Archive for September, 2010

Venenum Veritas

Posted in All, Miscellaneous, Psychology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2010 by marushiadark

“Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows.” ~ David Wolf, astronaut

There’s an old saying that I’ve often taken as my own personal motto.  It goes, “Expect the worst, hope for the best.”  I’ve always felt it to be very pragmatic because if the worst ever happens, you’ll be prepared for it and not caught off-guard.  Conversely, if anything other than the worst case scenario happens, you will be pleasantly surprised.  So it would seem that, by following such a logical strategy as that, you would be very well off, no?

Lately, I’m no longer so sure.

I’ve always been a very analytically-minded person.  And while it’s often good to have a back-up plan just in case things go wrong, such has left me carrying a lot of worry around, most of it needless. As the Dalai Lama says, “If a problem can be solved, there is no use worrying about it.  If it can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.”

Cynicism has also made me a very untrusting person.  Some people have told me that’s a good thing, since few are exactly who they claim to be and few are worthy of trust.  Others have said that, in continuing to think along those lines, I will continue to create only what’s on my mind, and what’s on my mind is often cynicism; so my world will seek to placate those thoughts.

I know where it comes from.  It comes from being a student of the truth and always wishing to know that which is true and correct, but at the same time having been lied to and deceived so many times in my life.  Not all of it was intentional, a lot of it was reaction to mental aberrations (actually, all lying is the result of mental aberrations), and a lot of it also comes from my own failings – my own pains and misunderstandings.  If nothing else, it’s very paradoxical.  At times, it is a great burden to carry the truth, especially when others aren’t there to help support you.

Sometimes, I find myself wishing I could go back to that naive little child where everything was perfect and I was always happy.  Yet there are other times where I feel like I wouldn’t trade who I am now for a hundred years of happiness if it meant giving up the truth, because I know I am much freer now and in greater control of the world around me, which in itself brings happiness sometimes.

The truth is a powerfully addictive drug.  The more you learn, the more you can’t help but continue learning.  The more you know, the more you become aware of just how little you actually know in comparison to the sum of all things that can be known; and this newly discovered level of ignorance just spurs the desire to learn that much more.

Many addicts will tell you that, initially, their drug of choice induces a natural high.  But after a while, it becomes customary and routine, so the person falls out of that euphoria into a deep trench and needs a greater dose to reach the same feeling of high as before.  This, of course, creates an escalation in which the highs get higher and the lows get lower.  The sine wave of ups and downs begins to grow in amplitude, but to what extent?  Are we to simply not learn anything at all and be content in our ignorance or is it worth the pains to climb the mountain of knowledge?  Is it worth it to build wings of wax and fly towards the sun, even with the full knowledge that our efforts were in vain from the very beginning and that we’re destined to plummet back into the sea?

Do we simply build better wings?  The better our wings, the higher we soar, but the farther we also have to plummet back down.  Is such a thing worth it?  I think that’s a choice that every man or woman must come to terms with at some point in their lives.  Personally, I like flying, so I’d rather learn to fly than be stuck in the ground.  Being stuck isn’t any fun at all.

Without that feeling of high, you might as well just be a robot and live forever.  I think that idealism is the high and cynicism the low when it comes to knowing things.

One time, I got a fortune cookie fortune that simply said “Don’t give into cynicism.”  What if Kennedy had given into cynicism?  We might not have gone into space and the world would be a totally different place than it is today.  Maybe if we learn enough, and if our wings are constructed well enough, we ourselves will reach into outer space where gravity effects us less, and from there we’ll have laid the foundation for soaring toward the stars, metaphorically speaking.

Eye of the Beholder

Posted in All, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by marushiadark

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” ~ John Keats, poet.

I was sitting on my back porch today and I happened to look up at the clouds in a particular moment and noticed that they were exceptionally beautiful.  In my mind, I found myself saying how only God could make such a thing as that.

Now, I’m not what you would call a religious person, but just sitting there staring at the clouds was both deeply touching and deeply rewarding for me.  For a brief moment, I felt at one with everything around me.

I think the idea that only God could make something so beautiful is quite true.  After all, what mortal man, with all of his technology or artistic skill could make something as beautiful as a bona-fide sunset?  Certainly no one thus far.

There have been times where I’ve looked out upon nature and it all seemed almost artificial to me.  For instance, sometimes I’ll notice a slight curvature to the sky, as though I was under a giant dome.  Other times, when I’m high above the ground (especially in an airplane), I’ll look out and the world will appear more like a diorama than actual life.  Sometimes I’ll walk through the park and remember that the landscape there was arranged by man – ordered, tamed, unnatural, almost clinical, even.

And yet there are always those times where I look upon nature and feel the presence of God and life in everything around me that fills me with peace and joy and love.

“Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” ~ David Hume, philosopher

Many people of lesser mind use the argument of beauty as proof of God’s existence without truly understanding what they’re talking about.  Almost immediately after I made my remark about the clouds today, my mind took a dualistic position.  I reasoned that God didn’t have any effect on the clouds.  That it was just water in the atmosphere collecting to form a random pattern.  If there was any beauty involved, it was all in my own mind and not something objective outside myself.

