Meditations on Nothing in Particular
Who cares, listens and understands
But also knows better!
3 Nothing is Special
4 Be a Dog
5 Good News
6 What is Mu?
7 Just Sit!
13 Chess Yoga
“You’ll never sell a book that says the universe is a meaningless void.”
(my ex-agent, 2007)
The universe is a meaningless void.
It is not an empty void, but rather one that holds all things.
Among all things there is no value, no meaning.
Rather than rushing to fill the void of meaninglessness
Why not just relax?
The weight of meaning on your shoulders is unbearable.
Why carry it?
Let your mind flutter like a butterfly,
Not landing anywhere for more than a moment
Some things seem important to you.
Life is for living, and it’s really short.
How many full moons will you see?
Work could be a low priority, a necessary evil…
Not your prime identity!
Have a cup of tea!
Play a leisurely game of chess, play some music.
Tend your garden, do your laundry.
Eat and drink, get drunk.
Read a good book.
Read a bad book.
“Existentialism actually makes me feel optimistic!”
(Alan Alda, 2007)
EVERYTHING is an illusion.
Countless religious and spiritual movements start with this premise.
It’s been said in many different ways, some very poetic, some not.
Everything is a dream
All is produced by the mind
All things just appear and disappear
The universe is an illusion
All things are appearances
To some, the idea is meaningless, to others it is everything.
It adds up to nothing in any case.
The concept includes everything, so nothing is left out!
You don’t have to list everything you can think of; just think of “everything” and apply the idea.
Sit and think of “everything” for a while (take your time).
Then, forget about “everything” and think about “nothing.”
“It takes two to tango”
(some lonely Argentinean, 20th century)
Apparently, few, if any spiritual doctrines stop at “Everything is an illusion.”
Instead, they go on to say that “behind” this illusory dream lies an unfathomable “IT.” IT can be called God, Presence, Here and Now, Awareness, Pure Consciousness, Oneness, Eternal Love, Infinity, The Source, The Light, etc. ad nauseum.
Every name for “This” starts with a capital letter, as if to lend it some sort of gravity or legitimacy. They can use all the capitals they want; it won’t change the fact that “IT” doesn’t exist. IT is also a figment of your imagination.
Spiritual writers also love to say, “IT cannot be spoken of or named.” Then they go on to give it hundreds of names and they “speak” for 500 pages!
The next time you’re sitting quietly and you experience that feeling of oneness with the universe, KEEP GOING!!
Love, Oneness, God etc.. are merely sensations registering in your mind, like scenes in a movie. They don’t actually exist. They appear to us just like fear, security, helplessness, kindness, compassion, hate… even hunger and pain. You can react to them or not. Who cares? Well, maybe we do care. We’ll get to that later.
All of these ideas are also illusions!! So, we must (apparently) use the words “apparent” and “apparently” every now and then. The previous paragraph should read…
Apparently, Love, Oneness, God etc. are merely sensations that appear to be occuring in your mind, like scenes in a movie. They don’t actually exist, apparently.They appear to us just like fear, security, helplessness, kindness, compassion, hate… even hunger and pain. You can react to them or not (apparently). Who cares? Well, apparently WE care. We’ll get to that later (apparently)
I know, it’s really cumbersome but it serves to remind us of the (apparent) idea that everything is apparent (apparently)
A fairly recent spiritual development is called Advaita, or rather Neo-Advaita (Advaita is ancient). Advaita means literally, “Not-Two.” Proponents of this doctrine also start with, “Everything is an illusion.” Although it’s not half as bad as Christianity or Islam, Advaita also falls into the trap of “Oneness.” In fact, John Greven wrote a whole book called, “Oneness.”
Neo-Advaitists stress that there is only “Here and Now.” Eckhart Tolle based a whole book on “Here and Now.” The problem is, there is no “Here” and there is no “Now”!!
They also like to say things like, “Who are you?” and “You are That.” “That” of course is the same infinite IT that was referred to earlier as “This.” (still with me?).
As soon as you say, “This” and “That”, you have two!
Advaitists also stress that you are not your ego, your body or your mind… you just “are.”
I’d concur with most of that but, as Sailor Bob Adamson points out, “There is NO separate”, so you might as well throw your body into the mix. Hell, you might as well throw your body into the river if it’s not you!
Imagine visiting an Advaidist doctor…
You: I have a terrible pain in my stomach.
A.D.: Who is it that is experiencing pain?
You: I don’t know. It just hurts like hell!
A.D.: You are that.
You: I think it might be my appendix.
A.D.: You are not your appendix… etc. etc.
John Greven says you were not born and you don’t die. Sounds awfully Christian to me. When’s your birthday, John?
Greven “proves” you are not your body by saying, “If your feet were removed, would you still be?” He continues this process until he gets to the head and then says, “Now, you have reached your head. That is a tough one isn’t it? We’ll come back to it.” When he does get back to it, he says, lamely, “When the brain is at rest, do you cease to be?”
