Wednesday, May 30, 2012


A nice koan of global climate change, of global warming, is case 29 of the Blue Cliff Record:

Daizui It Goes Along With It

A monk asked Daizui,
  "When the whole universe will be destroyed in great fire at the end of the eon,  I wonder if 'this' will also be destroyed or not." Daizui said, "Destroyed." The monk said, "Then this goes along with it?" Daizui said, "This goes along."

A later Master was asked,"When the whole universe will be destroyed in great fire at the end of the eon,  I wonder if 'this' will also be destroyed or not." The Master said, "Not destroyed." Then he was asked, "Why isn't it destroyed?" The Master said, "Because it is the same as the universe."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blow to Head Creates Genius !?

"Brain injuries can sometimes reveal extraordinary talents in people. Now, savant syndrome is helping to create whole new fields of scientific discovery.

Wikimedia Commons
For a long time, it was a mystery as to how horses galloped. Did all four hooves at some point leave the ground? Or was one hoof always planted? It wasn't until the 1880s when a British photographer named Eadweard Muybridge settled the debate with a series of photographs of a horse in midstride. Muybridge took a great interest in capturing the minute details of bodies in motion. The images made him famous.
Muybridge could be obsessive -- and eccentric, too. His erratic behavior was blamed on a head injury he'd sustained in a serious stagecoach accident that killed one passenger and wounded all the rest. Now, researchers believe that the crash, which gave Muybridge a permanent brain injury, may actually have been partially responsible for endowing him with his artistic brilliance.
Muybridge may have been what psychiatrists call an acquired savant, somebody with extraordinary talent but who wasn't born with it and who didn't learn the skills from someplace else later. In fact, Muybridge's savant abilities had evidently been buried deep in the recesses of his mind the whole time, and the stagecoach incident had simply unlocked them........"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hunger Causes War (?) or is Abundance On the Way ?

A very interesting new book, The Taste of War by Lizzie Collingham (E.M. Collingham), posits that a number of wars in the 20th Century were caused in part by the lack of adequate food and the desire by various "aggressor nations" to secure food, land and resources to fulfill their basic needs. Had this issue been addressed differently and appropriately by all involved, both "aggressor" and "those attacked," including the British and the US, we might not have had the wars we had.

Her study includes: Nazi Germany and especially their expansion eastward, as well their death camps and Holocaust against Jews, Imperial Japan and their invasions in East Asia as well as the conflict in the Pacific, the "internal" war by Stalin and the Communist in Ukraine and other areas of the Soviet Union, and issues in British India. We can also extend some of these themes to China under Mao, and reflect on this in terms of the current issues with N. Korea, and the food problems in the Arab world and Africa and how this thesis relates to the ongoing violence and hostilities in these areas. What is most interesting are her predictions for the future and her suggestions about how to de-escalate causes of war. Certainly, a simple summation of her thesis is, if there is an end to hunger there will be significantly less war. And in these days of increased population growth, increased demands for resources and higher standards of living, limits on water and arable land, this is a significant issue.

If you are interested in this and the historical approach, read the book!

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler proposes that though there seem to be limits on water, land and resources, this is only if one's thinking is backward!

They show, with details of the latest scientific and technological breakthroughs, that it will be soon be possible (if it is not already) to feed, provide for the needs and health of the ever growing human population with what we have. And they backup their positions with page after page of specific inventions, new technologies and programs to heal and feed those in need. If we are to believe them, the good life is soon at hand. War and conflict is the result of ideology, religious fundamentalism and fears which are unnecessary and outdated (if one knows what is truly possible). Are these predictions valid, and will they ever come to fruition - will we implement them (or even half of them), or will historical conflicts keep us from attaining the good life?

If you are interested, read this book as well. Then, see how you might reconcile the past and present reality with various possible futures.

(c) 2012 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Next Dalai Lama


"At 76 years old, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, counters Beijing's claims that they have the right to identify his successor with laughter and mocking jest.

"It is quite strange - as non-believers, totally non-believers, atheists - showing interest about reincarnation," the Dalai Lama said in an interview in Ottawa.

"I jokingly tell them: In order to be involved in my reincarnation, firstly, they should accept Buddhism. Or religion. Or Buddhism. Then they should recognize Chairman Mao Zedong's reincarnation. Deng Xiaopeng's reincarnation. Then, they have reason to show some interest about the Dalai Lama's reincarnation. Otherwise, nonsense!"....