Faith is the New God

Gobekli

Engraving from Gobekli Tepe

In Yuval Harari’s masterful look at the history of the human race, Sapiens, he relates that 10,000 years ago the human race went from being hunter-gathers to farmers. During this Agricultural Revolution, Man domesticated a few key species of animals and plants and settled down to create home. The question is why did this happen. Scholars used to think that it was advances in Man’s intelligence at this time that made him able to decipher Nature’s secrets, enabling him to tame sheep and cultivate wheat, and abandon the more dangerous life of being hunter-gatherers. Harari calls this a “fantasy” and “history’s biggest fraud.”

Studies of ancient skeletons from this period show that humans paid dearly for the transition to a dependence on wheat. For instance, they moved from ten-hour work weeks to hunt and gather food, to forty to sixty-hour work weeks to grow it. And with this change came new obstacles–slipped discs, arthritis, hernias, worse diet, hunger and disease. Wheat demanded a lot – cleared fields, space, water, nutrients and a secured area, so that no pests or animals destroyed your crops.

With no evidence that humans became smarter at this time of their history, what could have made them discard a lifestyle where they worked less than ten hours a week for their food, had a healthy, varied diet, and the freedom to roam and live wherever they wanted?

One of Harari’s answers is survival of the species. You could now, under the best circumstances have lots of babies who also require lots of attention, have them in one place called home and keep them alive more easily rather than carry one or two around with you as you gathered and hunted.

Oh, and there’s one more reason Harari suggests why you might want to settle down to change your lifestyle and feed a lot of people in a consistent fashion.  God.

Of all the human genera–Homo Neanderthalis, Homo Erectus, etc.— Homo Sapiens were the most social of the human species, a community of gossips, of storytellers, of animals who liked to share consciousnesses. They not only survived but beat out the other species of humans because they had the ability to tell stories together, and create fictions that helped them thrive.

One of those fictions over the years is money. It has no inherent value, but because we all agree that it has value, the financial system works. Another is God. We could gather and tell stories about God or Gods,  why we we’re here and collectively believe in the same set of stories and characters.

For proof of this connection to God, Harari points out that the first wheat was domesticated in southwest Turkey within miles of the Gobekli Tepe. This is a monumental Stonehenge-like structure from the period seven thousand years before Stonehenge was created, covered with spectacular engravings. Large quantities of food were required to feed the many people it took to build and use these monumental structures. The structures, as far as we can tell, have no practical purpose, except for the worship of God or Gods.

Man has always wondered, has always needed to explain who he was as part of the universe, has always made up stories of why we are here. To do that, he has built many monuments to God(s).  The form God(s) have taken has changed with the culture, but the need for God(s) have remained constant. That’s a human need at our very base. Let’s call that need faith. Faith that Man fits into the universe and has reason to be here.

Harari suggests that we are the only animal that went from a middle place on the food chain to the top in an extremely short period of time. Evolution had time to deal with other animals who ascended the food chain, to balance things out. With Man this evolution is currently behind and trying to catch up. That has added to our need for God(s). We are a little neurotic about whether we really belong here, on top of the food chain or not.

This same neuroses fueled the Scientific Revolution which started about 500 years ago. Now we weren’t just hunting for, or growing our own apples, we were asking why they fell to the ground. We went from thinking we knew everything to thinking we knew nothing and therefore questioning everything. Through this we have learned so much about our world, studied so much about our world and changed so much about our world.

But science is rudderless. And the basis for it is a lust for knowledge. We’ve made the causes to advance humanity since the Scientific Revolution, but haven’t really considered just how global were the effects of our actions: food chain neuroses.

So we race against time. We reverse engineer everything. We deny the overall causes we have made in the universe, even as Nature delivers the effects of those causes as a planet out of balance. We recycle and hope. And still protect our nest-eggs by buying stocks in conscious-less companies and build our houses on flood plains.

Our current lust for knowledge has so many times led us to think that we have outlived the need for faith. We think we live separate from nature. In the past, we committed ourselves to social structures and moral structures based on living with these stories of faith in an organized way. But now, we don’t need God, we say. That is an old- fashioned concept, we say.

Still, as a race, we seek for things that bring us together.  This need for faith that I propose is at the core of being human still creates amazing things communally–whether it is culture, tribe, village, town, city, nation, sports culture, brand culture.

