February 21, 2020

Watts Up? Awe Of Existence

An awe-inspiring sunrise over the backyard woods.


The main problem, as the author of "The Way of Zen" (1957) Alan Watts saw it, is that humanity has developed a near total lack of respect for all of existence, mostly because we erroneously see ourselves as separate from it.

"In this culture that we call materialistic today, we are, of course, bent on the total destruction of material and it's conversion into junk and poisonous gas as quickly as possible."


The winter woods dressed in a zen-like black and white simplification.


He also stated what he saw were some simple solutions.

“Be in awe of existence, for when you feel this awe, you respect that existence.”


At the brook I ponder that I am mostly water, flowing through the valley of life.

“Marvel at the feel of a pebble in your hand.” 


I am not part of this - I AM this, and it is me.


“Remember that the meaning of life is just to be alive. It is that plain and simple.” 


There is no defined line that illustrates where this all ends, and I start.


Thank you to friend of NBA, Mary, for sharing the Alan Watts quotes I used in this post in a comment on our last post. 

I share them here so a larger audience that might not read our comment section, may enjoy them (although if you don't read comments, you might consider starting - they are great!).

We are one. 

It is one. 

All one. 

So simple. 

I am in awe of that.




February 17, 2020

The 10 Commandments of Consumerism





These are the unspoken, unwritten, yet clearly understood, 10 Commandments of Consumerism:



1. Thou shalt never rent things, or buy previously used/desecrated goods. 

2. Thou shalt never fix or repair anything.

3. Thou shalt increase thy pace of shopping indefinitely, until death.

4. Thou shalt never consider the social, ethical, and environmental responsibilities of the actors in the system.

5. Thou shalt covet the Jones's stuff, and try to out-buy them.

6. Thou shalt shop endlessly even when thee doth not need a thing.

7. Thou shalt never be content with just enough as long as too much is available.

8. Thou shalt deny any and all negative effects of basing life on rank materialism.

9. Thou shalt work as much as possible to make as much money as possible, then spend it all as fast as possible. Thou deservith it.

10. Thou shalt borrow as much money as credit limits allow, at any interest rate, to buy more stuff and keep up the appearance of success. 



What about the 10 Commandments of Simple Living? They don't exist, because unlike the conformity of consumerism, approaches to simplicity are as beautiful and varied as the people who take it up as a guiding principle in their lives.

Besides, I can only think of one Commandment of Simplicity. 

That would be:

1. Never use more of anything when less would suffice.




Warning: The 10 Commandments of Consumerism are largely unaffected by the particular brand of buying. 

Green Consumerism, New Consumerism, Conscious Consumerism and other lame lies like these are all variations on a broken, irredeemable theme.





February 14, 2020

Valentines Day Haul




Since we don't really celebrate love any other time of year, I wonder what Valentines Day is really all about. Could it have anything to do with retailer's Valentines Day haul being about $21 billion dollars in the US this year? 

That is a lot of candy, flowers, cards, and nights out at romantic restaurants. 

It is also a lot of jewelry. About $5.8 billion worth. That is a lot of money for something you can't eat. Or live in. Or burn if you are cold.

I imagine about $1 billion or more will be spent on inappropriate lingerie that might get worn once a bit later this evening, only to languish at the back of a drawer until the next garbage day.

Valentines has become a Hallmark Day extraordinaire. People have been trained to expect gifts on this day. 

"Thou shalt buy Valentines gifts." It is one of Consumerisms 10 Commandments.

And do remember, cautious consumers, the amount you spend on a gift equals the amount of love you have to give. Mo money, mo love.

There it is! Money = love. On no other day is that as obviously exploited as today.

This day is not about love. Like everything else, it is about money, the economy, and buying crap no one needs. It is about consumerism, because they have made everything about consumerism. 

Everything.

This is Idiocracy crossed with Shopiocracy, with Greediocracy thrown in for good measure.

That is not about love. 

But this is - "I love you."


February 10, 2020

Making A New American Dream




There is a new American Dream formulating. We are defining our own version of what to desire, and what to see as our goals in life. This new version thankfully doesn't include a lifestyle focused on endless work and endless consumption.

