Monday, January 19, 2015

Tying in the Threads so far (and introducing a new perspective)

[Approximate Reading Time: 15 minutes]

It's been about two and a half years since I started writing here. What a journey of discovery it's been. Thank you for coming along with me on this ride. Your companionship and dialogue have enriched my travels.

Today, I am going to synthesize the writing I have been doing so far into one blog post. It's partly a summary, but it should also be a "connecting the dots" exercise where I weave all the key posts so far into a story. I will also introduce a new perspective that will help with this exercise. Many of the posts I have made so far might appear disparate and unrelated. In fact, many of them were snapshots of my consciousness at the time I wrote them. As I went through the archive today, I could visualize an organic evolution of my worldview, and with it, an expansion of my consciousness. I will make an attempt to present this worldview to you here (in short form, of course) and will link to the relevant blog posts from the archive as I go along.

My journey of discovery is by no means complete. I have a feeling it will only get more interesting. But I am at a point now where I feel that the basic structural framework of my worldview is in place. It's quite radical if you compare it with the dominant cultural worldview of our times. I use the phrases "dominant culture", "modern culture" and "civilization" interchangeably. This is in contrast to the hundreds if not thousands of non-civilization cultures found across the world. To refer to them, I use the words "tribal culture", "indigenous people" and "native culture", again interchangeably. Also, civilization is a "younger culture" as opposed to the myriad older cultures (some of which still exist today) that predate civilization.

It takes a very skeptical and open mind to even begin to grasp the implications of my findings over the last few years. If you told me a few years ago any bit of what I am going to share with you, I would have looked at you with skepticism myself. So I wouldn't be surprised if you did the same. But I ask you to let the ideas trickle in. As I requested of you in one of my earliest posts, give these ideas a chance! Let them enter your consciousness. Invite them in and play with them.

Why go through all that trouble? You don't have to. This blog post (and this blog itself) is not for everyone. If you are happy with your current worldview, if it makes sense to you, if it easily explains the world you see around you to your satisfaction, you will probably not find much of value in entertaining a different worldview, other than having fun with disparate bits of information and perspectives. But if you are not content with the dominant story that's been presented to us by the mainstream culture we have grown up in, if you have more questions than answers, if you are confused about why your day-to-day observations don't correspond with the dominant story, you are in the right place.

A cautionary note that I think is very important at this point: it might get quite depressing as you enter this new story. If it gets too depressing, please stop reading. Come back when you're ready. There's a time for everything. It might simply not be the right time for you to get into a different story today. Stay away from this blog until the time is right! This is not to be taken lightly, if you're like me. I have spent much time mulling over and feeling extremely sad and depressed about what I was discovering and uncovering. Such are the times we live in. Stepping into the role of an observer or witness helps me deal with it, but it can be quite overwhelming anyway.

The new perspective I present now is actually a depressing one.

Several months ago, I came across the work of an abortion specialist from Boulder, Colorado. He's a practicing physician who has been researching the human story from a unique perspective. Dr. Warren Hern has published numerous papers and presented his research at conferences throughout the US, but unfortunately, his work has gained little attention from the mainstream.

I will be taking a deeper look into the work of Dr. Hern on this blog in the near future. For now, suffice it to say that he's been studying the growth in our numbers, and the growth of urban areas and their characteristic resemblance to a malignant process. It makes a lot of sense to me but I can see why it doesn't to most of us. Needless to say, he finds it hard to disseminate his work more widely because it's such a downer topic. It also runs counter to the predominant theme of civilization which is "growth is good" and most of us have a difficult time seeing it any other way.

I was on the phone with Dr. Hern this week to tell him about a couple of broken links on his web site. We spoke for 20 minutes. He said he's been working on his research for 45 years! Perhaps his profession (since he runs an abortion practice) predisposes most people who come upon his work to an unfortunate bias, but I find his work highly relevant to understanding how and why we humans got to where we are, facing one existential crisis after another. Take a look at his papers here if you're curious. I'm convinced he's on to something very important.

So, yes, what we call civilization is a malignant process. It's a cancer on the planet! Even if some of us are neither depressed nor surprised about it, upon first learning of this angle, it's a whole different thing when we begin to realize how everything we do today in modern society contributes to this malignant process. We're not talking about the occasional oil spill in the ocean, or the emissions from our cars and trucks, or the corrupt corporate CEO who saves costs by cutting corners, but the entire infrastructure of civilization itself: banking and finance, education, science and technology, medicine, government, politics, religion, just about everything. All of our institutions are engaged in the primary task of converting previously non-monetized things into monetized resources. The World Bank and the IMF, for instance, are not about making the lives of poor people easier, but about development and extraction of resources from so-called third world countries. Education and schooling is not about enlightenment and growth but about making engineers and businessmen who will come up with more efficient ways of pillaging the planet. Medicine is not about healing the body and soul, but about industrial chemical pharmaceuticals and profiteering. Even the non-profit sector is not exempt when we consider that institutional policies at the largest "conservation organizations" like the Sierra Club and WWF encourage collaboration with the most destructive industries on the planet, like logging, construction and transportation. In short, the work output of the various institutions of modern civilization constitute the very core of a malignant process.

If all this sounds cynical, so be it. We are facing extinction. How long are we going to avoid facing the facts? How long are we going to put on a happy face? How long are we going to pretend everything is hunky dory? The dominant narrative of social and cultural progress, technological development and improvement in the human condition breaks down upon closer examination. We need a new set of lenses to look through and understand where we have been, where we are and where we are headed. What we thought of as exceptions are in fact the rule. Despoliation of the environment is not an exception but the very basis of civilization. Urban growth is not a panacea but the characteristic signature of a malignant process. You and I, friends, are not unlike cancer cells ravaging our host planet day in and day out. What makes it worse is there's no escape from it all. We can't help but be part of this process with everything we do. Such are the times we live in.

Consider this extract from one of Dr. Hern's papers:

"Malignant neoplasms in organisms have several classical characteristics: a) rapid, uncontrolled growth; b) invasion and destruction of adjacent normal tissues; c) metastasis (distant colonization); and de-differentiation (loss of characteristic cell and tissue appearance unique to each kind of tissue) (Anderson, 1961; Perez-Tamayo, 1961). Metastatic lesions tend to be more aggressive and grow faster that the original tumor."

Metastasis (distant colonization) is exactly what has been happening in the world over the last few thousand years, and especially over the last few hundred years. I wrote about the imperial nature of San Francisco and how centralization has been a key trend in human affairs throughout civilization. Cities and urban areas are about centralization of power. The world has increasingly centralized over the last few thousand years. Trade routes like the silk route allowed transmission of not just goods but ideas and culture between the East and the West as long ago as 2000 years. According to Wikipedia,
The Silk Road, or Silk Route, is a series of trade and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China and India to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time.
Today, when I can make the trip from San Francisco to my hometown in India in less then 24 hours, the world is thoroughly centralized. The reason why I can speak, read and write English is because India was colonized by Britain for over 250 years. The British brought not just the language but a whole new set of infective ideas and technologies which blurred the distinctions between Western and Eastern civilization. This is not to say that Eastern civilizations of ancient China and India were not part of this malignant process themselves. There are plenty of indications that the "high civilizations" of the East colonized distant lands with their religious and cultural ideas in their own way for thousands of years before Western civilization took over in the last few hundred years. Civilization itself happens to be a sign of malignancy, whether it took birth in the plains of the fertile crescent or, in the case of Western civilization, ancient Greece or on a smaller scale, the Incas and the Aztecs. Civilization tends to alienate people from the lands they are part of, insulate them from their roots, and make them look and act more like each other. That brings us to de-differentiation, the loss of uniqueness.

Today, civilized people everywhere watch similar TV programming, talk about the same ideas of progress and growth, dress similarly, laugh at the same jokes, and otherwise lead similar lives. We face the same problems everywhere, from the slums of Mumbai to the suburbs of Los Angeles - long commutes, bad air quality, stressful jobs, lack of time, poor nutrition, etc. Modern culture would have us believe it is better for all of us to be like each other. But that's not how nature works. Healthy natural systems have a dazzling amount of variety in them. The more the variety, the higher the resilience. And quite simply, the more the beauty too. What's the fun in seeing the same old yellow arches of McDonalds all across the country? Where's the unique cuisine of each region? De-differentiation has been another key trend in the last few hundred years.

So why did it all come to this? Why did the human story turn malignant? As it's said, every seed contains the knowledge that will bring about its own undoing. We could argue that it was inevitable all along. Whatever ends up happening can be said to have always been inevitable. Why fight reality? In any case, my interest lies not in exploring the "why" but the "how". Understanding how the story of the human species turned malignant is challenging  yet fascinating. We can trace key developments throughout pre-history and history to some extent but at the end of the day, we have to resort to some educated and informed conjecture to interpret what we discover. The work of revisionist anthropologists in recent decades is of much help in this exercise. Revisionist anthropologists challenge the commonly accepted view of our early ancestors as under-developed, barbaric, savage, violent, uncultured, superstitious, brutish forest dwellers who lived in holes and caves, running scared of predatory animals, and always at the verge of starvation. It turns out the joke is on the modern man instead!

The story began about 2 Million years ago when the ancestors of homo-sapiens first appeared. By about 200,000 years ago, a tenth of that time, humans who are anatomically similar to modern humans walked the African continent. Their brains were similar to ours and they were no less intelligent than us. They had already figured out how to first sustain fire, and later to start it. Rudimentary language was also part of their lives. These "developments", although seen by modern culture as highly positive in the evolutionary sense, actually alienated us from the rest of creation, even if just a bit. We still lived in small tribes, mainly extended families, and foraged, hunted and gathered our food. We lived in balance with our surroundings, plants and animals, rivers and mountains. Every tribe had its own unique and peculiar creation story or the "story of the people". The story explained who they were and where they came from and how they were to conduct themselves. To the modern man, many of these stories seem out of date and laughable. But there's something to be said about stories that sustain people through hundreds of thousands of years, generation after generation. Modern man sees this time in our history as "the time when nothing happened". Well, that's our story, a story of change, ever faster change, change for the sake of change itself. It's no accident that the shift from a "boring" story to an "exciting" one also marked the beginning of the most advanced stage of the malignancy that we face today. It's hard to relate to the life of a pre-historic person but numerous revisionist anthropologists in recent decades have challenged the dominant narrative to cast light on the abundance and happiness in the lives of our ancestors. For instance, see the work of Marshall Sahlins.

