Modern Dog Diggs

Well a lot has changed lately: I left behind the 1100 square foot patio home in the city, and bought a 2200 square foot home in the country along with 12 acres of pasture and a 1100 square foot shop which I might eventually use to build furniture and cabinets. My two-story tall west facing windows bring the sunsets right into the living room, and I love the peace and quiet (except for the mooing cows and the distant train whistle, which only add to the charm). The home was built in 1996 and lightly updated since. After pouring over Pinterest and Houzz I have oodles of ideas for DIY updates, which I might take the time to post here.

Along with a bigger house and more space, a bigger dog was required. Enter: Madam Banshee Bean (thanks April for helping greatly with the naming process!), or Banshee for short – a mixed breed… possibly Lab and Beagle? My girlfriend’s co-worker’s mother had this stray show up, so I rescued her from abandonment and brought her home to be Sadie’s little big sister and playmate (Sadie is my 6 year old Boston Terrier). I thought building a dog house would be a good project to get to know all the new tools I had bought for woodworking and remodeling, so I designed the Modern Dog Diggs in SolidWorks and put it together. It has insulated walls with a heat lamp fixture, Cedar siding and asphalt shingled roof. Also took an old horse stall rubber mat and put it down for the floor (not pictured). It turned out pretty nice, I think!

Dog House

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Preppers and the Spiritual But Not Religious

Despite the health hazards assumed by living in an age of crisis, I am happy to be alive at this fantastically interesting period of history. Entrenched institutions everywhere are being revolutionized and the ensuing conflicts and dispersions of ideas and symbols are sowing the seeds for the next period of human history.

Authoritarianism is rising with the surveillance state and the militarization of police yet is counterbalanced by the democratizing power of the internet. Technological advances allow the average person to carry the sum of human knowledge in his pocket equipping him with the tools necessary to attain personal liberty while at the same time secretive governmental institutions use these same technologies to store and spy on his every communication. The efficiencies obtained by high technologies in both electronics and financial and industrial capitalism have increased production and added to the quality of life while making the entire infrastructure of human civilization overwhelmingly dependent on these fragile technological instruments and therefore incredibly vulnerable to collapse.

This gradual awakening of the public to such knowledge has led to the development of a sub-culture of the middle class known as “Preppers” who are preparing for such an imminent collapse which could be initiated by a variety of likely bogeymen: planned nuclear war, unplanned (or secretly planned) rogue nuclear or EMP attack, pandemic, unravelling of precarious financial instruments leading to severe depression, extraordinary natural disasters such as New Madrid earthquake, or any combination of the above. At the moment the likelihood of a planned nuclear war is rising rapidly as the unipolar Western hegemony is being challenged by new capitalism and new non-dollar trade agreements in the East (or more specifically the BRICS) and in response the West is threatening to start a limited nuclear war with Russia which it wagers it can win.

The subculture of Preppers (of which I consider myself to be a member) is composed of members from every level of the middle class who have both time to research and money to invest in personal survival equipment and education. Preppers are generally 1) aware of the fragility of both the infrastructure and the societal bonds which provide for the relatively high standard of living and low death rate presently enjoyed by many in the West, 2) able to grasp at least a rudimentary understanding of the confusing and highly secretive operations of the Money Powers and the means by which they manipulate world events and institutions to their benefit, 3) highly competitive in regards to the art and game of survival and therefore consciously or unconsciously view the various SHTF scenarios as opportunities to get ahead of the unwashed and unprepared masses often described as “sheeple”, 4) are reactionary against the mainstream media, mainstream degenerate culture, and methods of psycho-social control ingested by the sheeple and foisted upon them by social engineers with occult objectives 5) fiscal and moral conservatives and classical liberals or libertarians who value individual liberty and independence above the power of institutions, 6) are strongly nationalist favoring the open rule of accountable democratic national and local government in reaction to the encroaching rule of unaccountable international government and as such are generally opposed to collusion with the UN, and the erosion of national and local sovereignty through treaties and the destruction of borders through globalism, free-trade, and amnesty for illegal immigrants, and 7) are pro-gun as history shows that an armed population deters both crime and authoritarianism, and as any collapse scenario would involve the mass casualty of those unfortunate enough to be found without means of self-defense.

The availability of knowledge to the middle class has fueled the sub-culture of Preppers as well as another sub-culture self-described as “Spiritual but not religious” (SBNR). At first glance, these two sub-cultures might not seem to be related since Preppers often have conservative Christian roots and the SBNR either have liberal roots or are still in a phase of reaction against their own Christian roots; however these groups do have common elements and so long as the internet and the free exchange of ideas exists, these groups will increasingly mingle their ideologies combining to form a new counter-culture which I will call “Proto-Aquarian” since this group has the potential to form the seeds of a new vibrant society after the present age of crisis comes to a bloody resolution and a new age of economic expansion commences.

Humans are generally conservative of energy (lazy) and therefore will not act unless forced to do so. Some humans are incapable of empathy (sociopathic) and all are selfish to a certain degree. As many have pointed out, these attributes of humanity lead to a multi-generational cycle of prosperity, complacency, oppression, resistance, revolution, and renaissance in which the balance of power see-saws between the few genius sociopaths who seek centralized control and the masses who seek individual liberty and prosperity. At present, the prosperity enjoyed by the masses (of Westerners) is beginning to fade, oppression is rising, and the balance of power has shifted to the few. Preppers are the rising see-saw reactionary force.

Both Preppers and the SBNR are a result of the present freedom of information which has made available to the masses esoteric and occult knowledge which was historically shrouded in secrecy, jealously guarded by secret societies, and vigilantly stamped out or concealed by institutions of religion and finance. For generations these institutions enjoyed the benefit of the trust of the people they intentionally kept ignorant. Today as people awaken from their ignorance to find themselves enmeshed in a sticky web of controls they are beginning to question these institutions. Once an awakened individual’s trust is shaken in one institution, he begins to research and reevaluate other formerly trusted institutions such that, for example, an investigation of the false flag 9/11 attack may eventually lead an individual to investigate church history resulting in that individual migrating from establishment or fundamentalist Christianity into broader interpretations of Christianity or even the SBNR group. There are various entry points and paths an individual may take on the journey from blind trust to knowledge and skepticism, but if persistently pursued to its end, the journey culminates in a completely revolutionized worldview that is above or detached from the deceptive institutions which provided the previously assumed worldview. Therefore, the creation of the SBNR sub culture is linked to a certain extent with the same reaction to political and social forces which has created the Preppers.

