Pace-Maker

Posted in All, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by marushiadark

“Can you hear it?  Hear this rhythm?  It’s the rhythm of time … and life.” ~ Fatman, Metal Gear Solid 2.

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this animated lecture called The Secret Powers of Time, by Philip Zimbardo.  I watched it, trying as best I could not to analyze it, but to just empty my cup and take it all in as new information and a different perspective.

The general gist of the lecture is that there are six different “time zones” that people live in and that this has a profound effect on the way those people view the world, conduct themselves, where they live, how their mind works, and so forth.  I won’t go into too much detail about that.  If you wanna know, you can just watch it yourself.  This post is mainly my reflections on it.

From my own experience, I can attest that cities in the southern portions of countries tend to have a much different experiences of time than people in the northern portions.

Let’s compare two such cities: Savannah, Georgia, and New York, New York.  Both are major cities, but the overall pace of Savannah is much slower, much calmer, much more relaxed.  Even the appearance of the city seems to reflect this difference.  Where New York is crammed and full of skyscrapers, Savannah is much more open, with the tallest buildings being scarcely above twelve floors.  The whole city of Savannah seems to shut down somewhere between 6PM and 10PM, with few exceptions, whereas some place like New York is still alive and active during that time; in fact, it’s often just beginning to wake up.

This is just one example taken in brief.  I’m sure if you’ve traveled at all in your life, you can think of many examples like this.  You could probably also notice the subtle differences in pace between some place like New York and Philadelphia, where the change in latitude is smaller, but the relative pace is still proportional.

So a general rule, what Philip Zimbardo said about north-south relations of time seems accurate.

It makes sense from a physical standpoint too, since as you go north, the distance between lines of longitude grows shorter.  You can cover more ground (in a polar sense) in the same amount of time, ergo you are more productive.

But one thing I noticed as Zimbardo was talking is that this is a relative value.  Time is a factor in pace, but so are other things like climate, population, and the availability of resources.  For instance, Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole is a highly efficient machine compared to New York, but the same can’t be said for Albany or Toronto.

Perhaps the most valuable insight in Zimbardo’s lecture is how he highlights the way in which younger generations are geared to think digitally and thus at a faster pace than their parents and grandparents, who are accustomed to analogue.  That every second is precious and waiting is a pain is something I think will only become worse (or better) as time goes by.  Soon, it won’t be seconds we’re counting, but microseconds, especially with the advancement of computer technology wherein computers begin to piece together complex patterns that only the human brain can do right now.

Technology doesn’t make things better, it just makes things faster.  Technology only makes things better where lack of speed and efficiency in accomplishing a task was the fundamental problem in the first place.

The same fundamental problems exist for humans everywhere.  The disparities between the pace of life in the north and south, I think, are ultimately largely a matter of differences in the way in which people have resolved these problems.  How they’ve assessed what their needs are and how to go about acquiring them.  The same can be said of the conservative vs. liberal model, or of the traditional vs. modern model.  Such extremes are only paths and we take a left or a right at any given fork based on what we want or need in any given moment.

I’m sure all of you reading this right now, if I asked you to, could come up with a list of values, beliefs, and practices that you agree with and those you disagree with, and in full assessment of said lists, you’d find that, more than anything, you probably aren’t fully to one side or the other in any of those models I just described.

Some of you may consider yourself pious, religious persons, for instance, yet you don’t dive into the deep end of the pool and live monastically in a convent, eating mush and practicing asceticism.  Do you?

Conversely, those of you who abhor religion probably see the value, either from a rational perspective, or otherwise through intuition, that certain rules and morals like “don’t hurt people on purpose without a good reason” are good and necessary and that, whether you’re aware of it or not, society is living and functioning because of such rules and principles.

All things in moderation, including moderation.  Your pace should change with the circumstances.  When you drive a car, you go one speed in a school zone and another on the highway, and somewhere in between all other times, right?  You adapt your pace with the changes in the road, and you adapt your pace of life, and your temporal focus in much the same way.

So which time zone should we live in?  Zimbardo seems to favor the future, but I think the present’s where it’s at.  When you look out, you see mostly just what is right in front of you in that moment, occasionally glancing to the left and right through your peripherals.  If you turn your head, you environment changes, but your anatomy hasn’t changed.  You’re still looking at what is directly in front of you in the immediate sense.  So I think it must be in life that we remain mostly in the present, while keeping the past and the future in our peripherals.

