Archive for February, 2010

  • We find modern living organized so that it demands the least possible direct dependence on others…The increasing autonomy that people enjoy as a result of advances in science and technology has its good points…But with these development, there has arisen a sense that my future is not dependent on my neighbor bur rather on my job or, at most, my employer. This in turn encourages us to suppose that because others are not important for my happiness, their happiness is not important to me.
  • There are strong reasons for supposing a link between our disproportionate emphasis on external progress and the unhappiness, the anxiety, and the lack of contentment of modern society.
  • A major reason for modern society’s devotion to material progress is the very success of science and technology…The wonderful thing about these forms of human endeavor is that they bring immediate satisfaction. And we are impressed by results.
  • We must be careful not to idealize old ways of life…The challenge we face is therefore to find some means of enjoying the same degree of harmony and tranquility as those more traditional communities while benefiting fully from the material developments of the world.
  • I want to show that there are indeed some universal ethical principals which could help everyone to achieve the happiness we all aspire to.
  • I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with faith in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another, an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of metaphysical or supernatural reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or nirvana…Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit – such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony – which bring happiness to both self and others.
  • The way in which things and events unfold does not always coincide with our expectations. Indeed, this fact of life – that there is often a gap between the way in which we perceive phenomena and the reality of a given situation – is the source of much unhappiness.
  • The principle of cause and effect, whereby all things and events arise in dependence on a complex web of interrelated causes and conditions…This suggests that no thing or event can be construed as capable of coming into, or remaining in, existence by itself.
  • Self and others can only really be understood in terms of relationship, we see that self-interest and others’ interest are closely interrelated.
  • The nature of happiness has a relative quality. We experience it differently according to our circumstances.
  • Internal suffering can be attributed to our impulsive approach to happiness. We do not stop to consider the complexity of a given situation. Our tendency is to rush in and do what seems to promise the shortest route to satisfaction. But in doing so, all too frequently we deprive ourselves of the opportunity for a greater degree of fulfillment. This is actually quite strange. Usually we do not allow our children to do whatever they want. We realize that if given their freedom, they would probably spend their time playing rather than studying. So instead we make them sacrifice the immediate pleasure of play and compel them to study. Our strategy is more long term. And while this may be less fun for them, it confers a solid foundation for their future. But as adults, we often neglect this principle.
  • The principle characteristic of genuine happiness is peace: inner peace.
  • In the behavior of children, we see what is natural to the human character before it has been overlaid with learned ideas.
  • Recognize that my interests and future happiness are closely connected to others’ and learning to act accordingly.
  • Our basic attitude toward suffering makes a great difference to the way in which we experience it…The degree to which suffering affects us is largely up to us…It is, therefore, essential to keep a proper perspective on our experience of suffering.
  • Shantideva: It is essential that when we face difficulties of whatever sort we do not let them paralyze us…Instead, using our critical faculties, we should examine the nature of the problem itself.
  • People tend to associate discipline with something imposed against their will…Discipline is something that we adopt voluntarily on the basis of full recognition of its benefits.
  • It is essential that we do not allow ourselves to be carried away by our sense of injustice so that we ignore others’ rights.
  • I believe that our every act has a universal dimension…In view of this, I am convinced that it is essential that we cultivate a sense of what I call universal responsibility.

Socrates (469-399 B.C.)

  • Conversation, dialogue, is necessary for the truth itself, which by its very nature opens up to an individual only in dialogue with another individual.
  • Socrates does not hand down wisdom but makes the other find it.

Buddha (560-480 B.C.)

  • Buddhism is the the religion of humanity.
  • Seek salvation alone in the truth. All accomplishment is transient. Strive unremittingly.
  • According to Buddha’s teaching, it is not prayer, not grace, and not sacrifice that brings redemption, but only knowledge.
  • Redemption by insight – the right knowledge is in itself redemption.
  • Meditation’s universal imperative – let nothing lie dormant in the unconscious, wreaking its havoc; let perfect wakefulness accompany all your action and experience.
  • To master the pride of defiant selfhood, that in truth is the highest bliss.
  • The world is left as it is. Buddha passes through it with no thought of a reform for all. He teaches men to free themselves from it, not to change it. “As a lovely white lotus blossom is not stained by water, so I am not stained by the world.”
  • A man is not what he just happens to be; he is open. For him, there is no one correct solution.

Confucius (551-479 B.C.)

  • Confucius’ basic idea: the renewal of antiquity.
  • This way of looking at the old was itself something new. Past realities are transformed by present reflection.
  • Without learning, all other virtues are obscured as though by a bog and degenerate: without learning, frankness becomes vulgarity; bravery, disobedience; firmness, eccentricity; humanity, stupidity; wisdom, flightiness; sincerity, a plague.
  • The superior man is concerned with justice, the inferior man with profit. The superior man is quite and serene, the inferior man is always full of anxiety. the superior man is congenial though never stooping to vulgarity; the inferior man is vulgar without being congenial. The superior man is dignified without arrogance; the inferior man is arrogant without dignity. The superior man is steadfast in distress; the inferior man in distress loses all control of himself. The superior man goes searching in himself; the inferior man goes searching in others. The superior man strives upward; the inferior man strives downward. The superior man is independent. He can ensure long misfortune as well as long prosperity, and he lives free from fear. He suffers from his own inability, not from others’ failure to understand him. He avoids all competition, but if it must be, then only in archery. He is slow in words and quick in action. he is careful not to let his words outshine his deeds: first act, then speak accordingly. The superior man does not waste himself on what is distant, on what is absent. He stands in the here and now, in the real situation. The superior man’s path is like a long journey; you must begin from right here. The superior man’s path begins with the concerns of the common man and woman, but it reaches into the distance, penetrating heaven and earth.
  • The superior man is not absolutely for or against anything in the world. He supports only what is right.
  • Do to no one what you would not wish others do to you.

