enlightens? If so, how do we acquire it? How are awareness and self-awareness related?

When we think of awareness, we might cite spatial, temporal, directional, and emotional as types of awareness.

Let's start with the spatial variety, a quality many people seem to lack even a basic sense of. Is that bad? Depends on how it affects you. In Paris, some streets are narrow and crowded: people walk directly into each other without thinking anything of it. They don't even try to avoid one another, leaving foreigners mystified. "Why don't they watch where they're going?" is a common reaction. Part of it may be cultural: the French don't respect lines; they cut right in and no one complains. What makes it even more startling to the outsider is the lines are long, but unlike, say, an American, they don't think cutting in is unfair. Welcome to Germany, where people respect lines and form them automatically.

Something I've noticed recently: in American grocery stores — the ones with narrow aisles — some people allow their carts to block the aisle, heedless that someone else is trying to pass. I try to figure out what's in the back of a person's mind when they block the aisle. Is the person making a statement on a subliminal level: "I'm not getting enough attention. If I block the aisle, people will notice my new hairdo."

Spatial awareness is a very basic form of awareness: you in relation to objects, animals, and people. I don't know which is worse — getting upset when someone blocks the aisle or letting it get to me. I compare this type of lack of awareness to being out of sync with the circadian rhythm; both are the result of an inflated sense of self-importance, which, itself, is the result of being over-civilized.

Which brings us to emotional or psychological awareness, the antidote for our detachment from nature and our self-alienation — the notion that when you block the aisle, you are aware that you are doing the blocking, and that someone is being blocked. This is the self-awareness, the self-remembering, that Gurdjieff and Ouspensky wrote about — being aware of self and other at all times so you can control, not only your conduct, but also your emotional response to every situation — what pathfinders like Gurdjieff and Gopi Krishna recognized as the doorway to the energy continuum of higher consciousness. 

If you stay at home, never go out, your life consists of the remote control and whatever's in the fridge. Once you step outside, however, you're in the world of emotional responses and self-awareness.

Growing up, I didn't think about self-awareness. Nevertheless, without my realizing it, my first thirty years were a quest for self-actualization and one of its offshoots — self-awareness. Everywhere I looked, every door I opened led to failure and further bouts of self-destructive misadventure, but I kept looking.

Then, one day in 1971, I began a meditation based on The Secret of the Golden Flower — without any foreknowledge or expectation of an outcome, either material or immaterial. No dreams of illumination, no fantasies of enlightenment. No Facebook, no Internet, very little word of mouth, it was a much different world back then. I was on my own before anything happened and when something did, I was still on my own.

What happened was kundalini, not an awakening so much as an earthquake that shook my body and unleashed a multitude of autonomous and autonomic resources that started to retrofit my body. Here "Retrofit" is used in its dictionary definition: an act of adding a component or accessory to something that did not have it when manufactured. Of course, kundalini was present, but like a computer program that includes a secret feature to be activated at some future date, it was dormant. It did not have to be added, only awakened.

All of which, at the same time it revitalized my being, revealed to me the self-awareness I had so vainly sought.
"This body of ours is something like an electric battery in which a mysterious power latently lies. When this power is not properly brought into operation, it either grows mouldy and withers away or is warped and expresses itself abnormally. It is the object of Zen, therefore, to save us from going crazy or being crippled. This is what I mean by freedom, giving free play to all the creative and benevolent impulses inherently lying in our hearts. Generally, we are blind to this fact, that we are in possession of all the necessary faculties that will make us happy and loving towards one another. All the struggles that we see around us come from this ignorance… When the cloud of ignorance disappears… we see for the first time into the nature of our own being."
~ DT SUZUKI - What Freedom Really Means

And through this self-awareness, I became aware of the consciousness that is the Mother of all things — truly the gift that gives on giving. I was folded into it. And why not?

It's in us and all around us. Ready for us to become absorbed, assimilated, integrated into It free of charge. Yet, just as Suzuki warned us, our connection to it is tenuous and fragile. To not avail ourselves of it carries with it difficult-to-avoid, dangerous tendencies, so ably described here by Bruce Lee.
"There is a powerful craving in most of us to see ourselves as instruments in the hands of others and thus free ourselves from the responsibility for acts that are prompted by our own questionable inclinations and impulses. Both the strong and the weak grasp at this alibi. The latter hide their malevolence under the virtue of obedience; they acted dishonorably because they had to obey orders. The strong, too, claim absolution by proclaiming themselves the chosen instrument of a higher power — God, history, fate, nation, or humanity."
 ~ BRUCE LEE - Bruce Lee on Self-Actualization
There are ways of avoiding these ensnarements; mine happened to be the unwitting result of kundalini meditation that, during the time I practiced it, never once did I encounter the term "kundalini," proving, once again, that labels don't much matter.

I didn't have to work at cultivating awareness; it was byproduct of the consciousness (as manifested through kundalini) that took over the superintendence of my being.
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Friday, November 1, 2019

Why Didn't Judy Sing Judy?

The creators of the new movie, Judy, made a conscious choice NOT to use her singing voice. Rather they used the voice of their star, Renée Zellweger. That's like using Ronan O'Sullivan Farrow's voice in a Frank Sinatra biopic. God forbid...

