It probably wasn't a coincidence that, to the astonishment of listeners, Trump began his speech about the United States' military might. The USA will spend 700 billion dollars on the military; never before has it been stronger. UN General Secretary Guterres was probably quietly calculating with a sob how many lives, how much future, how much hope, how much happiness his United Nations could provide for the world with 700 billion dollars.
When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
Here applies the French proverb plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose—the more it changes, the more it's the same thing. Change is in some sense an illusion, for we are always at the point where any future can take us! If the human race develops an electronic nervous system, outside the bodies of individual people, thus giving us all one mind and one global body, this is almost precisely what has happened in the organization of cells which compose our own bodies. We have already done it.
The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. … For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.
How has my perspective of humans changed? It's an interesting question, because you really have time to reflect when you're so far from home. You know, there are six of us on board and we are completely separate from the other six and a half billion of the rest of us. So you feel that physical separation. But—it may be surprising to you—but in fact I feel closer to everyone, I think, as a result. When you live in your house and your street, and your town and your province and your country, you tend to identify those things almost like layers of a fortress around yourself. You know, I'm from this place, and all those things are barriers between you and everybody else. And even travel tends to break that down. But to be in a position where you can go around the world in 92 minutes and see every place over and over and over again, those barriers fade. And of course I still see the strife and the stupid things we do, like what happened yesterday in Boston, and then the suffering we have to put through like the enormous earthquake in Iran today; things still happen, and some people still horribly misbehave. But the vast majority of people are good. And people are just trying to find joy and raise their children well and find grace in life. And for me up here, I found partway through the flight, I just feel like I just refer to everybody as just “us.” It's all of us together in this, and so I think it's a perspective that some people get naturally and that some people will never get, but I know it's a perspective, that having the chance to see the world the way that I've been trying to show it in the pictures I've been sending back, it's a perspective that you definitely get when you live on board a space station.
I imagine the spaghetti monster sitting somewhere up there banging his head on his desk for centuries on end as we dig coal, suck oil, try and catch sun rays, while all the time he is moaning, “I gave the cretins a big white power plant in the sky that mystically moves all the water to and fro day after day, and all they do is surf on it.”
Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank—or the Company—needs—wants—insists—must have—as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You've scrabbled at it long enough, God knows…
The field of bright spirit is an ancient wilderness that does not change. With boundless eagerness wander around this immaculate wide plain. The drifting clouds embrace the mountain; the family wind is relaxed and simple. The autumn waters display the moon in its pure brightness. Directly arriving here you will be able to recognize the mind ground dharma field that is the root source of the ten thousand forms germinating with unwithered fertility.
Vast and far-reaching without boundary, secluded and pure, manifesting light, this spirit is without obstruction. Its brightness does not shine out but can be called empty and inherently radiant. Its brightness, inherently purifying, transcends causal conditions beyond subject and object. Subtle but preserved, illumined and vast, also it cannot be spoken of as being or nonbeing, or discussed with images and calculations. Right here the central pivot turns, the gateway opens. You accord and respond without hindrance. Everywhere turn around freely, not following conditions, not falling into classifications. Facing everything, let go and attain stability. Stay with that just as that. Stay with this just as this.
The practice of true reality is simply to sit serenely in silent introspection. When you have fathomed this you cannot be turned around by external causes and conditions. This empty, wide open mind is subtly and correctly illuminating. Spacious and content, without confusion from inner thoughts of grasping, effectively overcome habitual behaviour and realize the self that is not possessed by emotions.
You tremble at the thought of asking for what you want. “I’m not ready yet, I’m not qualified, I’m not experienced!” Or maybe you don’t even say any of that. Maybe it’s more subtle and it actually sounds good and reasonable. “I’m going to focus on my craft for a while longer so when I do feel ready, I’ll be confident in the work I push forward.” You want to be so good so bad… that you never even start.
But here is the kicker: All of your favorites are winging it. The ones you look up to; whom you consider “ready, qualified, experienced, and better than you” are in different ranges: 50% winging whatever their craft is and 50% having fun with it.
Don’t you notice the people who are really, really good at what they do have a quiet confidence about themselves no matter what marches their way? Because they are winging it. They aren’t knocked out of step because they aren’t following any steps. Sure, you can never get caught off guard if you’re always on guard—but that’s no fun. Your favorites are willing to be playful. They are willing to be so open and present to the moment. They are willing.
Become a scientist. Be willing to experiment and take note of what worked and didn’t work.
That is not to say there isn’t a level of preparation and basic fundamental knowledge that allows them to wing it. The point is that you have your fundamentals down, but you’re creating this imaginary wall between yourself and where you want to be due to a perceived lack of experience. Go out there and
fucking get the damn experience!
There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better. I want to be clear. These are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen. And if my assessment is correct and they probably will happen, then we have to think about what are we going to do about it? I think some kind of universal basic income is going to be necessary. The output of goods and services will be extremely high. With automation there will come abundance. Almost everything will get very cheap. I think we'll end up doing universal basic income. It's going to be necessary. The much harder challenge is, how are people going to have meaning? A lot of people derive their meaning from their employment. So if there's no need for your labor, what's your meaning? Do you feel useless? That's a much harder problem to deal with.
If you stay attached to “dominating” people you’ll never feel love and compassion for them because you’ll be too obsessed with always winning. This “survival of the fittest” philosophy is really harmful.
Really think about all of the things you need to survive and where you actually get them from and you’ll see that you depend on society for almost everything you do on a daily basis. You live in cooperation with everyone and you enjoy the benefits of the tribe. That’s how we evolved, no one person is ever above the collective.
