Friday, September 26, 2008

whose health is it anyway?

As soon as we became sentient beings we also became aware of our health. Before sentience the cold North Wind had no conceptual effect on our minds, after sentience the cold North Wind made us feel cold and even the thought of the North Wind brought goosebumps to our skin. Primitive humanoids had instinctive and intuitive ways to maintain and reestablish their health. An interesting documentary I watched on Public TV, showed a man living with wolfs within a confined area. The man submitted to the wolfs world. He did not exert human dominance, but let the wolfs manifest their ways of life as he adapted to them. On a rainy, cold day the man was shivering with the wet and cold, two wolfs came to him and laid across his body. In a short period of time the man was warmed. This display of health consciousness and health concern by the wolfs expresses an innate imperative living creatures have for health. All living organisms have a built in system to maintain and reestablish health balance and equilibrium, when and wherever health balance is disturbed, and intuitively it seems, to also aid others in establishing that health
balance.

As we historically move foreword from primitive humanoids to ancient, primitive humans and civilized human cultures we find that health care had become systematized. The aiding part of health had expanded to were individuals of the tribes or societies were sought out to care for health problems. These were individuals who had been handed down the knowledge or schooled in the aiding and curing of health problems. Usually these individuals were also spiritually developed and were called "Holy Men," Shaman," "Medicine Men," physicians, doctors, etc. Egyptian archaeological discoveries for instance, showed a highly sophisticated health care delivery system that ranged from medical procedures, herbal and pharmacological treatments, even surgeries and dental care.

Through out the evolutionary development of health care, the responsibility for health was shared. Each individual had a major share in his or her health: proper food, hygiene, rest, old wife's traditional remedies, and a knowledge of when to call a health aid practitioner. I remember my mother giving me a teaspoon of cod liver oil every day as a practical health measure. The remaining share came through schools and the General Practitioner Doctors, in the communities. Schools would require vaccination shots against certain diseases, and annually checked for hair lice. The Family Doctor was consulted when minor conditions occurred i.e. cold, fever, brakes, fractures, sprains, strains, etc. and when there were more difficult problems. My family doctor was Dr. Proby. He brought my sisters and I into the world, and had an intimate knowledge of the general health of our family. This good man would visit our house upon request with only a small black hand bag, would accurately diagnose (with out high tech machines), treat, and prescribe drugs if necessary. He also made himself available to individually council people on pregnancy, drug abuse, and a host of other health issues. He, like most family practitioners of that time were affiliated with local hospitals. That is were major and minor procedures were preformed, like extracting my tonsils. There too is where he could confer with specialists. The cost for his services was not prohibitive and sometimes there was bartering. The costs of surgery and other major procedures was not prohibitive. Your health was in your hands and in the hands of a trusted practitioner. With in the community, the Family Doctor was very highly regarded. There were even popular TV programs whose themes were about family doctors, like "Dr. Wellbe M.D."

From the middle 50s on, the idea and practice of health care was changing at brake-neck-speed. The community family doctors were falling off like Autumn leaves and with no Spring replacements. Most young, up coming doctors were choosing to specialize because "that was where the money is." As speciality grew in dominance, hospitals also began to specialize. Soon there was specialists in hospitals all over the place: heart, eye, ear, nose, and throat, brain, feet, disease specialists, orthopedic, you name it and there is a specialists. The burgeoning of specialization brought with it, innovations and refinements of diagnostic machines and testing equipment and procedures. The competitive need to be on par with other institutions that had incorporated the use of these expensive, new diagnostic and testing pieces of equipment and procedures begin to exponentially raise the cost of health care treatment, and because of the high demand for specialists brought higher doctors fees for visits and consultations. The high cost of health care brought in the insurance companies. They spread the cost and financial risk among millions of insured people. The employers and the insurance companies saw cooperative opportunities in using one another. Businesses could with incentives of health insurance, entice veteran employees to stay and prospective employees to join. The insurance companies extended their memberships and enjoyed greater profits. Of course, insurance was not a new product at that time, so there was a built in acceptance among people. There was in place at that time, auto, home, FDIC, life insurance, and of course there was Loyd's of London insuring just about anything.