What does this have to do with kundalini?  Investigators such as Gopi Krishna have written about the effects of a kundalini awakening, not only on those who meditate for it or those who are spontaneously struck by it, but also as it concerns people of genius, who, they believe, appear to have been born with an operational kundalini. By that I mean the energy centers that ordinary people must cultivate, either on purpose or accidentally, are already functioning at birth in people of genius. As of yet, how this works, no one knows.
“Look For The Silver Lining" - sung by Judy Garland in Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)
These writers have cited Walt Whitman, Einstein, Maurice Bucke, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer as examples of genius so extraordinary that some advanced aspect of physiological evolution must be at work in their beings that allows them unequaled mastery in their field, combining the ability to focus with special insight into the nature of things. This faculty manifests itself in many ways.

How did they come up with these names? Why the list was restricted to thinkers and philosophers I don't know? Nevertheless, I'd like to broaden the list to include, not only to great intellects, but also writers, athletes, artists, singers and musicians.

No mention is made of how geniuses — of the academic sort — conduct their lives. Whether: they are happily married. Have hobbies. Pay taxes. Have lots of friends. Are moody. Are on good terms with their children. Mistreat their servants. Have an addiction.

The same is not true for the second group — a sample of which I nominate: Willie Mays, Thelonious Monk, Charles Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Mozart, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, Aretha Franklin, Stanley Kubrick, and yes, Judy Garland and a select few others. Their celebrity, especially for those who've lived in this era of mass media scrutiny, fed their various urges, co-opting and overwhelming them.

Celebrity  becomes notoriety. Not for all, of course. But genius does not necessarily equate to stability, not for Mozart or Judy. Personal relations and personal affairs are often mismanaged or neglected by geniuses. Still, we wonder at their uniqueness, their one-in-a-million virtuosity. There's a big difference between average and genius. A gaping chasm that director Rupert Goold did not dare to cross. According to Internet commentary, he forced Renée Zellweger to use her own voice because he believed pantomiming and lip syncing would destroy the spontaneity of her performance.

That's like using someone else's voice in a Aretha Franklin or a Barbra Streisand or a Ray... uh-oh, Charles biopic? Hmm, hasn't that flic already been made? Didn't his performance win an Oscar for Jamie Foxx? Didn't he lip sync to Ray Charles's original music? Wasn't the result edited in to perfection? Didn't the fact that director Taylor Hackford made performance and music fit together seamlessly make it the best musical biopic ever? Can you imagine substituting someone else's voice? I can't...

Sadly, Rupert Goold thought the lip-sync challenge too great for Judy, making an idea for a good film ho-hum. Yet, he even wrote into his script the most important factor in a musical picture: In the beginning of the film, the Louis B. Mayer character tells teen-age Judy that what sets her apart from Lana Turner and Ava Gardner is not glamor or beauty, but her unique voice. Evidently, Goold didn't want to follow his character's evaluation. (PS. I think she's both beautiful and glamorous.)
Judy Garland sings Little Drops Of Rain on The Jack Paar Show (1962)
It's not Renée Zellweger's fault; she has a pleasant singing voice. But she's not the genius Judy Garland was. Nowhere near, and it shows. Her voice lacks Judy's emotional power and color, and that doesn't even count its beauty. 

That's why Ray was so good. That's why La Vie en Rose, the Edith Piaf biopic, was so great. The producers used the real Piaf's singing voice, not some imitation. It's not only my opinion, it's Marion Cotillard's, the star of La Vie en Rose, as she so cogently expressed it on the Graham Norton show in this YouTube interview.

Viewers, vaguely familiar with the real Judy Garland, might be charmed by Zellweger's performance, might also be charmed by her pleasant voice, willing to let her performance overshadow the music. Real music lovers, however, cannot. Why not? Because the real Judy's voice is the only authentic element that connects any spoken or visual depiction to the real Judy Garland — her voice, with its color, its quivering vibrato, perfect pitch, powerful crescendos, and breathless tremolos.

These people might also defend the director's choice, say I have no right to criticize such a wonderful performance. They be wrong on that count...and, and probably unfamiliar with Judy Garland's body of work. You can't compare Zellweger's voice to Judy's, especially if you've never listened to Judy sing. 

What's more, didn't Judy have a hard enough life — exhaustively sensationalized in this interpretation — without having her legacy adulterated?

