Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Desert Religions

The Catholic priest is under arrest, accused of raping altar boys. The Muslim shouts out the name of Allah as the jetliner plows into the skyscraper. The Jewish settler's biblical claim to build on the West Bank is supported by fundamentalist Protestants who dream of the last days.

These have been months of shame and violence among the three great desert religions-- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-- the religions to which most Americans adhere. These desert religions are sister religions in fact, but more commonly they have been brother religions, united and divided by a masculine sense of faith. Mullahs, priests, rabbis-- the business of religion was traditionally the males. It was the male's task to understand how God exists in our lives.

Judaism gave Christianity and Islam a notion both astonishing and radical, the notion that God acts in history. The desert religions became, in response to this idea, activist religions, ennobled at times by a sense of holy purpose, but also filled with a violence fed by the assumption that God is on my side and not yours. The history of the desert religions oft repeated by old men to boys, got told through stories of battles and crusades, sultans and emperors.

But within the three great desert faiths there was a feminine impulse, less strong but ever present, the tradition of absorption rather than assertion, assertive rather than authority, of play rather than dogmatic servitude. Think of the delicate poetry of the song of songs or the delicacy of the celebration of the maternal represented by the Renaissance Madonna or the architectural lines of the medieval mosques of Spain, light as music. And yet the louder, more persistent tradition has been male concerned with power and blood and dogmatic points.

Now on the evening news, diplomats come and go speaking of truces and terrorists to the price of oil. In truth, we are watching a religious war, Muslim versus Jew -- a war disguised by the language of diplomacy. In decades and centuries past there have been Holocausts and crusades and violence as fierce among the leaders of a single religion, for example, Catholics contending with Protestant and Eastern Orthodox over heresies and questions of authority. Yahweh, God, Allah, the desert Deity rarely expressed a feminine aspect as in Hinduism.

The men who interpreted the bible for Koran rarely allowed themselves a sense of unknowing or paradox as in Buddhism. And not coincidentally I know many Americans who are turning away from the desert religions or are seeking to moderate the mass unity of the desert religions by turning to the contemplative physics of yoga and the play of the Zen koan.

Meanwhile, in my own Catholic Church, there is the squalor of sexual scandal-- men forcing themselves on boys. One hears conservative Catholics who speak of ridding the seminaries and the rectors of homosexuals. As one gay Catholic, a single man in this vast world, I tell you pedophilia is no more an expression of homosexuality than rape is an expression of heterosexuality. Pedophilia and rape are assertions of power. Polls indicate that a majority of American Catholics are more forgiving of the fallen priests than they are forgiving of the bishops and cardinals who have treated us like children, with their secret meetings and their clutch on power, apologizing but assuming no penance.

Polls indicate also that Catholics continue to go to church. We go to church because of the sacramental consolation our religion gives. All of us now in our churches and synagogues and mosques, what knowledge unites us now in this terrible season? Are we watching the male face of the desert religion merely reassert itself? Or are we watching the collapse of the tradition and the birth of-- what?

I think of the women of America who have become priests and rabbis. I think of the women of Afghanistan who came to the school door the first morning after the Taliban had disappeared. I think of Mother Teresa whose name will be remembered long after we have forgotten the names of the cardinals in their silk robes. I think that we may be at the beginning of a feminine moment in the history of the desert religions, even while the tanks rumble and the priest is arrested and the girl, unblinking, straps explosives onto her body.

- Richard Rodriguez July 8, 2002

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mount Kailash – Sacred Mountain

A great mass of black rock soaring to over 22,000 feet, Mt. Kailash has the unique distinction of being the world's most venerated holy place at the same time that it is the least visited. The supremely sacred site of four religions and billions of people, Kailash is seen by no more than a few thousand pilgrims each year. This curious fact is explained by the mountain's remote location in far western Tibet. No planes, trains or buses journey anywhere near the region and even with rugged over-land vehicles the journey still requires weeks of difficult, often dangerous travel. The weather, always cold, can be unexpectedly treacherous and pilgrims must carry all the supplies they will need for the entire journey.