Our new dream has a new story. It is more about personal freedoms, and meeting one's needs with enough and no more. 

Our new dream values personal potential over economic potential. We want to be the best people we can be, not the best shoppers we can be.

Nature is being re-inserted into this story, because without it we are lost. Our connection to the Earth must be expressed and protected.

70% of Americans surveyed think that we are responsible for many of the world's challenges due to our overconsumption. 

91% of us think we produce too much waste, and 85% predict that major changes in our lifestyles will need to occur in order to address environmental conditions. 

Some of those changes involve working together more often to save money and reduce our environmental footprint. The majority of respondents felt that sharing is one important way to tackle the problems caused by everyone needing their own personal everything.

The new American Dream does not include advertising in parks and public spaces, and would put limits on advertising to children, and in textbooks and on school buses.

The new dream includes less work, more fee time, and reduced stress levels. It rejects consumption as the way to happiness. 

The new dream is more personal and can be tailor made for each individual because it is based on need, not greed. 

Therefore, the new dream can be dreamed, and manifested, by all. 

The new dream helps heal our planet and ourselves, improves our relationships with each other, and creates a kinder, gentler, and happier planet.

We are waking up from the nightmare. We know that a new dream is possible.











February 9, 2020

Things Are Not The Target

You (yes, you), beautiful you, are the target.



"Things 

are not the target.

You, 

your innermost being, 

is the target -

not a beautiful house, 

but a beautiful you;

not much money, 

but a rich you;

not many things, 

but an open being,

available to millions of things."


- Osho



February 6, 2020

State Of The Disunion

In 1992, before the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, developed nations were being called out on their obscene levels of consumption.

We know there are natural limits to our resources use. But how these limits are approached depends on lifestyle choices and levels of consumption, and these depend on what is considered as essential for human well being.

"The unsustainable consumption of the world's most developed economies must be urgently reduced," critics charged at the time. 

U.S. president at the time, George H.W. Bush, was having none of that. Striking back he famously declared,  

"The American way of life is not up for negotiation. Period." 

Now, 3 decades later, with reductions in our consumption needed more than ever, the current U.S. president's State Of The Disunion address let the world know that the unsustainable consumption would continue.

If it weren't such a negative message, you would have to admire how they stick to the same playbook regardless of who is in power - "Nothing will stop us in sating our enormous appetite for material things. Nothing."

The current line is that they have "rejected downsizing". This at at time when downsizing is needed more than ever.

Not only is the plan to not slow down, but to accelerate. The consumption will continue "at a pace unimaginable just a short time ago"

Full speed ahead... right into that iceberg. 

They have successfully fragmented everything from everything. The centre won't hold, they will see to that. 

Consumption and the environment are not separate issues. Each determines the state of the other. 

Who is left to look out for the people and the planet in this state of disunion? 

And just in case you believe the message of endless, pointless consumption for the masses, you may be disappointed. The downsizing of the 99% will continue unabated, while economic acceleration only enriches the already rich. 


That is what he really means.

There is no union in the Union. Or the U.N. Or anywhere. 




February 3, 2020

Freedom Of Thought vs Freedom Of Movement




Cars can be freedom machines in a way, I admit, and I have had my share of incredible moments blasting across the face of the Earth in a variety of internal combustion conveyances.

But those days have been over for Linda and I since we began voluntarily limiting how much we used our vehicle. We made this decision as the rest of the world was speeding around a blind corner and on into the 2000s.

Since then we been driving less and less and less. Overall, we have found it has not had a noticeable negative effect on our quality of life.

That is because cars are sold as freedom machines, but they can only provide freedom of movement. What is the use of having an unlimited freedom to move, if we don't also have the unlimited freedom to think?

Socrates knew that we cannot find ourselves without first thinking for ourselves. Without  this freedom, we are lost.

So, do we have the freedom to think in our societies?  

Freedom of thought is the freedom to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of coercion or force to think differently.

That does not describe the world I know.

Our freedom of expression has always been limited through censorship, arrests, book burning, and pervasive propaganda.

This has destroyed any semblance of freedom of thought that we may feel we still have left.  

