Gaze

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Via Wikipedia:

A fractal as a geometric object generally has the following features:

  • fine structure at arbitrarily small scales
  • is too irregular to be easily described in traditional Euclidean geometric language.
  • is self-similar (at least approximatively or stochastically)
  • has a Hausdorff dimension that is greater than its topological dimension (although this requirement is not met by space-filling curves such as the Hilbert curve)
  • has a simple and recursive definition.

Due to them appearing similar at all levels of magnification, fractals are often considered to be ‘infinitely complex’. Obvious examples include clouds, mountain ranges and lightning bolts. However, not all self-similar objects are fractals — for example, the real line (a straight Euclidean line) is formally self-similar but fails to have other fractal characteristics.

Personally, I could just look at them all day long….

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Today’s Sosan Moment

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Good morning!

Snow halfway up my calves, freezing temperatures, light refracting off all that whiteness… and I am blessed to wake up to the following quote:

Emptiness here, Emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before our eyes. Infinitely large and infinitely small; no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen. So too with Being and non-Being. Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this. One thing, all things: move among and intermingle, without distinction. To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!

The Way is beyond language, for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.

Have a great day, my friends….

Breakthrough

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I just stumbled on a website called Awaken In The Dream, run by a man named Paul Levy.

Here’s some of his story:

In 1981 Paul Levy had a life-changing spiritual awakening, in which he began to wake up to the dream-like nature of reality. During the first year of his spiritual emergence, Paul was hospitalized a number of times, and was diagnosed with having had a severe psychotic break. Much to his surprise, he was told that he had a chemical imbalance and had manic-depressive (bi-polar) illness, and would have to live with his illness for the rest of his life. Fortunately, he was able to quickly extricate himself from the medical and psychiatric establishment. Little did the doctors realize that he was taking part in some sort of spiritual awakening/shamanic initiation process, which at times mimicked psychosis but in actuality was an experience of a far different order. In 1993, after many years of struggling to contain and integrate his experiences, he started to teach about what he was realizing. He has been in private practice for over ten years, assisting others who are spiritually emerging and beginning to wake up to the dreamlike nature of reality. In a dream come true, psychiatrists now consult with him and send him patients. A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul is in the new book Saints and Madmen: Psychiatry Opens its Doors to Religion.

Paul has developed a unique and creative vehicle to introduce people to the dream-like nature of reality that he calls “The Dreaming Up Process,” which is based on the realization that the same dreaming mind that dreams our dreams at night is dreaming our life. He teaches this dreaming up process in “Awakening in the Dream Groups” where people who are awakening to the dream-like nature of reality come together and collaboratively help each other to wake up in the dream together.

Deeply steeped in and inspired by the work of C. G. Jung, Paul is an innovator in the field of dreaming (both night dreams as well as waking dreams). He has had close to forty articles published on consciousness, dreaming and spirituality, and has lectured about his work at various universities.

A Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for over twenty years, he has intimately studied with some of the greatest masters of Tibet and Burma. A visionary artist, he is creating an art happening called “global awakening.” He is currently writing a book about his work in dreaming.

In keeping with the purpose of this blog, which is to explore ways of dealing with the world’s problems without moving too far into negativity, I’m happy to reproduce an excerpt from Paul’s essay entitled “Delusions of Separation”:

In my new book, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis (available on my website www.awakeninthedream.com), I point out that the underlying dynamic that is in-forming events in our world is to be found within the human psyche. As more of us are able to illumine, recognize and articulate the nature and dynamics of the deeper psychological process that is creating our experience in the world, the more effectively we become able to deal with our world crisis. As more of us awaken to the deeper, underlying psychological process which animates events in our world, the more we will be able to consciously connect with each other in increasingly more creative ways so as to transform this process, both within ourselves, as well as in the outside world.

Seeing the nature of the deeper psychological process that is playing out in our world is to find its “name,” which is to get a “handle” on it, so to speak. This is the power of the Word, the Logos. Just like in mythology, when we know the “demon’s” name, we strip it of its power. To differentiate ourselves from a process that we are unconsciously acting out compulsively, is to separate from it and see it “objectively,” which is to simultaneously be liberated from it, and hence, free from its harmful effects. Finding the name of the deeper process that is revealing itself in, as and through our world is to shed light on the darkness that is wreaking havoc in our world. Shedding light on darkness is a genuine illumination, a birthing of consciousness. Once illumined, the darkness can no longer act itself out (destructively) through our unconscious. Adding consciousness to the mix changes everything.

