From Ears on Fire: Snapshot Essays in a World of Poets, byGary Mex Glazner (2002).
Gurkha God Dice
Three young girls peek out from under their shawls. Behind the girls lies the Dhaulagiri mountain range, filling the sky with white. We ask for Mr. Budhe Pun.
The girls’ mother yells in Nepali, “He’s in his cowshed.”
We are in the village of Nangi, in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas. The village is in a valley ringed by 15,000 foot plus mountains. This morning, the sky is cloudless with a sting of cold in the air.
The night before I had read a book of folk tales produced by the village school and one of the teachers has agreed to introduce me to Pun, a storyteller and ex-Gurkha soldier who served in the British army for 30 years. The Gurkhas are legendary fearless fighters, with incredible strength gained as children playing up and down mountain trails.
On the way down to the cowshed, the teacher tells me the school has a website with all the folk tales. We have walked for three days, six to eight hours a day, gained thousands of feet in elevation and now I learn I could have stayed home and read the stories on my computer!
We walk down a cobble path to a small stone house with a black slate roof. The teacher calls out. No answer. He goes around back and returns saying, “Pun is milking his cow and will be right out.” A few minutes later a short, slight man, not the warrior I had imagined, rounds the corner. We shake hands and I ask if he has time to tell us a story. He laughs and rubs his head, he as been drinking raksi, the local rice brew, and doubts if he can remember any. Then a boy brings out a straw mat, and we all sit down. Within minutes, Pun is telling a tale. Surrounded by chickens and cows, sitting on the ground outside the simple house, it feels as if we have slipped back hundreds of years. The story goes like this:
“Many, many years ago there was a poor boy without parents. He lived in an old straw hut. He was very hungry but could not get any food. One day the boy went to the cliff and hanging down on the side of the cliff among some rocks was a plant that the boy could eat. He climbed down the cliff and began to eat. When he was finished eating, he realized the trail was too steep to go back up and too steep to go down.
He didn’t know what to do, and then he found a cave in which he could take shelter. He went into the cave and began to weep. He knew he would die. How could he get out? He cried even louder. As luck would have it, God was passing the cave and heard the boy crying. God asked why the boy was so full of tears and sorrow.
The boy said, “I came here to eat the plant but now I cannot get down or up and have no parents. Surely I will die here.” So God took pity on the boy and helped him down. Then God said, “Would you like to play a game of dice? You can have three rolls and whatever number comes up, you will be granted that amount of things you have wished for.”
The boy rolled a seven and he imagined a palace. Suddenly a great palace appeared with seven floors. He rolled again and the dice came up three. He had imagined riches and there were three piles of gold, silver and jewels. His third roll he wished for love, and six beautiful women appeared. He was as rich and happy as any king.
In the village where the boy lived there was a rich man who had heard of the boy’s new wealth. The rich man went to visit the boy. He asked him how he became so wealthy. He told the man of how he went to the cliff to find food, how God had helped him and of the rolling of the dice. The man wanted to play the dice game. God came down and gave the man the dice. The man went home to his wife and told her about the game and asked her what he should wish for. His wife didn’t believe the man, so she cursed at him and turned away in anger. The rich man was so mad he threw the dice down, cursing back at his wife. He became his curse, turning into a giant penis, covered with hundreds of smaller penises.”
(Mr Pun stops speaking. The four men and women and five children who have gathered roll with laughter. This is not a story told in mixed company. Embarrassed, he begins the tale again).
“The rich man throws the dice and wishes all the penises away. But he forgets about one thing and when he turns back into a man, his own penis is gone. Now he has only one roll left, and he wishes his penis back.”
The moral of the story: beware of gods bearing dice.
Gurkha God Dice
This story took place on a twelve day trek on the Annapurna trail. We had an entourage of porters led by one guide, Mansingh. While talking about our families we told Mansingh the concept of “time-out” in disciplining children. I believe I may be the first person put in “time-out” in the Himalayas.
Story translated by Mansingh Gurung & Gary Mex Glazner.
ne year ago today I wrote this open letter trying to warn my fellow Americans that Trump was going to win the election that was less than four months away — and that he would do it by winning Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Needless to say, I didn’t do a very good job convincing those who were sure Hillary would win and that we had nothing to worry about with Trump the Idiot on the ballot.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump. Go ahead and say the words, ‘cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: “PRESIDENT TRUMP.”
Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.