Here's an incisive comment on La Vie En Rose that sums up the musical biopic discussion:
“Piaf's magnificent, emotional singing is fully complemented by Cotillard's balls to the wall performance. Heart and soul are in total sync here and Cotillard manages to age astonishingly well. This is a terrible tale of a child grotesquely abandoned emotionally by her parents. Piaf's will to live is inspiring even in the face of self-destruction that makes Judy Garland's own battles with alcohol and drugs seem minor in comparison. The parallels to both women are hard to ignore. The rest of the cast is first-rate, and the film beautifully evokes the eras covered in her life. Best of all there is the great Piaf recorded legacy which is well-handled here. There's no sense that Cotillard is not singing and that's a testament to the skill that suffuses this fine film. Excellent.”
~ IMDb Movie review - La Vie en Rose (2007)
In spite of their personal issues, geniuses like Judy always give more than they take:

Click below to view some of Judy's most iconic performances.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

When I Was Twenty-Two

In the yoga and/or kundalini meditation methods you practice, do you include specific diet and/or exercise practices? When I was twenty-two, I know I didn't. Not that I was a steak or ribs eater only; I wasn't. I ate vegetables or salad with lunch and dinner. My diet was well within the guidelines set forth by the Surgeon General at the time, guidelines that are changing all the time — sometimes even reinstating foodstuffs that were previously proscribed.
It's not impossible to reduce meat intake

Had I known then what I now believe to be true, I would have modified my diet. Why? In order to get the most benefit from yoga or meditation, you need a fully functioning body with all systems and subsystems at peak efficiency.

Trouble is, at age twenty-two, you assume that all systems are Go! This may NOT be the case, but telling a twenty or a thirty-something to have a checkup is a futile exercise. In case you didn't know, twenty-two year olds are immortal!

How do you measure your system's efficiency? A bare minimum would entail:
  • Charting your weight and body mass,
  • Having a bi-annual blood test,
  • Monitoring blood pressure.
These actions give you a vital heads-up on the four major deadly diseases: cancer, stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular. Why should you do this?

Not even an active kundalini can overcome the ill effects of clogged arteries. What's more, you may appear to be functioning at a high level, but just below the surface, you have a runaway cholesterol or blood sugar.

The solution? Once you take an interest in the state of your health (especially important for those practicing kundalini meditation), you can start making an effort to optimize your systems.

“Formerly, the medical profession didn’t even think it was possible to reverse heart disease. Drugs were given to try to slow the progression, and surgery was performed to circumvent clogged arteries to try to relieve symptoms, but the disease was expected to get worse and worse until you died. Now, however, we know that as soon as we stop eating an artery-clogging diet, our bodies can start healing themselves, in many cases opening up arteries without drugs or surgery.”

~ Greger, Michael. How Not To Die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

As you age, it's easy to misinterpret symptoms. For example, shortness of breath could be self-diagnosed as the result of aging when it's really due to the gradual clogging of arteries. The result: you tell yourself "I'm growing older. I don't have as much energy" and you forgo having a medical checkup. I know. It happened to me.

Clogged arteries means high cholesterol, a condition a blood test can easily detect and which, if done regularly, can not only bring your cholesterol levels down, it can, with proper diet and exercise, repair damaged arteries. At least, that's what Dr. Greger, the author of the following book, offers clinical evidence of, starting with this no-holds-barred advisory: "It’s the Cholesterol, Stupid!"

This is the TOC of a book my doctor, a young progressive person, recommended.

After following its guidelines (spoiler: this book is not a sort of trendy diet, it is a set guidelines) for two months, I lost twenty pounds, I was able to do the Heart Stress Test without straining, and my cholesterol dropped from 164 to 47. These guidelines are not just for old fogies like me, they can help anyone (even a twenty-two year old) get the jump on cholesterol and trans fats, the two most dangerous elements that began clogging your arteries at an early age.
Kundalini Books
JJ Semple's Kundalini Books

Now, at age 81, I do a blood test every four months. The changes in my eating habits have jump-started my kundalini, allowing it to continue expanding both body and consciousness.
“Popeye was right when he bragged that he was strong to the finish because he ate his spinach. Dark-green, leafy vegetables are the healthiest foods on the planet. As whole foods go, they offer the most nutrition per calorie. Just to emphasize the point, there was a study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer entitled Antioxidant, Antimutagenic, and Antitumor Effects of Pine Needles. Edible leaves, in all their shapes and sizes, it seems, can be healthy foods. In 1777, General George Washington issued a general order that American troops should forage for wild greens growing around their camps 'as these vegetables are very conducive to health, and tend to prevent all putrid disorders.' Since then, however, Americans have declared their independence from greens. Today, only about one in twenty-five even reach a dozen servings throughout the course of an entire month. I advise getting more than a dozen servings per week.”
~ Greger, Michael. How Not To Die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease (p. 350). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition.
Only a few years ago in 2015, I believed I was in fine shape — no health vulnerabilities, no deficiencies. Was I ever wrong. Since then I've become vigilant. Yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi are excellent early warning mechanisms for conditions like shortness of breath. If you notice a change in performance, don't wait. Get with your doctor. The four deadly diseases are degenerative — the result of deteriorating organs: liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, intestines, stomach. In most cases, they are due to the substances — liquids, solids, and gasses — that you ingest:
"We’ve known for nearly two decades that a single fast-food meal—Sausage and Egg McMuffins were used in the original study—can stiffen your arteries within hours, cutting in half their ability to relax normally. And just as this inflammatory state starts to calm down five or six hours later—lunchtime! You may once again whack your arteries with another load of harmful food, leaving many Americans stuck in a danger zone of chronic, low-grade inflammation. Unhealthy meals don’t just cause internal damage decades down the road but right here and now, within hours of going into your mouth."
~ Greger, Michael. How Not To Die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease (p. 28). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition.
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Sunday, August 18, 2019

All Life Phases Have Karmic Meaning For Kundalini

Each kundalini instance is different from every other instance, just as every human being’s metabolic, somatic, anatomical, psychological, intellectual, and cognitive characteristics vary.
Mystic Lake in Spring
Find a Lake and Walk Around It

I wouldn't worry too much about God, faith and other religious tropes; kundalini is first a physical transformation that ultimately does lead to the metaphysical and to higher consciousness.

