Keep it simple, silly

Saturday, March 26, 2005


I used to hate globalisation and all it repersented: the rich getting richer, squeezing out the small and exploiting the weak, while spreading their homogeneity across the globe. Cultures under constant threat of corruption and extinction while people everywhere get suckered into the McCoca-Sony-Nike hegemony.

Now I see it differently. That all may be true, but it is only a phase. Now I see globalisation as potentially bringing us the end of ideology, and this is much more comforting to me.

Ideology, for me, is the home of dogma; and dogma, for me, is a major source of suffering. It is attachment to an idea, to a belief, and attachment is the cause of suffering – at least according to the Buddha and many so-called enlightened beings both before and after him. Of course, this statement would also be dogmatic if not supported by personal experience, so take it for what it’s worth.

To me, there seems to be five primary ideologies that are responsible for the majority of conflict in this world: nationhood, religion, ethnocentrism, politics and economics. All of these are based on ideas; none has a single iota of material evidence supporting its existence in reality. Plenty of material things have been built in their name, but the ideas came before their idols. And each ideology has proponents who are either prepared to fight to the death, or send other people off to do the same, all in the name of defending what are ultimately unsubstantiable ideas. Incredible, isn’t it?

The beauty of globalisation is that it completely overrides the first four ideologies, leaving only economics remaining. The seemingly irresistible force of international capitalism crosses borders as though they’re not even there (which, in reality, they aren’t); it replaces religion with worship of the almighty dollar; it crosses cultures in waves of commercial indifference; and buys politicians and political systems like it would any other commodity.

And that therefore leaves economics: a theory so elusive in its substance that none of its ‘experts’ are ever prepared to make a definitive statement. At least religion has its doomsday cults, holy books and prophets; nations have borders; cultures have their colors and customs; and politics has its sides. Economics is completely amorphous.

And its God, capitalism, is one of the most unsustainable ideologies in existence. It is totally dependent on growth; and continuous, endless growth is impossible in a closed system such as our planet. Of course, if you ask any economist, they will give your counter-arguments galore to this, just like any priest will ‘prove’ to you that their religion is the ‘right’ one; as any politician manages to defend the most improbable policy; like a Klansman preaches racial supremacy; or the people of any nation unquestioningly salute its flag and sing its anthem. People will always defend what they believe in, and the more untenable the belief, the more vehement their arguments and aggressive their stance. Show me any aggressor and I’ll show you an unsupportable argument.

Nobody likes to be wrong, especially if they’ve spent a lifetime believing they were right, and economists have an entire international system to defend – one that persecutes its disbelievers with names like ‘communist’ and holds most of the world to ransom with unconscionable debts and enforced poverty. Supporting this must be hard work, so they need to be truly invested in their ideological beliefs, no matter how irrational they may be.

Still, one day, once it has consumed everyone and everything and there is nowhere left for it to go, capitalism must collapse. And when that happens, the world will be a very different place. If capitalism has done its job, we will have stopped fighting over gods and policies and interpersonal differences and borders, and will only be concerning ourselves with supply and demand – a little like Iraq today. And once we no longer have that to fight over either, who knows? Maybe there will be nothing left to believe.

For the first time in human history, there is no more land to discover and conquer. For the first time ever, communications make it possible to bring the world together in an instant. Europe is dismantling its borders and the world is paying attention. We are closer to the concept of ‘one world’ than we have ever been. Globalization is simply one more tool at our disposal to help us make it possible. The means may appear questionable, but the intent is the same as Bob Marley’s plea.

And yes, ‘one world’ is just another idea. But it’s hard to fight when you don’t have an enemy.

...this got published in the local paper, Atencíon..