I can see what you’re doing right now. You’re shaking your head wildly – “No, Mike, this won’t happen!” Unfortunately, you are living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president. You alternate between being appalled at him and laughing at him because of his latest crazy comment or his embarrassingly narcissistic stance on everything because everything is about him. And then you listen to Hillary and you behold our very first female president, someone the world respects, someone who is whip-smart and cares about kids, who will continue the Obama legacy because that is what the American people clearly want! Yes! Four more years of this!
You need to exit that bubble right now. You need to stop living in denial and face the truth which you know deep down is very, very real. Trying to soothe yourself with the facts – “77% of the electorate are women, people of color, young adults under 35 and Trump cant win a majority of any of them!” – or logic – “people aren’t going to vote for a buffoon or against their own best interests!” – is your brain’s way of trying to protect you from trauma. Like when you hear a loud noise on the street and you think, “oh, a tire just blew out,” or, “wow, who’s playing with firecrackers?” because you don’t want to think you just heard someone being shot with a gun. It’s the same reason why all the initial news and eyewitness reports on 9/11 said “a small plane accidentally flew into the World Trade Center.” We want to – we need to – hope for the best because, frankly, life is already a shit show and it’s hard enough struggling to get by from paycheck to paycheck. We can’t handle much more bad news. So our mental state goes to default when something scary is actually, truly happening. The first people plowed down by the truck in Nice spent their final moments on earth waving at the driver whom they thought had simply lost control of his truck, trying to tell him that he jumped the curb: “Watch out!,” they shouted. “There are people on the sidewalk!”
Well, folks, this isn’t an accident. It is happening. And if you believe Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump with facts and smarts and logic, then you obviously missed the past year of 56 primaries and caucuses where 16 Republican candidates tried that and every kitchen sink they could throw at Trump and nothing could stop his juggernaut. As of today, as things stand now, I believe this is going to happen – and in order to deal with it, I need you first to acknowledge it, and then maybe, just maybe, we can find a way out of the mess we’re in.
Don’t get me wrong. I have great hope for the country I live in. Things are better. The left has won the cultural wars. Gays and lesbians can get married. A majority of Americans now take the liberal position on just about every polling question posed to them: Equal pay for women – check. Abortion should be legal – check. Stronger environmental laws – check. More gun control – check. Legalize marijuana – check. A huge shift has taken place – just ask the socialist who won 22 states this year. And there is no doubt in my mind that if people could vote from their couch at home on their X-box or PlayStation, Hillary would win in a landslide.
But that is not how it works in America. People have to leave the house and get in line to vote. And if they live in poor, Black or Hispanic neighborhoods, they not only have a longer line to wait in, everything is being done to literally stop them from casting a ballot. So in most elections it’s hard to get even 50% to turn out to vote. And therein lies the problem for November – who is going to have the most motivated, most inspired voters show up to vote? You know the answer to this question. Who’s the candidate with the most rabid supporters? Whose crazed fans are going to be up at 5 AM on Election Day, kicking ass all day long, all the way until the last polling place has closed, making sure every Tom, Dick and Harry (and Bob and Joe and Billy Bob and Billy Joe and Billy Bob Joe) has cast his ballot? That’s right. That’s the high level of danger we’re in. And don’t fool yourself — no amount of compelling Hillary TV ads, or outfacting him in the debates or Libertarians siphoning votes away from Trump is going to stop his mojo.
Here are the 5 reasons Trump is going to win:
Midwest Math, or Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit. I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest. Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states. When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the ears of the working class of Michigan, and when he tossed in his threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones in China and build them here in America, well, hearts swooned and Trump walked away with a big victory that should have gone to the governor next-door, John Kasich.
From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England – broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class. Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people who were lied to by the trickle-down of Reagan and abandoned by Democrats who still try to talk a good line but are really just looking forward to rub one out with a lobbyist from Goldman Sachs who’ll write them nice big check before leaving the room. What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here. Elmer Gantry shows up looking like Boris Johnson and just says whatever shit he can make up to convince the masses that this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you! SEND A MESSAGE! TRUMP IS YOUR MESSENGER!
And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.
The Last Stand of the Angry White Man. Our male-dominated, 240-year run of the USA is coming to an end. A woman is about to take over! How did this happen?! On our watch! There were warning signs, but we ignored them. Nixon, the gender traitor, imposing Title IX on us, the rule that said girls in school should get an equal chance at playing sports. Then they let them fly commercial jets. Before we knew it, Beyoncé stormed on the field at this year’s Super Bowl (our game!) with an army of Black Women, fists raised, declaring that our domination was hereby terminated! Oh, the humanity!
