Buzzword Books - unusual, intriguing, intelligent, perceptive

Here, you'll find musings from our authors and staff. We don't promise daily updates. Just posts worth your time.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Why the new world power won't be Islamic.

Our editor, D. S. Mills, has a specific take on the political future. Whether you agree with it or not, it's worth a look.


 War games? Inevitable.
Throughout history, nations have consumed countries like clams. Consider the Greeks, Persians, Spartans, Gauls, Romans, Carthaginians, the T'ang Dynasty of China, the Ottoman Empire.  The great Dutch and Spanish expansions. The excursions of the French, the British, the Germans, and the covert empire called America.

As populations, methods of travel and communication have developed and expanded so has the breadth of hegemony and war until the world now seems too small to contain the aspirations of nations. As if globalization has reduced the size of the pie.


Nukes? No.
For half a century now, a world war has been averted - possibly because the advent of nuclear weapons makes all out conflict self-defeating. Certainly, insurgent groups will gain access to dirty bombs but weapons on the ICBM level are likely to remain in their silos. Or, more effectively, in the launch tubes of Strategic Missile Subs.

This is a fact well regarded by any populous nation that considers world dominance its privilege and right.


Sharia Law? Unlikely.
The current Western fear is the resurgence of Moslem ambition - the expansionism of a religious/political group with 1.6 billion adherents and worldwide influence. Curiously, radical Muslims kill Muslims as well as infidels - a peculiarity encouraged by opposing politicians and despots over centuries - because a nation divided against itself is less of a threat.

Note that whilst Islamic radicals indulge their emotions by scrapping on as many fronts as they can find, China (1.35 billion) has maintained a far less visible strategy.


What most of us still don't see coming!
The Middle Kingdom - a intelligent nation with a coldly practical, mercantile psychology - is quietly buying countries - a far easier way to acquire them than conflict.

It has already acquired much of corruption-ridden Africa, invested in sundry failing South Pacific nations and is currently buying Australia. It excuses its acquisitions with the euphemism "investment".

This clever, low-key policy is, so far, working well. China needs land to feed its people and the wealth that comes from foreign acquisitions which are already being staffed by Chinese nationals, not local workers. China's posturing in the East China Sea is at best a try-on, at worst a diversion. The country is rearming fast but it will be some time before it has the ships and submarines to rival America.

Economies drive the ambitions of nations and nationalism or religious fervour is the usual motivator and excuse. While Islam is fomenting hatred and inciting the greatest equal and opposite reaction it may encounter, China is smartly, covertly, buying the store.

And its plan is likely to prevail. Because violence begets violence. But strategy often succeeds.


The real problem
Endless population expansion simply magnifies the human agony. It's the cause of lack of recourses, lack of space, pollution, destruction of biodiversity and all the other ills we have inflicted on this once beautiful planet. China, you notice, has just given up on this one despite a commendable earlier attempt to address it. 



Memo to governments intent on giving foreign aid to other nations:
specify that aid will be conditional on them sterilizing a proportion of their populations or practising some other form of mandatory birth control.


This won't happen either.


Yes, we'll eventually slaughter ourselves because of our unchecked fecundity and stupidity. And will nature despair at the failure of its latest and most tragic experiment? Of course not.


In the time-scale of its life, humanity will seem less than a spark. And it will patiently, indifferently, develop something new.

Monday, 19 October 2015

THE AGE OF DISPERSION


Clinton Smith provides this rant on the death-throes of 20th Century media and the personal slide-effects of the con called connectivity. Is his tongue in his cheek? Let's hope so.

We live in unsettling times. We 'social animals', as Aristotle termed us, are coming apart at the seams. As mentioned before on this forum, Facebook has elevated Reich's 'compulsive contactless sociability' to mania. As for 'Hand Held Devices', these are now the adult version of dummies for infants - and, possibly, the precursor of implanted chips.
    As technology drains our awareness of our intrinsic being - we become increasingly agitated and stressed.
    Speed kills, they say. This includes communication speed because it is out of rhythm with our nature and genetic heritage, with the tempo of seasons and days.
   Nietzsche wrote, 'Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.'