Jung was well aware that the greatest danger facing our species is to fall into our unconscious together and become collectively mad; he never tired of warning about this. Our species has undoubtedly fallen into the very collective psychosis that Jung was warning us about (the fact that we are destroying the biosphere, the very life support system of the planet, being one “small” example). Very few people seem to have noticed that we are a species gone mad (it is certainly not part of our planetary dialogue), which itself is an expression of the extent of the collective insanity we have fallen into. Our madness has become normalized, as it is so pervasive we have become habituated to it.

I would like to name the underlying psychological “dynamic” that is one of the main foundations and causes of the malevolence that is playing out in our world “Aparticipatory Delusional Syndrome,” or ADS for short. ADS is based on the deluded assumption that we are separate from and not participating in helping to create the very situation we find ourselves in. Existing deep within the collective unconscious of humanity, ADS is a timeless, archetypal process that has continually re-iterated itself in and over time through countless manifestations in our world. ADS is at the heart of creating the illusion that we are separate from the very universe in which we live.

[…]

Like a self-replicating fractal, ADS is playing itself out in multiple dimensions simultaneously, which is to say it expresses itself on the personal, as well as the collective level. Both individuals, such as President Bush, and nations (take your pick), can be so fully taken over by ADS that they can be said to be embodying and incarnating this syndrome. This underlying psychological syndrome, a malady existing within the very depths of the psyche, is revealing itself in the outside world for all who have eyes to see, through those it takes over to be its instruments.

[…]

Israel is an example of a nation that collectively has ADS (except of course, the Israelis who realize the madness of what their country is acting out on the world stage). Seen as a nation-state taken over by ADS, could it not be more obvious that as Israel acts out this malady, it makes itself more vulnerable and hurts itself (as well as its neighbors)? How ironic, in its fear of its neighbors wanting to destroy it, Israel might be destroying itself, unwittingly creating a fear-based self-fulfilling prophecy. The similarity to what America, led by George Bush in his “war on terror,” is playing out on the world stage immediately comes to mind.

Of course, the “terrorists” who are reacting against Israel (or America) are just as much infected by ADS- (please see my article “Middle East Madness,” available on my website http://www.awakeninthedream.com). The question does arise, however, who is the real terrorist? (The answer goes something like this: the terrorist is a role in the field, which means it exists deep inside of everyone in potential. At different moments each party in the conflict plays this role).

Inherent in having ADS is “not knowing” we have it, as it always works through our unconscious. ADS insinuates itself through our perceptions of both ourselves and the world in such a way that it hides itself from being discovered. Just like with a vampire, when we add consciousness to ADS and “see” it, however, we take away its power over us.

When we have ADS, we don’t realize that we ourselves are “doing” something which is helping to generate the very thing which we are reacting against. (Interestingly, the inner meaning of the word “karma” is one’s own “doing”). When we have ADS we experience ourselves as passive observers of the universe, cut off from our genuine power. Lacking insight into our own creative power invariably constellates our own power to turn against us, whether within ourselves or from the seemingly outside world.

[…]

When we have ADS, we feel ourselves to be the passive victims of our universe. Instead of being in touch with how we are helping to conjure up and are complicit in the problematic nature of our situation, we always see the cause of our problems as being outside of ourselves. In an unconscious “reflex,” we then try to “attack” the problem from the wrong point of view (externally), instead of approaching its source, which is within ourselves. When we react out of such inverted, Orwellian logic, we are secretly playing the role of the victimizer disguised as the victim, as we unconsciously act out our unhealed abuse onto others. It goes without saying that when we fall into this infinite regression, we invariably wind up terrorizing others, as well as ourselves. ADS is thus one of the fundamental processes that feeds, supports, evokes, and literally creates terrorism.

[…]

Because of his position of power, Bush is the portal through which darker forces are incarnating themselves in our world. Completely taken over by and therefore fully embodying ADS, Bush is allowing himself to be used, like a puppet on a string, to serve the underlying agenda of the very darker forces he imagines he is trying to destroy. Bush is fighting against his own shadow, which is not only a battle that can never be won, but is a form of madness that invariably leads to self-destruction. By trying to kill the terrorists, Bush has become the world’s greatest terrorist.

ADS is a psychic form of AIDS. Like in AIDS, in ADS, the immune system of, in this case the psyche, in trying to heal itself (by reacting to its own reflections, for example), is actually destroying itself in the process. Just like in auto-immune disease, the immune system of the psyche falls under an illusion, and in its state of confusion, is tricked into creating the very problem it is trying to resolve. In ADS, the immune system of the psyche, in its attempts at protecting itself against attacks, attacks projected aspects of itself which appear to be “other,” invariably leading to the self-destruction of the very life it is trying to protect.

