My friend Chris interviewed Michael Jaco, Navy SEAL, covering spirituality and higher-level consciousness.
My friend Chris interviewed Michael Jaco, Navy SEAL, covering spirituality and higher-level consciousness.
This is an excellent documentary detailing the tragedy of the Asian tsunami of 2004, following the earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. This film comes in seven parts.
[Note: This is a brief essay I wrote to myself in mid-September, about my concerns of America's ability to maintain its economic dominance. Currently, I am more optimistic than I was before about our ability to maintain the empire, though I am not so optimistic about the U.S. dollar.]
The Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has just announced a third round of quantitative easing (QE) that will be open-ended and that will be directed toward mortgage-backed securities, in an effort to artificially prop up the real estate market and give Americans a greater sense of wealth, so that they will spend and bring the economy out of the doldrums. QE is just a fancy term for printing money out of thin air to prop up securities. This will not work because the real estate bubble that burst was brought by artificially cheap money from the Federal Reserve, due to very low interest rates in the previous decade. A sane policy would allow the market to correct itself, the people and nation to deleverage (lower debt) and would allow a rebuilding in a more authentic manner. Similarly, the Europeans (via the European Central Bank) have decided to print money to artificially prop up the bonds of the periphery nations, and have decided to “sterilize” the money — that is, to shift it around so that it does not affect perceptions of the money supply — though savvy investors are not fooled by such maneuvers.
Currently, a majority of Treasuries (more than 60 percent) are purchased by the Federal Reserve and U.S. government, which means there is little real market demand for these promises as investments. Similarly, the bond market in Europe is artificially propped up via ECB injections of cash into the banks, which must continue the paper charade lest they get swallowed into the abyss via free-market interest rates.
The money supply in the U.S. continues to grow at a parabolic pace, and with open-ended QE, meaning QE that will not stop until certain metrics are achieved in the economy, however improbable, it will continue in this pattern. This will mean higher gas and food prices, and ultimately higher prices generally as gas prices impact the whole economy. The media will deny that such price increases are the result of Federal Reserve actions, and will likely blame increased demand despite a global recession, or perhaps the scheming of OPEC. Logically, the more money you print the less each unit of that currency is worth. Yes, with a recessionary credit contraction there are deflationary pressures, but with a sharply increasing money supply that is diverted to commodities and stocks, there will be obvious inflationary pressures in pockets of the economy.
In the end, Bernanke’s paper puppets — the Wall Street charlatans and the commoners who break loyalties over Federal Reserve notes, as well as higher-level media presstitutes — will drown in his tsunami of worthless paper. Real, tangible assets will maintain and perhaps increase in value, though it may be too late before many decent people realize real assets from fake Federal Reserve notes. Hopefully, the Federal Reserve will finally be discredited once this occurs. And hopefully, people will realize what is really valuable in life once the greenback sinks.
So one day a young girl at work mentioned she wanted to visit Machu Picchu, one of the modern wonders of the world located in Peru, and I decided Peru would be a great place to visit. So I went shortly thereafter. That’s how I roll — or used to. I have been to numerous countries in the world, and Peru struck me as my most spiritual traveling experience. The mountains and landscapes are so different from what I am accustomed to in South Florida. Also, the trip, in the spring of 2010, was pretty cheap (about $1,000 round trip). The thing about traveling is — so many people talk about doing it but so few do it. I found Peru to be fairly safe, with plenty of security in Aguas Calientes, a town where many people stop before going to Machu Picchu. I suppose one motive for me posting this, besides perhaps having a shred of vanity, is for me to establish some sort of personal or historical record in this time and space, and perhaps to preserve the moments of this trip. Who knows who may come across these photos on the internet.
Girl and a Soldier is perhaps my favorite work by Banksy, and though it was created in 2007 to bring attention to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, it speaks volumes about the degradation from war. While some people take war for granted, it is remarkable that in the 21st century, many nations, including those believing they are advanced, believe that war is the proper course of action to resolve a political dispute. Banksy is one of the few artists to not only involve themselves in politics but to also show a remarkable level of political sophistication that transcends identity.
This stenciled work by Banksy was created for The Cans Festival in 2008 at Leake Street in London. The Buddha is portrayed completely in control of his emotions after experiencing physical trauma.
It is also The Art of Dealing with Conflicts with Other People. Once again I pulled a few lines out of Sun Tzu’s classic The Art of War to explain some things about human interactions, virtual and physical:
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
Simply slamming someone and his opinion is not the most skillful thing to do.
Finding anything of value, even if only between the lines, in the other’s opinion and commending and encouraging that may help in winning a new friend and ally.
