Sunday, August 19, 2018

"Feel That?"

"What to Do When Anxiety Overwhelms You"

"What to Do When Anxiety Overwhelms You"
by Sharon Salzberg

"The overwhelm of anxiety builds and builds - as one thought generates two more thoughts, four more spring from those. The mind proliferates, taking each feeling as fact and conjecturing another frightening scenario on that, and then another. If this, then that, and then this, and this, and this, and then we all die in a raging fire. As I travel the world teaching, my audiences frequently ask for help in stopping these rapidly escalating - and isolating - thought patterns. In this second column on anxiety, I will offer some tools for you to cope.

In my previous column on this topic, I addressed the difference between anxiety and fear. Fear is a response to an immediate threat to your safety, like coming across a bear in the forest. Your senses become alert and your muscles tense, readying you to flee. Anxiety manifests itself in the body in a similar way even though the threat that generates it arises only in the mind.

My good friend Sylvia Boorstein has thought a lot about how to handle anxiety because she suffers from it profoundly. Now in her 80s, she’s developed a number of tools to keep it at bay. She was walking through Costco recently and found herself in an aisle surrounded by big screen televisions all of which were displaying news about politics. Instantly her pulse started to race, and all her fears for the future ricocheted inside her mind, so much so that she had to stop. Sylvia took a breath and then another to bring herself out of her mind and back to her body - in the here and now.

She was in a big public place, and she was safe. From that, she expanded her thoughts to her reliable car in the parking lot, her home where she has lived comfortably for decades. Rooting herself in the present - and in her larger context - shrunk the anxiety and thereby weakened it, allowing her to go about her errand. Sylvia’s story illustrates two elements of coping with anxiety. The first is recognizing it. Is the threat in the moment, or is it in the mind? Once you name it, it’s easier to address it. You, like Sylvia, can reach for a number of tools.

Her story also illustrates how anxiety never goes away. Anxiety can cause anxiety! You can become anxious thinking that you should not be this anxious, so you must be crazy. Sylvia jokes that she is a “recovering catastrophizer,” but as we can see from this story, the recovery is ongoing. Even after decades of practice, she still has to stop to remind herself that she does not need to be alarmed right at that moment and that she has tools she can use.

Anxiety is high energy confined to a restricted space. One is always trying to bring a balance between energy and calm, peaceful concentration.

When I look at my own anxiety, I see it as unique. Many are made anxious by not knowing, but I am afraid of the things I believe to be certain. The plane is going to crash. My car is going to break down. Whether the anxiety comes from the certainty that we are right or the despair that nothing is going to ever work, we want to give this high energy a big space so it no longer bounces off the walls of the mind.

Worrying about something influences the outcome and may, in fact, consume the mental energy needed to respond to genuine fearful events. We cannot face the world deftly in a constant state of fear, but we also do not want to be daydreaming through life. As Sylvia says: “To see clearly, to make wise decisions, we need a mind that has enough strength, so you do not want it fatigued with incessant worries.”

Misty, a young woman I’ve been corresponding with about anxiety, described how she decided to address her anxiety when she realized how it was wearing her out. She became a student of it: listening to podcasts and audiobooks while taking up yoga and meditation. Misty also tried mantras, another effective tool. As you rock softly murmuring, these syllables resonate through the body and soothe the spirit. Some think chanting muffles anxiety, drowning it out with rhythmic movement and phrases. That is part of it, but you can also experience how this practice releases your anxiety by putting you in harmony with yourself and your surroundings.

You aren’t going to start rocking and chanting if you have an anxiety attack in the aisle at Costco, but you can do a lovingkindness meditation, sending good wishes for all - including yourself: May I be free from harm. May I be strong and healthy. May I be happy. May I live a life filled with ease.

Then extend those same wishes to the people you love and to the wider world. When you say those wishes sincerely, every element of the practice is a relief. The phrases channel the energy instead of allowing it to proliferate. As you do this, you are back in charge and you can feel the body relaxing as the space around your anxiety opens up and releases. When you release control, you are free to choose how to react rather than being inhibited by frightening conjectures.

Anxiety can overwhelm you at home as well, and when it does, one tool is to change your surroundings. There may be concerns at home that trigger your anxieties, and walking out the door - literally getting away from them - can give you the appropriate distance to regain control.

Sylvia sometimes walks over to the grade school near her home and watches the children playing in the yard at recess. “I see all these little people on the jungle gym and the adults acting with such care and kindness. I am reminded that there are good people, people who are not all wigged out like me, who are operating on the assumption that these little people are going to grow up and they see a world for them. This helps me see that world too.”

Misty’s determined quest to find a way to handle her anxiety has had good results, she reports: “Everything I was doing to be happy was all external. Now I have this inner resource of peace and happiness that is always replenishing me and nourishing me. My anxiety is now just a little bug that comes around every now and then. I simply hold out my finger for it to land on and then give it a little exhale and it flies away unhurt.”