The need to be affiliated with a cast of specialists for referrals, and the high cost of equipment made it cost prohibitive to maintain individual doctor's offices. Every doctor had to be employed by or contractually linked to a medical institution: hospital, clinic, emergency service or research and development, or teaching institution. The landscape of health care was changing from serving a patient to working with a client's insurance company. The main energy focus was now on the business side of health care: cost assessments, profit strategies, advertising, and because most accounts receivable were being payed by insurance companies additional office staff had to be employed for billing procedures with insurance companies. Some of the profit strategies or more accurately bilking insurance companies, were rife with creative interpretations of itemized statements: instead of 6oz. bottle of mouth wash, $1.50, it was billed as oral bacterial astringent, $15.00.

The syncretistic method of adding a strict business, profit model, specialization, payment via insurance companies, reliance on high-tech diagnostic equipment, and the need for liability insurance and litigators, separated the patient-doctor relationship from mutual health responsibility to a client purchasing health care through an insurance agent, who sells a health care contract and determines the financial limits of treatment. All this expressed through esoteric and convoluted legalize and medical nomenclature, which caused further disenfranchisement of the patient from the health care process. Now days a person's health care is in the "hands" or to quote the advertisement, "the good hands" of an insurance company, of the medical aggregate system, the H.M.O.s. Michael Moore's, documentary, Sicko, showed in a disturbing way the dysfunction of our health care delivery system. The documentary shows a scene where a man who had an accident-two fingers were cut off. After an examination by his health provider the man was told of the cost of attaching both finger. The cost was $90,000; $30.000 for one finger and $60,000 for the other finger. The man, considering his insurance deductible and co-pay, opted for the cheaper surgery and consequently was left with one digit short. A contrasting situation was shown, I cannot remember which European country, France or England, a man who had four fingers cut off in an accident; went to his universal health care provider, and upon examination had his four fingers attached with no discussion of cost. The practitioners had no cost or insurance limitations for treating their patient. He was given full care for the condition he had and left the health care establishment with a voucher for transportation to his home.

Here in the U.S. we spend the the greatest amount of money on health care in the world (mostly in insurance premiums), and in return we get a health system that is out of phase, with even adequate health care treatment. For example, my wife goes to the drug store to pick up her prescription. The cost of the prescription is $15.00 with her insurance requirement of 50% co-pay. She asks the counter person, how much would her prescription cost if she (the counter person) made it generically, with similar weight and number of pills? The answer was $5.00. So my wife, being of sound economic mind, makes the store take the prescription drug back and demands the generic drug. Say however, I did not have insurance and was given the same prescription as my wife, and say I had no idea about generic drugs. My cost would be $30.00. I am certain many of you have dealt with similar situations, so you need no explanation. But! here are some simple questions to ask yourself. What genius created such a payment system? What was his or her's motivation? Who does it really benefit? Here is another situation that demonstrates the dysfunction within the health care, aggregate system. This time it does not come from the private sector. It emanates from the Federal Gov., namely Social Security- Medicare. This shows equal opportunity dysfunction and belays the notion that government health care systems are run better. Both operate on the rails of their own motivations: private companies run on profit and power, government runs on personal aggrandizement, unretractable ideas, and power. Where sits the public, the customers and citizens that are suppose to be served? Another good question. During the Bush Jr. Administration, an additional part for Medicare, Part D, was created and was aimed at lowering the high cost of prescription drugs for Seniors. I am not certain of the exact details of Part D, but in general the forthcoming facts are expressed accurately. First, Part D costs approximately $100.00 plus, per/month, depending on which insurance company one uses. Second, it does pay for drugs, up to $2600.00, then the payout goes to zero, this procedure is termed the "doughnut whole," and all payments from that point on were out of pocket, until an expenditure of $2600.00 was reached. Then the insurance would kick in again. This doughnut whole was not clearly explained to the Seniors, the originators pushed seniors into signing up for Part D by putting a time limit for application and added to the pressure by disqualifying seniors for not applying in time. Can you imagine, the surprise, disbelief, and anger the seniors had when they reached the doughnut whole?


