Archive for February, 2010

¡Qué sorpresa!

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Spanish

What a surprise!

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Yo no sé el porque

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Spanish

I don’t know why (the reason) …

Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Book Notes
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  • There is no one right way for people to live.
    • Diversity, not uniformity, is what works. Our problem is not that people are living a bad way but rather they’re all living the same way.
  • There is something beyond civilization. Civilization is not humanity’s ULTIMATE invention and is not a final, unsurpassable.
    • No paradigm is ever able to imagine the next one.
  • “Saving the world” can only mean one thing: saving the world as a human habitat. Accomplishing this will mean (must mean) saving the world as a habitat for as many other species as possible.
  • Programs do not work – Sticks planted in the mud may impede the flow of the river, but we don’t need to impede its flow, we need to divert it into an entirely new channel.
    • Old minds think: How do we stop these bad things from happening?
    • New minds think: How do we make things the way we want them to be?
  • Programs make it possible to look busy and purposeful while failing. When programs fail (as they invariably do), this is blamed on things like poor design, lack of funds and staff, bad management, and inadequate training.
    • Old minds think: If it didn’t work last year, let do MORE of it this year.
    • New minds think: If it didn’t work last year, let’s do something ELSE this year.
  • Most programs take this form: Outlaw the thing that’s bothering you, catch people who do it, and put them in jail.
    • Old minds think: We have to write tougher and more comprehensive laws.
    • New minds think: No unwanted behavior has ever been eliminated by passing a law against it.
  • We do not need programs, we need vision. Vision is to culture what gravity is to matter.
  • The spread of vision needs to confer benefits on those who do the spreading.
    • Our culture’s spreading mechanism was population expansion: Grow, then get more land, increase food production, and grow some more.
    • Christian’s spreading mechanism was conversion: Accept Jesus, then get others to accept him.
    • The Industrial Revolution’s spreading mechanism was improvement: Improve on something, then put it out there for others to improve on.
  • Contrary to the fundamental meme, civilization does not need to continue at any cost and not be abandoned under any circumstances. When the Mayan no longer liked what they were building, they were able to walk away from it.
  • Karl Marx recognized that workers without a choice are workers in chains.
  • Karl Marx called religion as “the opium of the people.” This opium carries the masses out of their misery and up into the empyrean of tranquil acceptance.
  • Lifestyle – a way of making a living.
  • Social organization – a coorporative structure that helps a group implement its way of life.
  • Tribe – a coalition of people working together as equals to make a living.
  • If you had a billion dollars in the bank, would you go on doing the work you do to make a living?
  • To go beyond civilization means going beyond hierarchalism. You can have a hierarchy without civilization but there never existed a civilization without hierarchy.
  • People never run off to join the circus to give up something. They run off to circus to get something.
  • Anthropologist Marshall Sahlins has written: ” The world’s most primitive people have few possessions, but they are not poor. Poverty is not a certain small amount of goods, nor is it just a relation between means and ends; above all it is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. As such it is the invention of civilization.”
  • To overthrow a hierarchy is pointless; we just need to leave it behind. Abandonment isn’t an attack, it’s just a discontinuance of support.
  • This is exactly what the food race is about: every year turning more of our planet’s biomass into human mass. Every win in food production stimulates an answering “win” in population growth.
  • I don’t indulge in these speculations in order to lay claim to powers of prophecy. I toss them into the water to show you what part of the pond I’m aiming at…and to let you follow the ripples back to the shore of the present.
  • Beyond civilization isn’t a geographical territory, it’s a social and economical territory where people in open tribes pursue goals that may or may not be recognizedly “civilized.” You don’t have to “go somewhere” to get beyond civilization. You have to make your living a different way.
  • The earthquake proof building survives not by defeating the earthquake’s power but by acknowledging it – by drawing it in and dealing with it.
  • Buckminster Fuller, ” You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
  • Max Planck, “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents…What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.”
  • The tribal rule of thumb is: Can you extend the living to include yourself? In other words, if you want to live out of the tribal occupation, you’ll have to extend the group’s earning power to the point where it covers you.
  • Being “genetically inclined to violence” doesn’t doom you to becoming a mass murderer –  but having no hope may do just that.
  • The foundation for all our cultural mythology: The world was made for Man to conquer and rule, and Man was made to conquer and rule it; and under Man’s rule, the world might have become a paradise except for the fact that he’s fundamentally and irremediable flawed.
    • We must have another story to be in.
  • You don’t have to have all the answers. It’s always better to say “I don’t know” than to fake it and get into hot water.
  • Make people formulate their own questions. Don’t take the responsibility of figuring out what their difficulty is.
  • Never try to answer a question you don’t understand. Make the askers explain it; keep on insisting until it’s clear, and nine times our of ten they’ll supply the answer themselves.
  • People will listen when they’re ready to listen and not before. Let people come to it in their own time. Nagging or bullying will only alienate them.
  • Don’t waste time with people who want to argue. Look for people who are already open to something new.