The brain is NEVER at rest. When you “think” the brain is at rest, it’s actually quite busy taking care of the rest of the body (all without “you” I’ll admit).
Chop your head off (don’t try this at home!) and you can kiss your ass goodbye.
Oddly enough, when you lose your head, “awareness” becomes a moot point (or maybe a mute point). When you die the dream is over.
Body, mind and dream all come to an end.
You die and “nothing” lives on. You die BECAUSE nothing lives on. Get it?!
Where Advaidists really slide into religious nonsense is when they say that Everything is One, no exceptions… THEN they immediately go on to describe the “false” (versus the “true”?!), the real, the Real and the REALLY REAL!! THE ULTIMATE, LOVING, EVERLASTING PRESENCE. (You are that!). The idea that humans are at all involved in something infinite is, well, wishful at best; superstitious and dangerous at worst.
Not-Two (Advaita) does not necessarily point to “One.” For example, the number 9 (my personal favourite) is definitely “not two.” Come to think of it, every other number BUT two is not two.
Hence zero, I think, is a better pointer. It points at nothing.
“0” just smacks of nothingness. Zero, starting, as it does, with the last letter of our alphabet, also implies a certain humility, which is (apparently) a good thing.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
(English nursery rhyme)
As a round, Row, Row, Row Your Boat can be seen as perpetual but the singers will all die at some point and when humanity finally goes extinct, I don’t think the cockroaches will sing it. They don’t like water!
Nothing is Special
Earth, stone, and gold are equal.
The cows, horses, dogs, and eaters of dogs are all equal.
As are friends, foes, the wicked, and those who judge them.
The world sustains all creatures.
(Bhagavad Gita, 500 B.C.)
Common to virtually every spiritual and religious doctrine is the idea that humans are something special. By extension, therefore, we must have been created by someone REALLY SPECIAL! It may be the one human trait that we can truly call “universal.” We fight wars over every other issue, but that’s one point most people could probably agree on. Unfortunately there is no evidence to support it.
We have created a complete biological hierarchy that doesn’t actually exist in nature. Humans that are brain dead are referred to as “vegetables.” All other humans are at the top of the heap (except certain minorities etc.). Most religious leaders and teachers just love to blather on about how humans are here to fulfill a special mission, a divine destiny etc. This belief in “something special” now runs from the ridiculous (God loves me) to the sublime (I AM God).
Few would hesitate to stamp on an earwig or slap a mosquito, yet whales and dolphins are approaching “sacred”!
Most monkeys, our closest relatives, are in prison.
The entire world of insects is divided into good and bad, harmful and helpful, friendly and unfriendly.
Traps are laid inside and outside of homes to kill a myriad of “pests.”
Viruses and bacteria are also labeled innocuous or harmful (to whom?).
There are actually people that put up bird feeders, and then shoot at the squirrels that feed from them!!
When most people gaze up at the stars, instead of feeling like meaningless little zits, they proclaim the “Wonder of God.” In the same breath they say, “God must really love us, to have given us such a view.” Then in the next breath… “God must love me so much that if I asked him for a new car, he’d give me one.” Then, when their kid gets killed in that car, they proclaim, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Similarly, most “proofs” for the existence of God include, “There must be something bigger than us”… as if we’re big!!
Although most religions profess that humanity is something special, ironically, these same doctrines seem to ignore humanity altogether. Many of the esoteric teachings completely ignore “matters of the heart.” People (apparently) have emotional reactions. Many people are driven and tormented by those reactions. It’s not enough to say to someone suffering from inner turmoil, “It’s all an illusion”!
Try a little compassion!
Sit quietly and see yourself as an animal. Let yourself just BE the animal that you are.
Be a Dog
A Dog Retreat
Have you ever tried living like a dog? I mean really living like a dog. It’s worth a try. If you have a dog, you probably already understand what I’m getting at. If not, borrow someone else’s dog for a weekend and do a “Dog Retreat”
The concept is really quite simple. Find a nice quiet place. Bring enough food for yourself and the dog. Leave everything else (books, music, TV etc.) at home.
Make the dog your Guru. Take every cue from the dog. Don’t do anything that he/she doesn’t do. It’s exactly like “Simon Says” In fact, let’s call the dog Simon so I can stop saying “the dog.”
When Simon lies on the couch, you lie on the couch. Simon lies on the floor, you lie on the floor. Simon meditates, you meditate. Simon wants to go pee, you go pee (outside). Simon walks, you walk. Simon runs, you run. Simon starts humping a tree, you start humping a tree.
At mealtimes, prepare your food first, then Simon’s. Put Simon’s food on the floor, put your food on the floor. If he eats fast, you eat fast. Slow, slow. Drink when he drinks and as much as he drinks. Go for a poo, scratch the ground, role in the dirt, chase a squirrel, sniff EVERYTHING, bite the mailman, chase cars, lick your own bum (yoga), groom yourself, have a long nap. Yell at someone outside (imaginary or otherwise). Two or three days of this and you’ll be a completely new person with a refreshing new perspective.
Note: might work with a cat just as well.
