Archive for the Humor Category

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.

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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.

Symbols, Part 8: Serpents

Posted in All, Health, Humor, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2010 by marushiadark

“If you see a snake, just kill it – don’t appoint a committee on snakes.” ~ Ross Perot.

That sentiment may be practical advice, but it serves to illustrate how serpents get a pretty bad rep, both in ancient and modern society.

A number of stories depict snakes as villainous, conniving, and evil.  Medusa and Grendel’s Mother are classic examples.  Indiana Jones can face down Nazis Occultists but is afraid of snakes.  Interpretations of passages from Genesis and Revelation equated the serpent with Satan.  We refer to liars as “snakes” and to fake remedies as “snake oil.”  And a cursory glance on Google will reveal a number of quotes about snakes (like the one above) in which the general advice is to kill them right away.

It would seem that most people throughout the ages don’t like snakes, nor do they take the time to educate themselves about snakes.

There is practical reason to be cautious of snakes, since a number of species are, in fact, poisonous.  But by and large, they are not something to fear.  Most of the top ten deadliest snakes are located in Australia, and then others such as the boa constrictor or the anaconda do not appear commonly in most people’s lives.  Snakes, like most animals, operate based on survival instinct.  They eat when they are hungry and attack when they feel threatened.  If you leave them be, even the deadly ones, you’ve nothing to worry about.  Snakes are deserving of our adoration and respect, like every other creature.

“I’m fascinated by the concept of snake-handling.  When you read about the Pentecostal snake-handlers, what strikes you most is their commitment.” ~ Lucinda Williams

The Pentecostal tradition of snake-handling comes from an interpretation of the ending of Mark 16.  The idea of snake-handling, in a Christian perspective, is most likely because of the association of snakes with Satan, and that to wield power over snakes is to overcome the power of the devil.

An interesting idea, except that it is believed by a number of scholars that the end of Mark 16 is, in fact, a later addition to the Gospel to make it more like The Gospel of Luke.

Still, the Pentecostals are not the first group to practice snake-handling.  Many people keep snakes as pets and we are all familiar with the late Steve Irwin and his famous handling of snakes and other deadly creatures.  Such traditions of snake handling go back many thousands of years, in fact.

“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’ ” ~ Genesis 3:4

Genesis 3:1 is the first appearance of the serpent in the Bible.  Here, it is depicted as “more cunning than any beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”  The word “cunning,” typically has a derogatory connotation associated with deceit.  However, it can also mean clever, skillful, sharp, or shrewd.  So the serpent was the most intelligent creature God had made up until that point.  Depending on which interpretation you choose to follow, this may or may not include man and angels.  Lucifer was allegedly the most intelligent being in existence next to God, but he was not a “beast of the field.”  Man also was not a “beast of the field,” but the serpent may have been smarter than man, since it convinced Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.

Either way, the serpent is very intelligent, but is it malicious?  Some people blame the serpent for costing us paradise.  Certainly the God of the Old Testament does, since he punishes the serpent by removing its limbs and making it subservient to man.

Others see the serpent as a savior, bestowing on mankind the gifts of knowledge and reason.  If anything, the Tree of Knowledge helped to enable our free will by making us more aware of our reality.  And although Adam and Eve did ultimately get cast out of Eden, it could be said that the serpent never really lied.  God said Adam and Eve would surely die if they ate the fruit.  But the fruit isn’t what killed them, and God still had a chance to change his mind if he wanted to.  So one could say it was God’s decision to cut them off from the Tree of Life that ultimately killed them.

Some people believe that the human race is either descended from, or is the creation of, serpent-like alien beings, equated with the Annunaki of Mesopotamian mythology.  Many of the Biblical stories derive from earlier Sumerian and Babylonian myths, of which the Annunaki are a part.  Certainly the “sons of god” from Genesis and the numerous references to “we” and “us” suggests a pantheon of beings, not just one alone, and the behavior of God in the Old Testament suggests he came to earth quite frequently.  Either way, if there is any truth to the serpent alien story, are they benevolent or malevolent?  Who’s to say?

In Jewish mythology, Lilith – the first wife of Adam – was created at the same time as Adam.  She is often depicted carrying a serpent or sometimes equated with the serpent of Genesis.  Lilith is viewed as different things by different people.