TRAVELLER 1 - - Buenas tardes.
TRAVELLER 2 - - Buenas tardes.
T1 - - ¿Cómo esta?
T2 - - Muy bien. ¿Y usted?
T1 - - Yo tambien.
[Awkard silence]
T2 - - Ummm.
T1 - - Err.
T2 - - ¿De dónde eres?
T1 - - ¿Qué?
T2 - - Where are you from?
T1 - - Oh, Australia. ¿Y usted?
T2 - - California.
T1 - - Are you living here in San Miguel?
T2 - - No, I’m returning home from Oaxaca, where I spent seven weeks in a remote Indian village studying the Zapotec language and learning how to carve stone tools.
T1 - - Fascinating.
T2 - - Yes, it was. In return I tried to teach them to read. Those people are so oppressed, and reading will give them the freedom to rise up against the system.
T1 - - Is that so?
T2 - - I believe so.
T1 - - Seven weeks doesn’t seem to be a lot of time to learn to read. Or to learn a language, for that matter.
T2 - - I don’t think you’re hearing me. When I’m trying to explain something that’s important to me and I get discrediting responses like that I feel so, so…
T1 - - ?
T2 - - …so unheard.
T1 - - Well, it’s just that…
T2 - - You see, it’s one thing to sit here and talk about saving the world…
T1 - - ?
T2 - - …but some of us are actually out there doing it.
T1 - - Yes, I appreciate that, it’s only…
T2 - - See! There you go again, interrupting me and not letting me get to my point.
T1 - - And that is?
T2 - - In America we use 80% of the world’s resources. Do you think that’s fair?
T1 - - Well, no. Only…
T2 - - Of course it’s not. And that’s what I’m talking about.
T1 - - Look, I’m really glad that you’re doing what you believe in. I just came here to have a relaxing beer, so do you think we could talk about something lighter?
T2 - - Like what?
T1 - - I don’t know. Got any jokes?
T2 - - I don’t really like jokes. I prefer spontaneity.
T1 - - Of course.
T2 - - But you like jokes, so tell me one.
T1 - - Okay. This white horse walks into the White Horse Tavern and the bartender says, “This place was named after you.” And the horse says, “What, Trevor?”
T2 - - That’s not funny.
T1 - - Yes it is. It’s so stupid it’s funny.
T2 - - No, I don’t find that funny.
T1 - - What do you find funny?
T2 - - While this world is so messed up, I don’t find much to be very funny.
T1 - - [Mumbles] Maybe that’s why the world is so messed up.
T2 - - What was that?
T1 - - Nothing. I just find it helps to laugh at and with the world. It makes it easier to take.
T2 - - And that’s the problem: everybody’s laughing and nobody’s doing anything about it.
T1 - - If everybody’s laughing, what’s the problem?
T2 - - The problem is that what they’re laughing at isn’t funny.
T1 - - In your opinion.
T2 - - In my opinion.
T1 - - There is a school of thought that suggests that if everyone was focused on their own happiness, there would be no more fighting in the world.
T2 - - That’s all very well if you drive a SUV and shop at Macy’s. But it’s impossible to be happy if you’re starving.
T1 - - Is that true?
T2 - - Of course it is.
T1 - - Have you ever been starving?
T2 - - Of course not.
T1 - - So how do you know that it’s impossible to be happy if you’re starving?
T2 - - It’s obvious.
T1 - - Is it?
T2 - - Of course it is.
T1 - - Fair enough. Maybe if we were all happy with our full stomachs and SUVs, we would want to share our happiness with those who don’t have it.
T2 - - How?
T1 - - I don’t know, by buying them food and SUVs?
T2 - - They don’t need SUVs, they only need food.
T1 - - How can you know that?
T2 - - Because the world doesn’t need SUVs – they’re killing the planet.
T1 - - Maybe they need one to pick up the food.
T2 - - You’re impossible.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The worst thing that ever happened is an uninvestigated thought – Byron Katie

We have all experienced stressful thoughts: people shouldn’t fight each other, the world is too polluted, my partner should love me more, I am too fat. Any thought that wants things to be different from how they really are is stressful – it brings up feelings of anger or hatred or fear or disappointment, and in my experience this is not enjoyable.

Almost 20 years ago, Byron Katie awoke from years of intense suffering with the realization that every single thing that upset her was no more than a thought. She saw that when she questioned the validity of each of these thoughts that they would let go of her, and her suffering would cease. A thought is just an idea; it is our choice whether to believe it or not.

From this discovery, Katie developed a process of inquiry she called The Work. It is incredibly simple and extraordinarily effective.

To begin with, find a thought that is causing you stress. An example might be, San Miguel de Allende is too noisy.

Now ask yourself, Is this true? Wait for the answer to come, do not force it. When the answer arrives it will be Yes, No or I don’t know.

If the answer was Yes or I don’t know, then ask Can I absolutely know that San Miguel is too noisy? Where is your proof? San Miguel is as noisy as it is; how can you know this is too noisy? Once you have considered questions like these, you will again come up with Yes, No or I don’t know. It doesn’t matter which, it was just a question.

Now ask yourself how you react when you think this thought. You may get angry and take it out on yourself or your partner or those around you. You may have trouble sleeping after being woken up in the middle of the night by honking cars, drunken shouts or church bells. Maybe you get so stressed that you decide to leave and never return. Or you could find yourself complaining endlessly about it to friends – at least until they stop returning your calls.

Once you have exhausted your reactions to this thought, ask yourself who you’d be without it. Who would you be if you were incapable of thinking that San Miguel is too noisy? It’s possible that you would be at peace. It’s possible that all these obtrusive, discordant noises could become a sweet background symphony to your life. You may be awoken by church bells in the middle of the night and be grateful for such a fitting end to your dream. Or possibly you may decide that San Miguel is just as noisy as it needs to be and you, preferring quiet, are moving to the woods in northern Oregon; no hard feelings, San Miguel, I still love you, I just don’t want to live with you anymore.