I’ve always enjoyed doing my laundry at a Laundromat. There’s something about the clothes tumbling around in the dryer that I can watch for hours. It’s not unlike watching a fire in a woodstove or standing beside a waterfall.
The thing I don’t like about Laundromats, however, is the inevitable pile of Christian pamphlets and magazines professing “Good News” and “Jesus Saves” and “The End is Nigh” etc. I decided to write my own pamphlet to try and strike a bit of a balance. Call it a pamphlet for an Atheist Laundromat.
I placed it in all the Laundromats I could find, as well as several churches. Note: it is purposefully written in the same in-your-face style as other Good News pamphlets.
There is no God. There never has been and there never will be. This is a fact, not a belief, opinion, or the word of Satan (who doesn't exist either). All references to God/Satan in all languages are erroneous lies. Our tongues must be cleansed of The Word. God the father, the devil, son of God, Satan, mother of God, demons, Lucifer, gods in general, God-damn, -knows,
-willing, -bless, -awful, etc..
Several thousand years ago a few poet/dreamers said the name “God” and the legend was born. To this day, the legend continues to flourish. Even God worship is still quite wide spread. This bad fairy tale cum deadly nightmare has dominated human affairs for longer than we can remember. Isn't that embarrassing?
What has kept this mad rage continuing for so long?
In ancient times, perhaps it was clan stubbornness, a few convincing rhetoricians, the ruling class, etc... More than anything, it was fear. Fear of death and sheer stupidity have carried the myth right into the 21st century. In modern times, “feast days” such as Christmas have really helped tow the barge (not to mention all of the non-Christian “holidays”).
Could billions of people be dreadfully wrong for thousands of years? Absolutely! The God/Satan story isn't the only rigmarole floating around.
Do you remember when you first heard the truth about Santa Claus? Didn't you feel like an idiot for swallowing the whole story for as long as you did? Then why would you believe in a God that doesn't exist? Why would you want to be an idiot for your entire life? One reason is that kids will swallow anything. Kids grow up to become adults that will swallow anything. Adults grow old and die, still holding on to their inane beliefs. Some even believe that their hare-brained delusions will continue (with them) after they die! Can human beings simply live as human beings rather than as “subjects of God” or even worse, “children of God”? Yes!
Start spreading the good news that God doesn't exist. Remember to explain that Satan, Heaven, Hell, the “afterlife” and other ludicrous notions don't exist either. Be persistent!
If telling the truth isn't your style, try eliminating some of your own bad habits such as: praying (especially kneeling or prostrate), blessing or being blessed, hoping you go somewhere “nice” after you die, giving God credit for “good” and blaming Satan for “evil”, attending cult gatherings for worshipping God or Satan, forcing your children to swallow bullshit, promoting Christmas or any other religious “holiday”, and so on.
Any progress towards dismantling the colossal fabrications about God and Satan would benefit humanity a hundredfold.
The task of dispelling the countless lies (contained in the Bible, Torah, Koran and other brainless tomes) is still ahead of us.
The most obvious truths seem to be the most difficult to believe. So be firm and be honest!
What is Mu?
(“Mu”: Japanese word for “nothing”)
Just sit down and shut up!
“Silence is death”
There is no such thing as silence!!
If “silence” means the absence of sound or vibration, it cannot exist. It cannot be perceived.
I don’t mean it cannot exist because nothing exists; nor do I mean that it cannot be grasped by the mind.
I mean, simply, that you can look (listen) for silence all you want and you won’t get past all the noise!
Let’s asume that you are in a very quiet place and you are experiencing no thoughts or feelings.
Let’s even go further and put ourselves in an anachoic (soundproof ) chamber.
Before you even get the door closed, you’ll hear (at least) three very distinct sounds come to the fore.
They are: the high frequency pitch of the nervous system, the low pitched rumble of the circulatory system and the steady beating of the heart.
These sounds can be “heard” even when you are stone deaf!!
As we don’t want to stop any of these, even for a second, we don’t want silence!
Silence is death.
Sit for a while and listen to all the noise.
In this piece, Rimpoche uses a brilliant literary technique. He labels it as advice to himself, so he is not telling YOU what to do. Nevertheless, I would listen very carefully to what he has to say… then forget about it!
Advice from Me to Myself Patrul Rinpoche (1808-1887)
Listen up, old bad-karma Patrul,
For ages now you've been
Beguiled, entranced, and fooled by appearances.
Are you aware of that? Are you?
Right this very instant, when you're
Under the spell of mistaken perception
You've got to watch out.
Don't let yourself get carried away by this fake and empty life.
Your mind is spinning around
About carrying out a lot of useless projects:
It's a waste! Give it up!
Thinking about the hundred plans you want to accomplish,
With never enough time to finish them,
Just weighs down your mind.
You're completely distracted
By all these projects, which never come to an end,
But keep spreading out more, like ripples in water.
Don't be a fool: for once, just sit tight.
Listening to the teachings—you've already heard hundreds of teachings,
But when you haven't grasped the meaning of even one teaching,
What's the point of more listening?
