DOWN at the Crossroads

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:

Lou Sanders
Lou Sanders during her drinking days.

The Guardian – Back to home

A moment that changed me: realising, aged 16, that I couldn’t handle alcohol

Lou Sanders

“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

Even moderate drinking can damage the brain:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/06/even-moderate-drinking-can-damage-the-brain-claim-researchers

 

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TODAY’s Vedic significance

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
  • Gaining knowledge
  • Spiritual progress
  • Fullness of life
  • Good fortune
  • 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.

https://www.maharishiyagyaprogram.eu/vedic-calendar/july.html

http://calendars.globalgoodnews.com/vedic/07.html

 

http://www.astrocamp.com/kamika-ekadashi-2011-fast.html

 

________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mitch McConnell Hospitalized With Low White-Vote Count

Senator Mitch McConnell. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty)
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.

 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

0 #Moxa 2017-07-18 16:57

In some cases a strong black vote count or a good brown vote count can make up for a low white count, but apparently in Mitch’s case these are even worse, in fact almost undetectable.
 ________

Transform impediments into the Path

31a 1995 Jolly Lama Crossing Logs

 

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.

______  _____

 

Making the most of tomorrow’s subtle energy patterns

“There is nothing in the cosmos, either in the material plane or the spiritual plane which cannot be directly cognized. The procedures of Vedic science provide a direct method of direct cognition of material existence in this unlimited cosmos and also they provide a direct technique to cognize that which is evenly permeating, evenly pervading the entire physical structure of the cosmos, that all-pervading Reality, the unified field of consciousness.”

~ His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Los Angeles, 1959

 

Tomorrow, Sunday 16 July, is another special day in this month’s Vedic calendar of solar-lunar-astro-&-Earthly pattern-forming conjunctions and configurations. The laws of nature, manifesting as vortices of conscious, intelligent energies, surround and permeate, sustain and influence our minds, our bodies, our inner and outer environment, our total being and surroundings at all manifest levels, gross and subtle. Beyond the subtlest manifest level, at the transcendental level, our individual being and the being of the entire universe are united as one non-dual field, the home of all the laws of nature, the unmanifest source of all energy fields and matter fields.

This total potential of natural law, the Unified Field of Consciousness, is known in Vedic terms as Brahman — all-inclusive universal Totality of holistic objective and subjective being, unified as one infinite continuum of Reality. This Totality manifests in specific ways as the creative intelligence operative within various laws of nature and patterns of complex combinations of natural laws. One such complex of natural law is that of Shiva, the personification of dynamic infinite silence, also expressed as the total coherence of human brain wave activity, holistic coherent mental activity, fully stabilized natural optimal neurophysiological functioning, enlightened consciousness.

Tomorrow is special to Lord Shiva in His particular expression as Kala Bhairav — a particularly intense form of the cosmic Divine Energy and Intelligence operative in, and as, and through those expressions of natural law which utilize the nature of time to destroy or dissolve the limitations of time, dissolve one manifest temporal form to give birth to higher forms, just as specialized natural laws of time “destroy” in time the rosebud in the process of unfolding also in time to become the fully-bloomed rose. Bhairav Shiva, as the creative intelligence administrating the natural laws of time, destroys limitations and boundaries, removing impediments to our own harmonious happiness in life so that we enjoy living the greater unfoldment of our own inherent potential, enjoy life lived fully in accord with cosmic natural law, lived fully in the mainstream of cosmic evolution without any resistance or obstruction from our calcified individualized ego-limitations.

One traditional part of the vrat, or self-dedication observance employed on this day (tomorrow, Sunday) to bring about purification and elimination of boundaries, is to maintain a fast throughout the day. Many traditional followers of the ancient Vedic lifestyle will take only water throughout this day, or only water and fruit juice, or only water, juice, and fresh sweet fruits. In some traditional communities, it is customary to break one’s fast after sunset on this day (ie tomorrow) or after sunrise the following day (ie Monday the 17th) with a meal of wild potato. Wild potato is not the same vegetable as ordinary domestic potato that has escaped cultivation. It is a native Indian and Asian medicinal plant utilized in many important Ayurvedic herbal compound formulas for its particularly strong health-supporting properties.