All life phases have karmic meaning — what you were, what you are, and what you will be involved in before, during, and after awakening are equally significant. Wise men and women know the journey is just as important as the destination. You didn't just make kundalini happen. Something led you to it. Ask yourself: Did I find kundalini or did it find me?

Whatever its origin, when the kudalini process started, I gradually realized there were no religious overtones. I didn't need to believe in some dogma or faith. If I was to succeed, I needed proceed as a scientist.

I read other people's accounts, not because they applied to my particular struggle. Some did; some didn't. The ones I identified with offered methodological insights into the kundalini awakening process. In turn, when I wrote an account of my kundalini experience, I provided only such information as I myself had been able to verify, information about the challenges and the choices one makes as the process unfolds. I followed that book with two more books, in each instance seeking to clarify and demystify the process, making it more evidence-based than faith-based.
Heron in a lake
Are There Birds in Your Lake?

Your body is a laboratory; you are the subject in an experiment. How it turns out depends on your ability to observe yourself and make the right choices. You need to act like a detective, sifting the clues and the feedback you receive from your body — and they will manifest themselves.

PD Ouspensky stated:
"There is no question of faith in all this. Quite the opposite, this system teaches people to believe in absolutely nothing. You must verify everything you see, hear, or feel. Only in that way can you come to something."

Biology is an expression of consciousness. You started out knowing only your physical body and its surroundings. To advance beyond those barriers, you must apply Ouspensky’s precepts to your life.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Experiencing Kundalini: Has It Jump-Started Evolution?

Kundalini is the result of stimulating the human body's most powerful energy source — our sexual essences. We call this energy stimulation process Sexual Sublimation. It consists of internalizing the energy produced by the sexual organs, distilling said energy into an etherized elixir some call psychic fuel to allow this psychic fuel to be drawn up the spinal column into the brain where it produces an eruption we call, for lack of a more global term, a kundalini experience.

This energy may be stimulated in a number of ways:
  • By voluntarily practicing energy cultivation techniques such as yoga and meditation,
  • By involuntarily doing any number of things, up to and including doing nothing at all. It just happens on its own,
  • It may also not be stimulated by the voluntary practice of energy stimulation techniques, no matter how hard you, the practitioner, works at it. There seems to be a karmic aspect that governs success in this work. At present, we know very little about why the sexual sublimation process works for some, but not for others.
Whether you call it Orgone, Chi, Life Force, or some other name, Kundalini is but a single energetic phenomenon with as many ways of manifesting itself as there are people on earth. One energy; infinite ways of experiencing it. Why is this? It's because of individual differences in people — physical, emotional, intellectual, somatic, metabolic, psychological, anatomical. The myriad variations of human vitality and form ensure that the process varies from individual to individual: no two kundalini experiences are exactly the same.

Mantak Chia
Esoteric Human Anatomy (Microcosmic Orbit) - Mantak Chia
In each kundalini experience — whether voluntary or involuntary, purposeful or accidental, permanent or temporary, sought after or unwanted — a distillate amount of sexual energy enters the brain and, depending on the purity of the psychic fuel and the condition of the channels it uses, the result is a variation of kundalini activation that depends on individual differences.

We know that the energy cultivation techniques that induce kundalini have been practiced for centuries — before the dawn of recorded history. What we don't know is whether the new-age surge of interest in and the practice of these techniques at the present time has in any way hurried or "jump-started" human evolution. Has the widespread interest in meditation sparked a tectonic shift in evolution such that a cursory study of popular culture, social trends, world events points to the expansion of higher consciousness? Do you see it?

I don't. Perhaps it's a question of time. We shouldn't believe that the baser aspects of human nature have triumphed just yet. It's going to take a long time to see an evolutionary increase in higher consciousness.

Which begs the questions:
  1. How much time do we have, and?
  2. Should we even worry about evolution?
Answer One: Time is running out...
Answer Two: Yes! Furthermore, you should know why the answer is Yes. It's why we're here — to evolve, as in Gopi Krishna's notion of the evolutionary impulse.

So, if you're not sure why you've chosen a particular spiritual path and/or practice, now's a good time to discover, if you don't yet know, why you're doing it.
"Evolutionary developments generally start with a few individuals of a species, scattered in time and location. Over long periods of time these developments eventually become a widespread, then permanent feature of that species as a whole. We would therefore expect that this new evolutionary faculty might already have shown itself infrequently in some individuals of the human race.
"The three primary characteristics of this new faculty would therefore be 1) a direct perception of consciousness as an aspect of Creation independent of matter, 2) an ability to acquire knowledge from that consciousness without the use of the intellect, and 3) an extremely infrequent distribution of individuals with this new faculty over a long period of time."
Bradford, Michael. Consciousness: The New Paradigm (pp. 51-52). Institute for Consciousness Research. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Liberal or Conservative: Are Humans Hardwired?