Reflecting on the teachings—even though you've listened,
If the teachings aren't coming to mind when needed,
What's the point of more reflection? None.
Meditating according to the teachings—
If your meditation practice still isn't curing
The obscuring states of mind—forget about it!
You've added up just how many mantras you've done—
But you aren't accomplishing the kyerim visualization.
You may get the forms of deities nice and clear—
But you're not putting an end to subject and object.
You may tame what appear to be evil spirits and ghosts,
But you're not training the stream of your own mind.
Your four fine sessions of sadhana practice,
So meticulously arranged—
Forget about them.
When you're in a good mood,
Your practice seems to have lots of clarity—
But you just can't relax into it.
When you're depressed,
Your practice is stable enough
But there's no brilliance to it.
As for awareness,
You try to force yourself into a rigpa-like state,
As if stabbing a stake into a target!
When those yogic positions and gazes keep your mind stable
Only by keeping mind tethered—
Forget about them!
Giving high-sounding lectures
Doesn't do your mind-stream any good.
The path of analytical reasoning is precise and acute—
But it's just more delusion, good for nothing goat-shit.
The oral instructions are very profound
But not if you don't put them into practice.
Reading over and over those dharma texts
That just occupy your mind and make your eyes sore—
Forget about it!
You beat your little damaru drum—ting, ting—
And your audience thinks it's charming to hear.
You're reciting words about offering up your body,
But you still haven't stopped holding it dear.
You're making your little cymbals go cling, cling—
Without keeping the ultimate purpose in mind.
All this dharma-practice equipment
That seems so attractive—
Forget about it!
Right now, those students are all studying so very hard,
But in the end, they can't keep it up.
Today, they seem to get the idea,
But later on, there's not a trace left.
Even if one of them manages to learn a little,
He rarely applies his "learning" to his own conduct.
Those elegant dharma disciplines—
Forget about them!
This year, he really cares about you,
Next year, it's not like that.
At first, he seems modest,
Then he grows exalted and pompous.
The more you nurture and cherish him,
The more distant he grows.
These dear friends
Who show such smiling faces to begin with—
Forget about them!
Her smile seems so full of joy—
But who knows if that's really the case?
One time, it's pure pleasure,
Then it's nine months of mental pain.
It might be fine for a month,
But sooner or later, there's trouble.
People teasing; your mind embroiled—
Forget about her!
These endless rounds of conversation
Are just attachment and aversion—
It's just more goat-shit, good for nothing at all.
At the time it seems marvelously entertaining,
But really, you're just spreading around stories about other people's mistakes.
Your audience seems to be listening politely,
But then they grow embarrassed for you.
Useless talk that just makes you thirsty—
Forget about it!
Giving teachings on meditation texts
Without yourself having
Gained actual experience through practice,
Is like reciting a dance-manual out loud
And thinking that's the same as actually dancing.
People may be listening to you with devotion,
But it just isn't the real thing.
Sooner or later, when your own actions
Contradict the teachings, you'll feel ashamed.
Just mouthing the words,
Giving dharma explanations that sound so eloquent—
Forget about it!
When you don't have a text, you long for it;
Then when you've finally gotten it, you hardly look at it.
The number of pages seems few enough,
But it's a bit hard to find time to copy them all.
Even if you copied down all the dharma texts on earth,
You wouldn't be satisfied.
Copying down texts is a waste of time
(Unless you get paid)
So forget about it!
Today, they're happy as clams
Tomorrow, they're furious.
With all their black moods and white moods,
People are never satisfied.
Or even if they're nice enough,
They may not come through when you really need them,
Disappointing you even more.
All this politeness, keeping up a
Forget about it!
Worldly and religious work
Is the province of gentlemen.
Patrul, old boy—that's not for you.
Haven't you noticed what always happens?
An old bull, once you've gone to the trouble of borrowing him for his services,
Seems to have absolutely no desire left in him at all—
(Except to go back to sleep).
Be like that—desireless.
Just sleep, eat, piss and shit.
There's nothing else in life that has to be done.
Don't get involved with other things:
They're not the point.
Keep a low profile,
In the triple universe
When you're lower than your company
You should take the low seat.
Should you happen to be the superior one,
Don't get arrogant.
There's no absolute need to have close friends;
You're better off just keeping to yourself.
When you're without any worldly or religious obligations,
Don't keep on longing to acquire some!
If you let go of everything
That's the real point!
Nature can and does manage and control herself.
Humans are the only ones she cannot control.
We must control ourselves.
(Farley Mowat, “People of the Deer”)
Back in the Ilustrious 80s, a group of well-minded citizens (including myself) sat down to try and solve some of the world’s problems. When we came to the issue of waste, we were totally bogged down in relativity. Who were we to say what was extravagent, what was “enough” etc..? Following the meeting I went home and wrote this STOP manifesto. I felt I had to draw some lines, and they are hard lines. In any case, the manifesto could at least define a starting point for action (or non-action).