The past tells us where we came from and how we got to the state we’re in.  The future gives us a sense of where we are, or would like to go.  But the present just is.  And let it be.

10,000 Things

Posted in All, Miscellaneous, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2011 by marushiadark

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” ~ Bruce Lee

There once was a great and powerful emperor who adored cats more than anything in the world.  One day, he hired a very famous artist, the most skilled master painter in all the land.  He commissioned this artist to paint a picture of a cat, instructing him that it should be representative of everything that a cat is.  “It should be playful, mysterious, comforting, protective, cunning, soft, flexible, wise, mischievous, and all the various traits a cat would have,” explained the emperor.

The master painter bowed before his emperor and said that he would be able to paint such a painting, but that it would take time.  The emperor was so enthusiastic about his painting that he allowed the artist to take as much time as he needed to complete the task.

A week went by and the emperor grew anxious.  He went to see the artist and asked if his painting was finished yet.  The master artist said it was not ready yet, but that the emperor should come back in one month’s time.  A month passed and the emperor returned again to check on the artist’s progress.  “Still not ready,” said the artist, “Come back in another month.”

In this way, month after month had passed until months became years and years turned into ten whole years before the emperor finally returned one day, now becoming rather impatient.

“Yes,” said the artist, at last, “It is ready.”

The master artist then pulled out his brush and made several black strokes on a piece of rice paper, creating the perfect image of a cat.  The emperor was so elated by the image that he forgot his anger and began to showed the master painter with praises and accolades as he described how wonderful the piece was.  “It is everything that a cat is,” the emperor said, “From its whiskers to its ears to its eyes to its tail, it has all the qualities and traits a cat would have.  But why, pray tell, did it take you ten years when all you did was paint a few short strokes here?”

The artist then bade the emperor to walk with him to a large wooden closet.  The master painter opened the closet door and out poured thousands upon thousands of sheets of paper, each one a practice sheet of imperfect standard and quality.

This parable was first told to me by one of my mentors in college, who taught us that in order to be great at anything, it takes about 10,000 bad attempts before one good one finally emerges.  Likewise, to the ancient Chinese, if one knew 10,000 things, that person was said to be all-knowing.

As you make your New Year’s resolutions, keep this parables in mind.  For those who wish to get in better shape, consider what doing 10,000 sit-ups would do for you.  Or for those who wish to learn something new, like playing the piano, imagine what 10,000 hours of practice would accomplish.  Or what reading 10,000 pages would accomplish.

You don’t have to do them all at once, of course.  In fact, it’s better if you don’t.  Spread them out across the days and months and years, if need be.  But at least this gives you a visible and trackable goal.  Regardless of whether you ultimately become the person you want to be, you can be sure that if you do one thing 10,000 times, you will certainly be a master at something, especially if that something is yourself.

We’ll See …

Posted in All, Humor, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2010 by marushiadark
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift – that is why it is called ‘the present.’ ” ~ Kung Fu Panda

Here’s a parable about the nature of time for you to consider as we begin a new year:

There once was a small village in which there lived a Zen master.  One day, a farmer accidentally left his pen gate open and his prize horse ran out into the wilderness.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how terrible,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”  The next day, the horse returned and had brought two wild horses with it.  The farmer tamed the horses and gave one to his son as a gift.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how wonderful,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”

One day, the little boy was riding the horse and he fell off, breaking his leg in the process.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how terrible,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”  A few days later, some messengers had come from the government, saying that the emperor had ordered conscripts to go and fight.  However, the little boy was unable to go because he had broken his leg.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how wonderful,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”

While the men were out fighting, a small band of warriors came to the village, where they killed many people in the town, including the little boy.  The soldiers looted what they could and then left.  The people of the said, “Oh, how terrible,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”  Some days later, news of this attack reached the emperor, who was moved by the plight of his people.  So the emperor sent troops to ensure that the village would not be attacked again.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how wonderful,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”

Some time passed and the emperor sent messengers out to all the villagers ordering that the taxes be increased to pay for the war.  The people of the village were still recovering from their loss and had no money to pay the tax, so the soldiers imposed tighter restrictions on the people of the village.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how terrible,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”  Eventually, a man returned to the village from fighting in the war.  He saw what was being done to his people and rallied forces together to oust the soldiers from the village.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how wonderful,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”

Those of you who have seen the movie Charlie Wilson’s War may remember this story and may have noticed that I added a fair bit to it.  Really and truly, I could have continued on in this way for all eternity just by adding more and more events.  But hopefully that was enough for you to get the general gist of it.