I contemplated this argument for a minute and then realized that it was also true.  There wasn’t anything outside myself that made it particularly beautiful.  Beauty was an internal conception, something only a human mind could conceive of.  But that just goes to further prove that God had a hand in making what I saw.  For if God is in all of us, which he is, and if God is the observer looking out through our minds and bodies, and if our perceptions create a sense of beauty in the mind in reaction to some external stimulus; then through a transitive line of reasoning, it stands that God created the beautiful scene that I observed.

In my lecture on symbols, I talked about how symbols only have those meanings we apply to them.  Without that, they’re just a collection of random lines and shapes.  But it’s the creative and associate processes that take place in our minds that make these symbol something else.

What is a cloud but a randomization of water molecules in the air?  If we see shapes in the clouds, we are taking that raw material and creating something out of it.  It’s no different than an artisan taking a lump of clay and molding it into a shape conceived of in his mind, except that we’re not touching the vapor with our hands.  We’re crafting it solely (soul-ly) within ourselves.

“No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Beauty is something that has been analyzed for millenia.  The dictionary defines beauty as “the quality of a person or thing that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction, whether arising from the senses, meaning, pattern, spirit, or other.”

In layman’s terms, beauty is everything that you expect a thing to be.  If you see a beautiful sunset, it has every quality that you, personally, think a sunset ought to have.  It fully meets your expectations of a textbook sunset.  Likewise, a beautiful man or woman has all the qualities you are looking for.  If their personality matches your unique expectations, then that person has inner beauty as well.

Because each person has their own mind with their own thoughts, tastes, and preferences, their perception of what is beautiful and what isn’t will be inherently different from that of everyone else; unless said individual has been influenced by social trends and molded to think a certain way.  Remember, societies have minds too on a different level of consciousness.

Even putrid, disgusting, and malevolent things can be beautiful in their own right.  Ugly dolls , for instance.  Or pugs.  Many people adore pugs specifically for their ugliness.  Similarly, a crime that is said to be a “work of art,” such as a murder, has everything you’d expect from the perfect crime.

In traveling down I-95, going through Elizabeth, New Jersey, there is a certain chemical plant along the side of the road that spews steam and, quite possibly, pollutants into the air.  Yet at night, it is a sight to behold with all its lights.  It almost reminds me of that scene from The Matrix Revolutions where Neo is blind and yet everything he sees is made of light.  Even though he’s in the most hellish place on earth, he can’t help but be in amazed at the beauty all around him when viewed from a higher perspective.  Whenever I pass by that plant, I can’t help but gaze in awe myself and wonder how something so bad for the environment could, at the same time, be so beautiful.  Only something from within, the divine spark, could create that.

The ability to see beauty or ugliness around us depends upon what level of consciousness our mind is in at the time we observe a given event.  If we are on the dualistic level of lower consciousness, separated from God, we will see nothing but horror and strife.  Conversely, if we are resonating with love and oneness on a higher level of consciousness, then we will see beauty in all things.

The phenomena around us are simply random, neutral events.  What changes is our perception of them and the order and beauty and meaning we bring to them.  We’re the ones applying bias one way or the other, depending on the lenses we choose to see the world through.  We are the creators, creating our own universes.

Mindfuck #2: Time and Space

Posted in All, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by marushiadark

“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.” ~ Rod Sterling

When I was in high school, I joined the Math Team because I had great interest in math.  I was better at it than most people I knew and enjoyed it a lot.  If I was being fair, I would have to say that I was probably the weakest link on the team, but I still took great pleasure in going all the same.

Our coach had ordered a great many copies of the book Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin A. Abbot.  He didn’t know what else to do with them, so he gave each of us team members a copy of the book to keep.  I read it with great interest, despite the first half being very difficult and abstract material for me at the time.  But it was a book that would forever change my perspective on life.

I was maybe only fourteen or fifteen years old at the time, but after reading Flatland, I became intensely fascinated with the notion of there being other dimensions besides the three that we live in.  In the years following, I would encounter Flatland again many times.

When studying Dante’s Inferno in my junior year, I tried to apply the concept of multiple dimensions to the different levels of hell.  In my AP Physics class, we watched What the Bleep Do We Know? and I recall having in-depth conversations with my teacher about hyperforms.  I even tried to draw out my conceptions of them on the white board.  Eventually, I bought the sequel to What the Bleep? and there came across a retelling of Flatland in the adventures of Dr. Quantum.  I also became fascinated with books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide series and movies like the Cube triology, which had similar themes of dimensionality in them.  It was from watching the movie Hypercube that I first learned the word “tesseract” and their visual example struck deep to my core.

In college, I came across this little gem of a video by the late, great Carl Sagan and my fascination with Flatland was once again renewed.  At about the same time, I also happened upon a most excellent video on Moebius Transformations and their connection with dimensionality.  I also just recently learned that there was a movie made in 2007 about the tale of Flatland, narrated by Patrick Steward, which I’m interested in seeing.

Such obsessions with dimensionality also pushed me to learn about things like black holes and wormholes.  As you might well imagine, I spent a great deal of my time thinking about those too.  In particular, I hold a special place in my heart for Alcubierre Drives and Krasnikov Tubes.

“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.  It is the middle ground between … the pit of man’s fears and the sum of his knowledge.” ~ Rod Sterling

My fascination with dimensions was equalled only by my fascination with time and my obsession with time travel movies like Timeline, Back to the Future, Clock Stoppers, and Time Cops.