STOP is an international organization formed as a response to the many failing activist strategies of the past century. STOP sees capitalism and gross consumerism as the two most crippling factors in the present decay of civilization and of this planet. This is quite obvious and does not need any further study. While we have tried re-cycling and other environmental strategies, we are way off the mark and are racing ahead towards a concrete wall. Consumerism and global capitalism are a united front against any hope of saving the environment, protecting any semblance of a future for our children or providing liberty, equality and even the most meager standard of living for all of humanity.
STOP is a program of volunteer radical frugalism. We simply cannot go on living the high standard that we consider normal. The party is over! The consequences of not stopping are quite evident and totally devastating. 30,000 children under the age of five are dying of starvation and hunger related diseases EVERY day. Millions more live another day, simply to face hopeless poverty and horrendous living conditions. Millions more, the “lucky” ones, work every day in conditions that our cows wouldn't tolerate. Is there one single person who hasn't heard this all a hundred times before? What can be done? Why has nothing worked so far? First, we are directly supporting capitalism with our consumer mentality and second, we still think that our standard of living is feasible ‑‑ indeed most of us think we should have more ‑‑ and that eventually all of the six billion people worldwide will be able to enjoy this standard. Most likely, by that time, there will be twenty billion people!
The party's over.
STOP has a simple solution to the problem which is, simply, STOP! No amount of stopping, no matter how destructive, will ever compare to the devastation of not stopping. The present world economy is doomed and must be dismantled peacefully before it falls and crushes all but the super-wealthy. The economic collapse will probably arrive even before the equally inevitable ecological collapse.
20% of the world's population control 84% of the world's wealth. All of that control, however, is in OUR hands!! Stop buying ‑‑ BOYCOTT! If WE stop supporting capitalism, it WILL collapse!
The average global income is about
1. Air: It is beyond the realm of the imagination how careless we are with the one element we can only live seconds without. Air pollution is growing at an alarming rate worldwide. Major industrialists and motor vehicles are the main culprits. Pollution control and un‑leaded gasoline are not the solution.
2. Water: For drinking, almost any amount of fresh water use is justified. For bathing, cooking, washing and watering (food crops only) use should be strictly limited. Use of water for toilets is ridiculous!
3. Food: All food should be self‑produced or bartered directly from a grower. All meat and fish are totally unnecessary -‑ even for growing children or pregnant women.
The amount of energy, feed and land wasted on producing meat is unfathomable. Re‑cycling is a joke! Stop buying anything in cans or plastic containers and stop buying packaging of any kind. There should be no garbage that is not compostable. Almost everything in your kitchen that you think is necessary is actually a total waste of space and energy. Fridges, freezers, large stoves, microwave ovens, food processors, bread machines, bar‑b‑ques etc.. are all unnecessary and are unknown to most people worldwide. Very few dishes and utensils are needed to maintain a kitchen.
4. Shelter: At the very most a family should own a small house and a small property. A second residence or cottage is absolutely extravagant! Individuals without a family should rent a room or share a house. 90% of all furniture is superfluous. Cushions to sit on and larger cushions to sleep on. Small tables for working and eating. That's it! In the bathroom: towels, soap, ammonia or vinegar for cleaning and maybe shampoo and a razor...that's it! No, we didn't forget toilet paper, tissues, tampons, tooth‑paste, deodorant and the myriad of creams and goops, but we wish YOU would! Again, these are unknown to most people in the world.
5. Clothing: Clothing is almost superfluous. Fashionable clothing is out of the question! Throw out any clothes that require dry‑cleaning. Dress warm in winter and cool in summer. Treat your entire wardrobe as if you had to carry it with you.
Beyond these five it's hard to justify the rest of our consumer habits. These five are the only things that a person could say they really NEED. Most people in the world don't have these five basic needs met sufficiently.
Since stopping is voluntary and no
one can tell anyone what they should and should not have, STOP suggests
you make a list of the things, over and above the five basics, that you think
you MUST have. Check it over a few times after you've read this. When
you've finished you should have a short list of absolute "gems" and a
garbage pile the size of
Two particularly vile and bourgeois multi‑billion dollar industries are the entertainment industry and the tourism industry. Many extravagant habits of modern "developed" countries fit into these two categories and often the two overlap. Again, the solution is simple. Find a home and STAY home! Invite your friends over and cultivate your own "entertainment.” Throw out the T.V. and the computer. Play music, read (get all your reading, including newspapers, from the library), draw, dance, tell stories and work on the garden. Trash the stereo, the VCR, the video games, the cell phone, the video camera and anything that uses batteries. Ignore movies, large‑scale productions, over‑blown concerts, gala events etc....and they WILL go away! Stop using electricity. It is not a "clean" or renewable resource.
Flying, boating (motorized) and driving -- especially private vehicles -- should be absolutely restricted. Not to mention RVs, ATVs, dirt bikes, trailers, snowmobiles, jet‑skis... PLEASE!! Only the most urgent situations justify going anywhere by any means other than walking, paddling, sailing or riding a bicycle. Quit traveling altogether! Flying and driving all over the planet just to "get away" is the most opulent activity imaginable.