Perceived flaws in someone’s opinion can still be pointed out. The important thing is not to attack someone personally, as this always builds resentment and unnecessary conflict.
In my opinion a lot of those conflicts are due to the fact that even many of the “lightworkers” are sometimes easily triggered into reptilian reactionary fight behavior when they perceive it is for the “good cause.” But in fact giving in to such behavior means perpetuating this behavioral paradigm here on earth.
It has to be noted that debates, in contrast to physical conflicts, are unreal in the sense that one is always free to state just about anything and claiming it as true. Such behavior in others can be discerned, and with this understanding it is best not to allow oneself to be dragged into a “debate” with someone who does not really want to debate, to stop adding fuel to a diversion.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy’s army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
“Without fighting” is so subtle and important. “Choose your battles wisely”: Not every argument is worth participating in, especially not in a way where we just “besiege walled cities,” i.e. have an argument that is all about throwing biases at each other. Do we really want to spend our time and energy engaging in such a way? Think about the energetic ripple effect this creates and about how we can spend our time in a more creative way.
Deciding how we spend our time and energy is where we really exert our free will. It is not so much about which decision is right or can be justified, because it is all a matter of perspective and anything can be justified. It is just about what you really want to choose to do. What is the behavioral paradigm you want to establish?
To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength; to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.
What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.
Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage.
Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.
The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.
This means, in a way, that more important than laying out and exerting plans is to cultivate one’s conduct, and this will shape oneself in a way that one will win, wherever one goes and whatever one undertakes.
Really putting this into practice means to take on problems when they are still small, seeing problems before they really arise and getting no recognition for this by the average person, because he does not recognize things that are being done this way.
Once again, it has to be noted, that a debate, as opposed to a physical conflict, is intangible. Someone voicing some opinion loud and often does not mean those of another opinion are defeated or a need arises to respond loudly and repeatedly. Actually responding in this manner would mean being lured into a moot fight. This does not mean allowing others to spread lies, but to moderate and purposefully direct one’s countermeasures.
I am pretty sure that most of us are willing to make an effort in one way or another for the good cause, so what is important for us to cultivate is how we utilize our resolve. I mean, the proof is in the pudding. Whether or not we are awakened or enlightened is tested by how we deal with just about anything. It is not (just) about what we know but also about what we do, especially in relation to the people and situations that are uncomfortable, which is the real litmus test.
My appeal to you is:
Do not get suckered into unnecessary conflicts. Someone voices something that portrays you or something you hold dear in a bad light? If you are really on the moral high ground, then show it. Be compassionate and forbearing, but not meek. Do not provide someone with a target, and be aware of how you deal with energies and words directed at you. You can make them come to nothing, if you want. Discern when there is no point in beleaguering something or someone.
Now, responding in such a way is not so much an “open victory” as calling someone out on every little thing. But, in my opinion, this existence is not about impressively slamming others verbally or physically, but about empowering others and oneself.
[Editor's note: This article was written by my friend Christian, who has dedicated his life to developing himself and others spiritually.]
Watch the BBC documentary “The Life of the Buddha.” The documentary is both informative and entertaining. It is 50 minutes long.
[Note: I wrote this paper in mid-2010 and deleted it from the internet thinking it might be forever unrecoverable. Well, I managed to find it hidden deep within the recesses of the internet.]
I thought I was pretty original when I figured a few weeks ago that psychopathy could have an evolutionary basis: that there have been selective pressures in favor of genes for psychopathy. I now realize, however, that though literature on the evolutionary basis of psychopathy is scant, the topic has been covered by some academic sources. As someone who lacks a scientific background, I can look at the subject without some of the biases that may be ingrained in students as they are taught about the subject and to apply the scientific method at university. I also lack the ability to test my ideas and the knowledge of the theoretical models such students have. Despite this, I consider myself at an advantage because I can think about such problems from a different vantage point.
For the purpose of expounding on the evolutionary basis of psychopathy, it is necessary to define it: psychopathy is distinguished by an inability to feel empathy for others combined with amoral conduct. So what evidence is there to believe psychopathy is advantageous biologically? Well, actually, psychopathy is not absolutely advantageous, for if everyone were a psychopath life could become somewhat precarious as the society of psychopaths would have no compunction about offing rivals and potential rivals from within. Mass murder could become commonplace, thus enabling up-and-coming peacemakers — or those who can signal peacemaking convincingly — to propagate, as they would be perceived as less of a threat and could actually assist the more flexible psychopathic mass-murderers in surviving and achieving their ends. What we have here is an application of game theory: clearly in the course of human evolution there has been a bias toward peacemakers who genuinely feel and display empathy.