The SBNR group is as much a reaction to institutionalized religion as it is to the sometimes equally dogmatic and closed-minded institutionalized materialism in the scientific community. Materialism became institutionalized into the scientific community in the 19th century for several reasons: 1) as a reaction to the superstitious nature of religious claims that could not be verified scientifically, 2) a rise in humanism supplanted theism, 3) and technological innovations based on classical physics were realized through the industrial revolution dramatically and pervasively improving the standard of living. The third item is probably the most important. By applying the laws and models of classical physics, tangible positive effects were achieved thereby validating the classical model of the universe. Since classical physics described the universe in strictly materialistic and deterministic terms, materialism took a firm hold in the scientific community and persists even today, a century after quantum physical models have overturned classical materialist models. Materialism persists today because although it has been theoretically defeated, the implementation of quantum theory into tangible ubiquitous technologies has been minimal.

Although the mainstream scientific establishment has tenaciously maintained and defended materialist dogmas, many scientists are not materialists or atheists. A great deal of peer-reviewed scientific research has been published regarding phenomena that does not behave according to the models of classical materialistic physics. These phenomena do have properties consistent with the quantum model of the universe (i.e. non-locality, entanglement, time independent, conflation of observer and observed). These phenomena are also consistent with “supernatural” events recorded in religious histories and mythologies and anecdotally evidenced to still be occurring. The materialistic mainstream fearing a return to the dark ages where religious oppression snuffed out free scientific investigation and superstition engulfed the masses in ignorance, engages in self-censorship to prevent the growth of such “dangerous” ideas like the idea that consciousness may exist independently of the brain.

Many philosophers, open-minded religious thinkers, and some scientists have enthusiastically accepted the implications of the overturned classical materialistic model of the universe while still remaining skeptical of the dogmas held by institutionalized religious establishments. These form the enlightened nucleus of the Spiritual But Not Religious group. But without the benefit of an establishment of religion to act as a gatekeeper and arbiter of truth, the esoteric and mystical ideas and discoveries of this enlightened nucleus have fueled a great deal of not so enlightened speculation and self-serving minor establishments that tarnish the cause. As usual, truth is elusive and often misunderstood, misapplied and clouded in mystery. These shortcomings are often pointed to by religious establishments as evidence of the failure of the SBNR group to provide sound guidance and truthful information and that the SBNR group leads people into deception.

Nevertheless, the SBNR group is providing a necessary counterbalance and secular alternative to atheistic materialism which started out as optimistic humanism in the 19th century but took a pessimistic and nihilistic turn after the atrocities of the World Wars. It is the nihilistic atheistic materialism embraced by the sociopathic oligarchs and preached to the masses through pop culture that has through the comfort of pleasure and prosperity allowed society to rot and through pervasive self-absorption allowed conflicts to brew to the precariously explosive conditions that presently exist. Capitalism is based on the faulty idea that what is good for individual profits is always best for the community while socialism is based on the deflating idea that what is best for the community must be accepted by the individual (or else!). If an economic and social golden age is to be achieved, it surely must be accomplished through a balancing of individual liberty and a revolutionary understanding of the fluid nature of reality that permits the individual the ability to see his irrevocable connection to the whole. Whether such a state of societal equanimity and prosperity can ever be achieved for any length of time, I know not, but it is the goal and hope of such an achievement that permits humanity to at least temporarily swing out of the cycle of oppression. In the present circumstance where the world is wired for thermonuclear self-destruction it seems unlikely that the world can survive more cycles. Therefore, our understanding of the nature of reality must evolve to this “enlightened” state (or else!).

This foreboding sense that the end of the world might be nigh has been around for thousands of years and is reflected in apocalyptic Judeo-Christian writings which provides an additional pathway for Christians to develop into Preppers averse to world government with its S.O.P. of deception, open displays of occult symbolism, increasing control over buying and selling, and open plans to merge technology with the human body for identification, tracking, commerce, and even mind control.

While every Prepper is not a SBNR person and every SBNR person is not a Prepper, the free flow of information and exchange of ideas is creating an ever-widening highway between the two groups. The increasing oppression and dangerous environment as we enter a new age of crisis is driving more people to question the controls over their lives both political, economic, and religious. So long as these people still have the technology of the internet, this process will continue. Perhaps the best case scenario we can hope for coming out of this age of crisis is a limited nuclear exchange leading to a failed attempt at centralized control by the sociopathic oligarchs which will stir an even greater reactionary force of Proto-Aquarians energized by the prepared survivors and the enlightened hopeful who value individual liberty while seeing through the mask of individual ego.

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Authority, Meaning, and Myth

As I have developed a more mystical philosophy of life, I have had several conversations about my (heretical) beliefs. Invariably, the first questions with which I am presented are regarding authority. “Who is your authority? Do you submit to God’s authority? Aren’t you trying to become your own authority?” I want to explore the nature of authority and its relationship to meaning and myth. When I use the word myth, I do not mean a story that is factually untrue. I mean a story that conveys meaning.

Whence comes authority and meaning? Both share a relationship with myth. There is no meaning without a story. Little meanings we call definitions and definitions are miniature stories that are part of the overarching story of reality. The greater meaning of life is dependent upon the overarching story of reality. All stories have an author and the one who authors a story has “author-ity” over the direction and meaning of the story.

When we have free-will, we have the ability to author our own story. When we do not have free-will, we are characters reading a script written for us by the one who exerts authority over us. There are essentially three ways to seize authority from individuals with free-will: tell a story for which others willingly cede their own authority in order to play a role, tell a story in which others are forced to read a script under threat of violence, or swiftly end another’s story through violence.