Having lived with kundalini for 50 years, it's natural that I compare my pre-kundalini state to its after state. What do I mean by this?

I'm talking about human behavior — what makes us do and believe the things we do. Having lived through a reflexive pre-kundaini state provides a frame of reference; I have a post-state to compare my pre-state thinking and actions to. Not that I have all the answers; I don't. But I do have some questions. For instance, what makes some of us believe that we don't need to care for the environment?

Over the last 20 years, I've started to think that humans may be hardwired to believe the things they do. If that is the case let's try to figure out what hardwired means in relation to human beliefs and actions.

I won't cite the scientific studies; I'll stick to my own observations. Maybe I'm not being scientific enough, but the worldwide weather situation has changed — in some areas for the worse, in others for the better. Leaving aside the question of better or worse, can we agree on this one fact — the weather IS changing?

It seems that the people that disagree with this statement are hardwired to the extent that they reject any and all discussion, study, and/or statistics on the matter because someone in authority who they respect told them to. They are authoritarian-minded with a tendency to comply. That doesn't mean they are stupid; they're not. However, their intelligence confines them to accepting facts within a certain field, but not beyond it. For instance, they may be highly educated electrical engineers, administrators, or doctors, but when approaching a subject like the weather, outside their specific field, they bow to an outside authority that may be less than qualified to comment on the subject.

Third Reich destroyed millions
Conservative: Authoritarian-Mined Nazism Destroyed Germany
The people that agree with this statement are hardwired to the extent that they are open to any postulate and are ready to study and debate it. They are free-minded with a tendency to disagree with one another on the finer points and thereby splinter into factions. That, too, doesn't mean they are stupid; they're not. It does mean it is difficult for them to agree with like-minded colleagues because they always want to go their own way, improving and embellishing. For them, authority is always to be questioned.
Liberal: The Free-Minded French Revolution Devolved into Dictatorship

In debate and propaganda the authority-minded have an advantage: they are of one mind in following their leaders in lockstep. The free-minded, on the other hand, are constantly bickering. Because they speak with many voices, it takes them longer to formulate their positions.

What does this mean for American democracy? It means that extreme elements in both tendencies are growing more and more rigid in their stances and their beliefs. Hard wired brains are resistant to compromise.

Other signs of irreparable deadlock are:
  • Rarely do members of one group change tendencies.
  • Name calling and personal attacks are the rule, not the exception.
  • Nothing gets done.
Why is this important? Compromise is the lifeblood of democracy.

Why is it important for those seeking illumination through energy cultivation practices like kundalini meditation? When kundalini awakens in a host body, the person wants to believe that he/she is on the road to illumination. Does this mean that kundalini will somehow magically lead the individual away from these tendencies, towards a state that is above the fray?
"One danger for those who’ve experienced awakenings of some kind is the immediate co-opting of the experience by the ego–the awakening becomes another story that bolsters the ego identification. The shift in consciousness fades and one moves back into identification with thoughts. That was my immediate experience after the psychosis. I was my thoughts again and the awakening was relegated to an experience that I’d ‘had.’"
~ The Hidden Dangers of Early Enlightenment - Kara-Leah Grant
I'm suspicious of premature claims to enlightenment. For me kundalini first addresses physical irregularities and only after these are taken care of does it start to open up metaphysical vistas.

I'm not sure that an active kundalini guarantees the individual is on the road to illumination. Quite the contrary, there is lots of work to be done on the body and on the ego. What's more, illumination is not the brass ring on the merry-go-round: I personally know of examples of both tendencies who have an active kundalini.
"The first, and also in my opinion the most ominous, of the fundamental problems now threatening American democracy is our accelerating deterioration of political compromise. As I previously explained, political compromise is one of the basic advantages of democracies as compared to dictatorships, because it reduces or prevents both tyranny by a majority and its converse of paralysis by a frustrated minority. The U.S. Constitution sought to create pressure for compromise by devising systems of checks and balances. For instance, our president leads government policy, but Congress controls the government’s budget, and the Speaker of the House (Congress’s lower chamber) sets the House’s agenda for acting on presidential proposals. If, as regularly happens, our representatives in Congress disagree among themselves, and if backers of one view cannot muster sufficient votes to impose their will, a compromise must be reached before the government can do anything.
"But political compromise in the U.S. has been deteriorating from the mid-1990’ s onwards, and especially from around 2005. Compromise has been breaking down not only between our two major political parties, but also between the less moderate and more moderate wings of each party. That’s especially true within the Republican Party, whose more extreme Tea Party wing has mounted primary election challenges against moderate Republican candidates for re-election who had compromised with Democrats. As a result, the 2014–2016 Congress passed the fewest laws of any Congress in recent American history, was behind schedule in adopting budgets, and risked or actually precipitated government shutdown."
~ Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis - Jared Diamond

I'd like to believe that kundalini induces a higher consciousness that awakens inactive areas of the brain, for example, the centers that govern dialog and compromise.

