The video below is an excellent one on the cognitive processes involved with how we can alter our state of being. If we believe that our thoughts are our destiny, we are thinking in the past. Consequently, we are constantly doing the same thing repetitiously and this becomes the routine and program. When change happens, subconsciously we become hardwired to believe certain things. While we can say, I want to be happy and free, our body says otherwise as it is the repository of past and triggers our mind. He argues that you have to get past the analytical mind in order to be truly free. In order to get past the analytic mind, one has to enter into a meditative state and calm the body.
All of us relive traumatic events, the more we connect to that event we connect to those emotional experiences and we then feel within our body the intensity of those events. That, then, creates a mood and emotional reaction. If we keep that going that creates a temperament and if it continues it becomes a personality trait.
Most of us therefore live 70 % of time in that space and live in fear. We prepare for fear. We are not been able to move from that event and we become addicted to them. We then connect to those events and the chemistry of the brain unloads and this has an impact on our body.
The hardest part of change is making a different choice and that is going to feel uncomfortable. Emotions trigger thoughts which connect to the body. The body then influences the mind in a reciprocal pattern which creates the same experience. Our body become connected to the unconscious. Being in the unknown is fearful for our body. The best way to create the future is to create it. Rehearse the action of what you want. Most of us our addicted to our environment and past. Less sensory information means less sensory environment and this can help us become free.
Waiting for something outside of us means that we are always living in lack. The Newtonian model is about predictability. Th Quantam is when you start feeling whole and free. You then create your world and reality.
Epicetus is among the most interesting and earliest of the Stoic philosophers. His name is translated as "acquired one" and he was a slave. Thus, when he discusses overcoming setbacks, his lessons are wise and worthy of reflection. One of his most famous works is the Enchirdion.
He sounds an almost Buddhist when he argues that dropping desire is the key to interior freedom and ultimately happiness (a problematic term). While all is transitory and passing and suffering is part of life, our attitudes towards these can have a great impact on our well-being.
Difficult to practice but at time circumstances require that we do just that. I won't comment more on it except his famous distinction between what is up to us and what isn't is a very challenging and difficult exercise. Combined with surrendering to fate (different than fatalism) and the overall philosophy contains some valuable kernels of wisdom. Although not perfect, it is a precursor to the dominance of psychology in the contemporary era.
Psychology and philosophy are more related than the positivist empirical tradition of contemporary psychology might wish to admit.
Most interesting idea that is being floated in the US regarding the minting of a Trillion Dollar coin. The US Constitution gives authority to the federal treasury to mint coins and values and, theoretically, the minting of Trillion dollar coin would pay of the country's debt.
The only problem is whether the Federal Reserve would accept it. However, this would set up a showdown between the government and the Federal Reserve on who controls the government, currency and money supply. If they did not accept it, the US would have no choice but to establish a national bank thereby basically abolishing the Fed.
In many quarters, many argue that although it is constitionally legal and valid, given the inter-related nature of commerce and business such a move would de-stabilize confidence in the US dollar.
Ellen Brown disagrees (and did when Obama floated and researched idea) and argues that it is an idea whose time has come!
The current economic crisis cannot be solved with the thinking that created it. There is simply not enough money in the system to fund the services we desperately need, pay down the debt, and keep taxes affordable. The money supply has shrunk by $4 trillion since 2008, according to the Fed’s own website. The only solution is to add more money to the real, producing economy; And that means some congressionally-mandated entity needs to create it, either the Fed or the Treasury.
The Fed has declined. In flatly rejecting the Treasury’s legal tender, the Fed as representative of the banks is asserting itself as outranking the elected representatives of the people. If the Fed won’t acknowledge the coins created by the government, perhaps the government needs to charter a publicly-owned bank that will.
We have a chance today to end the charade of big money gridlock politics, as well as the reign of the big banks. We have the power to choose prosperity over austerity. But to do it, we must first restore the power to create money to the people.
Many are grieving, mourning, and are in shock with respect to the finding of the children's bodies in Kamloops British Columbia. These children were community members of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community who attended the school.
There are sacred fires, gatherings, and other forms of communal coming together across Canada and in my community of Thunder Bay
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission provides the community with a roadmap on how to move forward and it is useful to re-read it.
At the same time, we can be active agents for envisioning and enacting a new present and future. It is never easy to achieve a new future and, for me, embracing what seems at first to be macabre paradigms such as Robert Burns' insight in his dirge, "Man was made to mourn" or the Buddha's insight that "life is suffering" is an effective way for us to recognize reality as it is. Buddhism, Islam, Christianity point to a reality.
But Indigenous spirituality also points to a reality. In the video below, James Vukelich provides an etymologic breakdown of the Ojibway word "Giga-waabamin". He explains that there is no word for good-bye in Ojibway. Instead, there is a phrase that means "I'll see you". That is not just a maybe but a clear understanding that I WILL see you. You will never be lost; you will never be gone.
As he says the phrase, there is no glossing over the pain. He says the "eternal is moving through the permanent" and that eternal will never end but our present life will end. We will die. This phrase acknowledge that reality. But it also acknowledges that this is not the end. While we suffer in the present moment, we WILL see each other and as he says, "and the Spirits will decide.”
