04-5-06 4:05Karma Maintenance

Harriet: You can't save up "good" karma for the purposes of cashing it in for later gain. It doesn't work that way. At least not to a Buddhist.

Danger Angel: You can "accumulate merit" but when and where the merit gets spent isn't up to the accumulator...

I think providing more than expected is certainly nice, but I'm not sure how much of a karma buffer it provides. And if you're just doing good to make up for some future bad, the point is definitely missed.

Karma isn't a thing, which could be accumulated, it is an observation, that effects have causes.

Also there is no one doling out paybacks or keeping score.

Furthermore, since there are many players and the exact nature of cause and effect is not foreseeable, it really is more of a tendency.

All things being equal, right actions lead to good consequences.

The more right actions and the more insight with which they are applied, the more likely one is going to see them bear fruit. But no guarantees - this is life.

Merit is just a trick to keep people who don't understand karma yet from getting in trouble.

Paula: I do not believe in banking Karma, good or bad.

I do believe that living by example, doing unto others, and selfless service may have a result of more good things in the world in general. By that theory, it may come back to me, but if I expect that or bank on it, then it isn't selfless, is it?

Selfless doesn't mean you bank on it any more than it means you don't bank on it.
It just means the banking or not banking isn't the deciding factor.

If you have a choice to help every one, yourself included, or, help everyone, yourself excluded, then the first choice is better because one more person is helped.

04-4-06 10:01Matter, Energy, Space & Time

Nolen: Talking about bending space/time always scrambles my brain. I can just get my mind around relativity and how it yields the appearance of Newtonian mechanics, but when I try to dance with these concepts, I feel like I have two left feet. Can you explain?

Time, space, acceleration/gravity, mass, energy and the speed of light all interrelate.

If you change one of them, they all change. If your acceleration exceeds C then all bets are off.

They aren't going with a big crunch any more. Instead the big rip is in favor. As space expands the forces which hold things together will be over come and matter falls apart. Then there is proton decay in about 3 trillion years. So we may just be a temporary unstable space time bubble destined to pop.

Dimensions are interesting. They can't decide what the minimum number is (some go as little as 5 or 7), but an n dimensional space explains everything. Just add a dimension as needed. :)

Its really hard to get the mind around no before, which is why they are working with imaginary time. Until the universe emerges from the event horizon, there's no way to talk about it in terms of our normal time, space, matter and energy because those don't have definitions inside a black hole. Its like trying to divide by zero.

I think of it like the corner of a box. When you move along the edge towards the corner, the cross section gets smaller. When you get to the corner it collapses to a point, but there is no "before" that point on the box. The big bang/black hole is a corner of space time.

Now imagine that moving along the box changes the way the box works, bending, distorting and slowing everything down so as to keep you away from the corner.

Its a conspiracy!

Now if you really want to bend your brain. The universe is 16 billion light years across, but every point is in the center.
If you look 15 billion light years away, you look into the universe which is only 1 billion light years across, 15 billion years ago.
If you look far enough in *any* direction you see the same single point in space time, the big bang. When you look through space, you are also looking through history and that is the first point in history so it is the farthest thing you can see in any direction.

All views every where in the universe start in the center and lead to the same point, the beginning.

04-2-06 11:01Buddha, Drugs and God

Anjali: Swarm, did the Buddha have anything to say about drugs or God? Is there interpretive room for use of drugs or belief in God; or is there a particular belief about these things that predominates among Buddhists?

This is my synopsis.

The buddha did his best to not get pinned down on a bunch of "commandment" crap, so there are few things he just comes out and says.

What he mainly said is, "Here are guidelines to keep you out of trouble while you find out for yourself. Find out for yourself! Don't get caught up in my guidelines!"

Of course as soon as he died the religious monks screwed it all up, but here are some things we know...

On god - He was asked directly on god and said: "This is not a worthwhile question to pursue as it leads nowhere."

On religion: "If you need a religion just keep your father's religion."

On vegetarianism: "What you eat has nothing to do with enlightenment." He allowed the eating of meat as they still do in the theraveden schools.