Educator John Dewey, himself a deep thinker, thought a lot about freedom of movement vs freedom to think, and this is what he said,

"The only freedom that is of enduring importance is the freedom of intelligence, that is to say, freedom of observation and of judgment, exercised in behalf of purposes that are intrinsically worthwhile. 
The commonest mistake made about freedom is, I think, to identify it with freedom of movement, or, with the external or physical side of activity."

While we have driven around our cultural obsession with cars and freedom of movement, we have found our grey matter has been thrown in the slammer.

We didn't notice because we have been stuck in traffic.

In recent years I have been willing to give up a large part of my freedom of movement. However, I will not compromise my freedom to think for myself, something on which all other freedoms are based.

You can't be yourself if you can't think for yourself. And if you can't be yourself, you can't be free.

Freedom of thought wins.

The time I used to spend driving and being mobile, I now spend blasting around the infinite space between my ears.

I would like this to continue, unimpeded by outside forces.


January 29, 2020

Beyond Control, Toward Freedom



Like Jean Weir, "I think I experienced society like an iron vice from the day I was born." That is the main reason I find living simply so attractive - it loosens the grip of that iron vice.

Since I was young I felt the control and exploitation that I was swimming in constantly. I thought it might drown me.

Because I was born a sensitive, I keenly felt the stings of an obviously unjust and hypocritical system. It was everywhere - in the "father knows best" family structure, at school, the mall, in the playground and on the streets.

I wondered, and still do, why so few could see it. Can fish perceive the water they swim in? Maybe that is the problem.

My desire has always been to be beyond sneaky methods of control used by parents, teachers, bosses, priests and society. That is why I developed a powerful connection to nature and wild places, and honoured my desire to be far, far away from the centres of civilizational control as often as I could.

I wanted to be away from the set of laws that seek to control everyone except the rich and powerful, who are free to do as they please. 

I wanted to leave consumerism, its garish billboards and screaming advertisements, in the dust behind me. These are the rankest forms of control of all, being subtle and based on the best neuropsychology money can buy (over 1 trillion dollars a year now). 

A saner world would see them for the mind control that they are, and resist them at every turn.

The consumer lifestyle lulls us into creating our own gilded cages, then willingly walking into them. The authorities don't even have to monitor us after our initial training, because when we leave our cells to work for our keepers, we go right back to them at night.

The average person prefers the cage to the perceive dangers and discomforts of more natural surroundings. Things, they say, are not convenient in nature. Therefore, it is bad, and must be controlled, destroyed and plundered.

This shows the level of control has been complete and total. When you can successfully tear people from the land you create displaced zombies, ripe for exploitation and prone to suggestion.

So, at an early age I decided I would not work for this sick system if that was ever possible. I had no wish to aid them in their exploitations and predations. I would rather be poor and free than complicit.

I would go on to disassociate myself from the consumer lifestyle as much, and as soon, as I could. A life of buying less would allow me to work less. Working less would allow me to live more freely. 

Time, I thought, is the most valuable resource, and I didn't want to spend all mine working for the man. Or woman.

Living simply is not so much about saving the world for me, although that would be a nice fringe benefit. It is about getting out of that iron vice of society. 

It is about building a real and lasting freedom for myself, and for everyone else.



January 28, 2020

Banksy's Anti-Consumer Art




Banksy's art highlights the absurdity, but also the sadness, of consumerism in pieces that mock brand worship and show the futility of stuff and status.





Moving forward maybe we need fewer protests, and more using our creativity to shine a light in the dark corners of the dictatorship of the capitalist consumer world view.

What if every protester spent their time instead creating an artistic response to the misery and pain created by life based on greed, the hunger for power, fame, and the domination of nature?

Freed from the tyranny of involuntary work to make money to buy things we don't need and often don't even want, wouldn't we all become creators?





If we are going to tear this system down, we are going to have to get creative.




January 23, 2020

On Profit




According to writer Volker G. Fremuth, there are four kinds of people in the world when it comes to profit.

1. Those who want to profit off others without changing anything. 

2. Those who want to profit off others and would try to improve the world in so doing, and

3. Those who want to profit off of others and are willing to destroy the world to do so. 

 Finally, the fourth group are "those who don’t care to profit off others and are the inevitable victims of the other three".


“The trick", he says, "is to know which one of these people you are.” 





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