Some admit to our need for faith, but say that it doesn’t matter what we believe in, as long as in our chosen groups we believe, and everyone else does too. That is how faith works.

This works for a while. But ultimately it is not very holistic and our place in the universe is lost. We can have faith that the Yankees are going to be great this year or that Chanel is a cool brand, but that doesn’t cut it when you get laid off or your girl friend walks out.

That’s why we’re in a sea change, right now. We are post Scientific Revolution. It is time to understand how our individual faith works and use it to become more responsible, to dialogue, to tell and gather around positive causes and stories

And we will know when we are on to something when each of us finds that “open space created by dialogue—whether conducted with our neighbors, with history, with the nature of the cosmos—that human wholeness can be sustained,” says SGI Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda. He goes on, “The closed silence of an autistic space can only become the site of spiritual suicide. We are not born human in any but a biological sense; we can only learn to know ourselves and others and thus be trained in the way of being human.”

As I said at the beginning of this essay, Harari’s book is masterful, but he has a very modern Achilles heel. He believes most deeply in his own intelligence. And once he follows that road alone, he ends up in a very dark alley. Without faith and human heart- to-heart connection, he fears everything the future could bring, and frightens himself and us with the twin Frankensteins of cloning and building technological human beings.

He forgets the human need for faith that raised a culture of worship from nothing in ancient Turkey, and so have many others.

What does that faith look like? Where do I go to get it? I don’t know. I met a Nichiren Buddhist 21 years ago and then married her. That’s who I got it from.

Nichiren Buddhism is just one cultural religious practice that can help. It talks about the enlightened nature of things — that everything has its dark side and its enlightened side. It says that everyone has the potential to be a Buddha—an enlightened human, but the struggle to do so is a consistent key to how we must live every day. It says that we are our environment (not that other guy), change ourselves and our environment changes. Then it gives us tools to train our humanity to go towards the light, on a daily, weekly, yearly, lifelong, culture-long, nation-long basis.

There are other moral-ethical-historical-religious structures, stories and principles that can help us get there. Pick one. Because the one thing we have proven time and again through the darkness of the human soul, is that we can’t do it alone. We need each other.

When our negative, secular culture wants to tell dystopian stories of our disasters and demise, our job is to tell and gather around positive causes and stories. Our job is to take actions to create positive culture. Our job is to remember that at the core of our human being is a need for Faith.

 

 

The Problem of Car Brakes

car brakeWhat’s wrong with car brakes these days? They are a pretty nifty invention that bring a car to a complete stop without hurting yourself or anyone else.  Plus, the car companies have made these cool red tail lights that inform the car behind you that the guy in front is applying the brakes so you’d better do the same.

Braking seems like a no-brainer. Thank goodness wiser heads prevail. This is America, and unless you were born yesterday, you’ve probably heard that car brakes hinder our freedom to crash.

The anti-braking lobby has made a point of using its money to inform every good citizen that our rights are being impinged upon. They have rewritten drivers ed textbooks and hired a new brand of teacher to train young drivers that crashing is fun (remember bumper cars?).

Meantime, the medical profession has become involved in this critical problem. Studies show that braking drivers are especially prone to a carpel tunnel-like syndrome affecting their ankles. Now social media regularly displays the perils of braking.

Really though, it’s just a rubber pedal. It’s not that big a deal, I say. And it would save lots of lives and lots of vehicles. You’d think that common sense might play a part. But, they say it’s both dangerous and un-American to touch that brake, so I’m staying away.

Maybe one day the pharmaceutical industry will develop a pill we can take for getting cars to stop patriotically.

Meanwhile, be careful out there.

Squeworld Domination

 

SquirrelThey don’t have bushy tails. They build square trees that are hard to chew. They have no fur covering and as a result have reverse engineered a heating system called global warming that they think will allow them never to have to wear coats again.

They know little. They have upset the balance of the universe. It’s time to thin the herd.

Start by finding one of their older square trees. The wood is aged, softer, uses less chemicals and is better tasting. Find a nice soft spot to start–under a gutter is perfect where the water has consistently soaked the wood–
and chew.