Such a beautiful image, and something I wish for all of you who may become consumed by anxiety. Start by taking a breath or two to ground yourself so that you can determine if the threat you feel is real or a conjecture from circumstances. Once you know that what you feel is anxiety, you can use lovingkindness, chanting, or a change in your surroundings to create space around your anxiety to reduce its power and return your mind and body to a balanced state where you can respond more skillfully to our sometimes frightening world."

Get help now:
 If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger 
the following resources can provide you with immediate help:

We all need help sometimes. If you're considering that option please visit here:
“Reasons To Choose An Online Psychiatrist”

"An Alternative Entity..."

“The Old Testament God rules with a heavy hand over a static moral world, but I believe that our world is instead presided over by an alternative entity, the Native American deity, Coyote. Coyote is indestructible, lecherous, hilarious, and improvisational, frequently straying toward catastrophe, and surviving. Many native creation myths do not feature a world that was perfect in the beginning, but one that was made by flawed, humorous creators who never finished the job. In that world, there was never a state of grace, never a fall, and creation continues... In Yahweh’s world, only the good do good, and only virtue is rewarded. Coyote’s world is more complicated.” 
– Rebecca Solnit, "Hope in the Dark"

Well, interesting... but oh no, don't blame me! lol

"Afghanistan: The War That Shames America"

"Afghanistan: The War That Shames America"
by Eric Margolis

"After 17 bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan. There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full  might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers $4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers. No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.

Pashtun tribesmen in the Taliban alliance and their allies are fighting to oust all foreign troops from Afghanistan and evict the western-imposed and backed puppet regime in Kabul that pretends to be the nation’s legitimate government. Withdraw foreign troops and the Kabul regime would last for only days. 

The whole thing smells of the Vietnam War. Lessons so painfully learned by America in that conflict have been completely forgotten and the same mistakes repeated. The lies and happy talk from politicians, generals and media continue apace.  

This week, Taliban forces occupied the important strategic city of Ghazni on the road from Peshawar to Kabul. It took three days and massive air attacks by US B-1 heavy bombers, Apache helicopter gun ships, A-10 ground attack aircraft, and massed warplanes from US bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar and the 5th US Fleet to finally drive back the Taliban assault. Taliban also overran key military targets in Kabul and the countryside, killing hundreds of government troops in a sort of Afghan Tet offensive. Afghan regime police and army units put up feeble resistance or ran away. Parts of Ghazni were left in ruins. It was a huge embarrassment to the US imperial generals and their Afghan satraps who had claimed ‘the corner in Afghanistan has finally been turned.’

Efforts by the Trump administration to bomb Taliban into submission have clearly failed. US commanders fear using American ground troops in battle lest they suffer serious casualties. Meanwhile, the US is running low on bombs.

Roads are now so dangerous for the occupiers that most movement must be by air. Taliban is estimated to permanently control almost 50% of Afghanistan. That number would rise to 100% were it not for omnipresent US air power. Taliban rules the night.

Taliban are not and never were ‘terrorists’ as Washington’s war propaganda falsely claimed. I was there at the creation of the movement – a group of Afghan religious students armed by Pakistan whose goal was to stop post-civil war banditry, the mass rape of women, and to fight the Afghan Communists. When Taliban gained power, it eliminated 95% of the rampant Afghanistan opium-heroin trade. After the US invaded, allied to the old Afghan Communists and northern Tajik tribes, opium-heroin production soared to record levels. Today, US-occupied Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, morphine and heroin. (Estimated at $100 billion per year, as of 2017.- CP) (The US opioid crisis broadly defined bears a relationship to the export of heroin out of Afghanistan. There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2016 that number went up to 4,500,000 (2.5 million heroin addicts and 2 million casual users).")

US occupation authorities claim drug production is run by Taliban. This is another big lie. The Afghan warlords who support the regime of President Ashraf Ghani entirely control the production and export of drugs. The army and secret police get a big cut. How else would trucks packed with drugs get across the border into Pakistan and Central Asia? 

The United States has inadvertently become one of the world’s leading drug dealers. (That, my friends, is an atrocious lie. 'Inadvertently' nothing! CIA has been and very deliberately and heavily involved in the world wide drug trade for decades. - CP) This is one of the most shameful legacies of the Afghan War. But just one. Watching the world’s greatest power bomb and ravage little Afghanistan, a nation so poor that some of its people can’t afford sandals, is a huge dishonor for Americans. Even so, the Pashtun defeated the invading armies of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, the Mogul Emperors and the mighty British Raj. The US looks to be next in the Graveyard of Empires.

Nobody in Washington can enunciate a good reason for continuing the colonial war in Afghanistan. One hears talk of minerals, women’s rights and democracy as a pretext for keeping US forces in Afghanistan. All nonsense. A possible real reason is to deny influence over Afghanistan, though the Chinese are too smart to grab this poisoned cup. They have more than enough with their rebellious Uighur Muslims. 

