Karma and Omnipotence

This is from a previous blog called Karmic Destination

The only constant in the universe is the inevitability of change. That change can take time. History teaches that all empires, even those which consider themselves omnipotent, eventually fall into decadence and complacency. It is not the enemy without which causes the fall, it is the wayward nature of human self interest and greed. This dynamic is played out for global empires whether military or commercial, local organizations or tribes and in domestic relationships. The lure of power and the competition for it, becomes a trap.

People paint omnipotence upon their houses and just like the World Trade Centre of old, that house will eventually come crashing down. History is littered with fallen empire. The lining of pockets and the hedonism of luxury, eat away at the fabric. People, feeling omnipotent rarely see it coming.

Even if they do, they simply pour another gin and tonic, light a cigar and shag themselves silly in the hope it will go away.

The Karma of imagined omnipotence is to have power taken away.

This may be sudden or slow and painful. The scale is global as well as much more local. Success inflates EGO and this bubble, must eventually burst. The hype, the world domination of Brazilian football, has just been grounded, and with a bang. The manager has been sacrificed on the altar. Yet it was not his EGO which brought about the downfall, it was the complacency of shared omnipotence.

The swelling of omnipotence can be found in the heads of many. It creates the illusion of invulnerability. Striving to dominate the world, the market, the minds of others, leads ultimately to downfall. One might succeed for a while but the medicine of reality is not easy to swallow.

The cure for omnipotence is humility; a draft not favoured by many.

Sooner or later, the universe responds to the human arrogance of omnipotence. Perhaps the most temporally powerful individual or our times, Adolf Hitler, learned this with the taste of almonds on his tongue. This individual who strove for omnipotence was fearful and rightfully paranoid. For all the tea in China I would not have his fate.

The lust for power and power over is a part of human learning. It needs to be transcended. There is nothing quite like power for breeding fear in the individual who possesses it. In spinning plates to borrow power over others, the individual colours their life. Power taken and not earned, exacts a terrible price. One can only spin plates for so long before the shit hits the fan. This is always messy!

Those omnipotent beings rarely see the shit coming and can be quite upset when it does come. They then sulk that it is not fair. The amount of mess that comes is in proportion to the lust for power. Few who create the mess, stick around to clear up after them. Not much is heard of omnipotent beings after their fall. They may still flex their muscles from time to time, yet they are weak and many laugh at them.

There are few things that humans cling to more than power.

This is the truth awaiting those who lust for power and in particular, power over. As their skills start to wane, they cling ever more desperately. This is true globally, nationally and in intimate relationships.

Am I invulnerable, even omnipotent? If my power, my position, were taken from me, what would I have left?

Am I Simply an Inappropriate Being?

This poses a very simple question, exactly who gets to decide, decree, define and enforce what is and is not appropriate?

Is it the mythical THEY?

Do they get to issue an omniscient decree?

This notion of being appropriate is easily “defined” in terms of function. A chocolate teapot is not appropriate for making tea, neither is an ashtray on a motorbike of much use.

The word used in a social context is all about social conditioning and social norming. The notion of appropriate is time varying.  The Sex Pistols were deemed inappropriate by some, but they sure made life a whole lot more interesting. They would have pulled down statues just for fun and not because the geezer in the statue had a slave once a couple of hundred years ago.

Apparently it is appropriate to send dick pics and post pictures of oneself in a painful looking micro bikini online. But it is not appropriate to have had a colonial history, that must be wiped from the historical record. What exactly are we celebrating with this bizarre modern imagery?

Is it appropriate for someone with over sixty papers in the physical sciences literature to be discussing shamanism and meditation? Is that just too darned inappropriate for the taste and liking of the we look down the nose brigade?

“We don’t do that sort of thing old chap. It is just not cricket.”

Many people have their own notions as to what is and is not appropriate and then they try to ENFORCE it on others. They try to condition them into some kind of herd or shoal mentality. If you err you get nudged back or excommunicated.