These vulnerable spots are surprisingly gourmet. Once inside the square tree, go straight for the attic. No microwaves. In fact, stay out of the kitchen entirely. There is more than enough to eat and enjoy in the attic: The Brothers Karamazov, 1979 Playboy Magazines, tax returns, doll clothes. When they decide to investigate, hide in the insulation and giggle. Their egos, which are as large as a Mercedes, will not be able to take it and they will storm out of the house and go to Boca Raton. Now you have them where you want them. Permanently out of town.

Another alternative is to chew off their thumbs. Yes, chew them off. This can be done quickly all throughout the summer months when they resort to sleeping in hammocks. Or if you organize a posse, a picnic ambush is not out of the question.

Opposable thumbs are the secret of their success, but also their downfall. Yes, they can grip cans of Progresso Chicken Sausage Gumbo soup, but they also use these stumpy digits to win at Candy Crush. God has given them vocal cords and excellent hand-eye coordination, yet they have been seduced into trying to communicate and change the world using only their thumbs.

Imagine how little exercise they get! Have you ever seen them skitter around a tree trunk chasing their friends by racing up the branches of one tree only to leap courageously onto the branch of a neighboring tree as it bounces but just holds you, being followed in a split second by two friends who are squealing with delight? Compare this to winning Candy Crush and tell me who is greater.

They have a complex wrongheaded idea of storing nuts for winter. I’m not the best animal to explain it, but it has something to do with closed end mutual funds.

They don’t believe in anything except carbohydrates and wifi. Taking advantage of their neuroses is easy.  Try dropping nut shells on their heads and see what fictions manifest. They are particularly good at making mountains out of molehills. They may collect the shell samples and send them to a lab to see if part of one of the moons of Saturn broke off and happened to land in their vicinity. They might think that their habit of having no good way of recycling Styrofoam turned Oxygen molecules into little white pills. They could think that your tree is raining cancerous growths and invent a shampoo to deal with it. Either way, you have diverted them from reality. Good work.

Next, steal their Citronella candle, then stand absolutely stock still and watch them freak out below, drowned in a sea of suffering. They are sure they had it yesterday. Who would steal a Citronella candle from the back porch deck? The guests are getting bitten by mosquitos and complaining. And they’re important guests! Business deals could be hatched here, but where’s the damn candle! Shit the steaks are burning.

They will not see you in their befuddlement even though you’re close by.  If we were compassionate towards this race we would scream, “it’s not about the candle!” but this wisdom is only apparent to you, me and the other rodents.

But the absolute best strategy is to leave them alone. Our best reality is super still–the joy of standing so still they could swear you’re a statue. But then your tail switches and your friend leaps off the porch rail from a standing position, and the world is a green paradise of having.  Their reality is want.

Besides, studies have shown that they like chocolate. In fact, three out of four would rather have chocolate than sex. So, if we pile our cocoa nuts right, with very little effort, we can rule the world.

Breaking the Shell

chick-hatching-dreamstime_12036145

Have you noticed that due to the times, or perhaps it’s the aging process, it is harder and harder to break the shell of the lesser self?

We want things the way we want them. We worked hard to get them that way, damnit. So why should we put up with anything less than ideal?

The lesser self is a needy bastard.

Let’s define our terms. The dictionary defines ‘lesser self’ as egotistical concerns and desires. Does that remind you of anyone?

That’s right, you. When you sat in your bedroom and binged on a whole bag of Twizzlers because your mother told you to clean your room. You were punishing her weren’t you? Take that mom! Let’s not talk about the fact that Mom, by this time, was having a good massage and lunch with a friend. You were going to eat until you got sick. That’ll show her.

Not.

Your lesser self is a closed circuit TV. It’s a feedback loop. It’s you, stuck in your shit and usually blaming it on everyone but yourself.

When the lesser self needs something it always looks outside itself for answers. Here are some telltale signs.

1) You use the strategy of the shopping mall instead of the strategy of your heart.

2) You start every sentence with, “Please oh please oh please God, if you do this one thing for me I’ll be forever grateful.”

3) You decide the answer to life is Twinkies.

4) You call your guru on Monday, your mother on Tues, your shrink on Wed., your zen meditation master on Thursday, and then say screw it and visit your bartender (or local pusher) on Friday and stay drunk (or high) the rest of the weekend.

5) You think you see the devil in everyone but yourself.

6) You run faster and faster to succeed and find yourself more and more lost.

