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About Encephalon

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  1. Do you still believe in Copernicus?

    Hi - It seems like I've wandered into a conversation already in play. My focus is on the literature of the subject matter, nothing more.
  2. The psychology of conspiracy theories

    Steve - A new thread on the psych of conspiracy theories would be a good idea. It's a fat subject.
  3. The psychology of conspiracy theories

    Excellent points, Steve. Thanks for the links. I regret losing track of an excellent source on the intellectual structure of conspiracy theory indulgence, but if memory serves, it had something to do with the process of becoming reflexively skeptical of just about everything. This is consistent with the younger people I work with in the restaurant industry. They don't really believe in anything; they are mostly against everything. No political center of gravity, just a reflexive animosity to social institutions and those who work in them.
  4. Do you still believe in Copernicus?

    Just to be clear, this was an exercise in satire, an oppportunity for a little bit of fun. I wasn't actually suggesting that Copernicus was a fraud. I was making the argument that questioning the very real horrors of coronavirus and believing otherwise is tantamount to bringing the heliocentric solar system into question. The scientific method is actually something human beings are exceptionally good at, despite the current wave of anti-intellectualism washing over our shores. It's not the only source of knowledge, obviously, but the best method we have of examining objective reality. The Dalai Lama is on record as saying that any element of Buddhism that can be demonstrably falsified by science is an element he is prepared to cull from his beliefs. If he can manage it, so can we all.
  5. Do you still believe in Copernicus? We talked about this years ago. Some believed that the earth was the center of the universe and some believed that was nonsense. What’s your opinion now? Opinions matter! More than facts! The Oracle of Rosarita is clear on this. I consulted Her yesterday and was advised that our journey through life ultimately depends on a critically precise ratio of fiber to lard. Second-guessing this decree invites disaster. I’m wondering if people are truly free of spurious notions about heliocentrism and can put science in its proper perspective. Only sages can dismiss the western intellectual tradition and free themselves from the burden of objectivity. Only the wise can maintain the posture of unhinged, reflexive skepticism and have the courage to reject the heresies of the scientific method. Copernicus was a fraud. The earth is the center of the universe. His sad devotion to that ancient religion of mathematics and astronomy is no match for the power of a 16-ounce can of frijoles refritos. Beware the meddling influence of imposters, infidels, and vegetarians.
  6. https://www.amazon.com/What-Buddhist-Enlightenment-Dale-Wright-ebook/dp/B01L008J88/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=what+is+dale+wright&qid=1596484278&sr=8-1 I bought this book years ago after enjoying his previous book so much; tremendous scholarship combined with readibility. I expect the same from this one. Anyone care to assemble a reading group for this title? It's still a bit expensive. https://www.amazon.com/Awakening-Paradigm-Shift-Rodney-Smith/dp/1611801265 This one has come down in price. I'm down for a reading group for this one too. I haven't thought through the guidelines beyond a reading pace of one chapter a week to allow for discussion. let me know if your're interested. This is serious reading.
  7. What is healthy conservatism?

    "I know a Jewish joke to that effect. A poor guy from a little village comes to the rabbi and tells him, god has forsaken me! In my house, I only have one room where we all live -- me, my wife, our four kids and my elderly parents, we're all cramped into an impossibly tight space and there's never any peace and quiet, not for a second! And now my in-laws have lost their home and have moved in with us! Can you help? The rabbi says, do you have any barn animals? Yes, a couple of goats, a dozen chickens, a milk cow... Take the goats in to live in that room with you. What?! Do it, you'll see that god hasn't forsaken you. A week later the same guy comes to the rabbi and says, with the goats in the house it's even worse! No room at all for anyone, and it's a madhouse! What should I do? The rabbi says, take in all the chickens! A week later: Take in the cow! End of the month, the poor man comes again, weeping so hard he can't get the words out. The rabbi says, Kick out all the animals immediately!! And a week later the guy comes again, happy and smiling, bringing some eggs and some homemade butter as a gift of gratitude. You were right! God has not forsaken me! My house is so spacious now, so calm and peaceful! Thank you!! " This is priceless! Exactly what's going on of late; let's introduce the caging of children opening up wildlife preserves and sanctuaries to mineral exploration cuttin off health and food benefits in the middle of a pandemic inflamming race relations abandoning our allies abroad embracing authoritarians abroad practicing crony capitalism destroying the credibility of expertise creating an information environment that trashes the role of objective truth and knowledge la de dah de dah and Voila! something else is born into the world.
  8. What is healthy conservatism?