That’s a small peek into the mind of the Endangered White Male. There is a sense that the power has slipped out of their hands, that their way of doing things is no longer how things are done. This monster, the “Feminazi,”the thing that as Trump says, “bleeds through her eyes or wherever she bleeds,” has conquered us — and now, after having had to endure eight years of a black man telling us what to do, we’re supposed to just sit back and take eight years of a woman bossing us around? After that it’ll be eight years of the gays in the White House! Then the transgenders! You can see where this is going. By then animals will have been granted human rights and a fuckin’ hamster is going to be running the country. This has to stop!
The Hillary Problem. Can we speak honestly, just among ourselves? And before we do, let me state, I actually like Hillary – a lot – and I think she has been given a bad rap she doesn’t deserve. But her vote for the Iraq War made me promise her that I would never vote for her again. To date, I haven’t broken that promise. For the sake of preventing a proto-fascist from becoming our commander-in-chief, I’m breaking that promise. I sadly believe Clinton will find a way to get us in some kind of military action. She’s a hawk, to the right of Obama. But Trump’s psycho finger will be on The Button, and that is that. Done and done.
Let’s face it: Our biggest problem here isn’t Trump – it’s Hillary. She is hugely unpopular — nearly 70% of all voters think she is untrustworthy and dishonest. She represents the old way of politics, not really believing in anything other than what can get you elected. That’s why she fights against gays getting married one moment, and the next she’s officiating a gay marriage. Young women are among her biggest detractors, which has to hurt considering it’s the sacrifices and the battles that Hillary and other women of her generation endured so that this younger generation would never have to be told by the Barbara Bushes of the world that they should just shut up and go bake some cookies. But the kids don’t like her, and not a day goes by that a millennial doesn’t tell me they aren’t voting for her. No Democrat, and certainly no independent, is waking up on November 8th excited to run out and vote for Hillary the way they did the day Obama became president or when Bernie was on the primary ballot. The enthusiasm just isn’t there. And because this election is going to come down to just one thing — who drags the most people out of the house and gets them to the polls — Trump right now is in the catbird seat.
The Depressed Sanders Vote. Stop fretting about Bernie’s supporters not voting for Clinton – we’re voting for Clinton! The polls already show that more Sanders voters will vote for Hillary this year than the number of Hillary primary voters in ’08 who then voted for Obama. This is not the problem. The fire alarm that should be going off is that while the average Bernie backer will drag him/herself to the polls that day to somewhat reluctantly vote for Hillary, it will be what’s called a “depressed vote” – meaning the voter doesn’t bring five people to vote with her. He doesn’t volunteer 10 hours in the month leading up to the election. She never talks in an excited voice when asked why she’s voting for Hillary. A depressed voter. Because, when you’re young, you have zero tolerance for phonies and BS. Returning to the Clinton/Bush era for them is like suddenly having to pay for music, or using MySpace or carrying around one of those big-ass portable phones. They’re not going to vote for Trump; some will vote third party, but many will just stay home. Hillary Clinton is going to have to do something to give them a reason to support her — and picking a moderate, bland-o, middle of the road old white guy as her running mate is not the kind of edgy move that tells millenials that their vote is important to Hillary. Having two women on the ticket – that was an exciting idea. But then Hillary got scared and has decided to play it safe. This is just one example of how she is killing the youth vote.
The Jesse Ventura Effect. Finally, do not discount the electorate’s ability to be mischievous or underestimate how any millions fancy themselves as closet anarchists once they draw the curtain and are all alone in the voting booth. It’s one of the few places left in society where there are no security cameras, no listening devices, no spouses, no kids, no boss, no cops, there’s not even a friggin’ time limit. You can take as long as you need in there and no one can make you do anything. You can push the button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad. And in the same way like when you’re standing on the edge of Niagara Falls and your mind wonders for a moment what would that feel like to go over that thing, a lot of people are going to love being in the position of puppetmaster and plunking down for Trump just to see what that might look like. Remember back in the ‘90s when the people of Minnesota elected a professional wrestler as their governor? They didn’t do this because they’re stupid or thought that Jesse Ventura was some sort of statesman or political intellectual. They did so just because they could. Minnesota is one of the smartest states in the country. It is also filled with people who have a dark sense of humor — and voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system. This is going to happen again with Trump.