7) You tell off someone you love because you know they’re right.

8) You elect Obama so you can hope for a better world, but you are still an asshole to the people around you.

9) You elect Trump so you can get a better job instead of sending out applications.

Your greater self on the other hand is simply the world’s biggest umbrella. You put it up and it is WAY bigger than you are. There is PLENTY of room under your umbrella for your family (even the ones you haven’t spoken to in awhile), your boss, your mechanic, the doctor’s assistant, half the town! It is an expansion of your life to its interconnectivity with the universe.

When your lesser self thinks “why is the world so selfish and cut up?” That is your most opportune moment to put your greater self to work. YOU are the missing link that will right it.

Which is why my greater self is working on a new screenplay.

The Value Games is set in a dystopian future and concerns a girl/woman played by Anne Hathaway who must win a competition to find value in everything. One of her main competitors is Katniss played by Jennifer Lawrence, who loses in the final round by telling Anne to go fuck herself when Anne catches her trying to shoot Zooey Deschanel with a barbed contract clause. Katniss wins the battle but loses the war when they sign Ivanka Trump for Hunger Games 6.

In The Value Games  world it takes your heart and humility to accomplish anything. Those with brains, ego and arrogance need not apply. And when they do, Anne tells them, one at a time, how to spell douchebag. Nicely though, because Anne wins by creating value, and most of them spell douchebag without the ‘e’.

Anne’s final battle is with Donald Trump who tests her patience and the dictum “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” She tries to find value there, desperate to create good, but all she finds is dollar bills; even when he strips to his jockeys, which he does for a dick-raising contest with Caitlin Jenner. The Don wins the battle by using rolled up real estate sales contracts secured with Tiffany stick pins to shoot spitballs through, but loses the war because his heart is a lump of gold plated snot.

The book ends with Anne whispering the secret of her beautiful heart to a green hobbit child who is about to go on the great journey of life without diapers, but we can’t hear what she says because we have to find out on our own.

 

Thumbing It

thumb-typingI am sitting here in Extremely Short Burst Activity Land (ESBAL) jabbing both thumbs continuously at my little iPhone, shooting out this message to you. I excel in short burst activities because they are easy–you have a sense of accomplishment and you can exercise your thumbs.

One of the first business seminars I ever attended taught me that your life can be eaten up by short burst activities. You think you are accomplishing all manner of great things and you are actually doing little more than sending emojis to your pet. Your overall goals are obfuscated in the mad but happily satisfying dust cloud of activity you are in.Their advice, in 1976, was to take the long view. Set achievable goals and then break down big activities into enough do-able short burst activities so that there is a mind behind your project, not just adrenaline. I don’t think they had any idea just how trapped in ESBAL we would be in 2017.

Yet, my jabs are the way I feel this morning–erratically anxious about the world and my place in it–and happy to translate that into punctuated thumb jabs. I used to be old school and wrote in a journal book with a pen, no less, and often had a hard time reading what I wrote because I always wrote on the bus and let’s be honest, our infrastructure isn’t what it used to be. Now I can read what I write as long as I can understand spellcheck speak. For instance I just jabbed out, “Now I van ride when I eriyf.”

Isn’t spellcheck wonderful? Do they even call it spellcheck any more? Or have they renamed it something catchier like Icorrect or ffydj fudge?

Do you think my thoughts would flow better if I just took out my old pen and let this blog roar out from its tip; stretch my whole arm and wrist and really write, instead of hunching my shoulders and using the tiny brain I have at the tips of my thumbs?

Let’s try. I’m putting my phone away. I’m taking out my pen. I’m writing. (Later retyped because this blog site doesn’t accept cursive.)

I’m writing! I’m actually writing with a pen! I’m still on the bus! I’m still writing! And this is pretty hurky jerky. On the other hand it at least is one long connected thing; not put together from my typewriter head, or a thumb jab, letter by letter.  With this handwriting, my letters and words literally flow together. The ink feels a bit magical like this wise liquid which someone has engineered to come out of the tip of this pen. And I have to say that the feeling of its flowing while I manipulate it is pleasurable.