Interestingly, the so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ supposedly found in Afghanistan in 2001 were actually guerilla training camps run by Pakistani intelligence to train Kashmiri rebels and CIA-run camps for exiled Uighur fighters from China.

The canard that the US had to invade Afghanistan to get at Osama bin Laden, alleged author of the 9/11 attacks, is untrue. The attacks were made by Saudis and mounted from Hamburg and Madrid, not Afghanistan. I’m not even sure bin Laden was behind the attacks.*  My late friend and journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave shared my doubts and insisted that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar offered to turn bin Laden over to a court in a Muslim nation to prove his guilt or innocence. President George Bush, caught sleeping on guard duty and humiliated, had to find an easy target for revenge – and that was Afghanistan.
*Really want to know?
Down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, forever...
"What Is Pashtunwali?"
by Josh

“I took my revenge after a hundred years,
and I only regret that I acted in haste.”
- A Pashtun proverb.

"I have had the privilege of getting to know more about my hosts here in Khost, Afghanistan. The Pashtun tribes are one of the oldest people-groups on earth, having lived in these mountains, the Hindu Kush, for about 6,000 years. I have undertaken (call me crazy) to learn to speak Pashto (also called Pashtu or Pakhto). Pashto is a pretty simple language, full of words for things like home, relatives, livestock, work, land, and seasons. On the other hand, almost all words for things mechanical and modern are borrowed, from English, Farsi, or Arabic. Car: motar. Cellphone: mobil. Driver: driwar.

The “Pashtun Belt” is the homeland of many Pashtuns, straddling the Afghan-Pakistan border, a mostly mountainous area, reaching from Badakhshan in the north to the border with Balochistan in the south, and westward to Herat. The arbitrary line separating Afghanistan from Pakistan was drawn up by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand in 1893 as an agreement separating Afghanistan (in which Russia had some interest) from British colonial India. Afghans generally, and Pashtuns particularly, do not recognize the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

One of the more fascinating parts of Pashtun culture is the code of tribal laws and customs, called Pashtunwali. I do not claim to be an expert in this, but this is some of what I’ve learned in my Pashto language and culture class. What follows is a summary of the laws that have governed these tribes for millenia. They have never been conquered. The Pashtuns have intermittently (and reservedly) acquiesced to a centralized government, but Pashtunwali is the law written in their hearts, as it were. Pashtunwali isn’t a written code; it is passed as oral tradition, from father to son.

Melmastia (Hospitality): Pashtuns are, like most middle-eastern people, welcoming and generous to a fault. Guests in a home will usually be offered snacks like nuts, chai (green tea), dates, raisins, or bread. I can hardly visit the bazaar to buy a scarf or a bracelet without sitting down to share a cup of chai and a bit of candy. It seems to carry more meaning than just niceties, though. Being the “guest” of a tribe or family obligates them to protect and share. This may progress to an extreme, even to the point of providing protection to one’s enemies or to a fugitive. Many have interpreted the “settling” of al Qaeda and other extremist elements in the Pashtun belt in light of melmastia, suggesting that some Pashtun tribes reluctantly but resignedly continue to host these groups.

Badal (Revenge): Injury or insults to another’s honor are avenged by the males of the tribe. There is no “statute of limitations” on this. Vengeance will be sought, whether in one day or one year or 1,000 years. Problems arise when the “settling of the score” is not perceived by both parties to be just. Other provisions of Pashtunwali then must take effect for a blood feud to end.

Nanawati (Forgiveness / Asylum): This is a fairly complex idea I still have trouble getting my head around. The word carries the idea of “entrance”, as in, entering another’s home for protection. It can mean asking for protection from one’s enemies. This usually involves some payment, such as the slaughter of a goat, cow, or sheep in front of the protector’s house. The petitioner humbles himself in this way before the protector, who then is obligated to go to extreme lengths to render assistance, protection, or hospitality to the petitioner. This could be used in cases of accidental wrongful death of a child or relative, or with long-standing feuds in which one party accepts the humility of asking for forgiveness.

Jirga (Assembly): The assembly of tribal elders (masharan) is the ultimate tribal judicial authority in matters of law. The lashkar (tribal militia) is the force which carries out the decisions of the jirga. Not surprisingly, the traditional jirga is an all-male affair. (The parliamentary system of modern Afghanistan uses the traditional language to describe their legislative houses, the Meshrano Jirga and the Wolesi Jirga being the upper and lower houses, respectively. They do, and must by law, include women.) A Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, was called to form the new constitutional government of Afghanistan.

Nagha (Tribal fine): The jirga may impose a fine on a guilty party, both as punishment for the offender, and as satisfaction for the victim.

Badragha (Tribal escort): If a tribe guarantees safe passage through an area, they are obligated by oath to uphold that committment and ensure that no harm befalls the travelers.