    I wish I were better at attributing my sources - this most likely came from Ming Deng-Dao again since he's such a terrific writer - or maybe it's from the TTC - if a particular condition is your goal, create it's extreme opposite. Inevitably, balance gets restored. In the most optimistic scenario, we will have an opportunity to fix a lot of broken elements in our culture, not that we will sieze these opportunities - that's another matter - but there does seem to be positive movement in some areas. The pandemic has revealed these broken elements like nothing else; the folly of our healthcare system, the food and agricultural sector, transportation and land use, the Department of Education and just about every department in government that's been tweaked into absurdity. There could be a window of opportunity - a new generation of Americans who have nothing to gain by acquiescing to the spectacle of consumer culture and Trumpism. We've been flirting with American fascism for years but it looks like we'll reject it this fall. But it probably won't be the most gentle transference of power we've ever had.
  9. What is healthy conservatism?

    This could be a fun exercise. Or not. Either way... I once read that the modern political spectrum was created by the French Revolution. if you were for the aristocracy, you were a conservative. If you were for the peasantry, you were a liberal. While there are some who are firmly and ideologically committed to one end of the spectrum or the other, I believe it is generally agreed that most of us can plot ourselves on multiple points of the left-right spectrum. I am firmly in the socialist camp, or what in Scandanavia is referred to as a social democrat, because I feel this is the most consistent political expression of interdependency as I've come to understand it through the lens of Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. My spirituality is defined by the way I feel connected to all phenomona, and I approach ecology as the science of the reality of that interconnectedness. One writer once referred to conservatism as a "potent idea," the presence of which is critical to a healthy society. Conservatism is the acknowledgment that human qualities we admire such as wisdom, courage, imagination, and athleticism and others are not equally distributed throughout the species. Some people are more talented than others in different arenas and should be rewarded. Beyond a few parts per million, conservatism quickly devolves into rationalizations for favoritism and a toxic individualism that dismissed the critical role of a healthy public sector. I confess I am less informed about the dark side of modern liberalism. Identity politics, victim consciousness, submitting oneself to purity tests when pursuing elective office come to mind. Liberals are feckless and hide behind the facade of fake egalitarianism in order to show the world their 'advanced' ethical development and concern for the commonfolk, but all they end up doing is wasting time trying to find consensus when a critical task requires they immediately send in a Navy Seal Strike Team. A great deal of the "warrior" literature from the east, especially the Samurai material, makes it clear that balance is paramount; martial prowess must go hand in hand with civil and aesthetic development. Trying to ascertain which is more important is like trying to guess which wheel of a bicycle is more important, but as the saying goes, "It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war." There are critical distinctions here between Buddhism and Taoism that should be teased out pretty quickly by the TTB crowd. I think it was Deng Ming-Dao who said "The quality of the scholar is awareness. The quality of the warrior is readiness." I'll just open this up and see what percolates!

