Saturday, April 15, 2006

Celebrating Easter

via Warren Ellis:
"And now, it is Easter: the day Jesus turned into chocolate and the disciples ate him.

Or something."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dilbert Vs Jesus

Dilbert by 2nd round armbar.

The Dilbert Blog: Uh-Oh:
"I’m reading a fascinating new book called Misquoting Jesus, by Bart Ehrman. The author is an expert at looking at ancient documents, especially biblical stuff, and figuring out what’s original work and what got altered by subsequent scribes. Apparently there are a lot of experts in that field.

I never knew that there are about a zillion different versions of the Bible because (and I am summarizing Ehrman’s entire book here) it was copied and recopied by hand, by semi-literate, opinionated morons for hundreds of years...

...among the document experts, no one has a clue what the original books of the bible said. The first copies no longer exist.

Just to give you a flavor of the magnitude of the problem, according to Ehrman, there are more changes (both intentional and unintentional) in the Bible than there are words in the New Testament. The estimates range from 200,000 to 400,000.

...[people] believe that the popular King James version of the Bible is the literal word of God. How does one reconcile that belief with the fact that experts know the Bible is riddled with human additions and errors? Here are the only arguments I can think of:

1. You infidel! 200,000 changes isn’t that many.
2. Those document experts are Satan’s helpers. There are no changes.
3. I never knew about those 200,000 changes. I renounce my faith!
4. God works in mysterious ways. In this case he used thousands of semi-literate, opinionated morons to edit the Bible until now it’s perfect.
5. Let me freshen your drink."

"Good tired"

NEWSARAMA.COM: J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI'S WORDS, WORDS, WORDS 5: GETTING IT DONE:
"The singer Harry Chapin once spoke of the passing of his grandfather, a painter and illustrator who, among other things, had illustrated Robert Frost’s first book of poems. On his deathbed, Harry’s grandfather noted that there were two kinds of tired, and that now, at the end of his life, he was good tired. “Bad tired,” he explained, “can be a day that you won. But you fought other people’s battles, lived other people’s agendas, other people’s lives, and at the end of the day there was very little of you in there, and when you hit the sack at night, you toss and turn, you don’t settle easy. Good tired, on the other hand, can be a day that you lost. But you know you fought your battles, lived your agenda, your life, and when you hit the hay you settle easy, and you settle easy, and you can say, ‘Take me away.’”"

The Final Lesson

Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman:
There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor, and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life; just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, you are already free.

"Learn to be Invisible"

Rigorous Intuition: Conspiracature:
"It's a conceit of liberalism to believe knowledge is power, and it's a deceit of the 'Information Age' to mistake information for knowledge. Gone missing, for the greater part, is wisdom. Find that, and maybe we find our power.

'Big Brother is watching, so learn to be invisible.' That's some advice dished out early on in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. It's a comic book from the mid-90s, a knowing caricature of a guerrilla war waged by the 'Invisible College' against an occult elite that Morrison claims was determined by his own abduction/shamanic experience in Kathmandu. It also happens to contain more wisdom about the world than yet another cut and paste contending that the hole in Tower Two was too small for a Boeing 767. Art can do that. Even comic art.

A few years ago Morrison said, 'Fuck man, I tell you when I was a kid I read Robert Anton Wilson and all this shit and here we are, we're standing here, talking about this shit and it's real!'"

"Within you"... "Amen"

The Bible's All Wrong, Again / The surprising Gospel of Judas proves you just can't be too sure about all that God stuff:
"It's the prevalent, simpleminded ideology: God somehow spoke in perfect English through some sort of giant megaphone (the original podcast), which was then beamed straight into a number of deep believers, whose myriad stories were then perfectly transcribed by some honest and devout and in no way corrupt or politicized or sexually frustrated bishop's pen about 2,000 years ago, and there is no debate don't you dare question its legitimacy and motives lest you be cast into the hellpit of Sodom. Or maybe, you know, San Francisco.

These are the Bible literalists, those who blindly take the Bible as the exact word of God (of whom our president is one, as are many of his fundamentalist minions), and they only look at discoveries like this new gospel and stare numbly, uncomprehendingly, as fluid divinity swirls around them like some sort of frustrated mist.