Most people know that we live in a world of three dimensions: height, width, and depth (or x, y, and z).  Some will even say that we live in a four-dimensional world with time being the fourth dimension.  But even as a teenager, I never really bought that time was the fourth dimension.  To me, dimensions were more a thing of space than of time.  After all, you could have a “2-D” movie that was changing over time.  Should we relabel that a “3-D” movie?  And should all the new “3-D” movies coming out be relabled as “4-D” movies?  I bet they’d sell even better if we did.  And what about a “1-D” object (a line) or even a “0-D” object (a point)?  Can’t those move in time as well?

Most people know that velocity / rate / amount of change (v) is equal to distance (d) divided by time (t).  Your car moves at a rate of fifty miles per hour, for instance.  But the equation v = d/t can also be written t = d/v in which case time is defined as the distance between two points divided by their change in distance.  In order for there to be time, there must be at least two things and a change in their relationship.  That’s all that time is.

If we perceive lots of change, like when we’re having fun, then we say that time flies.  Conversely, if not much is changing, it appears as though time is dragging on.  How can time change?  It’s not a physical object.  Numbers and objects can change, but time can’t change.  Time is merely an associative thing created in our minds with no real counterpart in the physical world.  It’s like a metaphor, it doesn’t actually exist in reality.  When you look at your clock, you’re checking the relationship between the hands and the face.  Without a change in that, there is no time. If you look at the motions of the sun in respect to the earth, it’s the same.  No motion, no change, no time.

Consequently, that explains the phenomenon known as time dilation as well.  The observers are observing different events, different changes in the same objects, so in their minds, the time appears to be different.  But it’s simply a difference in perception of change, not the actual change itself.  We are defining all this stuff backwards.

It’s like that familiar episode of The Twilight Zone where the man presses the watch to “stop time” and everything else around him stops moving.  He didn’t stop time, he stopped the people around him.  Time continued as long as he was still moving and doing things in respect to everything else.  The movie Clock Stoppers is similar in that the kids don’t stop time, but are actually moving very fast in comparison to everything else.

Why can’t we tell what happened before the Big Bang?  Because there is no object besides the singularity to give us a sense of time.  That’s why the Big Bang is said to have created space-time, because space is defined as the distance between two points and time is defined as the change in their relationship to one another.

Why do we say that God always existed?  Because before God made the universe, there was just God – one object – and time did not exist before he made something else.

To me, the concept of a fourth dimension always brought to mind a fourth spatial dimension, like height, width, and depth.  I don’t really know what to call it, since no one’s yet come up with a name for it.  Maybe I’ll do that now and call it “inth,” as in “inside,” “inner,” or “inward,” since most fourth-dimension projections appear to show one thing inside the other.

It’s hard to imagine what such a realm would look like because we only live in three spatial dimensions, and anything that enters our space from the fourth dimension would necessarily appear to us as being three-dimensional.

How do we know if something is coming from a higher dimension?  Well, one way would be to take the various trends of lower dimensions and apply them to higher ones.  For instance, a line is a point traveling in a direction.  A square is a line traveling perpendicular to itself.  A cube is a square traveling perpendicular to itself.  So a hypercube, or tesseract, would be a cube moving perpendicular to itself.

In another example, a circle is a point rotated around a point.  A sphere is circle rotated around a point.  And a torus is a sphere rotated around a point.  So in one light, a torus is a four-dimensional object.  And then a hypertorus would be a torus rotated around a point, thereby creating a fifth-dimensional object.  Pretty neat, huh?

It’s important to realize that these are, as Carl Sagan puts it, just three-dimensional projections of four-dimensional objects.  Just as the denizens of Flatland can only ever see a slice of the whole form, so we can only ever see a slice of the whole hyperform.  It’s also important to realize that, although higher dimensional objects are made of an infinite number of intermittent component parts between their two ends, the objects themselves are considered one object, not several.  A cube is just a bunch of squares lined up between two squares, thus making a hypersquare, which we call a cube.  It’s a more holistic level of conception.

So imagine that the tesseract in the previous link is not two nested cubes, but really an infinite number of cubes lined up between the inner cube and the outer cube, thus making one single hypercube.  In the case of the torus, imagine many spheres all packed tightly together to make one single hypersphere, i.e. a torus, with an inner and outer radius, instead of just a radius.  And in the case of the hypertorus, imagine that there are infinite toroids all pressed together and overlapping as they go around the center, thereby creating one single hypertorus with an inner and outer hyperradius, as well as inner and outer radii.

That’s one way of understanding hyperdimensional objects.  But this becomes more difficult when we consider more complex hyperforms, and so we must rely on more abstract ways of thinking.

“The deepest level of truth uncovered by science and by philosophy is the fundamental truth of unity.  At the deepest, subnuclear level, you and I are literally one.” ~ John Hagelin

If you look at a tree, it has many roots and many branches.  These are all individuals and each of them different.  And yet, they are all connected to one another.  They are all the same tree.  They are just different parts of the tree.  If we stick the tree in the ground, the roots are covered and we can’t see them because of the limitations of our three-dimensional vision.

We are like the Flatland square that can only see the outside of objects that pass through its dimension.  However, the sphere is operating at a higher level of consciousness in its three-dimensional world and can see everything inside the square and even pass through its insides.  Were we gifted with four-dimensional sight, we would be able to see through the ground and through the tree and be able to view it in its entirety all in one glimpse.  We could see its insides and its outsides, and its front and back as well without even having to rotate it.