How does this play out in human systems of authority? In a monarchical system of governance, the monarch writes the story and everyone else obeys or plays their role as he authors it. If someone does not play along, their story will be swiftly ended. He delegates his authority to others so that the authority flows downward in a pyramidal structure. In our democratic society, politicians go out every election season to tell stories. In theory, the politician who authors the most widely appealing and believable script receives the authority of the office. When the POTUS is sworn into office, his first act is to tell a story that affirms his authority and creates the meaning by which he would like the public to interpret events. When governments want to go to war, they tell a story called propaganda that targets the enemy, unifies individuals to a meaningful purpose, and justifies their actions. When a police officer attempts to exert his authority over an arrestee, he begins by telling a story, “You are under arrest for selling leaves and milk. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say…” In superhero tales, the villain is not satisfied to merely capture and execute the hero, the villain craves authority over the hero which prompts the villain to author a monologue – a story about his own greatness and the hero’s weakness – prior to execution. And of course, the villain’s foolish monologue always gives the hero the chance to escape. The greatest leaders exert authority over others by skillfully telling stories that are both truthful and full of compelling meaning such that men willingly accept the roles and read the scripts assigned to them.

As humans who experience great hardships, we need meaning to live. Without meaning we are left pondering, “to be or not to be.” We hunger for meaning as food. The more we suffer, the more we hunger. The more we hunger, the more readily we accept stories and the more easily tyrants usurp our authority from us. In moments of crisis, beware the stories that are told.

So all of us who are not depressed nihilists have accepted some kind of story about our lives and our place in the universe that gives meaning to our lives. From birth we are told a story and we accept it as true until we encounter something or someone who causes us to question our story. This can be terrifying because questioning one’s story means the meaning of one’s life might be altered or disappear entirely. So most people refuse to question and instead allow their defense mechanisms to protect their myth. But those who have an insatiable curiosity and a penchant for truth will always be led question their story. When we ask the question, “What is the meaning of life?” We are really asking, “What is the real true story? In what story am I playing a role? What is my role? Who is authoring this story?” Thus anyone who desires to know the true meaning of life necessarily questions authority.

There are a number of stories available by which you can make sense of the world. There are various religious stories and there is the scientific materialist story. But which story is the true story? Which story is authoritative? Well obviously, the story that was written by THE Author has authority. And fundamentalists from every religion assume that THE Author of this present reality also authored the story found in their particular Holy Book. But their stories (when taken literally) often contradict one another, so either The Author is being capricious and deceptive or The Author didn’t actually write some or all of those stories. So who is to determine which story was written by The Author? You are! Like it or not, you must decide. You can decide to put your trust in councils of men, in the violent course of history, in the traditions of antiquity, and in the hope that The Author was intentionally guiding all of this in order to place in your lap a complete perfect story containing dictation straight from the mind of the Author, or you can take it upon yourself to investigate the stories and weigh the evidence and attempt to make an informed unbiased decision. But ultimately the decision is one that only you can make. I personally do not believe any of the stories available off the shelf were authored by THE Author, but some may have been inspired by The Author the way an artist sees a beautiful scene and is inspired to paint his own representation of it.

So if I do not believe any traditional story in its entirety is authoritative, then does that mean I do not accept God’s authority? This question implies the Western image of God which is God as supreme monarch. This model of God as king is passed down from Judeo-Christian and ultimately Egyptian roots. But if God is The One, The Source, the indivisible Author of all reality, then any attempt to model God with separate concepts based within this reality will fail. This means that the model of God as Supreme Monarch is flawed. It may not be altogether useless, but in some ways it necessarily fails. The only way to approach some semblance of a true concept of God is by dialectically combining all opposing concepts of God such that nothing results.

It is due to this flawed model of God as Monarch that mainstream Christianity has been wrestling for centuries with the problem of free-will co-existing with a sovereign omniscient omnipotent God. If God is the supreme omniscient omnipotent monarch, then there can be no free-will. If there is no free will, then this story sucks and God is sometimes incredibly mean to us. Life loses its meaning. Every story ever written is based on the premise that the characters involved are acting on their own free-will. A story about robots is not a meaningful story. But if there is free-will, then God is willingly giving up some of his authority to allow us to author our own scripts. If two authors attempt to co-author a story together, and these two authors are in agreement and of one mind, the story will flow beautifully. If these two authors are not writing in harmony with one another, the story will probably not be pleasant to read. Obedience to God can be viewed instead as harmonious co-authorship or synchronicity.

In Christianity, there is the concept of the Trinity: One god expressed in three persons. Now why God is limited to only three persons makes no sense to me. In Revelation, the “seven spirits of God” are mentioned. What is a person? The word “person” literally means a mask. The Dramatis Personae of Greek dramas was the list of masks to be worn by the characters. So God wears three (or more) masks. You and I are also persons. That is to say that we are masks. We are dramatic expressions of character in a story. The universe is a great drama. Now if there is only One thing, then we are part of or contiguous with God. Could it be that we are each God pretending not to be God for the purpose of play and drama? If God is The Author, then his purpose is to tell a story and a story is all about meaning and drama. The fundamental dramatic story is the Hero’s journey. A Hero begins in the realm of the known. He hears a call to adventure. He leaves the realm of the known and enters the unknown. He experiences all sorts of trials and tribulations that help define him. He goes through the dark night of the soul when all hope seems lost. But he overcomes adversity. He learns something new about himself and about reality. He returns to the realm of the known forever changed by his experiences. This is literally the universal story. It is the story of Odysseus, Superman, Alice in Wonderland, Jesus, Siddhartha, and Neo. Since the universe (or God in play) is a great drama, we discover the nature of the universe and God in part through the exploration of the meanings of our own dramas and myths.

