Groucho Marx

Blog Archive – February 2005

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“ Paradoxes are the places where our rational mind bumps into its own limitations. According to eastern philosophy in general, opposites, such as good-bad, beautiful-ugly, birth-death, and so on, are ‘false distinctions’. One cannot exist without the other. They are mental structures which we have created. These self-made and self-maintained illusions are the sole cause of paradoxes. To escape the bonds of conceptual limitation is to hear the sound of one hand clapping. ”
Gary Zukav ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’

February 22 2005


Good reason to ponder the meaning of the word "patient" yesterday after a visit to the local A&E department. (Son's foot needed an x-ray after his Superman impersonations didn't go quite according to plan.)

When we arrived we were told it would be a good 2 hours before we were seen. I asked if we'd be better going to another hospital 40 miles away. The receptionist gave me one of those looks that would have been delivered over the top of her glasses, had she been wearing any, and said "... if you want to wait twice as long ..." So we stuck it out and played word games with all the posters plastered around the waiting area exhorting impatient patients not to assault the staff.

"Patient" is derived from the Latin patientia, from pati, to suffer or endure. Perhaps being a "patient" inevitably implies that suffering and endurance colours all aspects of our lives while we define ourselves within that state, and to expect anything different is quite nonsensical. And wherever the currency of suffering/endurance is present, then you're going to find both sides of the coin. One can't exist without the other. It's the nature of duality. So no surprise then that impatience erupts (or festers away under the fetters of tighter self-control) in hospital waiting areas ...

February 22 2005 | | | Permalink

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“ Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. ”
Winston Churchill

“ I died to mineral and plant became
Died from the plant and took a sentient frame
Died from the beast and donned a human dress
When by my dying did I ere grow less? ”
Jalal al-din Rumi

February 19 2005

Buying time

An article in today's UK Times describes journalist John Arlidge's trip to Chicago to discover – for a mere $1,500, no less – how old he is! What's perhaps even more surprising is that more than 4 million Americans have already shelled out this amount to learn the same thing. Nice work if you can get it ...

What this exhorbitant amount of energy exchange gets you is a thoroughgoing assessment of your physical condition and where you score in relation to the average human being of your age. In other words, information you can obtain any time for free by simply using your eyes and looking around you. So why are people reaching so deep into their pockets for this?

Could it have anything to do with the fact that the results are stated in terms of your "body age" as opposed to percentages or means or averages or the like? Some very shrewd marketing that! Basically $6 million of revenue has been generated by people's desire to learn that, as in Arlidge's case, they are not really 36 years old but in fact 30.6. So? How does that justify the price tag? Ah, well it's been determined scientifically hasn't it. Which must mean it's "true". So you can throw away your birth certificate and embrace your "body age" as your "true" age. Yeay!

And if you're one of the ones who find out that you're actually "older" than you thought you were? Well that's just the law of averages isn't it? By definition, 50% will be one side and 50% the other. It really does seem pretty meaningless. We all have things in common; we all have things that make each and every one of us unique. Is our uniqueness "faulty" just because it isn't shared by everyone else? Why is it we worship uniqueness in some areas of life (the creative arts) and deplore it in others (physiology and physiognomy)? Doesn't make sense to me. This mind-body conceptual dualism has a lot to answer for (see below).

All just goes to show what kind of illogical behaviour our fears surrounding our own mortality generate. I think I'm going to start a new movement (if someone hasn't already) – Be Your Age and Proud Of It! If there's one thing certain in life, it's death. Our life in the bodies we presently inhabit is finite. Absolutely 100% guaranteed. Given that totally inescapable fact, why not enjoy it rather than buying into the illusion that you can turn the clock back ... all so's you can spend an extra year or two fretting about the inevitable?

