spirituality & ethics

Tips For Those Who Are Considering Witchcraft

Deciding to practice witchcraft and magick can be equally daunting and exciting.  Here are some tips about what to do if you are thinking about becoming a witch!

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First, a few things that you should NOT do:

1.    Do not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, period.  Trust your intuition, and always stay true to yourself.

2.    Do not do anything that puts you in danger.  This includes casting a spell without protection, or opening yourself to spirits before you know what you are doing.  This also includes running out in the middle of a storm to collect rain water, or agreeing to meet a witch that you met online, alone.  Use common sense in all matters of your craft; your safety and health, both physical and mental, must come first.

3.    Do not do anything that contradicts your own personal, spiritual, moral, ethical, or other beliefs.  Unless you plan on changing what you believe, just don’t do it.  It doesn’t matter if everybody and their familiar is doing something; if it doesn’t agree with you, walk away from it.

4.    Do not start actually practicing anything witchcraft-related until you have researched it.  Do not do a spell until you have a working understanding of magick, as well as all of the ingredients involved in the spell – even ones you intend to substitute (especially the ingredients that you intent to substitute, actually).

5.    Don’t take witchcraft lightly. Your craft doesn’t need to be all serious spells and spiderwebs, but you do need to have a healthy respect for the energies and powers that you will be working with.  You shouldn’t fear them - never work with anything that makes you afraid - but you should respect them.

6.    Don’t take your studies lightly. Put yourself through witch school. Research everything; ask yourself questions and give yourself homework.  Ask others questions and ask them to give you homework!  Be creative in your studies, but still take them seriously.  You don’t have to be hunched over spellbooks all day, but you should make an effort to at least mentally review your existing knowledge, on days that you can’t find the time for more.  

7.    Do not be afraid to ask questions or for help – but do not automatically assume that everybody actually knows the answer.  Most witches around here will do their best to answer your questions, but they’ll also usually straight tell you if they don’t know something themselves; you should respect that, whether or not they point you in the direction of somebody else.  On the other hand, if something sounds wrong, trust yourself and double check.  Get a second opinion, if need be.  

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Next, a few things that you should know before you enter the world of witchcraft:

1.    Witchcraft is real, and magick is real.  Whether or not you believe in it, it believes in you (as the saying goes).  Approaching magick as if you were cosplaying Harry Potter is an attractive but ultimately unwise idea.  Approaching magick as if you were learning to operate a highly beneficial but potentially dangerous piece of machinery – now, that is a wise idea.

2.    Witchcraft isn’t inherently evil, but neither is it inherently pure good.  Witchcraft is power, plain and simple.  It is what one chooses to do with that power that gives it such meaning, and even then, the concept of good and evil is an ethical and spiritual one, and thereby tends to vary from person to person, and from witch to witch.  You have to use your own morals to guide you.  The only type of magick that should be in your witchcraft is the magick you intentionally choose to put there.  On a related note: I personally don’t agree with classifying magick as ‘black magick’ or ‘white magick’, period – not because magick can’t have precise descriptors, but because there’s no need to use terms that have such negative racial undertones.  Light can be harmful and ‘evil’, while darkness can be protective and ‘good’. Your intentions aren’t “to do dark” or “to do light”, anyway.  Your intentions are “to do harm” or “to do healing”; your intentions are “to take away” or “to give”.

3.    Witchcraft is a personal practice. You do not need to follow any one specific path, spiritual or otherwise, in order to practice witchcraft.  There are many different types of witches, and many different types of magick.  If there is not one specific path that you feel is absolutely perfect for you, don’t choose one that feels ‘close enough’ – walk your own path and mold your witchcraft into something that is uniquely yours.  

4.    Witches worship in varying ways.  Some do not worship at all, and are purely secular witches.  Some are simply spiritual and do not follow one set path. Some are polytheists and worship many gods; some are monotheists and worship one.  Some are atheists and worship none!   Some are Wiccan.  Some are Christian.  Some are Satanists.  Some worship ancestors.  Some worship the stars.  Witchcraft is a personal practice, and should co-exist with all other aspects of your life.

5.    You don’t need a whole lot to get started.  Twigs can be used as wands; rock quartz can be used as a crystal.  Tea mixes contain herbs, and your spice cabinet is basically a magick cabinet.  Most of what is in your house can be used for magick, for that matter.  While it is definitely helpful to have the proper tools and ingredients when performing magick, it is possible to DIY your way through witchcraft until you can afford otherwise.  Also, it is probably smarter to wait a second before you run out and purchase anything, anyway.  As you learn more, you’ll start to see which tools you really need, which ingredients you’ll likely be using the most, which items really call out to you.  If you run out and buy everything that you see right away, you risk wasting money on things that just don’t work for you, or that you don’t even need.

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Lastly, here are the things that you DO need to do, no matter what:

o    Be true to yourself.  Do not compromise yourself or your beliefs.

o    Be safe.  Don’t do or use anything that you do not have a working knowledge of.

o    Be educated.  Never stop seeking out new knowledge; try to learn something new daily.

o    Use common sense.  Don’t get caught up in things; think before you take action.

o    Trust your intuition and instinct.  We often know more than we consciously realize.

o    Be creative.  Write the spell that you’ve been looking for.  See what is laying around the house that you can use for your witchcraft.  Be inventive!

o    Have patience.  Learning takes time; magick takes time; developing your craft takes time.

That’s it for the moment!  Tune in tomorrow for a post regarding more tips and information on what to do when you do decide to go ahead enter the world of witchcraft ^_^

~Tari

There is always room for improvement, and in every situation there is a lesson

I am currently sitting here, working on some writing and thinking about how much I have to improve in my life, and that fills me with so much joy. There is always a reason for me to improve; always something to strive for. In your poor choices find a reason to grow, in your good choices also find a reason to grow.

Plant those seeds and care for them, they will flower into fruits that you never knew could exist.

My regards,

Sebastien

Enneagram Asshole Archetypes

@humanarchetypehouse - I’m reposting them, because they’re hard to access.

5-1-2 Combos: The Insufferable Know-It-All. They think they know everything there is to know about everything, and they cannot contain their urges to share their knowledge with absolutely everyone. They correct people over the tiniest mistakes with no concern for any self-consciousness this may cause and then act disingenuously confused when others get upset.

5-1-3 Combos: The Neurotic Over-Achiever. These are the students who cry over getting a B+ or not being the best at their extracurricular activity of choice. They tend not to do very well outside of school unless they get to become doctors. Even then, they usually end up overly competitive and have hollow social and family lives.