Another observance is simply to make a commitment to align all our intentions and wishes, our thoughts, speech, and actions with the aspiration to live this day in harmony with the qualities and effects of the natural laws aligning on this day to produce the following benefits:

16 July • Kalashtami Vrat

Quality of Natural Law: Giving fullness of life and mental peace

  • Overall progress
  • Removal of serious problems
  • Removal of resistance and problems
  • Happiness, health, and positive support

Of course, for those initiated into the ancient Vedic tradition regenerated and maintained by Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhis Program, practicing one’s everyday morning and evening routine of meditation samadhi-practice, sutra & yogic flying practice, physical yoga & breathing procedures, Ayurvedic bathing & cleansing processes, etc, is all just a natural part of this day like any other. For TM teachers, the daily Vedic puja (traditional Sanskrit thanksgiving offering ceremony) of the Shankaracharya guru param-para, is also particularly beneficial on this day for enhancing the benefits associated with the natural laws operating at that time.

For everyone’s benefit everywhere, there is the procedural performance of Maharishi Yagyas—ancient Vedic invocation and offering rituals performed daily by teams of thousands of expert traditional hereditary Vedic pundits trained by Maharishi and living in residential groups established all over the world. Each day these groups of Vedic specialists perform a very special ancient yagya for world peace, and then also perform yagyas relevant to the particular patterns of natural law that are lively on that specific day of the annual cycle of our planet during its recursive movement through space. It is possible to benefit more specifically from these yagya performances by lending support to these communities of full-time specialists established and trained by Maharishi. By sponsoring a particular yagya performance for a particular day, one’s intentions are included in the offerings made that day.

One well-known way to improve happiness is to contribute to the happiness and well-being of others.

It is possible to place requests for the Maharishi Yagya being performed on any given day to include your requests for the well-being and happiness and particular needs of others, not only for oneself. These requests are then included in the performance of the offerings and recitations made by the pundits during that yagya on the appropriate day. A less intensive, but still strongly beneficial effect can be gained simply by mentally and emotionally intending one’s supportive participation in the offerings being made that day by the world-wide communities of pundits performing yagyas each day.

Also, simply doing things for others on this day, and even dedicating and offering the merit of one’s intentions and activities throughout the day for the benefit of others, brings greater happiness to them and to oneself. One’s progress in life is enhanced by cultivating the practice of thinking of others, and acting accordingly.

May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering.

Sarvamangalam

“Vedic science deals with the basic teaching of action and non-action and right and wrong action . . . Vedic science deals with the very fundamental of activity because it deals with that element which is inactive, that is Absolute, abstract, knowing no change, devoid of all activity, transcending all activity. And yet that is the fundamental start of activity from where the creative impulse begins. And then Vedic science deals with the activity of all beings and humankind and then various phases of human activity. When it comes to various phases of human activity the Vedic texts prescribe do this and do not do this. The Karma Kanda of the Veda, the chapter on action, is devoted to specific actions called yagyas. Yagyas are those specific actions whereby humans harmonize their activity and intentions with natural law and make contact with the higher beings in creation, different higher strata of creation. There are different yagyas to harmonize with different laws of nature and contact those higher beings and produce higher effects and gain desired accomplishment in life. All these innumerable types of yagyas are detailed in the Vedic texts. The criterion of success of those performances lies in accomplishing what we desire, innumerable yagyas to bestow innumerable achievements. This knowledge is to fulfill the aspirations of human beings.