How long have people been coming to this sacred mountain? The answers are lost in antiquity, before the dawn of Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism. The cosmologies and origin myths of each of these religions speak of Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru, the Axis Mundi, the center and birth place of the entire world. The mountain was already legendary before the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were written. Indeed, Kailash is so deeply embedded in the myths of ancient Asia that it was perhaps a sacred place of another era, another civilization, now long gone and forgotten.

Hindus believe Mt.Kailash to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Like many of the Hindu gods, Shiva is a character of apparent contradictions. He at once the Lord of Yoga and therefore the ultimate renunciate ascetic, yet he is also the divine master of Tantra, the esoteric science that regards sexual union as the most perfect path to spiritual enlightenment. According to legend, immortal Shiva lives atop Kailash where he spends his time practicing yogic austerities, making joyous love with his divine consort, Parvati, and smoking ganja, the sacred herb known in the west as marijuana, Hindus do not interpret Shiva's behaviors as contradictory however, but rather see in him a deity who has wisely integrated the extremes of human nature and thus transcended attachment to any particular, and limited, way of being. For a Hindu, to make the arduous pilgrimage to Kailash and have the darshan (divine view) of Shiva's abode is to attain release from the clutches of ignorance and delusion.

Kailash is sacred to other religions as well. The Jains call the mountain Astapada and believe it to be the place where Rishaba, the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras attained liberation. Followers of Bon, Tibet's pre-Buddhist, shamanistic religion, call the mountain Tise and believe it to be the seat of the Sky Goddess Sipaimen. Additionally, Bon myths regard Tise as the sight of a legendary 12th century battle of sorcery between the Buddhist sage Milarepa and the Bon shaman Naro Bon-chung. Milarepa's defeat of the shaman displaced Bon as the primary religion of Tibet, firmly establishing Buddhism in its place. While the Buddha is believed to have magically visited Kailash in the 5th century BC, the religion of Buddhism only entered Tibet, via Nepal and India, in the 7th century AD. Tibetan Buddhists call the mountain Kang Rimpoche, the 'Precious One of Glacial Snow', and regard it as the dwelling place of Demchog (also known as Chakrasamvara) and his consort, Dorje Phagmo. Three hills rising near Kang Rimpoche are believed to be the homes of the the Bodhisatvas Manjushri, Vajrapani, and Avalokiteshvara.

Pilgrims to Kailash, after the difficult journey getting there, are then confronted with the equally arduous task of circumambulating the sacred peak. This walking around the mountain (clockwise for the Buddhists, counter-clockwise for Bon adherents) is known as a Kora, or Parikrama, and normally takes three days. In hopes of gaining extra merit or psychic powers however, some pilgrims will vary the tempo of their movement. A hardy few, practicing a secret breathing technique known as Lung-gom, will power themselves around the mountain in only one day. Others will take two to three weeks for the Kora by making full body prostrations the entire way. It is believed that a pilgrim who completes 108 journeys around the mountain is assured enlightenment. Most pilgrims to Kailash will also take a short plunge in the nearby, highly sacred (and very cold) Lake Manosaravar. The word 'manas' means mind or consciousness; the name Manosaravar means Lake of Consciousness and Enlightenment. Adjacent to Manosaravar is Rakas Tal or Rakshas, the Lake of Demons. Pilgrimage to this great sacred mountain and these two magical lakes is a life changing experience and an opportunity to view some of the most magical scenery on the entire planet.