This leads to the question, is the notion or inappropriate a permanent or impermanent thing, ergo does the notion have any reality whatsoever? Is it simply an illusion which exists only in the minds of men and women and every other being across the entire gender spectrum?

Are people simply arguing about made up shit?

Woke – Taboo

These from The Urban Dictionary

woke

The act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue.

Yeah most people don’t care about parking spaces for families with disabled pets. I wish they were woke like me.

Deluded or fake awareness.

Lebron acts woke about China, he just full of shiite.

Being “Woke” is what happens when instead of taking one blue pill, you down the entire bottle.

“I’m sure glad I attended that college seminar on crypto-genderism, now I’m really woke.”

Woke is a politically correct alternative to “stupid” or “retarded”.

OMG Sean Penn is so woke!

Using an improper word in an incorrect tense to attempt to attach some worldly significance to a person or object (books, screenplay, etc.) so that one appears to be “hip.” In actual fact, this usage shows one’s ignorance and inability to use words and feelings to express oneself properly.

A celebrity guest on Talking Dead used “woke” to describe the episode of The Walking Dead when enlightened or relevant may have made better choices. Keep in mind that this is a fictional show about Zombies.

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The thought police are alive and well in our times, and the number of taboo thoughts, opinions, beliefs and views has increased markedly. THEY do not accept them; we have to agree and be woke. In other words, we have to pretend that we agree with the politically correct view. How this politically correct view becomes the “accepted” politically correct view is a mystery.

People get offended very easily and I suspect that this being “offended” is a part of the mystery behind how things become politically correct.

I have an opinion which may not go down too well in some quarters. This opinion is that not surgically required plastic surgery is a form of self-mutilation brought about by obsession with the form side of life. This is not, I suspect, a woke opinion.

I suspect that some of my views in the blog would be close to if not fully taboo, were I still working at an august academic institution. People can and do get sacked from their jobs because of things which they post on social media. This is despite, in some cases, constitutional protections apropos of freedom of speech. Mobs get angry and kill people because they don’t like what they say, you can get beheaded.

I think that this almost enforced cultural norming is a bad thing on the whole. It tends towards the lowest common denominator.

If you are offended then you have not attained impermanence, as a consequence you will reincarnate, simple really.

This post has been prompted by a notion I had this morning. The notion is that people do not like to talk about evil or use the word evil. They do not like to read about evil. As a consequence, evil flourishes. It is not woke to speak about evil. Evil is a taboo word.

Nevertheless, evil exists and many have it in their hearts and their minds.

A Whole Different Story

Sometimes we can believe a story about an individual, a set of events or a given circumstance. That story is held to be accurate and near complete, it becomes a part of a mythos, a hagiography or even a reverse hagiography, where people are demonised. These stories particularly if they are propagated by THEY are rarely checked for factuality, the provenance of witness is often assumed reliable. People like to gossip and embellish; this is a known fact. Yet when we hear a story, particularly a juicy one we tend to forget the fact of exaggeration. For whatever reason our discrimination our discernment ebbs and we fail to take what we hear “with a pinch of salt”. This is particularly so if we have strong confirmation bias. If we think X is a bit of a wanker, anything which confirms our bias is lapped up without filtering.

We can become fascinated by the face value and fail to consider a back story or an entirely different narrative. There can be “sacred cows” who must not be criticised or investigated. A recent example in the UK was Jimmy Savile who was a serial child abuser. Because of the perceived upside of his involvement in charities his downside was ignored or swept under the carpet. There was a whole different story at work behind the scenes.

I’ll wager that in very many cases the “stories” we hold about people are unbalanced, lop-sided and far from complete. We use these inaccurate pictures to modulate our interaction with said individual.

Way back when I was involved with a start-up most people, to my perception only, viewed me as some kind of entrepreneur, a go-getter. Very few of them would have imagined me banging on my shaman’s drum and going for a vision quest in the woods. There is nothing like raising a big whack of venture capital funding to get the tongues wagging and the perceptions starting to skew.