Lokhay Warkawal (see below): Another fairly nuanced topic that I don’t completely understand, this literally means “giving or lending of the pots.” Depending on who I talk to, it could signify providing a sort of housewarming for a newly married couple, a taking of a collection, or going to extreme lengths to protect someone from enemies. How does this all fit together? My theory is this: the down-and-out, the utterly destitute, the one who has nothing and can offer nothing, is most in need of defense and restoration. For that individual, we should go to extraordinary lengths.

Hasaya (Neighbor): A foreigner or group of foreigners may request asylum or alliance with their Pashtun hosts, and any aggression against the hasaya is interpreted as aggression against the host.

So there are most of the prominent concepts of Pashtunwali. The Pashtun culture has governed itself for thousands of years (even before Islam) based on ideas of hospitality and protection, revenge and forgiveness, and the wisdom of elders."

Musical Interlude: Vangelis, “Beautiful Planet Earth”

Vangelis, “Beautiful Planet Earth”

"A Look to the Heavens"

"The glare of Alpha Centauri, one of the brightest stars in planet Earth's night sky, floods the left side of this southern skyscape. A mere 4.3 light-years distant, Alpha Centauri actually consists of two component stars similar in size to the Sun, locked in a mutual orbit. Much smaller and cooler, a third member of the same star system, Proxima Centauri, lies outside this field of view. 
 Click image for larger size.
Still, the telescopic scene does reveal often overlooked denizens of the Milky Way's crowded galactic plane that lie beyond the glare of Alpha Centauri, including a planetary nebula cataloged as Hen 2-111, an estimated 7,800 light-years away. The gaseous shroud of a dying star, the nebula's brighter core and fainter halo of reddish ionized gas span over twenty light-years, seen just right of picture center. Farther right are two notable open clusters of stars, the compact Pismis 19 also nearly 8,000 light-years away whose light is reddened by intervening dust, and the looser, closer NGC 5617. Just visible in the glare of Alpha Centauri is the dim glow of a shell-like supernova remnant, above and right of the closest star system's bright core.”

"You May Choose..."

"The World According to the Mexican Sorcerers"

"The World According to the Mexican Sorcerers"
By Paulo Coelho

"The great majority of spiritual traditions present in the Americas before Columbus’s arrival, has managed – by some miracle! – to preserve its roots. In other words, they were stronger than the civilizations which were here, and which soon succumbed to the conquistadors. Among them, Mexican shamanism, which is still practiced by many local tribes, is one of the most widely studied; various anthropologists have carried out serious studies about the way in which the sorcerers understood God’s presence and their spiritual search. Here are some of the aspects of this understanding of the universe, drawn from various sources:

1] The absence of the personal story: in order for magical rites to pass from generation to generation, the sorcerer (shaman) must forget all he learned before his initiation into magic. According to tradition, a man or women who is tied to his past, will in the end allow himself to be governed by his parents’ way of thinking, or that of the society in which he lives. This is why all those who are initiated choose a new name and seek to free themselves from their memories, both good and bad.

2] The process of forgetting: in order to abandon the story he lived in, the sorcerer spends months on end remembering in detail each of the events of his life. Some traditions require him to spend hour after hour speaking out loud to a glass filled with water, reciting everything which happened at each meeting with each person; thus, the experience is removed from the memory and enters the water – which is then thrown into a river. In this way, the head is left “empty”, and can begin to be filled with new things.

3] Interior silence: once free of his old thoughts, the sorcerer concentrates on his inner silence, and waits for the spirits to begin telling the true story of the Universe. This silence, together with the absence of memories of the past, gives the sorcerer the sensation of total freedom to understand a new world.

4] The web: when he begins understanding his new universe, he enters a sort of trance, and “sees” that everything around us is a giant web of luminous fibers, all linked – in other words, it is a unique object, and part of the same energy. Sometimes, these luminous fibers are condensed in an egg shape, and this means that there is the soul of a human being. (Carlos Castaneda explains this vision very well in his book A Separate Reality).

5] The encounter with power: looking at his own “egg of light”, the sorcerer notices a point, which must join with the luminous fibers capable of conducting the energy of power. This energy, although it can be used by the sorcerer, cannot be manipulated – he must know how to gently lead it to his apprenticeship. Approaching this pointing of joining up is the most difficult work during initiation, and requires silence, meditation and perseverance.

6] The negative energy: some of these fibers of light conduct destructive fluid issued by other sorcerers – who seek not knowledge but control over the souls of others.

7] The “disturbance”: there is always an event in our lives which is responsible for the fact that we ceased to progress. A trauma, an especially bitter defeat, an amorous disappointment, these all lead us towards a cowardly attitude, and we refuse to go on. The shaman, during the process of forgetting his personal history, must first free himself of this “disturbance point”.

