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Friday, June 08, 2007

A day of knowledge absorbtion and reflection

It's been another good day today. Summer is really on its way now; this afternoon was the first time this year that I've got off the train and felt like I was being 'hit' by the heat.

Yesterday's bread turned out to be quite a success, although it was only when I reached the end of the recipe and was about to start my kneading that I noticed it said "makes 2 loaves". I guess it's bread for me for the next few days then. I look forward to making many more loaves in the future.

Amongst the things I learnt today:

  • During the 2nd World War, an average of 3 bombs per square metre of land were dropped on Tokyo.
  • During the 2nd oil shock in the 1970s, a rumour spread that toilet paper in Japan would soon be hard to come by as the amount of energy used in its production was such that the mills would have to close. This prompted a rush to buy toilet paper. A rule was introduced whereby people could only buy one packet of toilet paper per person per day. When the paper mills never did close, people (such as my teacher) were left with huge mountains of toilet paper in their little houses, which took years to get through.
  • Quantum physics is difficult to understand. Having heard a fair few mentions of it lately I decided to try and educate myself tonight. Crikey oh riley, I think I'll stick to "Bi Angil ulsaas irsen" which means "I'm from England", in Mongolian. The Russian and Chinese phrasebooks are yet to arrive.
  • Siberia is bigger that the United States (including Alaska) and western Europe combined.
  • Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest of all inland waters.
  • The basins of three of the world's greatest rivers - the Ob, Yenisei, Lena - which run through Siberia, are each bigger than western Europe.

The most valuable lessons I learnt today did not come in the form of one-line 'facts'. They concern my way of thinking, in particular adjustments I need to make. Until last year, I had, just like most people, occasionally bad-mouthed people. You know, complained about my boss, about the boring tutor, the guy with the smelly feet on the train. I've been working on ridding myself of that habit, and am pretty happy with the results. I do still make slip ups. "Be Aware" is what I repeat to myself.

Today, the idea was put to me that criticising politicians, governments, institutions was just as bad as criticising ordinary individuals. I struggled with this for some time. Surely, criticism is necessary in the case of governments etc, it keeps them on their toes and more inclined to act in our interests.

Or does it?

Perhaps rather then lead to positive outcomes, it leads to further tension. Perhaps by putting our energy into criticising their wrongs, rather than showing thanks for their rights, we are merely contributing to the problem? Perhaps if they came to realise that it feels much better to do good things and be thanked for them rather than do bad things and then have to defend those actions, they would voluntarily act in accordance with what is right.

Of course, that's a very simplistic example, but I merely what to demonstrate the notion.

I can think of a concrete example of this kind of thing.

The other day I read a book produced by two charities. The book was essentially a report on the state of affairs in some of the world's poorest countries, and had many shameful stories of the West's careless abuse of the lives of others in far-off places. Reading this made me feel very bad and upset; you may recall I wrote about it here on The Daily Mumble - I needed to get it off my chest through sharing it.

Around the same time, I read a different publication which told the exciting news of how hydrologists from one of those charities finally discovered a water source in the desert, a water source that will help safeguard the lives of thousands of people whose lives were threatened by dehydration and disease.

The first of these two publications made me feel bad and angry. I shared that anger so that other people also thought, "oh, isn't that terrible..."

The second of these made me feel so happy and excited about the achievements of those hydrologists that I immediately set about promoting the charity's work.

Quite a difference.
"I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.

- Mother Teresa
I shall make a strong effort to embrace this approach.

In a bid to help me make this a part of my life, today I decided to stop reading the newspapers, as I have been doing nearly every day lately. I've already unsubscribed from the multiple news sites I used to receive hourly updates from: it's now limited to three headlines a day from what is possibly the most dull paper on Earth (The Japan Times) - a deliberate ply to stop myself wanting to read more.

These past few days I've been mulling over an issue I currently have, that of lacking any framework within which to place the many issues, concerns and projects that I am devoting my attention to at present. It was only natural then that today I should receive an email from a friend who'd had a peek at TGW but knew nothing of my quandary , asking if I'd like to have a natter about it (one may be tempted to say "What a coincidence!" but I do not believe one would be right to do so - this is what the Law of Attraction is all about!).

On a final note, there was one thing in particular that struck me today, apart from the fact that my hand is in essence nothing but energy, that being the notion that everything that we see around us started with a single thought. Now that may seem obvious, but if you think about it, really think about it, and then relate it to yourself, well, it's quite staggering.

