November 28, 2022

The Tao Is Close

How elegant is the morning sun
Shining on the rafters and eaves.

How cool are the terrace and pond after the rain.

I burn incense to break the deep silence,


Drink the spring water and relax in joy.

When the mind is at ease, and spirit is at peace,

Understanding is gained.

There is nothing left to comprehend.

Who can say that the realm of Tao is far from us?

How tranquil it is

Like the beginning of Heaven and Earth.

- Ni Tsan (1301-1374)

Consumerism teaches us that everything we are searching for can be found in the marketplace. For the right price. 

That couldn't be more wrong. It is the exact opposite.

Most traditions teach us that we already possess everything we need to find the answers we are looking for.

They teach that everything we are searching for can be found within ourselves. 

It is already there, and nothing needs to be bought. Nothing.

Simplicity is one of the first lessons that must be learned on our spiritual journey. 

Living simply reduces distractions. It makes space for the silence and stillness required to explore that scary place, our inner space.

A consumer society is so threatened by consumers turning into contemplatives that it makes up special slags for the pursuit of exploring our minds and becoming aware.

Vested interests tell us it is "navel gazing", or "sitting around singing Kumbaya", even though both of these would be better than the sanctioned activity of filling ones house (and mind) with clutter.

Or they tell us to get back to "the real world", which would be laughable if it weren't so tragically fake. 

The message is clear: 

"That's dumb. Get thee back into thy marketplace... 

and make us rich."

The Way is not something that can be bought or sold. No one owns it.

It's not somewhere else, and we don't need to get on a jet plane immediately to go find it. 

The answers will not be found through acquiring more stuff. 

We must look somewhere else. How about the place teachers and sages have been recommending for thousands of years? 

Our questions will be answered in that space right between our ears.

But only if we can find the simple, minimal, still, and quiet space to calm our distracted consumer-trained minds.

Become totally empty

Quiet the restlessness of the mind

Only then will you witness everything

unfolding from emptiness …

Be still

Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity     
                             - Lao Tzu


November 25, 2022

5 Reasons to Sit Out This (And Every) Black Friday

Black Friday is best avoided at all costs.


Here are 5 reasons I will once again be sitting this one out:

1. Too many people. "Oh, the humanity!"

2. Line ups (see #1). I have a policy of never lining up for anything. Except for groceries. And only when necessary.

3. Crap. 99% of the crap for sale is crap.

4. We have enough. Most people already have enough of the things they really need. I know I do, and it is not a lot.

5. Extreme mass shopping is dangerous. People are injured and/or perish shopping for deals on Black Fridays. That makes it really black.

I would guess that more people have died during Black Friday shopping than died in the Hindenburg crash. 36 lost their lives in that fiery well-known horror.

But all you hear is crickets about the humanity of the sacrifices made at the temple of shopping.

Will the 2022 Friday frenzy be the last one that succeeds in killing and maiming and sucking ever more billions of dollars out of consumer's bank accounts? 

I remain hopeful.

Happy Buy Nothing Day. 

November 19, 2022

Retreating From a Life of Mindless Consumerism

Here is one thing about simple living that a lot of people don't know. It's hard. Here is another. It is awesome.

Let's face it - cooking everything you eat from scratch is hard. Cutting open the toothpaste tube when it seems to be empty in order to squeeze out 10 more brushes is hard. 

Growing and preserving your own food is hard. Riding a bike instead of owning a car is hard. Repairing your stuff instead of replacing it is hard.

It would be much easier to retreat to a life of mindless consumerism and its endless conveniences, short cuts, and commercial coddling. 


There must be good reasons that so many people on the planet have adopted mindless consumerism as a way of life. 

The biggest reason must be that it seems easier to work for the system, then let that same system swaddle you in so much stuff that you might as well be in a Matrix pod, the ultimate in easy (not so good for freedom, however).

You may not ultimately find happiness in a bigger house filled with more stuff, but it seems easier than living with less.

But is it really? Participating in the work/buy/repeat system is no cake walk either. If it were, wouldn't we be happier than we are?

We need to retreat from our retreat into lives of mindless consumerism before it ends us all.

Now is a good time to chuck all of that, and return to the authentic simple lives that we enjoyed before buying into our new roles as worker/consumer/pod people hooked into the convenience life support system.

I would rather live a harder more awesome life with less than a harder downgraded existence bound by and dependent upon the convenience of mindless consumerism.

Breaking out of the pod and living with less is hard, but I can't think of a more rewarding and satisfying way to live.

November 11, 2022

Remember That War Sucks

Gunduz Aghayev from "War and Peace"

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. 

Here are a few things I remember on this day.