According to Mexican sorcerers (and also, curiously, to some Buddhist thinking), death enters through the region of the navel. At this moment, the “egg of light” disintegrates, and the fibers which were there blend with the energy of the universe, until they regroup again in a new form.”
"The Predator of Man"
 by Carlos Castaneda

“’Predators Mind.’ This is the Castaneda term for that which aligns man with the thought center of service to self. In “Active Side of Infinity,” Don Juan tells Castaneda of the Earth being invaded in the mists of time by creatures of condensed darkness, the so-called Flyers which use man as food. The key idea as that these cosmic predators gave man their own mind. This is reasonable in light of much other material. At the human level, a system based on exploitation and consuming and control is seen to shape people in its own image: The slave tends to dream of becoming a master rather than of abolishing slavery. Any organization based on dominance naturally takes the form of a pyramid with few at the top and most at the bottom. For man to be the bottom or in some cases intermediate level of such a system, man must have the attributes of the dominators, only at a reduced scale.

Castaneda's writings in large part deal with ways of claiming one's own in terms of energy and free will from such a system. The battle is in large part internal. One must unmask and stand up to one's internal predator first. Otherwise one's external actions, even if well motivated, take place in the paradigm and mode of the predator. The internal predator can be extremely subtle. Still, it has some general recognizable characteristics: Castaneda puts it as follows:
"The Predator of Man"

"Ah, that's the universe at large,' he said, 'incommensurable, nonlinear, outside the realm of syntax. The sorcerers of ancient Mexico were the first ones to see those fleeting shadows, so they followed them around. They saw them as you're seeing them, and they saw them as energy that flows in the universe. And they did discover something transcendental. They discovered that we have a companion for life...
We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The predator is our lord and master. It has rendered us docile, helpless. If we want to protest, it suppresses our protest. If we want to act independently, it demands that we don't do so. You have arrived, by your effort alone, to what the shamans of ancient Mexico called the topic of topics. I have been beating around the bush all this time, insinuating to you that something is holding us prisoner. Indeed we are held prisoner! This was an energetic fact for the sorcerers of ancient Mexico.'

'Why has this predator taken over in the fashion that you're describing, don Juan?' I asked. 'There must be a logical explanation.'

'There is an explanation,' don Juan replied, 'which is the simplest explanation in the world. They took over because we are food for them, and they squeeze us mercilessly because we are their sustenance. Just as we rear chickens in chicken coops, the predators rear us in human coops. Therefore, their food is always available to them.'
I felt that my head was shaking violently from side to side. I could not express my profound sense of unease and discontentment, but my body moved to bring it to the surface. I shook from head to toe without any volition on my part. 'No, no, no, no,' I heard myself saying. 'This is absurd, don Juan. What you're saying is something monstrous. It simply can't be true, for sorcerers or for average men, or for anyone.'

'Why not?' don Juan asked calmly. 'Why not? Because it infuriates you?' 'Yes, it infuriates me,' I retorted. 'Those claims are monstrous!'

'I want to appeal to your analytical mind, ' don Juan said. 'Think for a moment, and tell me how you would explain the contradiction between the intelligence of man the engineer and the stupidity of his systems of beliefs, or the stupidity of his contradictory behavior. Sorcerers believe that the predators have given us our systems of beliefs, our ideas of good and evil, our social mores. They are the ones who set up our hopes and expectations and dreams of success or failure. They have given us covetousness, greed and cowardice. It is the predators who make us complacent, routinary, and egomaniacal.'

'But how can they do this, don Juan?' I asked, somehow angered further by what he was saying. 'Do they whisper all that in our ears while we are asleep?'

'No, they don't do it that way. That's idiotic!' don Juan said, smiling. 'They are infinitely more efficient and organized than that. In order to keep us obedient and meek and weak, the predators engaged themselves in a stupendous maneuver - stupendous, of course, from the point of view of a fighting strategist. A horrendous maneuver from the point of view of those who suffer it. They gave us their mind! Do you hear me? The predators give us their mind, which becomes our mind. The predators' mind is baroque, contradictory, morose, filled with the fear of being discovered any minute now.'

Don Juan continues: 'I know that even though you have never suffered hunger... you have food anxiety, which is none other than the anxiety of the predator who fears that any moment now its maneuver is going to be uncovered and food is going to be denied. Through the mind, which, after all, is their mind, the predators inject into the lives of human beings whatever is convenient for them. And they ensure, in this manner, a degree of security to act as a buffer against their fear.

The sorcerers of ancient Mexico were quite ill at ease with the idea of when [the predator] made its appearance on Earth. They reasoned that man must have been a complete being at one point, with stupendous insights, feats of awareness that are mythological legends nowadays. And then, everything seems to disappear, and we have now a sedated man. What I'm saying is that what we have against us is not a simple predator. It is very smart, and organized. It follows a methodical system to render us useless. Man, the magical being that he is destined to be, is no longer magical. He's an average piece of meat. There are no more dreams for man but the dreams of an animal who is being raised to become a piece of meat: trite, conventional, imbecilic."

The Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, "A Walk"

"A Walk"

"My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-
and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces."