Everything in life has a higher purpose.  As these bad things happen to you, turn your gaze inward and look for the deeper meaning.  What lesson are you meant to learn from this?  How did your own actions contribute to the negativity of the situation?  What action can you take to try and improve the situation, while still being mindful of any potential backlash that may result?

We cannot know the future; and what may appear to be a good or bad thing today may prove to be just the opposite in time.  The Zen Master lives in the moment every day, recognizing that all events are neutral and that there is no good or bad but what we apply to a situation.  Something to consider strongly as we enter this new year of 2011.  I sense a great escalation of events in the near future.  Many of those events will seem bad, but we must always find a silver lining in any situation, while remaining aware of the consequences of our actions.

A Brief History of Yule

Posted in All, Humor, Miscellaneous, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by marushiadark

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide carols being sung by a choir and folks dressed up like eskimos.” ~ The Christmas Song

Today is Yule, a day that celebrates the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year and the official start of the winter season.  It’s an ancient pagan holiday dating back some ten thousand years at least.  It is even known to have been practiced during the early days of Stonehenge.  In fact, it is now believed that the site itself was used as a temple for that very purpose.

In my junior year of high school, we read Beowulf around December.  My literature teacher at the time gave our class a history lesson on ancient Norse pagans and how monks later wrote down many of the oral tales, inserting Christian concepts in place of the pagan ones.  We were told this was done for various reasons.  One was because the monks found the tales exciting and interesting, but had to transpose religious ideologies to avoid being prosecuted as heretics.  Another was because the church wanted to convert the pagan population altogether.

The concept of Christianity supplanting its beliefs onto those of other cultures should not be news to anyone in this day and age.  Since the formation of the Catholic Church in the 4th Century, the Church has been systematically acquiring and assimilating rites and holidays from cultures all over the world; one of the earliest being to convert the image of Sol Invictus, the unconquerable sun, into the image of Jesus Christ.

Many Roman sites, such as Trajan’s Column and the Pantheon, were also converted into Christian monuments.  And when the Conquistadors sailed to the New World, they built Churches on top of the Mesoamerican temples.  Christmas is another one of those things that the Church stole from other pagan religions to make their particular version seem more palatable to the locals.

Just before Christmas time that same year, my literature teacher explained to us the history of the yule log and where that tradition comes from.  Since then, I’ve acquired a bit more information to fill out the rest of the details of the story.

In my posts on the Circumpunct and the Solar Cross, I explained briefly that the ancients worshiped the sun as the source of all light and truth, and that they held December 21 as the death of the sun with the 25th being its rebirth.

The Winter Solstice is also the time of year when feminine, yin energy is at its maximum.  As we know from looking at a taijitu, the universe will often create its opposite as the direct result of something being in its maximum state.  In ancient paganism, the height of feminine energy demanded a ritual to be performed that would invoke the opposite and continue the cycle to the opposite extreme.  Towards that end, the festival of the Yule Log was created.

The feast of Yule actually gives us two notable icons in modern day Christmas celebrations: the Yule Log and the Christmas Tree.

The Yule Log was originally cut from a large pine tree, usually the biggest one that could be found.  The pine tree was actually a phallic symbol in this ceremony and represented tremendous strength, size, power, and masculine energy.  To this day, we still refer to a man having as erection as him “having wood.”

Once the tree was chosen, it was covered in tar and pitched and set up vertically (i.e. “erect”).  The celebrants would then light the tree on fire – fire being an earthly reflection of the sun, in whose honor the ceremony was performed.  The people would then dance and eat and fuck around this burning symbol of solar masculinity as part of their Yuletide festivities.

In modern times, we still “light our trees,” only we do so with LEDs instead of embers.  If we light a piece of wood on fire, it’s usually in the confines of a fireplace or outdoor fire pit instead of the middle of the village.