Coming back to the hotel after appearing on Bill Maher’s Republican Convention special this week on HBO, a man stopped me. “Mike,” he said, “we have to vote for Trump. We HAVE to shake things up.” That was it. That was enough for him. To “shake things up.” President Trump would indeed do just that, and a good chunk of the electorate would like to sit in the bleachers and watch that reality show.
(Next week I will post my thoughts on Trump’s Achilles Heel and how I think he can be beat.)
And well, Dallas, you know. . .it ain’t no Houston!
Edie: Thank God!
from Danica McKeller
Sam and Janet.
Sam and Janet who?
♪ Sam and Janet Evening ♫ …
(Some enchanted evening…)
from my ten year old friends Katie and Tom:
What’s purple and conquered the world?
Alexander the Grape.
Who’s buried in Alexander the Grape’s tomb?
Alexander the Raisin.
from Aldous Huxley:
There once was a young man from Kent
whose cock was so long it was bent.
To save the girls trouble, he folded it double
and instead of coming, he went.
from Nina Hamnett:
I sometimes wish, when I am tight,
that I were an hermaphrodite;
and thus united with some black
I’d be wafted up to heaven
in position fifty-seven.
from my eighty-five year old woman friend, C:
A man walks into a bar, notices a very large jar on the counter, and sees that it’s filled to the brim with $10 bills. He guesses there must be at least ten thousand dollars in it. He approaches the bartender and asks, “What’s with the money in the jar?”
“Well…, you pay $10, and if you pass three tests, you get all the money in the jar and the keys to a brand new Lexus”
The man certainly isn’t going to pass this up, so he asks, “What are the three tests?”
“You gotta pay first,” says the bartender, “those are the rules.”
So, after thinking it over a while, the man gives the bartender $10 which he stuffs into the jar.
“Okay,” says the bartender, “here’s what you need to do:
First – You have to drink a whole quart of tequila, in 60 seconds or less, and you can’t make a face while doing it.”
“Second – There’s a pit bull chained in the back with a bad tooth. You have to remove that tooth with your bare hands.”
“Third – There’s a 90-year old lady upstairs who’s never had sex. You have to take care of that problem.”
The man is stunned! “I know I paid my $10 — but I’m not an idiot! I won’t do it! You’d have to be nuts to drink a quart of tequila and then do all those other things!”
“Your call,” says the bartender, “but, your money stays where it is.”
As time goes on, the man has a few more drinks and finally says, “Where’s the damn tequila?!”
He grabs the bottle with both hands and drinks it as fast as he can. Tears stream down both cheeks — but he doesn’t make a face — and he drinks it in 58 seconds! Next, he staggers out the back door where he sees the pit bull chained to a pole. Soon, the people inside the bar hear loud growling, screaming, and sounds of a terrible fight — then nothing but silence!
Just when they think that the man surely must be dead, he staggers back into the bar. His clothes are ripped to shreds and he’s bleeding from bites and gashes all over his body. He drunkenly says, “Now…, where’s that old woman with the bad tooth?”
from my friend Bill’s cousin, Father Mike:
Lifelong friends Connor and Sean had worked together at the Guinness brewery all their days. Every evening they’d walk home together, coming first to Sean’s house, where his wife Brenda would always be waiting at the gate to greet them. One day at quitting time Brenda sees Connor walking slowly toward her gate, alone. She is instantly gripped by dread. “Has something happen to my Seannie!?” she cries out as Connor approaches. “Yes, Brenda, I must tell you,” he replies gravely, “we lost Sean today.”
“How can it be?!” she sobs.
“A terrible work accident at the plant,” Connor explains soothingly.
“Tell me what happened,” Brenda bravely insists, stifling her sobs. “I must know.”
“He was working the catwalk and appeared to slip, plunging head first straight into the brewing vat.”
“Oh, dear Lord!” Brenda exclaims. After a moment of taking all this in, she sighs and says, “Well, it must have been a mercy then—to have gone so painlessly and swiftly….”
“Aye,” Connor reflects, “Tis true he felt not a moment of pain. But as to swiftly, well now, ’twas not quite so: for didn’t our boy-o Sean be havin’ to climb out twice through it all just to go take a piss.”
. . . I added a couple of musical videos to the previous entry after first posting it, but as I wouldn’t want anyone to miss those tracks, I’m posting them again here. But first, another song for tonight’s summer mode/mood swing. It’s very warm out tonight, but with a wonderful summer rain. . . .
Personally, I’ve never wanted to rule the world, — though I certainly continue to hope and trust that I’m having a positive, benign, life-supporting, life-enhancing influence, to whatever extent, on how things go for others, for everyone and everything. . . and I certainly dig this little guy’s other wishes for his future!
