We are dealing, then, with an absurdity that is not a quirk or an accident, but is fundamental to our character as people. The split between what we think and what we do is profound. It is not just possible, it is altogether to be expected, that our society would produce conservationists who invest in strip-mining companies, just as it must inevitably produce asthmatic executives whose industries pollute the air and vice-presidents of pesticide corporations whose children are dying of cancer. And these people will tell you that this is the way the real world works. The will pride themselves on their sacrifices for our standard of living. They will call themselves practical men and hardheaded realists. And they will have their justifications in abundance from intellectuals, college professors, clergymen, politicians. The viciousness of a mentality that can look complacently upon disease as part of the cost would be obvious to any child. But this is the realism of millions of modern adults.There is no use pretending that the contradiction between what we think or say and what we do is a limited phenomenon. There is no group of the extra-intelligent or extra-concerned or extra-virtuous that is exempt. I cannot think of any American whom I know or have heard of, who is not contributing in some way to destruction. The reason is simple: to live undestructively in an economy that is overwhelmingly destructive would require of any one of us, or of any small group of us, a great deal more work than we have yet been able to do. How could we divorce ourselves completely and yet responsibly from the technologies and powers that are destroying our planet? The answer is not yet thinkable and it will not be thinkable for some time -- even though there are now groups and families and persons everywhere in the country who have begun the labor of thinking it.And so we are by no means divided, or readily divisible, into environmental saints and sinners. But there are legitimate distinctions that need to be made. These are distinctions of degree and of consciousness. Some people are less destructive than others and some are more conscious of their destructiveness than others. For some, their involvement in pollution, soil depletion, strip-mining, deforestation, industrial and commercial waste is simply a practical compromise, a necessary reality, the price of modern comfort and convenience. For others, this list of involvements is an agenda for thought and work that will produce remedies.People who thus set their lives against destruction have necessarily confronted in themselves the absurdity that they have recognized in their society. They have first observed the tendency of modern organizations to perform in opposition to their stated purposes. They have seen governments that exploit and oppress the people they are sworn to serve and protect, medical procedures that produce ill health, schools that preserve ignorance, methods of transportation that, as Ivan Illich says, have 'created more distances than they... bridge.' And they have seen that these public absurdities are and can be, no more than the aggregate result of private absurdities; the corruption of community has its source in the corruption of character. This realization has become the typical moral crisis of our time. Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.
Wendell Berry
On PleasurePleasure is a freedom-song,But it is not freedom.It is the blossoming of your desires,But it is not their fruit.It is a depth calling unto a height,But it is not the deep nor the high.It is the caged taking wing,But it is not space encompassed.Aye, in very truth, pleasure is a freedom-song.And I fain would have you sing it with fullness of heart; yet I would not have you lose your hearts in the singing.Some of your youth seek pleasure as if it were all and they are judgedand rebuked.I would not judge nor rebuke them. I would have them seek.For they shall find pleasure, but not her alone;Seven are her sisters and the least of them is more beautiful thanpleasure.Have you not heard of the man who was digging in the earth for rootsand found a treasure?And some of your elders remember pleasures with regret like wrongscommitted in drunkenness.But regret is the beclouding of the mind and not its chastisement.They should remember their pleasures with gratitude, as they wouldthe harvest of a summer.Yet if it comforts them to regret, let them be comforted.And there are among you those who are neither young to seek nor oldto remember;And in their fear of seeking and remembering they shun all pleasures,lest they neglect the spirit or offend against it.But even in their foregoing is their pleasure.And thus they too find a treasure though they dig for roots with quiveringhands.But tell me, who is he that can offend the spirit?Shall the nightingale offend the stillness of the night, or the firefly thestars?And shall your flame or your smoke burden the wind?Think you the spirit is a still pool which you can trouble with a staff?Oftentimes in denying yourself pleasure you do but store the desire inthe recesses of your being.Who knows but that which seems omitted today, waits for tomorrow?Even your body knows its heritage and its rightful need and will notbe deceived.And your body is the harp of your soul,And it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds.And now you ask in your heart, How shall we distinguish that whichis good in pleasure from that which is not good?Go to your fields and your gardens and you shall learn that it is thepleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasureis a need and an ecstasy.
Kahlil Gibran
As in other Buddhist Tantric techniques, recommended preliminaries for these practices include developing skill at both calm-abiding (zhi gnas; śamatha) and insight meditation (lhag mthong; vipaśyanā). As in earlier Buddhist teachings, many Chöd dehadāna practices emphasize renunciation, purification and self-transformation through the accumulation of merit and the exhaustion of demerit. Rather than suggesting that one must wait to accumulate adequate merit before offering the gift of the body, however, Chöd provides the opportunity for immediately efficacious offering of the body through techniques of visualization. Using a technique which echoes the traditional Buddhist teaching of the of the mind-made body (manomayākāya), the practitioner engages in visualizations which allow her to experience the non-duality of agent and object as she offers her body.The process of giving the body as a means of attainment is commonly articulated in Chöd practice texts (sgrub pa; sādhana). These practice texts exhibit the framework of mature Tantra sādhana, including the stages of generating bodhicitta, going for refuge, meditating on the four immeasurables and making the eight-limbed offering. Generally speaking, the main section of a developed Chöd sādhana has three components. The first two—a transference of consciousness (nam mkha’ sgo ‘byed) practice and a body maṇḍala (lus dkyil) practice—have distinctly purifying purposes. The Chöd transference of consciousness practice has parallels with other Buddhist practices called ’pho ba. In this part of the visualization practice, the practitioner’s consciousness is ejected from one's body through the Brahma aperture at the crown of one's head. At this time, one's consciousness can be visualized as becoming identical with an enlightened consciousness, which is embodied in a figure such as Machik, Vajrayoginī (Rdo rje rnal byor ma) or Vajravārāhī (Rdo rje phag mo). [....] In th[e] first stage of this transformation, the practitioner identifies with an enlightened being, thus overcoming attachment to her own body-mind aggregates and purifying them through this non-attachment. In the second stage, the practitioner can extend this identification: the practitioner identifies the microcosm of her body with macrocosms of the mundane and supramundane worlds. The body maṇḍala (lus dkyil) stage also allows the practitioner to reconceptualize her body as expanding through space and time and becoming indistinguishable from the realm of the supramundane, or the Dharmadhātu (chos kyi dbyings). Through the process of reconstructing her identity, the practitioner is able to see herself as the ultimate source of offerings for all sentient beings.
Michelle Sorensen
The greatest moral appeal of the doctrine of the Blank Slate comes from a simple mathematical fact: zero equals zero. This allows the Blank Slate to serve as a guarantor of political equality...[I]f we are all blank slates, the reasoning goes, we must all be equal. But if the slate of a newborn is not blank, different babies could have different things inscribed on their slates. Individuals, sexes, classes and races might differ innately in their talents, abilities, interests and inclinations. And that, it is thought, could lead to three evils. The first is prejudice: if groups of people are biologically different, it could be rational to discriminate against the members of some of the groups. The second is Social Darwinism: if differences among groups in their station in life...come from their innate constitutions, the differences cannot be blamed on discrimination and that makes it easy to blame the victim and tolerate inequality. The third is eugenics: if people differ biologically in ways that other people value or dislike, it would invite them to try to improve society by intervening biologically -by encouraging or discouraging people's decisions to have children...or by killing them outright. The Nazis carried out the final solution because they thought Jews and other ethnic groups were biologically inferior. The fear of the terrible consequences that might arise from a discovery of innate differences has thus led many intellectuals to insist that such differences do not exist...