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Quotes

I heard this, naturally, from my grandfather, he from his grandfather, he from his own grandfather, and so on, back many hundreds of years. That means this tale is very old. But it won’t disappear, because I offer it to my children, and my children will tell to their children, and so on.

– Gypsy storyteller Lazaros Harisiadis

My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Book Notes
Tags: ,
  • The people of your culture blame human nature for their troubles…It enables you to shift blame from yourselves to something that is beyond your control – human nature.
  • Domesticated animals display a very human attitude toward territory…The very term “to domesticate” means “to attach or accustom to a home”.
  • They are sure that there must be all sorts of things wrong with every tribal way of life, and of course they’re correct – if you mean by “wrong” something you don’t like.
  • Erratic retaliation is fundamental self-controlling and fundamentally unsusceptible to outside management. And Takers don’t trust anything that’s self-controlling. They want to manage it all…
  • Because the youngsters of your culture have no survival value on their own, they must get jobs. If they had survival skills, even locking up the food wouldn’t keep them in the prison. They’d be out. They’d be free.
  • The onset of puberty signals the end of the child’s apprenticeship to its parents. It signals the end of childhood itself. Again, this isn’t cultural, it’s genetic…Mother Culture in effect has passed a law extending childhood for an indefinite period and have redefined adulthood as a moral privilege that ultimately can only be self-awarded, on grounds that are far from clear.
  • Mother Culture’s whole function is to preserve the status quo. Mother Culture wants you to believe that what you have is perfection and any change is to be change for the worse.
  • Tribal treasures:
    • A system of laws that actually helped people live instead of just punishing them for doing things that people have and always will do.
    • An eduction system that cost nothing, worked perfectly, and dew people together generationally.
  • You must have a positive revolution, a revolution that brings people more of what they really want, not less of they don’t really want.
  • The New Tribal Revolution:
  1. The revolution won’t take place all at once.
  2. It will be achieved incrementally. by people working off each other’s ideas.
  3. It will be led by no one.
  4. It will not be the initiative any political, governmental, or religious body.
  5. It has no targeted end point.
  6. It will proceed according to no plan.
  7. It will reward those who further the revolution with the coin of the revolution.
  • The Taker prison has no outside. The Takers long ago claimed the entire planet for themselves, so it’s all inside.
  • Intentional communities almost always start out with the goal of being sanctioned by Taker law. This keeps them from being hassled by the police, but limits the amount importance they can achieve in their members’ lives. This is the difference between intentional communities on one hand and cults and gangs on the other…This explains how cults and gangs can come to have tribal importance in their members’ lives…Membership becomes worth dying for.
  • There is no operational difference between a tribe and a cult.
  • People want to be taken care of in the tribal way…The support-for-support paradigm is more than just a way of staying alive, it’s a profoundly satisfying human style.
  • Open the prison gates and people will pour out. Build things people want and they’ll flock to them. And don’t flinch from looking with wide-open eyes at the things people show you they want. Don’t look away from them just because Mother Culture has given them bad names. Instead, understand why she’s given them bad names.

Sobre todo

Posted: February 21, 2010 in Spanish

Especially

A propósito

Posted: February 21, 2010 in Spanish

By the way

Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen!

Posted: February 21, 2010 in Multimedia

From the lovely Alejandra Lozano. Thanks!