So what are the principle ideas operating our twenty-first century health care system. It operates on a single pay idea where individuals pay for their own health care, or co-operative pay where individuals co-operate with business, federal, state, county, local governments.
All of the direct, assisting, and auxiliary components of health care are centered around the individual's health care. These facilitators however, even though they cover themselves under the cloak of selfless service, are either motivated by maximum profit, self-aggrandizement, politics, or power, and as such their delivery becomes striated, diverting the whole health system into acute dysfunction. Its these repulsive ideas, these cancerous ideas, that have been allowed to thread our current health care system. It is within this realm that bonuses are a reward for finding loopholes for not paying for treatment or disallowing coverage for preconditions or for pricing 45,000,000 people out of health care coverage.


So what can be done to revamp health care according to the very best ideas commensurate with the essence of health care. First and foremost there should be a consensus and then a mandate that health care should be a privilege granted to all, from gestation to death. Just as England did after WWII, mandating that all its citizens would have health care from cradle to grave. Authorize a Board or Commission of Health Care, presided over by a body of not more then nine people. The composition of which would be 4 ordinary people who do not work in the health care field, 1 business person, 1 doctor, 1 philosopher, 1 American Indian Healer, 1 historian or any combination that would be innovative and relevant. Businesses and governments would be resources and sources for funding, but the Board would be creators of the operating principles and management concepts. A revamped health care system should not be created and guided by the profit motive or a political motive. A good place for such a board to start developing guiding principles would be the Hippocratic Oath. They could develop a contemporary interpretation of the original oath, and use it as a mantra for all involved with health care. Then bonuses could be given for positive results for treatment.

Now we come to the answer to the question that initiated this blog: Who's health is it anyway? It is your health. It is may health. It is ironic that we need to reestablish our responsibility for our own heath. We have relinquished this responsibility to the health care system and have allowed it to muck it up beyond our control. It is us that must suffer at the hands of incompetence. There is a small percentage of citizens that have not been rolled over by the wheels of our health care system, who have opened their windows shouting "I am mad as hell" and have taken their health care back. These citizens, shop at 'whole food stores,' they see Chinese doctors, chiropractors, they excercise using tai chi, chi gong, yoga, value quite and meditation, and bring back their soul and responsibility for their own health. This is the wave of the future, and as the American poet Emerson said, when the time has come for an idea to manifest, ..."It is impossible to tilt the beam. All the tyrants and proprietors and monpolists of the world in vain set their shoulders to heave the bar. Settles forevermore the ponderous equator to its line, and man, and mote, and star, and sun, must range to it or be pulverized by the recoil."












Tuesday, September 23, 2008

attitude about planet earth

Most of us do not have a conscious relationship with our Planet Earth. That is, an intentional and operative attitude that our earth is a living organism, which interacts with us, as we with it. What most of us do have are some relatively inconsequential facts about our earth. We know its circumference, its speed of rotation, position in our planetary chain, etc., etc. We shortsightedly believe that if we know the measurement of a thing we also know its essence. The essence of a thing must however be discovered. That means that some type of relative experience is gained that demonstrates a thing's value and essence. When something appears so simple or is very familiar to us, like our earth, we say, "I know about Earth! Why shouldn't I? I live with it everyday," but if you have not discovered its value and essence, its true meaning escapes you.