5-1-4 Combos: The Ivory-Tower Prophet. Think they have a perfect vision of what’s best for the world based on nothing but untested theory and fantastical introspection. Needs to actually get out and talk to people in order to actually refine their ideals, but they are often unwilling to because that might involve admitting they are wrong or dealing with people they consider less than them.

5-8-2 Combos: The Armchair Shrink. Read a Psych 101 textbook once and now thinks they are qualified to give drive-by diagnoses and overly impersonal life advice. Tends to be very overbearing about it and generally refuses to listen to further information from their “patients”, particularly if it goes against their assumptions.

5-8-3 Combos: The Cult Leader. Has some bizarre philosophy that they propagate using hollow social influence and brutal aggression. Speaks in pyramid-scheme language and literally never shuts up until you are brow-beaten into submission because your own mind intimidated itself trying to figure out what the hell they were trying to say.

5-8-4 Combos: The Self-Important Jerk. Like the Cult Leader, but lazier and with fewer social skills. Turns their nose up at any preferences or modes of living other than their own and resents anyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with them 100%. They’re very bossy, but their instructions are often terse and unclear, and to make matters worse, they just get mad at you when you tell them to explain because they’re over-sensitive about being misunderstood.

5-9-2 Combos: The Unsolicited Mediator. They hate conflict, but they can’t stand to stay out of it, either. If you’re having a dispute with somebody, expect them to show up spouting inappropriate objectivity and some sterile, by-the-book advice about using I-statements and whatnot. This is actually pretty effective in resolving the disputes, but not in the way they want it to - instead of being mad at the person you were initially disputing with, now you are both mad at The Unsolicited Mediator and must unite against the common enemy.

5-9-3 Combos: The Amoral Monster. Not much seems to bother them, which is nice at first until you realize their “tolerance” stems from the fact that they have no sensibilities to offend. They lack conviction and will use flimsy, pulled-out-of-ass logic to dodge responsibilities and defend their selfish decisions.

5-9-4 Combos: The Pretentious Hippie. The most reclusive of all the archetypes. You aren’t good enough to be their friend, so don’t even try. You’re not on their level and you harsh their vibes, man. They tend to be very unhappy unless they’re living in a sustainable homestead in the middle of nowhere. Bitches about how the Internet is destroying our minds but spends most of their time online anyway.

6-1-2 Combos: The Sanctimonious Sap-Addict. They talk as if they live in a Hallmark card, chain e-mail, or cheesy coming-of-age film. They probably feel really guilty about dumb things, and then you start wondering if you should, too. They tend to be religious and intolerant of those who don’t share their views or ways of life. Thankfully the ways they tend to show this intolerance are pretty harmless - panicking and crying. Nobody can stand to listen to them because, despite the motivational tone of their messages, they make everyone around them feel awful for not being as wholesome as they are.

6-1-3 Combos: The Thought Police. Similar to The Cipher (6-9-3 Combos), but more prone to forcing their boringness on others. While the Cipher avoids personality clashes by either blending in with or withdrawing from those with different priorities, those of the Thought Police archetype wage a crusade against them by asserting the moral superiority of their way of life. They have convinced themselves they are perfect so to avoid the emotional pain of having to re-evaluate their lives, but in order to maintain this illusion, they must live in an echo chamber. Don’t put them in the same room as the 6-1-2, it’s not a pretty sight.

6-1-4 Combos: The Ball of Self Hatred. Nobody wants to listen to these people, no matter how good their ideas might be, because they can’t even listen to themselves - even when they want to. They certainly have minds of their own, unfortunately, they don’t tend to use them unless it’s convenient (Spoiler Alert: it rarely is.) They ruin their own lives by repressing positive emotions, ruminating on wrongdoings (both theirs and those of others), and being unable to trust or feel good about anything unless it is completely beyond criticism.

6-8-2 Combos: The Overbearing Meddler. Anything they wouldn’t do is a bad idea that you need to be scared and bullied out of. This also goes for many things they WOULD do, because they are hypocrites. They say it’s for your own good, but they wouldn’t know the first thing about that if it bit them on the nose because they live with their heads in their asses. They tend to have plenty of their own issues, which they chronically avoid by micromanaging others. More projection than a cinema multiplex.

6-8-3 Combos: The Overworked Grouch. These are people who cannot wind down for the life of them. This tendency would generally not affect anyone other than themselves, but it does because they get mad at other people for relaxing. They see others’ satisfaction with less as an affront because it means that maybe all their overwork was for nothing, but instead of giving relaxation a chance, they choose to act like arrogant dicks in hopes that others will change to suit them instead.

6-8-4 Combos: The Extremist. Fiercely and belligerently loyal to a set of beliefs that no one else shares. Believes their pet issue (frequently something that directly affects them) to be the center of the universe and ridicules opposing viewpoints. They might be nice to you if you agree with everything they say, but even then, they probably won’t - you come second to the crusade.

6-9-2 Combos: The Martyr. No will or interests of their own. Gives their entire life up for the sake of an individual or a group - and it’s usually a dysfunctional one. They don’t even complain if they aren’t appreciated or thanked (they don’t expect it), but Heaven forbid there comes a time when they are no longer needed. They will plunge into depression and impotent rage as they search desperately for another object of their overly-submissive affections.

6-9-3 Combos: The Cipher. Your next-door neighbor who thinks the street you live on is the center of the universe. It’s not completely certain that people of this archetype actually have personalities or if their attitudes and behavior are just absorbed from their surroundings and upbringing. They may be rigidly set in their ways or they may be a perpetually-shifting chameleon (depending on the order of the numbers) - there isn’t much in between, but either way, they’re unbelievably boring.

6-9-4 Combos: The Special Snowflake. They at least try to be interesting, if only on a superficial level, but can’t keep it up for very long. They might seem endearingly quirky until you meet the people they hang out with, who are all pretty much just like them. To their credit, they’re usually pleasant enough company in that they couldn’t be cruel if they tried (though they are plenty judgmental in their thinking), but their flakiness and squirrely behavior usually prove too annoying for anyone to really keep them around for long.

7-1-2 Combos: The Wack-tivist. Thinks they’re hot stuff because they’ve helped out in a bunch of Third World countries. That’s great, of course, but it would be a lot better if they could shut up about it for five minutes. Excessively smug about all the different charity groups they participate in through their church and/or university while you just wonder where the hell they find the time and what you’re doing wrong with your life.

7-1-3 Combos: The Tweaker. Okay, so they may or may not actually use speed, but one thing is for sure; this archetype never sleeps. Ever. They have a full time job and several different hobbies, clubs, and volunteer groups, and they feel the need to excel and gain recognition within all of them. They are always on the go, but unlike the Overworked Grouch (6-8-3 Combos), they’re eerily chipper about it. In fact, they’re very sad when there’s nothing to do, because then they are forced to think about their feelings, which they are notoriously bad at. And it should be obvious how they feel about being bad at anything (Hint: it isn’t positively).