“The chapter on Karma Kanda deals with all the do’s and don’ts of life and prescribes specific performances, specific rites and rituals. Every rite and every ritual is basically founded on the principle of different frequencies of vibrations. There are specific chantings which go along with specific rites. All these yagya performances are concerned with making various offerings and how to make offerings so that we enjoy maximum result from making the offering.  When we offer a flower we chant something, when we offer some water we chant something, when we make other offerings we chant something. All those performances are to supplement the effect of the sounds and intents of the words of the Vedic texts, the hymns, the mantras, the vibrations, the sound waves that we emit through those particular chanted texts or mantras. These purify and enliven the atmosphere, create greater harmony or consonance between the laws of nature at various levels of creation and our own state of consciousness, or own mind and body. This has a very great value.”

~ His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1959

 

 

 

 

http://calendars.globalgoodnews.com/vedic/07.html

https://www.maharishijyotishprogram.eu/vedic-calendar/july.html

 

additional info, sometimes valid, though not always clearly presented, as related to tomorrow’s calendric significance:

http://www.prokerala.com/festivals/kalashtami.html

http://www.festivalsofindia.in/Dakshinayana-Sankranti/Index.aspx

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Skat-singing Monkeys

Greetings all:

Sharing musical snippets from The One Endless Chord, today.

Trading mixtape video clips back and forth with friends old and new and strangers I admire, one old friend writes to me: “I don’t know if you’ll be too into this, but you can surprise me sometimes in your taste, so what the hell!”

Yep, my tastes are captious, erratic, funky as monkey scat, make no sense whatsoever, and are all over the map. I shock myself. But what the hell!

Here’s some of the silly mashups I’m listening to (again) today. I’ve probably posted some of these here before. I can’t remember. What the hell:

Blondie The Beatles mashup

Stayin’ Alive In The Wall (Pink Floyd vs Bee Gees Mashup) by Wax Audio

The BEATLES vs. Cyndi Lauper For No One Time Mash Up Remix

Village People vs. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call YMCA Maybe (YITT mashup)

BEATLES vs. ROLLING STONES Mash UP Remix DRIVE MY START

We Will Rock You, Bossa Nova! Mashup (Elvis vs RHCP vs Queen vs Flo Rida vs Cee Lo Green)

Beatles Vs. Stevie Wonder Can’t Buy Me Superstitious Mash Up Remix

Elvis Presley Van Halen Mash up – Burning Love

________

 

Yeah, Baby: — Don JR! “I tried to commit treason, but they wouldn’t let me!”

Father and son attend a rally in Manchester, N.H., on Nov. 7, 2016, the eve of the election.
Father and son.  photo: Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

 

Meanwhile, the world staggers on, shaking with roars of angst-relieving projectile laughter. This is side-slitting fun as we duck and cover under the threat of Trump’s nuclear insanity.

The world may end with a blast of laughter and neutrino-melting obliviation, but what a ride it’s been!

 

 

________________

Happy 200th Birthday, Thoreau!

Today, July 12, 2017, is the 200th birthday anniversary of Henry David Thoreau, the “Yankee Yogi” of Walden Pond, Concord Massachusetts. Happy bi-centennial birthday, Cousin Thoreau!!

Today is also one of two days each month dedicated to Ganesh, the beloved elephant-headed god, according to the ancient Vedic calendar of India – ie third day following each full (bright) moon and third day following each new (dark) moon (no-moon). So this month, that’s today, Weds July 12, and Weds July 26. These are also the two best times each month to trim/cut your hair.

According to Maharishi Vedic Astrology, certain days in the year are particularly auspicious. On these days specific qualities of Natural Law become enlivened. Traditionally, Maharishi Yagyas performed on these days are most effective for the purposes listed. For today:

12 July 2017 • Sankashti Shri Ganesh Chaturthi • Day of Ganesh

Quality of Natural Law: Removing obstacles

  • Freedom from limitations
  • Removal of serious problems
  • Elimination of psychological fear
  • Gaining knowledge
  • Harmony in married life
  • Good fortune
  • Wealth

 

Lord Ganesha, like the other gods or devatas cognized by the ancient rishis and maharishis of Vedic civilization, is understood to be a cosmic personification of the one universal Self, the self-nature of Reality, pure creative intelligence, absolute bliss consciousness, the Unified Field of Consciousness.