I have talked about tribal and indigenous peoples quite a bit over the last year starting with my post about the book "Indian Summer" which gave me much to think about. I commented on Peter Coyote's insightful comment on the difference between tribal culture and civilization here - tribal cultures value wisdom passed down the generations while modern culture values  a certain type of materialistic intelligence and forward-looking change. It's not that tribal peoples didn't change their customs and traditions. Like every life form that lives in balance with its habitat, our ancestors adapted to changing surroundings quite successfully. They were experts in listening to what their surroundings were telling them. In fact, it came naturally to them. They didn't see themselves as different from the environment they lived in. They very much viewed themselves as part of the fabric of the lands they lived on. When change did happen, they worked with it slowly, carefully and deliberately. The Native Americans, for instance, talk about looking ahead to the next seven generations to gauge the impact of any change they are considering making to their age-old ways. Contrast this with the modern mindset where risk-taking and dangerous enterprise are highly valued and celebrated. I wrote about how our younger culture that we call civilization and tribal cultures approach the precautionary principle differently here.

Modern culture would have us believe that the entire world is on the verge of being civilized. It's just a matter of time, they say, before the benefits of development and technology reach every man, woman and child living anywhere on the planet. Civilized man takes it upon himself, in his ignorance, the task of civilizing others. This is, of course, done with the utmost of good intentions. Like a priest who proselytizes a tribal person for the latter's own good, for his own salvation, the civilized man goes about the work of civilizing others with particular zeal and energy. It's not that civilized men are bad people. They are like any other people. If we humans didn't believe in our stories fully, we wouldn't have sustained ourselves and thrived for all this time. I'm not blaming the character of any civilized man or woman here. It just so happens that our story today is at odds with harmony and balance with our surroundings. The story of civilization is one that is unsustainable and will eventually end. Just how this end might come about is captured well in this documentary.

And while we prepare for the day of our reckoning, tribal people everywhere continue to be dislocated and dispossessed of their ancestral lands. I have talked about the plight of tribal peoples today here and here. These are the healthy cells that are still fighting for survival as the cancer that is civilization rages on, approaching closer and closer, promising to either kill them off or assimilate them (turn them cancerous). Understanding how our own ancestors used to live (because all civilized people are also descendants of tribal people) and how tribal people all around the world still live today has been a key element in deciphering our own modern story. As modern civilization, in its insatiable appetite for natural resources, invades and decimates the lands that tribal peoples have called home for generations, we lose an immense and invaluable amount of knowledge and wisdom. In our arrogance, we try to assimilate tribal peoples into our own sick and unsustainable culture under the guise of helping them out and bringing them development. So the next time you're asked for a donation to build a school in a small village in Africa, you know what that's all about!

Tribal societies are the most egalitarian and free societies humans have ever lived in. I explored how this contrasts with the modern state here. Primitivism and the two key books that I've read that explore it are mentioned here. These books, "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn and "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" by Thom Hartmann have made essential contributions to my understanding and I highly recommend both to anyone interested in digging deeper into our story.

While tribal culture is about simplicity and elegance, modern civilization is about accumulation and scale. Modern culture is about force and alienation. As my understanding of these issues evolved over time, I had plenty of debates with friends and co-workers. I challenged the dominant narrative and it cost me dearly in strained relationships with a couple of friends. My heated debate with co-workers at Google was the last straw and I left the company soon after. I realized how different my thinking had become compared to that of the people around me, if it was ever that similar to theirs at all in the first place. The debate brought many differences to the fore. Nevertheless, I tried to practice empathy with my friends. It was richly rewarded in terms of both a better bond with my friends as well as a more nuanced understanding of the world around me.

I've said so much about tribal people and tribal cultures and it's now time to see what transpired in the last 10,000 years when some of those tribal peoples, the ancestors of modern man, took to agriculture, the domestication of plants. 10,000 years is just a small fraction of the 2 Million years we've been around. Or even the 200,000 years anatomically similar humans have been around. But so much has happened in the last 10,000 years beginning with agriculture. One thing lead to another. Domestication of plants resulted in settlements and disturbed the egalitarian structure of the tribal society. The natural order of tribal life was transformed. Instead of relying on nature to provide what's needed exactly when it's needed, man started taking things into his own control. Daniel Quinn explores this process in his books.

The domestication of plants, which when done at scale is called agriculture, is a sign of control over nature. We are no longer satisfied with what the universe provides us. We'd want it a certain way, we'd want to predict what it will give us, we'd want to control what we get to eat several months down the line, and we'd want to breed different plant varieties to make new ones to suit our tastes. Modern bio-technology can be seen as an advanced form of this initial urge to get what we want, and force our way through it.

With the domestication of plants underway, the domestication of animals and people soon followed. When early settlements took hold, the old tribal practices, customs and traditions broke down. There was no new story to replace the old one. We've been experimenting with one new story after another for 10,000 years and have failed miserably. The debate between capitalism and communism, for instance, is an example of how we have never been able to figure out what works. Control begets control. Control of man over nature begets control of man over animal and man over man. This is exactly what we see today when we talk of factory farming and slavery.

In the absence of a strong time-tested story, it's a free for all. Such conditions are ripe for the rise of those among us that are prone to a bit of sociopathy. It's very likely that sociopathy has always existed among humans to some extent. Some of us are just a bit more sociopathic than others. Some of us are just a bit more desirous of control than others. It's just natural and expected. But the tribe knew how to work with sociopaths. In extreme cases, sociopaths were ostracized and banished or even killed. The goal then was to maintain peace and continuity of the tribe. This worked for hundreds of thousands of years. But when the tribe disintegrated with the beginnings of agriculture, the sociopath reared his ugly head. When we talk about private property, we'd do well to recognize that it's the work of the sociopath. The sociopath soon locked up some of the food produced from early agricultural practices and called it his own. Sociopathy is about control. The sociopath soon realized that in order to retain control over what he called his own, he needed help. The sociopath surrounded himself with a couple of strong men who would do his bidding. Such were the beginnings of hierarchy.

Private property and the hierarchy that's needed to protect it is the order of the day today. It's the rule. It's the law. One of the primary responsibilities of the modern state is to recognize and protect private property. That's the new story that we all believe in. We believe in it so much that we think it's natural for hierarchies to exist, that it's normal for some of us to "own", that it's normal for some of us to own much more than others. I have come across people who are rather quick to defend the sociopaths among us. Most of us simply don't see our most celebrated and successful politicians and businessmen as anything but role models. It takes quite an inversion of viewpoint to see Steve Jobs as a sociopath.

“Where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control.” - Lord Acton (1834-1902) (John E. Dalberg), English Catholic historian, politician, and writer

It was not that easy for me to empathize with tribal people, having been brought up in modern culture. But it was much harder for me to empathize with those on the opposite side of the spectrum. If tribal people are those that are close to the land, the wealthy elites and members of the ruling class are those that live farthest from the land, insulated from it, and oblivious of their impacts on it and on their not-so-fortunate brethren. I played the blame game for a while, charging the wealthy elites with all the evil in the world. But as I said in an earlier blog post, my journey wouldn't be the same without me practicing empathy with those that I have the least in common with. And so I tried doing that, having recognized the basic truth that if I were in their shoes, having experienced the same circumstances as they did, I would behave just like them. It turns out billionaires live in their own strange world. For instance, a billionaire who is surrounded by multi-billionaires actually feels poor.

I have written about sociopathy and I highly recommend reading the book, "The Sociopath Next Door". It's actually debatable if agriculture resulted in the rise of the sociopath or if the sociopath planted the first seed in his backyard. Sociopathy is about control and it's quite likely that the sociopath next door in a tribal settlement in the fertile crescent decided to skip the walk needed to forage for food and instead decided to exert control over his future by planting a few seeds of fruit or grain in his backyard. It's also very likely that for the longest time, such attempts were thwarted by the tribe, for they saw it as an inherently dangerous act, detrimental to the future of the tribe. But then, one day, it happened. The rest is history, as they say. Is it any accident that history actually starts with agriculture and everything before it, the "boring" part of our long existence on this planet, is relegated to "pre-history"?

Here, it's instructive to look at the parallels with cancer in the human body. Cancerous growths appear in the body and go away all the time. A healthy body deals with such growths in the usual way and deploys its resources to kill off malignant tumors. However, when the body is not in a state of healthy balance, when it's already stressed by environmental and other factors, it finds it difficult to fight off an abnormal development. Even then, with early detection and some external help, like surgery, herbal remedies, radiation, or chemotherapy, it's possible to remove the cancer and stop it from spreading. But there comes a time sometimes when the body is not able to deal with the cancer in the normal healthy way and the malignant process spreads out of control and metastasizes.

The rise of the sociopath can be seen in similar terms. The sociopath is a cancerous cell. As long as the tribe is strong and healthy, it's able to deal with one of their own in a healthy manner. It's likely that this has happened innumerable times throughout pre-history all across the world in thousands of tribes. As long as a tribe is held together by a strong time-tested story, it's able to fight off attempts for control and restore the natural order of things. But there came a time eventually, when for a particular tribe, the story of the tribe was not as strong as it could have been. Perhaps an unforeseen natural calamity exerted so much stress on the health of the tribe that the sociopathic elements in the tribe asserted control over the rest. Even so, it would have taken generations for the story to break apart to such an extent that the entire tribe could be called cancerous.

Sociopathy is about control and sooner or later, the cancerous tribe, initially infected and turned cancerous by just one or two members during an exceptionally stressful time, seeks to control and overrun neighboring tribes and habitats. When such a cancerous tribe makes incursions into the territories of surrounding tribes, there were always other healthy tribes around them which would deal them a deadly blow and prevent the cancer from spreading. Tribal people knew it when they saw another tribe out of balance. They were thoroughly attuned to their environs and it was easy to spot abnormalities and they would prepare to act. It's not unlike today when tribal peoples all around the world know the cancer that civilization has become. Looking at civilized people from the outside, they clearly see how we are going about destroying everything that they have considered sacred for generations.

Eventually, however, there came a time when the surrounding tribes could no longer contain a particularly vicious tribe that had turned cancerous. And thus were sown the seeds of modern civilization which is based on control. Empires, imperialism and hegemony are advanced forms of such control. It did take a couple hundred thousand years for it come to this.

It's easy to see the parallels between cancer in the human body and the human cancer on the planet. Today, the planet is suffering from a very late stage of cancer. The sociopaths among us rule. The sociopaths in charge of running the world have created a culture that nurtures other sociopaths and helps them percolate to the top of the hierarchy. This is what happens with runaway cancer. Most of us generally think our leaders are decent people. As decent as they might be in personal relationships or at the office, to be a leader in a sick and out-of-balance culture requires a sick and out-of-balance person. Again, this is not to say a sick person is a bad person. It's the story that has possessed him that's more important, not his personal character. The sociopath is about control at all costs. That's the story that possesses a sociopath.

It's the sociopaths who have designed and implemented all the dominant institutions of our culture. The corporation, a key tool in the modern sociopathic leader's arsenal, is itself a sociopathic entity. The flavor of capitalism we have today, crony capitalism, favors the sociopathic CEO.