Let me tell you a little story that illustrates the aforementioned assertion that the Universe is a great drama: Suppose that Apple has just released a new product – the Dreamweaver. Inside this small sleek white cube lies a highly refined piece of lucid dreaming technology! Apple promises the new product will reduce the boredom of day-to-day life even more than the iPhone.

So you stand in line at the Apple store to ride the leading edge of the new wave of technology. You rush home to try it out. You gingerly place the Dreamweaver next to your bed, lie down, relax, and doze off. In dreaming lucidly you essentially can be God within the world of your mind’s creation. You can go to sleep and have authority over any story you want and you always know that you will eventually wake up and come back to this present reality. What would you dream? Perhaps at first you would explore every interest and desire you’ve ever had: the perfect home, the perfect love, the perfect car, and the perfect thrills.

Suppose this goes on for a number of nights until eventually, your version of perfection begins to get boring and hollow. You find your dreams are becoming repetitive and you always know what is going to happen next. Fortunately Apple thought of this in advance, so they included some salient features on your Apple Dreamweaver machine. Simply touch the Dreamweaver and a screen appears. The first feature available to modify your experience is called Surprise. There is a slider with “control” at one end and “surprise” at the other end. Thus far you have been dreaming with the slider pegged all the way to the control end of the spectrum, so you dial it back a little towards “surprise” and go to sleep. WOW! What a dream! You parachute into a Caribbean island, but your chute doesn’t open! As you are freaking out about your chute, you try to calm yourself by remembering that this is only a dream. You plummet into the water just off shore. But no worries, it doesn’t hurt a bit! You burst up to the water’s surface and have a good laugh. A turtle swims by and you grab hold of his back to ride into shore, but as you grab hold, he morphs into a shark and bites your arm off! Again you get a bit panicked, but you remember that this is just a dream, so you laugh it off and grow your arm back and punch the shark in the face. This sort of dreaming goes on for quite some time before it also becomes boring. Fortunately there are three remaining features on your Dreamweaver to explore: Social Networking, Internal Consistency, and Recall. By connecting your Dreamweaver to the internet, you can share your dreams with anyone in the Dreamweaver universe; however, in order to do so, your control/surprise setting must be set to 5% control or less for the simple reason that too much competition for control destabilizes the Dreamweaver universe. Dialing up the Internal Consistency feature reduces the probability of things “morphing” or otherwise disobeying the “laws” created within your mind’s universe. And lastly, dialing down the Recall feature enables you to reduce your ability to remember the fact that you are dreaming. By reducing recall, the emotional poignancy and meaningfulness of your dreams increase dramatically because you can quite literally become lost in your own powerful story; however, forgetting who you are also makes you easily victimized both by the circumstances that may arise in your dream and by other dreamers. Dreams without recall can be incredibly powerful, wonderful, and at times incredibly terrifying.

Now suppose everyone on the planet rushed out to buy a Dreamweaver, and suppose humans continued dreaming dreams thus for an infinite number of years. …Eventually someone would dream the very life you are presently living. …And this is the story of God. The creative impulse to get lost in an infinite variety of adventures and experiences and stories is what has produced you and created the present reality you are experiencing. So you are in some sense one with God only you’ve deliberately set aside your omnipotent and omniscient qualities so as to forget who you are so that you can play this role and get lost in this very emotional and meaningful story. There is a very deep part of you – call it the Divine Spark, or the Ruach ha Kodesh, or the Neshema, or the Breath of Life or the Higher Self – this part of you remembers where you came from and yearns to wake up. It is this part of you that has an inkling of recall that presses you to keep asking questions and wonder about the meaning of it all. When you finally wake up, or become “lucid” you are “made whole” or “saved” or “enlightened”. Thus you are a co-author of your story with God because the deeper part of you is and has always been one with God. When you remember who you are while still within the dream, you become “lucid” and have what is often called a “mystical experience” of the greater reality. You begin to see things the way Jesus and the other mystics did and you may even find that you can play with the “Internal Consistency” feature to perform miracles.

In a culture shaped by the Monarchical view of God, it is a dangerous thing to claim to be one with God or to be God’s son. That’s like saying, you’re the boss. You’re the authority. This was the Pharisees’ complaint about Jesus. He claimed to be God’s Son, and he preached that the kingdom of heaven was near – within you – not high above at the top of the pyramid. He claimed to have authority and he gave it away freely allowing anyone to forgive sins and even alter this reality.

But some will say: “we can’t have every individual claiming his or her own authority or things will run amuck! Isn’t it the respect for higher authority that keeps society ticking? Isn’t it the fear of God that causes us to act ethically?” If we are all children, then yes, we all need authority. A child needs to be under authority to learn discipline. Once a child becomes a mature adult, the adult (hopefully) has self-discipline. And what is discipline? It is the ability to control one’s self with skill. It takes discipline to learn to play the piano skillfully. For a child, it might take discipline AND authority. But for an adult, it simply takes discipline. Yes, you’re free to walk up to a piano and bang on it, but it takes discipline to evoke beautiful and meaningful sounds from the piano. Similarly, you are free to bang out your life as a disharmonious noise, but skillful living requires wisdom and discipline. As Paul said, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.”

Each of us was born with the potential to live freely, but we invariably have to fight to maintain our freedom to have authority over our own lives. Authority is like money, a currency through which power is exchanged, and as such it is coveted, stolen, and hoarded. Each of us can learn to have authority over our own lives. Each of us co-authors moment by moment our life story with God and we can write harmoniously or dissonantly with God. Each of us wears a mask called a personality which allows us to pretend to be an individual for the sake of this dramatic play.

One essential element of this drama is the enemy. The enemy is under the delusion that he can become completely separate, so he refuses to live harmoniously with his brothers and his environment. Instead he attempts to have greater control. He steals authority from others and hoards it. And in response, the others band together so as to be able to resist the usurper. They fight against the enemy and in the process define their own character. So they need the enemy to become fully developed just as white means nothing without black. But in this process of banding together to resist the enemy, they give some of their authority to a leader and form a government for protection. In time this government becomes the new enemy, the people rebel, and band together and raise up a new leader, and the cycle is repeated in a perpetual arms race to increase authority until we reach a point where we have our finger on the button that has the authority to end all stories everywhere on the planet in nuclear mutually assured destruction.