To us our earth is a given quantity, which appears to be forever under our feet. All of our material essentials are provided for by Earth: food, shelter, clothing, plus sundry other items and resources. We pick and consume all earth's fruits with little regard, respect or gratitude. We are lulled by the great harmony and blending of Earth's essence with our needs, like a small child feeding, then basking in the security of its loving mother's arms. All parts of the Earth incessantly work towards our benefit. The wind sow the seeds; the sun evaporates the sea; the wind blows the vapors to the fields, the field grows the plants; the plants feed the animals, all to our ultimate enrichment. There is a saying that one who truly appreciates his or her life is as rare as finding dirt on one's fingernail, in equal measure, it is rare to find one who truly appreciates our earth.


Our earth is not a multiple, mechanical mass of inorganic and organic elements, compounds and composites. It is a complete living organism, and subject to the same qualities and processes which sustain us and the entire cosmos. Birth, growth, death, decay- the same processes that effect us effect Earth. The most ostensive difference between us and Earth is the duration of our respective life cycles. Our life cycle is usually limited to under 100 years, whereas, the life cycle of Earth encompasses billions and billions of years. Consequently, Earth appears to us as immutable. The changes that do occur with Earth are not readily sensually noticed by us. In order find the evolved history of Earth we must excavate. Each strata and substrata reveals the past life of Earth. The transition of only one phase of Earth's living process is relatively speaking, laboriously slow, requiring billions of years. For instance, we reach puberty within 14 years. The Earth reached puberty billions of years ago.


Regardless of the enormous range of Earth's life cycle, it is alive. The Earth is continuously renewing its self. It regenerates and maintains its basic living elements just as our bodies continuously regenerate and maintain our cells. The fiery core of Earth fuses molten basic elements, then spews them out to cool, condense, and mingle with other elements, such as water and air, to create and maintain enormous continents of land upon which all manner of organisms can develop and sustain their lives. Certainly the above description of Earth's living process is highly simplified, but it should provide some idea and feeling for the living essence of our Earth.


Our Earth, like a good mother, provides the basic needs for all its inhabitants. This kind of mutual co-existence is natural in Nature. For instance, within our bodies are vast armies of micro-organisms, stimulating, digesting, discharging, absorbing, and signaling. We host these various organisms under an accord of mutual benefit. We are similarly related to Earth, only the roles are reversed. We are the parasites, and Earth is our host. There is another difference of essential importance, we can act from a position of deliberation and choice, whereas the micro-organisms act instinctively. We are, therefore, capable of acting with intent, for mutual benefit or for exclusive self-benefit. We can choose to abuse our host Earth out of selfish motives, becoming a cancer, devastating Earth and ultimately ourselves or to act with mutual benefit, bringing balance and harmony to both Earth and ourselves. Gandhi is quoted as saying, "There is enough for every one's need, but not for every one's greed."


The American Indians have a wonderful, spiritual attitude towards Earth. They believe that all things are possessed with a spirit. A vital life spirit, common, and infused within all things. To the Indian, then all things are spiritually related. This relationship provides the bases for their expression of respect towards all things. This all encompassing, spiritual attitude towards all living things is not exclusive to American Indians. For example, in Japan, there is a small bridge called, Hansheko-Keyo, which means, "Half-Dipper Bridge." This bridge got its name from a certain practice of Dogen-Zenji, a thirteenth century Zen Master. Whenever Dogen-Zenji dipped water from the river running under the bridge, he used only a half dipper full to dink and returned what ever remained back into the river. This practice of his wasn't based on any idea of efficiency or economy. He was expressing respect for the river water. Certainly, this kind of practice is beyond most of our thinking, but in truth it expresses our true nature. This kind of universal attitude of respect is a natural consequence arising out of our intuitive feelings of beauty and unity.


We are not the central point of life on our Planet Earth. The same force that moves us moves our Earth. Our attitude towards Earth should originate from the shared experience of this life force. Earth in all its modes should be respected and cared for with the same affection and care we give to ourselves.