The two most prevalent interpretations are that she is either a woman who got a bad deal for being the first feminist, or a demonic seductress.  Quite an extreme, wouldn’t you say?

Lilith also appears in Babylonian mythology and is often equated with the owl, another creature related to wisdom.  The owl can see in the dark, meaning it has secret knowledge of things that the sun does not reveal.  The owl is also a nocturnal predator.  So again, are we to trust the creature or not?

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.”  ~ Matthew 10:16-17.

Martin Luther King was a minister before he became a civil rights leader.  In one of his sermons, he talks extensively about what Jesus meant by the above passage.  In his view, to be “wise as serpents” is a good thing and means to be tough of mind.  To think things through, to be logical, and self-determinant and to not just accept what so-called authorities tell us, but to instead think for ourselves and be our own judges, our own authorities.  Then, to be “harmless as doves,” is to be soft-hearted, compassionate, and kind.  To see our brothers as ourselves and to bring freedom to all.

The serpent ties these ideas together in another religious leader, Moses.

In the book of Exodus, God tells Moses to throw his staff on the ground.  It turns into a snake and Moses is very afraid.  But after working with God, he later uses this same power against the Egyptian priests to liberate his people from the tyrannical pharaoh.

Moses is not the only religious figure to be linked to a staff and snake, however.  In Greek mythology, Asclepius was the god of medicine and healing, and the son of Apollo (the sun god).  Asclepius is also associated with the 13th sign of the Zodiac: Ophiuchus, the symbol for which is a snake coiled around a rod.  This is the proper symbol for healing, as can be seen on the Emergency Medical Service’s Star of Life, the EMS being an organization that saves many lives.  Interestingly, the symbol chosen by medical institutions is the caduceus, which is a symbol of Hermes, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, gamblers, thieves, and liars.  That should tell you a lot, right there.

Also, I mentioned before that alternative remedies are often referred to as “snake oil.”  I wonder what would happen if it were one day discovered that snake oil actually cures cancer.  Think about that for a while.

All in all, snakes are complex creatures.  Perhaps the real truth is that snakes have two sides to them, like all of us: a dark side and a light side.  One side cold and calculating, the other bright and helpful.  One side seductive and deadly, the other side sensual and enlightening.

Mindfuck #4: Infinity

Posted in All, Humor, Psychology, Science, Spirituality on October 9, 2010 by marushiadark

“The religious idea of God cannot do full duty for the metaphysical infinity.” ~ Alan Watts, philosopher

The concept of infinity is another one of those doors that I opened up once without actually knowing what it was and then quickly slammed it shut in fear upon realizing what I was looking at. I don’t recall how old I was at the time when I first had that revelation, but I must have been around fourteen or so, because I still held firm to a Christian understanding of the afterlife.

In school, they taught me that when you die and go to either heaven or hell, you go there for an eternity.  One day, I found myself wondering about that.  I imagined myself up in heaven, sitting on a cloud with God and angels plucking at their little harps.  You know, heaven.  Then, I thought about being in such a situation as that forever.  So after all that had been done, then what?  Still the same, with the singing and the clouds and the halos.  Fast forward a million, billion, gazillion years (numbers that I couldn’t even fathom in their own right) and that still wasn’t the end.  Fast forward a million, billion, zillion, bazillion years, … nope.  Still the same spot.

I tried to stretch my mind  to keep going as far into the future as I could.  But intuitively, I knew that, no matter how far ahead I went, the situation would always remain the same.  If heaven was being on a cloud with God for all eternity, then this is what it would look like.

At about that point, I started becoming deathly afraid.  I realized, in that moment, that no matter how hard I tried, there would be no end to it.  It would just keep going and going and going to the point of madness.

Truthfully, words like “infinity” and “eternal” have no meaning until you actually come face to face with the realities they describe.  Only then do you truly realize how frightening the concept really is.