It is the worship of authority or power that has led us to the point where we might at any moment destroy our planet. But we are all co-authors and we get to decide whether this story ends tragically or goes on beautifully to persevere through this valley of the shadow of death. Humanity has reached an adolescent phase where its physical might has exceeded its wisdom and stupid actions have the potential to destroy our planet. Fortunately, it is also during adolescence that the drive to be free is strongest. A balance of freedom and wise discipline is required if humanity is to survive.

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The Lego Movie

It is not just for kids! The Lego Movie was one of the best movies to come out in a long while… so good I saw it twice in the theater. This CG’d stop-motion non-stop action comedy’s got jokes, and so much more! The fast paced action and silliness combined with impressive demonstrations of the ancient toy’s creative potential will keep kids entertained while a red pill of truth is slipped in for the adults. Every scene is bursting with colorful meaning and laughter.

The Lego Movie

On one level, The Lego Movie is an early 21st century American social commentary. The issues facing the Lego Universe are our issues. The main character, Emmet Brickowoski, is an ordinary trendy guy who lives in a media saturated culture and goes along with the crowd without thinking too much about the problems facing his society. The media he takes in buries the hints of coming destruction in superficial nonsense. He has an instruction booklet that tells him exactly what to do all day long, and life is great as long as he follows all the rules. The Theme song sums it up: “Everything is Awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team! Everything is awesome, when you’re living a dream!” And everyone in Emmet’s city, Bricksburg, is living a dream. They seem to be a happy, but it’s a fake prosperity, the freedoms are hollow, and it is increasingly controlled by a growing super secret police state. President Business’s Octan corporation owns all businesses from the shallow media to overpriced coffee to (rigged) voting machines. Every day Emmet and other construction workers go out to build stuff, and every evening after they head home, President Business’s military industrial complex flies in to destroy their work. There is no progress. There is only an endless cycle of consumerism and waste that empowers President Business and allows him to control the people of the Lego Universe. President Business is actually “Lord Business,” the control-freak Demiurge with the horns of Baphomet who desires his particular version of “perfection” to be imposed on the universe. He has a dark plan to whip the inhabitants of Bricksburg into a state of elation through Taco Tuesday (government welfare) and freeze them in place with The Kragle (Krazy Glue).

However not everyone is content to go along with the highly controlled society created by Lord Business. A small group of rebels, superheroes, and free thinkers called the Master Builders (a nod to masonry?) refuse to follow the instructions and build whatever they want whenever they want out of anything. They rely on their own creativity, intuition, and training (in sacred geometry?) to travel between the various realms of the Lego Universe. They are not dulled by the consumerist media driven society of Bricksburg, but they operate at an elevated level of consciousness. They see what no one else can see. One by one, Lord Business has been capturing the free thinkers and imprisoning them in his “think tank” where he steals their ideas and uses them to tighten his grip on power. The sage leader of the Master Builders is Vitruvius. (Vitruvius was an engineer and architect under Julius Caesar who’s work inspired Leonardo da Vinci to draw the famous “Vitruvian Man”, an exploration through art and science of the geometric perfection of man.) Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_ViatourVitruvius guards the Piece of Resistance (cap to the Krazy Glue), but when it is lost, he utters a made up prophecy about a future Messiah… which “must be true because it rhymes.” His prophecy becomes a religion that causes the ordinary man, Emmet, to begin to see himself as special (Emmet = I’m IT). In the end, it comes out that the prophecy was made up, but the truth remains that every man is special and every man has the creative intuition necessary to break out of Lord Business’s idea of “perfection”.  The prophecy was made up to help the ordinary man see this and find the piece of resistance. Emmet’s journey to becoming the Messiah of the Lego Universe begins with him believing that he is special and that he can trust his own divine spark of unique creative intuition.

Emmet’s journey begins when love and curiosity cause him to deviate from the rules. After taking a fall down the rabbit hole, he stumbles upon the Piece of Resistance and when he steps on his fears and touches it, he has a mystical psychedelic near-death experience that gives him a vision of the greater reality. Thenceforward the Piece of Resistance is stuck to him, and he is set on a path that expands his consciousness and makes it impossible for him to return to his previously ordinary unobtrusive mundane life.

Emmet and his crush, Wild-Style (or Lucy…Lucifer…Light-Bearer), go on grand adventures together through the various realms of the Lego Universe. In the realm of Cloud Cuckoo Land, they meet Princess Unikitty, a new-agey type whose willful repression of anything negative results in a schizo-personality. Cloud Cuckoo Land demonstrates the absurdity of a heaven without hell, the silliness of positivity without negativity, left without right, and freedom without restraint. Cloud Cuckoo Land is just as ridiculous as Lord Business’s polar opposite attempt to freeze a perfectly controlled society. The message is clear that dualism exists and the way to defeat dualism is not to try and gravitate to one pole or the other. The way it is defeated is through balance, creativity, being un-resistant to change, belief, and love.

The battle for the future of The Lego Universe is a great story and like all great stories, it is about the conflicts within our own society, our own universe, and ultimately the battle within ourselves. Left-brains want to control, to bring order, to color inside the lines, to follow instructions. Right-brains want to throw away the rules and be creative, rely on intuition, and make something new. It is only when there is balance between the left and right, order and chaos, logic and creativity, control and freedom, that a truly glorious and dynamic story exists. Our society, like Bricksburg, is pathologically left-brained and it is up to us individual Specials to restore balance, peace, harmony, and love.

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Prayer vs. Meditation

The title of this blog makes it sound as if prayer and meditation are mutually opposed. I don’t hold this view, but I know that this is the predominant view among fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims. In this blog, I want to make the case that the competition between prayer and meditation is really a competition between left and right hemispheres of the brain, and I want to make the case to my Christian friends that meditation is hinted at in the Christian Bible and that meditation complements prayer.

