Manufacturing the Illusion of Democracy – Chris Hedges

Creative by Nature


“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success,” defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers.

The words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase. Our textbooks on political science and economics are obsolete. Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow, selfish, political, and economic elite, a small and privileged group that governs, and often steals, on behalf of moneyed interests.

This elite, in the name of patriotism and democracy, in the name of all the values that were once part of the American system and defined the Protestant work ethic, has systematically destroyed our manufacturing sector, looted the treasury, corrupted our democracy, and trashed the financial system.

During this plundering we remained passive, mesmerized by the enticing shadows on the…

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die before you die

Being takes countless forms. Whatever may be thought, each form of being is nothing but change. A death is the end of one of them: once a living entity, maybe with an identity and now deeply mourned.

That said, this is said with metta:

Entities and identities are in the mind. And so are beginnings and endings. Along with dukkha.

موتوا قبل أن تموتوا

mūtū qabla an tamūtū
die before you die

… as the Sufis say

Entities, living and not, are in the mind. To die before you die, go beyond the mind.

Do only what need be done to be and let be.

Do no harm. Be well.

with metta


“If you’re looking for answers …”

The Helix Nebula

Helix Nebula (visible light)
If we cannot exist without what is thought of as not us, how are we not that?

Awareness of being … How are we not that?

Unitarian Principles Redux

the seven principles, unchanged but with an
unofficial eighth that follows from the seventh

We … affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning

and also, with more emphasis on wider issues …

  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
  • Awareness of being – existence – as dependent on what is thought of as not us, raising the question: How are we not that?

If we cannot exist without what is thought of as not us, how are we not that?

Markdown :: text :: notes

dukkha: a call to practice

the four noble truths are four in one: “one truth, indivisible”;
dukkha, the first noble truth, is inseparable from the fourth: a call to practice

dukkha is a call to practice*


dukkha: a call to let go of wanting

wanting anything is wanting something to be or not to be;
it’s wanting what is – reality – to be other than it is

wanting anything is dukkha;
wanting nothing is nirvana

want nothing

dukkha: a call to let go of minding

dukkha and nirvana coexist:
dukkha is minding,
nirvana is not minding

want no more than to be;
do no more than it takes to be
on the eightfold path
not minding what happens

to be on the eightfold path
not minding what happens
is nirvana

mind nothing


dukkha: a call to practice self-inquiry*

Who grows old? Who gets sick? Who then dies? I do? Who am I?

to want anything – to want something to be or not to be – is dukkha

Who is experiencing dukkha? I am? Who am I?

wanting anything is a cue to ask:
Who wants this? I do? Who am I?

  • Asking who you are helps you see beyond the mind
  • The mind sees what is as what is you and what is not you
  • You cannot exist without what is not you. How then is this not you?
  • Beyond the mind you are not what you are thought to be. No one is

beyond the mind nothing is unchanging

  • Beyond the mind nothing is as it is thought to be
  • Anyone or anything exists as such only in the mind
  • Only in the mind is there anything apart from the whole
  • Nothing is caused other than by the whole

quote in tweet is from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – see source
see also talks by Sam Harris on self as illusion and mindfulness and religion


dukkha: a call to not see yourself as a being

dukkha is personal, nirvana is not;
nirvana is beyond the mind,
and beyond the mind there is no person;
a person is a mental construct

that you are is clear, what you are is not;
you are not a being; you are being aware of being

you are not what you are thought to be; you are not what you are said to be;
these are mental constructs, social conventions used in thought and speech

anything or anyone is no more than a construct, a convention;
in reality nothing is unchanging; no one is

dukkha: a call to go beyond the mind

minding – wanting something to be or not to be – is a call to go beyond the mind, to rest our frontal lobes*

wanting anything is dukkha,
but nothing is unchanging,
so when wants are met they change,
and this is dukkha

go beyond the mind
and realize nirvana
is wanting nothing

want nothing

live and let live

do no harm

just be and let be

do nothing but this

do no more than it takes to be
on the eightfold path
with metta,
karuna, mudita, and upekkha*

may none want more than this:
that none want more than this


Self-inquiry is an open secret: hidden in plain sight, available anywhere at no charge, invisible everywhere because there is no money in it and no upside to it for hierarchy of any kind, religious or secular.

Self-inquiry is a spiritual practice you can turn to at any time. ehi passiko

Who is aware of dukkha arising? I am? Who am I?

The Great Piece of Turf


from Donald Kuspit:

Looking at the colors in Albrecht Dürer’s The Great Piece of Turf (1503), a watercolor and gouache heightened with white, one cannot help but be astonished at the freshness of the colors and the boldness of the image. Made 510 years ago—ten years longer than Dürer said the colors of the Heller Altarpiece would last—the work seems to have outlasted time. Described by Christof Metzger as – [along with the Young Hare (1502)] – “among the greatest masterpieces of draftsmanship in existence,” it might also be described as among the greatest masterpieces of painting in existence, considering that gouache is a technique of painting. The watercolors are opaque, but glisten with light and shadow, making some of the details seem transparent. Indeed, so delicate is the handling that the leaves that flank the turf on the left and the strands of grass that grow on its right seem oddly translucent. It is as though one were looking into nature as well as at it.


Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina

The Great Piece of Turf (detail)


This reading by Jacob Needleman of  The Dhammapada is set to start with his afterword

nothing does not change :: nothing is not dukkha :: nothing depends on nothing

Those three statements are just another take on the three marks of existence – the three signata of Buddhism – with the central statement leaving untranslated the untranslatable word dukkha.

anicca :: dukkha :: anatta

Think of dukkha as the potential for “all types of suffering, anguish, and angst” arising from the absence of what is wanted or the presence of what is not wanted. It follows also from not seeing (ignorance of) the other two marks of existence: anicca=impermanence and anatta=not-self.

Life is dukkha. And dukkha happens. Or not. It need not, of course.

Both formerly and now, it is only dukkha that I describe, and the cessation of dukkha.
—Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha

“The great and beautiful secret of meditation practice is this: you can experience dukkha with equanimity.” —Zoketsu Norman Fischer

spoiler alert: to want anything is the cause of suffering; once needs are met, wants serve a self that exists only in the mind; to go beyond the mind is to let go of this imagined self and its needless wants

It takes practice, though, to want nothing.

It is you who must make the effort. The masters only point the way.
Dhammapada 20:276

want nothing other than that all be well and want nothing …

disclaimer: this is merely the view from here; your view may differ