I leave you to ponder the remarks from E. B. White, an American essayist, "I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of skeptically and dictatorially."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

center of authority

For most of us there is not a developed center of authority in our minds-a center of filtration and clarification were all ideas are passed through to determine their truth or falsity. What most of us do have are centers of authority indoctrinated into our minds by parents, governments, institutions of all kinds especially education, and the cultural mores of the Unities States. Each of these authorities gives us a complete text of truths. Each explains that their beliefs are the best. Thus parents tell children which way is best, all governments tell their citizens which way is best, all manner of institutions tell their employees, congregations, customers, students, etc., etc., which way is best. What all these authorities are saying is, "We have superior intellect and knowledge gained from experience, study, analysis, or inspired understanding of which way is best, and because of our superior knowledge, claim and assert the power and authority to command your obedience, what beliefs are best for you, and your behavior." What we are saying, is "My experiences, insights, and intuitions are lacking when compared to theirs. Theirs seems more accurate and reliable, and what's more, most of the people I know follow theirs." We in turn concede and modify our knowledge to fit their beliefs. Simply, we substitute our knowledge for theirs, merely because they said so. We accept as true their statements and with little resistance or questioning. We have given our hearts away, "...a sordid boon!" This is like taking our heart out of our life and exchanging it for an other's that doesn't fit. Without our own heart our life will become an extended cliche. We will blindly believe and have opinions rather then truly know. Whatever questions you may have had about the truths of the authorities, you will have to harbor them within our mind without the heart to empower their asking. You will eventually, along with the majority of people, become sophisticated-pretentiously wise.

If we alien our ultimate purpose for living our lives with becoming the center of our own authority, we clearly see that developing our center of authority is a major step in achieving our purpose. What is our main purpose in life? See if you agree. Our main purpose is to express the full range of our human potential, that is locked up inside us, through conscious desire and effort. In that definition there is no loophole for modifying or adapting that human potential to fit society's or an others belief. Through your lived life, you need to establish credibility for your own life, not someone else's life. Plato, in his "Republic" talks about "right opinion." Paraphrasing, he says, right opinion can put the user of that opinion on the path of truth. However, those who use that opinion without knowledge are blindly imitating and can be easily challenged and quickly knocked off the path of truth.

You are unique, and your experiences exactly fit your character. Over many life times you inherit the consequences of your every thought, word, and deed. Each experience in your present life is an opportunity to gain your life-purpose. You must seize these opportunities every moment, and focus on there meaning, value, and direction. In so doing, you put "heart" into your life which in truth brings you "knowingness;" the beginning of true wisdom. You are the only one who lives your life, therefore you must take total responsibility for its fulfillment or failure. Others experiences should only represent guideposts from which you read to verify your own experiences and understandings. You must regain the power you relinquished to others.

Becoming the center of authority is not easy. You must overcome the induced, blind faith, belief systems of others, and determine with knowledge there truth or falsity. A long period of time might have to pass before you can reclaim and reverse the seats of authority; before the intuitive questions and doubts about your induced belief system can be heard and empowered by your heart to create the true direction and purpose of your life.

Monday, September 15, 2008

the game of life



I have played athletic games and have coached some of them for more than twenty years. In fact, at age 62 I still play handball at a competitive level. The games and activities in which I have participated and coached have helped to shape my life. There seems to be a direct analogy between the parameters of athletic contests and of life. For instance, all athletic games basically limit the field of play, set rules, conduct, and consequences, and set a time limit for the contest; and the overall format of human life seems to closely follow those game parameters.

I had believed for a long time that this athletic game analogy with life was an unique perspective. The only game analogy reference I had ever heard was when one of my athletic coaches pointed out a corresponding life situation with a specific game situation. For instance, as coach Vince Lombardi, of the Green Bay Packers told his players, ..."Fatigue makes cowards of us all;" obviously he meant not only in life but also in a game situation. The uniqueness of this perspective however dissolved when I came across a Sanskrit word "lida" during my studies. In one of the Hindu Puranas, it says that, paraphrasing, the creator of our world created several primordial worlds which perished as soon as they came into existence. This trial/error creation process was said to be an amusement, a sport of the creative god. Its seems the idea of sport, according to the ancient sages of India, appears at the genesis of our home world.

