The philosopher Alan Watts brought to my attention the idea that Zen koans (“koan” being translated as “case study”) were originally intended to be created anew, not recycled. The classic “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” was in reference to a proverb (“One hand won’t make a clap”) contemporary to the time the koan was devised. I believe I have a nice little Zen koan for you fellow DIY computer geeks out there.
In-progress artwork for some personal art I’m currently working on. See more art like this on my personal art website portfolio.
My experimentation with meditation keeps bringing up this question: why there is such a major focus on physicality as the basis of what are constantly referred to as spiritual practices, as opposed to ideals, commandments, precepts, beliefs, philosophies, deities or religions. Perhaps it’s just at odds with my preconceived (and vague) ideas of what the concept of “spirituality” meant to me prior to practicing meditation techniques.
I had always assumed that so-called proper, moral living (like obeying the Ten Commandments) was the groundwork one had to lay for a spiritual experience in life. Live properly, and your reward is spiritual bliss. Rather, it seems that living one’s life according to these precepts is the side-effect of achieving certain levels of proficiency in these body-based techniques. This is very interesting to someone who leans towards an agnostic — and at times atheistic — view of the world.
The writings on meditation practices claim that if these techniques are applied persistently, one does not need to intellectualize these experiences — they will be direct and real experiences you will have for yourself, about which the validity of the reality of them will not be in question. Not much faith required here it seems.
The deeper one researches the literature on meditation and yoga (and we are talking traditional yoga here, not the watered-down exercise trend), the more one sees that being a so-called “spiritual person” is more like being an intensely physical person. Or at least one who has established a high degree of conscious control over their body.
I started meditating about a year ago. I was pretty consistent for about 4-5 months and then kind of lost the momentum. I picked it back up in December and have been doing it pretty much daily since then.
Discussions with a like-minded friend led to some deeper research on the topic. This led me to the website, techniques and writing of Yogani on AYPsite.org (Advanced Yoga Practices) and I really liked what I found there. I decided to give the techniques offered there a try, and this is my 30 day recap on my experience so far. Continue reading
A friend with a new guitar and no experience asked if it was worth taking lessons. I told him it most surely is, but regardless everyone wants to solo and to do that you need to learn, practice and know scales. A guitar teacher is going to tell you to go practice them. The Pentatonic scale is probably the best one to start with, especially if you want to play rock ‘n’ roll. I learned guitar and scales from two books: Blues Guitar for Dummies and Uncle Tim’s First Year. Both were purchased after quite a bit of research online, and both turned out to be excellent.
I’ve always found guitar charts to be terrible. Not enough information is contained within them. So I made my own with what I think is the right amount of info to start learning the five Pentatonic scale patterns.
Civilization Lost is a great documentary from the History Channel (available on YouTube) that lays out the evidence for a remotely ancient civilization that predates the currently accepted historical timeline and paradigm. They spend a good deal of time on the discovery of Gobekli Tepe, a relatively recent discovery of an ancient megalithic site which was deliberately buried and contains artifacts which have been dated by mainstream archaeologists to at least 10,000 B.C. The megaliths (giant stones) are carved, so this implies tool use. The construction of the site also implies a society and organization beyond the supposed hunter-gatherer society assumed to be the norm at the time.
The Century Of The Self is a fascinating BBC documentary available on YouTube that gives a history of public relations (basically Nazi propaganda techniques with a more friendly name) and its far-reaching implications in our society and the world. The documentary features Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, who pioneered this dubious practice.
Bernays took the psychological discoveries of his uncle, mainly those of how humans have a sense of need or emptiness or a need for an unknown fulfillment, and have them correlate the idea that those can be fulfilled with consumer goods. The concept was so successful it went on to be used by politicians, corporations, the military, and pretty much anyone in power. The concept of planned obsolescence is tied to this, as manufacturers needed a way to get people to buy more stuff, and replace the stuff they had. The magic wand was supplied by Bernays, whose effective techniques make consumers feel like they are lacking if they do not have the latest and greatest. Sound familiar?
Just a quick roundup of some new iPhone apps I’m liking:
Triage – quickly process your email Inbox
Yahoo Weather – slick and to the point, with the right info presented cleanly
CamFind – impressive app that searches anything, based on photos.
Rockmelt – Flipboard news app competitor, allows for hiding articles and scrolling stories instead of flipping virtual pages
I use this setup to automate the addition of new entries in Day One by saving text files via Drafts to Dropbox. You lose the location and weather info, but those can be manually added. The Mac app doesn’t even support them yet anyways. Continue reading