[…]

When we recognize how ADS is playing out in our world, whether it be in ourselves, or in the world at large, we have added consciousness to an unconscious process that was getting acted out in life. When we connect with each other and recognize ADS’s fingerprints, we become collectively mobilized and empowered so as to not fall prey to its dangers. Like nuclear meta-physicists, we are then able to liberate, unleash and transform the energy that was locked up in our unconscious, compulsive re-creation of ADS into loving, creative energy with which to “engage” (and thereby be in “intimate relationship”) with the world.

We can only recognize ADS when we realize that we are not separate from each other as well as the universe at large, but, as quantum physics points out, we are “active participants” in creating and calling forth the very universe we co-inhabit. We are interconnected creative beings who are actively, whether we realize it or not, co-creating our lives together. When enough of us realize our interdependence, we can “conspire to co-inspire” each other into deeper, more stabile and coherent levels of lucidity in the dream of life. Like T cells uniting to fight a deadly cancer, we can collaboratively come together and connect with each other and help ourselves heal the psychic blindness that has infected our greater body politic and is causing it to turn against itself in tragically destructive ways.

Something is being revealed to us by the madness that we are collectively playing out on the world stage. The “cure” for Aparticipatory Delusional Syndrome is nothing other than the expansion of consciousness which it is propelling us into by its revelation. This is to say that ADS is, in disguised form, a catalyst for human evolution. Hidden in ADS is the revelation of its own re-solution. Everything depends upon our recognizing what ADS is showing us about ourselves. How utterly paradoxical, the very dynamic that is destroying our species is simultaneously (potentially) awakening us to our true nature.

Okay, so it’s a little more than an “excerpt.” Believe it or not, a lot of this piece didn’t make it into this post — but I couldn’t stop myself from quoting copiously.

Levy is precisely correct in saying that the cure to the world’s ills is for each individual to wake up to his or her own illusion of separation, to shift this perspective to one of inclusion and interconnectedness, and to join his or her consciousness in a collective drive to create a new reality — no matter what “they” may be doing to stunt the process.

I, for one, will keep an eye on Paul Levy in the months and years to come, as his perspective is one that I can definitely get behind. I doubt I’m the only one.

Recovery Mode

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After an initial energy boost in getting this blog started, I quickly encountered a series of influences that have kept me from plowing onward with daily posts: my birthday happened this past Tuesday, followed by getting the house ready to host Thanksgiving dinner, followed by Thanksgiving dinner (with nearly 20 family and friends throughout the day and night), followed by cleaning up after Thanksgiving dinner… all the while eating way too much, to the point where I’ve just been laying around reading. My mind feels a little sluggish, though emotionally I’m feeling thankful for a solid break in my daily routine.

All of this is to say, I do plan to post like a wild man in the coming days… but I must accept that my head is not in that place right now, and I may as well enjoy the blankness where neurosis prefer to dominate.

See you soon, friends.

Thanksgiving: Eye of the Beholder

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Thanksgiving can be a bittersweet holiday.

On the upside, there’s food, football, family, perhaps a little drink… and more food.

On the downside… well, there’s the little matter of genocide.

With this dichotomy in mind, let us begin to look into the history of Thanksgiving:

When the Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1620, they landed on the rocky shores of a territory that had been previously inhabited by the Wampanoag (Wam pa NO ag) Indians. The Wampanoags were part of the Algonkian-speaking peoples, a large group that was part of the Woodland Culture area. These Indians lived in villages along the coast of what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They lived in round-roofed houses called wigwams. These were made of poles covered with flat sheets of elm or birch bark. Wigwams differ in construction from tipis that were used by Indians of the Great Plains.

The Wampanoags moved several times during each year in order to get food. In the spring they would fish in the rivers for salmon and herring. In the planting season they moved to the forest to hunt deer and other animals. After the end of the hunting season people moved inland where there was greater protection from the weather. From December to April they lived on food that they stored during the earlier months.

The basic dress for men was the breech clout, a length of deerskin looped over a belt in back and in front. Women wore deerskin wrap-around skirts. Deerskin leggings and fur capes made from deer, beaver, otter, and bear skins gave protection during the colder seasons, and deerskin moccasins were worn on the feet. Both men and women usually braided their hair and a single feather was often worn in the back of the hair by men. They did not have the large feathered headdresses worn by people in the Plains Culture area.