Even though the tree is divided in space by the plane of the ground, thus limiting our ability to see the whole thing, we understand that there is more to it than we can see and that it’s all another part of the same tree.  In much the same way, philosophers and religious leaders have told us for thousands of years that we are all one with God.

In this case, our individual bodies would simply be the roots and branches of a very large God tree, the Tree of Life.  In the Book of Genesis, the Tree of Life gave man eternal life, because he was still in the realization that he was connected with God and that everything is all part of the same holistic God, which is all that exists, therefore there is no time.  Thus, everything was eternal. Man was like the Flatland sphere, able to move in and out and through the world of lower dimensions at will and could see everything at once and, theoretically, be everywhere at once, because he was not limited by the interactions of lower dimensions.

However, as soon as man took from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, his consciousness changed.  He became dualistic, seeing himself as a separate entity from the other beings around him, forgetting that they were all just other branches of himself.  He entered the lower dimension, the lower consciousness and became like the sphere turning into a planer circle and then forgetting it was actually a sphere.

In this realm, there was now time and so there was death – or at least apparent death.  There was nothing to suggest the parts that left simply didn’t go somewhere else only to reappear back in the plane in another point in time in some other form (hint, hint).

So now man was bound to the motions and rules of interaction on the lower plane.  If any part of him moved along the higher plane and did something spooky like levitate, pass through solid objects, have actual knowledge beyond his five senses, disappear, or appear in multiple places at once, it was a fluke or magic or an act of some higher dimensional being.  But the reality of it is that he is the higher dimensional being and he’s simply forgotten.

We can speculate as to the reasons why God would suddenly become more dualistic and enter a lower level of consciousness.  My personal belief is that he was just bored and tired of being alone in an eternity of nothingness and emptiness as far as his all-seeing eye could see, so he decided to split his consciousness up and put on a finger-puppet show for himself.

I mean, think about it.  What would you do if you were stuck in a void for all time?  It’d probably drive you mad as well.

M is for Money

Posted in All, Economics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by marushiadark

“So you think that money is the root of all evil.  Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?” ~ Ayn Rand

At the time of my writing this, I’ve yet to read Atlas Shrugged.  I think I might already know a great deal of what’s in it, much like when I first read The Lost Symbol.  However, at the insistence of my mother, and many others, apparently, I’ve made Atlas Shrugged the very next book on my reading list.

Even still, Ayn Rand makes a very good point.  What is money?  Have you ever really thought about it?

For most people, when you mention the word “money,” a lot of things come to mind.  To some, it means little green pieces of paper or metal with pictures of dead presidents on them.  For others, it may call to mind an image of the mint printing vast rolls of the stuff.  On the one hand, money can be the source of great stress and grief if we don’t have it, or great opportunity and abundance if we do.  Pious people avoid it like the plague, while people that have it are willing to do anything to get it and can’t seem to get enough of it.

Most of these are probably incomplete observations, made by equally  ill-informed observers.  I know that, for most of my own life, I kept having the wrong impression about money, and only recently am I beginning to see money for what it actually is.

But what is that, exactly?

The Uniform Commercial Code is the Bible of commercial law.  UCC Article 1, Section 201b, Line 24 gives the definition of money as it’s used throughout most of the world today:

“Money means a medium of exchange currently authorized or adopted by a domestic or foreign government.  The term includes a monetary unit of account established by an intergovernmental organization or by agreement between two or more countries.”

In brief, money is simply a medium of exchange, an I.O.U.

When you play Monopoly, the paper is just there to help regulate how much you’re worth in comparison to the other players.  If you run out, the game even tells you to make more money out of regular paper, because it’s just a medium of exchange with no inherent value of its own.  Or if you play in digital form, it’s all done via electronic transfers and moving numbers around.  It’s Bookkeeping, the Game and boy do we love playing it!

If this were a barter system, we’d trade goods directly, like a camel for five bags of potatoes, or whatever we happened to agree was an equivalent exchange.

Money is just an indirect way of trading.  For instance, say I had a hat, but needed a pair of shoes.  I meet a man who needs a hat but has an extra pair of shoes.  So I trade him the hat for the shoes.  Now this man, some time later, needs to buy food.  He needs the food more than his hat, so he finds someone who will make the trade with him.  In that process, the hat was used as money because it was the medium that facilitated exchanges.

If we wanted, we could really use anything for money, as long as it was agreed upon by everyone involved; and in ancient times, that’s exactly what happened.

It used to be that money was more than just worthless paper.  When things like gold, silver, beads, shells, stones, and feathers were all used as money, the money itself had inherent value.  It could be used in trade, or kept by its possessor because it was worth something for its own merit.  Over time, certain things like copper, gold, and silver became more standardized as money because their value as a medium of exchange was more universally accepted among disparate cultures.  Eventually, people began to store, lend, and borrow coins and soon the first banks were formed.  From there, it was a short while before people started carrying around certificates that represented an amount of hard currency being kept in a vault somewhere.  And thus, we arrive at paper money.

The documentary Money as Debt elaborates more on this concept and gives a brief, allegorical history of the evolution of money.

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:10

Money is a form of power.  So it follows that the love of money is the love of power and of control over one’s self and others.  What we do with that power, however, is the determining factor.