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Eckhart Tolle, “Forgive Your Enemies Joke”

Eckhart Tolle, “Forgive Your Enemies Joke”

X22 Report: “It's Coming & It's Going To Hit The Global Economy Like A Tidal Wave”

X22 Report: “It's Coming & It's Going To Hit The Global Economy Like A Tidal Wave”

"Alas! regardless of their doom,  
  The little victims play;  
No sense have they of ills to come,  
  Nor care beyond to-day:  
Yet see how all around 'em wait   
The ministers of human fate  
And black Misfortune's baleful train!  
Ah, show them where in ambush stand,  
To seize their prey, the murderous band!  
  Ah, tell them they are men!"

 T. Gray, "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College"
Complete poem is here:

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, "My Silent Knowing"

Liquid Mind, "My Silent Knowing
Liquid Mind ® is the name used by Los Angeles composer and producer
 Chuck Wild of the best-selling Liquid Mind relaxation music albums.

The Daily "Near You?"

Nelson, New Zealand. Thanks for stopping by!

"No Measure Of Health..."

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
 - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Is It?"

“Cowardice asks the question: "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question: "Is it politic?" Vanity asks the question: "Is it popular?" But conscience asks the question: "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one what is right.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"If You Want to Survive this Election with Your Mental Health Intact, Turn Off the "News" and Social Media Now"

"If You Want to Survive this Election with Your Mental Health Intact, 
Turn Off the "News" and Social Media Now"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"Since elections are extremely profitable for traditional media / social media corporations, your sanity will gleefully be sacrificed in the upcoming election - if you are gullible enough to watch the "news" and tune into social media.Elections are extremely profitable because candidates spend scads of cash on media adverts. The greater the discord and derangement, the higher the media profits. The more outraged you let yourself become, the more time you spend online, generating insane profits for the corporations that own whatever platforms you're addicted to.

Seeking an echo chamber of people who agree with you? We got you covered. Attracted like a junkie to emotionally corrosive "news"? That's our specialty! Want an outlet for your spleen? That's what we offer, because "we connect people" (haha).

In other words, if you have a self-destructive attraction to anger, helplessness, frustration, bitter unhappiness and derangement--then by all means, watch the "news" and soak up social media. But while you're destroying your mental health for zero positive gains, please recall that six corporations plus Amazon zillionaire Jeff Bezos own the vast majority of the mainstream media - a truly frightening concentration of power in the hands of a few whose sole purpose is to maximize profit.

This concentration of media control creates the illusion of choice - the same elite-propaganda spin is everywhere you look; our "choice" of "approved" (i.e. corporate) media is roughly the same as that offered the Soviet citizenry in the old USSR.
Given the Corporate Media spews the same tired, Soviet-style narrative with increasing desperation, it's no wonder than public trust in the mainstream media is plummeting to all-time lows. The "news" isn't just "fake": it's designed to push narratives that benefit self-serving elites at the expense of non-elites.
Given the extreme profitability of divisiveness, it's also no wonder that political polarization is reaching extremes:
Here's a reality that you'll never see in the corporate media, because it's off message:
As entrenched interests compete to protect their profitable skims, scams, monopolies and fiefdoms, the bottom 95% are slipping into darkness. "The lifestyle you ordered" is not just currently out of stock - it's no longer being produced.

Propaganda doesn't have to change your mind to be effective - all it has to do is disable your critical thinking by blinding you with rage, misdirecting your attention, generating an "Other" that acts as a target for projected frustration, creating either-or thinking, splinter the working/middle classes into divisive "tribes" supported by echo-chamber social media and addict you to constant drips of carefully tailored emotional derangement.

Welcome to the corporate/social media's gulag of the mind: We'll tell you what's "true" and what is correct to think and believe. Any deviation from the party line is a threat and must be discredited, marginalized or suppressed.

The greater your mental anguish and derangement, the more profit you generate for the corporate/social media, because the more time you spend "engaging" media and social media, the more money they make. Nobody in the corporate/social media cares about your mental health - that's not what they're paid to care about. They're paid to sacrifice your mental health to increase their corporate profits. That's the election in a (heretical) nutshell.

If you want to preserve your sanity and avoid unhappy derangement, turn off all corporate and social media from now to Thanksgiving, and other than watching sports or nature programs, it's best to leave the corporate/social media off until Christmas - Christmas 2020." 

"How It Really Is"

"Feeling Fed Up with Humanity, In the World and in Ourselves"

"Feeling Fed Up with Humanity, In the World and in Ourselves"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer and knowing this allows us to find compassion. From time to time, we may all feel fed up with humanity, whether it’s from learning about what’s going on around the world, or what’s going on next door. There are always situations that leave us feeling as if people are simply not capable of behaving in a way that is coming from a place of awareness. Often it seems as if people are actually geared to handle things in the worst possible way, repeatedly. At the same time, none of us wants to linger in a judgmental mood about our own species. As a result, we might tend to repress the feelings coming up as we take in the news from the world and the neighborhood.