On reincarnation: "I am a fire burning on a stick. When the stick is consumed, where do I go?"

On samsara - "the world" - is it evil? "Without the world there would be not buddhas."

He was against alcohol and anything, drug or otherwise, which lead to senselessness. We know that this did not mean excluding drugs altogether since there are historical records and art of the sacred use of fly agaric (the storybook red-and-white flecked mushroom) in early buddhism. This is still preserved in the Tibetan "empowerment" drink.

Summed up as, do not misuse intoxicants, do not misuse sex.

His final words to his best friend: "Be a light unto yourself."

Since you doubtless have nothing else better to do... ;)

An amazing amount of parallel exists between Epicures, who invented hedonism (and it is nothing like what people think of in terms of hedonism) and the buddha. For example the buddha taught the middle way.Epicuress taught moderation. The buddha taught the alleviation of suffering andequanimityy.Epicuress taught ataraxia: calmness untroubled by mental or emotional disquiet.

04-2-06 11:01There is no Them

"They" are not putting the Africans down.
"They" are not doing drugs.
"They" are not bombing innocents in Israel, Palestine, Iraq or America.
"They" are not terrorists, communists or imperialists.
*We* are the ones doing that.

There was never a "they."
No enemy, no satan, no mara.
"They" is the lie we tell ourselves to justify our self mutilation.

We do not know who we are.
We have fallen into confusion.

There is only us.

There was never an "I"
No friend, no god, no reality.
"I" is the lie I tell myself to justify my self preservation.

I do not know who I am.
I have fallen into confusion.

There is only I.

"I" am not putting the Africans down.
"I" am not doing drugs.
"I" am not bombing innocents in Israel, Palestine, Iraq or America.
"I" am not terrorist, communist or imperialist.
"I" am not the one doing that.

"we" is pissing "I" off... ;)

There is an I.
There never was an "ego."
It is the "they" of self.

Phil, consider this.
Hitler did not personally torture or kill a single Jew.
W did not personally torture or kill a single Muslim.

You may not be personally doing those things.
You may even be holding against some of them.
But the stain, stains us all.
The pain, pains us all.

That is why the buddha returned to teach.

We are one people.

04-1-06 12:01Ayn Rand Objectivism

Scooter: Ayn Rand just acknowledged the truth - that capitalism is the greatest enabler of all because it is not a system, but simply the result of people left to their own devices.

Socialists, on the other hand, think that government is more capable than individuals. That government has endless capability and that if the interests and production are decided upon by the state, everyone will be better off.

Socialism is the belief that the basic needs of every one in the society are more important than the full and unbridled enjoyment of excess by the few.

Melissa: Communism, pure unadulterated communism, would work if Marx had been right.

Marx was right enough. The few places socialism is practiced, it works great, far better than anything else.

The "communism" you are thinking of is Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism. These are mainly about despotism and have little if anything to do with Marx's socialism. Marx specifically came out against "communism" a la Lenin.

Our education system, social security, sewer and water, parks, roads and inter costal water ways are all socialist systems.
Norway is the best example currently of socialism.

Socialism is the belief that the basic needs of every one in the society come before the full enjoyment of excess by the few.

Socialism is about fair distribution of needed resources.

Marx also had the best dying words. When asked what his last words were as he died he said: Last words are for those who didn't say enough while they lived.

04-1-06 11:01God's Opinion

Enrika: I was trying desperately (and, ultimately, futilely) to explain my experience of God to a very close friend. She rather glibly and cheerfully asked me, "So, does God have any opinions?" I was utterly mortified, by her glibness, her cheer and good humor. I was desperate for her to understand. We were sitting on her bed. I grabbed a pillow and held it up to her, and I said, with gravity and urgency, "THIS is God's opinion."

Exactly. Good for you!

"THIS is God's opinion." Says more than any bible ever will.

Enrika: I must have sounded quite silly indeed.

But, even now, I think it was perhaps the best answer I could have possibly given.

There is but one refinement and it is very minor.