Maharishi, commenting on a verse in the Bhagavad-Gita (5:18), writes:
Those who have realized the Reality of life ‘perceive the same’ oneness through all the diversity of experience. … The Being of an evolved human and that of the animals is the same; established in the oneness of Being, having realized the Unity of the Transcendent underlying all diversity, an enlightened individual gains evenness of vision . . .
Wisdom brings humility. Just as the wise man or woman sees the distinctions and differences in creation as only temporary, with one ultimate Reality underlying them all, so he or she does not insist that things should happen in any particular way. Such a person takes things lightly, for he knows they all have their common end. This natural quality of Being in the wise is interpreted as humility. Indeed, humility is the criterion of wisdom, arising as it does out of the increased sense of the oneness of life, of the basic Unity of all beings.
Humility is commonly understood to be the honest recognition of one’s personal limitations, one’s ignorance and insignificance; but true humility lies in the quality of Being and not in any attitude of mind.
The mind of the realized person is fully infused with the state of Being—the oneness of life—and such a mind naturally has oneness of vision irrespective of what it sees. The apparent distinctions of relative existence fail to create divisions in its view.
This does not mean that such a person fails to see a cow or is unable to distinguish it from a dog. Certainly she sees a cow as a cow and a dog as a dog, but the form of the cow and the form of the dog fail to blind her to the oneness of the Self, which is the same in both. Although she sees a cow and a dog, her Self is established in the Being of the cow and the Being of the dog, which is her own Being. This verse of the Gita stresses that the enlightened person, while beholding and acting in the world of diversified creation, does not fall from his or her steadfast Unity of life, with which his or her mind is saturated and which remains indelibly infused into his or her vision. * * *
Trumpcare, at its heart, is not a health care bill. It’s a bill to take away health care from the middle class, the elderly, the sick, and the poor—and hand the money to special interests such as insurance companies and Big Pharma.
It’s a moral atrocity. And, with a vote now expected next week, this may be our last chance to stop it.1
If just three Republicans vote no, Trumpcare is dead. And if the bill doesn’t pass before Congress leaves town for its August recess, then even Senate Leader Mitch McConnell himself admits that Trumpcare is probably dead for good. When that happens, he’ll have to (gasp!) work with Democrats to shore up the health markets under the Affordable Care Act.
We have to make the next few days count. I can tell you from my years in Washington that votes can flip on a dime, and party pressure can be so intense that it feels as though the walls are closing in on you from every direction.
And Mitch McConnell is editing the bill every day to try to find the votes. He’s trying to bring the holdouts on board with policies that are micro-targeted at their state—effectively bribes (even though these offerings are virtually meaningless compared to the pain and suffering that will be caused by the massive loss of health care and vicious cuts to Medicaid). He even took the unheard-of step of keeping senators in D.C. for two extra weeks—until August 11—to try to force a vote.
It won’t be easy to stop Trumpcare for good, but I believe in MoveOn’s ability to do it. They are organizing events to pressure on-the-fence senators (including, recently, huge rallies with Bernie Sanders that were all over the news), flooding those same senators with calls, making compelling videos with heart-wrenching stories, helping lead daily rallies in Washington, D.C., to focus national media on the grassroots opposition to this bill, and more.
Want to support MoveOn’s work? The MoveOn community will work every moment, day by day and year by year, to resist Trump’s agenda, contain the damage, defeat hate with love, and begin the process of swinging the nation’s pendulum back toward sanity, decency, and the kind of future that we must never give up on. And to do it MoveOn needs your support, now more than ever. Will you stand with MoveOn?
My life has been somewhat different from that of so many persons I know, persons who drift around in the mainstream. I’ve never been drunk, for instance. Just never had any interest. It was always sad, at best, to observe persons I knew getting drunk, and being drunk, and being hungover. And recovering from being hungover. I’ve never liked being around people who are drunk, or are in the process leading to getting drunk, or who frequently end up drunk. But what can you do? It’s such a common problem, drinking. All of my life I’ve mostly simply avoided socializing and forming close friendships with people who suffer from this problem, people who think they are enjoying their life of being alcohol dependent. People who do not have a higher level of quality of awareness and a higher vision of who they are and where they’d like to go and how they’d like to get there, safe and sound, with their brain and mind intact.