Proceeding from the above perspective, sport, contest, game, appear to be an integral part of our human make up. However, there seems, upon contemplation of that idea, to be an astonishing disconnect between the rules and regulations of a sport contest and the rules and regulations of life. In a sport contest all the participants know and understand the rules and regulations, in the game of life most of us are either completely unconscious of the rules and regulations or irony of ironies, live our lives under a false assessment of life's rules and regulations.

How is it possible that we, self-conscious beings, are unaware of the rules and regulations governing our lives? The honest answer to what's keeping us from the knowledge of the principles of live is our ignorance, and our lack of motivation and determination to find truth. Ignorance as a human impediment to truth has been known by all the masters and sages of antiquity to the present. For instance, this fact has been documented in the "Dhammapada" (the record of Gautama the Buddha's teachings), Canto 243: ..."But there is an impurity greater then all impurities it is ignorance." In a more contemporary example, Charles Dickens's, "A Christmas Carol," this fact is dramatically expressed; the Spirit of Christmas Present, unfolds his robe displaying two wretched, frighten children, a boy and a girl. They knelt down at his feet, and clung upon the outside of his garment. The Spirit exclaims, ..."O Man! look here! Look, look down here," Scrooge asks, "Spirit! Are they yours?" The Spirit replays, "They are Man's, and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it, slander it those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!" In yet another reference, from the great Indian epic, The Mahabbarata, an episode called Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna speaks to Arjuna ..."The truth is obscured by that which is not true, and therefore all creatures are lead astray"... This is clear operational and causal definition of ignorance.

We stand upon the rock of our beliefs as if they were footings in the ultimate Truth, and with righteous indignation we act upon those beliefs; some commit suicide and simultaneously mass murder believing their act will bring them heavenly reward, some believe wealth is the route to truth, and pursue that path with a blind disregard to the negative impact on others, some believe the end of the our world is near and think nothing of pillaging the natural resources of the world, some believe the earth is flat, some believe the Jewish Holocaust was a fabrication, some believe Hitler had it right, etc., etc. We rest confidently on our rock of beliefs, even though they were mainly built on the authority and expertise of others, and when our beliefs are assailed, even with cogent arguments, we retaliate with denial, anger, and indignation. St. Paul, recognizing the rigidity of our beliefs instructs us to, ..."prove all things and hold to that which is good"... The meaning is that we should prove all tenets whither they are gained from scripture, logical arguments, philosophical reasoning, agreement with a preconceived idea or come from a teacher. All tenets should not be blindly accepted and thus unproven attached to our rock of beliefs. They should be tested and proven by filtering them through our own center of authority. The Buddha reiterates St. Paul's teaching, "Be lamps unto yourselves. Betake yourselves to no external refuge. Hold fast to truth as a lamp. Hold fast as a refuge to the Truth. Look not for refuge to anyone besides yourselves"... Also in this vein, there is a rather harsh Zen Buddhist saying, "If you see a Buddha on the side of the road, kill the Buddha." Its meaning is, don't become attached to the personality of the Buddha and begin to worship him, but attach to the truths he speaks. In that way, you become a follower of truth, rather than a follower of a personal figure.

The principles that are the foundation of the game of life are stamped onto our DNA, but because of our ignorance they are hidden from our view. As participants (willing or unwilling) in the game of life we are responsible to learn the true rules and regulations, and abide by those principles for the good of team humanity, Earth, and all creatures that, walk, crawl, swim, and fly.






Thursday, September 11, 2008

the sleeper must awaken

We live in an era described by our cultural savants, as the "Age of Communication." Most everyone would nod their head in approval to the above description. Most everyone too, would agree that it is technology which is the primary catalysis behind this communication era. Technology, which is the applicatio walking stick which supports and leads our country's progress. All hope for a better tomorrow rests ultimately within the scientific fields and their inventive technologies. Consequently, the logic of our collective belief system forecasts that all the major problems existing in our country will succumb eventually to the technologies of science: optimum health for all, alleviation of the aging process, cheap renewable energy, etc., etc.