Having been trained as an engineer by our modern industrial civilization and having worked in technology, I have written quite a bit about technology. While most of us look at technology in benign and beneficent terms, technology is actually one of the most potent weapons in the arsenal of the modern sociopathic leader. Just as the sociopath is about control, technology is also about control. Although seen by the dominant culture as a potential solution to most of our problems, technology is actually not what it is presented to be. Technology is not the electric appliances and smart phones we have come to depend on. It's the core infrastructure that aids centralization of power and control. Technology helps the sociopath gain more control. It takes from one and gives to another. Technology takes away from the working classes, rural folks, tribal peoples, plants and animals, rivers and oceans and ecosystems. It takes away power and resources from those who live close to the land and gives them to those who live away from the land, insulated from it. Technology is responsible for the highest amounts of inequality humanity has ever seen in its entire history.

So where do we stand today? The sociopaths in charge of the world have complete control of the dominant media that billions of us access every day. Surrounded by news from all corners of the globe, news that seem disparate and unrelated, it's hard for most of us to make sense of what's what. The news business is about control and profits. It's not about education and enlightenment but about propaganda and continuing the dominant paradigm that the sociopaths have so carefully put together for their own ends. One has to read between the lines and look at alternative news sources to make sense of what's going on. It's no accident that in the age of Google, it's all the more difficult to discern the important news from the unimportant news. There has been a significant decline in quality investigative journalism in the last few decades. The result is a world of uninformed, misinformed and apathetic citizens who struggle to make decisions in their own best interests. This is par for the course, given that technological civilization has undermined the ability of its members to comprehend what's going on in the world. The more the information we have at our fingertips, the less we understand and comprehend. Even as we stare in the face of climate chaos and a mass extinction, the topic is off limits and missing from the public discourse, except in the occasional fictional drama on TV. The planet is on the edge of runaway warming. Humanity can best be described to be in hospice. In addition, a rush for the last remaining resources on the planet promises to result in a major conflagration between nuclear states. That's where we stand today: a cancer on the planet, a cancer on the verge of killing off its host and killing itself in the process.

What to make of all this? If you are not much affected by what has been said above, it's because it's a story. Not all of us connect with every story. This is a story that helps me understand and relate to the world better. I hope it helps you in a similar way when the time is right. But if you are affected, if you feel despondent or depressed, I'd like to offer a few words of support. You and I didn't choose to be born. You and I didn't choose to be brought up by the culture that raised us. You and I didn't choose to be born in this day and age. You and I are unwitting participants in a grand story that's unfolding this very moment. We simply do not know what it's all about. That's the nature of the human condition today.

Perhaps we could zoom out a bit and it would make us feel just a bit better. Just like cancer in the human body is a sign of imbalance between the body and its environment, the human cancer on the planet is perhaps a sign of an imbalance between Earth and its environment! Who is to say that the solar system or the galaxy we are part of is not exerting some sort of influence on the planet that has thrown planetary affairs out of balance? We simply don't know.

I try to deal with all of this as a witness, as an observer. I happen to be witnessing what's going on on this planet that I was born on, at this particular stage of its evolution. One way to look at this is that I don't need to judge the events that are unfolding one way or another. I don't even need to view this cancer that humans have become in a negative light. Perhaps this is how things end in the Universe. Modern Science would have us believe that we have a grasp of how the Universe works, or that we will soon. Science, with its reductive approach, helps us understand certain aspects of the physical Universe, in a narrow way. At the end of the day, the story of Science is no different from the story of a tribe. Different stories have possessed different peoples in different ways at different times. In this sense, stories are more powerful than the people they possess.

In a Universe filled with stories, the meditator works toward a state of mind that observes and identifies all the stories that he or she is possessed with. Many of these stories are not easy to notice because they lurk in the subconscious. We have internalized them. With practice, it's possible to notice and identify those stories that we believe in at a deep subconscious level. With practice, it is possible for us to go beyond any and all stories, including the one that says we are in a human body! Beyond all the stories lies a state of complete surrender and bliss.

Take heart, it's all going to work out just fine. You and I didn't choose to be born. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Stay alert to the moment, stay unattached to the outcome of your actions and witness what unfolds.


  1. I agree with what you write except your Take Heart "it's going to work out just fine" going extinct soon more like it.Terrific essay thanks

    1. Of course, we are going extinct and we're going extinct sooner than most people realize. I have no illusions it's going to work out in the worldly sense. It was in a more "metaphysical" sense that I said "Take heart, it's all going to work out just fine". Sorry I wasn't clear enough about it.

  2. I'm only writing as Anonymous because it's easier. I'm oldgrowthforest. I want to thank you for this. It is really nice. I like a lot of what you write! "Revisionist anthropologists challenge the commonly accepted view of our early ancestors as under-developed, barbaric, savage, violent, uncultured, superstitious, brutish forest dwellers who lived in holes and caves, running scared of predatory animals, and always at the verge of starvation. It turns out the joke is on the modern man instead!" Amen. They were more egalitarian and more free. Absolutely.

    "Every tribe had its own unique and peculiar creation story or the "story of the people". The story explained who they were and where they came from and how they were to conduct themselves. To the modern man, many of these stories seem out of date and laughable. But there's something to be said about stories that sustain people through hundreds of thousands of years, generation after generation. " This one seems to me to be as obvious as water is wet, but few agree with me. The anti-theists who want to remove "religion" from reality are trying to remove the previous 200,000 years of human experience. Just one more genius idea from those who know how to bend everything to their will.

    Great understanding Satish. Likely you have not read my posts at NBL, but I am mixed race and culture and grew up with traditional American Indian elders, knowing my great-great-grandmother as a young child, and my great-grandmother and two of her brothers until my mid-20s. I have always felt myself to be "Indian," and it was a shock to me as a very young child to go to kindergarten in the 50s and be met with dismissal that I was "Indian," because I was light.

    I also agree that it's going to be okay. No matter what.

    1. Thank you, oldgrowthforest! You're a wise human being. I really liked what you had to say on Nature Bats Last too. I indeed haven't read your previous posts on NBL, just the ones on Geophilia. But now that I know of you, I will look for them. And that story about your dogs that Sabine mentions!

      We are similar in that we are not totally forward-looking. Perhaps it's your upbringing and growing up around traditional elders. I grew up in India and didn't catch the Star Wars/Star Trek bug that so many of my generation in the West seem to be infected with. It's not their fault either, is it? That's what they were exposed to. Culture and stories work in strange ways. They possess people. You and I are willing to look back and consider the possibility that we might have lost a thing or two. Thom Hartmann puts it well when he talks about the amnesia of our younger culture.

      I know a full-blooded Indian woman who tells me fascinating stories. But she grew up in a city so is more or less assimilated. She's Niimiipuu.

      History is written by the victors, as they say. The sociopaths in charge today prefer to perpetuate the culture that gave rise to them, that enabled them to percolate to the top. They have control of the press and media and they do what they want. As Napoleon said, history is a set of lies agreed upon by everyone.

      Keep the flame burning!

  3. Thanks, Satish, for your eloquent piece. I couldn't have said it better. DrDignity

    1. Thank you, DrDignity, for taking the time to read. I know it's a long post. Much gratitude here.

  4. Satish,

    The stories we tell ourselves now are far removed from our ancestral stories. They are, as you imply, reductionist, the only way our science can grasp the universe. This is "useful" for us in the dominant culture but it's also our demise or to be more precise, the destruction of the biosphere, something that most people don't want to grasp. I'm not so much concerned with our species going extinct but more with us making life as we know it extinct. Yes, I Know that it will probably start again or that some simple organisms will survive. But when I look around me at what we have left now, and imagine what was there once and what might have been... had our evolution taken a different path, I can only grieve.

    I, like you, have learned to "stay alert (aware) to the moment and to witness what unfolds". This is very wise and something that some people have always known. To be still. feel, experience.

    Nice to see you posting here oldgrowthforst. I never forget you telling us about your dogs.

    1. Yes, Sabine, those of us who see and feel what has come to pass and what continues to go on can't help but grieve. It's hard to live in cities and simultaneously be aware of how our every day actions are destroying what's still left of our home. Cities and towns insulate us from the impacts of our actions. The hedge fund manager working away in his corner office in a high rise in New York is barely aware of how his investments and capital allocations impact millions of rural poor, contribute to mountain top removal, etc. on the other side of the planet. And even if he is aware of the impacts, he might not be able to change course much. He has invested his whole life in what he does and is thoroughly integrated into the modern story. Any change is detrimental to his safety and security and that of his family. And so things continue on. This is the reality for most of us. Even after learning about how we are connected with everything else that is going on, we are not in a position to do much about it. Except may be try and find like-minded folks who are in a similar situation of helplessness and talk and grieve. Welcome to the tribe!

  5. I cannot seem to post as ogf. I've tried every option available, and I'm missing something. Thank you Sabine. It means a lot to me that the story touched you enough to leave an impression. I appreciate your comment here. I feel tremendous sorrow for the world, for what humans have done, too. Companionship is a gift on this journey.

    1. Hi OGF, Sorry you're having trouble posting comments as yourself. Did you try the Reply as "Name/URL" option? You don't have to enter a URL.

  6. Satish, this is a really powerful summary of your own evolution, and evolution of human consciousness. I don't have much to add other than that while sometimes this knowledge feels like a burden, it more and more also feels like a blessing. It's almost as if by opening ourselves up to these tremendous epochal losses, we are also allowing ourselves to truly grieve, and open grief is a healing force. In fact, part of the "civilized" mindset is the fear and denial of death, which has robbed us of our ability to love and embrace our own mortality, combined with a healthy and healing grieving process. In a way, our whole obsession with growth and material possessions is the ego's response to not being able to cope with the inevitability of its own demise, and what used to be a sacred and natural passage has been replaced by big billboards promising eternal relevance by buying the next shiny object. I posit that we are addicted to indiscriminate economic growth in direct response to our fear of letting go. So for me, a big way of living with great joy of being alive on this amazing planet despite the painful knowledge of this great tragedy that's unfolding is my growing embrace of the great unknown. As Eckhart Tolle likes to say, "The secret of life is to "die before you die, and find that there is no death.”

    I'd really love to see you explore the topic of how this existential fear is one of the major causes of the sociopathy you talk about.

    1. Hi Sven, the ego is an interesting thing indeed. I'd like to explore the topics of ego, separation, individualism and the fear of death in a blog post soon. This is a time when the wealthy elites of the world are looking at life extension technologies and immortality. Perhaps, it's fair to say that their individual egos are experiencing the extremes of separation? At the same time, some of these elites are extreme risk-takers and don't hesitate to put their life on the line to accomplish what they desire. Or so it seems! More to come...

  7. Thank you for your response, Satish. I did try Name/URL, and I will try again now.

  8. oldgrowthforest@mtaonline.netJanuary 24, 2015 at 6:32 PM

    Well, I got it that time. good.