Hot on the heels of entertainment and tourism is the so‑called fitness industry! The combination of eating properly and everyday activities (like walking) completely does away with the "need" for exercise machines, weights and all the insane fads that have developed into this wasteful industry.
Another wasteful endeavour is advertising. How can any sane person justify spending billions of dollars annually on advertising. Corporations make billions in profit from your purchases. They then take the profits (your money) and spend it on inane, insulting little vignettes, designed to make you feel like you need their product (which you’ve already bought!). STOP recommends boycotting all advertising (in print, radio, TV, billboards etc.). Every time you see an ad, stop supporting that company. They obviously don’t know how to spend your money wisely.
The single most important day in the capitalist calendar is Christmas. STOP has no sympathy for any sentiment over this birthday party cum evil spending frenzy. Finding something good about Christmas is like trying to find the positive in a rape/murder case. It just isn't there! Christmas must be completely eliminated NOW!!
Stop using money and banks altogether. Stop using credit of any kind. Stop gambling. Sell all of your stocks, bonds, mutual funds, RRSPs etc.. and invest in your home and family. This is all you will have when the economy collapses. If you have extra money, give it to someone who needs it. When capitalism crashes, stocks, bonds and even the dollar won't be worth a cent! "Financial security" is an oxymoron!
It would take a hundred pages to list everything that we should stop doing! STOP hopes this summary at least gets the process in motion.
START looking sideways at everything you own and all of your activities. START thinking about it NOW!!
The party IS over!
“You gotta eat”
(anon. 20th century)
Starvation results from the inadequate intake of nutrients or the inability to metabolize or absorb nutrients. It can have a number of causes such as prolonged fasting, anorexia, deprivation, or disease. No matter what the cause, starvation takes about the same course and consists of three phases. The events of the first two phases occur even during relatively short periods of fasting or dieting, but the third phase occurs only in prolonged starvation and can end in death.
During the first phase of starvation, blood glucose levels are maintained through the production of glucose from glycogen, proteins, and fats. At first glycogen is broken down into glucose. However, only enough glycogen is stored in the liver to last a few hours. Thereafter, blood glucose levels are maintained by the breakdown of proteins and fats. Fats are decomposed into fatty acids and glycerol. Fatty acids can be used as a source of energy, especially by skeletal muscle, thus decreasing the use of glucose by tissues other than the brain. Glycerol can be used to make a small amount of glucose, but most of the glucose is formed from the amino acids of proteins. In addition, some amino acids can be used directly for energy.
In the second stage, which can last for several weeks, fats are the primary energy source. The liver metabolizes fatty acids into ketone bodies that can be used as a source of energy. After about a week of fasting, the brain begins to use ketone bodies, as well as glucose, for energy. This usage decrease the demand for glucose, and the rate of protein breakdown diminishes but does not stop. In addition, the proteins not essential for survival are used first.
The third stage of starvation begins when the fat reserves are depleted and there is a switch to proteins as the major energy source. Muscles, the largest source of protein in the body, are rapidly depleted. At the end of this stage, proteins, essential for cellular functions are broken down, and cell function degenerates.
In addition to weigh loss, symptoms of starvation include apathy, listlessness, withdrawal, and increased susceptibility to infectious disease. Few people die directly from starvation because they usually die of some infectious disease first. Other signs of starvation can include changes in hair color, flaky skin, and massive edema in the abdomen and lower limbs, causing the abdomen to appear bloated.
During the process of starvation, the ability of the body to consume normal volumes of food also decreases.
Foods high in bulk but low in protein content often cannot reverse the process of starvation. Intervention involves feeding the starving person low-bulk food that provides ample proteins and kilo-calories and is fortified with vitamins and minerals. The process of starvation also results in dehydration, and dehydration is an important part of intervention. Even with intervention, a victim may be so affected by disease or weakness that he cannot recover.
Sit for 24 hours without eating. Give the money you would have spent on food that day to someone who is hungry.
If I ever had any money, I mean if I ever had a sizeable amount of “disposable income” with which I could make an “investment”, I would put it all in garbage futures.
No other stock or bond has the guaranteed return of garbage. Despite numerous initiatives to curb the amount of garbage being produced, more garbage is being produced today than ever before. The future of garbage is more certain than death or taxes.
A Chinese philosopher once said, “If you want to know the future, simply look at the past.” We can see the past in the smoldering heaps at the end of driveways across the country… especially on so-called “special” garbage days. Previously loved barbecues, bed springs, stoves, washers, toys, furniture etc. ad nauseum. We can see the future in the hordes of people lining up at box stores to buy new versions of the same stuff.
The day to day garbage being produced is no less impressive. The packaging that surrounds all of the stuff we buy everyday and indeed, the stuff itself, is garbage. And, that’s just the small stuff. How about the big ticket items… cars, trucks, machinery… even the houses we live in. Where will they end up? For that matter, how about pianos, submarines, airplanes, spaceships, super-tankers, skyscrapers, stadiums… the Hubble Telescope?!