Science has become mystical to us. Mystical in that we experience the operation and manipulation of its created products, but know not of their theory and design. Thus we have come to deify science and worship at the alter of its technology. To most of us, scientific theories have advanced beyond our immediate comprehension, but we can directly experience their truth by owning and manipulating the technology derived from them. It is in this ability of ownership and use of scientific technology that we can become one with science, transforming our inadequate comprehension by the mystical ritual of manipulation. For example, in owning and operating a computer, we directly participate in the complex scientific theories that are the creative bases behind its technology, even though we don't understand its theories. Through ownership and operational mastery of scientific technology we become the proselyte of science, and we are thus initiated into its mysteries. And to further mark the point-Were do we send our computers when they breakdown;? to the priests and priestesses of computer technology, the Geek Squad.


As the cloak of scientific mystery continues to be wrapped tightly around us, we lose our awareness of where all scientific technology originates. We forget that all scientific theories, technologies, inventions, and innovations, no matter how extraordinary, are creations from a human mind and are not miraculous, manifestations from a divine source. As such, they contain, not only humans great capacity for creation, but also their great impulse to become lost in their own narrow, selfish desires.



If we closely examine the primary desires moving most all of technological development in our society today, we will find that underneath the mystical, scientific veil, beats a heart of greed, ambition, power, domination, honors, and prestige. All of which is played out upon a frenetic field of intense competition and urgency. The disturbing reality is that the fuel that fires our entire economy does not come from our highest virtues, but from our lowest vices. We value appearance over character, money over morality, power over equanimity, dominance over cooperation, and prestige over humility. We have become victims of our own narrow and selfish desires, and have planted the seed of destruction within our own house.


Theologian, Harvey Cox, in his book, "The Feast of Fools" gives in one paragraph, a clear and insightful account of the causes and results of our souless, technological culture.

" In Western Civilization we have placed an enormous emphasis
on man as a worker (Luther & Marks) and man as thinker (Aquinas & Descartes)
Man's celebrative and imaginative faculties have atrophied. This worker thinker
empasis enforced by philosophy, and sanctified by Christianity, helped to produce the
monumental achievements of Western Science and industrial technology.
Now, however, we can begin to see that our productivity has extracted a price.
Not only have we gotten it at the expense of millions of other people in the poorest
ations, not only have we ruined countless rivers and lakes and poisoned our
atmosphere, we have also terribly damaged the inner experience of man. We have
pressed him so hard towards useful work and rational calculation that he has all
but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration, antic play, and free imagination. His
shrunken psyche is just as much a victim of industrialization as were the bent bodies
of those luckless children who were once confined to English factories from dusk til dawn."


We must awaken from our self indulgent sleep and remember, that scientific technology originates from our own minds, that we have the capacity to direct our inventions and innovations with a clear mind, and to nourish those technologies whose roots are deep within the soil of social balance and harmony. We must awake from our sleep of being separate and recall that we are all relatives, that what each of us does touches us all, for good or for ill, and that we are to care for one another, Mother Earth, and all creatures that walk, crawl, swim and fly.


Wherever Gatuma the Buddha would go people would invariably ask what he was: "Are you a saint? a devil? a god? an angle?" Gatuma the Buddha would answer, "I am awakened." It is time for us to awaken, and begin to lead our lives by our higher selves, to value character over appearance, morality over money, equanimity over power, cooperation over dominance, and humility over prestige.




















































































































Sunday, September 7, 2008

emancipation from donkey economics

Remember the metaphor from the movie, Pinoccio I used to describe how our current economic system operates, specifically the description where Pinoccio sets aside his discriminating capability to follow his desires and passions into Pleasure Island?