I think we all know well the Catholic Church’s position when it comes to sex (and I’m not talking about missionary style).  It’s obvious that such sexually charged rituals as these would not fly in the midst of those that wanted to manipulate pagan persons into believing that their salvation could only come from the one true savior JC.  But the people would be hard-pressed to convert if they had to give up all their rituals.  I mean, let’s face it, if the choice was between partying and mass, between wild orgies and abstinence, and there were really no spiritual distinctions between the two, which would you choose?

So the church performed a triage and allowed the local peoples to keep their trees and their feasts and their songs and some of the yuletide benefits (so long as they were married), and in exchange, the people would celebrate a new version of the holiday with Christ as the central figure in place of the sun.

That’s somewhat ironic, since Christ was originally a sun god himself, but with enough history having gone buy, it evolved into something much different, and the holiday is evolving still.

The Assassin’s Creed, Part 2

Posted in All, Miscellaneous, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2010 by marushiadark

“Hide in plain sight.” ~ Second tenant of the Assassin’s Creed.

It’s been said that the best place to hide something is in plain sight. It sounds so counter-intuitive, yet it happens all the time.

I’m sure we’ve all had experiences of losing something, only to find that it was right under our noses the entire time.  People who wear glasses have this problem all the time.  They can’t find their glasses, so they search the entire house, only to realize afterward that they were sitting on top of their head the entire time.

So why does this happen?

As near as I can figure, some part of our ego decides that we are too intelligent to lose something and that the object in question must be in some place that is less obvious – some place that only a crafty sort would think to search.  The reality is often that we simply had a momentary lapse in judgment, and we feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit our fallibility.  Some people prey on this arrogance and hide a great many things before our eyes.  The only reason we don’t see them is because we’re too afraid to admit that we might not have all the answers.  That our senses are flawed and imperfect.

The modern military employs camouflage, allowing them to effectively position themselves right next to an enemy without being detected.  But the Assassins don’t use paint and shrubbery.  Instead, they use a more illusive and universal form of concealment.

Green paint may be good when you’re out in the woods.  But when you have to get up close to people on the street, in buildings, or out in the open, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.  So instead, you must learn how to disguise your persona, from the way you dress to the way you speak.  In the TV series Burn Notice, the main characters do this all the time, playing roles to get close to targets that would otherwise be out of reach.  It’s not always complicated, either.  Sometimes, the simplest of ruses can yield the biggest results.

“You know how to disappear.  We can teach you to become truly invisible.” ~ Raz Al-Ghul.

Not everyone is a spy or an assassin, of course, but that doesn’t mean the same techniques can’t be employed for other more mundane situations.

I can remember, as a child, going to the mall and feeling overwhelmed by the number of people that would walk by.  I would pretend that I was a fish and try to swim through the crowds as smoothly and stealthily as I could.  With this shift in attitude, I found that I could maneuver quite well through the mall with little to no attention being drawn to me at all.  On more than one occasion, I had managed to separate myself from my parents in this way and we had a hard time finding one another, even when actively searching.

In more recent times, I’ve been able to pop up behind someone without them realizing I’m there.  Often, I don’t intend to do this, either; it just sort of happens and the reaction I get is priceless.  I always joke about it afterward with the person, saying that it’s a good thing I’m not an assassin or they’d be dead.

I’d like to think that people have the capacity to be quite reasonable and understanding and that, if they knew better, they’d do better.

As children, we are pure, untainted, trustworthy, loving, ambitious, and willing to learn if the right person taught us.  The only reason we become anything less than that is because information is withheld from us, power is withheld from us, love is withheld from us.  In some way, we are lied to and the truth is kept locked away from our view.  So the idea that “a person is smart, people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals” could be overturned in a generation with the right teachers, the right leaders in place.

Because people are inherently good and trustworthy and loving and reasonable, I think a lot more could be gained from greater openness and transparency.  It is only ignorance and arrogance and lust of control that causes the teacher to withhold information from the student.  If the teacher did their job properly, the student would become wiser than them.  That’s the definition of progress.

“No nation hiding behind closed doors is free, for it is imprisoned by its own fear.” ~ Bill Clinton.

Our governments are comprised of people who wield power over us on our behalf.  As such, we place great trust in them not to abuse that power or use it to harm us.  Government ought to work for its people, not the other way around.

Sadly, the reality is quite the opposite.