Jesus

  • Jesus preaches not knowledge but faith. His meaning remains veiled for the unbelievers; to the believer it is revealed. The essence of faith is freedom.
  • The idea of God is subject to no condition, but the norms it imposes subject everything else to their condition. It gives knowledge of the simple ground of all things.

Testimonial of El Bosque

Posted: February 25, 2010 in Blog

[Dual posted on El Bosque website]

El Bosque is a place for personal transformation. I came to this conclusion having spent 10 weeks here and having seen the changes in myself and others. Your experience here will largely depend on how much you get involved but El Bosque already has many supporting elements in place to facilitate a memorable experience.

Nature – The trees, the flowers, the birds, the starry night sky will constantly remind you that you are living off the grid, among 83 acres of forest. The air is fresh and the views are stunning. All this is afforded without sacrificing much of the infrastructures that we are accustomed to in the cities, such as electricity, internet, hot showers and a comfortable place to sleep.

Animal – There are 8 dogs and 3 cats buzzing around. They are gentle and playful.  They have added a different dimension of intimacy to my time here and brought me closer to nature.

Work – I had no knowledge of permaculture prior to my arrival. While here, I gained hands-on experiences with natural building, woodworking, planting, cooking, trail-making, renewable energy systems and many practical skills to live sustainably. The work is varied everyday and is rewarding in many ways.

Food – Food is delicious and plenty, meal after meal. I have never lived on just vegetarian food before but the food is so good here, I have not had any craving for meat.

Activity – Almost everything you can imagine is possible here. I have participated in yoga, archery, trapeze, volleyball, hiking, jump roping, juggling and many activities to get your blood pumping. In your quiet times, there are at least 4,000 books span over all major topics at your disposal. At night, live music and fire is a magical way to wind down the day.

Class – Many classes are available if you are interested in learning a craft. I learned how to make bread and made a knife using recycled materials. El Bosque empowers the teacher in all of us.  Silk-screening, didgeridoo, paper, Diablo sticks, weaving are among the many things volunteers have made and/or taught to others.

People – At the heart of any community is its people. Brian and Marie are a constant force behind the vision for a better way of living. Volunteers cycle through and they add their unique flavor and skills to the mix.

As amazing as it is already, El Bosque is still in its infant stage. Everyone passes through will be able to have an impact on shaping its future. My time here has been simple, pure and full of joy. I cannot wait to return one day to see what it has become. Its success can be a model for all seeking an alternative way of living and I wish many will have the courage to search for what has been lost in our current civilization.

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Quotes
Tags:

A set of basic values can create massive freedoms.

– Brian Fey 2/24/2010

Tan pronto como posible

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Spanish

as soon as possible

One-liners “breakdown phrases”

Posted: February 23, 2010 in Spanish
  • ¿Cómo se dice?
  • Es que…
  • A ver

Como usted ya sabe

Posted: February 23, 2010 in Spanish

As you already know

There are six possible responses to the ecological dilemma.

  1. Move elsewhere (find territories that are under-exploited)
  2. Exploit existing resources more intensively (many human technologies, including fire and agriculture, provide ways of doing this)
  3. Discover new exploitable resources (uranium and so on)
  4. Limit population (tribal cultures have accomplished this in the past through sexual taboos, infanticide, prolonged lactation, birth control, or other measures)
  5. Limit resource usage (through ethical systems that valorize voluntary poverty)
  6. Die off (usually from famine, disease, or predation)

The first three options are “supply-side”, while the latter three focus on the “demand-side” of the survival equation. Because nature cannot tolerate the unlimited proliferation of any species, supply-side strategies are always temporary, and sometimes counterproductive, eventually resulting in spectacular population crashes in species that have momentarily benefited from them.

In four short years, Bush, Cheney, and company (Neoconservatism) have managed to do the following:

  • Steal an election.
  • Place criminals and human-rights violators in prominent policy-making positions.
  • Facilitate a terrorist attack on the US in order to consolidate political power.
  • Lie to the American people and the world in order to justify the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation.
  • Undermine the system of international law by proclaiming the validity of a policy of pre-emptive attack.
  • Use weapons that kill indiscriminately – i.e., “weapons of mass destruction” – in the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Subvert the US Constitution.

Random points:

  • For years, studies such as those by University of Massachusetts’ Center for Studies in Communication, have shown that people who get their news primarily from television are not only poorly informed, but often seriously misinformed.
  • Cooporative efforts are necessary to our survival.
  • A lesson we might take away from the example of Cuba is that people can do extraordinary things if motivated by a strong and clear appeal to a developed sense of ethics. Most people are ethically motivated; they want to believe that what they are doing is good.
  • We humans love to solve problems, and we love to see problems solved. Further, we like to think that every problem has a solution. That humankind has an immense problem that won’t easily be solved is a notion that most people would prefer not to entertain.
  • The Primitive Technology Movement
    • Primitive technologists tend to develop a profound respect for the natural world, and are practical conservationists.
  • Distinction between survivalist communities and preservationist communities.
    • Survivalist communities will need to protect themselves from the people around them
    • Preservationist communities will be protected by the people they serve
  • The elites – corporate owners and managers, governmental officials and military commanders – are people who have been selected for certain qualities: royalty to the system, competitiveness, and hunger for power. Often they are literally bred for their roles. Like George W. Bush, they are people born to wealth and power, and raised to assume that privilege is their birthright. These are people who identify with the system and the status quo; they are constitutionally incapable of questioning its fundamental assumptions. Moreover, the elites are guided day-to-day by a set of incentives that are built into the system itself.

No se preocupe

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Spanish

Don’t worry

Ahora mismo

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Spanish

Right now