There were two language groups of Indians in New England at this time. The Iroquois were neighbors to the Algonkian-speaking people. Leaders of the Algonquin and Iroquois people were called “sachems” (SAY chems). Each village had its own sachem and tribal council. Political power flowed upward from the people. Any individual, man or woman, could participate, but among the Algonquins more political power was held by men. Among the Iroquois, however, women held the deciding vote in the final selection of who would represent the group. Both men and women enforced the laws of the village and helped solve problems. The details of their democratic system were so impressive that about 150 years later Benjamin Franklin invited the Iroquois to Albany, New York, to explain their system to a delegation who then developed the “Albany Plan of Union.” This document later served as a model for the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.

The Wampanoags also treated each other with respect. Any visitor to a Wampanoag home was provided with a share of whatever food the family had, even if the supply was low. This same courtesy was extended to the Pilgrims when they met. We can only guess what the Wampanoags must have thought when they first saw the strange ships of the Pilgrims arriving at the shore. But their custom was to help visitors, and they treated the newcomers with courtesy.

The kindness bestowned by the Wampanoags helped the pilgrims to survive. The wheat the Pilgrims had brought with them to plant would not grow in the rocky soil. They needed to learn new ways for a new world, and the man who came to help them was called “Tisquantum” (Tis SKWAN tum) or “Squanto” (SKWAN toe). Squanto was originally from the village of Patuxet (Pa TUK et) and a member of the Pokanokit Wampanoag nation. Patuxet once stood on the exact site where the Pilgrims built Plymouth.

In 1605, fifteen years before the Pilgrims came, Squanto went to England with a friendly English explorer named John Weymouth. He had many adventures and learned to speak English. Squanto came back to New England with Captain Weymouth. Later Squanto was captured by a British slaver who raided the village and sold Squanto to the Spanish in the Caribbean Islands. A Spanish Franciscan priest befriended Squanto and helped him to get to Spain and later on a ship to England. Squanto then found Captain Weymouth, who paid his way back to his homeland. In England Squanto met Samoset of the Wabanake (Wab NAH key) Tribe, who had also left his native home with an English explorer. They both returned together to Patuxet in 1620. When they arrived, the village was deserted and there were skeletons everywhere. Everyone in the village had died from an illness the English slavers had left behind. Squanto and Samoset went to stay with a neighboring village of Wampanoags.

One year later, in the spring, Squanto and Samoset were hunting along the beach near Patuxet. He was startled to see people from England in his deserted village. For several days, he stayed nearby observing the newcomers. Finally he decided to approach them. He walked into the village and said “Welcome,” The Pilgrims were very surprised to meet two Indians who spoke English.

The Pilgrims were not in good condition. They were living in dirt-covered shelters, there was a shortage of food, and nearly half of them had died during the winter. They obviously needed help and the two men were a welcome sight. Squanto, who probably knew more English than any other Indian in North America at that time, decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive in this new place. He brought them deer meat and beaver skins. He taught them how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables and how to build Indian-style houses. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicine. He explained how to dig and cook clams, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for their survival.

By the time fall arrived things were going much better for the Pilgrims, thanks to the help they had received. The corn they planted had grown well. There was enough food to last the winter. They were living comfortably in their Indian-style wigwams and had also managed to build one European-style building out of squared logs. This was their church. They were now in better health, and they knew more about surviving in this new land. The Pilgrims decided to have a thanksgiving feast to celebrate their good fortune. They had observed thanksgiving feasts in November as religious obligations in England for many years before coming to the New World.

Captain Miles Standish, the leader of the Pilgrims, invited Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit (the leader of the Wampanoags), and their immediate families to join them for a celebration, but they had no idea how big Indian families could be. As the Thanksgiving feast began, the Pilgrims were overwhelmed at the large turnout of ninety relatives that Squanto and Samoset brought with them. The Pilgrims were not prepared to feed a gathering of people that large for three days. Seeing this, Massasoit gave orders to his men within the first hour of his arrival to go home and get more food. Thus it happened that the Indians supplied the majority of the food: Five deer, many wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread, and berries. Captain Standish sat at one end of a long table and the Clan Chief Massasoit sat at the other end. For the first time the Wampanoag people were sitting at a table to eat instead of on mats or furs spread on the ground. The Indian women sat together with the Indian men to eat. The Pilgrim women, however, stood quietly behind the table and waited until after their men had eaten, since that was their custom.

For three days the Wampanoags feasted with the Pilgrims. It was a special time of friendship between two very different groups of people. A peace and friendship agreement was made between Massasoit and Miles Standish giving the Pilgrims the clearing in the forest where the old Patuxet village once stood to build their new town of Plymouth

It would be very good to say that this friendship lasted a long time; but, unfortunately, that was not to be. More English people came to America, and they were not in need of help from the Indians as were the original Pilgrims. Many of the newcomers forgot the help the Indians had given them. Mistrust started to grow and the friendship weakened. The Pilgrims started telling their Indian neighbors that their Indian religion and Indian customs were wrong.