People make shit up and then tell others…

If one does something that does not compute, people invent all sorts of reasons and motives, usually with a hint of salaciousness.

I watched some video material of my old colleagues the other day. It was weird doing this and to see my name appear fleetingly on the screen in a narrative being given was a tad spooky. The narrative presented was a “for public consumption” narrative. It seems to me there are many of these.

I haven’t spoken face to face with anyone there in ~13 years. So as an example, whatever they may say about me is out of date. I could not ask them for a meaningful reference. They have no idea what has transpired for me, and even if they read the entire contents of this blog, it is extremely unlikely that they could relate in any experiential sense to what I have spoken about.

One could present many narratives. The easiest to imagine is burn-out followed by subsequent lunacy / eccentricity.

I guess that the narratives we hold are subject to collapsing, all it might take is one bit of information. The former Welsh rugby captain was married to a woman and then came out as gay. For public consumption he was a straight man, for many years. The narratives we hold so concrete are impermanent, yet we act as if they are real. They form a perceptual and cognitive lens through which we assemble our interpretation of the world around us. We can be adamant that our interpretation is correct, even the only correct one.

It can be difficult to detach from our current operative narrative. I say this because there are often many and differing operative narratives concerning things. The trick is to know which operative narrative one is using in any given situation, to be at least partially aware of the preconceived ideas and prejudices at play or in play.

Chögyam Trungpa {Rinpoche} was student at St Anthony’s College, Oxford but he is not mentioned as an alumnus on their Wiki page. The narrative of a monk running off with a young girl to get married, being a bit of a piss artist and slightly whacky is not perhaps one with which they wish to be associated. But I suspect he has had a more radical effect on the lives of many than the other alumni. He is just not squeaky clean and status quo. People can be snobbish.

I’ll make a hypothesis.

There is a tendency to conclude about something {often based in hearsay} which does not allow for there being a whole other story. This tendency in enhanced by confirmation bias and convenience. Often, we fail to acknowledge this tendency in ourselves.

What do you think, is this valid?

Going Badly Wrong

It is difficult sometimes, to get across to others, a differing approach, a differing orientation.

What might flatter some could be a lead balloon for me.

Last night I had a dream in which someone wanted me to be measured for a shirt which was bit like this only way more fancy.

In the dream I point blank refused. The offer was repeated, I refused. I warned them that to persist would be to cause things to go very badly wrong. They ignored my warning and things went very badly wrong.

The reason that I have a thing about other people making plans, without consultation and then presenting them to be often as a fait accompli, is that this has happened at least half a dozen times. And, in each case this has gone life alteringly badly wrong, not for me but for them.

People have assumed that I would behave in one way and they have been wrong and badly so. People have even tried to coerce/manipulate me into their plans. Big mistake.

If you do not know someone well, how can you realistically make a plan for them that might be anywhere near a fit?

It looks like I am getting near sand mandala – impermanence time.

This morning it looks like the only way to stop this intrusive breakthrough.

Hmnn…

Maybe I need an I Ching consultation.

Impermanence and Value

For a long while I was resistant to many of the ideas of Buddhism such as non-attachment and suffering. It struck me that this was one miserable philosophy of life always focussing on suffering. Then one day I had a Tango moment. I saw dukkha translated as dissatisfaction. Now, it all made sense. Many people are perennially dissatisfied with their lot and love a good old whinge, complain, and moan. It could become an Olympic sport.

It was a truth, the truth of dissatisfaction.

How then to live in a world without being attached to anything and yet not having anhedonia or being nihilistic?

It requires only a subtle shift. Instead of resenting being born, which many appear to do, why not accept with joy the gift of life. In which one is merely borrowing the things which the universe supplies. Why not value these gifts without grasping, without clinging, because they just like you are impermanent. On the scale of the universe a human being is mightily impermanent, you exist for around 10-8 of the age of the current universe!! That is pretty fleeting.

But hey we can tend to see ourselves as mightily important.