That's what the founders set out to do with their interwoven system of checks and balances, believing these mechanisms would always be able to offset the twin excesses of authoritarianism and babelism. In effect, the founders either believed we could evolve and checks and balances would provide a little nudge or we couldn't evolve and checks and balances would save us from ourselves. I'm just not sure that we have evolved. Why?

The politics of today are the politics of Marius and Sulla that I read about in 10th grade Roman history class.

How little those centers of the human brain that govern politics and social betterment have progressed in 2,000 years! Could it be that these centers of the brain are hardwired, if not at birth, then over time?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Capitalism & Kundalini

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

As a high school student, this was one of my favorite poems in my literature book. I’m not sure that today’s student has a literature book, much less the same reverence for English poetry that we had. Nevertheless, this poem stood out for three very good reasons:
  1. It was short.
  2. It was easy to understand.
  3. There was a certain majesty to the language, which, after all, is the point of poetry.
We are at a juncture. We are approaching an Ozymandias moment in our living history. A moment when science and logic give way to emotion, xenophobia, and irrational forces. Facing challenges in every area — health, economy, social, political, environmental, educational — the greatest challenges mankind has ever faced, we seem destined to retreat into a parochial and narrow-minded mindset.

Ask yourself:
    • Are we healthy?
    • Are we economical?
    • Do we perform our civic duties?
    • Do we care for the environment?
    • Do we educate our children well?

The Answer Is NO!
So, even in the face of dwindling resources, shrinking markets, and worldwide health and environmental crises, we do not have the will power to turn our lives and our destiny around. Even though in each instance, we have the knowledge and technology to fix these conditions.

First thing we have to do is admit that we have done a bad job and accept that it no longer matters who’s the greatest country in the world. This is a holdover emotion that keeps us tied to the past. We no longer need a greatest country, yet we continue to heap praise on the “greatest generation.” Why? Quite simply, not much has gone right since then. The “greatest generation” and nostalgia for it are devices to keep us rooted in the past instead of preparing for the future. Right now, the future is upon us.

How Do We Prepare For It?
The problem with capitalism is it’s largely based on psychology, on creating an atmosphere where people feel good about investing. If they feel good about investing, they will feel good about accepting and extending credit, and the wheels continue to turn.

Once, however, there’s a psychological meltdown so that those self-same investors no longer feel like investing or extending credit, everything freezes. That’s what we have today. We’re on the brink of an Ozymandias moment.

Try to picture such a moment. Contrary to popular belief, they are not produced by some sort of conflagration, but by slow collapse, the kind of collapse Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jared Diamond, describes in his book of the same name, Collapse. Diamond studied a series of ancient civilizations  — the Norse in Greenland, the Easter Islanders — and came up with a set of common causes:
  • an insistence on sticking to a way of life that had become no longer viable,
  • the man-made destruction of the environment.
In the case of Easter Island, it meant cutting down all the trees on the island in order to have wooden tracks and sleds for transporting monolithic statues of their ancestral Gods (Moai) to other locations on the island. Diamond's UCLA students wondered, “What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say as he was doing it?"

He goes on to provide reasons for these types of disastrous decisions:
       1. Failure to anticipate the problem because they have no prior experience to refer to
            a. Failure to anticipate on account of false analogy
       2.  Failure to anticipate the problem before it arrives.
            a. Some problems are imperceptible
            b. Distant managers not aware of problem
            c. Slow trend, concealed by up-and-down fluctuations
      3.  Failure to attempt to solve a problem once it has been perceived.

Today we have Easter Island and Greenland on a worldwide scale. Imagine Easter Island after the trees have been chopped down. We still have the Moai. Our way of life is safe. Everything’s the same; those naysayers are bad for bizness. Yes, everything is the same…until it turns to dust. When Captain Cook sailed into Easter Island in 1774, he found the last remnants of a dying civilization.

... Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

When it happens to us on a much larger scale, all the government buildings in Washington will continue to stand upright. Everything will look the same, only it won’t be the same. 

That’s Day One: the day after the last tree is cut down, after the credit machine goes dry, after the sons of Ozymandias, king of kings, or the generals of Alexander quarrel and divide the empire. You walk outside one day and there’s rampant inflation, currency devaluation, foreign ownership, no credit, no liquidity, no jobs, roaming packs of looters, martial law — the invisible signs of imminent collapse, all of which begin not to matter as the world economy and civil society crumbles.

Deserted Pennsylvania Incinerator

The important buildings, the monuments, the statues are still there. But after a while, they, too, will begin to crumble. The only difference between us today and the ancient civilization of Shelley’s poem is that there are no new spaces to conquer; we are stretched to the limit — economically and geopolitically.

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What’s more, given the perilous state of our environment, we will run out of resources, so it won’t be only a matter of the Chinese Empire replacing the American. Why? Because world empires need resources to maintain their hegemony, and there won’t be any resources left. As soon as we run out of carbon-based energy, we’ll start chopping trees with a vengeance. The entire world will resemble the barren wasteland of Easter Island.