This is a tremendously exciting time to be alive.

Now, you must excuse me. I am about to embrace the washing up.


Blogger Shari said...

You are starting to have what I'd call a "spiritual awakening" though I hesitate to say that because it sounds so silly and new age...not that it's bad to be new age but rather it gives everyone the wrong impression.

I also stopped reading the news a long time ago because it just causes one to be reactionary and it's almost always a way of putting more negative energy out into the world just as thinking negatively about people does that. That's not to say we should ignore people who act badly but we should have a balanced view and do what we can to improve things rather than simply complain about them.

It's very interesting watching your transformation. When you're ready to take a step into headier stuff, you might want to read the Seth material by Jane Roberts as it pulls together a lot of the sorts of things you're now thinking about. It doesn't matter whether you believe the author actually channeled a spirit or not as the philosophy of the material is more important than the source.

9/6/07 11:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I do love your posts. Some of your ideas are pretty...idealistic, if I'm being kind, pie-in-the-sky/naive if I'm not...but generally I find your quest for knowledge, continual self-improvement and renewal engaging and thoroughly admirable.

One of the ideas you touched on here is the desire to get rid of negativity and negative thought. Generally speaking, as long you are not just suppressing it, I think this is a definitely good thing. I think without being constrained by doubt and those niggling little negative thoughts I think we can all achieve a lot more. However, this bit about criticising governments;

"(By criticing the state) perhaps rather then lead to positive outcomes, it leads to further tension. Perhaps by putting our energy into criticising their wrongs, rather than showing thanks for their rights, we are merely contributing to the problem? Perhaps if they came to realise that it feels much better to do good things and be thanked for them rather than do bad things and then have to defend those actions, they would voluntarily act in accordance with what is right."

The state is not a person, with feelings or thoughts of its own, therefore we should have no qualms about criticising it as often as we can if it is not delivering the kind of governance we expect and deserve. No significant political progress has ever been made without people making a stand against the state - suffrage, anti-slavery movement and so on and so forth. If you have a situation where people do not (or aren't allowed to) criticise the Government, you end up with something akin to the extremes of Communism or Fascism. Pick up a newspaper in China when you are out there this summer and all you'll see in there is praise for the government, what a wonderful country it is etc...and yet politically the people are powerless.

I'm afraid you'll need to file that particular notion in the box marked "ill conceived"...

9/6/07 22:26  
Blogger Joseph said...

Shari: Thank you for pointing me in that direction. I have had a brief read of the main points of Seth's teaching (of which I had not heard of until tonight) and found myself smiling due to the fact that much of what I read backed up what I have been led to believe through my limited reading of late. I shall read more in due course, i.e. not at 1am on a Sunday.

Anonymous: Oh, I do love your comments! In fact I do miss you when I don't hear from you in a while. I was expecting you to comment on this post, and I guessed that you probably wouldn't agree with me.

You say that "The state is not a person, with feelings or thoughts of its own" - but I would argue that this is simply not true. The State is made up of a collection of individuals with thoughts and feelings of their own which ultimately are far more powerful than any system within which they may be theoretically constrained.

There are many ways to bring about changes in society, and I am merely saying that criticism is not necessarily an effective way to bring about these changes. Rather, it's an easy way for us to feel that we are making a difference - but it's not at all constructive, and simply adds to the negativity that already exists, thus exacerbating the situation.

10/6/07 01:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, fine. But can you ever have disagreement without some level of negativity? If the answer is no...

10/6/07 05:08  
Blogger Joseph said...

One could of course argue that in any situation where one voices one's disagreement, there is negativity, but I think that would be taking it a bit too literally.

For example, we don't agree on the issue of criticising politicians, but rather than you choosing to tell me I'm an idiot for thinking in such a way, you are stating your argument in a non-aggressive manner, (possibly) in a bid to bring me around to your way of thinking.

In this situation, I do not feel threatened by you, and therefore I do not feel the need to react aggressively. Rather, I respect the fact that you have taken the time to explain your thinking, and appreciate that you have obviously considered what I stated in the first place - you are not just firing off some gut-reaction criticisms.

Thus, I come to respect you a little more, and I am more likely to listen to and consider what you say in the future.

Now expand that to a global level.

13/6/07 11:26  

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