Much of that power over us comes from the withholding of information.  We are told that it is in our best interests that we not know what the government is doing to us and why.  We gave them the power to work for us.  Only Frankenstein monsters have power over their creators.

Our leaders withhold information out of fear of loss of power and thereby risk to their political and administrative survival.  True servants reveal information when requested by their masters.  Towards that end, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was created, to serve as a balance of power.  Yet even such inquiries have been overridden under the guise of “National Security.”

“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.” ~ John F. Kennedy.

There are certain things that ought to be kept secret and never revealed.  One’s bank account numbers, one’s personal computer passwords, the launch codes to nuclear weapons, etc.  Things that would cause massive damage if made known.  However, a great deal of that which is guarded ought not be kept secret, but should instead be brought to light.  The ingredients in mass-produced foods, the test results of pharmaceutical companies, the financial backgrounds of our public officials, the secret government files on 9-11, and so forth.

If we, the public, can be asked to submit to a pat-down and x-ray scan at the airport, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that those in positions of great power over us have a proportional level of transparency.  Wouldn’t that be in the interests of public, national security?

“People should not be afraid of their governments.  Governments should be afraid of their people.” ~ V for Vendetta.

In the animal kingdom, the scariest creatures are often the most afraid.  Rattlesnakes make noise with their tails because they are afraid of being eaten, so they create this persona of being really viscious.  Many animals make themselves look larger than they really are, or have designs of the eyes of large predators on their bodies.  But all this is an illusion.  It is out of fear that they create such personas.  And yet, it allows them to weild great power over their environment and hide in plain sight.

Our governments are no different.  They use such ruses to hide in plain sight, so why not learn to do the same and take that power back for ourselves?

Our truest political leaders are the ones who are open and honest with us, remembering that they serve the people, not control them.  Those that have nothing to hide, who welcome inquiries and investigations into anything that we might feel threatened by or insecure about.

A clear and clean sheet of glass often goes overlooked.  We tend to focus more on what’s just beyond the glass than the glass itself.

By far, the most effective way to hide in plain sight is to not have anything to hide in the first place.  To be a pane of glass unmarred by blotches on your soul.  Steel your heart and mind against human weakness and become a better person – a wiser, more compassionate, and more powerful person.  Work to serve your fellow man and become more transparent yourself and the world around you will follow suit.  Hide in plain sight.

The Assassin’s Creed, Part 1

Posted in All, Economics, Miscellaneous, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by marushiadark

“Only a mind free of impediments is capable of grasping the chaotic beauty of the world.  This is our greatest asset … It presents us with challenges, yes, but freedom yields greater rewards than the alternative.” ~ Altair, Assassin’s Creed.

In my post on chakras, I mentioned that I often lose faith in humanity; but that, once in a while, someone will come along and restore it and remind me that I’m on the right track.  The brilliant minds over at Ubisoft responsible for the Assassin’s Creed series are another such group of people.

For those who don’t know what it is, you can check out the Assassin’s Creed wiki, or play the games yourself.

Suffice to say, it involves global conspiracies throughout history that are well-researched and quite plausible, in my opinion.  It’s a work of fiction, of course; but much like the works of Dan Brown, I doubt such stories could be made believably if there weren’t a great deal of truth to the subject matter.

The main idea behind Assassin’s Creed is that there are two overarching factions at work: the Templars, who seek to control everyone and everything in an Orwellian oligarchy, and the Assassins, who seek to restore freedom and sovereignty to the individual.  Over the years, these two sides go by different names, have different faces, and use different methods, but the core ideas of order versus chaos, control versus freedom still prevail.

The Assassin’s Guild has its own rules and hierarchy, but these are much more general and loosely defined in what is known as The Assassin’s Creed.

“Justice is balance.  You burnt my house and left me for dead.  Consider us even.” ~ Raz Al-Ghul.

Like many factions, both real and fictitious, the Assassins see themselves as the agents of natural law and divine justice.  They believe in balance above all things and the authority of the individual to act as judge, jury, and executioner in maintaining that balance.

Justice is balance, and the purpose of any system of justice should be to restore a situation to its proper state.  If a person’s property is damaged, justice demands that the offending party fix the property or pay fair compensation for the damage.  If something is taken, it must be returned.