I think I am less adamant in ink, need less acknowledgement, because the pleasure of the page permanently accepting this change in its chemistry, wrought by me, is acknowledgement all by itself.  Also there is permanence. This hard copy page has been changed forever. I even feel less short bursty. I look out the window. The river is beautiful. The ice is breaking up and there’s a blue greenness at the base of each ice flow that has not yet risen to its crusty white top. With a pen I have time to notice these things. Somehow, I notice less when my thumbs are leading the way.

Jeez. I’m going to have to re-type all of this from my sometimes illegible journal page.

We’ve crossed the bridge, we’re two minutes from the train now. Better put the journal and pen back in my backpack for the ride. But what a nice respite. Dreamy. In the flow.

Almost there, but my phone beckons. My thumbs itch.

I long to be tapping. As if my thumbs were in charge.

Damn it to hell! Let’s face it, we’re all thumbs.

lsiheno9fnei. hardisordifronchicex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Day and other Words that Turn

noisemakers

Happy New Year.

Well, maybe this year, we should work on something more realistic. How about, Happy New Day?

Not that I don’t expect you to have a great year. It’s just ‘Happy New Year’ is biting off a whole lot more than anyone can reasonably chew at one time. As Jonathan Larsen reminded us, there are 525,600 minutes in a year. There are going to be good minutes and bad minutes. Let’s face it. That’s life. If you get all Pollyanna and try to take on the whole year at once by pasting the word ‘happy’ on it, you are 1) being unrealistic, 2) will be disappointed, and 3) need to keep smoking that stuff for the next 364 straight days to actualize, and frankly I wouldn’t advise it.

Then there’s this problem that by saying, feeling, resolving, and determining Happy New Year on January 1 that you feel you must be happy for a whole year or that the year will naturally be filled with constant joy. And that resolve lasts until the first obstacle approaches which is usually 9am on Jan. 1, when you have to get out of bed because you promised your mother you’d walk the dog since she’s away and if he doesn’t get walked by 9 he has a habit of peeing on the clean laundry in the laundry basket.

Health clubs love January 1 and 2, and sometimes the Happy New Year effect lasts until January 3 or 4.  All these people come streaming in to join and pay the annual fee, and the clubs smile and welcome them, knowing that they won’t see 99 per cent of them again, until next January. Happy New Year.

Or you could have the opposite problem. I have a friend whose mother damns the past and by extension, the future. This morning she’ll write her new message to put on her refrigerator as a reminder, “2016, worst year ever” and take down the old one, “2015, worst year ever.”

Someone said to me last night, “I hope this new year is better,” as if a unit of time were responsible for him having a good or bad year. The only person, place or thing responsible for whether you have a good or bad year is you. If something you think is bad happens to you on the first day of 2017, and you turn around and blame the year (and then by extension somehow curse the other 364 days of your beautiful life that is trying to blossom every day), then you’ve just lost a year!

And when that bad thing happens, because let’s face it, things you deem as bad will happen, then the opportunity for challenge and redemption from that bad thing is also being tarnished. “Oh shit, it’s just a bad year all around,” you might say.

Words matter. So when you fling them around, thinking they’re not important, don’t act surprised when the chickens come home to roost.  Words are the reality you are committing to, whether you know they are lies at the time, or not. They change reality. Look at fake news.

So here’s another one: The Pursuit of Happiness

No wonder we’re so miserable! 241 years later Americans are running around like chickens with their heads cut off pursuing happiness. You can see it in the arrogant way we chase the dollar.

Thomas Jefferson was a smart guy. Why didn’t he use his own inner wisdom to make the Declaration of Independence read: “…life and the liberty to find the happiness within”? Then all this ridiculous, ambitious, American “pursuing” would be nullified and we would do what we must – look within for our answers; for that is the only place where our real happiness lies. Imagine a government that was actually created to protect the unalienable rights of helping human beings find the happiness within? Yikes! That would be a different animal from the one we have entirely.

And while we’re talking animals, let’s talk about this one from those early Bible superstars Adam and Eve: “…dominion over the animals.” Here’s another instance where one word in the wrong place has had disastrous effects.

Over? Really? What arrogance! No wonder the planet is in such a mess. This change in the bible story that occurred by those in charge of putting the Bible together in 200 AD was a kind of Dick Cheney sort of thing. (Remember the Clear Skies Act of 2003 which actually loosened controls for pollution?) It was there, it was easy. It was fun to play with words. Animals are stupid and had no vote. So why not make the story that God said we had “dominion over”, instead of the way it originally read “dominion with” the animals.