Think I’m exaggerating? Check out the History Channel’s Life After People series. But before you do, I’ll go out on a limb and predict your reaction: You won’t like this series. In fact, you’ll probably agree with the prevailing wisdom on various message boards that "This is a Silly Show." The conventional wisdom says it is, so it must be. Besides, we don’t like the way it makes us feel. Uncomfortable. Inadequate. Irrelevant. Obsolete. Impotent. Helpless. Weak. Incapable. Vulnerable. Well, if we let things get to that point — no trees, nature completely destroyed, economy in ruins — we will be all these things.

To avoid this, we must act — for the Ozymandias moment is avoidable. At least one critic on the message board got it right:
“The show is not about why or how people are gone or have been removed. Degradation of cities and civilizations can be observed directly.

“But this show is fantasy. They don't know any of this will happen. All these buildings could fall and decay long before the last man standing is born. It has happened before to the Egyptians, the Mayans, Carthage, Chernobyl. But it is only interesting because we can see it in the past. It can guide us in the future.

“This show has nothing to do with science or history. This show makes wild speculations. It's only justification is to make us feel guilty for existing, and to look to a brighter, supposedly more natural, future without the species which is most offensive to nature; Humans. You. Everyone you know.”

Well, he/she sorta got it right.

Straight-lining in Capitalism is Impossible
Another hallmark of capitalism: there’s no such thing as a “status quo;” there’s only up or down. A company, an economy are either in the black or in the red. Why? Because it’s impossible to hold costs the same from year to year. It’s impossible to maintain sales from year to year. Costs go up or down (usually up). Sales go up or down, and in this economy as markets reach their saturation point and there are fewer new markets to replace them. We will see a dampening in sales and profits, and therefore a continuing slowdown in investment. Declining employment. Lower tax revenues. Fewer social and community services. Yet, with the inevitable rise in paranoia, an increase in military spending.
How were we able to maintain such an advanced, abundant lifestyle? How did it get to the point of near collapse so quickly?

In his book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, author John Perkins laid out the reasons we have maintained economic hegemony over most of the world for the last 65 years. Using a three-tiered strategy of Economic Hitmen (EHM), CIA subversion, and military power successive postwar governments, Republican and Democrat, were able to create and maintain markets. As he points out, most of the time we never had to use the CIA (jackals) or the military because our economic strangulation techniques totally destabilized the countries we controlled. According to Perkins, “The most common approach for EHMs is to identify a third world country with resources our corporations covet, like oil, water, wood, construction. Then arrange a huge loan to that country from the World Bank or a sister organization. But the money does not go to the people in that country. Instead, the target country’s government uses the loan to hire US corporations to build power plants, industrial parks, and other infrastructure projects that benefit a few wealthy local families, as well as the US corporations, but do not help the majority of the people who are too poor to use electricity, not skilled enough to work in industrial parks, and basically live outside the economic system. The country ends up owing a huge debt that it cannot repay. So we EHM go back to the country and say 'since you can’t pay your debts, give us a pound of flesh: sell your oil real cheap to our oil companies, or vote with us on the next UN vote, or send troops to support ours in someplace like Iraq.'


“On the few occasions when we fail, the jackals are sent in to overthrow the government or assassinate the leaders we EHM were unable to corrupt. This happened with me in Panama and Ecuador where Omar Torrijos and Jaime Roldos were assassinated as a result. If the jackals fail too, then the US military goes in — as they did in Iraq.”

Preserve the way of life at all costs. Play golf and keep going to the mall. And keep looking backward. The greatest generation. The good old days. Keep repeating the mantra: We’re the greatest country in the world. Keep repeating it, and we won’t be. We’ll have lulled ourselves so completely to sleep, we may never recover. We must start telling the truth; we must start turning things around. Think in terms of: this is the greatest world in the galaxy, and take steps to make it so.

Pundits Suggests The Following
Paul Krugman, NYT
If Mr. Bernanke is reappointed, he and his colleagues need to realize that what they consider a policy success is actually a policy failure. We have avoided a second Great Depression, but we are facing mass unemployment — unemployment that will blight the lives of millions of Americans — for years to come. And it’s the Fed’s responsibility to do all it can to end that blight.

Sandy B. Lewis and William D. Cohan, NYT
We are in one of those “generational revolutions” that Jefferson said were as important as anything else to the proper functioning of our democracy. We can no longer pretend that our collective behavior as a nation for the past 25 years has been worthy of us as a people. Many of us hoped that Barack Obama’s election would redress the dire decline in our collective ethic. We are 139 days into his presidency, and while there is still plenty of hope that Mr. Obama will fulfill his mandate, his record on searching out the causes of the financial crisis has not been reassuring. He must do what is necessary to restore the American people’s — and the world’s — faith in American capitalism and in our nation. But time is wasting.

Thomas Friedman, NYT
Obama should make the centerpiece of his presidency mobilizing a million new start-up companies that won’t just give us temporary highway jobs, but lasting good jobs that keep America on the cutting edge. The best way to counter the Tea Party movement, which is all about stopping things, is with an Innovation Movement, which is all about starting things. Without inventing more new products and services that make people more productive, healthier or entertained — that we can sell around the world — we’ll never be able to afford the health care our people need, let alone pay off our debts.