In our modern society, prison does not always serve as appropriate punishment.  All prison really does is remove the person from society, but this does not always remove their criminal influence on society, nor does it guarantee their reform.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Goodfellas, you know that people of wealth and power can easily circumvent the rules to avoid truly paying off their debts by turning punishment into a luxury.  Thus, the power of the offender often determines the method by which justice is best applied.

One cannot undo rape or murder or reverse psychological trauma easily.  Thus, justice would demand that the individual be made to understand the severity of the damage caused in kind, so as to deter them from further damage in the future.  A rapist is sodomized, a murderer killed, and one who destroys a person’s life has their own destroyed.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life, … that is true justice.

The word “justice” itself derives from Latin justistia, meaning “equitable.”  It is an economic term that refers to the application of natural law in determining the monetary value of something.  The term “equitable” relates to “equatable,” meaning that two things can be considered the same.  This is the basis of our entire monetary system.

There’s a reason Lady Justice is blindfolded and carries a sword and balance scales.

The blindfold suggests the impartiality and unbias of true justice in the ideal.  The sword represents execution on the law in a strict sense, which may literally include the execution of an individual in taking their life.  The balance scales are used in commerce and are the best visual metaphor of equity.  If you place a weight on one side, the scales very obviously tip to that side.  If you then place a weight on the other side, the scales will tip back the other way.  If the scales are not even, then the two sides are not equitable.

Mercy is altogether a different thing from justice.  In fact, mercy is the special allowance of an imbalance to exist.  For instance, it is normally wrong to take a life because this causes great pain, but it is generally considered more wrong to allow a person to suffer for a long period of time.  Thus, the idea of a mercy killing creates an exception to the rule because it serves a greater good.

The term “mercy” derives from Old French mercit, meaning “reward, gift, or kindness.”  Mercy is linked to the concept of forgiveness: “For I give.”

If you give a gift, you are relinquishing your right to something in exchange for nothing.  You are putting something on the scales and the other person isn’t.  You are creating an exception in ordinary rules of justice.

In the Mosaic Law, there was execution on the law and an emphasis on justice and equity, taking back what is rightfully yours.  When Christ came along, he placed great emphasis on justice, but a greater emphasis on forgiveness.  This is because forgiveness represents a superior position.  If you have an abundance of money or power or love, you can give of yourself without suffering any significant loss.  Taking is easy, giving is hard.  If you are constantly giving, the other party will have no need to take from you, nor can they, as you cannot take something that is given freely.

“Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent.” ~ First tenant of the Assassin’s Creed

In carrying out their charge, the Assassins employ a variety of techniques and practices, including the killing of those that cause harm to others.

As you can imagine, having such power to take life can be easily abused.  Towards that end, the first tenant of the Assassin’s Creed was developed, which cautions against the spilling of innocent blood.  More generally, this cautions against collateral damage of any kind, instructing members of the order to act only when it serves the greater good.

This is one of the few rules that differentiates the Assassins from the Templars.  Where the Templars are willing to do anything and everything to achieve power, without regards for those they hurt, the Assassins exercise restraint and mercy alongside their administration of divine justice.

The term “fungible goods” is used to refer to anything that is equivalent to another thing of the same kind.  For instance, all one-dollar bills are worth the same amount.  It is generally assumed that all things of a kind (an eye, a tooth, a life) are fungible goods.  In the administration of justice, it is sometimes necessary to distinguish something as not being fungible. For instance, you cannot refuse a dollar bill as payment unless you can prove that it is counterfeit and therefore worthless.

In law, human bodies are considered physical property of the soul and fungible as a general rule.  Of course, in practice, not all human beings are equal.  Some people have more to offer than others.  Some are better at a craft or are better teachers, etc.

In the case of capital punishment, the value of a murderer’s life is considered diminished because the vessel has a history of causing damage to other vessels.  If the body or mind cannot be restored to a state of health, the vessel must be destroyed to prevent further damage.  This is not unlike a car with faulty parts that tends to lean to the left and drive into on-coming traffic.  If the issue can’t be corrected, and no other value can be gained from the vehicle, the car must be removed from the road and destroyed.

This is what the Assassins do in carrying out divine justice – rounding up and destroying the vessels that damage other vessels, leaving all others to their own devices.  Just as you would not needlessly destroy a perfectly working automobile, so too does the first tenant of the Assassin’s Creed guard against the needless and unjustified destruction of innocent human beings.