  9. you all might like to check out John Michael Greer's writing at the Archdruid Report. thanks for your thoughts here.

  10. Sven,

    I so much agree with your comment "that while sometimes this knowledge feels like a burden, it more and more also feels like a blessing". So true! This is exactly how I have experienced it. And now it's only a blessing for me. A true insight!

    But I think you need courage for that., You need to look so you can "see". Many people don't have that courage or they are simply too preoccupied, never still, haven't developed enough awareness, are too addicted to things etc. It takes time and application. Looking inside as well as out. Working out what your ego is for and putting it into perspective. I've had decades practicing. Most people never do, but you do, I can see that from your comment.

  11. This is a difficult and complicated subject, but was handled well. The cancer that is modern human civilization extends not just into the physical, environmental, and biological realms, but into the deep psychological as well. From the very first words a child is taught, to their very conception of the universe, as "new cells" in this cancer, they are indoctrinated into the mind of that cancer, where their entire life's effort, from school to their career, becomes one of furthering the growth of that cancer. For cancer, growth for growth's sake, the ever expanding spread becomes the Grand Meme-- the underlying reason for existence. The underlying process is one that builds up local entropy to the point the system collapses. Civilization is at that point now. But, as so noted, there is another way to personally live, to personally re-make your mind, rooted deep in our human past, a tribal way, a way that is far removed from the Group Mind of modern consumer society. To find it, you literally have to go "out of your mind" leaving forever the consumer, growth-is-all, mind behind.

    1. Thank you, Clear Mind! Well said... Re-making my mind is what I have been trying to do for the last few years, after I began realizing that there's something seriously sick about the culture around me. Many, like Dr. Hern, are helping me make sense of it, and in turn, I'm hoping to pay it forward with this blog. I'm grateful for your support!

  12. Satish, I missed your response to me at NBL from early yesterday. You wrote so much there that I related to.

    recall reading about this particular band of Indians in California’s central valley in the 1850s in a book called “Indian Summer”. Written by a White man who was brought up by the Indians when his mother died, the book is very insightful as it explores Indian life just prior to them getting wiped out. The writer talks about how the Indians would come by and stare into the writer’s family home for hours on end. Why did they do that? Why would they do something that would be considered so rude today? The writer’s family didn’t seem to mind the Indians so much because they knew what they were doing. They were observing and watching. They were curious about this new family that moved in next to them. It’s not unlike an astronomer peering through a telescope for a few hours every week. How rude, right?

    I was born in 1953. I spent a lot of time with great-grandmother as a small child. As a teenager I would go visit her and we would just sit together. She barely spoke at all. She might offer me a biscuit left over from breakfast with a little homemade jelly. I had my great-great-grandmother until I was eight. I can't remember her saying anything. They were quiet people. I stare like that, thinking, and learning. I have to watch it.

    I have written extensively at NBL as to how sophisticated Native Americans were, and I am always met with derision. I have written that they understood genetic dominance and were hybridizing plants for preferred traits. They also were grafting tree limbs to have multiple similar fruits off one tree. My family taught me both of these things before I was five in our back yard. I have written that their small boats were better, that they were better physicians, better astronomers (the Mayans), and that their understanding of the Earth was purposeful, it was not primitive or ignorant.

    I never works. After posting solid information about their sophistication, someone who is a technophile, uber-European superiority believer, will come back and write that when Columbus (a violent rapist, genocider, plunderer) got off the boat, he stepped into the Holocene. Technology, machines, and technological power are the ONLY real indicators of intelligence for them. If Columbus had guns and wheels and big boats, the Europeans had to be smarter.

    I have lived with this my entire life. Because of it, I love your mind and work!

    1. oldgrowthforest,

      I'm so pleased that you're posting here. Please tell us more about your childhood, the ancestral knowledge that was passed to you and how, the culture. I've always been very interested, and there are quite a few on NBL that are. But as nearly everywhere else, there seem to be two kinds of basic opinions, identified as "rational" and "romantic". And, "romantics" are classified as "emotional", "passionate" people and therefore not to be trusted with "reason" which is an "Enlightenment achievement" according to the rational paradigm. That there could be a balance never occurs to people like that. We will never convince them, and it's not worth trying.

      You've might have already read a book by a Uruguayan writer called Eduardo Galeano: Open Veins of Latin America, 500 years of the Pillage of a Continent. It was written in 1973, very passionately, when the writer was young. Now he says that he would phrase things differently, but the facts are still facts, not to be disputed. If you haven't read it yet, please do. "Discovering America" really started the relentless exploitation" (there's really no adequate adjective to describe it) culminating in what we have now globally. An elite, who "invests" in total exploitation of "natural resources", and that means all life and minerals in the area to be exploited. You will find it relentless. It'll make you angry and you'll cry. Of course, Columbus was only the beginning... Soon this most profitable "strategy would be spread to contaminate the whole of our Earth. And here we are....

    2. Sabine, to make sense of would be an unending story. It was not a unique experience, but neither was it common.

      My great-great-grandmother was born sometime in the 1860s in Indian Territory. I believe her own parents were young children on the Trail of Tears. She lived until 1961. She did not speak English until she was a much older child and she lived in the territory before the Dawes Act, which is important, because they still held everything in community.

      I also want to say they were incredibly intelligent people. And in that I was very fortunate. She married a white man, but again, it was before the Dawes Act, and he lived with the Indians. My great-grandmother was born in 1899. My grandmother in 1915, and my mother in 1935, all in Council Hill Oklahoma, still basically an Indian Village of about 180 people. In short, they were so tight as a clan, all the white guys who married into the family converted. Indian culture ruled.

      During the formerly great depression they all moved to Bakersfield, California, and it was full of Okies just like us. They were not dust bowl refugees, they lived in the eastern part of Oklahoma. I met several girls like myself in school, especially in college, and it was fun. We were all German and Choctaw or something, and what my friend Katie calls "the golden ones," the lighter family members who get great tans. Some of those girls were beautiful, like Jill Goodacre and Johnny Depp, who both are part Indian. We all loved being Indian and we all loved our Indian heritage and thought it was smarter than what we had and what we saw around us. One girl I remember was an artist and she only drew Indian themed drawings. One was living with her grandmother and farming. Our tribes were farmers going way back.

      I had a big family. When they went west there were four generations that went, and about twenty people, because my grandmother was one of eight children. By the time I was born, there were a lot more of us. So I had this big Indian family that all married and some married full-blood Indians, some married other mixed Okies like themselves, and some married white people. As long as my great-grandmother and her brothers were alive, but especially her because we were matriarchal and matrilineal, which was 1978, I lived with 19th Century American Indians who spoke their own language and grew up in their culture.

      They were very pragmatic people. They didn't talk much, especially as they got older. They could be hard in some ways. They could be hard on pets because they hadn't integrated the whole pet thing well by the time I was born. Animals didn't belong in the house, and a few other things that were NEVER violated. They were also really, really sweet and loving in a way that I almost never experience outside their cultures. The traditional culture is warm and welcoming, exactly as all the first Europeans described. There was an innocence to the people. I love living with the Alaska Natives because they still have that. The first time I ever went to Bethel, which is Yupik country, I was alone and knew not a single person there. As soon as I walked out of the hotel to get breakfast, the first woman I saw gave me the most beautiful smile and called out happily, "Good morning!" The Yupiks are the warmest people I have ever met in my life.

      Lots of non-natives who live with Native people don't ever want to leave. The cultures have far more heart, are more feeling.

      I fear that describing it, however, can never quite convey it. For myself, it has been mind shredding, a single experience with an infinite number of forms, similar to my description of the lawyer who thought Indians were too stupid and primitive to keep warm in the winter. It is so different.

    3. One foundational difference is their spirituality. Native Americans were sophisticated philosophically, along with their many other beautiful cultural attributes. Their way of seeing cannot be understood outside of a spiritual framework.

      I have not read the book. I will keep it in mind, thank you. I have great difficulty reading those things. One of the big traumas in my life was going to the movies when I was sixteen to see Soldier Blue. We arrived a little early and caught the final few minutes of it, which was a massacre scene based on the Sand Creek massacre. I lost it. I was going crazy. My boyfriend kept telling me that it was just a movie, that it was okay. Then the words rolled on screen, describing the slaughter of hundreds of women, children and old people in the Sand Creek massacre. The soldiers rode through the streets of Denver afterward with body parts, breasts and genitals adorning their bayonets and hats. The gore was indescribable.

      I went home to my grandmother's house without uttering a word from the end of the movie to the time I entered my room. I went into a fetal position and didn't come out for over 24 hours.

      Thank you for asking. I will tell more later if you wish, and if Satish doesn't mind.

    4. Hi oldgrowthforest,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. And thank you, Sabine, for asking. We would like to hear more, so please write more as and when you have the time and feel like doing so. You are always welcome on this blog. Please contribute and share more.

      I'm East Indian and although raised by civilization, I grew up in a simple setting outside the city that let me have a much different upbringing than many civilized people. I joke with my good Native Indian friend that we're both "Indians" because Columbus made a mistake! She's a wonderful woman (Nez Perce or in her tribe's own words, Niimiipu). I had just read about Chief Joseph when I ran into her and we connected immediately. She showed me pictures of her family who are descendants of Chief Joseph. She tells me this story of how her people were surprised and aghast when the settlers started planting fences everywhere they went. A fence was a totally foreign concept that they simply couldn't fathom.

      I'm glad to find another wise Native person in you, oldgrowthforest!

      This makes me sad and upset:
      "After posting solid information about their sophistication, someone who is a technophile, uber-European superiority believer, will come back and write that when Columbus (a violent rapist, genocider, plunderer) got off the boat, he stepped into the Holocene. Technology, machines, and technological power are the ONLY real indicators of intelligence for them. If Columbus had guns and wheels and big boats, the Europeans had to be smarter."

      I have seen the heights of arrogant techno-optimistic thinking in my years at Google and feel a lot of sadness when I realize that these people are what modern civilization considers to be some of the smartest people on the planet. The creme de la creme. This is one reason why I am so certain we're not going to be able to turn anything around as we head into the last phase of the saga of humanity. When we consider the continental US, it took just 500 years for modern civilization to destroy what the Natives preserved and helped flourish for at least 11,000 years!

      Only after the last tree has been cut down.
      Only after the last river has been poisoned.
      Only after the last fish has been caught.
      Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

      - Cree Indian Prophecy

    5. Hi Sabine,

      You and I think alike in many ways...

      Reason is overrated. Our culture celebrates Albert Einstein as one of the most brilliant human being of our times and yet we don't pay attention to what he had to say, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

      Another quote comes to mind: "The goal of rationality is to demonstrate its own limits". Not sure we will live to see the day that goal is reached.