MORE HASTE, LESS SPEED
Universal connectivity has done more than replace the post office. The HHD has turned us into frazzled victims of the 24-hour news cycle. Or is it the accuse, abuse cycle. Or the confuse, bemuse cycle? It has made our already intimidating environment even more uncertain. It has nurtured hackers, scammers and terrorists  and even threatens to steal our identities - an ironic outcome for a celebrity-besotted society.
    The stream of bites that induces the adenoidal Jihadist to shoot up his local school, the bullied girl to slit her wrists in the toilet, the paedophile to groom pre-teens, also permits the fake bank site to steal our cash and automated stop-loss orders to dump our stocks in an instant.
    The current 'Look-at-me!' generation sees the web as a way to fame and riches. But, in a moribund civilisation that feeds us deception and lies, that demeans and exploits its citizens, this is a wistful hope indeed. We long to become movers and shakers but our guts tell us that wish is a chimera - that the more we blog and promote ourselves, the more irrelevant we become.
    There is a telling metaphor for those who achieve notoriety: 'The higher climbs the ape, the more it shows its bum.'
    Spinoza related inner freedom to sustained, directed attention. We anxious dupes are a long way now from that ideal. Our attention is not directed but distracted by multiple identifications. Our potential selves are atomised. We are fag-ends of our former selves.

MEDIA MASSACRE
With endless variations for entertainment on line, networks are in free-fall. The hopeful statement, 'content is still king', still stands. But the problem is affording that content when assailed by revenue decline.
     It is interesting how many of the despairing now retreat into interactive games. With these, they can literally amuse themselves to death - as several Japanese teens did when they became too obsessed to move or eat.
    Some philosophers assert that people are becoming machines. That wouldn't be so bad. A machine functions reasonably at least. But we are increasingly dysfunctional, as evinced by rampant chaos and stupidity.  Wiring the world has not improved it but accelerated the old basic flaws that have made us the single out-of-control life form on the planet.
    Heraclitus advocated the search for Being, the unity behind diversity, but from this we flee. We are so enraptured and shredded by the manufactured aids to distraction that our vestigial sense of being is undetectable. As we frantically strive for visibility, or to climb higher on the heap, we forget we are inwardly dying by degrees. And outwardly, too. Each minute shortens our lives. Each step takes us nearer to the grave. Our dream of apotheosis will become, inevitably, feebleness, disease, pain and death.

THE POST-LITERATE AGE EXTENDS
As U-tube and Internet surfing become presiding visual distractions, print book publishers and retailers are in crisis, although children's books still sell. Even W. H. Smith, doyen of the airport lounge blockbuster, has mostly retreated to magazines and gee-gaws. Newspapers run at a loss. Magazine sales are down 27% and some are being bundled at a discount - three to a plastic outer. So will newsagents survive? In Australia, lottery sales provide up to 80% of their revenue. But if those sales are syphoned off by supermarkets, newsagents will wink out like bookshops.
    Libraries? The net has duplicated their basic use, including their reference function. Many are converting to centres for craft training and lifestyle courses.

WHAT HAS THIS TO DO WITH GEOGRAPHY?
Not much. But one point should be made. As sages from Seneca to Leunig proclaim, the greatest advantage in a brutal society is anonymity. Perhaps happiness consists in being, not famous, not powerful, not admired, not universally adored but irrelevant.
    Consider the old Japanese saying: 'The nail that sticks up is hammered down'.
    Keep your head down and no one can shoot at you.
    Forgive me for diverting your attention to this page. Because
, objectively, or you might say psychically, attention is the most precious thing you have. That is if you have it, now, at all.
    Please, safeguard your attention.
    Go thou, and squander it no more.

You'll find Clint's books on Buzzword


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

GOODBYE TO THE FIXED GRID

Buzzword Books editor, D. S. Mills, explains our latest revamp:

If you are familiar with the endless tweaking rather grandly called website design, you'll understand our frustration. As one of the least significant outlet for eBooks known, we contented ourselves for years with a Liquid Layout. This now obsolete system adjusts for screen size but falls apart badly on the laptop.
    We then went to a Fixed Grid - a vast improvement in layout stability - a series of set columns that accepts almost any configuration. This worked marvellously on computers and well on pad-sized devices but couldn't cope with mobile display.
    As you know, the 'Hand Held Device' is mostly held in profile. Why? It fits the hand that way and the landscape mode negates control areas that appear in profile.
    Although Google now degrades websites that stick to Fixed Grids, many still persist. If your site has thousands of pages and products, it is no small matter to find an alternative that scales down to the typical mobile screen - then to go through the endless process of adjusting everything to conform.