- war is bad for children and all other living things

- the people who start wars rarely die in wars

- governments always lie to the people in order to get them to accept and allow the violence of war, then get them to pay for it all

- war takes the "civil" out of civilization

- the war machine is one of the biggest profit-makers AND polluters on the planet

- consumer economies rely on the spoils of war for profits and to perpetuate themselves

- the goal is not to end war, but to have endless war 

- we remember the fallen, then send more and more and more to fall

- organizing the mass killing of our "enemies" is expensive and wastes trillions of dollars that could be better used elsewhere...

- we have money for war, but not for ending hunger

Today I remember that war never changes, in that it’s horrible and terribly wrong. 

Satirical artist Gunduz Aghayev, with his series titled “War and Peace,” deals with the sickness of war. We are all caught in the crossfire.

The artist writes:

“War is a death, a suicide. Nations massacre one another and the whole of mankind. 

Nevertheless, we are able to inhibit this plague because we also invented peace. It is a way of struggle against war. It must be every person's duty before humanity to continue this struggle.”

In other words, war sucks, and we should do everything we can to stop it. 

That is what I am remembering today.

November 6, 2022

Don't Think - Keep Shopping

The authorities are getting nervous. They are outright telling us that we absolutely should NOT be doing our own research, but trust them instead. Critical thinking is out for the little people.

The problem with that is that post-COVID many can see that so many experts and authorities are full of doo doo. Lots and lots of doo doo.

Screaming at the curious to stay away from the internet because it is full of disinformation is like standing in front of a library and screaming,

"Don't go in there! Not everything in there is true. Stay out of there and we will tell you what to think."

Hold on - they are actually saying that about libraries. 

Like the internet, the official line goes, libraries are filled with "disinformation" and "misinformation". Best to stay away, turn your brain off, and do and think what you are told.

I like Alberto Rios' poetic response to the establishment's edict to stay out of the library.

Don't Go Into The Library

The library is dangerous—

Don’t go in. If you do

You know what will happen.

It’s like a pet store or a bakery—

Every single time you’ll come out of there

Holding something in your arms.

Those novels with their big eyes.

And those no-nonsense, all muscle

Greyhounds and Dobermans,

All non-fiction and business,

Cuddly when they’re young,

But then the first page is turned.

The doughnut scent of it all, knowledge,

The aroma of coffee being made

In all those books, something for everyone,

The deli offerings of civilization itself.

The library is the book of books,

Its concrete and wood and glass covers

Keeping within them the very big,

Very long story of everything.

The library is dangerous, full

Of answers. If you go inside,

You may not come out

The same person who went in.

And there it is - what the authorities are afraid of. 

If we do our own research, if we think for ourselves, we won't come out the same person that went in. We will be better informed independent thinkers that know who we are, and what we want.

And we don't want the crap they are selling us. From the electrification of vehicles to war, it is all an elaborate fantasy world that more people are waking up to.

What the diligent researcher will discover, is that the system is rigged against us. It always has been, and it always will be if we don't mobilize against it. This is all well documented.

It isn't a flaw in the system. It was purposely designed that way, and it is functioning just as they want it to. Or at least it has been until recently. 

Now it is falling apart, and critical thinking has never been more important to our survival. We need more, not less.

Don't shop. 

Keep thinking.

November 3, 2022

Dumbest Consumer Item Ever - Bottled Air

"We’re literally taking clean and pristine air from one side of the world and moving it to the other.”

- Bottled air company CEO

You thought the bottled water industry was dumb. How about this? The bottled air industry. 

Seriously. It's actually a thing. Expensive bottled air as a consumer product.

It could be the dumbest consumer item ever.

Naturally, airtrepreneurs are using fear to launch this product, and warning of the "Airpocalypse". 

The bottled air industry tells us that 90% of the world's population breathes various degrees of nasty air, and millions of people die every year because of it.

I don't doubt that's true. The atmospheric commons has been badly abused for a long time.

So do we have programs to improve air quality? 

No, because we live in a hyper-capitalist world that needs a cost-free dumping ground, and has been looking for a way to market air to consumers for a long time. 

Instead, we have expensive bottled clean and breathable air, and a brand new breathable air market. 

Bottled air costs a whopping 25 cents/breath. 

If someone decided to charge us that for the dirty ordinary stuff we breathe every day it would cost us $5,500/day for an average of 22,000 breathes per day.

How can you sell the bottled stuff if everyone's air is clean? There is no incentive for cleaning it up, unless they can charge us for breathing when they get the job done.

The solution to air pollution is not bottling clean stuff for us serfs to buy by the case with our dwindling savings.

The solution is making our air cleaner for all. 

Living more simply, slowly, and sustainably will help.