With the exception of products made solely from organic material, every single thing produced by humans is garbage. Even great works of art like the Mona Lisa will eventually become landfill. Works of stone like the great pyramids and the thousands of cathedrals will at least be a nuisance; we can’t take them back to the quarry. Human beings themselves are loaded with chemicals after they die, then elaborately packaged before they too become landfill.
Garbage is the fastest growing business in the world. Cautious investors need not worry about disincentives such as recycling. Most recyclable items can only be recycled once. Therefore, items made from recycled materials are now garbage. And, recyclable items make up only two percent of the total waste stream.
So invest with confidence in a truly bottomless resource that will give the best rate of return, even in a sluggish economy. The future of garbage is guaranteed.
“Chess is too serious to enjoy, and too frivolous to take seriously.”
Chess is an exercise of infinite possibilities for the mind, one which develops mental abilities used throughout life: concentration, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, problem solving, pattern recognition, strategic planning, creativity, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, to name a few. It’s been called both a mental martial art and a form of Yoga.
Chess can be used very effectively as a tool to teach problem solving and abstract reasoning. Learning how to solve a problem is more important than learning the solution to any particular problem. Through chess, we learn how to analyze a situation by focusing on important factors and by eliminating distractions. We learn to devise creative solutions and put a plan into action. The challenge inspires us to dig deep into our mental reserves.
Many educators, parents and chess experts maintain that chess education improves a host of mental abilities. Some argue that “the game of chess makes one of the most important contributions to the field of education.” Proponents believe that “chess belongs in schools… interest in chess can be generated in all groups of students regardless of cultural or economic background.”
To the players, the game is like an unfolding drama... The players live through the emotions of an exciting story... Chess has a powerful aesthetic appeal. The best chess games are works of art. They are the products of original and creative thinking. The beauty of chess is as compelling and pleasure giving as any other art form.
Several benefits accrue from the teaching and promoting of chess in schools:
1. Chess limits the element of luck; it teaches the importance of planning.
2. Chess requires that reason be coordinated with instinct [intuition]; it is an effective decision teaching activity.
3. Chess is an endless source of satisfaction; the better one plays, the more rewarding it becomes.
4. Chess is a highly organized recreation.
5. Chess is an international language. It can be a lifelong source of interest, amusement, and satisfaction.
Chess dramatically improves a child's ability to think rationally.
Chess increases cognitive skills.
Chess improves children's communication skills and aptitude in recognizing patterns, therefore:
Chess results in higher grades, especially in English and Math studies.
Chess builds a sense of team spirit while emphasizing the ability of the individual.
Chess teaches the value of hard work, concentration and commitment.
Chess instills in young players a sense of self-confidence and self-worth.
Chess makes a child realize that he or she is responsible for his or her own actions and must accept their consequences.
Chess teaches children to try their best to win, while accepting defeat with grace.
Chess provides an intellectual, competitive forum through which children can assert hostility, i.e. "let off steam," in an acceptable way.
Chess can become a child's most eagerly awaited school activity, dramatically improving attendance.
Chess allows girls to compete with boys on a non-threatening, socially acceptable plane.
Chess helps children make friends more easily because it provides an easy, safe forum for gathering and discussion.
Chess allows students and teachers to view each other in a more sympathetic way.
Chess, through competition, gives kids a palpable sign of their accomplishments.
Chess provides children with a concrete, inexpensive and compelling way to rise above the deprivation and self-doubt which are so much a part of their lives.
Playing chess would be an obvious alternative to war. With that in mind, I translated The Art of War by Sun Tzu into a chess manual. The strategies of war and chess are strikingly similar but the consequences are polar opposites!
Strategies for Chessplayers and Other Warriors
(From “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, 500 B.C.)
Each new position should be assessed quickly in terms of:
3. Material superiority
Strategy consists of shaping some advantage in terms of these five points. Whichever side wins more “points” in these areas will probably win the game.
The Art of Deceit
When able, seem to be unable.
When close, seem to be far off.
If opponent is seeking an advantage, entice them toward it.
If opponent is in disorder, attack.
If opponent is strong, prepare your defense.
Attack undefended, unprepared areas.
Never attack fortresses.
Develop in unexpected ways (i.e. change move order)
Make moves as quickly as possible. “I have heard of foolish haste, but I have yet to see a case of cleverly dragging on hostilities.”
Learn to assess positions quickly and use clock time only when you need it
“It is best to keep one’s own side intact; to crush the opponent’s position is only second best. The highest excellence is to subdue the attacker without fighting at all.”
Types of Attack
Of these four, the first is the most effective, the fourth is the least. Resort to attacking a strong point only when there is no other choice. Do not attack until pieces are aligned (supporting each other) and ready (developed). Similarly, do not retreat from a good position. Always ask what each piece (on both sides) is “doing.”
Make your own position invincible then look for opponent’s vulnerable spots. You can always fortify your position; you cannot guarantee an opponent’s vulnerability. “The battle of the expert is seldom an exceptional victory. The expert only enters battles that are already won!.”