The truth is, the Church was formed to serve people just like this, those who are unable to grasp nuances and unable to think beyond a certain scope, those who are unwilling or unable follow what is perhaps the singlemost powerful and significant of all Christ's (and Buddha's, and the Tao's, etc.) teachings: that is, to seek God within. Not in a priest. Not in a building. Not in an organized institution. Within you...


(Remember, like history, religion is written by the victors. It is then revised by the powermongers, leveraged by the fearful and wielded as a nasty weapon by the conservatives. Same as it ever was.)

Is it not perhaps the single greatest fallacy of all time? That mankind is somehow a meek and inferior quasi-deity ever struggling to live up to some hideously puritanical idea of the sacred and the enlightened? That morality and religion are somehow clean and flawless in their messages and that God is somehow scowling down every day, watching and taking notes?

Or that the Bible -- make that all bibles, of every shape and kind, from any culture, are merely ever-shifting kaleidoscopes through which you may observe the world and absorb some lovely wisdom and moral color, but which you should never, ever mistake for real life? Can I get an amen? "

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"There are no ordinary moments"




The upcoming movie Peaceful Warrior is based on a book I first read around 15 years ago, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. It's one of only a few books that I can say truly changed how I look at life. I re-read the book at least once a year, as the lessons in it I still haven't managed to get the hang of, and I can't recommend the book highly enough.

The trailer for the film looks great. Click the link above to check it out.

The wisdom of Charles Atlas

"Worry, irritability and anger are mental and physical poisons. By giving vent to these undesirable habits the body tears down far more quickly than it can be built up... On NO account allow yourself to become worried, either over the past, the present or future. The past is dead. Forget it! Why dig up the corpse? The future has not arrived, why anticipate what probably will never happen? And why worry over the present? Can your worry accomplish anything good? Will it benefit you any? You know it won't. Then why worry?...
...substitute your worry thoughts for thoughts of health, strength, happiness and joy... Make the best of your life, in every respect... The following suggestions are given by a well known philosopher, and you are urged to scorch them deep into your soul: ELIMINATE FEAR. CONQUER WORRY. AVOID ANGER. OMIT DEPRESSION. SHUN HATE. STUDY CHEERFULNESS. CULTIVATE HOPE. DEVELOP COURAGE. EXHIBIT CONFIDENCE. ASSUME SUCCESS. LIVE SIMPLY. MAINTAIN BUOYANCY. CONTROL SELF. THINK HEALTH YOURS. I will add, CULTIVATE HAPPINESS. Do all you can to make yourself and others truly happy. This will soon reflect itself in your life. For remember, health and happiness go hand in hand."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Speech, change, thoughts, behavior...

Present | A Newsletter from The Ayamanatara Foundation | Archives:
"Be impeccable with your word. The clearest, most concise communication is that which is given energetically... Words are, for the purposes of communication with others, imprecise and do not translate abstract concepts well.

Spoken word was created not for the purpose of communicating at all. It is a tool for manifestation and creation.

In the beginning, there was the word.

When a concept of idea is spoken aloud enough times, it can shift your conscious thoughts, which then imprint your subconscious mind, where creation is initiated. If you are looking to change your reality, you must first change your thoughts. To change your thoughts, you must alter how you speak.

We have allowed ourselves to become lazy and undisciplined in our speech, which is an unfortunate occurance. It has allowed an undiciplined and chaotic thought process to occur about our reality, which in turn, creates a chaotic reality."

The game...

Present | A Newsletter from The Ayamanatara Foundation | Archives:
"Understand that there is no requirement that you play whatever game is presented to you."

The Shift

The Ayamanatara Foundation :
"It is not a sudden event, it is not going to cause some people to simply disappear, or die, or gain superpowers. It is not something to fear. In fact, the more one embraces it, the more benefits one gains...

To ease the transition and get out of fear, make sure you have a daily practice of getting centered and in alignment with the divine, eat as healthy as possible, drink plenty of water, and focus on what makes your heart sing. Release what no longer serves you willingly, and work on increasing your sense of connection to Source and to those you have called into your life.