Kelly, Thomas and Carroll Dunham and Ian Baker; Tibet: Reflections from the Wheel of Life; Abbeville Press; New York; 1993

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Navigating the Apocalypse 1.0

The global situation is desperate, as usual. If there is any remaining doubt as to the seriousness of the socio/economic changes underway in the world today, specifically in the United States, please consider the following excerpt from Al Martin @

Detroit: The Post-Apocalyptic Future of American Cities?
by Al Martin

Here’s a glimpse of a Turn Key Approach to Urban Wasteland Management ™. Last week I had a chance to talk to a friend who just got back from Detroit and boy did he get an eyeful of America’s Future. After listening to him describe Detroit, it’s obvious that it has all fallen apart. First of all, there’s very little civil authority or regular civil government remaining and in operation. Almost everything has been turned over to these so-called Private Management Companies. And this is how it’s being done. They block out areas, in which 80% or more of the houses have been foreclosed on, which happens to be almost the entire city and county. They have selectively begun to bulldoze the properties which have been foreclosed on. The rest have been boarded up. Then they have turned over management of these 100 block area to private companies which have become defacto governments. They have the literal authority of “governments” and they’re paid a flat fee from the city, county or state to “manage,” as they say, a square block of this urban wasteland.

These Private Management Companies sell themselves as residual property management firms. Most of these companies, as it turns out, are in fact off-shore subsidiaries of Private Military Contractors (PMCs). They provide a catchall service. In other words, they regulate how much electrical power and natural gas flows through these areas. They also act as police force, and they act as management for local civil government.

However this Urban Wasteland Management has been pretty efficient. They want to protect what remaining wealthy areas that still exist, like Bloomfield Hills. These companies come in and effectively build large barbed wire fences, around these mostly abandoned square block areas. Some people are still living in them, by the way, even though most of them are boarded up because they’re no longer bothering to serve process through the entire foreclosure procedure. Oftentimes once the house has been taken back and is ultimately owned by the city or county or some government, they let the people stay there until it’s abandoned and then taken over by squatters. Then they’re given a 72 hour notice to leave, by this private management company – before they come in and bulldoze the house. If you’re not out, that’s it. The bulldozers run. They can bulldoze the place with you in it – with legal impunity.

You can find the complete article here.

Strange days indeed. In times of great uncertainty, individual mettle is tested. How one responds to crisis is put to the test. Will we be part of the problem or part of the solution? One thing is clear… bad decisions are made out of fear… and as our Bene Gesserit sisters remind us…

Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death which brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

- JH

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ridley Scott on 2001 -A Space Odyssey

In a speech at the 2007 Venice Film Festival at special screening of his seminal noir thriller Blade Runner, Sir Ridley Scott, the legendary director of Alien, announced that he believes that science-fiction as a genre is dead, gone the way of Westerns.

Scott believes that although the flashy effects of block-busters such as The Matrix, Independence Day and The War of the Worlds, may sell tickets, that none can beat Stanley Kubrick’s haunting 1968 epic 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film is as fresh and perhaps more relevant today as the day it premiered.

Monday, July 6, 2009

DNA and Future Memory - Pt 1

Each earthling human body is composed of literally trillions of individual cells. The nucleus of each cell contains all the information necessary to create an exact replica of our human body. This chemically encoded information is stored in a vast, tiny archive known as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is composed of chromosomes and genes that, in addition to being an individual human blueprint, carry ancestral and cultural imprints and codes for every conceivable human trait from our evolutionary past.

This vast archive of information is passed along through a replicating process that involves the copying and encoding of genetic information from DNA to RNA (Ribonucleic acid). The original DNA that is housed within the nucleus of our cells programs instructions for the production of enzymes and proteins. These DNA instructions are not directly converted into proteins, but are copied into RNA. This ensures that the information contained in the DNA does not become tainted, thus preserving the archive.

RNA polymerase attaches to the DNA at a specific area called the promoter region. The DNA strand opens and allows RNA polymerase to transcribe only a single strand of DNA into a single stranded RNA polymer called messenger RNA. The messenger RNA carries the information to the sites of protein synthesis (ribosome), thereby creating a replica of the original DNA. In this manner the genetic code is passed from cell to cell, mother to child.