This time of friendship and peace did not last. Before too long the clashes of culture, and the differences in beliefs, surfaced, creating a hostile environment for both cultures. The Pilgrims could not have survived without the aid and teachings of the Native Americans. The importance of the Indian’s help soon became forgotten in the clashes that occured. Let us today be forever Thankful that the Native Americans that befriended the Pilgrims lived by their own beliefs and teachings of helping those in need. For without their aid, what would have become of the Pilgrims at Plymouth?

The holiday itself came about under interesting circumstances:

The tradition of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving is steeped in myth and legend. Few people realize that the Pilgrims did not celebrate Thanksgiving the next year, or any year thereafter, though some of their descendants later made a “Forefather’s Day” that usually occurred on December 21 or 22. Several Presidents, including George Washington, made one-time Thanksgiving holidays. In 1827, Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale began lobbying several Presidents for the instatement of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, but her lobbying was unsuccessful until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln finally made it a national holiday with his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Today, our Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November. This was set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941), who changed it from Abraham Lincoln’s designation as the last Thursday in November (which could occasionally end up being the fifth Thursday and hence too close to Christmas for businesses). But the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving began at some unknown date between September 21 and November 9, most likely in very early October. The date of Thanksgiving was probably set by Lincoln to somewhat correlate with the anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod, which occurred on November 21, 1620 (by our modern Gregorian calendar–it was November 11 to the Pilgrims who used the Julian calendar).

There are only two contemporary accounts of the 1621 Thanksgiving: First is Edward Winslow’s account, which he wrote in a letter dated December 12, 1621. The complete letter was first published in 1622, and is chapter 6 of Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.

Many Native Americans are not so festive about the arrival and subsequent proliferation of the Pilgrims:

On Thanksgiving Day, many Native Americans and their supporters gather at the top of Coles Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock, for the “National Day of Mourning.”

The first National Day of Mourning was held in 1970. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts invited Wampanoag leader Frank James to deliver a speech. When the text of Mr. James’ speech, a powerful statement of anger at the history of oppression of the Native people of America, became known before the event, the Commonwealth “disinvited” him. That silencing of a strong and honest Native voice led to the convening of the National Day of Mourning.

The historical event we know today as the “First Thanksgiving” was a harvest festival held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors and allies. It has acquired significance beyond the bare historical facts. Thanksgiving has become a much broader symbol of the entirety of the American experience. Many find this a cause for rejoicing. The dissenting view of Native Americans, who have suffered the theft of their lands and the destruction of their traditional way of life at the hands of the American nation, is equally valid.

To some, the “First Thanksgiving” presents a distorted picture of the history of relations between the European colonists and their descendants and the Native People. The total emphasis is placed on the respect that existed between the Wampanoags led by the sachem Massasoit and the first generation of Pilgrims in Plymouth, while the long history of subsequent violence and discrimination suffered by Native People across America is nowhere represented.

To others, the event shines forth as an example of the respect that was possible once, if only for the brief span of a single generation in a single place, between two different cultures and as a vision of what may again be possible someday among people of goodwill.

History is not a set of “truths” to be memorized, history is an ongoing process of interpretation and learning. The true richness and depth of history come from multiplicity and complexity, from debate and disagreement and dialogue. There is room for more than one history; there is room for many voices.

All of this, of course, leads up to one of our two favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

The other of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions is probably worth mentioning.

And with that… have a great holiday, my friends.

[Crossposted at Spontaneous Arising….]

Maxims of Swami Vrhka Baba

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There’s lots, so I’ll just pick out a few:

1. I think – therefore I do not understand.

5. Machines and institutions grind on while we do all the work of failing to live well.

6. The people we call ‘great’ are just the most-noisily dissatisfied.

12. We who have not killed ourselves know nothing of self-respect.

15. From the Indus to Silicon Valley, the most “successful” societies have been the most dysfunctional.

23. The American Dream: globalising hallucination.

26. The Outsider defines himself not by inclusion in any group but by exclusion from all.

35. Those who do not worship trees and mountains are already dead. The universe is living – but for us whose consciousness is a greed-hole in the head.

44. The more technology we have the more infantilised we get.

47. The most spiritual beings are icebergs.

81. The chief function of culture is, by restricting our awareness, to prevent us from committing suicide.

94. Those most afraid of death are those who never even thought of beginning to live.

124. People are the opiate of religion.

129. Refusal to be employed is the only true Religious Vocation now possible.

That is all….