It’s just like how words like “heights” and “hundredth floor” don’t mean anything until you get up there and look down and the threat of imminent death is slammed into your face.  You become like Eddie Murphey’s character in The Golden Child where, in one scene, he drops a quarter into a bottomless pit.  He waits and waits for there to be a sound.  He knows that it ought to make a sound if there’s a floor, but none is made.  After a few seconds, he started to become confused.  After half a minute, he becomes worried.  The longer time drags on without a sound, the more frightened he becomes, as the more he realizes that there is no bottom!

Infinite time and infinite space are linked.  But infinite time is less frightening when one is always living in the now.  Infinite space, however, is another matter entirely.

In art, the principles of linear perspective and relative scale help define a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional medium.  Such depth, especially infinite depth, is merely an illusion on the page.  But the reality of infinite depth is potentially incomprehensible, and certainly very frightening.

To illustrate this point, consider the following parable I created.

Imagine a spaceman who travels out into the universe in search of God and meaning and truth and other such things.  He knows that God is greater than anything there is, and this is all he has to go by.  So he travels out into the depths of space until he loses all sight of the earth.  He travels to the end of the solar system, until the sun appears as nothing more than a tiny dot.  By now, he has traveled incredibly far, but space is vast and there’s still so much left.  He presses on to the edge of the galaxy, until millions upon millions of stars are now within his field of vision.  Still he trudges on until the whole of the galaxy now appears within his windshield.  By this point, if he were traveling at the speed of light, it would have taken him over 100,000 years to see such a thing.  In such a time, the ancient cavemen would have developed to the point where they could build ships like his.  And there’s still so far to go.

Our spaceman turns to his left and sees Andromeda, the nearest spiral galaxy, through his port window.  To reach it, it would take twenty-five times longer than it took him to go from earth to where he is now.  Such a trip would be maddening.  As he travels towards Andromeda, it would appear as though he wasn’t even moving at all.  Andromeda would appear to stay exactly the same size and distance away.

But supposing our spaceman took pictures every few millenniums of Andromeda to prove to himself that he wasn’t losing it, but that he was, in fact, showing marked progress in gaining towards Andromeda.  Such might encourage him to stave off madness and press on a little further (never minding how the hell he’s even still alive at this point).

So our astronaut friend has traveled about 2.5 million light years.  The galactic equivalent of moving from one blade of grass to an adjacent blade of grass in a great big universal lawn.

In his millions of years of travel, he’s found no God.  But he’s seen the wonders of the universe through his windshield and has grown quite bored of them.  He decides that he will make a trip to the edges of the universe itself.  Assuming our little spaceman was somewhere near the middle of the universe, it would take him about forty-six billion (46,000,000,000) years to reach the edge.  The significance of such a number in terms of either time or distance is really lost on human beings.  It’s just beyond our comprehension.

Most people can’t even last a single day without going mad from boredom (some of you probably won’t even make it to the end of this post).  If our astronaut friend didn’t shoot himself in the head after 2.5 million years, he might do it in 2.6 million, or three million, or even five million; and that’s still only a fraction of the way to his destination.  Even if he managed to make it as many as a billion years, that still leaves 45 billion more to go.

And we humans think we know what God is?!  God is supposed to be greater than the whole of the universe, right?  To be able to even see the whole of the universe in his windshield, we’d have to travel at least twice that distance, or close to 90 billion light years!

Again, such a concept loses all meaning in human minds.  I could probably take you to the beach and say, “Here’s a billion grains of sand,” and have you line them up end to end.  Now multiply that by ninety (good luck even imagining ninety beaches).  That would make ninety billion grains of sand, but we’re talking in terms of light-years here, not microns.  A light-year is 10^16 kilometers.  To make just one light-year, you’d need like a million, billion, billion beaches.  Yeah, ok.  The human mind can imagine that, right?  No!

So to reach the other side of the universe, you’d need like 90 million, billion, billion, billion grains of sand and … you see where this going.  It’s just too much for any mind to comprehend.

And we’re still not even done yet!

Supposing our astronaut gets far enough away from the universe that he can see the whole thing in his windshield.  Who’s to say there isn’t a multiverse made of a trillion universes, each about 90 billion light-years across and several trillion light-years between them?  At this point, the only way we can talk about such things is through comparison and scale.  To shrink down the universe through a metaphor.