7-1-4 Combos: The Fanatic. A obnoxious mass of scatterbrained and stubborn behavior. Has their own personal brand of ethics and spirituality, which tends to involve a lot of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. They at least practice what they preach, so that’s one good thing about them - unfortunately, they don’t ever really talk much about anything else. They just find a million different ways and contexts in which to talk about it.

7-8-2 Combos: The Bootstraps Idealist. Like the Overbearing Meddler (6-8-2 Combos), but with an extra dose of irresponsibility. They think the answer to all your problems is for you to do extremely difficult or extravagant things without considering whether or not you have the time or resources. Often refuses to acknowledge health issues (both mental and physical), as well. Any reason why you can’t do the things they are telling you to do is because of your lack of positive attitude instead of actual reality. Usually has more than a few terrible habits, but will try and fool you into thinking they have all their ducks in a row by giving faux motivational speeches.

7-8-3 Combos: The Inconsiderate Douche. It doesn’t really get any worse than this. Loud, obnoxious, and hopelessly shallow, a person of this archetype may seem very popular, but their circle of friends is a revolving door because they just won’t stop screwing people over for the sake of their ambitions or disregarding their feelings. Stay far, far away.

7-8-4 Combos: The Conspiracy Theorist. Being paranoid and accusing the government of hiding all kinds of scary, exciting things from us is fun for them. Imagining that there is at least one conspiracy that targets them personally is even more fun. What they don’t understand is that it isn’t as much fun for everyone around them. If you tell them you don’t believe them or even that you’re just sick of hearing about it, they flip their lid and go off about how you’re an idiot and just want to remain ignorant.

7-9-2 Combos: The Walking New-Age Store. This complete knob of an archetype has a saying or quote for everything, but never really seems to think critically about or have anything of their own to add to the words they are repeating. Hardly anyone has the heart to tell them how canned-corny and downright unhelpful they are, because they just seem so blissful and earnest. It would be like popping a hot air balloon, on every possible level.

7-9-3 Combos: The Goldfish. Completely without any self-awareness, this archetype flits perpetually from one superficial interest to the next. Unsurprisingly, they find very little satisfaction from anything, no matter how enthusiastically they may dive into it. The creepiest part about this is that they are so numb and hollow, they barely even notice how unsatisfied they are - they’ve fooled themselves into believing this is a happy existence.

7-9-4 Combos: The Entitled Vagabond. Goes on long road trips for no real reason, couch-surfing all the way. Quite possibly has no permanent address or bank account, and they are okay with this. Does a lot of odd jobs and possibly illegal things; has never had an actual job in their life, because it just isn’t their style, man. They’re actually not too insufferable as long as you don’t expect much from them and don’t mind their mooching. Unfortunately, whatever positivity they may bring to your life will be short-lived; as soon as they pick up and leave (which they will), they will all but forget you even exist.

I don’t really post my thoughts on tumblr but I’ve been doing a good amount of research into modern South Asia and I just gotta talk about it, particularly Swami Vivekananda who I have rediscovered in a secular context during my studies.

Swami Vivekananda is a severely underutilized resource by leftists, outside the Vedantan and Hindutva traditions he is basically unheard of, which really is a shame. His perception of spiritual capacity as innate to all people and not determined by caste, faith or ethnicity was huge in its effect on the 19th century Hindu reform movements as well as the struggle against colonialism and caste discrimination, particularly the Dalit rights movement.

His rejection of colonialism using a syncretism of native Hindu thought and anti-capitalist thought influenced the majority of Indian nationalist and revolutionary thinkers and helped recover the intellectual confidence of an entire group of colonized peoples, while also remaining critical of the deep inequalities of pre-colonial Indian society and promoting a programme of the liquidation of privileges of the propertied classes and giving the toilers their due share in the national wealth.

He, in the 1890s, predicted and supported Sudra(workers/peasants) revolutions but said that Marx was wrong in where they would happen. Saying that instead of in industrialized Western European states, that sudras/workers would seize power in either Russia or China first.

In 1893 he was a delegate for Hinduism at the world parliament of religions, which in many respects was a convention influenced in equal parts by western Christian chauvinism and orientalism; the intent being to put a series of foreign religions on display and then debated into submission by westerners. But he spoke so convincingly and well that he essentially leveled the playing field and allowed for a degree of authentic interfaith dialogue at a conference designed to assert Christianity as dominant.

The intellectual and revolutionary history of India is so remarkably rich and so often ignored. Leftists tend to see India as only Gandhi, Nehru and the Naxals but thinkers like Vivekananda offer valuable historical, theological and ideological insights and contributions not only to our understanding of modern India but the effects of colonization on people’s identities, religious and social practices as well as society as a whole. Everyone from Hindutva nationalists to the Gandhians to the various Communist Parties of India hail him as a revolutionary thinker and the base of their respective ideologies.

Modern leftists should really utilize his socio-political works, as his philosophical contributions were central in the foundations of one of the largest and most impactful anti-colonial struggles in history. The CPI stated, “That there is enough food and ammunition in Vivekananda’s works to last all who are searching for India’s social, cultural and spiritual development.” Vivekananda was a revolutionary, a socialist and a proponent of state secularism, while also being a key figure in reforming Hinduism and Vedanta towards social action and inclusivity. His influences can be found in nearly every contemporary Indian political movement. I would go as far as saying that Vivekananda’s impact on South Asian intellectualism and philosophy is similar to that of Kant’s impact on the development of western philosophy, in that almost every thinker and intellectual movement after him is either based on or addresses Vivekananda’s works on spirituality, humanism, nation, and ethics.

Women are not created weaker but more generous than men. They are created more beautiful and less fierce, as beauty hates to hurt and harm others. That is why they seem weak to people, but in reality they are not. Angels are the strongest of created beings, and women are closer to the angelic nature than men, as they are readier than men to carry angelic light. It is the good manners and ethics of spirituality which they carry which makes them less forceful than men. Even physically, however, they are extremely strong. They undergo great upheavals in their body without flinching for the sake of childbirth, and face the direst physical conditions more successfully than men because God has enabled them to ensure the survival of generations.

Confucius quotes:

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

“If we don’t know life, how can we know death?”

“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”

“Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”

“It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your failure to appreciate theirs.”

“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”

“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.”

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

Five Mindfulness Trainings

by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. They are a concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate the insight of interbeing, or Right View, which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are already on the path of a bodhisattva. Knowing we are on that path, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.

1. Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

2. True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.

3. True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

4. Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

5. Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

A New Worldview

A conscious universe: The universe as a whole is a conscious, coherent, and creative process, not a purely mechanistic object. Every whole system, from atoms to galaxies, has an interiority—a subjective aspect that exhibits attributes of consciousness such as self-organization and intentionality.

Multidimensional reality: Reality—the sum of all that is—exceeds the bounds of the physical universe and contains multiple “subtle” or transcendent dimensions. The more subtle dimensions form the matrix of the physical universe that we see.

Interconnection of all minds: Though we appear to exist in separate bodies, our minds, at the deepest level, are joined in a collective consciousness. At the level of our deepest soul, we are all one.

Complementarity of science and spirituality: Both science and spirituality lead to an understanding of the Cosmos: science of its outer, objective aspect, and spirituality along with humanities and the arts—of its inner, subjective/symbolic aspect.

Radical empiricism: Intuitive and visionary forms of knowing are as valid as sensory-based forms of knowing, even if less subject to interpersonal and cross-cultural consensus.

Consciousness has a causal influence: Consciousness has inherent properties—such as a capacity for self-organization, intentionality, and meaning—that cannot be explained in terms of the material laws and processes of the natural sciences. Yet it has a causal influence on physical processes.

Natural ethics: Ought reduces to is. Ethical behavior—what we ought to do—follows acting out of authenticity to one’s innermost nature rather than culturally relative standards.

Reverence for nature and the earth: We are vitally dependent on the earth, the matrix of all life. Living in a cooperative, sustainable relationship with the earth is more important than exploiting it for material gain.

A sense of inclusiveness toward all humanity: We look beyond self-interest to recognize that all human beings are part of the same family, regardless of racial, ethnic, national, or religious differences. All human beings have equal rights to health, livelihood, safety, and prosperity.

Compassion: An awareness of the suffering of other human beings subjected to poverty, disease, and inhumane living conditions, regardless of who they are or where they live. A desire to help.

Integration of the feminine: A movement away from traditionally “masculine” values of hierarchy, autonomy, top-down control, and exploitation toward “feminine” values of inclusiveness, cooperation, interrelationship, nurturance, and love.

Valuing intuition: Trusting one’s deeper intuitions or hunches as good guides for making decisions (along with reason.)

Voluntary simplicity: Cultivating a simpler life, both for the sake of inner peace and to leave a lighter footprint on the earth.

Respect for being present: Living mindfully, or “in-the-now,” is given value equal to left-brained analysis and the demand to predict and control the future.

The primacy of unconditional love: Unconditional love and forgiveness are the highest values in our relations with others. If we are all one, then to harm another person is to harm ourselves. The operative question in all situations of interpersonal conflict reduces to “What is the most loving thing to do?”

From Edmund J. Bourne’s “Global Shift: How a New Worldview is Transforming Humanity”

theeyewonderer  asked:

How do you plan on leaving the country and where are you planning on going? I'm trying to leave as well but I'm at a loss on where to go. I'm trying to leave this evasive intrusive economy that holds a manipulative power over morality and spiritual ethics.

I plan on going to Ethiopia with my brother. We have both been planning on going for a while :) if it’s in the most highs will for us. Anyone’s welcome to come with

alternativepuppy  asked:

Why do wizards call each other cousin?

The tl:dr; reason: Shakespeare.

No, really. The usage “cousin” for someone who’s (a) a close relative, (b) a distant relative, © someone you feel personal connection to/affection toward regardless of any blood relationship or lack of it, starts turning up in the Bard’s plays in the late 1500s, if I’ve got the timing right. I’m not sure where the scholarship stands on this, but I have a feeling Shakespeare wouldn’t have used this formation if it wasn’t already turning up at least occasionally in everyday usage.

Our English-language usage of the word has narrowed right down to almost always indicate the children of brothers and sisters. But if you look over here at ShakespearesWords.com you’ll see some examples of how the term is used in the plays, and cousinhood in the strict familial sense isn’t usually what’s being invoked. It’s the sense of relationship. No one uses this term (or its short-form variant “coz/cuz”) on anyone they don’t like or feel close to.

Anyway: since Shakespeare is someone / something I’ve been interested in since I was about eight, one day I found myself thinking about how he was using the term, and promptly borrowed the usage.

In the Young Wizards books the use of the term “cousin” expresses the concept that wizards are closely connected by a common value-set that parses similarly to a familial relationship, whether or not the mere chance of shared genetics is involved. “Brother from another mother” is one colloquial English-language phrase that comes close to expressing what’s going on: the sense that wizards are by virtue of the Oath and their calling ethically or spiritually related, with the attached implication that the connection means they properly help sustain and look after one another, in an (ideally) familial way.

Naturally there are lots of shades and degrees of the term in the Speech, hrasht, that most closely corresponds to “cousin” in the broad sense, some of them more intimate and some less so, and with varying states of emotion built in. I.e., my dingbat cousin, my cousin who has got himself in trouble again, the cousin who has a brain the size of a planet and isn’t it wonderful, my cousin who just brought me all these tomatoes, the cousin who really needs a good shaking and when I get my hands/fins/tentacles on her I’m going to see that she gets it, etc etc etc. But they all have varying degrees of affection hooked into them, the understanding being that you and they are fighting the same fight, the good fight, together – even though right now you may possibly want at the moment to punch them in the nose (once you figure out where their nose is). (And yes, there are also numerous hrasht-based-or-related versions of “my cousin about whom I find myself thinking thoughts about a physical relationship of some kind, how would we even make that work, who puts what where? Hmm, may take a while for us to sort this out, let me ask and we’ll see how it goes…”)

But anyway, relationship is understandably going to be important to wizards, who despite their relatively direct connection to and sponsorship by the Powers that Be, will sometimes feel as they pass through the world as if they’re fighting a losing battle. The “cousin” terms are therefore some of the oldest ones in the Speech, according to those expert at tracing its etymologies.

But then maybe this would be no surprise when one considers (from our small limited viewpoint) that scripturally speaking, right after they make the world, or themselves, or both, pretty much the first thing Gods do is make somebody else to hang out with. (And then “It’s not good for this guy to be alone, I’ll make him a help meet for him…” occurs pretty quickly thereafter, in one cosmology. I would bet you money there are close cognates to this in the Koran and the Upanishads and all over the place elsewhere. But investigation of that is a project for another day, as my eyes are bugging me and I’m supposed to be working.)

Way deeper philosophers than I’ll ever be have spent a lot of time writing about the eternal yearning of the Divine for the Other (in the Jungian / Campbellian / Eliadean sense, not as the pejorative noun/verb construction presently coming into use); the deep desire for there to be an Other, someone to be with, communicate with and be understood by, to relate to… someone in whose presence (and postulating whose existence) you’re not alone. The “cousin” concept is another variation of that.