All the real fun, the real fulfillment, the real growth in life, lies in a naturally more comprehensive, heightened state of restful alertness, a more enlightened state of consciousness that is at the other end of the scale in terms of real greater quality of enjoyment, compared to the drunken state, the drugged state, the intoxicated state. But most people’s ordinary waking state experience is so unfulfilling so much of the time, that I realize why so many of them so often wish to get drunk and/or stoned at least from time to time. I’m all for freedom from an overwhelming sense of stress, depression, boredom, anxiety, overwork, sorrow, pressure to maintain and succeed in every area, etc. I just do not see that drinking or stoning actually helps this situation in any lasting, healthy way. The opposite is obviously the case. The immediate effects of alcohol dependency are questionable at best and the cumulative effects are ultimately quite problematic. It’s pretty much the same with frequently taking any strong drugs to get high and to blunt or obscure feeling the burden of one’s ordinary waking state experience and situation.
It is possible to deepen and elevate the quality of one’s life to a sublime degree of happiness never imagined by most people. But not by drinking and drugging. In fact, abusing substances is merely abusing oneself, literally: it damages the delicate higher neurophysiology of the brain. Full use of a healthy brain, enjoying natural optimal functioning, is the basis of living a spontaneous continuum of higher states of consciousness, the experience of profound inner freedom and happiness. The fully stable natural experience of the ongoing optimal functioning of one’s neurophysiology is the obvious basis of clearer thinking, wiser decision-making, more comprehensive assessment, engagement, and enjoyment of life.
It is in this state of effortless clarity that freedom lies, that freedom is lived in a natural, spontaneous state of inner joy and fulfillment. It is not only possible to live such a quality of daily enjoyment, with some initial guidance it is easy. But it usually requires effective instruction in the effortless procedure for systematically unfolding the natural potential for higher functioning present within everyone. Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a scientifically verified natural procedure for unfolding and stabilizing the experience of optimal neurophysiological functioning and enjoying a higher state of consciousness. It is a most effective tool for overcoming alcohol and drug abuse and dependency, and for healing the damaging physical and mental effects of such abuse.
As someone who has practiced TM virtually all my life, I never suffered the specific problems encountered by those who drink. But at another place on the scale of life experience, there is this UK woman’s story:
“I did drink quite a bit more after that. But that night in Alicante was the first inkling I had that my relationship with alcohol was a dangerous one.”
Friday 12 May 2017 03.00 EDT Last modified on Thursday 1 June 2017 13.38 EDT
I was 16, on holiday in Alicante on my own – my Aunty Sue was due to join me the next day. So in preparation for her arrival, I drank almost a litre of vodka, hit the town and passed out. A Spanish stranger called an ambulance and the local hospital kindly pumped my stomach. “Olé! Olé!” as they say (translation: Oi! Oi!).
I was in a foreign place, didn’t speak the language, and had no idea where my hostel was. I thought I was streetwise but I was a street idiot. Like many people my age, I was a turbulent sea of emotions: a mix of hormones, some unprocessed family happenings, and a classic case of a broken heart. Because of this emotional maelstrom, the male nurse thought he could drop me back to my hostel via his place and have sex with me, since I was too low on self-esteem, and way too out of it, to put up any sort of counter-argument. Turns out he was right. Muchas gracias, maaate!
I’d like to say that this was the moment that changed me, but I still needed another 117 occasions just as murky to decide that maybe drinking wasn’t for me and that, rather than saving me from my problems, it might have actually been causing quite a few of them, or certainly giving them some fertile ground in which to blossom.
A year later, when I was 17, I was working as a bartender in one of the roughest pubs in Margate. To give you some idea, a lot of the clientele had the latest jewellery in electronic tags, and some of the customers were working as local concubines. It was run by a couple called Pam and Bob and they, as you can imagine, had seen all sorts.
The establishment let you accept drinks as tips while you worked. Big mistake, Pam and Bob, big mistake. I’d had some super-strength lager on the bus over, so the double whiskies really topped off the trouble. By 10pm, I had burnt the arm of my jumper, I had one foot stuck in the bounteous fag bin, and I had smashed a whole dishwasher tray full of drinks into a wall. I was not winning any bar-staff awards that night and, of course, got asked to leave. Later on I found out that I was so drunk my bosses thought that I couldn’t have just been intoxicated – I must have been on drugs. I was not on drugs – well, not that night anyhow.
Around this time, I was also arrested for drink-driving. I was driving at 5mph, so as not to arouse suspicion. Then when I realised the police were tailing me, I thought I could trick them by indicating left, and, you guessed it, turned right. They saw through my plan and pulled me over, but drunk me had another scheme; I downed a bottle of lemon grass aromatherapy oil and told them I was “in a rush, so must be getting on”. Needless to say I was prosecuted, and quite right too.