Just as crushed cars are recycled, so too will the human body and mind be recycled by the universe.

However, unlike a car, human beings are self-correcting machines.  Given enough time, even the most vile of persons can come around.  Unfortunately, this could be several hundred years, which is enough to span several lifetimes.

Thus, it is a very delicate matter being an Assassin.  It requires great wisdom and experience to determine whether a person is too far-gone to be healed, if they are worth saving or too dangerous to be kept alive.  Because human beings are not yet at the point where we can restore life as easily as we can take it away, I think capital punishment should be reserved as a last resort and for those that are truly incurable.

History, Part 2: In the Beginning …

Posted in All, Economics, Politics, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2010 by marushiadark

Start at the beginning … and when you come to the end, stop.” ~ Alice in Wonderland.

History is the study of what has happened in the past.  Obviously, that is a very broad definition and covers a very long period of time (several billion years, by our most current model).  There are many different lenses through which we can view history.  We can talk about political history, economic history, geological history, astronomical history, ancient history, American history, local history, zoological history, and so on and so forth.

Learning consists of acquiring two things: information and knowledge.

The various facts, dates, names, and places that most people memorize in school are part of the information.  Making someone memorize information is generally useless.  Unlike in school, life gives no tests on your ability to regurgitate information.  If you don’t know a particular piece of information, you can simply look it up.  That’s what libraries and the internet are there for.  If you can’t retain it after looking it up, write it down.  That’s what writing and recording instruments were created for.

What’s more important is that you understand the general motivations and context to the information.  To do that, we must start at the very beginning of things and work our way up from there.

However, one could write a whole book on just the first three minutes of the universe and still not cover everything.  Heck, you could write a really big book of several thousand pages and still not cover everything.  So it should go without saying that what I write in this blog no where near reflects the totality of what can be written about history.

I do not profess to have all the answers or know everything about anything, but think of this as though we are working on a puzzle and I have some pieces that you don’t, and I have seen where some pieces fit in that others miss.

Life is a giant puzzle in which everything has its place.  Unless you are taught something patently false, like that America was discovered in the year 1983 or something to that effect, then all new information can be fitted somewhere along side previous information.  Like in a puzzle, incorporating the new with the old will give you a much clearer sense of the larger picture, with a few key pieces leading to subsequently filling in all the places in between so that the holes become smaller and smaller.

“By the word religion, I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God.  I’ve seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers.” ~ Kingdom of Heaven.

In my studies, I have developed a sort of paradigm in which everything can be explained in terms of energy.  For years, I’d used principles of economics as a metaphor for matter of the spirit and karma, and I had always sort of separated the mundane from the spiritual.  I knew that there were those who followed The Spirit and there were those who loved money.

I was familiar with concepts like “love your neighbor,” “it’s always all about the money,” “follow the money,” “the will to power,” and “the dynamic principle of existence is survival.”

It wasn’t until I started listening to Brandon Adams’ lectures, however, that I truly realized that everything throughout time and space could be seen through an economic and legal paradigm as well.  This was a truly profound revelation, and not one that I was able to accept easily.  I had many periods of cognitive dissonance while trying to digest and accept this new perspective.  But once I finally started to understand and integrate it, it brought me a degree of inner peace and knowledge that I had not felt before.  Truly, it was a marriage of the mundane and the spiritual.

I think I first understood the true implications of this paradigm while I was copying down legal definitions from the Uniform Commercial Code and Black’s Law Dictionary to use as reference.  I wanted to create a list starting at the very beginning for everyone to follow.

This lead me back through the different stages in hierarchy of law until I finally got to Natural Law.  From there, I had a profound and, at least to my knowledge, unique understanding about the phrase, “will of God.”

You see, the law of conservation is one of the very few absolute rules of the universe.  God could not create something from nothing.  If God existed all alone in the void and was all that there was, he would have to create the universe out of himself, by subdividing himself somehow, whether in his mind (like a partitioned hard-drive) or in matter (i.e. the Big Bang).

It is said that the Big Bang created space and time and that God made the heavens (void) and the earth (matter).  Both are said to be responsible for the creation of the universe and natural law.

Well, this is what I realized while my brain was still in a mode for speaking legalese.