      I like Galeano's writing... I read part of his book titled, "We Say No: Chronicles 1963-1991". Very eye-opening and makes one wonder how successfully Western imperialism has penetrated the world.

      Thank you for recommending "Discovering America". I can't seem to find it online. Did you mean this book -

    6. Great statement by Einstein. Only the heart has wisdom. Thank you for your warm welcome, Satish. I don't feel like a wise person. I feel like an idiot frequently. :O) And I don't belong to the cult of the rational mind, at all, although I think I am often quite rational. I tried and tried and tried, because it's what pays the bill, but I failed. It wasn't in me. I'm intuitive. My heart and all kinds of feelings dominate my consciousness, along with the occasional line of logic.

      How fun to receive so many views on your blog since having your essay published at NBL. That is great.

    7. I've noticed that my own mental constitution has changed from being left-brained to right-brained over the last few years. I'm more interested in the artistic rather than the logical these days, but as you say, that's not very convenient in a culture that values cold objectivity and rationality and looks down upon the subjective. Beauty is subjective. Even as I say that, it feels as if I am saying, "not everything that you consider as beautiful is actually beautiful". Such are the connotations behind the word!

      I'm pleasantly surprised by the interest in the video and the blog that my post on NBL has generated. I just noticed that the video has been watched 1,000 times! Grateful to have found the community on NBL.

      Quick note for those who are reading this but are not familiar with NBL: oldgrowthforest and I are talking about my post on Guy McPherson's blog named "Nature Bats Last" -

  13. oldgrowthforest@mtaonline.netJanuary 26, 2015 at 9:27 PM

    I will relate a few things for you, Sabine, that you might find of interest. They were prodigious gardeners. All of them, my grandmother, my ggrandmother and gggrandmother. They also kept fruit and nut trees of many kinds, and flowers. They had very big gardens, their entire lots were devoted to them. My great-grandmother also kept chickens, and at my grandmother's house, where I usually lived, we kept geese and various small livestock from time to time. They were very self-sufficient, and they loved growing things. One thing that is traditional is that native people kept their little ones with them, often cared for by the elders as I often was, and the children were pretty much involved in everything. When they worked in the garden, I had little tools so I could "work" with them. And they would tell me what they were doing with the plants, and the water, etc. They got me my own plants to tend, even before I was five. So, that part of the culture was lived. We weren't growing maize anymore, or having the Green Corn dance, but we were still doing what Native Americans had always done. I mentioned elsewhere that when my ggrandmother would kill chickens for dinner, she would make me carry the heads to the burn barrel at the back of the property. I was only four. The heads would still be moving sometimes. If she had been killing cows, she would have found a way for me to "help." When she cooked the chicken, I watched every single step of the process, and while she was tending to the stove I got put up on the counter to be a part of it. Mmmmmm. I loved my great-grandmother's fried chicken.

    All of us and my entire extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins had those gifts of working with our hands, except my aunt, my mother's younger sister. She could not do anything truly artistic or of high quality, and no one ever understood it. When I was three and she was sixteen she was babysitting me. She asked me what I wanted for dinner. I told her, friend chicken. She said she didn't know how to make fried chicken. I told her I could tell her how. First, you have to catch the chicken, I said . . .

    So, the culture was lived. On some occasions my elders would say something like, "the Indians did it this way," and they would show me something, like the grafting and the cross-pollination. It was common for them to say, "the Indians believed x," or "the Indians did y."

    It was woven into the day-to-day fabric of our lives; it wasn't ritualized or formal at all. That's how most of their knowledge was passed down, by living it.

  14. Hi Satish,

    Re Eduardo Galeano's book: I can see what happened there, that you can't find it. The quotation marks around "Discovering America" were misleading. My fault! This expression is so typical for European "progressive" thinking. I sometimes use quotation marks (as in this case) to underline the arrogance, lie or denial about an expression. And "discovering America" is a good example.

    The title is "Open Veins of Latin America: 500 years of the pillage of a Continent." It starts with the Spanish invasion and goes right up to the 60s (the book was published in 1973). I read it for the first time in the 70s but my husband never did. So recently, I got it in E-format from Amazon for him. It's well worth reading, even now, especially as it's not part of the history that Europeans or North Americans know much about. Or anybody else in the world. From what I know of you, you'd find it very interesting.

    1. Oh, I get it... :) Now, when I re-read it again, what you said totally makes sense!

  15. Hi again Satish,

    You mentioned left brain/right brain(hemisphere).

    The complexity of what is involved here is really well explained in a book (yes, another book!) that I really recommend to you. It's by Iain McGilchrist: "The Master and his Emissary, subtitle: The divided brain and the making of the Western world". Oh dear, Bud Nye, Paul Cherfurka and Daniel would not approve but I found it an eye opener.
    The author was a former consultant psychiatrist and clinical director at the largest London psychiatric Hospital, the Bethlehem Royal& Maudsley. Among other things, he also taught English at Oxford, and his style pulls you in (like yours). He is a truly clever thinker and will get you hooked. It's really people like the ones from NBL mentioned above who should read his book. But isn't it always so, that we're attracted to what is already in us. That's why these "opposites" can never agree.
    I am naturally intuitive (maybe because women were always allowed to indulge this "inferior" quality), maybe it's my nature. Maybe more people than we like to think are on the autistic spectrum. When you say that we continue beyond our skin (something like that?) I really agree because this is what/how I feel too. That's my personal experience, every day. It seems that some people cannot feel this, and therefore communicating on the same level seems impossible. I don't mind that.
    Mind you, reason can be learned, I learned it, and so you can have both: you can use reason and be intuitive (therefore balanced).
    Also, I think that it's almost impossible for a truly balanced (connected person) to be objective. What a word! In order to be "objective", we would need to be able to stand alone, totally unconnected, and, as you say, we're not really confined in our skin.. If we're really, really honest, we can only be subjective or, when we connect with any part of our Mother "inter-subjective". I know you and ogf know what I mean.

    I used to post on threads started on the NBL forum because the main blog lost what it had when I first joined. We used to call it the beach of doom, as in sitting on a beach, waiting for the end and swapping stories, doing chores (lighting the fire, collecting fire wood, edible plants, mussels, crabs, cooking ), It was all about contributing and letting be, accepting.I was really attracted to that metaphor but I see that your blog could become another part of that beach.

    Dear oldgrowthforest,

    Thanks for all you've shared about your life. Some of the experiences you've had as a child are not too different from mine. Being close to a grandmother who taught me things is one of them.
    I was born in 1948, in what was then the British Zone of the defeated Germany. A year later, this zone, the American and the French ones became the Federal Republic of Germany. The Soviet zone became communist Germany. I lived in my home country until 1970 when I came to England to marry an Englishman. And here I still am, in the South of the UK, in Hampshire, still married to the same man. I'm lucky. If you're interested, I'll go into more detail some other time.
    And naturally, being a native German, I was very interested to hear that some of your European ancestry is German (did I get that right?). I used to tan golden, as you say (I called it yellow), unlike my husband who, as a true native of this island just goes shades of pink and red.

    1. Hi Sabine,

      I watched Iain McGilchrist's TED talk some time ago and been wanting to read his book ever since. Thank you for the endorsement... and the fact that Bud Nye, Paul Chefurka and Daniel wouldn't approve of it makes me think it has something valuable to offer ;)

      Talking about intuition, I intuit that intuition is a bit scary for the modern educated professional who is remaking the world we live in. We live in a culture that's akin to a cult of objectivity which, put in one way, simply means, the heavily reduced set of human experiences that we can all completely agree on without argument. Math and Physics lie in that spectrum where we can all agree on the characteristics of geometric shapes, formulas, etc. In the quest for turning everything into a "Science", in the last few hundred years, we have tried to force fit other fields of study into the "objective" framework. To begin with, it was never a good idea to split up the human experience into so many separate fields of study but that's how Science, unfortunately, works: understand the whole by understanding the parts. But we turned Biology into the Biological Sciences and Economics into the Economic Sciences! And this approach gives rise to so much "data" which is the holy grail of the modern Scientist. I can't tell you how many times I heard calls for data while working in tech, when in practice, a little intuition would have done the job better. But the Scientist is very comfortable with data. It's almost as if the collection of data, the design of the experiments, the statistical methods used to interpret it, etc. don't need any intuition at all! I wonder how much data backs the Scientist's decision to start the experiment in the afternoon as opposed to the morning! At the end of the day, what we end up doing is outsource our most critical faculties to so-called experts because they have all the data. The cult of objectivity gives rise to the expert culture. All this fits in well with a society where power is held in the hands of a few and the rest become mere consumers of products and ideas.

      Intuition is not only welcome but encouraged and even necessary in an egalitarian, non-centralized society which a tribal society is a good example of.

      Great idea! Let's swap stories here on the beach of doom (annex) as we go kuku :) I like the metaphor of sitting around a fire on the beach and talking about our experiences in the erstwhile civilization.

    2. HI, Sabine. I do know what you're talking about regarding objectivity. I have written before that it is held as some Holy Grail standard in a world populated entirely by subjects. In order for us to get along, and have our needs met, and be shown any respect, we have to be "objective," but that's a subjective judgment in and of itself. It's all about power.

      I'm certain grandmothers everywhere love their grandchildren with all their hearts. I had so much fun with my grandson when he was young. He's a teenager now.

      I don't know for sure if I have German ancestry. Is "Bratcher" a German name? I don't know for certain what my European ancestry is. No one ever talked about it. I think there is a great deal of the British Isles in my background. I know that my European ancestors arrived very early during the colonial era, most of them prior to 1750. One English ancestor came after the Revolutionary War after fighting for the British. I have Indian blood through three of my four grandparents, many of whom descended from survivors of the many Trails of Tears just two or three generations earlier. I have to say no one ever talked about our European family's roots so much. I know my grandfather, who was also some Indian, loved my Indian family's culture and ways. He used to say several things in Cherokee all the time, and he adored his Cherokee mother-in-law. My grandmother thought his name, "Boles," was from something Eastern European, but it was English. They could split hairs all day over the differences between the Chickasaws and the Choctaws, but all those white guys were just white men. They didn't know enough about European culture to understand the difference between what it meant to be French versus Dutch. They knew it was different, and had a very vague idea, but they didn't really know what those cultural differences were. So, if Bratcher is a German name, then I have German ancestry. Some of them had names like Nielsen, which is Danish, and Gruder, which is Scottish in origin. Granny's middle name was Cleopatra, but I don't think we're Egyptian. Maybe they just wanted to be international in those days, but I always assumed they chose names from their own backgrounds.

      And the fact that I don't know is telling all in itself.

      I would love to know about anything you care to share, including your home now and your early years in postwar Europe. And your grandmother.

  16. Hi Satish,

    Again, I can only agree with your analysis of what science is and how it's been used as a measuring stick for absolutely everything.