First of all, I want to clarify terms. When I say prayer, I mean it in the traditional Christian sense: speaking mentally or verbally to God as you would to any other person for the purpose of thanksgiving, petition, or communion: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come….” When I say meditation, I mean it in the Eastern sense of clearing one’s mind and focusing on a single point or nothing at all: “Ommm….”

In my last post, The Feedback Loop of Self, I explained how the principle effect of meditation is to temporarily stop the feedback loop between thinker and thoughts. It is this feedback loop that generates the concept of a self as an entity separate and distinct from the environment. It is the left-brain which is primarily responsible for this state of consciousness which breaks things down into pieces or words and applies sequential logic to these parts. It is the right brain which uses intuition to arrive at a unified view of all parts as one whole.

There is nothing inherently wrong with either the left brain logical or the right brain intuitive processes; however, I believe it is advantageous to strike a proper balance between the two. Prayer, as I have defined it above in the Christian sense, is a left brain activity. Eastern Meditation is a right-brain activity. Prayer uses words in a sequential logical coherent stream of thought to arrive at an intended destination. Meditation abandons words and allows the right brain intuitive holistic functions to dominate.

Since Western thought is largely based upon the orthodox Judeo-Christian-Greek understanding that truth is arrived at through the deconstruction of a whole into parts, the analyzation of written words, and of prayer as a left-brain wordy thought process, the West has glorified left-brain achievement and placed supreme value on one particular state of consciousness: the fully-alert, reasoning, left-brain, logical state. Some consider the achievements of our left-brain dominant society a triumph of reason over antiquated superstitious magical thinking that has given us wonderful technological advances. Others consider this over-emphasis on left-brain thinking a pathology that leads to selfishness, materialism, coldness, mistreatment of our environment, and ultimately the atomic bomb.

Eastern meditation and Eastern non-dual philosophy is largely based upon the holistic view that the self is contiguous with the whole and that truth is arrived at by avoiding deconstructing the whole into parts and words. The advantages of this holistic emphasis are low stress, equanimity, simplicity, and harmonious relationship with the environment (no need for an atomic bomb). The disadvantages of this philosophy are that there is no great impetus to evangelize or spread this philosophy or to protect one’s self from the left-brain, technologically-minded, achievement-oriented conquistadors.

Although fundamentalist Christianity and Western society place supreme value on the left-brain, alert, reasoning, wordy state of consciousness, there are hints of Eastern meditative type states of consciousness in the Christian Bible and traditions. Any Christian who has truly sincerely pursued a relationship with God will tell you that my definition of prayer described above is really a very shallow superficial one, and that effective prayer is much less about talking to God about your needs and wants, and much more about getting quiet and listening. Many pastors will advocate setting aside a quiet time for prayer of at least 30 minutes or an hour a day. I have tried this daily discipline of spending an hour a day in prayer. But what happens during that hour? Unless one is very loquacious, one cannot continue talking for a full hour. One’s attention begins to wander. So one disciplines oneself to continue bringing attention back to a single point: God (or one’s idea of God). And one tries to keep talking to God, but one soon runs out of things to say, so one begins to repeat things: “Thank you, God. Praise you, God. You are worthy, God. Bless you, God….” And as one repeats a mantra of praises or petitions to God, one begins to lose oneself in the exact same way as in Eastern meditation. The repetition of words or sounds is like giving the word-hungry left-brain a bone to chew on to occupy it so the intuitive holistic right brain can come out and have a chance to express itself. It is in this state of right brain dominance that intuition and insight flows more freely and this is called, “hearing God’s voice.” Studies have shown that all of us are telepathic, clairvoyant, and pre-cognitive to a certain extent. Studies have also shown that those who are creative (right brain dominant) and those who practice meditation score higher on such skills. We are undoubtedly capable of receiving information in non-local ways that bypass our senses and that information seems to come more readily through the right brain.

Most people are familiar with the story of Jesus walking out on the water, but the next time you read that story, take note of the fact that this occurred after Jesus had spent a very long time (perhaps 12 hours) on a mountain in solitude in prayer. Now if you thought talking for 1 hour is difficult, try 12! Perhaps Jesus had 12 hours of wordy conversation with our Father, but I doubt it. It seems very likely to me that this 12 hours of prayer involved a deep meditative state where words disappeared. There are numerous incidences in the book of Acts where believers are said to have fallen into a “trance” where they receive a vision or some kind of intuitive knowledge. Many Christians assume that a trance state of consciousness is only valid if God supernaturally forces a person into one, and that we should not purposefully intend to seek altered states of consciousness, but as I described above, this trance state is the ultimate result of a very long time spent in prayer.

In the same way that repetitious praises or phrases can pacify the left brain, speaking in tongues accomplishes this same thing. Many Christians do not accept that speaking in tongues is still valid, and why is that? Because our left-brain dominant society abhors illogical nonsense. In such a society, speaking nonsense is embarrassing and is something that can get you locked away in a padded cell. Some accept speaking in tongues but only if there is an interpreter, because if we can’t get any meaning out of it, then what is the point? Many Christians who are not familiar with speaking in tongues are afraid of it. They assume that it involves some outside force of God taking over one’s mouth and vocal chords to involuntarily produce sounds as directed by the Holy Spirit as if one were being “possessed.” This results in a great deal of frustration for sincere Christians who want to get “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and are waiting for God to literally take control over their bodies. But those who are familiar with speaking in tongues know that it is not being involuntarily taken over by an outside force. A person has to willfully open their mouth and freely utter nonsensical sounds. And what is the principle effect of uttering nonsense? The left brain is pacified and the right brain is in full control. The big dog left brain has a bone to chew on and the right brain can peek its head out and see what is going on from a holistic perspective.

Now that I’ve shown that extended left-brain prayer effectively leads to right-brain or synchronous meditative states, I want to explain why I hypothesize that meditative states make prayer effective. There is one thing the Bible pounds into us over and over: faith. Prayer without faith is ineffective. As James says, a man who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a “double-minded” man, unstable in all he undertakes. As Jesus said, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you curse a fig tree and wither it instantly, you can speak to a mountain and cast it into the sea. In other words, nothing is impossible with faith.