Not only has the ability to empathize — to emotionally feel the pain and anguish of others and to see a situation as others would see it — been positively selected, but it has come to largely define what it is to be human. It is a common feature of humanity to send relief or aid to another continent or the other side of the world when a natural or economic disaster strikes: this is referred to as “humanitarian.” The ability to feel the pain of others is so strong that it even extends to other species, with organizations dedicated to preserving wildlife and that even call for the equal treatment of animals.
As human societies evolved, there was a need for greater order and collaboration within a society. Those who were most able and willing to care for the sick and dying were perceived as a benefit. Individuals indifferent to a neighbor’s life-threatening ordeal have likely existed since the dawn of mankind, but their indifference to the welfare of others was likely to be detected at some point in their lives and to carry its associated negative consequences.  Such persons, generally, were more likely to cheat and steal from others, since they were unable to feel, or care about, another person’s loss. In a primitive society which required order and collaboration, they may have been ostracized or even killed. Clearly, not being able to empathize with others in a tribe which required a communitarian spirit could be a serious liability and thus be negatively selected as a trait (with its associated constellation of genes).
Yet it is estimated that roughly one percent of the world’s population is psychopathic. This is not statistically insignificant. How is it that this one percent has thrived throughout the ages despite the constant threat of being outed as monsters with a human mask and being dealt with accordingly?  I posit that so long as the number of psychopaths is low enough, and their behavior sophisticated enough to fool most people into believing they are normal, as a group they can operate virtually undetected and thus take advantage of the generosity of others without having to contribute to society what is expected of them.
Indeed, if society can be conceived of as a group of people collaborating and competing with each other to amass finite resources, then it could be advantageous for some individuals, low enough in number so that their true intentions remain unnoticed, to take whatever they can from their neighbors, to feign concern for others, and to give when not giving would clearly expose their psychopathic character to others and thus put their neighbors on constant guard. The key for these psychopaths is to take whatever they can and to minimize their contribution in a way that does not arouse suspicion or animosity from others. Psychopaths must therefore apply short- and long-term strategies to achieve their ends, which implies engaging in elaborate schemes to mask their true nature from others.
The skill with which psychopaths are able to mask their true nature varies from one to another. If psychopathy as a trait has had some positive selection, as I posit — that is, so long as the number of psychopaths has been sufficiently low in a society so that they could remain virtually undetected — then over the course of many generations psychopaths would have gotten increasingly adept at blending into the larger society and extracting more resources from it relative to their contributions. If the lesser-skilled psychopaths — those whose lies and deceptions were more easily detected — were punished due to being detected, with ostracism and possibly execution, then those with more sophisticated abilities in the art of deception would have been able to propagate and take their place within this strategic niche.
Finally, there is another mechanism by which psychopaths may have been able to propagate despite the overwhelmingly strong selective pressures for the traits of compassion and empathy. Some recent studies have supported the common observation that women are often attracted to “bad boys,” who include psychopaths unwilling and unable to reciprocate feelings of love.  While getting impregnated by a bad boy carries with it certain risks — such as the bad boy refusing to take care of the child and fleeing to pursue other women — the child sired by a psychopath could have equal or better abilities in seducing and manipulating members of the opposite sex as an adult, thus aiding his (or her) reproductive fitness. So while having sexual partners who are psychopaths is not likely to bring long-term happiness for women, having a child with an inborn talent in the arts of deception and manipulation, with the ability and desire to cultivate such skills throughout his lifetime, could increase their likelihood of having grandchildren and great-grandchildren due to the reproductive success of their offspring.
 In practice, the psychopath may assist others based on his calculation that he may have something to gain from it and not because he genuinely cares about the well-being of others.
 Many members of this group have faced the penalty of death and even excruciating torture throughout the ages. Yet the percent of psychopaths — universally hovering at one percent — implies that for every person ostracized or killed another has had reproductive success to offset the loss.
 Women are not exclusively attracted to “bad boys,” nor are all women necessarily attracted to them. Bad boys happen to have certain traits many women find attractive: they tend to be more assertive, adventurous and detached. For marriage and raising a child, however, many women prefer to have a man who can provide for them and their child. Such men are “providers” and tend to stick around more long term.
[Addendum: I removed second-person references and some wording from this paper since they violate the formal rules of scientific writing, but have decided to keep the first-person references since there appears to be some debate on their utility within science, and since this paper is not meant to be too formal in the first place.]
If you can control the mind and change your thoughts, you can change the world. This animation expresses the idea in a way which is difficult to put into words.
Update: as embedding is disabled, you can still see the video by clicking the link that comes after trying to play the video, though you will be taken to YouTube, or you can just click here.