Obama should bring together the country’s leading innovators and ask them: “What legislation, what tax incentives, do we need right now to replicate you all a million times over” — and make that his No. 1 priority. Inspiring, reviving and empowering Start-up America is his moon shot.

Frank Rich, NYT
There’s a reason why the otherwise antithetical Leno and Conan camps are united in their derision of NBC’s titans. A TV network has become a handy proxy for every mismanaged, greedy, disloyal and unaccountable corporation in our dysfunctional economy. It’s a business culture where the rich and well-connected get richer while the employees, shareholders and customers get the shaft. And the conviction that the game is fixed is nonpartisan. If the tea party right and populist left agree on anything, it’s that big bailed-out banks have and will get away with murder while we pay the bill on credit cards — with ever-rising fees.

Rush Limbaugh doesn’t agree...
Stating: “This guy from The New York Times, if he really thinks that humanity is destroying the planet, humanity is destroying the climate, that human beings in their natural existence are going to cause the extinction of life on Earth — Andrew Revkin. Mr. Revkin, why don't you just go kill yourself and help the planet by dying?”

Rush believes human beings are living a natural existence? Wouldn’t that be some sort of Jean-Jacques Rousseau existence? A self-sufficient, in tune with nature, consume-only-what-you-need, AVATAR existence?

Funny. I don’t see a generalized espousal of this lifestyle on our planet. I see a beginning. I see interest. I see lip service. But no wholesale rejection of consumerism. No, I’m-doing-my-part-to-overhaul the very basis of expansionist capitalism, even as we face the end of expansionism.

There’s Nowhere Left to Establish Markets
South America? Africa? Well, we went through China in a decade. And now look what’s happened. They turned the tables on us. We’re the debtors. And it’s not like when we owed the Arabs. They loaned us oil money to get a foothold in our markets. The Chinese can keep the cash flowing until they own us, our markets, our technology, our resources, our amusement parks, our media — everything.

So how do we remedy our situation? We change the nature of the capitalist model. Money, after all, is energy. We need to refine the way this energy flows. How do we do this?

It's a two-pronged effort. First, we have to implement the suggestions put forth in the September 2005 issue of Scientific American. And second, while there's a lot to do on the scientific and economic fronts, there's even more to do on the humanist front. In other words, we are not capable of making the economic, political, ecological, and social changes detailed in the Scientific American article if we apply the same limiting analyses and negative emotions that got us into this mess in the first place. We see the results of this every day on Cable TV.

Deadlock, gridlock, bickering, name calling, stonewalling, obstructionism, double-talk. No common ground in spite of the fact that we are up against Jared Diamond's Rule 3 for Disasterous Decisions: Failure to attempt to solve a problem once it has been perceived. It's not like we can't identify the problems we face; we can. We simply choose to ignore them. Extricating ourselves from this state of being requires a wholesale refashioning of human nature, which can only be induced by a mass change of consciousness.


According to Bruce Lipton these changes involve recreating ourselves as a less needy, more connected species:

Our planet is facing what scientists are calling the Sixth Great Mass Extinction. The previous five were apparently caused by objects from outer space, such as comets or asteroids, hitting the Earth. This time, the cause comes from 'inner space' — our own invisible beliefs that have spun us outside the web of life. Beginning with monotheistic religion telling us that we humans are superior and apart from other creatures on the planet, exacerbated by scientific materialism insisting human technology has the power to 'conquer' nature, we have focused so heavily on our fitness as individuals, we have failed to recognize that our fitness as a species is up for examination.”
How do we change the negative aspects of our human nature? How do we overthrow the “invisible beliefs” and negative emotions that hold us prisoner? We cannot change human nature by any traditional or orthodox means. Not by prayer, not by good works, not by psychology, education, philosophy, law, medicine, science, politics is human nature changed.

If we could change our nature merely by prayer, or one of the other means cited above, we would have already done so for people have been trying these approaches for thousands of years. We need a new approach, something that’s never been done before. We need to change our consciousness.

How Do we Change our Consciousness?
That’s the role of energy cultivation techniques, such as kundalini — a powerful, yet dormant biological mechanism in the body that allows us to realize our full potential. According to Sri Ramakrishna, “A man's spiritual consciousness is not awakened unless his Kundalini is aroused.” Kundalini stimulates neuroplastic activity in the brain, and consequently, the ability to see and experience life beyond the physical dimension.

Because kundalini effects a complete overhaul of the being, it produces a change in our reasoning and decision making processes, and our nature as a whole. That’s what happens with a change of consciousness. The old individual is reborn in a bio-natural sense, as if his DNA had been modified during his present lifetime…and it has been. We will be able to see and understand, sometimes for the first time, the moral and logical implications of every decision. Gone, one by one, are the old addictions, the old habits, the old beliefs, the old emotional prisons. This new state of consciousness effects an overhaul of human nature. Over time our negative emotions vanish. We are no longer cogs in the machine. We are no longer mere consumers. We are active participants in our own future.
In effect, a mass kundalini awakening can change the very nature of our capitalistic economic system, because, once transformed, we will no longer be a “me first” species. We will be more self-sufficient, more in tune with our resources, more adept in creating new ones, more sharing and more loving.

Be well, be one, be clear!