In addition to the over 30,000 active, working genes, scientists have discovered DNA material that appears to serve no current purpose. The technical term that scientists use to refer to this dormant DNA is “junk”. It is not, however, junk or worthless filler. It contains vast amounts of information pertaining to who we are and, more importantly, who we may become. It may very well be that the blueprint for our future memory as a species is encoded within this dormant DNA material.

Our future memory premise, simply stated, suggests that contained within the DNA material that rests in a dormant state, waiting to be activated, is the evolutionary instructions for humanity’s future development. The intriguing aspect of this theory is: Can the activation of these dormant segments be predicted? How and when do these dormant sections get activated? What is the evolutionary trigger that unlocks these dormant sequences? And lastly, can the dormant information within our DNA be consciously manipulated by the individual?

It is possible that the first question, the predictive aspect of activation was addressed long ago by ancient Chinese philosophers.

DNA and the I-Ching

Fu Xi became the first Emperor of China, circa 2800 BC. One day he spotted a dragon-horse rising out of the Yellow River. On its side were some markings which Fu Xi recorded. He called them the Ho Tu, from which he derived eight trigrams which represented the four cardinal directions and the diagonals between. These eight trigrams are the basis of the I-Ching, the oldest scripture in Chinese culture.

Several modern books like the “Tao of Chaos” have demonstrated extraordinary similarities that link the I-Ching to modern knowledge of DNA structures. Basically, DNA comprises of four code letters, A, T, C and G. These are combined into sets of three, known as codons. This means that there are 4 x 4 x 4 = 64 combinations available, and the I Ching also has 64 combinations.

- Excerpts from Robert Bast

DNA, I-Ching and the Octave Structure

Our genetic information is encoded in the sequence of nucleotides arranged into codons consisting of three bases each. DNA has sixty-four letters or codons (nine overlapping 8 note octaves) in its spiral structure. There are also 22 letters in the genetic amino acid/protein creation process (three overlapping 8 note octaves) with one RNA codon for each of the primary 20 amino acids plus the start and stop RNA codons. Further, each of the sixty-four DNA codons contains four bases with only three active at any one time.

The I Ching, like DNA, has four two-line bases of which only three are active. The I Ching is based upon the polar aspects of Yin and Yang, DNA is based upon the plus and minus threads of the double helix. The two three-line hexagrams of the I Ching have the same tri-part structure as the DNA codons. Further, beneath the electron microscope the I Ching symbol looks like the head of the DNA snake, as if it had been visualized thousands of years ago during profound meditation.

It is easy now to perceive that the structures of DNA and the I Ching have a similar purpose. DNA is used to construct a biological organism, the living expression of the quantum information fields. The I Ching is used to create an awakened being grounded in the dimensions of consciousness. Together they suggest that there is one shared cosmic-mind behind the sixty-four codons of DNA and the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching.

The quantum information field surrounding DNA, the templates of the I Ching and the profound awareness of the Tao are all names for the same underlying stratum of consciousness which carries our manifest universe, just as an ocean carries a wave upon its surface.

The I Ching of China describes the universe in a similar way to modern western science with its study of DNA, the atomic structure and the quantum light fields. We can but marvel at the extraordinary minds which put these three ancient creation models together.

- Excerpts from the Cosmic Frog

Modern physics suggests that time does not exist on a fundamental level. Put more precisely, an object in 3D over time is the same object, while in 4D, the perceived object is a different entity at different points along the time-line. Time can only be experienced from the perspective of a perceiver. It follows then that DNA would possess past, present & future aspects of our object in question as the mechanism of the differentiation. DNA is the means whereby an organism (perceiver) changes (evolves) over time, while maintaining organic continuity.

The ancient I-Ching appears to be a sophisticated model of the tendencies of evolution, as generated by DNA.

In part two of this series, we will explore some of the questions raised in this installment. Specifically, can the dormant information within our DNA be consciously manipulated by the individual?