A clue to the emancipation from donkey economics (here I made a big assumption, that there are people who desire emancipation) rests in Pinoccio's decision to put aside his discriminating faculty in order to indulge his passions. An even more telling clue can be derived from a quote in Thoreau's Journal, Oct. 22, 1853..."Consider how the broker collects his winter wood...Postponing instant life, he makes haste to Boston in the cars, and there deals in stock, not quite relishing his employment and so earns the money with which he buys his fuel. And when by chance I meet him about this indirect and complicated business, I am not struck with the beauty of his employment. It does not harmonize with the sunset"...


We move through every day geared to the high RPMs required by the system and practices of our economy. We are swept into this speedy rhythm spending most of our daily energy and attention keeping our heads above the economic waterline. Our minds are thus overflowing with stress, anxiety, depression, and fear, like rushing currents of water flowing over a waterfall. As our hearts beat to the frenetic percussion of our economy we rush by the rosebush. Its deep colored, scented flowers, have little attraction to our preoccupied minds. The poet, Wordsworth admonishes us in his poem, The World Is Too much With Us:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;...

Stop! and smell the roses: inhale their fragrance, take into your view their deep, pure color. They are offered to you as a gift, with no strings attached. When your attention is completely occupied on the roses, your mind will have slowed to the present moment. The slowing of your mind is the first step in emancipation. A mind that is fast is disconnected and unfocused, and synonymous with negative thinking. A mind that is slow is integrated and focused, and synonymous with positive thinking. If you think that is a false statement, test it out for your self. Of course, in order to test, you must be able to slow down your mind, a formidable task.


A clue for the next step towards emancipation can be extracted from the last sentence of the Thoreau quote, ..."It does not harmonize with the sunset."... The broker's choice of labor is out of step with Nature. Nature is never synthetic, nor does it operate in an exclusive, singular manner, but moves in an inclusive, all encompassing manner. The buying and selling of stock is an enterprise on par with gambling. Its intent is singular, to gain a profit from a capital investment in a business. The investor speculates on a business's profitability, long or short term, and intends to share in those profits. The investor is far removed from the daily operations of the business and has little personal or legal responsibilities, aside from voting privileges. Nature on the other hand, is always directly involved with every aspect of Her operations, and Her primal motive is movement towards perfection. The broker participates in his out of step business process and receives a fee and buys his firewood. Not only is his choice of labor an act of disharmony, but also his manner of purchasing firewood serves to compound his disharmony with Nature. If he were in tune with Nature, he would have forged and cut his own firewood.

The emancipation of our economic mental slavery starts with our awareness and discrimination of its causal and deleterious effects: generalized anger and tension, frustration, lack of joy, poor health, negative thinking, and generalized disconnection with our higher self or soul.

We next need to slow our minds down by focusing on the present moment. After those two steps, we need to pay attention to Nature, begin to understand Her ways as they relate to our own natures, and finally to attune ourselves to Nature's rhythm, so that we can, ..."harmonize with the sunset."... We must change our perceptions so that instead of ..."seeing little in Nature that is ours,"... we begin to see that everything in Nature is directly related to us.



These perceptions are not beyond the capacity of our human faculties, and in fact spring out from within the vary essence of who and what we are. We are in truth, a complete living analogy of our Cosmos, and at the same time magnificent participants in our Cosmos. The same forces and qualities that uphold the Cosmos uphold us; we in it, it in us. Nakomo, an American Indian, puts it beautifully, in his poem, "The Circle Is My Path:"



..."We are all on the rim of the world and at its center
at the same time.
We are attached to the ripples that emanate from the center.
We ride the waves-the wind turns us, we flow as the prairie flows
and we are bound to the sacred land."...



There is a chamber of our hearts were we can begin to know our true Cosmic heritage, one that lies beyond mere material acquisitions and accumulations, and the knowledge of which leads not to self-importance, but to great impersonality, balance, and universality.