The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

Posted: February 19, 2010 in Book Notes
Tags:
  • I think this is the first time I am meeting most of you. But for me, whether it is an old friend or new friend, there’s not much difference anyway, because I always believe we are the same; we are all human beings. Of course, there may be differences in cultural background or way of life, there may be differences in our faith, or may be a different color, but we are all human beings, consisting of human body and the human mind. Our physical structure is the same, and our mind and our emotional nature are also the same. Whenever I meet people, I always have the feeling that I am encountering another human being, just like myself. I find it is much easier to communicate with other on that level. If we emphasize specific characteristics, like I am Tibetan or I am Buddhist, then there are differences. But those things are secondary. If we can leave the differences aside, I think we can easily communicate, exchange ideas, and share experiences.
  • By bringing about a certain inner discipline, we can undergo a transformation of our attitude, our entire outlook and approach to living.
  • Our feelings of contentment are strongly influenced by our tendency to compare.
  • Peace of mind or calm state of mind is rooted in affection and compassion. There is a very high level of sensitivity and feeling there.
  • You can relate to them because you are still a human being, within the human community. You share that bond. And that human bond is enough to give rise to a sense of worth and dignity. That bond can become a source of consolation in the event that you lose everything else.
  • Sometimes people confuse happiness with pleasure…Happiness that depends mainly on physical pleasure is unstable; one day it’s here, the next day it may not be.
  • Identify and cultivate positive mental states; identify and eliminate negative mental states.
  • Once we conclude that the basic nature of humanity is compassionate rather than aggressive, our relationship to the world around us changes immediately. Seeing others as basically compassionate instead of hostile and selfish helps us relax, trust, live at ease. It makes us happier.
  • Genuine compassion is based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like myself. And just like myself, they have the natural right to fulfill this fundamental aspiration. On the basis of the recognition of this equality and commonality, you develop a sense of affinity and closeness with others…It is based on other’s fundamental rights rather than your own mental projection. Upon this basis, then, you will generate love and compassion.
  • Emphasize on the common ground rather than the differences, results in a feeling of connection with all human beings.
  • Victor Frankl, ” Man is ready and willing to shoulder any suffering as soon and as long as he can see meaning in it.”
  • Dr. Paul Brand, ” The very unpleasantness of pain, the part that we hate, is what makes it so effective in protecting us and warning us of danger and injury…It also sears the experience into memory and serves to protect us in the future.”
  • It is our suffering that is the most basic element that we share with others, the factor that unifies us with all living creatures.
  • Bringing about positive changes within oneself:
    • Conviction->Determination->Action->Effort
  • Through constant familiarity, we can definitely establish new behavior patterns.
  • We need only courageously expand our concept of intimacy to include all the other forms that surround us on a daily basis. By broadening our definition of intimacy, we open ourselves to discovering many new and equally satisfying ways of connecting with others.
  • The only factor that can give you refuge or protection from the destructive effects of anger and hatred is your practice of tolerance and patience.
  • And end result, or a product of patience and tolerance, is forgiveness. When you are truly patient and tolerant, then forgiveness comes naturally.
  • Sincere motivation acts as an antidote to reduce fear and anxiety.
  • If there is a solution to the problem, there is no need to worry. If there is no solution, there is no sense in worrying either.
  • Generally, being honest with oneself and others about what you are or are not capable of doing can counteract that feeling of lack of self-confidence.
  • I believe that each individual should embark upon a spiritual path that is best suited to his or her mental disposition, natural inclination, temperament, belief, family and cultural background.
  • It is essential that we develop closer bonds among the various religions; through this we can make a common effort for the benefit of humanity. There are so many things that divide humanity, so many problems in the world. Religion should be a remedy to help reduce the conflict and suffering in the world, not another source of conflict.
  • I think prayer is, for the most part, a simple daily reminder of your deeply held principles and convictions.
  • True spirituality is a mental attitude that you can practice at any time.
  • Basic spirituality – basic human qualities of goodness, kindness, compassion, caring.
  • Inner discipline is the basis of a spiritual life.
  • Normally our awareness is directed towards physical sensory experiences and mental concepts…when you are able to stop your mind from chasing sensory objects and thinking about the past and future and so on, and when you can free your mind from being totally  “blanked out” as well, then you will begin to see underneath this turbulence of the thought process. There is an underlying stillness, an underlying clarity of the mind. You should try to observe and experience this…

Henry David Thoreau

Posted: February 18, 2010 in Quotes
  • The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.
  • While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them…
  • None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty.
  • I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.