‘With’! Like share the planet with them for christ sake! Like it’s not all for you. What were you thinking? You have to share! There’s a Native American reservation in Montana where great money, effort and expense have been summoned to build bridges over the highways for heavily travelled animal trails. Like that!

Think about the words we live with. Think about the words we take for granted. Then don’t always take them for granted. 2017 just might be a good year to examine everything. And I mean everything!

Share. Think. Live tougher. Respect. Repeat.

Happy New Day!

 

Here you stand

vitruvian-manHere you stand. In the middle of a working universe. You are a sentient, conscious, flag-waving human being and you have certain rights, tendencies and beliefs.

This universe is exclusively yours because you had the audacity to wake up in it. As much as you can experience is yours. Though other people’s universes can be similar to yours, enough so you can compare prices of wide screen TVs at a cocktail party, they are not yours.

No one can argue with your perception, your beliefs, your judgements or understandings; because they are yours and you are the one who woke up here.

Do you know what anyone else is really thinking or experiencing? No you do not. Not really. Do you think cheese makes a mouse happy? You will never know. You are not a mouse.

You could be a lone wolf type human, living in the wilderness, shunning all human contact, but since one of your human tendencies is to need the love and protection of other humans, no matter how far out you go, you will always desire, or expect, or go on Facebook to prove to other humans, that you and your universe exist and that this is your set of beliefs and guiding principals and these are what you stand for–John Doe, major human–attention must be paid.

Esho funi means the non-duality of life. There is no separation between life and it’s environment. You are the life in this equation. Your environment is everything else you think is outside you — family, animals, villages, houses, Cheezits. But the surprise is that there is no separation. Those things that you think are outside you and happening to you, are what you actually have pulled into your universe. That’s why cause and effect is so important to consider. Make good causes have good effects in your universe, bad causes, bad effects.

The question is, what do you need to wake up happy each day at the center of your universe?

Encouragement plays a part, but if you are always looking outside yourself for answers then any number of crazy humans can influence what you mistakenly think is your wisdom; but, as it turns out, it’s really CNN’s, your mother’s, Bill Maher’s, your girlfriend’s, President Trump’s or  something you saw on the internet. Time to tune out,  unplug, turn off.

Confidence plays a part. The confidence to take action, to keep going when things look dire, so that eventually you become “naturally confident.” The more you face your problems honestly, the stronger the connection, the more confident you become, the more you understand where your answers are, you just have to face yourself to get to them.

Challenge plays a part. The nature of human existence on this planet is challenge. So now you know why your boss is so tough or why your mother was addicted to pain killers. They have to be. They are the circles of your karmic universe that only you can struggle against and win. You are at the center of the universal super weave, and the actions you take to change things, good or bad, are the bricks and foundations of the houses you create. They can be mansions or crack houses.

But I believe that the most useful answer is Faith. Faith is good. In fact it turns out that faith is a human necessity. Your hope, spirit, belief allow your universe the engine of faith. If you don’t believe or half believe, just in Church on Sundays, or just on Tuesdays when the girl from Ipanema goes walking by; if your belief is shoddy; holy, as in there are plenty of holes in it; filled with sarcasm one day and doubt the next and then sure, why not, a little bit of hope on Thursdays, but then you turn around and blame God or your mother for what is wrong in your universe and  no one can change the karmic dynamic of the universe you have been born to, only you can do that; then it’s not much of an engine and you might want to increase your horsepower.

So next time you roll out your long list of things to blame for your life, burn it instead. Your life, your environment comes from you. Period.

That’s where you stand: in the middle of a working universe. It’s working because you work there. It is extraordinary because you are extraordinary. Awaken to you. Embrace you. Seek your answers in the U. of you. Build faith. Take action.

 

 

 

 

 

That’s why I like to sit facing the emotional mirror of myself and chant. Together we are part of the infinite–my mesh net universe that I am at the center of. The more I chant, the stronger the connection, the more confident I become, the more I understand that all my answers are in me. I just have to chant to get to them.

This is a good feeling. Plus the knowledge that though I have the answers, I can’t possibly execute them without the other beings in my universe. I need them as much as they need me.