Hope this helps!

Reality is much more complex than any judgement of right and wrong encourages you to believe. When you really understand the ethical, spiritual, social, economic, and psychological forces that shape individuals, you will see that people’s choices are not based on a desire to hurt. Instead, they are in accord with what they know and what world views are available to them. Most are doing the best they can, given what information they’ve received and what problems they are facing.
—  Michael Lerner
from now on, i’m just going to republish this every time there’s a new gun massacre

THE RIGHT TO NOT BEAR ARMS

Originally published on social media on January 26, 2013, in apropos of David Mamet’s essay “Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm” in that week’s issue of Newsweek.

My death is not only inevitable, it is also imminent.

No, I have neither been diagnosed with a lethal ailment and given minutes to live, nor am I contemplating suicide once I am done putting this down. I merely mean that my life is a mere flash in the two million or so years in which humanity has walked the earth.

Seen in the perspective of that time frame, the end of my life is, in fact, coming very soon – whenever in my life it may choose to arrive. I might as well accept it.

I think about that whenever the topic of gun control comes up… especially when a Czar of American Letters™ like David Mamet picks up the quill to write a barn-burning opinion piece (like that on the cover of this week’s Newsweek) in which he insists that the right to bear arms is an essential component to society; both in that it insures protection against the corrupt depredations of an increasingly intrusive government, as well as in that it is an essential prophylactic against incivility. In Mamet’s philosophy, no one dares to be an aggressor in a society in which every man, woman, and child is given the inalienable right to carry guns.

In short: mutually assured destruction is the best insurance of our right to life. In the macro: should the government overstep, an armed populace will rise to pull it down. In the micro: if you kill, you will be killed.

Mamet’s argument is lucid, consistent, and takes its cues from his – and many other intelligent people’s – interpretation of the frame of reference and aims of the Founding Fathers. It does not surprise me that many whom I consider to be level-headed intellects feel as Mamet does: that an individual is the best and only person to decide how to defend themselves, and that, in this world, an individual can only properly accomplish that goal in possession of a firearm.

Still…reading Mamet’s piece, I could not help but be struck by the preening, hypermasculine worship of conflict implicit in his every sentence. The bedrock conviction that the natural state of humanity is ideological crisis which will erupt into violence at any moment is implicit in his thesis, as well as his beliefs about the role of government, and the individual, in society.

I suppose this should not come as a surprise from Mamet. His work, from the sacred, Glengarry Glen Ross, to the profane – his martial arts film Redbelt and his television series The Unit – range from what is essentially a Valentine to the poetry of emotional abuse to sustained explorations of the ability to enforce one’s mark in combat against aggressors in a world that is viciously opposed to mutual understanding.

To live in the world expressed by Mamet – and, to some degree, to live in the world of most who believe in the socially sanctioned ability to take a life when necessary – is to live in (to borrow and recontextualize a phrase from Carl Sagan) a “demon-haunted world.” It is a prison: a maze in which predators lurk behind every corner and meanness of the soul is either prime motivator or inevitable outcome.

The Founding Fathers must have believed in this world, being as they flagged the right to bear arms in a language as carefully considered as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… and, again, it makes situational sense: they had been oppressed by a totalitarian monarchy and were surrounded by natives who were – understandably – hostile to their genocidal designs on their ancestral homeland.

All of which raises the more important question: when does humanity evolve from the right to bear arms to the right not to?

The study of violence in television – a topic concomitant with issues relating to guns – has yielded a phrase which has bounced in my head since I first encountered it: “mean world syndrome.” The concept is simple: the depiction of violence in popular culture may or may not incite actual violence, but it almost certainly creates the indelible – and vastly exaggerated – impression in viewers that the world is a nasty, brutish place in which violence is not only an acceptable means by which to resolve conflict, but also a complete inevitability.

The belief in a mean world may be profitable for gun manufacturers, but I believe it is a cancer of the soul and an impediment to evolution.

Evolution is a difficult proposition, just as “Thou shalt not kill” is a difficult admonition to follow – especially when others want what you have and have no moral barriers to its acquisition. It is harder to reason than to kill, it is harder to compromise than to kill, it is  harder to exercise empathy than to kill, it is harder to persuade, to forgive, to make a fearless moral inventory of our own wrongs, and to leave others to do the same and see the error of their own ways, than to kill.

It is – admittedly – harder to accomplish pretty much anything without the threat of a reckoning than it is to swing a big stick; and yet, over and over, since the evolution of consciousness, the prohibition of murder continues to be the central tenet of human spiritual and ethical growth. I believe this to be an evolutionary adaptation – a call across the eons telling us that the next step in our development as a species is collaboration and nonviolence.

In spiritual terms, the hard simplicity of the statement “Thou shalt not kill” makes its challenge frighteningly clear. It does not say, “Thou shalt not kill save for cases of home invasion” or “Thou shalt not kill except for when your way of life is being threatened by a formerly democratic government that has really gotten way too autocratic for its britches” and it sure as shekels doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not kill save for in the case of an organized state militia.”

For all the embellishments that human beings put in their spiritual traditions – usually designed to tell others how to live their lives in stultifying, homogeneous obedience and keep out undesirables – it is surprising how often the prohibition of murder shows up. The seeds of virtue are programmed to survive the death of the individual: “Thou shalt not kill” – in all of its forms, across secular and spiritual thought – keeps outliving people, democracies and dictatorships.

That is evolution at work.

Evolution is difficult and inconvenient to expediency. However, as I have been blessed with the luxury of living in what is – arguably – a democracy in which my participation is still allowed, of the opportunity to make a living in my chosen field, of a surfeit of creature comforts and technological expediency, of a preponderance of like-minded individuals who share my faith in God and my reliance on a number of societal systems designed to further my way of life – usually at the expense of others – I believe that I have a duty to make my life difficult in, at the very least, some minuscule but relevant way.

Chris Hedges famously titled one of his books “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” His argument is that both the perception and reality of never-ending battle instills in human beings a sense of purpose. As long as there is someone or something to oppose, the soul is filled with the comforting tonic of simplicity: don’t worry about empathy, reason, the truth that all humans are genetically identical, or the underlying unity of world religion and ethics, shoot to kill. Indulge your need for violent conquest and all the fuss and muss of worldly life becomes a distant memory. There’s an addictive satisfaction and perverse joy in that clarity.

The bearing of arms, and the perception of it as a right is – to me – a vestige of a primal addiction to violence, and the anodyne ease of a life led in Manichean opposition: an expression of the spirit-destroying contradiction that to be alive and free is to be on constant alert for coming war. To be armed is to never lose sight of the possibility that at any time we may be called upon to reassert our triumphant masculinity through the application of lethal force.