Typically, we think of “God’s will” as being that which he wants us to do, right?  As though God were looking down on us and directing us to do this or that.  Over the centuries, many people of religious minds have claimed that this or that action was “God’s will” or that “God wills it so.”

Well, in legal terms, what is a will?  A will, or more precisely a “last will and testament,” is a document that states certain things that you wish to be carried out after your death, particularly with regards to the handling of your property.  So the phrase, “God’s will” refers to God’s last will and testament, in which he sets out the guidelines (natural law) for the managing of his property, which is the whole universe.  That was the theory I’d come up with.

And then, of course, Nietzsche would have been right in saying “God is dead,” if by his death we are referring to the moment in which God chose to stop being God and broke down into component parts in the Big Bang.

In that case, Nietzsche would also have been right to say that the dynamic principle of existence was “the will to power,” in that the components of the universe assemble and collect together, thereby becoming more powerful until ultimately the whole universe is gathered up together again in the Big Crunch, reassembling God.

The will to power relates to survival in that something increases its survival potential by gaining more power, the goal, the law of nature, of course being to survive as long as possible.  Human beings gain money, influence, technology, and knowledge because such things are forms of power that lead to increased survival and longevity, as individuals or a species.  Things like planets and stars have immense power and can survive for billions of years.  Along with the laws of causality and conservation, survival is another natural law written down in God’s will.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in heaven, give good things to those who ask of him.” ~ Matthew 7:11

In forming a will, you are creating a trust fund.  A trust has several parts.  Firstly, you have the corpus or res, which is the actual property of the trust.  You have the grantor, who owns the property and puts the res into the trust.  The grantor gets to determine what happens with his or her property.  Then you have the trustee who takes care of and manages the property.  The trustee’s powers and authority are determined by the laws set down in the will of the grantor.  The trustee is the steward or custodian of the trust.  And lastly, you have the beneficiary who gets to use the property in a manner determined by the grantor and overseen by the trustee.

Sometimes, a person can fulfill more than one role in a trust, such as being a grantor-trustee, grantor-beneficiary, trustee-beneficiary, or even all three (but only if there is at least one other beneficiary).

A will typically is a special form of trust that has to do with the disbursement of one’s estate.  Generally, the estate is passed on to the children of the deceased, who are made from the essence of their parent.

In the Bible, Christ continuously refers to God as “the Father,” and says that we are “the children of God.”  He uses many metaphors and parables to describe heaven in economic terms.  He refers to heaven as a kingdom, saying it is like a field with buried treasure in it, or like a fine and valuable pearl.

In the case of the universe, God is the grantor.  God’s subdivided body and mind are the property put into the trust, which makes up the whole universe – God’s estate.  We, as beings of consciousness, are the stewards of God’s property and we are charged with taking care of the universe, maintaining it for the benefit of everyone and everything in it, including us.  The Bible tells us that the will of God – also called the Word, the Logos, the Tao, and many others – is written on the hearts of everyone.

In other words, we are each authorized and obligated to tend to the world in the way that we best see fit, so long as we are working towards the growth and survival of the universe as a whole.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:1.

The death of God created the universe, for which we, God’s children, are the stewards and beneficiaries.  But before we existed, there were other forms of consciousness that existed in ways that might seem foreign to us.

In Judeo-Christian mythology, there are said to be nine (sometimes ten) different levels of angels that execute God’s will as his agents.  Among these are Seraphim, great and powerful creatures of fire (often linked with serpents).

Why would an all-powerful being need angels if he was constantly working to run the universe?

In Milton’s Paradise Lost, many of the angels in the great war that took place before humanity came to be, including Lucifer, are of this supreme class.  It’s no coincidence that Christ and Lucifer are both referred to as the morning and evening star, since the stars created this world and all the other planets.  Our sun was responsible for the creation of the earth and all life on it, including us.  The great war in Paradise Lost could in fact be a metaphor for the early formation of the cosmos by these fiery beings we know to be stars, whose actions could be seen to be chaotic and destructive, not unlike a war.

Some question the idea that stars and planets have consciousness, to which I would respond that consciousness is energy and an observer.  Stars and planets are made of such energy and can be observers according to relativity, so they could well be beings of consciousness on a level and scale that we cannot comprehend.  Either way, the stars and planets are all subject to the jurisdiction of natural law and are God’s agents in its execution.