 

The Big Debate

American FlagCandidate One: Why not repeal the Law of Gravity? I mean, why is it that what goes up must come down? The Law of Gravity is a pernicious plot to ground America.

We’re Americans. We’re not down-to-earth any more, earth is dirty. Earth is for earthworms. Earth is for farmers who are so grounded they need suspenders to hold their pants up. Earth is for pussies and other lowly animals.  We’re better than that. We’re flying high on drugs and lies and video games. Or should be. The first day of my administration, I will start the process to repeal the Law of Gravity.

We were made in the image of God and you don’t see Him walking around, sitting on curbstones, vaping and spitting. No. He’s up in the clouds. He flying around — weightless and bodyless. Even His wisdom can’t weigh him down. That’s the way it should be for all Americans.

Peter Pan did it, Rudolph did it, we should ALL be able to do it. I say all gravity should be taken out of the Constitution entirely and given to Mexicans.

And to you scientists who claim that the law of gravity is not something a President can mess with. I say, open your minds. You’re scientists! We can build the greatest weightless machine known to man that would allow Americans to make money while floating.

America is about making your dreams a reality. Repealing the Law of Gravity is the best way to make America great again.

Candidate Two: I believe that all gun owners should be tested on their ability to do advanced calculus. If the trajectory of a bullet is such that it pierces another human’s skin, then the direction of your life is radically changed forever. No way around it. That’s calculus. But if you don’t know calculus then you’re going to think you can just kill ’em.

Candidate One: All dicks should be displayed. This law is so obvious, it’s a wonder it has never been introduced before. No more faux dick-raising contests. If you’re going to raise a ruckus and you can’t get it up, what kind of credibility does that give you? You’re all talk and no action. You’re barking up the wrong flag pole. Imagine what this will do to gun laws. Is anyone going to take your Uzi seriously when you have to display your real gun simultaneously? True dick-raising contests are about power, not sex. Anything sexually seductive will be thrown out in a court of law, because male prerogative is such, that if you can’t be seduced by power, what good are you?

Candidate Two: That will unmask the fakes and make either a woman or a male porn star president.

Candidate One: Women must wear gingham. Would you have it any other way? Whether it is the workplace, the white house, or a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser. This way they are less dangerous and more like your grandmother. Strippers and super models are, of course, exempt.

Candidate Two: There are less people who eat at Denny’s than there were in 2012. Pancake consumption has plummeted and this is nowhere more apparent than in the maple syrup states. As a result, my vow is to have compassion for others, because there are no others, just mirrors of your own humanity, and as such, they might be ME some day, and I like pancakes.

Candidate One – Final Statement: Mexicans, Muslims, Makeovers, Melania, Maseratis, money for you, money for me.

Candidate Two – Final Statement: I gladly accepted my party’s nomination and hope that it doesn’t go past my bedtime, because the key to my platform is sleep. And sleep begets clear-headedness, which of course begets faith. A famous man once said, the clearer you are in the head, the more you’ll understand your own heart, which is my heart, which is Gloria Steinem’s heart, which was Walt Whitman’s heart, and Mother Teresa’s heart and every hermit and every politician’s heart and don’t forget the people who cook your burgers at Wendy’s, and that’s the heart of the matter — the matter being 10 billion people. As Jerry Ross once said, “You gotta have heart.”

 

 

 

Negativity

balanced_rock

Beautiful photo? Or OMG run for your lives!

I live with negativity. My hunch is that you do too. It’s part of the human condition.

Now here’s the surprise. All that negativity?

It comes from me.

When my boss calls my work scattered, it is my response to his comment that creates the bad feeling in me, not the comment itself. Is he right? Am I going to get fired? Do you think he’s been talking to the baker I worked for when I was 16 who yelled at me for not keeping my mind on my work and dropping a tray of custard creams?

I label it negativity. I judge him as negative. I become depressed because his comment on my work pushes my buttons. I blame him for my paranoia about losing my job and leaving my family homeless. But, in reality, all those buttons are MINE.

My wife says, why don’t you EVER take out the trash. If she hadn’t said the word ‘EVER’ we’d be fine.

Is she actually saying I’ve never taken the trash out in our nearly 20 years of marriage? She exaggerates. She’s making a point. I get that. And if she has her way it will have its intended effect. I will get angry, yell something mean back at her, take the trash bag out and throw it against the refrigerator. Then I’ll feel bad, pick it up, wipe the smelly stains off the floor and take it out. See? That was my fault.