I have lost count of the incidents through the years and the number of times I gave up drinking. But I did get better at controlling it. When I was younger I used to wet myself and pass out, and I’d often come to with a “friend” who had decided that he would try to remove my clothes and insert his penis in me. It’s a shame judges sometimes blame the women in these scenarios, because if a woman was passed out drunk and someone started punching her in the head (another physical violation) would they say – “to be fair she was drunk, so she was asking for it”? She was only asking for “it”, if “it” is a fully clothed snooze, thank you. Or indeed a nudey-snooze if she so fancies.
Anyway, I cleaned up my side of the street and bit by bit became stronger and started working on the trauma and shame. I do believe that if you are lucky and meet the right people, some horrific situations can be an opportunity to grow stronger, and every single person has a spectrum of events happen to them, which don’t have to define them. I’ve forgiven all the people who used me and abused me when I was drunk because, really, they were just as unconscious as me – just in a different way.
There was no knowing when the beast would be unleashed. But, at some point, the beast was always unleashed
I thank them for all the lessons they brought with them – through their “teachings”, as they all helped me to reach that well-documented rock-bottom, so that all I could do was build upwards. And year on year, slowly but surely, I built a rock-solid foundation. I’ve also forgiven myself for everything in the past (I think), and I hope that all the people who I’ve inflicted my pain on have forgiven me too.
Giving up drinking was a slow and gradual thing. In my late 20s, I drank a fair bit, and was for the most part a big, fun drunk without incident. But there was no knowing when the beast would be unleashed. And, at some point, the beast was always unleashed. I had so much shame and guilt that I drank to forget it. Which is a bit like saying you crave exercise so much that you cut off your legs.
Now, finally, I love not drinking. I love the clarity and simplicity of it, but it’s taken a long time to get here, via many, many mistakes. I used to think I was missing out, so inevitably I would always, slowly, creep back to the wine. Then, through a combination of being in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people and finally being ready – I gave up for good. I also read a great book called The Easy Way to Stop Drinking, by Allen Carr (not that one). It somehow made me realise that I wasn’t missing out; in fact, I would only be missing out if I started drinking again.
The word sober sounds so serious. I still love dancing till 2am and talking shit. I still love all the enjoyable things I did drunk, but there’s choice and power in my decisions now. And I’ve also given up drinking lemongrass aromatherapy oil; that was the big one for me.
• For information on all of Lou’s upcoming projects please visit lousanders.com
Today, Wednesday, July 19, 2017 is the Vedic day of Kamika Ekadashi, a day sacred to Vishnu.
Vishnu is the all-pervading aspect of Brahman, the Totality of Consciousness. All-pervading Vishnu is the quality of cosmic creative intelligence within natural law responsible for maintaining stability in creation. Creative Intelligence maintains Itself and expands Itself (in Its manifest, relative expression) through three phases or functions. First there is the creative “spur to action”, the initial impulse to evolve, to manifest itself as life in the relative modes of time and space. This is the Brahmā function, that aspect of Brahman or Totality which is equivalent to a creator of (relative) life. Then there is the aspect of maintaining the “status quo” of what has been expressed or manifest. This is the Vishnu function of Brahman, which preserves life as a relative reality. Then there is the functional aspect of Brahman known as Shiva, which dissolves the boundaries of the status quo, destroys the limits of the current conditional structure of living beings, of existent things, thus bringing about growth in evolution: for the rose to bloom, the bud must “die”, for the bud to emerge the seed must “die”, for the seed to reach its fullness the blossom must die, and so the cycle of life continues. Today, the cosmic-earthly energy patterns of natural laws governing the quality of human life on Earth are uniquely associated with Vishnu the Preserver.
Vedic yagyas performed today help one to accomplish evolutionary desires, desires and intentions that support the life of all beings everywhere, that enhance the evolutionary stability of life for all beings.
19 July • Kamika Ekadashi • Day of Vishnu
Quality of Natural Law: Helping to accomplish one’s desires
Fulfillment of desires
Fullness of life
Removal of resistance and problems
Happiness, health, and positive support
Peace of mind
Individuals who observe traditional Vedic lifestyles help attune themselves to the patterns of nature law unique to today by adding a fast to their usual self-development routine of
rising in the early pre-dawn hours of morning
applying Ayurvedic warm sesame seed oil massage, then bathing
simple yoga asanas and breathing exercises
puja and meditation
practice of yoga siddhis
For maintaining the vrat, or self-dedication observance of day-long fast: if needed, one takes juice and other liquid nourishment, but refrains from grains and other solid food.