Point right at yourself. "THIS is God's opinion."
Point at that which you hate most, your "satan" as it were. "THIS is God's opinion."

Look very closely at that and you will laugh yourself to tears.

You will find what you are looking for. Where can god hide after all?
God is god's opinion. It is the same for any enlightened being.

That is the full extent of my understanding.

Bo: Good post.

Gwenny: I love you. :)

I'm glad you both liked it.

04-1-06 10:01Socialist Zen Sex Camps

Shaku: I've noticed that I've not scored much from Zen babes, nor much from the Socialist babes. And since Buddhists and Socialists generally are the flow of my thoughts and practices, with certain huge exemptions, qualifications, disclaimers and so on, then I feel we've got to spice up the sexual outlook of both Buddhists and Socialists so I can have a hotter love life. Hence I propose Socialist Zen Sex Camps.

You could call it a conzentration camp where you find "in" mates.

Since I have the genuine socialist zen babe ("money is for losers who can't hang with enlightenment") let me say that if you just can say what is on your mind, you've got it made.

The hard part was finding her. Most the babes are only faking the socialist zen bit and so if you lay a load of honesty on them they run like rabbits in front of the headlights.

I don't remember the exact "pick up" lines but it was something like: I like you. Let's go back to your place. That was followed by something suave like: Want to make love? and Come live with me.

All in all about 12 hours start to finish.

The ones who run aren't ready for you. This gets them out of the way fast.

You can clear a whole room of debutantes in a few minutes this way and get back to serious partying without wasting so much time on idle chitchat that goes nowhere.

Phil: I love naked prod humping sex under the right socialist zen conditions...

but only at exclusive hotels in tropical beach resorts with well groomed model girls over 18 and under 25.

I can see why you aren't hooked up with a sugar momma to be your patron.

Phil: Could you advise me on a strategy for manifesting that reality...?

Its not hard.

Be some one she believes in.

Phil: asking...?

Dude! You are an artist, in France, and you can't get laid?

Phil: ...that always seemed to have the opposite effect... never "ask and you shall receive" but more like "ask and all traces of hope shall be removed immediately"

That is by design. There are a lot of women who aren't worth your time.
The easiest way to spot them is when they say "no."
Don't even slow down. Go to the next one.
It is not "rejection." It is "not wasting your time."
Finding the exact match requires moving through your "no"s as fast as possible with out getting bogged down and then stopping on a dime when one says "yes."

Phil: and asking the other to ask usually resulted in a sudden "go away I don't know you"

What do you want to know?

Phil: ...and I never really managed to get a contract for work either... hmmm

Ask more people and ask more money.
When you are working, keep asking so that you have something lined up.
Also a job offer is about a guaranteed raise in the middle of the contract. (I'd like to stay but I need the money {hint}.)
I went from $36,000 to $99,000 in 6 years this way.

This system works but most people won't try it. :/

PS: I want 10% and your first born.

03-31-06 8:57Drugs

Anne: I'm going to have to disagree on the whole LSD/ hallucinogenic analysis. Drugs are terrible and always will be. They are dangerous, and anyone who works in a prison system, a psychiatric facility or with troubled youths will tell you so. There is no enlightenment, only potentially permanent brain damage.

Actually classic hallucinogens: LSD, mescaline, psylocybin, DMT, fly agaric, salvia and MJ are not physically dangerous in terms either overdose or addiction. That is a well-documented scientific fact with reams of research to back it up. No brain damage. MDMA, N2O, GHB, DXM and ketamine are not particularly dangerous if used appropriately. Each has potentially harmful side effects if misused, falling somewhere between the danger of "weight loss" pills and Tylenol IIIs.

The vast majority of these problems would disappear if the drugs were legal and their use regulated and their users educated. Its not too hard to understand this when you realize that DXM, aka "Robitussin Maximum Strength Cough", has been available over the counter for almost 50 years without the world ending or the prisons overflowing with deranged robo-heads.