It is natural to feel let down and disappointed when we see our fellow humans behaving in ways that are greedy, selfish, violent, or uncaring, but there are also ways to process that disappointment without sinking into despondency. As with any emotional response, we honor our feelings by feeling them fully, without judging or acting on them. Once we’ve done that—and we may need to do it every day, as part of our daily self-care—we can begin to consider ways that we might help the situation in which humanity finds itself.

As always, we start with ourselves, utilizing our awareness of the failings of others to renew our own commitment to be more conscious human beings. We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer, and remembering this keeps us in check, as well as allowing us to find compassion for others. We may find ourselves feeling compelled to serve people who are suffering injustices at the hands of other people, or we may begin to speak out when we see something that we don’t think is right. Whatever the case, the only thing we can do is pledge to serve the best, rather than the worst, of what humanity has to offer, both in the world, and in ourselves."

"How Is One To Live..."; "Because..."

“How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.”
- Barry Lopez

"There is much asked and only so much I think I can or should answer, and so, in this post I would like to give a few thoughts on what seemed to be the overwhelming question: "WHY?" And here is the best answer I can give: Because. Because sometimes, life is damned unfair. Because sometimes, we lose people we love and it hurts deeply. Because sometimes there aren't really answers to our questions except for what we discover, the meaning we assign them over time. Because acceptance is yet another of life's "here's a side of hurt" lessons and it is never truly acceptance unless it has cost us something to arrive there. Why, you ask? Because, I answer. Inadequate yet true."
- Libba Bray

"Have You Committed Your Three Felonies Today?"

"Have You Committed Your Three Felonies Today?"
by James George Jatras

"Several years ago the Commonwealth of Virginia enacted a law restricting firearms purchases to one per month. This was intended to discourage smuggling of weapons to urban areas outside Virginia with tight gun control laws and (unsurprisingly) high homicide rates. The law didn’t seem to do much good and in a rare outbreak of common sense was later repealed, though there’s recent misguided talk from Attorney General Mark Herring of reviving it. During its short period in force, the prohibition spawned a popular saying in the Old Dominion: “Buy one gun a month – it’s the law!”

A similar attitude may be appropriate in light of an estimate that due to vague statutes and the proliferation of federal regulations – which have the force of law – we wake up in the morning, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to sleep  unaware we may have committed several federal crimes in the course of the day. The number varies but the average number of crimes per American seems to be about three.

The more important point is that every one of us is probably guilty of something. “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,” retired Louisiana State University law professor John Baker told the Wall Street Journal in July 2011. “That is not an exaggeration.”

•This means that if they want you, they can get you.
•That in turn means that who gets charged, prosecuted, and jailed is a matter of the relevant officials’ discretion.
•And that in turn means that discretion can and will be politicized.

Like the boychiks used to say in the good ol’ NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs; Народный комиссариат внутренних дел): “Give Us the Man, and We Will Make the Case.” (I guess nowadays, we should say “person.”)

Let’s stipulate that the true Rechtsstaat, where justice is administered in a politically neutral manner is few and far between in human history. The norm is politicized justice where holders of power – in an elective system, the winners – use the justice system to harass and terrorize the losers.

But America today must be the only country that’s ever been so goofy that the losers are able to terrorize the winners. Whatever your feelings about the current administration, consider: the feds come in like gangbusters, breaking down doors, rousting targets from their beds, seizing their personal documents and devices, and subjecting them to piled-on charges and questioning designed to result in perjury, obstruction, and conspiracy charges – especially the phony crime of “lying to the FBI” – adding  up to decades in jail. Those accused are forced to plead guilty to a lesser charge or bankrupt themselves hoping they will be vindicated by a jury of sheep their peers, where the feds have a 90 percent-plus conviction rate. That’s treatment meted out to Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen, and others.

Conversely, clear evidence of crime, such as mishandling classified material, is a freebie: “No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Oh, some of the emails are “personal?” That’s OK, you decide what’s what – we trust you! There’s a claim a foreign power hacked a computer server, which some compare to an act of war demanding retaliation – no, we don’t need to see the server itself, your contractor’s report is good enough for us! And while you’re at it, go ahead and purge your electronic records (even material you’re obligated to preserve) and smash up your smart phones and pull out SIM cards. Oh, hey, does anyone need immunity? No need to bargain, we’re happy to provide! That’s the treatment accorded to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Tony Podesta, and their ilk.