We are currently going through a Shift, and things are speeding up, so the concept is impacting us at a core level. You are being asked to let go of that which no longer serves you fairly quickly. Some people find this disconcerting or unsettling and resist the process, which is counterproductive and potentially harmful, because your Higher Self wants to release anything that is holding you back, so you're probably going to lose those things anyway.

The best way to go through this Shift is in willingness, gratitude and grace. Understand that anything or anyone moving out of your life at this time simply frees you up to progress on your journey. If you embrace this concept, the Shift can be a pleasant and uplifting experience. If you fight against it, you are bound to be very uncomfortable...

About each thing and person in your life, ask yourself "does this serve my higher purpose?", especially if it seems to be leaving you. Focus on your daily practice and make sure that you are meditating, so that you are clear on what your higher purpose is. Allow the universe to take you where you need to be. Release any negative energy, exercise, eat healthy foods, drink more water [always more water], and try to hold a space of willingness. Each time you catch yourself in a negative thought or trying to force a situation, gently pull yourself back into a space of willingness.

Be kind to yourself. It affects your energy and others will also treat you with kindness...

The Shift is accelerating, can you feel it? There is a tension in the air, a general malaise. Those who are not consciously working to move forward are even further out of their bodies, uncomfortable, combative, depressed...

The keywords right now are acceptance and release. Release that which you no longer nee, that which no longer serves you, or it will be taken from you or stop working anyway...

It is time. All of your old tools and coping mechanisms that have allowed you to rest on your laurels are going to be taken from you. This is about growth, not stagnation. You no longer get to hang out on your plateau of safety. The water is rising, you must rise with it... You are moving into something bigger and better, and the only resistance is that which comes from you. You have a choice. Where would you like to be?"

"Change is not a problem..."

Present | A Newsletter from The Ayamanatara Foundation:
"Change is not a problem. It is not difficult or uncomfortable. It is your resistance to change that causes the problems. The level of discomfort you experience in change is directly proportional to your resistance to that change. The only constant in the Universe is change. You know this. Why do you insist on being so rigid?

Rigidity is nothing more than ego-based fear. If you would simply relax and move up to your heart chakra (and out of third), allow that to be your main operating system, you could embrace changes with the joy and enthusiasm that they deserve. You would be able to release your feelings of discomfort and you would cease holding on to the status quo long after its time has passed.

Breathe.
Ground.
Allow yourself to connect with the joy in your heart. Pull as much of your focus and attention into that space. Spend as much time as you can in that place, especially as you move out into the world and deal with others. Look for that space within those you encounter.

Your ego will tell you that this is unsafe, but it is lying to you. Relax. It will all be all right."

The universe is a mirror...

Present | A Newsletter from The Ayamanatara Foundation:
"The Universe that you perceive yourself to be living in is nothing mored than a mirror for the lessons you have chosen to experience. That is to say, if someone is meeting you with an attitude that rubs you the wrong way, this is most likely because you yourself carry that attitude or its roots inside of you and are projecting them out into the world. By being confronted with thtem from an outisde source, you are giving yourself the opportunity to change.

This is the true meaning of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want to met with generosity, project generosity out into the world, i.e. act with generosity. If you want to met with compassion, patience, or kindness, those are the qualities you must project out into the world.

Another component to this is that, if someone close to you is the catalyst for you feeling a certain way, then is is very likely that they are also feeling that way. For expample, if I feel taken for granted by someone, it entirely possible that this person feels taken for granted by me. Since the only thing you have control over are your own actions and reactions, and the world is a mirror for your own growth opportunities, they way to affect change in this situation is to make sure that I am not, in fact, taking the other person for granted.

This is also at least partly what Gandhi meant by Be the change that you want to see in the world."

But capitalism is honest and forthright and will save us all.

Or, you know, not.

BBC NEWS | Health | Drug firms 'inventing diseases':
"Pharmaceutical firms are inventing diseases to sell more drugs, researchers have warned.