Try looking at things more like that and you won’t find such a contradiction. You give to society and you take. You don’t dominate anyone and nor should you. You need push back from other people and you need to not get your way sometimes. That’s how people become mature adults, and it’s why children who get everything handed to them end up spoiled.
If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. [...] The next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good middle class jobs obsolete. And so we’re going to have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all our kids the education they need, to give workers the power to unionize for better wages, to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now, and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and the individuals who reap the most from this new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their very success possible.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
You may make about as much as your parents combined at the height of their income, but everything is four times as expensive unless it's information technology. There's nothing wrong with the boomers, and nothing wrong with millennials. They're just playing their part at a different phase of the wave. The internalized faux boomer criticisms of millennials are really just misdirected criticisms of capitalism.
In 30-40 years, millennials will be demanding $4 million for their tinderboxes, and a McMansion will be $10+ million. Celebrities will be living in upper two to lower three-digit million-dollar homes. Your grandkids will get some fancy robot or space job paying $140k, and marry someone earning similar. And you'll go, "Goddamn! They make well over $250k combined! These lil'
fuckers are rich!" But they'll be like, "My mortgage is over $11,000..."
"You two make $16,000 a month!" you'll say, as the walls update their pattern to reflect ads for realtors and pre-approved refinancing offers. You ignore them. You've gotten used to it by now.
The concept that no thing—including human existence—has ultimate substantiality, which in turn means that no thing is permanent and no thing is totally independent of everything else. In other words, everything in this world is interconnected and in constant flux. A deep appreciation of this idea of emptiness thus saves us from the suffering caused by our egos, our attachments, and our resistance to change and loss.
We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
—Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller
People who are dead now already thought up ways to produce a huge food surplus; enough to feed everyone. If you spend your thinking time worrying about what others are thinking, maybe you aren't being as productive as you could be if we just fed everyone and your well-fed brain worried about problems that haven't been solved yet?
How do you learn who you are? It's like waking up from a dream. After a while, one's experience begins to have, what I would call, a haven't-we-been-here-before-feeling. Going round, and round, and round. And then you begin wondering, “where am I going?” And to answer that question you have to try and find out what you want. And so I went into that very thoroughly. What do I want to happen? And, of course, as soon as you ask yourself that, you begin to fantasize. Our amazing technology is, of course, an expression of human desire. Desire for power, for what we want to achieve.
So I set myself to simply thinking through how far we could go. And so I soon found myself at a great push-button place, where I had a fantastic mechanism with buttons available for every conceivable thing I could wish. So I spent quite a bit of time playing with those. And science fiction wasn't in it! You know? You go “goinnng”, like that, and here is Cleopatra. And so on, you know, and then you press this button—symphonic music. In four-channel sound. Sixteen-channel sound. Anything! All possible pleasures are available. And then, you know—everybody's dream of the sultan in the palace—you suddenly notice there's a button labeled surprise.
You push that—and here we are.
—Alan Watts, Alan Watts Is God For 10 Minutes
How big of a lie would it have to be, that billions of people throughout the ages would fail to see through it, even after it has been hinted at by countless spiritual traditions? It would have to be the last thing we would ever question—an assumption we are so certain of that very few would have the nerve to question its certainty.
Do you want to know what the lie is? It's you. You are the hypothesis that cannot withstand direct observation.
When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, just observe what his way is. We put very little emphasis on right and wrong or good and bad. We just see things as they are with him, and accept them. Usually, when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion. If it agrees with your opinion you may accept it, but if it does not, you will reject it or you may not even really hear it.
That is one danger when you listen to someone. The other danger is to be caught by the statement. If you do not understand your master's statement in its true sense, you will easily be caught by something which is involved in your subjective opinion, or by some particular way the statement is expressed. You will take what he says only as a statement, without understanding the spirit behind the words. This kind of danger is always there.
This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in—an interesting hole I find myself in—fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.
Even a mild comment along the lines of “we can come up with a better economic system” really sets people off because they are so invested in this one—even if it's screwing them over—that they think human imagination itself is finished.
To me, at least in retrospect, the really interesting question is why dullness proves to be such a powerful impediment to attention. Why we recoil from the dull. Maybe it's because dullness is intrinsically painful; maybe that's where phrases like 'deadly dull' or 'excruciatingly dull' come from. But there might be more to it. Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain because something that's dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from feeling, or at least from feeling directly or with our full attention. Admittedly, the whole thing's pretty confusing, and hard to talk about abstractly... but surely something must lie behind not just Muzak in dull or tedious places anymore but now also actual TV in waiting rooms, supermarkets' checkouts, airports' gates, SUVs' backseats. Walkmen, iPods, BlackBerries, cell phones that attach to your head. This terror of silence with nothing diverting to do. I can't think anyone really believes that today's so-called 'information society' is just about information. Everyone knows it's about something else, way down.
If, then, after understanding, at least in theory, that the ego-trick is a hoax and that, beneath everything, “I” and “universe” are one, you ask, “So what? What is the next step, the practical application?”—I will answer that the absolutely vital thing is to consolidate your understanding, to become capable of enjoyment, of living in the present, and of the discipline which this involves. Whithout this you have nothing to give—to the cause of peace or of racial integration, to starving Hindus and Chinese, or even to your closest friends. Without this, all social concern will be muddlesome meddling, and all work for the future will be planned disaster.
During the colonial era of American history, European settlers defected to various Native American societies so frequently that many colonial governments took measures to prevent “going native.”
“No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies. The care and labour of providing for artificial and fashionable wants, the sight of so many rich wallowing in superfluous plenty, whereby so many are kept poor and distressed for want, the insolence of office, the restraints of custom, all contrive to disgust them with what we call civil society.”