It’s no coincidence, Comrades, that this disparity is the work of denizens of a law enforcement and intelligence apparatus that is focused like a laser on two closely linked objectives: One, get Donald Trump. Two, at all costs, make sure that he cannot in any way move forward on his stated objective to improve ties with Russia. Those objectives are the two sides of the coin called Russiagate. All else, including the disparity of treatment given those close to Trump versus his opponents, is a function of Russiagate. Three other things also follow:

•Trump’s powerlessness, even within his own administration. What kind of Chief Executive is reduced to tweeting what his subordinates ought to do – for example, providing Congress with documents demanded from the Department of Justice – versus ordering them to do it?
•Trump’s personnel. People wonder, especially on foreign policy, why has Trump surrounded himself with a swarm of neoconservatives and Bush-retread Republicans? Maybe he is one of them. Or maybe anyone who dissented from the established warmongering line would be putting his head through a noose.
•Flipping the “Russians did it” narrative: Among the President’s defenders, on say Fox News, no less than among his detractors, Russia is the enemy who (altogether now!) “interfered in our elections” in order to “undermine our democracy.” Mitt Romney was right! 

The only argument is over who was the intended beneficiary of Muscovite mendacity, Trump or Hillary – that’s the variable. The constant is that Putin is Hitler and only a traitor would want to get along with him. All sides agree that the Christopher Steele dossier is full of “Russian dirt” – though there’s literally zero actual evidence of Kremlin involvement but a lot pointing to Britain’s MI6 and GCHQ.

The Russia! Russia! Russia! hysteria is sometimes called a new McCarthyism, but that’s unfair – to Tailgunner Joe. In his day, whatever his excesses, there really were Stalinist agents at the State Department. This new panic is nothing we’ve seen before, except maybe during the Salem witch frenzy of the 1690s.

Which brings us to Maria Butina, a Russian grad student and Second Amendment advocate jailed (and refused bail) on thin allegations of unregistered lobbying. As Phil Giraldi observes“If you are a Russian and you are caught talking to anyone in any way influential, there is potentially hell to pay because the FBI will be watching you. You are automatically assumed to be part of a conspiracy. Once ‘evidence’ is collected, you will be indicted and sent to prison, mostly to send a message to Moscow. It is the ultimate irony that how the old Soviet Union’s judiciary used to function is now becoming standing operating procedure in the United States.” 

Butina has been portrayed as some kind of honey pot femme fatale, a cross between Anna Chapman and Natasha from “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” using her Slavic charms to bewitch the naïve ΜOΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ crowd at the National Rifle Association. Among Butina’s nefarious activities: networking at the National Prayer Breakfast. If they arrested everyone with foreign government connections schmoozing at the Prayer Breakfast, they’d have to shut the thing down.  Honestly, I doubt even the investigators believe Butina is guilty of anything, and if she were any other nationality but Russian she wouldn’t be facing years in jail. [ATTENTION: A legal defense fund for Butina has now been formed!]

Which brings us to the biggest threat to what’s left of our liberties as Americans. As is well known, we are facing an unprecedented, coordinated campaign of deplatforming, shadowbanning, flitering, and other foul means of putting dissenting voices into a digital GULag. While the glove belongs to tech giants and their executives, the hand inside is the government’s. Using Russian meddling as a pretext, companies that do billions of dollars of business with the federal government are only too happy to police the web of “suspected Russian-linked accounts.” And since, as Hillary says, Putin is the leader of the worldwide “authoritarian, white-supremacist, and xenophobic movement” who is “emboldening right-wing nationalists, separatists, racists, and even neo-Nazis,” anything and anybody that fails Virginia Senator Mark Warner’s or Mark Zuckerberg’s sniff test is now fair game. 

We are told that to sow discord and chaos Russian troll farms and social media ads target “divisive” issues related to race, Black Lives Matter, and Ferguson, absent which we’d all be holding hands singing Kumbaya. Connecting Putin and Russia with racism feeds into a cockamamie phantasmagoria of Crimethink concepts that increasingly are considered outside the protection of what was once quaintly known as free speech: hate speech, fake news, conspiracy theories, white nationalism, white supremacy, white privilege, patriarchy, “cisgenderism,” and many more. The idea of “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is out the window.  Instead we have: anyone to the right of me gets what he deserves.

While we hear a lot about the “input” end – violation of free speech rights, a deadly, valid concern – even more worrisome is the “output”: limiting what Americans can see and hear that differs from the official media line, itself largely a bulletin board for government sources. Unsurprisingly, that line is unfailingly for war and intervention. As Patrick Armstrong puts it, maybe the censors could just buy some old Soviet jamming equipment.

It is hard to escape the notion that we are approaching the edge of some profound historical moment that will have far-reaching, literally life and death consequences, both domestically and internationally. In the period preceding World War I how many Europeans suspected that their lives would soon be forever changed – and, for millions of them, ended? Who in the years, say, 1910 to 1913, could have imagined that the decades of peace, progress, and civilization in which they had grown up, and which seemingly would continue indefinitely, instead would soon descend into a horror of industrial-scale slaughter, revolution, and brutal ideologies?

Whether opposition to the gathering darkness can be effective is uncertain. But what is not uncertain is our duty to oppose it, even at the risk of committing three felonies a day. “Fellow Thought criminals – unite!” [A version of the foregoing was delivered to the Ron Paul Institute Media & War 2018 Conferenceon August 18, 2018.]