Disease-mongering promotes non-existent diseases and exaggerates mild problems to boost profits, the Public Library of Science Medicine reported."

Employee praises boss, gets to keep job.

Top officer defends Rumsfeld - Yahoo! News:
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer on Tuesday defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld against three retired generals demanding his ouster, and denied that the United States invaded Iraq without sufficiently weighing its plan.

Standing next to Rumsfeld at a Pentagon briefing, Marine Corps Gen. Pete Pace said critics could legitimately question the defense secretary's judgment but not his motives."

Hanami II



Couple pics from last Saturday's Hanami, forwarded by the ever-bubbly Kathy...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Stick on a Rope [TM]



The afternoon of Hanami was highlighted by watching the adventures of boy with Stick on a Rope[TM]!

I predict Stick on a Rope[TM] will sweep the world, as it provided endless hours of childhood enjoyment. Swinging it, swinging it at people, dragging it, throwing it, taunting others with it... there was literally nothing it couldn't do.

Kids are nuts.

Hanami






Literally means "flower watching" but generally refers to the practice of watching the cherry blossoms in the spring. So this past Saturday Sandy and I hung out for the afternoon with some other JETs at Miyajidake Shrine to picnic, watch the cherry blossoms and chill out.

Teacher Farewells




With the start of the new school year, teachers are transferred in and out of the school. We lost about 7 teachers, including one who had been on a sabbatacial/alternate work gig, whom I had never evenmet.

The two I think I'll miss most are Takayama-san, our kyoto-sensei [vice principal] and Ohmichi-sensei, one of the P.E. teachers. Takayama-san was exceptionally nice, always going out of the way to try and talk with me, and over the summer, when there were no classes, took me over to his house to meet his wife and have tea. Ohmichi-sensei was a trip, teaching me bad Japanese slang [Okay-bokujo!] and pretty much acting the fool. His occasional English outbursts of "Oh my God!", "Dangerous!" and "English is easy for me" [pretty much the extent of his English] never failed to crack me up. Plus the fact for several weeks he insisted refer to him as Denzel [Washington], George [Clooney] and Morgan [Freeman]. He will be missed.

Huis Ten Bosch - The Souvenir


Picked up this cool little pic/art at Huis Ten Bosch as our "official" souvenir from there... It's our names [Rob and Sandy] but written in katakana Japanese and accentuated with drawings made out of the lines/characters of our name. We had something similar done in Hawaii [man do I miss the swap meet] but in English, of course. Still... a cool little reminder of the trip.

"FEAR is the CAUSE. . . .and PAIN is the result."

Thornton's Guerilla_Blog: My work. . . .:
"Polite behavior is full of approval seeking disguised as consideration. When you say or do anything to please, get, influence, or control anyone or anything, FEAR is the CAUSE. . . .and PAIN is the result.

Manipulation is separation.

Separation is painful.

...For the personality, love is nothing more then an agreement. If I agree with you, you love me. And the minute I don't agree with you, the minute I question one of your sacred beliefs, I become your enemy.

Then you start looking for all the reasons why you are right. . . .this causes you to stay focused outside yourself. . .that is a form of self medication . .when you stay focused outside yourself and you believe your problem is caused by someone else, rather then by your attachment to the story. . . .you are your own victim.

...it is true to say that I no longer believe anyone can 'change' their mind. I think you can question the mind. . .and if the questioning is sincere, then that can change the experience of thoughts...

"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation."
- J. Krishnamurti

People who aren't interested in seeing how everything is good, get to be right. But that apparent rightness comes with disgruntlement, depression, and separation
."

Experience and Understanding

Erin Pavlina’s Blog » Blog Archive » Ask Erin: Reincarnation and the Bible:
"I’m not saying the Bible is false; in fact I think it’s filled with a tremendous amount of spiritual wisdom which we could all benefit from. We have to remember that the Bible was written and rewritten many times by many different people with many different agendas both political and personal. I’ll take my own experiences over reading those of others any day.