    "My time at University, taught me one really enduring and useful thing... how to teach myself, or rather, how to learn. When my time there was done, then my real education could begin in earnest." Exactly. I have taken Deng Ming-Dao's point about education and knowledge seriously; knowledge should go from simplicity to complexity and then reverse course, returning to a state of simplicity, which I assume means that after we've sampled tens of thousands of ideas and concepts over the years we begin to recognize the deeper and more refined patterns that connect, some sort of grand reconciliation that explains the plethora of phenomena with the least amount of assumptions, amendments, preconceptions. On another note, I'm having a ball reading works that fuse different subject matter and enrich them in the process. Titles like "This is Your Brain on Music" "Origins: How the Earth Shaped Human History" "The Secret Life of Dust" "Why Buddhism is True" "Inside of a Dog" "Hitler's Pope" "The Soul of an Octopus" I was never lucky enough to take courses that were specifically interdisciplinary, but I did have a few professors who were adept at teaching this way. Fortunately, there is no shortage of titles written in this spirit. Back in the 90s I moved out to Maharishi International University in Iowa, the campus for the TM - transcendental meditation crowd, and their curricula was almost exclusively interdisciplinary; math and consciousness, literature and consciousness, biology and consciousness, etc., theorizing how pure consciousness manifests itself mathematically, biologically, physically... Unfortunately, it was a hopelessly dysfunctional community and I left after six months, but there were plenty of valuable lessons to be gained nevertheless.

    One of the (very) few joys of living in Los Angeles is the LA Library Bookstore, a tiny room in each location reserved for selling books, fifty cents for paperbacks, a dollar for hardbacks. For avid readers it is a goldmine. I have basically gone completely apeshit in the construction of a personal library of a thousand titles. I even found a book entitled “A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books.” I’m in good company. The gentle madness is shared by millions. I started buying titles about five years ago when I dropped my four-year-old daughter off at the local pre-school summer camp, just down the street from our library. I’ve probably contributed about 300 titles to my bookshelves over the last five years and what I now possess is a collection that would yield the equivalent of a complete liberal arts education. It started out as a personal exercise in filling gaps in my undergrad education, titles I could read as an elderly man in a rocking chair, but it soon developed into something for my child; a complete reference library that would suit the entirety of her educational needs without ever having to leave the house, or a hard-copy library that could outlive the Los Angeles Unified School District or western civilization itself. (How to airlift the collection to my off-the-grid Taoist eco-village in the Canadian Rockies is another subject.) Having spent endless hours organizing the titles I’ve settled on a chronological system; astronomy first, followed by physics, mathematics, and chemistry and then moving along to earth sciences of geology and global climate change. Biology is up next, followed by the rest of the life sciences, ecology, zoology and the emergence of humankind. Social and behavioral sciences follow, all the history, all the psych and sociology, along with the humanities – art, music, literature (150 of the world’s most popular novels) – and then an explosion of titles of my favorite subjects; Asian Studies, Buddhism and Taoism, humanistic geography, California geography, evolutionary psychology, evolution, fascism and religious fundamentalism. Two shelves are dedicated to non-fiction, current events, and any other titles that defy my ability to classify. Hiding in my bedroom are two bookcases full of literature and self-help, six versions of the Tao te Ching and twelve versions of The Art of War, and all the fucking material I’ve decided I need in order to become a world-class screenwriter. But some days, I’d rather just be a hermit in the mountains. Oh, and let’s not forget a half dozen titles on how not to be a shitty father and husband and why consumer capitalism and addiction are one and the same. And let’s not forget Ken Wilber and consciousness studies and… yeah… at one book a week, twenty years of reading. I’ll be in my 80s soon enough. What I’ve discovered from my formal and informal education, what seems a common thread that weaves in and out of multiple subjects is the general trajectory toward enlightenment. Whether it’s mastering your diet or learning how to defend yourself, designing an eco-village or creating democratic land use policy, becoming an accomplished pianist or a better parent and husband, saving your soul or saving the planet, waking the fuck up seems to be implicit and necessary. You won’t have a black belt and maintain 10% bodyfat without enormous control over your emotions, your instincts, your capacity to manage time and energy. Your ideal eco-village won’t work unless your fellow villagers mandate emotional growth and maturity. And it certainly seems necessary that in order for human life to remain viable we have to become masters of our imaginations and servants of the web of life. We have to figure out a plausible trajectory from being traumatized to becoming enlightened, and we need to get busy. A global awakening seems like the missing ingredient but other writers have already written this off as just another pipe dream, the wishful thinking of a desperate species. I am not entirely convinced that a plausible, ecologically sustainable, and spiritually satisfying lifestyle has been conceived and presented to the unwashed masses. I believe a compelling vision of the genuine pursuit of happiness can replace our morally nauseating pursuit of pleasure. A robust alternative to wage slavery, hamburgers, and porn is waiting in the wings. We just have to live the experiment, take copious notes, make adjustments and be courageous enough to share it despite the risk of ridicule and rejection. What will you do this day that is sustainable and wise? What actions will you jettison from your behavior? I’ve heard it said that practicing enlightenment is being enlightened. Sitting on your zafu, bombarded with thoughts, is still enlightened conduct, yes? Okay – I’ve written my 750 words for the day. Taobums has always been a great vehicle for aspiring writers to pursue their daily word count. As they say, from quantity comes quality. Thanks Taobums!
  12. Canna Bums