Greed and lack are just flaws in perception.  The world is nothing but abundant with wealth and resources for all, and then some, yet this misguided belief of never having enough to survive is what leads people to commit both great and terrible acts in an effort to get more money.  Rest assured, it’s not the paper or the numbers that they want, but the power and the goods that said money represents, as you will see later on.

The cure for greed and the cure for poverty are one in the same: recognize that there is more than enough to go around for everyone and find a way to satisfy everyone at the table.

It is important to note that money is not, itself, a bad thing.  It’s just a tool, like a hammer or a pencil, that facilitates a purpose.  In the case of money, that purpose is to act as a catalyst for the trade of goods and services.  Just as guns don’t kill people, neither does money create problems.  It is only people that kill people or create problems.  How can money create something?  It’s just a tool.  Only divine beings, living souls, can create anything.

Without getting into too much detail, there is a principle in law that states that the created cannot be higher than the creator.  Who is the creator in this case?  We are.

We humans are the creators of every organization and institution on this planet, and we are the creators of governments and money.  They are our tools, our creations.  They have only the power and authority and value that we say they do or that we give to them; and we alone have the ability to revoke that power, authority, and value.  Whether we choose to abdicate our role as creator and be overrun by these Frankenstein monsters or not is our choice.  But eventually, the human race will be pushed to the breaking point unless it wakes the fuck up and remembers that the power was ours all along.

Like what Glinda, the good witch, tells Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz, you’ve had the power to go home all along.  It’s just that you weren’t in a position to accept or believe it, and so no one told you, but instead left you to figure it out for yourself.  Well, consider this your wake up call, with me giving you formal notice the power is yours.

“The man who has no money is poor, but one who has nothing but money is poorer.” ~ Orison Swett Marden, New Thought author

Return we now to the subject of paper money.  It’s really almost absurd how everyone knows that paper money is just worthless paper, and yet we still choose to rely on it for everything.  We covet it as though it were the secret of eternal life.  But why?  What makes paper money so valuable?

Recall that, in ancient times, people used mainly gold and silver as money in the form of bars or coins.  Bars and coins were used because they could be regulated in terms of weight and purity, but they were not without their flaws.  The most basic reason for switching to paper money was because it was lighter in weight and easier to carry around.  You could write up a certificate for really any amount of money that you wanted, so long as you had enough gold or silver somewhere to back it up.

For hundreds of years, it was the case that all certificates of this kind could be turned in any time the holder felt insecure and he would be given an amount of gold or silver equal to the amount that was written on the document.  What had value wasn’t so much the actual paper, but the confidence that it could be exchanged for something of worth.  And soon people began to trade these papers as though they were actual value.

If you look at the top of any American dollar bill, you will see the words “Federal Reserve Note” scrawled on it.  The word “note” in this case means a promissory note.  In other words, it’s a promise to pay.

If you’ve ever taken out a loan, you probably filled out a promissory note and gave it to your creditor or bank.  That promissory note is your promise to pay.  It’s your promise to them that they can redeem it for something of actual value.  With that confidence, the note can be exchanged as though it were actual currency.  They can trade it in for whatever it’s worth (which these days is just an extension of credit).

Things start to get interesting when you begin to realize that all cash is just a promissory note.  What we think of money is really just our promise that the holder will get something in return for it.

More interesting still is that, if you look at a dollar bill, it no longer says “redeemable in gold or silver.”  Prior to 1933, all dollars were promises of payment in either gold (which was standard) or silver to the holder.  So what happened in 1933?

“What difference does it make how much money you have?  What you do not have amounts to much more.” ~ Seneca

For a more in-depth history, I would recommend the documentary The Money Masters, but suffice to say that the history of America has really been one of banking and trying to avoid central banks, in particular.  The Founding Fathers resisted the Bank of England and wrote into the Constitution the power of Congress to coin money and to regulate its value.  And our country managed to survive well enough without a central bank for over a hundred years.  Since our inception, private international banks have tried to get Congress to give over that power to them and, in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson finally caved with the signing of the Federal Reserve Act.  From then on, the Federal Reserve (a private international bank) would be the sole creator of all the currency used to fund the government, which it lent to us at interest.

Prior to 1933, the United States was on a gold standard and most of its currency was backed by gold.  In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered a seizure of all the gold held by private citizens in an effort to pay off the national debt.  With the signing of HJR 192 on June 5, 1933, the use of promissory notes backed by gold was ended and a new form of currency replaced it: the Federal Reserve Note.

Federal Reserve Notes (which replaced United States Notes) are what’s known as fiat currency.  Fiat means that is isn’t backed by a commodity (like gold), but has value because of government decree.  It has value because the government says it does and will force you to accept it if offered for the payment of any and all debts in the United States.

If you look in the corner of the dollar bill, it says as much.  The word “tender” in this case means “an offer of money.”  It’s an offer of money because it’s only a note, which is a promise of money, not actual money itself.  There is no money.  Roosevelt took it all from us to pay the debt, which we still have hanging over us to this very day.

Following World War I, Germany was in bankruptcy because a lot of its infrastructure was destroyed and it had no money to rebuild or to pay the war reparations that its enemies demanded as a condition for accepting German surrender.  As a result, Germany suffered massive inflation and the Deutsche Mark became incredibly devalued without anything to back it.  It is said that marks were used to wallpaper people’s houses, that’s how worthless they were.  It was only through the aid of private banks and corporations – some of them American – that the Nazis were able to rise to the levels they did, and we all know how that turned out.