When I verbally attack the owner of a local bar for serving underaged drinkers and staying open ’til 4am so the police have to patrol and stop the fights of the drunks at all hours which is giving the town a bad name, he tells me politely but firmly that the town changed the parking rules to feed the meters until 11pm so no one goes to his bar anymore and he’s had to hire a chef to actually sell real food and change the dynamic of his establishment. I am left with this creepy feeling that my negativity got the best of me; that if I had just asked him how’s business, he would have told me the same thing without me throwing verbal punches.

Why do I need it so badly? What does all this negativity give me? Evidently I need to be right. The side of good is always my side, right? Whether I’ve thought two seconds about what I’m saying or not.

It’s surprising because when I look into the mirror in the morning, I’m pretty happy with my self, but sometimes when I look in other people’s eyes, and see the fear and trepidation and knee-jerk yesses on their lips, I’m a monster. Which is the real me?

That’s why I figured I needed a better mirror. One that shows that negativity so I can face it BEFORE I go out into the world.

That’s what my Buddhist practice does for me. The absolute worst thing looks better and becomes much more well-considered from my side of the mirror when I have chanted in the morning. I have no idea how it works. I know how it doesn’t work though. It doesn’t work on a level of intellect, knowledge or consciousness that my rational brain can predict or understand. It pushes me out of the brain roads I tend to travel. I just know that if I don’t face myself each day this way, all the negative stars come out shooting. This practice is like the sun. When I do it daily, the sun comes out and the shooting stars disappear. When I don’t…watch out for me.

If you need a hedge against your own negativity as I do, make a practice of taking a faith action strong enough to remind you that the thing that’s really bugging you…is you.

 

Dealing with Bullies

fist11. Consider the source. Bullies are cowards with loud voices. They believe that the force of their personalities/ego can flatten all comers. This is more than a belief. It’s a kind of faith. As such, reasoning with a bully is not possible. Reason is not their forte. Power is.

So the first thing to do in dealing with a bully is to fart. That’s right. Create a noxious atmosphere of another kind and see how long they last. Tell them that smell is as noxious as they are. When they start with the sarcasm — “Whatsa matter Mr. Farty!” — start reciting the Declaration of Independence. This is a confusion tactic because it is a  document about the freedom of all people from tyranny. They may not get the joke, but it will be hard for them to get a word in edgewise, particularly if you are alternating with verses in high soprano of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Now, ask them do they love their country? Are they true Americans? Asking them questions while looking directly into their eyes is something that few people actually have the balls to do, because people are afraid of bullies. But it is surprising how often a direct question will stop a bully in their tracks.

2. The reason you are being bullied is that the bully thinks you are weak. When approached by your next bully, drop to the floor and do twenty push-ups, that’ll show em! Tell them you wear a black belt to yoga class and they shouldn’t mess with you. No matter what kind of booming voice they may have, say “I can’t hear you , speak up!” and when they speak again, say, “Is that a mosquito talking? I can’t actually make out the words.” Hide your skateboard in the bushes and tell them if they don’t shut up you’re going to run over them in your Mercedes GLE SUV. Tell them that stands for Good Little Efforts Sometimes Undercut Violence.

Show them you’re not afraid.  When they ask, are you a pussy?  Don’t look them in the eye and meow. Sing your best version of “I Shot the Sheriff”  and move on before they can respond.

The biggest skill a bully has is generating fear in his audience. And human nature is such that once they’ve planted the seed of fear, unless you have the spiritual/emotional tools to deal with it, it will grow and become a monster with acne and size 14 feet. The worst chapters in human history aren’t caused by bullies. They are the results of cowardly human reactions to bullies. Bullies can’t do it alone.

3. The key is to take action, even if it’s just to show them your pet rock. Make them sign a consent form. Ask them for their bullying license. Did they pass the bullying test? That’ll scare them. Tell them NY State standards are such that you have to have screwed 100 people out of their life savings to become a Class A Bully, and do they own any property that has been repossessed from poor Americans. Absent that, unless they have been indicted by a Grand Jury or gone to prison for bribery, they are no real bully.

Remember bullying equals fear. So the best question you can ask a bully is, what are you frightened of? Then ask yourself.