And finally, turn the thought around. There are many ways in which this might be done, the trick is finding those that are at least as true to you as the original statement. One might be San Miguel is not too noisy: it is as noisy as it needs to be. Another could be My thinking is too noisy: and when you can’t sleep at night because some church bells woke you up, it must be! And yet another could be I am too noisy: which could explain why your friends are no longer returning your calls.

This may seem far too simplistic to be effective, as it did for me when I first came across it. All I can say to this is, Is it true? Personally, I have seen it work too many times – with people ending up laughing about the most serious issues you could imagine – not to have faith in this process.

Try it and make up your own mind.

Shoot! My friend Tino took these shots for me so I could use one on my flyer. Hmmm, don't think I'll use this one.

Maybe this one.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Compromise. Where these travels were going to end. Where I am now. What am I compromising? What is it I want to gain here? Money, of course. With nothing left I feel I need to earn some. Is this compromise? I was believing it was an opportunity to experience prosperity. I was thinking it was an opportunity to help, to fulfill a part of my purpose. I thought it was time to start walking on my own two feet, to support myself. I thought this is where I was supposed to right now.

And now I‘m not so sure, not so sure of anything. I am back in the mystery, and that is good. I know so little, and that is good. And I am confused, and that is confusing. Things are manifesting in me that I thought I had confronted and left behind, I am finding that I am fallible and human all over again and not nearly as humble as I thought. The humility will come if this situation prevails, of that I can be fairly sure. But what is this situation? Where am I right now and what am I supposed to do about it? I’m supposed to do something, is that true? How could I know? So many questions, where have they all come from?

Today a bunch of people in LA are going hungry and I’m wishing I was one of them. Life is simple there, complications are erased with some simple inquiry. And here I am, sitting on a comfortable bed, looking out a window to a sunny day ahead and instead of God I am hearing voices demanding answers. What is this? Where did it all come from? The reality is beautiful and the mind is struggling.

The blissful ignorance has left me for torment and pain. Is this what I want? Is this the illusion I would choose? When and why did The Work stop doing me? Was this inevitable? Why was I the last to know?

I need clients just to bring it all back to me, just to share what we all know. It ends with compromise, and where does the next step begin?


Friday, March 11, 2005

My last day in Mexico City. Birds chirp, traffic hums, the giant flag flaps to my right as the wind whispers past me.

A day full of thoughts, coming at me in a relentless barrage, unforgiving, trying to take me back to my old home in Never-Neverland. It is hard to remain aware when wandering, as though the mind follows the body on a random excursion to nowhere.

And still I am mostly clear. A voice speaks through me often and I hear it, communicate it. Mostly it has a home, a mouthpiece. Mostly it is heard and often it is understood. I do not pretend to be anything special, only a conduit, like us all. And I need remember this, because it would be easy to fall into the trap of believing it is me talking, into believing that I somehow know something others don’t. I know how easy it is, for I have done it before. Many times. And I know how painful it can be to be found out and have the illusion shatter like pure crystal on a marble floor. All the better, for reality provides a firmer footing.

It is so easy to take the kudos to heart, so easy to believe the hype, that all I can do is try to remain aware and let the truth flow freely while stopping the bullshit in its tracks as often as possible.

The real me does not exist, it is nothing. I have nothing. Nothing is mine, not even my name. I need this knowledge to stay with me for I am entering risky territory. Many have entered and left with tail between legs, red-faced and found out. It can get to your head, like everything. I need to stay true: to them, to me, to the world, the universe. Humility and honesty will take me far, arrogance and ignorance will hurt everybody.

I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me. I feel the Love of God within me now. So long as I stay on the path and remember, so long as I don’t take the credit, the road is long, wide and open.

It is up to this one to stay open and let the light in. It is up to him to stay true. Being in love is the key to the door, and staying in love with all is the doorway. There is not other, there is nothing else, there is nothing. It is all one, all the same and the wind is blowing gently now, gently and firmly, unrelenting and peaceful.

Be the wind. Always be the wind.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The day my friend Johno accidentally set fire to his property and almost got killed in a car accident he had been thinking that life just couldn’t get any better. I am reminded of this often, because it’s a thought that’s been occurring to me a lot lately. And every time I think of it I find myself waiting for the crash – not with fear and dread, but with an expectancy of adventure.

Down to my last travellers cheque and with the available credit quickly dwindling on my credit card, the crash could be nigh. How exciting! In the middle of Mexico with nothing but a backpack, a modicum of Spanish and whatever talents I can muster. This is a challenge I have been anticipating for a long time, and it is beginning to appear real.

What’s the worst that could happen? I don’t see anyone starving here and have received so much support to date that I have no reason to expect it to dissipate. Do I? Is the world going to change completely on me without money? And will I really be without it? There are people who have offered it to me, so all I need to is accept.

It’s exciting because it’s proof that I have nothing to fear.