Now imagine the astronaut gets to the end of all of that and sufficiently beyond (say 1.5 times the distance from the center) to see the whole thing in his front windshield.  Is that God?  I don’t know.  It could be.  Or maybe there’s even more to existence.

But for sake of argument, let’s say there isn’t.  Let’s say that after the multiverse, there’s just nothing as far as the eye can see, except when you’re look directly at the multiverse.

Supposing also that our spaceman is a closed-minded, uptight, and arrogant little fucktard who’s not at all impressed with the fact that he’s got the whole of the multiverse in one glance.  So he begins to wonder what’s “out there” in the emptiness of the void beyond existence.  Is there just oblivion or is whatever it is just so far away that he can’t seen it?  After all, he’s seen the universe itself become a spec within his window and that was pretty big.  But he still hasn’t seen God yet.

He continues on and on into the void of space beyond the multiverse.  Only this time, he has no visual reference to go by.  There is no point of light appearing in the distance to mark his journey by, no matter how far out he travels.  Because there is no secondary point, there is no time, since time requires a change in the relationship between two objects in space.  He’s in solitary and time seems to stand still.

Eventually, he looks back behind him and sees that the whole of existence is quickly fading into the distance, appearing now as just a faint point of light.

Our astronaut begins to get worried.  Like Eddie Murphy from the Golden Child, he is becoming more aware of the infinity before him.  He starts to sweat now at the thought of there not being anything else out there.  What if he goes to far and loses sight of the multiverse behind him?  How will he knew which way to go to get back?  He could be lost in the void for all eternity, too late to reverse his foolish and prideful decision to soldier on.

At this point, he has two options.

The first option is to admit to himself that he is afraid and will turn back in fear, returning to the multiverse.  He will have to admit to himself that reality is an island in a void and that God is the sum total of it all and that meaning and purpose are self-defined.  He will then return a changed man and have a new-found spiritual awareness.  He will appreciate the universe for what it is, having seen every last bit of it and realizing that there never was an end point at all.  He will feel at one with anything and everything there is.  He will then travel to planets of lesser minds and cultivate them with this profound spiritual wisdom.  Both he and they will be much happier for it and he will live out the rest of eternity in peace.

The second option is to continue on into the void and stay there for all eternity, living in abject nihilism.  Since he will have existed for billions of years, he will no doubt have done a lot of thinking in that time and have unlocked all the mysteries of existence.  This may be why he chose to carry on, because nothing in reality fulfilled him.  So if there is nothing left for him in the universe, he will go on to create his own, using what he has available: his thoughts.  He will divide himself and enter the realm of dualism and separateness where he is a fissure of mind, a fragmented consciousness, a veiled awareness.  He shall either be the most enlightened soul in all existence, or the maddest.

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 2: The Swastika

Posted in All, Humor, Miscellaneous, Politics, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by marushiadark

“What luck for the rulers that men do not think.” ~ Adolf Hitler

In my last post, I talked about the nature of symbols and how certain political, corporate, and religious groups have ruined those symbols for the rest of us by creating links in our minds between them and those symbols.  Of these, perhaps none is more hopelessly bastardized than the swastika.  Originally, the swastika was a symbol of love, peace, and enlightenment, with many cultures around the world having their own variations of it.  Both the swastika and the Latin cross derive their forms and meanings from the earlier solar cross, which is one of the oldest and most universally recognized symbols in the world (that you’ve never heard of).

It’s not my intention to say that these are the only interpretations of these symbols, but rather, to inform you of their historical origins and uses; and to break you out of the one-to-one relationship with these symbols in an effort to get you thinking more laterally.

“A picture’s worth a thousand words.” ~ Proverb

They say that there are only six degrees of separation between any two parties.  So, for your consideration, I present Hitler to Jesus in only six steps:

From Nazi swastika to Crucifix in six steps.

Blows your mind, doesn’t it?  Of course, I probably could have done it in fewer steps if I wanted.  But this article’s more about the nature of symbols, than it is about comparing Christ with Hitler.

Everything is sacred and yet nothing is sacred.  Everything is profane and yet nothing is profane.  The same angels you summon to ward off your enemies shall appear as demons to them; and the same angels they employ to fight against you, to you shall appear as demons.  What’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander. It’s all relative and all in the eye of the beholder.