    Had to say goodbye to the bud. A friend once told me that "weed is best when it is used the least," and I am periodically reminded of this fact. I flushed my bud down the toilet on 7/12, inspired by an angst-ridden and delusional state as much as a sudden inspiration to take a break, and I feel terrific already. I'm especially happy to re-experience dreaming again. I've kept my CBD oil. There's a fraction of THC in it that makes this product work exceedingly well; complete elimination of any anxiety, which I think contributes to a better functioning mind. And the body-mind fusion I experience when I'm doing yoga or nei kung is just incredibly informative. But three or four times a month is the absolute best frequency.
  13. Is turning 40 all downhill?

    Frank Zappa on dating advice - "If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, get to the library." Clearly, the most plentiful environment for finding dates is the local junior college. Skip the day classes and sign up for one evening class, where you are sure to meet people who are committed to improving their lot, taking care of themselves, and looking for friends. And then the cold, hard truth of it cuts through my morning fog - covid-19 renders this advice pointless.
  14. Is turning 40 all downhill?

    Eliminate hot showers. Get on a first name basis with cold showers to support T level increase. And if you're not on zen12 during your meditation practice, I can't recommend it enough for increasing your stress threshold beyond what you think is even possible. https://zen12.com/
  15. Is turning 40 all downhill?

    MY T levels were pretty low as I crept into my late 40s. I experienced the typical low T symptoms - lack of ambition, mild depression, wallowing, and a brief bout of extra special fondness for vicodin. What I mostly noticed was a failure to gain muscle even though I was an obsessive fitness fanatic working at a gym. My musculature eventually got too strong for my connective tissue and I suffered several injuries. my wife dragged me to the hospital to have my sperm cells checked out when we were having trouble having a child. My swimmers were fine, but my T levels were quite low, 270 I believe. I was eating way too much carbohydrate, still a sugar junkie, consuming plenty of dairy, the greatest source of estrogen in the American food supply. I cut out a lot of the sugar and dairy and researched everything else I could do to improve T levels. My OTC cocktail - Testo Plus - https://www.pipingrock.com/fenugreek/testoplus-fenugreek-extract-310-mg-90-capsules-3531?prd=D0000J&prisp=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhLWAou296gIVEPDACh0K9QTAEAQYASABEgJF8_D_BwE boron - https://www.pipingrock.com/mineral-products/triple-action-boron-complex-3-mg-200-tablets-5962 zinc - https://www.pipingrock.com/zinc/zinc-picolinate-high-absorption-zinc-50-mg-180-capsules-8611?keywords=zinc picolinate&qid=1594218184 magnesium - 250 mg (as mag. oxide) My T levels now hover around 660. I gained more muscle in my fifties than in my forties. I turn 60 in September. Problem solved. The forties are wonderful. They are the old age of youth. The fifties are the youth of old age. I'm having a blast.