I believe that finding a way of life that does not automatically see in strangers the threat of extinction – that takes kindness, tolerance and collaboration as the first assumption of human coexistence – is both a Christian and Darwinian ideal: a natural continuation of the rise of consciousness. I refuse to be a walking deterrent – just as I refuse to be a talking inciter – of violence.

I believe that there is an evolutionary imperative – expressed across a majority of spiritual and secular traditions – for the prohibition of murder under any circumstance. I aspire to live in a society where fear of the other is not understood as the baseline, and feel duty-bound to that aspiration because the accident of my birth in the wealthiest and freest nation on the planet affords me the privilege to strive for that ideal.  

I believe that the responsibility that accompanies the largely unearned rewards of my privilege – and that of almost every other American – is the exploration of a way of life in which that bounty is no longer earned through violence or exploitation.

I have made peace with the inevitability of my own death. Statistically, the greatest likelihood is that the end of my life will come as a result of heart disease brought about by the excessive consumption of processed foods.
Even in our gun-loving, violence-obsessed, perpetually-in-Defcon-1 United States of America, the possibility of my dying as a result of a violent incident involving firearms – even one involving terrorists carrying firearms – is lower than an automobile accident, plane crash, or lightning strike. So I will not carry a gun in expectation of the one-man war that my very way of life has already conspired to prevent.

I will use my freedom to employ words, actions, and ideas to convince others that to strap on a cold reminder of the ability to take life is not a freeing act, but a bondage to a way of life that must be stopped…

And if I’m shot by a terrorist, or a jackbooted foot-soldier of a totalitarian regime – or even a common criminal?

Forgive them.

Or don’t. I won’t care. I’ll be dead… and the life of my killers, and whatever they stood for that was so important that it required my extinction, will end just as quickly, cosmically speaking, as mine.

I refuse my right to bear arms because I prefer to advocate for my right not to.

I refuse my right to bear arms because I believe that to be the truest expression of the privilege for which so many have killed and died.

I refuse my right to bear arms because I believe that Gandhi, Einstein, Sagan, Jesus, Buddha – and even Ayn Rand, whose words I’ll quote as a credibility-destroying concession to a young adulthood misspent re-reading Atlas Shrugged – agreed on one thing:

“Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins.”

Ma'at, Part 2

Part 1 can be found here (including some further quotes from a different scholarly work.) As before and I cannot stress this enough, this is not my work, it is the work of Dr. Karenga. I’m only providing a condensed breakdown of what I feel to be the more relevant points about Ma'at.

 Part 2: Maatian Ontology

The ancient Egyptians’ fundamental, even prior, ethical concern is not ontological but experiential and practical, i.e. concern with defining and living the good life, of being a worthy member of family and community and of creating and sustaining the just and good, i.e. Maatian society and world (p.176).

[In a passage from the CT] Maat is posed as the essence of life, indeed, the ground of life. Thus, the concept of eating, absorbing or assimilating Maat for spiritual nourishment is introduced. Here, it is introduced as a practice of and necessity for God. For Maat is that by which God lives and is satisfied. Therefore, Maat must be constantly offered to God, a practice which is both spiritual and ethical (p.181).

It is one’s Maat, one’s character, one’s virtue, one’s heart which goes on to do good, brings honour, causes one to speak truth and do justice. In a word, it is one’s internal grounding that causes one to become what one ought to be. This place-making, or locating and grounding oneself, then, is key to Maatian ethics… One always acts ethically in a given context, one is worthy in one’s family, town, city or district. One speaks truth there, does justice there and walks in the way of righteousness there. Thus, one is socially and morally grounded there. Location is also another way to discuss the ethical tradition itself, for one is always concerned about following in the footsteps of the ancestors, i.e. honoring the tradition. Place-making, then, is both a creative and ethical concept and poses an ongoing challenge to ground oneself and in that context, on that ‘primordial mound’ to act morally and creatively (p.183).

In Maatian theology and ethics, non-being poses a dual challenge. It is at once a threat and a ground for creative activity. As a threat to creation, non-being or the non-existent is the disordered, the evil, the impure, the injustice and all those things negative to being, especially being as life. Thus, the ethical imperative is to constantly overcome non-being by creating, recreating, sustaining and restoring rightness and righteousness, i.e. Maat which is the essence and energy of life. Thus one is challenged to be and act like Ra, to speak Maat and do Maat. For Maat is life and life is a being actualizing itself in a dynamic and eternal process (p.184).

Creative action is ethical action and ethical action is creative action. For Maat is both product and producer of both. This is affirmed in the highly abstract and seemingly contradictory contention in ancient Egyptian theology that Maat is both the mother and daughter of Ra (p.186).

Together Hu and Sia symbolize and express authoritative utterance of exceptional insight and are at the heart of both creative activity and moral practice in Maatian ethics. For they are powers which are available to all humans, in order that they may understand, speak, and do Maat and defend and increase good in the world in a cooperative project with the Divine (p.188).

Inherent in the Maatian ideal is the assumption that good speech is a vital and necessary good for everyone and that everyone as equal access to it for beneficial purposes… It is important to note here though that speech in Maatian ethics also carries with it the possibility of misuse. The emphasis on the moral imperative to speak and do Maat carries within it a prohibition against speaking and doing the opposite… To speak wrongly then is injurious to Maat and the moral community which gives it life (p.190).

As the orderedness of being, Maat endowed the world with a law of nature, operative and expressed in the anticipated regularity of processes and phenomena, i.e. the rise and setting of the sun, the rise and fall of the Nile, the coming and going of seasons, but also the inevitable triumph of good and the eventual defeat of evil in both the world and society (p.193).

Virtue or moral law was given the same immanent status and function in the social world as physical law in the cosmic and natural order. In fact, the very distinction between the moral and the natural, the cosmic and the social, was never sharp and very often non-existent. For Maat was an inclusive cosmic order, in a word, the very orderedness of being (p.193).

[Maatian ontology] poses being as life and life as a dynamic process of constantly becoming in the context of cooperative and collaborative projects whose central goal is the constant realization of Maat (p.202).

To do Maat is an open-ended project and task with no codified list of all things to be or do. On the contrary, the conceptual elasticity of Maat allows for a myriad of things to be done, in terms of modalities, i.e. create it, recreate it, sustain it (p.212).