Life is always subject to change, and this is now a change in our collective consciousness (in some way, depending on how we choose).
The understanding of that reality gives us a truth by which we should live our life. And we should live our life, according to the elders and the language with "truth, compassion, love, virtue, righteousness, honesty, humility, and respect for one another, acknowledging the sanctity of each others' lives, with strength of heart, with courage, with bravery, with intelligence" And when we do see each other again, we will certainly know how to treat each other. And the Spirits will decide.
Hard to believe that the meditation came from Marcus Aurelius in around 160 CE. There is no evidence that he ever intended these thoughts to be made public. The riches of his meditations have influenced thousands over the centuries. They ring as accurate to experience, for those on the path of enlightenment, two thousand years later as they did then.
When you wake up this morning, tell yourself: The people I will deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative or hate him or her. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him or her: these are obstructions.
I am reading Nikolai Berdyaev, the philosopher of freedom (which he also refers to as creativity). I have embedded a useful video from a Russian philosopher who effectively outlines the ethics of creativity. In the video, ethics means the type of paradigm or framework the human person uses to direct their activity. For Berdyaev, the ultimate ethic is the ethics of freedom or creativity. She draws on his work in the Destiny of Man, but I am drawing on his work, The Meaning of the Creative Act. The quotes below are from it.
Freedom from law or convention does not mean anarchic chaos. “There is nothing creative in chaotic revolt: this is always reaction and deserves denunciation by the law. Creativity is cosmic, not chaotic, hence it lies outside any denunciation by the law which is always oriented towards the ancient chaos. Creativity is least of all anarch”. Creativity is a wellspring of life that emerges from consciousness and is completely subjective although it may have social and political impact.
"Only the creative epoch will lead to the human person’s positive consciousness of themselves, will liberate the human person from an exclusively negative self- consciousness. The ethic of creativity will give inspiration towards new and hitherto unknown life. This is life in the Spirit, rather than in the world, life spiritually free from reaction to the world and everything worldly. A new evaluation of the social, also, will flow from the ethic of creativeness."
In real terms if we adopt a new paradigm in our minds FIRST, changes in the world will follow and flow from that creative process.
Martin Heidegger is an interesting but difficult philosopher to understand. He is most famous for the concept of “dasein”. By that term, Heidegger meant that the historical building block of all the world is interpreted in classical philosophy as being (sein). As a particular form of being, (dasein) denotes how the human being interprets what it is to be human in history. That does not mean there is a historical unfolding of dasein that is careening to a particular zenith. It means that in history, human beings interpret what it is to be human or what is natural in specific ways in history. Thus being and to be human are inseparable but nonetheless at least intellectually (or noetically) distinct. Being is not an abstract principle of nature but signifies something about the human being in that the human being seeks to know and understand the world.
This brings him to the phenomenon that he observes in current history of technology in this 1969 interview. He is not opposed to technology but sees in technology a creative element that can manufacture the human being. Because technology, by its nature, is about building and manufacturing, humanity will eventually have the capacity to build and manufacture itself. Thus, the human being eventually finds themselves as the slave of technology in a literal sense even though, this very technology, is created by human beings. The human being is not free, but is instead enslaved to the very creating of their techne.
He argues that philosophy has historically been able to think through the problem and distinctions between, for example, being and human – distinct but not different. He sees with technology the rise of “the event” also interestingly referred to as the singularity. Technology becomes less of an instrument and more of an end to which we aspire. But what is technology? It is an instrument - something done by someone who controls it. But who decides what the use of technology is?
The current pandemic is something completely and totally new. This is a phenomenon that can have no direct comparison. Mass media, social media, science, technology, politics, are converging and it will be interesting to see what consensus, if any, in terms of shared life emerges. And if it does what is that new consensus? Does it mean that working from home is the new normal? That, in fact, social relations will be mediated online in the digital as opposed to physical space. What is it going to mean to be human? To be a free agent? To be in community?
I don’t expect that we will have the answers but philosophers, sages, and other knowledge keepers should not be absent from the conversation. They can help us “enframe” the issues properly, carefully, and with linguistic and conceptual clarity.
But, he laments, if shared language and shared philosophy dies away, how will we communicate, and debate these ideas in the world? Are we destined for endless flame wars on the internet? The same tribal wars between so called left and right?
It is fast becoming a dogma among politicians that they occupy the moral high ground when crafting Covid response policies because they are “following the science” or the scientists. This is particularly relevant today as Ontario, under Premier Doug Ford, has opted yet again to plunge the province into another 28 day lockdown to stem the tide of rising hospitalizations due to Covid and/or their variants.
But what does it mean to follow science or scientists? There are several problems with this mantra. Jonathan Pageau outlines a few of them below, and his retort is helpful for us to consider when evaluating our public officials’ support for various public health policies.
1. The assumption is that if you disagree with a public policy, you are not “following the science” – and in our modern era, technology – the concrete manifestation of materialist science – is the last idol (using idol in the Nietzchean sense of the word). It has the effect of shaming your ideological opponents rather than engaging in actual scientific debate with them. This brings him to the second point – it is IMPOSSIBLE to follow the science.