Similarly, after the Great Depression, people began to hoard gold as the only valuable form of currency.  Without gold and value passing through the American economy, the government had no funds to operate with.  It couldn’t afford to maintain its military in wartime or repay the Federal Reserve and its other creditors.  So the United States was also forced to declare bankruptcy and stole all the gold of its citizens in an effort to pay off its debts.

While we may have gotten out of the Great Depression through a re-stimulating of the economy via Roosevelt’s New Deal, we continue to employ the Federal Reserve and its worthless paper.  So a rational person would have to conclude that it’s only a matter of time before we fall back into that same pit again.  Only next time, it’s liable to be a lot worse.  Remember, we brought the Fed into this world and we can certainly take it out.

Mindfuck #1: Nothing

Posted in All, Humor, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2010 by marushiadark

“Ha!  Brave warrior, then fight the Nothing.” ~ G’Mork

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Never Ending Story.  Ever since I was a child, I’d always enjoyed watching it.  A great story with great characters, great music, and a great message … and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that you can learn pretty much all the secrets of the universe from watching The Never Ending Story.

When I was younger, my favorite scene was the one in which Atreyu journeys with Falcor to the Southern Oracle and passes through the two Spinx-like gates.  However, more recently, I’ve come to appreciate the scene with G’Mork, mainly because I now have the awareness needed to understand exactly what G’Mork is talking about when he describes the Nothing.

Throughout my life, I have experienced a number of incredible mind-fucks in which the act of realizing what something actually is has disturbed me to my very soul.  Many of these revelations were very scary at first, but then they ceased to be shortly thereafter.  I don’t know if my mind has since adjusted to accept those realities, or if I just withdrew from them to a more stable position because I was simply incapable of handling that amount of mind-fuckery.

More than likely, I will have to experience this sort of thing again in the future.  Maybe I’ll even return to some of the ones I’ve already dealt with in an attempt to see what’s changed, if anything.  But in the pursuit of my own spiritual growth, it is imperative that I go through this type of ordeal every once in a while.

Among these revelations was when I first understood what “nothing” is.  I mean like what it actually is, and it’s nothing like anything you think it is, literally.

What exactly is “nothing”?  It’s just nothing, right?  It’s the same thing as nonexistence, and literally means “no thing.”  You can’t describe it or put a label on it, can you?  After all, it’s just nothing.

Go ahead and think about nothing.  Can you even do it?  I bet you can’t.  What are you thinking about right now?  Not nothing, I bet.  Maybe you’re thinking of a jar or a bowl without some object in it.  But is that nothing?  No.  Why not?  Because the jar may appear to be empty, but there’s still air inside it.  So it’s not really nothing, is it?

Maybe you’ll close your eyes and think of blackness or the void of space.  But that’s not nothing either.  Black is black (like the song says), which is something.  The void is an idea, which is something as well.  All ideas and conceptions are something, by definition.  A thing is a thing.  If it exists, it is something.  If it’s an illusion, it’s still something because an illusion is a thing.  It’s a fake thing, but it’s still a thing.  The word “fake” is just an adjective and an adjective is only a description of a noun, which is any person, place, or thing.  Things like blackness and the void are merely the closest we can come to associating nothing with something, because we cannot conceive of nothing.

The concept of zero implies nothing, but zero is itself a concept and a thing.  It is what we commonly use to represent nothing, but it is not actually nothing.

Even my trying to describe it right now is doing it an injustice, because I am trying to apply labels to a non-thing, which is impossible.  By its very definition, it is impossible.  All I can do is point to the idea of nothing, which isn’t even nothing, as I said before.

Those of you who’ve come to this same realization – and by that, I mean really understanding it from more than just a conceptual and intellectual level – will know what I am talking about when I say it’s a truly terrifying revelation.  Those that haven’t, it will completely fuck with your head when you finally do.

So how do we think about nothing?  How do we experience nothing?

Well, how do you have “no things”?  If you are talking about apples, you have no apples when you have no apples.  If you have apples, then you have apples.  To have no apples, you must either get rid of the apples, or redefine the space that you are talking about so that the area around the nothing does not contain any apples in it.  For instance, if I have all the apples in a bowl, I can safely say there are no apples in the cupboard.  I can’t say there is nothing in the cupboard, because there is very clearly something in the cupboard, even if it’s air.  If the inside of the cupboard was a total vacuum, absent of light, closed and isolated from the outside environment, then there might be nothing in it.  I say “might” because we’d never really be able to observe it to confirm it.  We could only ever know it from a logical point of view, one based on definitions and rules of logic.  But we can never observe it because in order to observe anything in a physical sense, there must be light hitting the optical nerves of our bodies and sending an electrical transmission to our brains, which then gets read and interpreted by the mind.  Or any other similar sensational experience, which would negate the idea of there being nothing.

To experience nothing, we would need to become aware of the fact that we are not experiencing something in that moment, and that is the truly mind-fucking part.

The familiar Buddhist concept of “empty your cup” applies here.  If you were to empty your mind of all thought entirely (something I’ve only ever been able to do once in my life, and even then for only a brief moment), then you’d be able to experience what “nothing” is like.