Some of the less traditional hallucinogens are quite dangerous. All of the atropine-containing family - for example, angle's trumpets, datura, bella donna, jimson weed, broom, henbane, wolf's bane and mandrake are all well worth avoiding as they can result in OD and death.

Bottom line - everything depends on knowing what you are doing and doing the right amount of the right substance.

Of course it should go without saying that anything which alters perception is not a good thing to mix with driving, but that is more about what is attached to the steering wheel than it is about any particular substance.

So, classic hallucinogens are not physically dangerous.

Are they mentally dangerous? That really depends on the person and the person's support group. Life itself is mentally dangerous and people without any contact with drugs at all flip out, hurt themselves and others, and otherwise run amok. Due to the "war" on drug users, it is hard to get data but there have been a few studies. In general LSD users tend to be more spiritual and creative than the general population. (This could be from its reputation attracting a disproportionate number of that sort of person.) MDMA users tend to be happier and better adjusted emotionally than the general population. MJ users tend to be less stressed and perform better at work (less sick days and better promotions).

Anne's suggestion of just looking at the prisons and mental hospitals is ridiculous. You don't look at just the prisons and mental hospitals to draw conclusions because those populations are non-representitive. Its like looking at a scab to talk about how skin is. The only studies I've seen which looked at total rates of mental problems for the entire population found that MJ, MDMA, DMT and mescaline users had reduced risks of mental illness.

Interestingly enough, before research was cut by the "war" on drug users, LSD was found to be effective in treating untreatable alcoholism (the fellow who founded AA thought it was better than AA) and in treating untreatable childhood schizophreniaia. MDMA was found to be very effective in psychotherapy. So much so it is back in the spot light for PTSD and aid for the terminally ill. Ibogain has been found effective in treating untreatable heroin addiction. NAC members (mescaline) have far less alcohol troubles than other native americans. The Huichal (mecaline) have a far lower incidence of mental illness than the regular population. Santo Daime and Unite Vegital members score as better emotionally adjusted (DMT).

Of course altering perceptions by any means, drugs or otherwise, is stressfull and if someone is on the edge it might be wise not to go there until other issues are resloved.

So what is the danger with these drugs? They are socially dangerous. They can cause irrational and violent reactions in bigoted and ignorant non-drugusers.

As for enlightenment and god. There is not a single major religion which does not have drug ties with hallucinogens/entheogens as a source of inspiration and communion with god.

Fly agaric is used by the Laps, and by scores of other indiginous peoples across northern EurAsia, and is thought to be the soma of the vedas.
LSA was used by the Aztecs and the Greeks as the Eylusian mysteries and directly influenced Luke and many medevil xtians.
Psilocybin was used by the Maya and is used by various peoples in northern Central America.
Salvia is used in Mexico.
Mescaline is used throughout the Americas including the Huichal who use it from before birth and by the NAC.
DMT is used throughout South and Central America and by the Santo Daime and Unite Vegital.
MJ is the sacrement of the Rastafarians.
Ibogain is used in Africa.
And the list goes on.

All without the individuals needing protection such as getting locked up in jail or shot at by the police.

Drug use can be dangerous. Driving is dangerous. Life is dangerous.

But there are certain fundimental rights which cannot be abridged because people would rather die or go to prison than give them up.
Doing drugs, even stupid ones like booze, is one of those rights.

It cannot be supressed by any amount of law enforcement or any penelty, no matter how severe. The very fabric of the society is torn by even trying, just as it has been since this stupid prohibition stuff started. The best that can be done is regualtion, education and support.
Why? Because it is a sacrement and people will endure any hardship for what they truly believe in.

You of all people should respect this Anne.

Anne: And Swarm...if you disagree, I will be happy to privately elaborate why I feel so strongly.

I'm sure you have some tragic personal example.

That is unfortunate. As unfortunate as the xtians who kill their children to "save" them and the many other trageties of life.
Perhaps we should make xtianity illegal to prevent those deaths or we should realize that punishing responcible users is not the answer to life's trageties.

But the next time you think DNA think LSD, because that is what gave Crick the inspiration.
The next time you think of the billions of stars with Sagan, toke a joint in his memory for he was a pot head.
The next time you say "brain damage" think Feynman.
Again the list goes on.