In conclusion, then, being in Maatian ontology, is a structure and process of possibility, comprising opposites which offer a productive tension in an ongoing dynamic process. Maat, as the essence and ground of being is, of necessity, immutable in its essential nature, but is a principle of activeness in its role as an instrument of extending the existent and restoring the damaged and decaying, replenish the lacking, healing the injured, setting right the wrong. Maat is above all a constantly realized reality…. Given the nature of reality which requires a cooperative and collaborative practice of the Divine and humans both against the negative and in the constant realization of Maat, reality or being can never be static. By its very constitution and constant construction and reconstruction, it is a dynamic and open-ended project (p.214).

anonymous asked:

r u a vegan bc like if so then like my heart eyes r so real

i really try to avoid calling myself vegan because, by large majority, people who project their diet onto others are annoying. vegans, vegetarians, paleos, people who post bacon memes, i just literally don’t ever want to hear about it. like eat your fruits and vegetables and drink enough water, that’s all i care about.

that’s not to say meat eaters aren’t wrong. it’s my personal, ethical, and spiritual belief that what they’re doing every day is wrong. i just don’t give a shit about other peoples lives enough to be vocal about it. you do you.

Object Labels 101: What are the labels really telling you?
by Jill Sterrett

Is an art collection a possession? Is it an expression of taste and desire? Is it a force for progress and social welfare? Regardless of how it is viewed, collectible art is part of a market economy. And whether or not the world is enriched in some intellectual, spiritual, or ethical way by its existence, the art an individual or institution collects is invariably a multifaceted reflection of who they are. The evidence is everywhere, even in an artwork’s object label.

The label alongside an artwork in an exhibition, in its briefest iteration, presents to the visitor certain descriptive essentials like the artist’s name and nationality, the artwork’s title, its date of fabrication, and the materials from which it was made. As a museum convention, the label dates back to the 1830s and Gustav Friedrich Waagen, the first director of the Royal Museum in Berlin. According to Waagen, the label helped the unfamiliar viewer learn the difference between a painting by Jan Van Eyck, for example, and one by Peter Paul Rubens. The utility of Waagen’s label has evolved over two hundred years as a measure of the museum’s promise and a means to its sustainability. On the surface, the object label reflects the museum’s time-honored role as keeper and classifier of treasured objects and artifacts of history. Reading between the lines of the object label there is a legible trace of the social, fiscal, and educational forces underpinning the entire enterprise of museums.

Consider an artwork’s title, or its name. In Picture Titles, Ruth Bernard Yeazell observes that titles were not so common until the advent of an art market in the eighteenth century and the formation of public museums in Europe, where the visitors did not always know what they were looking at. Concurrent with the growth of general public literacy, the rise in print publishing, and the emergence of an academic discipline for interpreting paintings, naming works of art became both productive and essential. Titling was as much a practice of responding to art as of making it, and everyone from artists, dealers, and cataloguers to critics, scholars, and ordinary viewers was doing it.

Or, let’s think about what is typically the last piece of information on an object label, the credit line — the description of how a work comes to be on display or enter a collection. In this country, the credit line reflects a tradition of private-public partnership in ownership that is distinctively American.

When American art museums were established, they embodied the same Enlightenment ideals of their European counterparts but with a few fundamental differentiators. In contrast to European models, where ownership was vested in the state, the monarchy, or the church, in the United States it was upwardly mobile entrepreneurs living the American dream who typically bought and collected art. American art museums have been founded and fortified by enterprising individuals with a passion for art, the wherewithal to collect and own it, and a commitment to public service. Today, the philanthropic covenant is written in the United States tax code.

An artwork’s credit line acknowledges the donor when there is one and describes the transaction using terms like “purchase,” “bequest,” “gift,” or “loan.” Museums purchase art in a variety of ways including from dealers, at auction, or directly from individuals. A bequest comes to the museum under the terms of a person’s will. Outright gifts are straightforward and, in the U.S., individuals receive tax exemptions when they give their personal artworks to museum collections for the benefit of the public. Donors can even allocate a percentage of an artwork as a gift; this is the “fractional gift.” In return, they receive a tax benefit proportional to the fraction given, and retain possession of the artwork corresponding to their remaining ownership interest. With purchases, bequests, and gifts, title is formally transferred to the institution. The term loan covers a variety of ways museums borrow works of art for the purpose of study and exhibition. Loans are made between museums or between museums and private individuals. There is no transfer of title with any form of loan — the works are not possessions of the museum. When an individual pledges a work of art, it is called “promised” gift and it is viewed as a loan until the gift is realized. A credit line remains with the work of art throughout its life at the museum, with the donor’s generosity acknowledged permanently and publicly via the object label.

Everyone who visits a museum knows the experience, even the rhythm, of viewing an artwork, reading its label, and moving on to view the next work of art. Reading the label orients the visitor in the gallery, it situates the artwork in its time and place of creation, and it also sheds light on the historical trail of ownership that is called the work’s provenance. On one level, provenance substantiates the transfer of title. On another, it confers a work’s illustrious ownership pedigree @, adding a dimension of significance to the art the museum collects, exhibits, values, and talks about. Behind that small label lies the museum’s complex, interconnected system of art collection, display, and education, fueled by the dual incentives of civic duty and financial return.

from now on i am just going republish this every time there’s a new gun massacre.

THE RIGHT TO NOT BEAR ARMS

Originally published on social media on January 26, 2013, in apropos of David Mamet’s essay “Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm” in that week’s issue of Newsweek.

My death is not only inevitable, it is also imminent.

No, I have neither been diagnosed with a lethal ailment and given minutes to live, nor am I contemplating suicide once I am done putting this down. I merely mean that my life is a mere flash in the two million or so years in which humanity has walked the earth.

Seen in the perspective of that time frame, the end of my life is, in fact, coming very soon – whenever in my life it may choose to arrive. I might as well accept it.

I think about that whenever the topic of gun control comes up… especially when a Czar of American Letters™ like David Mamet picks up the quill to write a barn-burning opinion piece (like that on the cover of this week’s Newsweek) in which he insists that the right to bear arms is an essential component to society; both in that it insures protection against the corrupt depredations of an increasingly intrusive government, as well as in that it is an essential prophylactic against incivility. In Mamet’s philosophy, no one dares to be an aggressor in a society in which every man, woman, and child is given the inalienable right to carry guns.

In short: mutually assured destruction is the best insurance of our right to life. In the macro: should the government overstep, an armed populace will rise to pull it down. In the micro: if you kill, you will be killed.

Mamet’s argument is lucid, consistent, and takes its cues from his – and many other intelligent people’s – interpretation of the frame of reference and aims of the Founding Fathers. It does not surprise me that many whom I consider to be level-headed intellects feel as Mamet does: that an individual is the best and only person to decide how to defend themselves, and that, in this world, an individual can only properly accomplish that goal in possession of a firearm.

Still…reading Mamet’s piece, I could not help but be struck by the preening, hypermasculine worship of conflict implicit in his every sentence. The bedrock conviction that the natural state of humanity is ideological crisis which will erupt into violence at any moment is implicit in his thesis, as well as his beliefs about the role of government, and the individual, in society.