So what is faith? How do we get it? I want to propose that faith is the unification of the mind. It is bringing the left and right brains into synchronous harmony. It is no longer being “double-minded” but is returning to the single-minded non-dual state of a child where there is no separation between thinker and thought or doer and deed. Doubt comes through the feedback loop of self. When the feedback loop is broken by observing the feedback loop and collapsing it into a single point, I believe this is where a state of mind called “faith” is achieved.

Faith is often mistaken as the effort one makes to believe certain things, but if there is effort, this cannot be faith because faith is effortless. Faith is a state of complete internal harmony. If one is trying to believe something, then one does not believe it. If there is internal effort, then there is not internal harmony because there are two or more competing perspectives – the double-minded state of doubt. Meditation and Eastern non-dual philosophy is about reaching a place of effort with no effort or action without action which is synonymous with a state of faith. It is the feedback loop of self which keeps us in a place of no faith, of constant striving against ourselves, of constant division between our aspirations and our attainments.

When the feedback loop of self is broken, the mind is unified, and a state of faith or “no-effort” is achieved, then words are superfluous to prayer. They may be used or they may not be used. Jesus is said to have driven out evil spirits with “a word.” Many times, he didn’t even use words. One time he simply said, “I thank you Father that you heard me. I know that you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of those listening…” So in a place of faith, perhaps words are only necessary to help others understand something about what is going on. I believe prayer and meditation can work together to achieve positive results in one’s life and one’s environment.

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Feedback Loop of Self

Your self is a feedback loop. Your ego is a resonance. It is your idea about who you are. It is your thinking about your thinking. It is attention paying attention to itself.

Feedback loops occur in natural and engineered systems. They can be useful, but they can also be destructive. The cruise control in your vehicle is a common useful feedback loop called a PID loop. By properly balancing three factors, the feedback loop is able to take input from the speedometer and control the throttle input to generate a constant stable speed despite the rising or falling terrain. If a feedback loop is not properly balanced, it can generate unstable oscillating output and never hone in on the target output. Or worse, it can oscillate with increasing intensity until the whole contraption is flung apart in destructive resonance. Everyone is familiar with the painful screech that occurs when a microphone gets too close to the output speaker. To stop the painful screech, the feedback loop must be broken.

Similarly, the feedback loop you know as your self can be useful, but it can also be painfully destructive. The principle effect of meditation is that the feedback loop of self is broken. During meditation, one stops thinking about thinking, one stops thinking about what one is hearing or seeing or feeling, and instead merely hears, sees, or feels. The effect is like pulling the microphone away from the speaker: the painful screech fades away and the signal can be heard clearly.

Through meditation and the recognition of the self as a mask or an illusion, one can develop the ability to modulate the feedback loop of the self and bring it into balance. As with the cruise control which maintains a steadiness despite varying terrain, the modulation of self generates equanimity despite the mountains and valleys of life. But the goal of “dying to self” is not to become a catatonic zombie who has no thoughts and cannot have any attachments. The goal is to modulate the feedback loop so as not to get stuck on thoughts or attachments or be controlled by them. A cord that is stretched cannot be stretched more, but a cord that is relaxed can be stretched. A person with no attachments can be free to form strong attachments. A person with no self, can dive deeply into life as experienced by the mask of self.

When I was five years old I began playing the piano, and I was really good for a kid so young. I remember at one of the first recitals I played “The Hopping Bunny” or something like that… I was not shy or scared to be on stage in front of a crowd 200 strong. I hopped up on that bench, legs dangling in the air, and precisely pounded out those notes simply for my own pleasure… but then something happened… everyone loved me for it! I had so many old ladies coming by afterwards to pinch my cheeks and tell me what a fantastic job I did that an odd thing developed: I became self-aware. And what an awful thing that turned out to be! I could no longer play for my own pleasure, I had to please everyone listening. Instead of simply playing the notes, I was aware that my self was playing the notes and this resonance caused doubts to creep in that I was playing the right notes. Ever afterwards, recitals were dreadful events! I had to sit there in my Sunday best anxiously awaiting my turn to have all attention focused on the sounds produced by MY sweaty fingers. What if I messed up? What if I forgot the notes? I had to do it RIGHT! I didn’t want to disappoint all these people who came expecting a good show!

The feedback loop of my self turned something I loved, playing the piano, into a miserable experience. To this day, I much prefer to play when no one is listening so that I can play without the distracting feedback loop of self-awareness.

Of course, the self is something we need in order to survive, to fit into society, and become useful. The self has enabled us to develop fantastically complex and dynamic civilizations. The idea that we’re all one doesn’t help us accomplish much. We have to have names, and there has to be a me and a you and a here and a there. The same anxious self-awareness that made piano recitals the pits also motivated me to achieve in school which in turn allowed me to earn a living for myself.

So in the course of life we begin without a well developed feedback loop of self. As young children, we dance and sing and play and act a fool not giving a darn what anyone thinks… until we become increasingly aware that our actions are being evaluated and responded to by others… and that causes us to evaluate our own actions and turn our thoughts in upon ourselves. And thus the feedback loop of the little self or the ego is created. It grows to a fever pitch by junior high making social engagements terrifying and awkward, and yet it ensures our survival.

So we find that later in life, we have developed pathologies of the out of balance self and they take many forms. We can be overtly selfish and lie cheat steal, etc. But most often our selfishness hides in reaction to our attempts to not be selfish. We want to be humble and righteous so that we can have a better self, a well liked self, and perhaps a self that will get the attention of a higher being who will make us feel really good about our self. And so the feedback loop gets ever more complex, deceptive, and difficult to pin down, balance, and untangle. It manifests itself in guilt, shame, arrogance, hypersensitivity, feelings of worthlessness, visions of grandeur, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and any other form of maladjustment that can be imagined.