Once you do this, though, you will be like “Oh my God!  Holy fuck!  What the fuck!  Oh my God-damn fucking fuck!  Fucking fuck!” for a long while thereafter, as if you were that guy from District 9 saying “fuck” and “fuck” every other sentence.

If you aren’t sure whether you’ve done this before or not, then I can safely say you haven’t done it yet; because once you do, it will be like nothing you have ever experienced before … literally.

Two Parables

Posted in All, Economics, Humor, Politics, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2010 by marushiadark

“Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven, and hell a fable.” ~ Charles Colton, cleric

When I was in grammar school, because I went to a Catholic school, we had to take religion as a class.  My eighth grade teacher was incredibly strict, but I learned a great deal thanks to her.  Among other things, she taught us this parable about the nature of heaven and hell that I retain and use to this day.

Imagine that you are in a great hall filled with all the people that you’ve ever encountered in your life.  In this hall, you are all seated at an enormous table.  Before you is a banquet of any and all the types of food that you and all the other guests could ever want to eat, and this food continues to replenish whenever more is needed.  Truly, it is a feast unlike any other.  However, there is a catch.  Instead of hands, every guest at the banquet has six-foot long chopsticks attached to their arms.  No one is capable of eating any of this food because no one can reach their mouths due to the chopsticks.  So the food just sits there, tormenting the guests, until both it and the guests waste away to nothing.  In this hall, everyone is greedy and self-serving and gets nothing but misery and pain as a result.

Now imagine that you have an identical hall with the exact same set-up, only in this hall, everyone works to feed each other instead of their own selves.  Everyone gets what they want and there is more than enough to go around.  Everyone is both a giver and a receiver, satisfying their own needs and the needs of those around them.  All the guests receive nourishment from the food and the enjoyment from the company.  There is no pain or suffering, but instead genuine love and happiness.

I don’t think I need to explain that the first hall represents hell, while the second one represents heaven.

Such a metaphor is so simple that even a naive child can understand.  I should know, since I was a naive child when I first learned it, myself.

Now imagine if the whole world acted that way.  If everyone was selfless enough to contribute to the benefit of others, while still occasionally taking time out to let others return the favor.  Each person doing what they can for a person within their range of ability to help until everyone is eventually satisfied.  From each according to his means, to each according to his needs, until everyone has everything that they want and need.

Because of the complex nature of life, it’s impossible for anyone to ever be completely self-sufficient.  We all need other people, whether for emotional support, or to make or do something that we can’t in order to improve our quality of life.  When we consider the potential gains to ourselves and others from what amounts to a modicum of service, the world becomes a much better place.

“Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.” ~ Thomas Paine

Another parable, this time of my own making, along the same lines is as follows.

A Zen Master had two young sons that would not stop fighting with one another.  So one day, he called the boys together and the three of them sat down at their father’s table.  The Zen Master set a box of building blocks on the table.  To the first son, he gave seven blocks and to the second, he gave five.  He then commanded his sons to construct the tallest tower they possibly could with what they had been given.

The two brothers took their blocks and each built a tower out of the blocks he had in front of him, stacking them one atop the other.  The second son noticed that the first son’s tower was much larger.

“No fair,” he said, “He got more blocks than me.”  And in a fit of jealousy, he knocked the first son’s tower down.  “Now my tower’s bigger,” he said.  Out of anger, the first son retaliated and knocked over the second son’s tower.  Now neither of them had a tower and the two sons began to argue and fight over what had happened.

The Zen Master then separated the two boys and stopped their fighting.  “Look at the mess you two have made,” he said, “I commanded you to build the biggest tower you could, but instead you have created nothing but ruin and hatred between yourselves.”

“But he knocked down my tower,” said the first.

“But you gave him more blocks,” said the second.

The Zen Master shook his head in disappointment.  “I said build the biggest tower you could with the blocks you had.  You chose to hoard your lots and build separate towers, when you could have come together to build a tower twice as tall as what either of you could have built alone.”

The two brothers then felt ashamed for misunderstanding their father’s commandment after realizing what they had done.  The Zen Master then poured the rest of the building blocks out of the box.  “Now, let the three of us together build an enormous tower that stretches towards the ceiling.”  And so the Zen Master and his two sons worked together and used up all the blocks in building an enormous block tower.  Between the three of them, there were enough blocks to build out laterally as well so that the tower was better supported and able to rise that much higher.

The two sons were so proud of their accomplishment that they went and told their mother and their sisters and their friends and brought them all to see the magnificent tower that had been built and everyone was in awe at what they had done.

Yet another story that even a child can understand.  The moral of which is that we all are given different gifts, different skills, different resources, different connections in our lives, and different experiences.  We all have our own paths unique to us.  But rather than keeping these all to ourselves, we can accomplish much greater things if we shared all that with others in cooperative union.  To build each other up instead of tearing each other down.  To see ourselves as partners, rather than rivals or enemies.  In a world where we see nothing but lines of division and differences and separation, there is no rule that says we cannot come together to make the world a better place for all.  The world is fundamentally an interconnected system, and what affects one affects the whole.  So why not work with each other, rather than at cross purposes in pursuit of what is common to us all?