More on Ganesh later.

So, today is the 200th birthday anniversary of Earth Saint Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) [that’s THOR-oh, or THOW-row, or as in thorough ]. Clear-eyed, kind-hearted, grumpy St Henry is one of my favorite historical critters. So proud to say he’s not only a personal hero, but a cousin of mine, a few generations removed — one of the better greener twigs on my mom’s family tree! Henry’s grandfather was a pirate!— which is just such an effin fittingly ironical and unexpectedly weird but romantic factoid! My late friend, American Zen roshi Robert Aitken was frequently asked by Japanese interviewers who, in his view, was the greatest American? He always answered, “Henry David Thoreau.” And of course, they’d never heard of him and were utterly consternated. Instantly journalistically constipated. Whaa?

Thoreau is best known of course for Walden, and for On Civil Disobedience. He got the idea for non-violent civil disobedience from reading about the principle and practice of ahimsa (non-violence) in the (later) Buddhist and (earlier) Vedic texts which were his favorite books. Martin Luther King’s use of non-violence during the Civil Rights Movement was derived primarily from his reading of Gandhi and Tolstoy and particularly Thoreau. Gandhi, though raised in a devout Hindu family and cultural context, learned much about the yogic and Vedic ideal of ahimsa at the basis of his own religion from reading and corresponding with Tolstoy. Tolstoy wrote back to young Gandhi recommending that he read Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. From Thoreau, Gandhi learned to return to the sources of ahimsa philosophy in the Vedic texts of his own Hindu milieu. The Vedic schools of Yoga and Vedanta enshrine ahimsa as a central requisite tenet of their philosophical and practical teachings. Ahimsa in this context is much more than simply refraining from behaving badly in a violent manner. It means establishing and integrating one’s awareness in unity with the boundless peacefulness of unified consciousness—the enlightened source, course, and goal of yoga—unity. Lord Buddha, emerging from within a Vedic yoga tradition of enlightened self-discipline, also enshrined ahimsa as a central requisite tenet of his philosophical and practical teachings.

But most people don’t know that today’s birthday boy Thoreau, the peaceful Yankee Yogi of Walden Pond, was also an activist in the Abolition movement to emancipate American slaves. He worked as a semi-secret conductor on the Underground Railroad helping escaped slaves reach safety in Canada. When escapees came under his charge, Thoreau gave them rest in his own bed in his tiny cabin at Walden Pond while he stood guard all night outside with his loaded shotgun ready. Ready to shoot to kill if necessary to protect the refugees from bounty-hunters and slave-catchers who were legally licensed to re-capture runaway slaves and shoot them dead if they resisted capture and shackled return to slavery in the South. In the early mornings, still bearing his gun, Thoreau escorted his underground passengers onto actual trains northbound for Canada. He would board the train and ride in the aisle seat next to them with his shotgun in hand until they were safely across the Massachusetts border. Then he’d get off, and ride or walk back home to Walden.

Thoreau’s civil disobedience was a very pro-active, nuanced, and humanely principled form of ahimsa. He was firm in “agreeing” to be imprisoned in the Concord Jail rather than pay a war tax to expand Southern slavery into warm territory to be stolen from peaceful Mexico in an immoral and illegal expansionist war of invasion and occupation. But he was also firm in putting his life on the line in armed resistance to the immoral but legally licensed practice of deputized thugs using bloodhounds, guns, bribes, threats and violence to recapture escaped slaves. Thoreau was quite a stand-up guy. Cantankerous, but with such a soft-heart and serene and penetrating gaze into the depths of nature. And into a better future to come for America and the planet. May we finally arrive.

 

If Thoreau Were Alive, He’d Be ‘Shouting From The Rafters,’ Biographer Says

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http://www.npr.org/2017/07/12/536873427/if-thoreau-were-alive-hed-be-shouting-from-the-rafters-biographer-says

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Thoreau was 27 years old when he built a small cabin on the shores of Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., in 1845.