February 19 2005 | | | Permalink

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“ Heaven is mine, the earth is mine,
I am warrior I am.
Is there a god who can vie with me?
The gods are sparrows – I am a falcon.
The gods trundle along.
I am a splendid wild cow. ”
Song of Inanna

February 18 2005

New site launch

Welcome to the new version of my site! The design and format you're now looking at was put up (at 1am ...) today. Hopefully now I can put the intricacies of HTML aside and get back to real life. (Apologies to anyone for whom HTML is real life, but really <div id="puzzled"><p>Where <strong><em>is</em></strong> the fun in this?</p></div> Seems a strange outlet for nesting instincts.) The site has passed W3C validation, but please let me know if you have any problems loading or viewing it with a note of the platform and browser you're using.

February 18 2005 | | | Permalink

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“ Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity...and I'm not sure about the universe. ”
Albert Einstein

astrological chart

February 13 2005

Finger of fate

Anybody noticing a lot of sulphurous energy about? If the astrological chart to the left means anything to you, then there's really not much need to say any more than that. It speaks about the energies of the moment far more eloquently than I can. If it makes no sense to you whatsoever, then skip this entry because it would just take too long to explain. If you're somewhere in the middle ground and are just finding some of the glyphs a bit puzzling, they're the TransNeptunian "planets" (L to R) Admetos, Hades and Vulcanus, along with the more familiar Saturn and Pluto. The pattern is a yod, or a "finger of God/fate". It tends to "signify crises in which the energies have to be faced directly and specific courses of action taken in order for the energies to work out positively." (Robert Hand) The yod is formed by the three points of the isosceles triangle. Having a conjunction of planets at any of the points (Saturn and Vulcanus) and a fourth planet at the trigger point, or the midpoint between the planets at the base of the triangle (Hades), gives it particular power.

For a sense of what the TransNeptunians are about, Google or see Janis Page's meditations revealing their core symbolism. Time to face up to humanity's collective Shadow, or else ... Interesting that the present power-players in the US administration collectively and individually hold up very clear mirrors to all of that.

February 13 2005 | | | Permalink

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“ Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul
Nor beauty born out of its own despair
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil
O Chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance
How can we tell the dancer from the dance? ”
William Butler Yeats, ‘Among School Children’

“ If the principle of local causes fails and, hence, the world is not the way it appears to be, then what is the true nature of our world? ... There really may be no such thing as ‘separate parts’ in our world (in the dialect of physics, ‘locality fails’). In that case, the idea that events are autonomous happenings is an illusion. This would be the case for any ‘separate parts’ that have interacted with each other at any time in the past. When ‘separate parts’ interact with each other, they (their wave functions) become correlated (through the exchange of conventional signals) (forces). Unless this correlation is disrupted by other external forces, the wave functions representing these ‘separate parts’ remain correlated forever. * ”
[* If the Big Bang theory is correct, the entire universe is initially correlated.]
Gary Zukav ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’

February 10 2005


Came across this article from the Independent. Should we be pleased that mainstream "science" is at last getting around to recognising the mind-body connection? Someone pinch me please. Are we awake? Like, how on earth did we get to the place that divorces mind from body to this extent to begin with? Twenty years after physics demonstrates pretty incontrovertibly the non-separability of the entirety of existence (see previous Article of the Moment and quotes from David Bohm and Gary Zukav left), medicine is still labouring under the delusion of the separability of a single human being!

Can you tell where your body ends and your mind begins in, for instance, a simple activity like responding to feelings of hunger by fixing yourself something to eat? Seems that old adage “divide and conquer!” is relevant here – break up the integrity of an entity and it can no longer maintain cohesion and function as a whole. No wonder then that you end up with assumptions like the sum of a healthy human being is merely a happy accident of good teamwork between its various component parts! In this context, the fact that our health-care system (health, from OE hal, whole) is falling apart and failing so many seems not so much unfortunate as inevitable. All the king's horses and all the king's men ...