Like I’ve said in other blog entries … you can read about a subject for years, but until you experiment and practice the techniques yourself, you won’t really have a full understanding of them. "

Gangster Government by Greg Palast

Gangster Government:
"It’s a crime. No kidding. But the media has it all wrong. As usual.

...OK, let’s accept the White House alibi that releasing Plame’s identity was no crime. But if that’s true, they’ve committed a BIGGER crime: Bush and Cheney knowingly withheld vital information from a grand jury investigation, a multimillion dollar inquiry the perps themselves authorized. That’s akin to calling in a false fire alarm or calling the cops for a burglary that never happened—but far, far worse. Let’s not forget that in the hunt for the perpetrator of this non-crime, reporter Judith Miller went to jail.

...Statements aimed at misleading grand jury investigators are hard-time offenses... I’ve cited press releases and comments in the New York Times in court as evidence of fraud. By not swearing to his disingenuous statement, Bush gets off the perjury hook, but he committed a crime nonetheless, “deliberate concealment.”

Here’s how the law works (and hopefully, it will). The Bush gang’s use of the telephone in this con game constituted wire fraud. Furthermore, while presidents may leak (“declassify”) intelligence information, they may not obstruct justice; that is, send a grand jury on a wild goose chase. Under the ‘RICO’ statute (named after the Edward G. Robinson movie mobster, ‘Little Rico’), the combination of these crimes makes the Bush executive branch a “racketeering enterprise.” "

Motivational Phrases

You know, of late "just do it" has actually been particularly useful to me... at least as shorthand for shutting off the active mind. I come up with at least a dozen reasons not to head to the dojo - weather, health, injuries, attitudes - but just shutting down or shutting off the active mind is key in getting to the gym. And the two hours I spend, where I more than anything else, shut down the constantly moving mind at use - like now, for example - are amongst the best hours I spend all week...

Getting To Done: My Favorite Motivational Phrases - Lifehacker:
"Although they may be cheesy sometimes, motivational phrases can be inspiring, relevant and useful, too...

Make Yourself

There is a song by Incubus called “Make Yourself” and it’s got some rather harsh lyrics that illustrate what this is all about. In essence it’s about not letting other people make you into something you don’t want to be and taking responsibility for your own growth through life.

Just Do It!

I know it’s corporate, but hey, it works. The way I see it, there are usually a million reasons not to do something. Most of them are bad.

Of course it depends on what you’re doing! But in general I’m a fan of living life and not watching it pass me by."

Overheard in the Office: The Voice of the Cubicle - "Fuck you" - the essence of business...

Overheard in the Office: The Voice of the Cubicle - 5PM That's a Wrap:
"5PM That's a Wrap

Boss: It's such a nice day and nothing is happening in here...I think I'm going to leave.
Employee #1: That sounds good. Can I leave, too?
Boss: Sure.
Employee #2: And me?
Boss: If you want. Hey, [Erica]! If the phone rings, then just--
Clerk: Wait, you're all going to leave me here by myself and you expect me to actually do shit? Fuck you.

101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, Maryland"

A cognizant observation...

Rigorous Intuition: Abaddon:
"First of all, the target isn't Iran, though of course it will be Iranians who may die by the hundreds of thousands should nuclear weapons be greenlighted for Washington's latest McGuffin. But Iran is no more the target than Japan was for Fat Man and Little Boy.

The principal target demographic for the atrocity still on storyboards is Russia and China. The nuking of Iran will be a blockbuster remaking of the demonstration events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which announced to the Soviet Union and all comers that the American Aeon had arrived. At least that's how it will appear, and how it's being sold in the boardroom of America Inc."

Monday, April 10, 2006

"Finding Purpose and Meaning"

Steve Pavlina Interview - Part 3 » Entrepreneur’s Journey - by Yaro Starak:
"The reason your purpose is fuzzy is because your understanding of reality is fuzzy. If you experience confusion about your purpose, then forget about purpose for a while. Instead, focus on developing an accurate model of reality. Once you understand reality accurately enough, your purpose will become clear.

Increasing your accuracy means facing those parts of your life you don’t want to face, looking them square in the eye, and accepting the truth about them. The more truth you’re capable of accepting, the more accurate your model of reality will be.