Elise Amendola/AP

Henry David Thoreau spent hours hiking in the woods near his small cabin on Walden Pond. “He figured out that the way to break through into his own way of doing things was to think as he walked,” explains biographer Laura Dassow Walls.

Walls, an English literature professor at Notre Dame, has spent her career studying Thoreau. Her new 615-page biography comes out Tuesday, coinciding with the 200 anniversary of his birth.

Thoreau was born 200 years ago, on July 12, 1817. He died of tuberculosis at age 44.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Thoreau was 27 years old when he built his small cabin in the woods near Concord, Mass. He set out to live a simple, solitary life, and it was there that he ended up writing his best known works, Walden and Civil Disobedience.

Walls says Thoreau scribbled notes in pencil on scraps of paper — descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells and feel of the things around him.

“To do that is to break the wall between ourselves and nature,” she says. “And to understand that we’re always part of nature and nature is always a part of us. So to be here, and to be wholly immersed, to be hot when it’s hot, and cold when it’s cold, to be hearing the birds, and feeding the little mouse that lives under his cabin — is to completely demolish that barrier and understand something really fundamental about what it is to be human.”

Thoreau moved into his 10-by-15-foot cabin on Independence Day, 1845.

“When he moved to his little cabin at the pond he was on a quest for self-discovery … he was declaring his own independence,” says singer-songwriter Don Henley. The Eagles drummer was 22 when he discovered Thoreau in 1969.

“People who were my age in the ’60s were on the same quest,” he says. Walden was a very popular book back then. So I was just seeking spiritually, as Thoreau was, for something to ground me.”

In 1990, Henley founded the Walden Woods Project and raised $20 million to purchase 200 acres of wooded land adjacent to Walden Pond so that it couldn’t fall into the hands of real estate developers. That’s in keeping, Henley believes, with Thoreau’s philosophy.

“He stood up in the face of the Industrial Revolution,” Henley explains. “He said: Wait a minute, wait a minute. We have to slow down, take a look around us, and not destroy what’s left. His famous quote was: ‘In wildness is the preservation of the world.’ It’s difficult to be 150 years of ahead of your time, but he was.”

Thoreau moved to Walden Pond to think through his life, and also the life of the nation, Walls says: “He thinks something is going deeply wrong with America — and he’s trying to figure out what is the foundational problem that gives rise to such destructive habits and patterns of life that we could imagine it’s OK to enslave people.”

Reading through his journal, reflections on nature are interspersed with rage-filled entries. Christine Nelson, curator of a Thoreau Bicentenary exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York City, points out one example from 1851, in which Thoreau writes: “Do we call this the land of the free? What is it to be free from King George … and continue the slaves of prejudice?”

The Morgan exhibition includes the author’s handwritten journals (you can see some of them here), along with artifacts from his life. Visitors can see the actual lock from the jail cell where Thoreau spent a night for refusing to pay his taxes to a government that sanctioned slavery, and waged what he considered an illegal war against Mexico. The experience inspired his essay, Civil Disobedience, a tract urging non-violent resistance to unjust laws, that later influenced Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The interior of a replica of Thoreau’s cabin on the shores of Walden Pond.

Michael Dwyer/AP

Kevin Dann, author of another new Thoreau biography, says Thoreau’s overriding theme of “the sovereignty of the individual” is why the author is more relevant now than ever. Just look, he says, at the nation’s surveillance systems and police brutality.

“Everybody in this country is afraid,” says Dann. If Thoreau were alive today, Dann believes “he would have been out there and he would have been shouting from the rafters: People, go into the street! You have no sovereignty anymore. It is gone.

Back at Walden Pond, Laura Walls points to a sign next to the site where Thoreau built his cabin. “It reads: I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Thoreau died from tuberculosis in 1862. He was 44 years old.

James Delahoussaye and Tom Cole produced and edited the audio of this story. Beth Novey adapted it for the Web.

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