I suppose this should not come as a surprise from Mamet. His work, from the sacred, Glengarry Glen Ross, to the profane – his martial arts film Redbelt and his television series The Unit – range from what is essentially a Valentine to the poetry of emotional abuse to sustained explorations of the ability to enforce one’s mark in combat against aggressors in a world that is viciously opposed to mutual understanding.

To live in the world expressed by Mamet – and, to some degree, to live in the world of most who believe in the socially sanctioned ability to take a life when necessary – is to live in (to borrow and recontextualize a phrase from Carl Sagan) a “demon-haunted world.” It is a prison: a maze in which predators lurk behind every corner and meanness of the soul is either prime motivator or inevitable outcome.

The Founding Fathers must have believed in this world, being as they flagged the right to bear arms in a language as carefully considered as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… and, again, it makes situational sense: they had been oppressed by a totalitarian monarchy and were surrounded by natives who were – understandably – hostile to their genocidal designs on their ancestral homeland.

All of which raises the more important question: when does humanity evolve from the right to bear arms to the right not to?

The study of violence in television – a topic concomitant with issues relating to guns – has yielded a phrase which has bounced in my head since I first encountered it: “mean world syndrome.” The concept is simple: the depiction of violence in popular culture may or may not incite actual violence, but it almost certainly creates the indelible – and vastly exaggerated – impression in viewers that the world is a nasty, brutish place in which violence is not only an acceptable means by which to resolve conflict, but also a complete inevitability.

The belief in a mean world may be profitable for gun manufacturers, but I believe it is a cancer of the soul and an impediment to evolution.

Evolution is a difficult proposition, just as “Thou shalt not kill” is a difficult admonition to follow – especially when others want what you have and have no moral barriers to its acquisition. It is harder to reason than to kill, it is harder to compromise than to kill, it is  harder to exercise empathy than to kill, it is harder to persuade, to forgive, to make a fearless moral inventory of our own wrongs, and to leave others to do the same and see the error of their own ways, than to kill.

It is – admittedly – harder to accomplish pretty much anything without the threat of a reckoning than it is to swing a big stick; and yet, over and over, since the evolution of consciousness, the prohibition of murder continues to be the central tenet of human spiritual and ethical growth. I believe this to be an evolutionary adaptation – a call across the eons telling us that the next step in our development as a species is collaboration and nonviolence.

In spiritual terms, the hard simplicity of the statement “Thou shalt not kill” makes its challenge frighteningly clear. It does not say, “Thou shalt not kill save for cases of home invasion” or “Thou shalt not kill except for when your way of life is being threatened by a formerly democratic government that has really gotten way too autocratic for its britches” and it sure as shekels doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not kill save for in the case of an organized state militia.”

For all the embellishments that human beings put in their spiritual traditions – usually designed to tell others how to live their lives in stultifying, homogeneous obedience and keep out undesirables – it is surprising how often the prohibition of murder shows up. The seeds of virtue are programmed to survive the death of the individual: “Thou shalt not kill” – in all of its forms, across secular and spiritual thought – keeps outliving people, democracies and dictatorships.

That is evolution at work.

Evolution is difficult and inconvenient to expediency. However, as I have been blessed with the luxury of living in what is – arguably – a democracy in which my participation is still allowed, of the opportunity to make a living in my chosen field, of a surfeit of creature comforts and technological expediency, of a preponderance of like-minded individuals who share my faith in God and my reliance on a number of societal systems designed to further my way of life – usually at the expense of others – I believe that I have a duty to make my life difficult in, at the very least, some minuscule but relevant way.

Chris Hedges famously titled one of his books “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” His argument is that both the perception and reality of never-ending battle instills in human beings a sense of purpose. As long as there is someone or something to oppose, the soul is filled with the comforting tonic of simplicity: don’t worry about empathy, reason, the truth that all humans are genetically identical, or the underlying unity of world religion and ethics, shoot to kill. Indulge your need for violent conquest and all the fuss and muss of worldly life becomes a distant memory. There’s an addictive satisfaction and perverse joy in that clarity.

The bearing of arms, and the perception of it as a right is – to me – a vestige of a primal addiction to violence, and the anodyne ease of a life led in Manichean opposition: an expression of the spirit-destroying contradiction that to be alive and free is to be on constant alert for coming war. To be armed is to never lose sight of the possibility that at any time we may be called upon to reassert our triumphant masculinity through the application of lethal force.

I believe that finding a way of life that does not automatically see in strangers the threat of extinction – that takes kindness, tolerance and collaboration as the first assumption of human coexistence – is both a Christian and Darwinian ideal: a natural continuation of the rise of consciousness. I refuse to be a walking deterrent – just as I refuse to be a talking inciter – of violence.

I believe that there is an evolutionary imperative – expressed across a majority of spiritual and secular traditions – for the prohibition of murder under any circumstance. I aspire to live in a society where fear of the other is not understood as the baseline, and feel duty-bound to that aspiration because the accident of my birth in the wealthiest and freest nation on the planet affords me the privilege to strive for that ideal.  

I believe that the responsibility that accompanies the largely unearned rewards of my privilege – and that of almost every other American – is the exploration of a way of life in which that bounty is no longer earned through violence or exploitation.

I have made peace with the inevitability of my own death. Statistically, the greatest likelihood is that the end of my life will come as a result of heart disease brought about by the excessive consumption of processed foods.
Even in our gun-loving, violence-obsessed, perpetually-in-Defcon-1 United States of America, the possibility of my dying as a result of a violent incident involving firearms – even one involving terrorists carrying firearms – is lower than an automobile accident, plane crash, or lightning strike. So I will not carry a gun in expectation of the one-man war that my very way of life has already conspired to prevent.

I will use my freedom to employ words, actions, and ideas to convince others that to strap on a cold reminder of the ability to take life is not a freeing act, but a bondage to a way of life that must be stopped…

And if I’m shot by a terrorist, or a jackbooted foot-soldier of a totalitarian regime – or even a common criminal?

Forgive them.

Or don’t. I won’t care. I’ll be dead… and the life of my killers, and whatever they stood for that was so important that it required my extinction, will end just as quickly, cosmically speaking, as mine.

I refuse my right to bear arms because I prefer to advocate for my right not to.

I refuse my right to bear arms because I believe that to be the truest expression of the privilege for which so many have killed and died.

I refuse my right to bear arms because I believe that Gandhi, Einstein, Sagan, Jesus, Buddha – and even Ayn Rand, whose words I’ll quote as a credibility-destroying concession to a young adulthood misspent re-reading Atlas Shrugged – agreed on one thing:

“Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins.”