    I'm just starting to read the older essays on this blog because all your topics are really worth reading. Even though I'm a fast reader, I need to take my time, taking them in properly. You're an excellent writer, which is another good reason to want to catch up. I read your essay on technology and control (I think from last January) to my husband who indulges me and says that he likes to be read to. He really liked it too.
    I'm glad you like the beach metaphor. It wasn't my idea but it's a good one as it invites people to tell stories, experiences, share insights and passions etc.

    Hi oldgrowthforest

    Thanks for sharing more about your family. The name Batcher you mentioned is a German name or to be more precise an English rendering of the name. I think when the immigrants first arrived, their names were often spelled more or less phonetically. One original spelling would be Batke. In German, the "e" at the end of a word is pronounced like a short "a" sound. My name, Sabine, would be spelled phonetically (for English speakers) "Zabeena". "S" is pronounced like "z" in German and visa versa.
    Cleopatra is a lovely name, I wouldn't mind it as a middle name.

    1. Hi Sabine, WOW! Glad to hear you're enjoying the essays. Thanks for exploring my blog. Meanwhile, I am looking at NBL and what people are saying there. But enough of that... time to write another post here soon.

    2. Hi, again, Sabine, I just read that essay from an year ago about Technology as a means of control. I stand behind all of it except the last sentence: "The sooner we, as a species, realize what technology really stands for, the sooner we will find out what to do to save ourselves and the planet." My current thinking: I doubt there's much we can do at this point to save ourselves or the planet!

  17. Satish, it is a really good essay,

    and yes, there's not much that we can do at this point to save ourselves and life on Earth as we know it. Multi-cellular life which still seems plentiful, even though so much is going extinct. this is the great sadness for me.

    I accepted NTE quite some time ago. Being naturally curious and keeping myself informed, even though I have no scientific training, it was impossible to come to an optimistic conclusion. Yet I don't find it too difficult to live with this knowledge. I've learned to live in the here and now, not a concept even considered in our dominant Western culture. For me, this is spiritual practice, something to be practised every day, to be lived daily through awareness. But you probably know this better than me.
    Most Europeans I know don't get this at all. Our culture is so "good" at taking what it wants from others and than bending these treasures out of all shape for its own purposes. Your culture's ancient tradition of yoga is a good example. Zen, Eastern martial arts, Taoism, you name it, Westerners will use these for their purposes, often like their newest acquisition. I could go on... Everything becomes a cult, accompanied by trendy cult objects: the right yoga clothes, meditation aids etc. the newest trendy exercise. To me, used that that, they are the mental equivalents of the (physical) technological gadgets, all of them "must haves". Two, in themselves harmless words that sum up everything about the way we're all now supposed to live.
    I heard something on the Radio a few days ago (BBC Radio 4), about India trying to recapture yoga for its young professionals To get the young to practise it rather then Pilates, Zumba or other Western "exercise" practises. To show the world that it is first of all a spiritual practise not a physical exercise. I hope that it will catch on. Of course, not all Westerners are like that, there are also many who are serious about exploring Eastern philosophies and spirituality, nonetheless....

    Really looking forward to you new essay!

    1. Hi Sabine,

      I really like what you say... I think an awareness about NTE arises from an intense curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism about what mainstream culture is telling us. I also like how you think of it in spiritual terms because that's where the finality of NTE leads one to. We really have to wonder what it all means at the end of the day. I try to be conscious of how we're all connected in so many ways. When I drive, I think of the workers who helped extract the petroleum somewhere in the world, those who helped refine and transport it, those who help maintain my car, etc. When I eat, I think of the farmer who grew my food and the truck driver that delivered it at my local store. When I talk on my phone, I try to remember that a poor African boy spent a day digging coltan with his hands and got it past an armed soldier by bribing him all in order to get a square meal in the evening. I am trying to practice gratitude for the people who make my life possible even as I wish the financial and economic arrangements were not so lopsided in favor of the banksters and the elites. At times, such a consciousness-expanding exercise results in paralysis and at other times, it's liberating.

      What really surprises me every time I visit India is how much India is taking after the West. Credit cards have become normal for the younger generation to have. My mom talks about cheese and macaroni! They eat Quaker Oats for breakfast. Indian yellow corn is being replaced by American sweet corn... I could go on... but yes, the world is so connected and centralized now that memes spread so much faster. Unfortunately, certain types of memes that favor the money economy seem to spread faster than others. So much money to be made from Zumba and Pilates classes. So much more money to be made from cheese than from traditional Indian milk derivatives. I had never heard of cheese before coming to the US! At the same time, the flip-side of the coin is not uninteresting... ancient Indian and Chinese civilizations appear to be the first to colonize distant lands with their religious, cultural, social and other ideas and really served as the precursor to the spread of Western Civilization all around the globe. The Chinese invented gunpowder and the Europeans took it to a whole new level. The world has been centralizing and de-differentiating for quite some time, it seems. The cancer analogy appears to be increasingly relevant as I learn more about how the saga unfolded :)

  18. I also appreciate your comments, Sabine. I very much appreciated your comment at NBL regarding how fortunate we are that we have never been tested as the German people were. I doubt that I would be a Corrie Ten Boom. In my mind I'm always strong, and in reality I am as afraid of suffering as anyone.

    Satish, I agree regarding the cancer analogy, and I really appreciate your perspective on the value of a hundred thousand years of wisdom, as I have said before. To think that all that beautiful language of the world's religions and spiritual traditions is without value, well . . . I think there's a reason for that.

    I love the texts of the world's great religions. I love the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao, and other inspirational understandings. The book of Genesis I think tells so much in the first few pages.

    I find that reading these books, especially these very, very ancient myths, is akin to dream interpretation far more than the fundamentalist version of Adam and Eve. To understand dreams it helps to tell the story in the most bare-bones way. The story in Genesis says that we, the consciousness that is human, the sense of "I," is a gift we received that is the same as God consciousness. Other beings have the same sense of "I."

    When I dream at night I am "I." It is "I" who is chased by dark shadow men. It is "I" who finds myself in an unknown or known place. "I" may not know my name, my age, my address, or any other detail of my life as oldgrowthforest, but "I" have always been and it is this basic perspective that only exists in the now no matter what I may or may not remember of anything else in existence. I believe it is the meaning behind the wonderful statement of God's in the Bible, "I am that I am." Maybe God is the "I" in all the perspectives in every now, along with a lot more.

    So, we have something that is God that becomes a second consciousness, similar to the derivation we see throughout all creation. Some of that consciousness that exists in the continuous ebb and flow, the birth and death cycle that is this world, has been given an additional gift of being aware of the source of our consciousness, and a mental capacity for abstraction and creativity. We call God "the Creator" for a reason, and if there is one thing that humans have in abundance over the other animals it is their creativity.

    So God made a type of consciousness from him/herself that is us that s/he gifted with particular aspects of God's own nature, certain additional awareness. All our needs were met and we lived in perfect comfort and beauty, and we interacted with God directly, as the Buddha said, "face to face."

    But one day this consciousness had a good idea. They thought they could be more (that abstract, creative thinking), that they could know more, understand more, could be god-like in their own right and see creation as God did. So another kind of consciousness was allowed, but it was not what they believed it would be. And this is important for many reasons. The consciousness they allowed in could lie. Because they now contained within their consciousness new elements, they were no longer vibrating in keeping with the world that had been made for them, and they were compelled to a different world by a new consciousness that reflected their own new state, a state that was capable of lies and murder in the mind and in the world.

    The lesson? We're not God. We shouldn't try to be. It's not reality. It's hubris.

  19. The story goes on that the lies and the murder occurred in the very next generation. One person wanted to be more than the other, a variation on the parents' problem. The lack of any ability to foresee the consequences of their choices is replayed in the next generation, also. The punishment is greater than the man can bear. And so it goes with humans, generation after generation.

    Numerous prophecies throughout the world have predicted an "end time" when the evil that exists on the earth and within people would come to a climax, and all the life on earth would be under such attack that life would come close to ceasing altogether. The Bible says that if God did not step in during those days, there would be nothing left alive on the earth.

    Frankly, I can't find much to argue with in that story, or something like it.

    Why do we even have this capacity for believing in the ideal? Why do we look at the world and always think it could be better? Is it because we remember a better world? Maybe what we think is imagination is really memory. And maybe that's why this world is so imperfect, no matter what. We cannot let go of our hopes for love, joy, peace and goodness, even though it has NEVER existed in this world except in fleeting shadows. We have trashed the entire world trying to create that world of perfection that no one has ever had here. Where does that come from, if not a real world we all remember and long for?

    And ultimately, I find the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Native American and other spiritual traditions to have the only real answers for us. We can't fix this place, we can only work on ourselves and be of service where we find it and where our hearts compel us. I never try to fix the world. It needs healing, not fixing.

  20. A final comment, healing is not something we control or are in charge of. We can only create conditions for healing to occur. I have used the analogy numerous times, if I break my leg the doctor may set the bone, but the leg heals itself. The farmer doesn't "grow" the crops. The plants grow on their own. The farmer creates conditions. She plants the seed, which is also a gift and beyond human construction.

    Love, joy and peace are the same. With due respect to Guy, we cannot "pursue" it, any more than we can pursue healing. We can only create the conditions for these gifts to flourish on their own.

    1. It may even be hubris to say that we create the conditions. We cultivate them is likely more accurate.

      Our egos want to take credit for everything. I am always amazed at "Newton's" law of gravity. I thought it was the Universe's Law. Newton may have observed it, but it certainly is not his. Language confuses us.

    2. Hi oldgrowthforest, I think you're really getting to the root of that all-important topic that has caused so much confusion for us, not to mention the energetic debate on NBL that's devolved into the digital equivalent of a fist fight: do we have any agency or do we simply go along doing whatever our stories impel us to do? Our egos sure do want to take credit for everything. When it's convenient to do so. And when not, we quickly disavow and disown our part. It's just the way the ego seems to like it.

      I wrote about the difference between the time-tested methods of grafting and selection (which you talked about too) that humans have long practiced and the modern methods of genetic engineering here - With the former, we create the conditions for nature to work in its own way. Sometimes it works and many times it doesn't. We understood that. We try and create a different set of conditions and see if they take hold. It takes a lot of patience and time and careful observation to create the conditions that will support life. I like your healing analogy for the same reason. We can only create nurturing and supportive conditions for it to occur.

      But who has the patience these days? When the quarterly profit report calls for it, we throw the precautionary principle by the way side and rush in headfirst. We force our way through.