Often when people start on this path, they’re in deep denial about the true status of their existence. They may refuse to accept many things about themselves that others would readily acknowledge, such as: I’m out of shape, I’m stingy, I’m in debt, I eat poorly, I’m dishonest, I have many bad habits that I’m ashamed of, I feel powerless, I’m not contributing, I’m afraid, my work is unsatisfying, my marriage is unfulfilling, etc. Too often people lie to themselves and refuse to accept the problems that surround them. But when they finally accept that their life isn’t what they want it to be, that becomes the seed for future change. Problems are transformed into challenges.

It’s very difficult to accept the full truth of your situation when you’ve been lying to yourself for so long. But you won’t find your real purpose under a blanket of lies. It’s only when you start facing the unfaceable parts of your life that your purpose will become visible."

Politics and Optimism

Steve Pavlina Interview - Part 2 » Entrepreneur’s Journey - by Yaro Starak:
"Like many others my age, I have little faith in our current business and political leaders. I don’t vote in any elections because there’s no point. The people and issues that make it onto our ballots are spawned from a very low level of consciousness. Our leaders care more about power and perception than they do about truth and service. That’s cowardice, not leadership, and it needs to change. But the only way I see change happening is if enough people raise their own consciousness to the point where they refuse to be manipulated by fear and falsehood. We need leaders who are conscious and compassionate, who care more about serving the greater good than they do about enriching their egos. But we also need people who are willing to accept having an honorable leader in power, and that requires that people learn to manage their fear so it can no longer be used as a means of manipulating them."

Apathy, intent and perception.

More/details at the link.

Steve Pavlina Interview - Part 1 » Entrepreneur’s Journey - by Yaro Starak:
"Long-term apathy is a result of confusing perception and creation. People who are consistently apathetic think they are passively perceiving reality when in fact they are actually creating it.

Let me ‘splain.

If you’re feeling apathetic, you may be looking at your reality and noticing that nothing inspires you. Everything appears flat and lifeless. What’s the point of this existence? Perhaps it’s just about survival, and mere survival isn’t going to leave you overflowing with passion. You’re more likely to feel bored or depressed. You might have occasional bursts of positive emotion, but that won’t be your default state of being.

What you must understand is that there is no such thing as passive perception. All perception is a form of creation. You may think that you’re merely perceiving and interpreting external reality, but in fact you are simultaneously creating it. Your apathetic thoughts are creating your experience of reality, such that all you perceive is an apathetic universe.

...So what’s the solution? The solution is to take off the glasses of apathy, and them stomp on them until they’re broken.

Recognize that apathetic thoughts are in fact creative and not merely perceptive. Most people never make this realization in their entire lives, but those that understand it gain the ability to solve problems they never could before. Once you understand that your seemingly perceptive thoughts are actually creative, you gain the ability to choose what you wish to create. If you decide to remove the glasses of apathy, you will soon begin perceiving colors you’ve never seen before. You’ll begin to see purpose and meaning everywhere. You could be all alone staring off into space, and it will be an experience rich in purpose and meaning. You’ll live in a state of utter fascination with life.

Perhaps the simplest way to remove the glasses of apathy is via the power of intention. Simply say to the universe, “Show me what lies beyond the glasses of apathy.” Put some thought energy into that intention, and expect that it will manifest. Then let it go, and wait. Usually without about 24-48 hours, you’ll begin to have experiences that are incongruent with your glasses of apathy, and the lenses will start to crack.

...It was sometime in 2005 that I finally “got it” at a deep enough level and recognized that consciousness gives me the freedom to create my own inner experience at all times, and my inner reality projects outward into the world and then feeds back into my perceptions. From that point onward, I began experiencing an intense feeling of happiness. At first it came in brief bursts lasting up to a few hours. I just began feeling absolutely incredible, without there being any external stimulus to trigger it. But after several months, a feedback loop was eventually created, such that the state of joy locked in permanently and never switched off. That feeling is still with me 24/7."

MMA Photoshop





Found at various places online. Funny stuff.