So our self grows out of necessity, but is a common source of disease and we increasingly desire to get away from it. We put our selves through all sorts of activities and experiences ranging from the repetitive and mundane to the extreme or thrilling in order to “lose our selves.” We play with drugs. We seek danger. We sometimes stretch ourselves to the limit to find the end of ourselves. We say that after turning 30 we just don’t give a damn anymore what anyone thinks of us. We view the childhood experience of no self with nostalgia and we long to be carefree again. If doubt is to be “double-minded,” then a “childlike faith” is to be single-minded, unfractured in purpose from experience by the feedback loop of self-doubt.

To a large extent meditation and Eastern non-dual philosophic practices were developed simply to cure seekers of the suffering caused by an out of balance feedback loop of self. Meditation silences the mind and stops the feedback loop dead in its tracks. The non-dual philosophy provides an intellectual path to logically analyze away the self as an illusion, an apple on a tree, a wave on the ocean, or a whirlpool in a stream. Being free of the illusion of self allows one to take life less seriously, freely take on the illusion of self at will, and play the game of life with gusto. By dialing down the overworked survival mechanism, the enjoyment of life is increased. The richness of sensory experience and inner experience becomes profoundly wonderful. Relationships are freed of judgment and expectations. Playing the piano is transformed from a sweaty palmed terror back into a delight. Equanimity is achieved, yet the broadest range of feeling is possible because one is not stuck on anything.

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Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham on Evolution vs. Creation

Regarding the recent debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), I have a few thoughts:

Ken Ham is not a scientist. Science is a process involving logical methods and accountability designed to eliminate human bias and error so that we can increase our confidence in theories that describe the observable universe. Science is the best tool we have available to filter out bias. Ken Ham freely admits that he starts with conclusions drawn from his interpretations of the Christian Bible and that nothing could possibly change his mind. To start with conclusions, refuse to question those conclusions, and attempt to find evidence that justifies those conclusions is not science; it is the epitome of biased thinking.


To be fair, there is also a “scientific establishment” which induces pressure upon scientists to hold certain institutional biases. I think Bill Nye is a bit naive to say that “just one piece of evidence could change the world!” and “the scientific establishment embraces discoveries that change understanding of natural law.” Once an idea has taken hold, it is difficult to alter it because scientists, whether atheist or religious have certain personal biases. Nevertheless, if the scientific process is allowed to continue unimpeded eventually things will be sorted out and the “truth” will prevail. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Nevertheless, Ken Ham’s position is completely unscientific because he has ruled out from the beginning of investigation the possibility of having any evidence alter his conclusions. Naturally, everything he observes confirms his preconceived ideas because he filters out all contradictory data. His position is based in fear. The consequences of his worldview being broken are terrifying. Any genuine search for truth cannot begin with fear. It has to begin with freedom to question and accept what ever conclusion to which the data points.

Ken Ham repeatedly tries to create a distinction between scientific study of past events and scientific study of present events. Bill Nye appropriately points out that the scientific method is used all the time in crime scene investigation to draw conclusions about past events. We can look at a bullet hole in a wall and draw conclusions about the velocity and trajectory of the bullet (in the past). Ken tries to impart doubt in the capability of science to make inferences about past events by pointing out “we weren’t there to witness it.” But scientists routinely make observations and discoveries regarding past events that turn out to be accurate and offer useful predictions for future events. Ken Ham’s argument is self-defeating: if science cannot be used to tell us anything about the past, why are Young Earth Creationists attempting to derive scientific justification for beliefs about past events?

There is overwhelming evidence the earth is far older than 6,000 years. Radiometric dating is one important tool used to draw conclusions about the age of the earth. Any tool can be misused and there are a number of known ways that radiometric techniques can give incorrect dates. Geologists are aware of these potential problems and employ multiple methodologies that overcome these problems in order to hone in on the ages of rocks. Young Earth Creationists often hold up examples of faulty use of radiometric techniques as proof that all radiometric dating is useless. This is dishonest. Young Earth Creationists like Ken Ham are fond of saying that radiometric dating is based on “assumptions” which implies that these assumptions were pulled out of thin air with no scientific justification. One “assumption” is that radioactive decay rates have been more or less constant during the period in question. The constancy of constants has been the subject of a great many studies which give us a very high degree of confidence that the decay rates have been constant. I have gotten deep into debates over this subject with Young Earth Creationists before and it always comes back to the statement, “well we just weren’t there so we just don’t know for sure,” which is a self-defeating cop-out that rules out the ability for science to tell us anything whatsoever about the past.

Bill Nye was asked, how does consciousness come from matter? He responded appropriately, “we don’t know!” No one really even knows how to define exactly what consciousness is. If we can’t agree on what it is, we will have a very hard time working out the technical means by which it works. Furthermore, inherent in the question is a duality: matter and consciousness. Perhaps this is a flawed question if mind and matter arise together as one. Ken Ham’s response was that, “God breathed into Adam the breath of life.” This is a very poetic representation which, taken poetically and non-literally, I cannot disagree with. It tells us that the life and spirit of man is inextricably linked with and derived from the universal mind, Elohim, The Gods, the I Am, or as we translate it, God. It gives us something to think about; however, it does not address the specific question of “how?” Scientific knowledge of how God does something does not necessarily mean God is not the one doing it. You make your heart beat thousands of times a day without knowing how you do it. Scientific knowledge of how you make your heart beat does not mean you are no longer the one doing the pulsing.

When I was Young, I was a Young Earth Creationist. I was outraged that the evolutionists were conspiring with Satan to steal away God’s greatest miracle, the instantaneous materialization of the universe a mere 6,000 years ago. Then I began debating evolutionists on a forum and encountered evidence and arguments that shook my whole paradigm. Since I had been taught that either the Bible was true or Evolution was true, just opening my mind to the possibility of an old earth shattered my entire belief system. I questioned everything. This was incredibly painful and depressing. But looking back, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The honest search for truth begins with true freedom to question and the opportunity to go wherever the data leads.

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