Anne: I'm sorry but you won't change my mind. Foolishly thinking that one can somehow "handle" the effects is grandiose on the scale of a Superman mentality.

I won't change your mind. You will either decide to repect the religious beliefs and practices of others or you will continue to be a hypocrit UU who only respects the beliefs of the religions she approves of.

Shall we make money illegal because prisons are full of people who couldn't handle it?
Prisons are full of people who couldn't handle sex either.

Most of the people in prison ate hamburgers. I guess we better make hamburgers illegal.

Free climbing is way more dangerous than even the worst drugs. Boxing actually does cause brain damage. Make them illegal.

Anne: I see no positive results from self-medication nor temporary avoidance of reality. One can claim for relaxtion I suppose but then why not a beer? There is very little reason to do it otherwise is there?

There are a lot of reasons to do so, but if there is one thing entheogens are not, it is an escape. Any problems or issues are going to be in your face demanding you face them.
Nor are they relaxing. This is not some kind of hyper-beer.

The main reasons I have seen them used is to explore the limits of preception and consciousness, ecstatic mystic union, and ecstactic celebration of existence. People looking to just get messed up, relax or escape usually do not enjoy entheogens.

Anne: I am the child of an alcoholic.

Not every drug is alcohol. Not every drug cause the problems alcohol causes. Not every one who uses a drug is your dad.

Anne: If you insist on using drugs, I want you to think about it and think very hard.

I will match you thought for thought. I've talked with entheogen users of every ilk, millionaires, research scientists, artists, musicians, college professors, psychologists, psychiatrists, mystics, religious leaders, test subjects, in all the way down to party kids and street punks. Very interesting people all the way around with a noticable lack of "brain damage." I've bothered to read up on the neurophysiology so I know what is effecting what receptor site. I've waded through the controversial research to learn what is suspect and why. I've studied up on some of the ethnobotanical research and historical research to understand the context. There is absolutely no doubt that people use these substances to connect with the divine and always have.

Now you may wish to not follow the traditions which use entheogens, that is your choice. But they predate UU by quite a bit and as far as I can see they deliver what they claim, direct experience of the divine.

I may disagree with the validity of the conclusions they pile on top of that experience, but they at least have something in the pot.
Your denying them is pure hypocracy.

It is such hypocracy that the supreme court finally acted on it in favor of Unite Vegital.

Cosmin: Yeah, true! I could spend 20-40 years meditating in a relentless pursuit of the divine, or I could take mescaline and catch a glimpse of it immediately.

This is a common error, I held it myself even. What you glimpse from years of meditation practice is a *side effect* of the meditation. It is not the goal or purpose of the meditation. Mescaline can show you things, but that is it. Meditation can teach your mind focus, attention, concentration, and stillness. Yes it takes years, but in the end it pays off.

A telescope can show you the destination quickly, but there are benefits to walking there which it misses entirely.

The journey of meditation to actually arrive at the divine is what the mescaline misses in its glimpse of the divine.

This is not to say that the glipmse has no value, just don't get stuck there.

Cosmin: Religous ecstacy is the most amazing experience possible and once they see it most people will never be happy with anything else.

Ah, but if you learn to look, it is everywhere: in the society, in the distractions, in the shit, in the things, in the unimportant (good food/sex/nice cars/technocrap)...

A fellow was walking along and over heard a person asking for the best meat in the shop.
The butcher replied: Every piece is my best piece. In my whole shop there is not one piece which is not my best!

Every particle in the universe is ecstacy. In the whole universe there is not one particle which is not the best!

03-30-06 9:20Vow of Silence

Shaku: Have you ever taken a vow of silence? If so, in what form, and for how long?

Ten days as part of a meditation retreat.

Shaku: Right on Swarm. That's cool that you went and actually did that.

I started life as a strong introvert, so it wasn't that big a deal for me.

I think I would actually benefit more from a vow to say something meaningful to each person I met during the day.

Read more in the Archives.