Symbols, Part 7: The Vesica Piscis

Posted in All, Economics, Miscellaneous, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by marushiadark

“A great lie is like a great fish on dry land; it may fret and fling and make a frightful bother, but it cannot hurt you.  You have only to keep still and it will die of itself.” ~ George Crabbe, poet

In continuing our exploration of symbolism, we come to yet another symbol that is often seen but little understood – the vesica piscis.  A circle is defined as the set of points that is a certain distance from a fixed point in the two-dimensional plane.  If we take two circles and overlap them, such that each circle touches the other’s center, the resulting shape is called a vesica piscis.  It is a symbol of duality and sacred union, which is why it’s not surprising that most people see this symbol in a Venn Diagram where the middle area is used to describe those parts that are common to two otherwise disparate groups.

The vesica piscis is one of a number of different constructions used in sacred geometry.  Its form is used in the crafting of lancet windows, church doors, the flower of life, the triquetra (a pagan trinity symbol), and a variation of the all-seeing eye.  The vesica piscis, and its variations, are undoubtedly solar symbols.  So why is it’s most familiar iteration the Ichthys or Jesus fish?

“Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you.” ~ Job 12:8

In my last post, I talked about the prevalence of the sun is mythologies and world religions, including Christianity.  However, there is one aspect that I have yet to cover.

In addition to appearing in a new sign every month, the sun also goes through a 2150-year cycle known as the precession of the equinoxes, where-in the sun appears in a different constellation at the time of the Spring equinox.  You’ve probably heard the Earth, Wind, and Fire song “Age of Aquarius,” in which the band sings about the dawning of the new age.  What’s being referred to here is that humanity will soon (in about 150 years from now) be able to look up at the time of the Spring Equinox and see that the sun is entering into the constellation Aquarius.

Every 2150 years, the Spring Equinox goes backwards through the twelve signs.  About 10,000 B.C. to 8000 B.C., the equinox was in the Age of Leo, the lion, whose planetary counterpart is the sun.  During this time, the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Spinx were built.

Fast forward about 4000 years and we get to the dawn of civilizations like the Egyptian Old Kingdom.  This was the beginning of the Age of Taurus, the bull, which was symbolized by Horus and other sun gods, but also by the goddess Hathor, who symbolized supreme love, motherhood, and fertility.  The Age of Taurus was an age of sex, drugs, pleasure, and ancestral worship (home and hearth).  This age was displaced with the birth of Moses, roughly corresponding to the Age of Aries, the ram.  This age marked the bringing of law and order and strict ritual observance.  In the Book of Exodus, Moses slays a number of Hebrews for continuing to worship the Golden Calf.  Throughout the Old Testament, there is plenty of reference to the ram and the lamb.  When God told Moses to create the tabernacle, there was an alter on which young lambs were slaughtered and burnt as sacrificial offerings.  Many of the patriarchs and prophets were also shepherds (sheep herders).  This age was then displaced with the birth of Christ, ushering in the Age of Pisces.  The Piscean Age marked the beginning of a new spiritual and esoteric form of belief, as opposed to iconic or ritual observance.  Many of Christ’s teachings seem almost profoundly mystical for their time.  And just as Exodus describes the transition from Taurus to Aries, some of the earliest accounts in the Gospels tell of shepherds being called to visit Christ in his infancy.

Throughout Jesus’ later life, he performs many miracles involving fish and water.  Some examples include turning water into wine, walking on water, feeding five thousand people with only a few loafs of bread and two fish, telling Peter to find a fish with a coin in its belly, having some fisherman cast on the other side of the boat to get a big haul, and so forth.  During the Last Supper, Jesus transposes the Jewish Passover with a newer, more simplified ritual, and many Christians baptize themselves in water as Christ was baptized in the Jordan River.  The Papal Miter even resembles a fish.

Recall from my article on the Solar Cross that I showed how Christ is nothing more than a sun god in a long line of sun gods.  To be more specific, Jesus is a sun god in the Age of Pisces.  Between that and the numerous references to fish and water, we can see why the earliest depictions of Christ were either as the sun, or in symbols such as the anchor and two fish.  It is from this imagery that the modern day Jesus fish is derived.  Not only is the Ichthys a representation of the fish, but it is also a variation of the Vesica Piscis (also spelt Vesica Pisces), which is a symbol of the sun and sacred union.

In addition to its use as a sacred geometric symbol, the vesica piscis can also be found in the logos for Mastercard, Audi, Double-Tree, Gucci, and the Olympic Rings.  Its relation to sacred union of two halves is also partly where the tradition of wedding bands comes from, being a sacred union between male and female (yin and yang, sun and moon).

Now, some of you more observant people may note that the positions of the stars in the sky don’t exactly jive with the alignments of the months of the Zodiac.  And you’d be right.  Though we’re in the Age of Pisces, nearing the Age of Aquarius, and the sun appears in Pisces during the equinox, we still celebrate the Spring Equinox at the beginning of the month of Aries.  Clearly, the entire system is out of whack, and this is what the movie Esoteric Agenda refers to as the “error in time.”  It is an error because we humans have not properly readjusted our calenders to match the motions of the heavens.

The astrological system most popularly used is known as the tropical zodiac.  In the tropical zodiac, preservation of the symbolism and the seasons is more important than the actual alignment.  However, there is another system known as the sidreal zodiac that is offset by the correct time (or at least a more correct time).  Perhaps we should be using that one instead?  Or maybe, when we finally enter into the new Age of Aquarius, we’ll have worked it all out and realigned our calendar systems.  I don’t really know, but it’s something to think about.