2. Science is an accurate and reliable observation of phenomena worldwide based on clear measures consistently applied across contexts. You can only follow the science when you identify what you want to track or follow. And science cannot provide for you the object for you to measure. Science cannot tell you what to measure; it cannot tell you what is important. It can only provide tools to you once you determine what phenomena you want to measure. Herein lies the problem.
3. What were the goals of Covid policy? First, they were to reduce the possibility of hospitals being overwhelmed. Then it moved to stop people from dying at all costs. Then the goalposts moved to reduce the virus from spreading from person to person. But morally or scientifically, each of these is a different goal and are they realistic and can they be achieved? Can you challenge those morally posited positions? If you do not share those positions, others argue that you are not following the science. But one is not - not following the science – one is challenging the moral presuppositions.
4. Society has always had to find ways to manage the tension between safety and risk. We should be able to have this discussion without being reprimanded. If our goal is to save lives, we would not, he argues, go rafting, travel on highways, skydive or engage in a myriad of risks that could risk our lives. Intuitively, we know that of course, we will engage in risky behaviour that has the possibility of danger. All actions are exchanges of values and what is important. Should we reduce highway speeds to 50km/hr because it will save lives? Automobile accidents, he argues, are the leading cause of death for those 1 – 54 years of age. That public policy would save lives.
5. Of course, we want to protect the vulnerable but do we do that in other areas. Much of the death and ill health is correlated to poverty and marginalization, so why don’t we share wealth more? Why don’t we change the conditions of those in poverty? Or why not isolate those who are at risk and provide meaningful provisions for them?
This leads to the Great Barrington Declaration. There are other ways to address these problems that do not involve massive dislocation of society, restriction of fundamental freedoms, and people's ability to move freely.
But to argue that is to be called a “yahoo” (as Doug Ford called those protesting lockdowns). They had good arguments. And the reporter framed those protesters as not taking it seriously. That is not true. And it is not selfish.
That said, maybe lockdown policies are the way to address the current problem (although the WHO stated that they should be used sparingly and only as a last resort to regroup resources). The questioning certainly does not make one a heretic that should be burned at the stake (metaphorically speaking, meaning losing your professional position for public policy, political positions).
The US has historically resisted political, regulatory discipline to restrain its expansionist desires related to trade. In 1914 Charles Beard wrote An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. Beard argues that the spirit of commerce was much stronger than the spirit of justice and fairness.
Government was conceived as driving capital and reinforcing private property even more than John Locke (who I tend to favour for reasons in a later post). The framers of the US constitution did not contextualize their notions of freedom and liberty in quite the same way Locke did. Locke had an appreciation of the Commons. The framers jettisoned the idea of a commons and opted for cementing privatized commercial interests and enshrining their rights to commerce within the new constitutional order. According to Beard, soaring rhetoric of shining city on hill, beacon of freedom, and other Puritan ideas are subsumed in private commercial interests.
James Madison in Federalist 10 reinforced and absolutized private property to an almost sacred character even more than principles of justice, equity, and fairness. Commercial interests needed to be codified and advanced. Referencing Madison’s article in the Federalist, Beard notes:
Here we have a masterly statement of the theory of economic determinism in politics. Different degrees and kinds of property inevitably exist in modern society; party doctrines and "principles" originate in the sentiments and views which the possession of various kinds of property creates in the minds of the possessors; class and group divisions based on property lie at the basis of modern government; and politics and constitutional law are inevitably a reflex of these contending interests.
The idea that the framers of the constitution were philosopher-kings concerned with the common good and creating a commons where people can exercise what we now understand as political, social, cultural, and religious rights is absent. Driving the constitution and the country is mercantile interests.
The colonies had been supressed (in their view) by the King and the colonists wanted to trade freely and engage in commerce within the colonies. Moral principles were not part of the union. The economic question loomed large. This is why slavery was tolerated in the Southern states and why they rejected King George’s Royal Proclamation that granted customary or prior occupancy rights to the Indigenous inhabitants. The Indian Removal Act was a genocidal act aimed at dispossessing Indigenous people of their land without remedy. And in fact, they now have no remedy or recourse under the constitution because that constitution reinforced the owners' mercantile interests.
Those who argue for a rethinking of American and the constitutional order are not wrong – and revisiting Charles Beard is useful in considering the greatness that America is undoubtedly capable of when it comes to economically, culturally, and spiritually supporting its people.
America can reinvent itself, but it must do so beyond just rhetoric but examine the deep structural problems that currently exist and refashion the republic to better correspond to workers' needs. Beard argued later on in 1930 that the USA should be a workers republic.
The title of this blog is an allusion to the famous work of Blaise Pascal. This blog represents the variety of my interests and thoughts on any given day and are strung together, like Pascal's Pensees, in no particular order. I work in the field of mental health, education, and human rights. I write and am a human rights advocate. I enjoy poetry, jazz, spirituality, politics and a potpourri of other interests that you will see reflected in this blog.