The trick is to value without coveting, to enjoy without indulging, to take only so much as you need from life and to be thankful for the loan. Know that the universe does not owe us anything whatsoever, so we have no right to feel in anyway entitled.

If we are such fleeting beings time is precious and is a gift that is not to be wasted. You cannot hang on to a second, a minute or an hour.

Value is the middle way. Not clinging and attached, not nihilistic and uncaring, valuing with humility.

Attaining the meaning of impermanence, a being turns from dissatisfaction with a growing sense of equanimity and balance, and places value on the gift of life. Its chance to learn and evolve, here on this beautiful blue planet for but one fleeting moment of now.

Taking Things for Granted

I’ll hazard a guess that before this tiny bag of RNA started to run riot, many people took many things and maybe many people for granted. These things were always available and the people at beck and call. Now things are not quite so available, our activities are curtailed. We did not value. There was a sense of entitlement. “It is my right to dine out at a restaurant!!” People are complaining that their divine right to holidays has been cancelled. The people we took for granted are no longer there either because of travel restrictions or death. Their company which we once took for granted has been withdrawn. Again, we did not value our interactions with our fellow beings.

Two things struck me this morning on my trawl through the media, an agricultural “disaster” in France caused by a recent cold spell and the global shortage of semiconductors. There will be a reduced grape harvest and therefore less wine. The just when needed logistics chain has failed and interrupted semiconductor production. Natural disasters have exacerbated this. About half the world chip production is at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. Taiwan is a geo-political global flash point in the “war” between China and USA. Chips are in everything and car production has been halted because there were not enough chips. Things are way more fragile than we imagine. No chips means no groovy new smart ‘phones. Now that would be a real “disaster”. It is kind of odd that we rely on processed sand, silicon, so very heavily.

Because we take things for granted there can be an “I’ll do it tomorrow or another day” mentality. People put things off out of shyness, or lack of courage, or laziness. There are so many things that we just didn’t do, just didn’t say or just didn’t get around to. Because we take things for granted, we just cannot be arsed.

But things are impermanent, they will not always be available, the instant where we might have acted is so often passed, lost for ever, never coming back. That moment can be wasted.

It would be a weird thing to have on a tombstone.

“He/she just didn’t value, took things for granted and now it is too late, what a shame.”

What / who do you take for granted?

Are you entitled so to do?

What if the grant was withdrawn?

vehemently suspect of heresy

Over the last year of pandemic, I have heard politician after politician claim to be following the science and the scientific advice. It has been rolled out as a justification for this and a justification for that. Even when scientists explicitly claim that their advice has been ignored the politicians maintain their claims like a parlour hypnotist.  

Scientists blessed be their names.

It has been interesting to watch the politicians squirm away from difficult decisions because it might affect their popularity, who gives a shit if thousands die.

I don’t know if they, the politicians, understand uncertainty and error bars and I’ll bet the average person will not go to look up source materials. The long-suffering wife has had many a tutorial on statistics over this past year.

Metaphorically I quit the church of reason as a purveyor of degree level physical chemistry, quantum mechanics included. I have hinted at some things in this blog that can be seen as heretical to my former “church”. As a buddhist fame and fortune, reputation and kudos are impermanent, they are illusion. Three of these only exist in the minds of men. Yet research excellence has the creed of measures of esteem, it is measured using unreal things extant solely in the minds of men. My former “church” takes the opinion of others seriously. There is a lot of gossip as to who might be a “mover and a shaker”.

If I express faith or belief in something which cannot be measured to Kelvin’s preferred level of accuracy am I “vehemently suspect of heresy”?

Is nirvana measurable using tools based in electromagnetism?

Can I plot a graph towards enlightenment and then statistically fit it to some equation of satori?

Is proof required AND necessary?

Is proof permanent and real?

Is proof a time varying construct subject to sudden variation?

Does proof exist in the absence of theory?

Is proof a concept that arises out of dependent origination?

Is proof impermanent and also an illusion?

Have we perhaps come full circle and it is now matters of the spirit under the inquiry of the inquisition?