Practice playing with and without an advantage. Understand both perspectives. Practice offensive and defensive play, according to circumstances.
Use surprise and straightforward operations. “When used in combination, they provide inexhaustible possibilities.”
One must always adapt to changing circumstances, “There are no fixed strategic advantages or invariable positions.”
Strong and Weak Points
Attack areas where the opponent must hasten to defend.
“Against the expert of attack, the opponent does not know where to defend. Against the expert of defense, the opponent doesn’t know where to attack.”
“To be prepared everywhere is to be weak everywhere. One is weak while making preparations; strong while forcing the opponent to prepare.”
Strive for a “formless” position. A winning position more often arises from “no-form” than from an obvious strategy.
Out and out attack is always difficult and dangerous. Try luring your opponent into easy gains (gambits), thereby anticipating the position.
It is a great advantage to secure and fortify squares that are precisely important points in your opponent’s strategy.
“Do not depend on your opponent not attacking; depend rather on having a position that can’t be attacked.”
It is when your opponent is not attacking or changing position that you must be cautious.
Material inferiority is not necessarily a disadvantage. Advance carefully, consolidate pieces and anticipate attacks.
Always look at the advantage and disadvantages of every move (on both sides).
Try to use opponent’s pieces and position to your advantage.
“Command of a position involves wisdom, integrity, humanity, courage and discipline.”
“Teach your children well”
When I wrote this article, some thirty years ago, there seemed to be a real chance that educators would see the value of improvisation in the classroom. Unfortunately music itself has been taken out of the curriculum in schools across Canada. Oh well, here’s to what might have been…
The practice of improvisation in music, or the spontaneous creation of sound, is as old as music itself. Surely the first music created was a simple, spontaneous creation and indeed, much non-western music is, to this day, based on improvisation. Most western music at least began with the creation of a melody, followed by extemporization (a structured improvisation based on a theme or chord progression; as in jazz and most folk music).
Can improvisation be taught? Of course! It can even be self-taught. The spirit of spontaneous creation exists in every person. It merely needs to be allowed and encouraged (preferably at an early age). If a young child is allowed to create spontaneously, he/she will learn and experience many valuable lessons:
-the experience of creating something of and on their own
-the strength and knowledge to face the unexpected and the unknown
-the feeling of confidence and control over learned skills
-the experience of non-western concepts of music
-the ability to make split-second decisions
-the satisfaction of using all musical capabilities at once
-the practice of focus and discipline along with great freedom and fun
-the necessity of listening and anticipation
-the experience of music theory as real and necessary, rather than dry and abstract
Improvisation is a suitable teaching and learning exercise for all ages and levels of playing. As an introduction to music to very young children, it is an obvious starting point (as can be seen in the successful methods of Orff, Kodaly and others). At the same time, improvisation can be seen as the highest level of musical achievement (Bach at the organ, jazz, Indian classical music etc.)
For the teaching of composition, improvisation can be seen as analogous to sketching in visual art. It enables the student to look at general concepts such as direction, form and substance, without the finishing touches. It allows the composer a wider spectrum of choices during the initial stages of writing.
In the classroom improvisation can be used to teach basic concepts such as pitch, dynamics, tempo and texture without other distractions (difficulties with reading, technical skills etc.). To more experienced singers and players, it can be seen as an important adjunct to their studies.
Improvisation is sadly missing from mainstream education and would greatly enhance not only music education, but learning in all disciplines. Teaching classes in improvisation would encourage the free spirit; not only in students but in teachers and parents as well.
Improvisation is certainly not limited to music (or spontaneous comedy). It can be applied to anything you do.
Improvise your spirituality and religion. Improvise your job.
If you can’t improvise at work, quit your job and find one that enables improvisation.
Quit your routines and your “methods”. Just make it up as you go!
Improvise your relationships, your sex life, your leisure time…
Make up your own games with your own rules.
Improvise Tai Chi and Yoga.
Lose the cookbooks and just cook!
Improvise writing, painting, drawing, sculpture, dancing… even sports.
Words are the traps of images
When the images are grasped, the words are not needed
Images are the traps of meaning
When the meaning is grasped, the images are not needed
Here are some books and websites listed by relevence to chapters in this book….
Just watch for the traps and go for the meaning.
0 “Abolition of Work”, Bob Black
“How to be Idle”, Tom Hodgkinson
1 “Sutra of Wei Neng”, Wei Neng, Sixth Patriarch of China
2 “What Is”, Sailor Bob Adamson
“Spirituality Without God”, Moller de la Rouviere
5 “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins
“God is Not Great”, Christopher Hitchens
7 “Mindfulness in Plain English”, Henepola Gunaratana
8 “Silence”, John Cage
9 “The Words of my Perfect Teacher”, Patrul Rimpoche
“My System”, Aaron Nimzowich
14 “Theory of Harmony”, Arnold Schoenberg
“Ear Cleaning”, R. Murray Schafer
“Improvisastion and Performance Techniques”, Ralph Towner