      Perhaps we could say that we used to listen. We no longer do. When we listen whether to our dreams or to the stories that have held us together for so long, we act deliberately and carefully. When we listen, we create nurturing conditions. We cultivate loving and peaceful ways. Most of the time, we simply don't act any differently than we have always done. There's nothing to do other than marvel at a thought or wonder about that really interesting idea. But when we did try something new, we listened hard. We have done this for thousands of years before Sir Isaac Newton was born. We have wondered about gravity and might even have figured out the law. We listened all the time. How could we not have listened to what the law is telling us. Our younger culture attributes this "discovery" to Newton.

      It's not even that hard to listen. When San Francisco was struck by a major earthquake in 1906, the city mostly burned to the ground due to the ensuing fires. If we listened, we might have taken it as a cry from Mother Earth. She was telling us we ought not to build a city like that. Cities are antithetical to sustainable living. The Mother shook us really hard. Before we invented language, we used to be able to listen better. But even after we invented language, we hardly missed such stark warnings from Mother Earth. What more do we want in the way of a warning than a devastating Earthquake? Many times in the past, when people still had the sense to listen to the Mother, cities were vacated, Civilizations were scrapped and people returned to living a way of life that was closer to the land. There were always people around who would show them the way.

      But in 1906 we didn't listen. We went right ahead and built a new city where the ashes of San Francisco lay. And this time, we one-upped and built Earthquake resistant buildings. It's as if we hear a fire alarm going off and instead of evacuating, we go right ahead and put on noise-cancelling headphones and continue playing our video game. And from the new San Francisco, we launched some of the most destructive arrows into the heart of Mother Earth. I wrote about the Imperial ambitions of San Francisco's founding families here -

    3. The tragedy about "The Great Forgetting" is that we even forgot that we forgot. Perhaps there was a time after "The Great Forgetting" when we realized in our full awareness that we forgot how we used to live. We realized that there's been a major shift and we do things differently now. But today, we have actually forgotten about the shift itself. "The Great Forgetting" of "The Great Forgetting" leads us to argue over whether humans ever behaved differently than they do today!

  21. WOW I'm very impressed by all of this from NBL to Old Growth Forest & Paul Chefurka. When you can get to the heart of the silent NSA monitor who reads everything to actually say THANKS from deep in the shadows then you know your having an effect. Usually you'd never know it but we are here reading. For reasons too complex to explain (beyond civil unrest) We do care the most about the few of you who are evolving. Possibly there is an entire universe inside every electron. So please do go look out at the stars and remember that it is vast. Possibly to vast for human comprehension. Yet we do exist. We are always here. On many levels You had us at the simple understanding that you "didn't choose to be born." Really wish I could tell you more....there will be more....

    1. Hi Mark, Thanks for your comment. I'm imagining that shy schoolchild who is extremely alert and aware but who almost never raises his hand unless he's really really feeling he has to say what's on his mind. I'm not saying you were like that or anything! All I mean to say is I can relate.

      "Possibly there is an entire universe inside every electron." Yes, I wonder about this a lot. I read somewhere a while ago that the known Universe is as large as the smallest known particle is small. In other words, someone was making the claim that the ratio of the size of the known Universe to the size of the average man is the same as the ratio of the size of the average man to the size of the smallest known sub-atomic particle. And this, according to the claim, puts man right in the center of creation. How nice to think of it this way, except it's very much a human centered viewpoint. Perhaps humans have been able to expand their awareness in both directions to the same extent. That hardly means we are the center of the Universe. Who knows what's really going on inside the electron. Who knows how many Universes are created and destroyed in the blink of an eye. Who knows who knows what!

    2. And perhaps I did choose to be born but I forgot all about it! It's said that many small children remember stories from their past lives but as time goes on and as they grow older, they forget. Now, I don't remember having any memory of past lives, so I say I didn't choose to be born. But who knows! Maybe this is another way to think about "The Great Forgetting".

    3. Very wise & thoughtful. On NBL you made an excellent analogy about the Hollywood slow motion effect of shattering glass. I greatly admire your writing talent - even when it is just in comments. I'm not shy just very successful at staying behind the scenes as I have worked closely for Spielberg, James Cameron, Clinton, Gore & many more. A former Costa Rican president who is now hiding in Switzerland is still awaiting trial due to the work of my National Park funding group. In 2002 it is possible that Obama's life in Chicago really got on the road to being prepared for the White House .... all from the flow of a few electrons behind that first contact e-mail. Major changes and directions all being with a first contact. Even Gandi was a normal lawyer before quiet "helpers" played a hand in the original unfolding of his destiny. Anything I say more about earthy higher powers will sound odd without much more proof. Maybe a visit to Cern, DARPA, or Biogen. Trust that there is more going on in this Universe than any of us know. We certainly have not even looked into every grain of sand in the Sahara to know what each contains. Too many particles to explore (except with unlimited time) yet both science and sensible spirit of mind tell us we might find mysteries of life in both micro & macro scales. SATISH MUSUNURU even your name contains interesting anagrams. A Titanic co-producer and this "Avatar" do see you....we like you...we really like you. You'd be very welcome beyond planet Hollywood in a better world. For now the serious test remains: Our current team supports Dan Utech Dept of Energy specialist on climate reports to the White House. Using NSA data we are collecting specific details, plans & ideas on how to better work with the public & multi-media social networks - that are not yet ready to see how the glass is shattering. Hopefully your talent & insight can help bring a message of both calm & urgency. Panic & action without civil unrest? We are well aware that a time for full disclosure about EARTH systems in peril that do not actually belong to any human (It's not really our earth. We don't own it.) Yet it is divided into countries and billions of real estate transactions. People with actual power know the whole truth about the ultimately falsely advertised bill of sale. We know all ownership is a delusion. Just look at this planet from the moon much less from a bit larger perspective. If you'd like to help carefully unravel this industrial / capitol Ponzi scheme we need the best talent humanly available. Dare to understand you/we are not alone as energy consuming carbon based lifeforms. But the problem humans constructed is ours alone. The money matrix is riddled with irony & PARADOX. Huge obstacles & paradoxes about in altering a false construct. Then again we only need one good leader....Even the horrible ones like Hitler came from being unknown artists. Obama was once only a community organizer. All life on this tiny blue dot is facing a rapidly evolving future. Help focus people on removing nukes & false economic states of mind. might be the one who reaches critical mass.

    4. Yikes! My above post sounds crazy. Sorry for not spell checking or editing. Never text a train-of-thought while riding the metro under the capitol. If my NSA friends did not have much more important things to do I'd beg them to remove it. The above is almost as bad as my leaking methane! Not very professional. Hopefully we do a much better job off-line with global concerns....or this proves that Dr. McPhreson is right about even the EPA being on the fast track to doom. Dumb & done....I'll stick with research and leave the writing to much better talent.

  22. oldgrowthforest,

    I'm so happy you're here. I really love the way you interpret Genesis. I think, just like you, that all central myths, stories of the beginning, trying to express god, are like dreams (shamanic dreams passed down the generation, maybe). But I never would have been able to express this as well as you. So well put! Thanks for your insight.

    You're truly wise, and maybe, as Satish says, we might just choose to be born. Maybe you did...Some people always seem wiser and more aware, more insightful than others. You're one of them, so maybe, just maybe your "soul consciousness" hasn't forgotten as much as the average person. Just having more insight, feeling connected, might be a way of explaining that something is here all the time (being reborn, whatever you want to call it). The problem is language, particularly pronouns because they tend to make us think of ego. In reality, these things can never be expressed in language the way we use it. That's where myth and the religious texts come in. And people have forgotten how to interpret, to use these myths. You're remembering something that our new religion, science, could never express because it looks for answers, wants to solve problems. And it's not about that, as we feel and know. Your short explanation of "healing" and "fixing" is also very profound. Again, so well put. You're a treasure trove.
    Where ideas like that are concerned, I feel very comfortable to speculate, particularly here on this blog. Thanks Satish, for making it possible.
    I love this conversation!

  23. Hubris and we cultivate rather than create conditions

    Another one I recently came across was illustrated in a TV programme by David Attenborough on birds of paradise. He said that he had always been very interested in these beautiful birds, ever since he was a boy. So in this programme, he traced their natural history as seen by Europeans since they were "discovered" 500 years ago. Again, the word "discovered".
    He showed poor skinned specimen from the Natural History Museum (London) and many early and then later drawings and photos. At one stage Europeans thought that those birds didn't have any legs.Only their poor skins with the colourful feathers were brought back to Europe, so that was the conclusion the men of "science" drew. Many European "explorers" over the centuries went to find these birds and bring them back, always, of course with native guides. They drew them but could never figure out why their plumage developed in a particular way. So the artists were always guessing how this would be deployed and why. What were all those feathers for, growing in this particular way? They shot the poor birds and then tried to recreate their mating dance as they thought it should be. They were always totally wrong but never once considered asking their indigenous guides. After all, they were savages who knew nothing. Not even their own environment! That's hubris!
    To cut a long story short, in the end one Italian "explorer" went to get a specimen of all the different species in New Guinea, of course with some guides, and was about to shoot a male bird when a guide held his arm and said: "Wait". That waiting made him the first recorded "person" (European) to actually see a courting dance of a bird of paradise. He was apparently enchanted, and when the bird had finished, he shot it anyway.

    There is another sad story of horrific hubris and European entitlement that I'd like to retell here. Another good example:
    As you know, the Dutch colonized the Indonesian islands, the Spice Islands, from where they also exported nutmeg, highly prized in the 17th and 18th centuries.
    Recently, they found an ancient nutmeg tree in Indonesia, deep in some patch of rain forest (I forget on which island) which turned out to be more than 1000 years old. Nobody knew that nutmeg trees could grow so old. And the reason? The Dutch, in the 17th century, had started to grow nutmeg in plantations. In order to have everything under their control, they had every wild growing nutmeg harvested by the indigenous population and the ones that grew in gardens cut down. Many, many ancient trees. Then the Dutch decreed that for the indigenous people to grow nutmegs was punishable with death. They enforced this "law" very efficiently and cruelly, as you can imagine. Nutmeg was highly profitable, and the Dutch had started out to buy this spice from the local people. But, in true European fashion, they just took over the trade with the usual cruel force, exclusively for them. The Dutch East India Company made the Netherlands very rich, as you know. But then the British took over with their own slightly older East India Company, the beginning of their colonial rule and a good reason to fight the Dutch. Always the same old story.

    What a destructive force Europeans have been since the Renaissance, since they (their culture) was "born again". These are just two more examples. Tiny pieces in the puzzle.
    And now the whole world is being infected by their "maturing" culture, the only "rational" one. This is the history we Europeans are taught to be proud of. As a woman, when I get too sad and want to disassociate myself, I'm still tempted to call it "his story". In the 70s, that gave me some solace. But now that's too simplistic, I know.