Fasting during this particular day is said to powerfully help to eliminate all impurities and counteract all negative karmic bonds or debts preventing one from living enlightenment right now, from this very day forward. Today is a very powerful time, during which the energy conditions and patterns of natural law greatly enhances all spiritual practices performed during this time.
Senator Mitch McConnell. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty)
Mitch McConnell Hospitalized With Low White-Vote Count
By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
18 July 17
The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, “The Borowitz Report.”
ajority Leader Mitch McConnell was rushed to the hospital late Monday night with what doctors diagnosed as a low white-vote count.
Doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center said that when McConnell arrived at the facility his white-vote count had fallen below fifty and he had gone into shock.
Dr. Harland Dorrinson, a physician at Walter Reed who is monitoring McConnell’s condition, called his low white-vote count “very serious.”
“Mitch McConnell needs a white-vote count of at least fifty in order to function,” he said. “If it falls below fifty and stays there for an extended period of time, he cannot survive.”
Efforts to boost the Senate Majority Leader’s white-vote count have so far proved fruitless, as doctors acknowledged that they have been unable to find additional white votes that are compatible with McConnell.
McConnell was first rushed to Walter Reed after showing symptoms commonly associated with a low white-vote count, including a feeling of hopelessness and uncontrollable sobbing.
Every morning when I awake I ask myself whether I should write, or blow up a dam. I tell myself I should keep writing, though I’m not sure that’s right.
~ Derrick Jensen (b. 1960), eco-activist and writer, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” (1998), and A Language Older Than Words (2000).
I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
~ E. B. White (1899-1985)
Old Sufi Dervish desert proverb:
You may spend your life in an effort to cover the whole world’s thorny surface with thick leather, or you can make yourself a pair of sandals and move on. . .
From a 2004 radio interview with G.G. , Scottsdale, AZ:
GG: Our most memorable encounter on our expedition into the Himalayan rainforest of southern Tibet was with one lama who suddenly appeared and started hiking with us. We nicknamed him the Jolly Lama because he was always smiling. Kind of a portly guy. Always in a good mood. It would be pouring down rain and you’d look over and it’d be raining on everybody’s tent but his! I am not kidding you, it was the weirdest thing. We just got the biggest kick out of this guy.
Well, one time it had been raining for about seven days. I was miserable and covered with leeches. I’ll never forget what happened next. Sloshing along the muddy trail in the pounding rain I came upon a large, slimy log that had fallen chest high across our brush-choked path. In my agitated state I viewed the log as a menacing obstacle. With no way under or around it, I jumped, stomach-first, and slid over the top. Regaining my balance on the other side, I was infuriated at the mud and decaying mush that seemed to have covered the entire front of my body. Rubbing off the crud I cursed the log and the rain.
My brother Todd then suggested that we wait and see how the Lama would handle this formidable impediment. Surely this test would break him. Hiding off the trail we peeked through the undergrowth just in time to see him trudge up to the log. Ever smiling, he took a couple of steps back and tried his jump with a running start. With not enough momentum, coupled with a portly belly, he slid back down on the same side of the log and landed on his back in a large puddle. Shaking his rain drenched head he burst into spasms of uproarious laughter. Staggering to his feet, he repeated the same maneuver with the same results three more times.
With each collapse back into the puddle his laughter grew stronger and louder. On his fourth attempt he made it over the top and slid headlong into the muddy puddle on the other side. Again, the laughter. Continuing to chuckle, he wiped himself off as best he could and lovingly patted the log as though it were a dear friend. He then proceeded up the trail, still smiling. Todd and I just stared at each other in amazement.
At that moment it became experientially obvious to me that it wasn’t the external or natural world that was my problem. Rather it was how I chose to perceive it. The Jolly Lama’s rainy, leech-infested day wasn’t bad quite simply because he chose not to conceptualize it that way. It was blatantly evident that there was a choice, and that choice was mine alone. The Jolly Lama chose to experience his encounter with the log as a happy thing, therefore he had joy. I chose to perceive my experience as miserable, and therefore I felt miserable.
Adventures of an outlaw yogi activist artist academic who left the Left Coast redwoods to explore the High Desert in search of advancing enlightenment, romance, beauty, companionship, peace, justice, & poetry…