Why does the concept of taking responsibility for health problems get people so hot and bothered? Blundering blindly into a situation about which we have scarcely even the most rudimentary knowledge and awareness doesn't mean we're to blame for it! Though of course the idea of "blame" may be an inevitable corollary of the delusions of omnipotence that seem to afflict certain "experts" amongst us, but since when has the human race exhibited much collective intelligence concerning the nature of life? Rather, individuals who do have been consistently and systematically marginalised (or worse) throughout history in the interests of propping up the latest house of cards that claims to represent how it all works. The territory must defer to the map of it, and if it's not on the map then it doesn't exist. Whatever happened to reality itself? Ah, well that'll be inadmissable anecdotal evidence, won't it?

Francis Bacon – the father of the 'scientific method' – must be turning in his grave. He proposed a system of inductive enquiry for investigating the workings of nature (as opposed to the Aristotelian deductive method of his day) and "science" was born. What this means is that theories and models of existence are derived from observation of what happens, not the other way round, and continually tested in relation to what happens to make sure they're a reasonable description of it. (Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, also pursued the inductive method, which is how he arrived at his theories and principles.) If something happens which is not accounted for by the model, then the model needs to be questioned every bit as much as the event.

So much of what passes for "science" these days seems to lack even basic common sense, something that's stood the human race in reasonably good stead for several millenia. But perhaps even that's preferable to the overweening hubris that would have you believe that there are "experts" out there who actually know what's going on. Notice how few animals got washed away by the tsunami?

Coming back to the article there's a really critical point to this, particularly in relation to the closing paragraph. Take away responsibility and you take away response-ability. If people with serious illnesses learn that they have the power to influence their condition rather than remaining hapless, helpless and hopeless victims of it, then they have something to work with. If they remain in ignorance about such abilities, then how much more easy is it to succumb to the hopelessness which results in such a poor prognosis?

For more on this subject, see the essay on Vitalism from the General Essays section.

February 10 2005 | | | Permalink

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“ Parts are seen to be in immediate connection, in which their dynamical relationships depend, in an irreducible way, on the state of the whole system (and, indeed, on that of broader systems in which they are contained, extending ultimately and in principle to the entire universe). Thus, one is led to a new notion of unbroken wholeness which denies the classical idea of analysability of the world into separately and independently existing parts ... We have reversed the usual classical notion that the 'independent' elementary parts of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independently behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole. ”
David Bohm and Basil Hiley ‘On the intuitive understanding of nonlocality as implied by Quantum Theory’

February 01 2005

One and one make ...?

Isn't it funny that while (in some quarters at least) acknowledging the oneness of existence, we continue to conceptualise it as something we're separated from? Oneness is oneness. It cannot be anything else. So it's not like we have this tendency to return to oneness, because something can't "return" to what it already is. If everything is one, then the perception of things as separate can only be a contingent and temporary illusion, a momentary perturbation in the fabric of unity which allows it to reflect upon itself.

If you follow this to its logical conclusion, then there are some interesting ideas to confront.

Like the fact that if everything is one, then our conceptualisations of individual soul/spirit existence beyond this earthly life (if we entertain such conceptions) are every bit as delusional as the illusion of separation we have in this earthly form.

Like the fact that if everything is one, then all of it is perfect as it is. No good or bad, no right or wrong, no should or shouldn't be. So all this striving to be good, to be holy, to be loving, and on and on, through this lifetime or through multiple lifetimes, has got nothing to do with "returning" to oneness. Quite the opposite! It's just a function of the dualistic dream. By the very act of striving to be all those things (as opposed to their opposites), we merely perpetuate the illusion and cling ever more firmly to the delusion of separation! Such a glorious paradox!

Of course, our drive to maintain this illusion (while believing that we're doing the opposite) is what keeps the whole of manifest existence manifest. If all of existence simultaneously dropped the dream, then there would only be a Singularity. All would instantaneously become unmanifest, and return to the state It was in before It conceived of the idea of looking in a mirror.

February 01 2005 | | | Permalink

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