  24. Satish

    It's in there. The things we deal with are in the stories of the ancients. They had very, very different lives. Quiet, slow lives with a lot of physical effort that kept their bodies clear. It allows the mind to really think and receive knowledge. Also, they were very close to nature and they could see the wisdom at work in the world. They could also see the love. One need only look at babies and mothers of any kind to know that love permeates and creates all life. Observing will reveal aware animals who love and help each other, save each other, are as much friends as any of us and often more so. They grieve the loss of love to the point of death at times, and sometimes other animals step in and help them go on. It is truly beautiful. People with chickens report such stories. Chickens! are that sensitive!

    NBL has always been like that. I think it's actually better than it used to be. I couldn't post there for years. Because of that, I echo Sabine's appreciation for being able to discuss things like this here.


    I have had quite profound spiritual experiences all my life. The story of my many, many psychic and spiritual experiences is long. I get slapped in the face with it every now and then. One of those was a near-death experience wherein I remembered that I existed before I entered into this particular life. The memory was very limited. Memory is key to understanding a great deal in all of this. But I remembered that I knew before I was born that my life would be very, very hard, and also very necessary. It was not something I remember choosing or agreeing to. I don't know how it came about that I had to live this life, but I knew I wanted it done and behind me so I could go "Home." I had a real spiritual stiff upper lip. Coming here was my rotten job and I had lessons to learn and debts to pay. I wanted to get here, get it done, and get out!

    Maybe there isn't just one way it happens that we end up here. Maybe some of us choose, and maybe some of us have to descend to this consciousness for specific reasons.

    Because of these experiences, I have studied all things psychic, metaphysical, religious, consciousness studies (my senior research project), psychology (my degree), dreams (Ann Faraday is the best) my entire life. I have written a number of my own experiences down as well as some accounts that have been related to me by others. I've made a huge study of near-death experiences for years. I read my first book on Edgar Cayce when I was ten, in 1963.

    This is all about consciousness. The real I moves between levels of consciousness all the time. We do it daily when we go to sleep and dream. We just change our dimension of consciousness. We actually do it throughout the day, too, but because everywhere "I" go "I" am always equally "I," we don't see it.

    The near-death experience was given to me, I believe, to help me continue. And the unfolding has continued.

    1. OGF, I have been reading some old posts and re-reading the last several days worth of posts on NBL and I am getting a feel for the discourse happening there. The debate on whether humans have agency or if they go about doing things that are pre-ordained by fate is an interesting one. Like you said there, the contributions by posters there is a treasure I will keep going back for.

      But I like this corner here to have a more intimate fire-side chat too :)

      I like what you're saying about animals taking care of each other, even when they are not of their own kind and are from quite different species. I have seen pictures and videos of compassion and affection in the animal world. They don't necessarily have to grow up together to feel affection for each other. Here are some I just found - We're often shown the most exciting things on TV and when it comes to the animal world, they sometimes happen to be hunts which paint a skewed picture of life in the wild. We humans are quick to project our own misunderstanding of "survival of the fittest" into the animal world.

    2. Awwwww!! I watched every one of those videos. Baby pigs are so stinkin' cute. I liked this one from last year. And this one, too. Lions are interesting!

      Louis CK really knows his Bible and he really understands it, too. I love that routine. When God arrives back at the garden after A&E "ate the apple," he's asking them all kinds of questions, "Who told you that you were naked?" and so on. CK sees the living meaning within the story, the meaning we can find Now. We are always making a choice regarding accepting our real natures, gifts, limitations, and the overall realities of being human, or continually conceiving of something else. We all want "more." We all want to be special, praised, powerful. We all have a capacity for human hubris because we all have a capacity for creative, abstract thinking.

      On the other hand, we can also, as has often been pointed out to us, trust in the Creator who loves us, in what IS. Are our real needs met? Mine are. Maybe we are all in the garden every now, and the perfection of it lies behind an illusion that confuses us. Maybe we're always choosing between a lie and truth.

      IF, as I am quite convinced, we are spiritual beings, we are consciousness that is independent of materiality, then this reality can only be understood within that greater context. We only have part of the picture here, and a small part at that.

      One of the most brilliant and deeply decent people I've ever known is a perinatologist, a doctor I shared an office with for a couple of years and worked with for a decade. He is one of those people who is so kind, so gentle, so aware that he has a saintly reputation among his patients and most staff. George, whom I called "G," is a first rate physician in a demanding specialty field. George's father was a medical doctor and also a Jew. His mother was a nurse, and Irish Catholic. He grew up going to Catholic schools and attending Catholic church. As an adult he turned to Judaism, married a full-blood Mayan Indian from Guatemala, and dedicated himself to working in Indian Health Service. He understood mysticism well and was a devout student of Kabbalah, along with being a very devout Jew. George never, ever committed any violence of any kind toward anyone. Not even a single negative comment about the most outrageous, aggressive and narcissistic doctors who were jealous and unjustifiably ugly toward him. His moral discipline was amazing.

      George and I used to talk about mysticism all the time. He and I once discussed these things and he suggested that this world/dimension is a Matrix-like conceptual reality (which I think it is), but also a Super virtual experience sort of but not exactly like a very complex video game. The game itself (our life and the environment we will be in) is set and has certain parameters. Within the game, however, are wide ranging choices and consequences. So, there is both, seeming fate and "free will" or points where "free choice" is possible.

      Free will and free choice, I think are incomplete ideas for what is a multi-dimensional reality, and NBL doesn't do multidimensional reality. But even if it were quite simple, quite straightforward, only material and it was all fate, all predetermined, all set in cosmic stone, would I still have a choice to love, something, someone, myself, anything?

    3. I want to add, baby pigs are really, really cute, but baby pigs in little tiger outfits is something I never even considered before. It was awful cute, and made cuter by the tiger.

      I love the link I posted with the lion greeting his rescuer. It's so obvious how much he loves her. He just wants as close as possible, he wants to embrace her, and he's so gentle. The social lion is so different from the other cats, and I see it over and over in documentaries about lions.

    4. Hi OGF, I liked the lion and bear videos. It's amazing that they are able to display their innate sense of caring for life around them even in captivity. I also like how the woman who rescued the lion didn't flinch one bit as the much heavier and stronger lion stands up. She must know the lion really well. And the lion returned the favor. What a bond they must have had and continue to have! Animals don't forget. They are fully conscious and have a great memory.

      This whole idea of a multi-dimensional reality is fascinating. It's been a while since I sat down and contemplated it deeply but it does enter my consciousness now and then. In one of my earliest blog posts, I mused about the presence of a world beyond the one we perceive with our 5 senses - I have since been interested in psi phenomena. I am yet to read Dean Radin's book but I believe he's on to something. He is a scientist who is not afraid to investigate paranormal and metaphysical aspects of our consciousness and what we call reality.

      Perhaps some of us, like your friend George, are subtly aware of something beyond the physical manifestation. There must be a source for their limitless patience and compassion that most of us are not tuned into.

    5. "and NBL doesn't do multidimensional reality"

      thanks for the laugh, ogf! and the rest of your post with that comment is so spot on.

      Satish, thanks again for what you are creating and sharing here.

    6. Hi mo flow, good to see you here! I am glad to have found you over at NBL and I have been reading with interest what everyone has to say. My "observation period" on the forums is over and I hope to comment more there. Meanwhile, I'm working on an essay here on the non-profit industrial complex!

    7. thanks for the warm welcome and kindness, Satish. :) I'm really looking forward to your next blog installment.

  25. Paul, thank you for your comments. I have always known that part of my karma here had to do with writing. Naturally, I wanted to be a famous author and make a lot of money. But I feel joy when people say they are touched by my words.

    1. You're a good writer and storyteller, OGF!

  26. The Genesis story is so rich in psychological and spiritual truth it is breathtaking. There is so much there! One biggie is the way Adam and Eve both deny responsibility, and Adam even blames God when he says, "The woman you gave me . . . "

    It's all about the hubris, the lack of responsibility, a single ongoing "mistake." It is possible that we are always still making this choice, as so hilariously shown by Louis CK in this animated video. This is very true to the story of Genesis, except for some of the language.

  27. I've loved reading this entire conversation; such lovely insights. I don't have much to add right now but this: Cultivate Creation!

  28. Hi Satish,

    One of the NBL members, ilinda, really would like to comment on your blog. She'd be an asset to the "tribe" and would love to sit at the fire place you provide.
    However, she doesn't seem to be able to comment. She's tried several times. I wrote to her, telling her how I do it but she still has no success. She says she has a Mac, but that shouldn't make any difference, should it?
    Could you maybe write down here how to do it? I told her to keep looking here. She loves the essays and the comments. It would be nice if she could join.

    1. Hi Sabine,

      I remember reading ilinda's comment on my post at NBL. She mentioned "oil pulling" and I meant to respond to her. Glad she's going to post here.

      There does seem to be an issue with the Mac when attempting to comment on Blogger. A friend of mine ran into this issue too. He said it takes him to the Google account sign in page but throws an error when he attempts to log in.

      ilinda, let's try to troubleshoot this...

      Here's the first thing we could try - (scroll all the way down and follow the steps to enable third party cookies in Safari)

      If that doesn't work, does it work from any other browser other than Safari (which is the default on the Mac)? says it works on Chrome and Firefox. Can you please try one of these two browsers to comment?

      If neither of these work, please email me at guruji a t gmail dot com and we will see what to do next.

      Thanks, Sabine!

  29. I have a new post here, in honor of NBL and all the commenters on the forum -

    Thanks, all, for the comradeship!

  30. i first saw a monitor circa 1972 in a lab at my high school. the screen was 5 inches wide with tiny green text on a dark matter black background. it said, c:"blink blink blink". there were large floppy disks and punchcards involved. i love bits and bytes but high school was hell, kids were mean, teachers were more comfortable with types i was not. i was a little brown girl interested in code but luckily, i never got the chance to halt and catch fire. instead, i've posted to bbs's, founded a precursor to a listserve in college, and lurked everywhere over the years. i got to be around tech as a user for many years and yet, this is the first time i have ever allowed myself to comment to any blog or to even comment on anything (comments are stomach churning most of the time, let's see what happens here, looks good so far and yes i realize i'm years behind you all).

    i've stayed underground for many reasons, not the least of which is privacy. i turn my phone off when i am not directly calling or texting and it's not next to my ear, speakerphone only, so pressing "publish" is not an easy thing for me. right now, it is time to listen and when i can, share a bit when courage overcomes paranoia.

    i have no concern with grammar, punctuation, spelling or being right. i know nothing definitive. my wife hates my swear words, so i'll try not to be crude, i want her to be happy. everyone else can bite me.

    btw, i am not an old soul, in my head i'm seventeen and male, so i'm a young but not too immature soul, i think. i stray into textual healing at times, so if i get out of control, and it's unpleasant, skip past anything with my handle, i find that works for me in similar circumstances.

    satish, thanks for letting me drag you into molotovs that night, i knew a bro when i saw him. i know a sis when i meet her too.