ENTER THE FLEXIBLE GRID
For those not familiar with mark-up, this is a structure that preserves the virtues of the Fixed Grid's stability with a series of media commands and other CSS controls that allow the components to progressively decrease in size or reposition to suit the screen size. As we now mostly view the internet on mobiles, the mantra is to design first for the mobile and adjust from there. The FG permits a simple mobile view that progressively reforms to suit pad and computer screens. Even so, design limitations tend to appear on 24' monitors. (Yes, you measure your monitor size diagonally.)
    So Buzzword has now switched to a simple FG layout. It's not pretty but at least displays properly on the gismo the world worships - dubbed by one wit the Weapon of Mass Distraction. In the process, we have simplified the site and placed the same content on fewer pages. To simplify further, we have deleted our used book section. It may later appear on our sister site, Bookbooster, which is next in line for a revamp.
    Of course, no prototype is perfect. So, if you have problems with our new format, let us know.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Sleep apnoea - a simple solution

Martin Jensen, author of How to Get What You Want and How to Keep Fit Without Exercise has another hint for you.
My wife, Dr Jensen, had a problem. She has a family history of high blood pressure and currently takes a low dose antihypertensive to counter it. This worked reasonably well. But, inexplicably, the morning blood pressure stayed high.

Fortunately, we sleep in the same bed and I know how she sleeps - on her back, snoring loudly and with difficulty - the snores interrupted by inability to get air. Because of this, I turn her on her side whenever I wake and hear her. On her side, the snoring stops. But, next time I check her, she is on her back again and the cycle continues.

Now I  have no medical qualifications, despite working in drug companies for much of my life. And I can hardly tell my wife, a doctor, what to do. Not that that stops me. So I suggested to her that the hypertension could be sleep apnoea induced. After a particularly gruelling morning when her BP diastolic was 105  (yes, she keeps a small domestic blood pressure machine by the bed)  I told her that we had to try new methods.

What did we do?

We went to a local haberdashery store and bought a Tri-pillow - one of those "L" shaped things that people usually use to prop themselves up in bed when reading a book.

I also chocked up the head of the bed with two 4 inch high blocks of wood. This works fine for gastric reflux but that wasn't why I did it. I had the notion that elevating her head more might help.

We then positioned her with the L-shaped pillow on top of her normal pillow for extra head height. This also meant that she could sleep on her side without it hurting her shoulder. We placed the the second part of the "L" behind her to stop her turning on her back easily.  We added two pillows at her back to make flopping on her back even harder.

Her head was now elevated, in total, perhaps seven inches more than before.

The next night, she did not snore. Even when she managed to turn on her back, she breathed a little more heavily but did not snore.

And the BP in the morning? Normal!

And so it has been for the rest of this week.

As I say, I have no medical degree. But this work perfectly well for her. There is obviously something about elevating the head and lying on the side that does the job - and avoids the entire rigmarole of tests, masks, oxygen cylinders and all the other interventions she was dreading.  All you need is a $25 pillow and a couple of blocks of wood.

Now there may be nothing novel about all this. Others must have discovered it, too. But another voice in the wilderness won't hurt.

So I've set it all down here, hoping these simple changes might help others.  


Meanwhile, we go on our way rejoicing.

You'll find Martin's great 'HOW-TOs' on Buzzword Books.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Can science explain the cosmic mind? This radical book says such a possibility is approaching.

Can we apply quantum physics to the phenomenon of consciousness? An expert in the field, Italian astrophysicist Dr. Massimo Teodorani Ph.D. , has done so in a revolutionary new book, The Hyperspace of Consciousness, now published by Buzzword. STOP PRESS: This book will also be available next week in a print version published by Wisehouse-Elementa (Sweden).

The Author: Dr. Teodorani obtained his degree in Astronomy and his Ph.D. in Stellar Physics at the University of Bologna. As a researcher at the Astronomical Observatories of Bologna and Naples, and later at the INAF Radiotelescope of Medicina (BO), he has been involved in research on many types of explosive stellar phenomena – such as supernovae, novae, eruptive protostars and high-mass close binary stars – and, more recently, in the search for extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial intelligence within the SETI Project. He subsequently taught physics as a lecturer at the University of Bologna, Rome and Torino. Among his research interests there is also an active involvement in the physics study of anomalous aerial phenomena. He is an expert in military aeronautics. In addition to many technical papers in the mentioned subjects, he has published 17 books and several informative articles on quantum physics, atomic and nuclear physics, astronomy, astrophysics, bioastronomy, physics of anomalous atmospheric phenomena and aerospace subjects. He is a frequent guest on the media and has lectured widely. So his book is no mere speculation but an intensive study of the latest scientific discoveries and their relevance to a possible nexus between mind and matter.

The book: Elaborates the theories of Physicist David Bohm and the latest quantum discoveries, explores the role of consciousness inside a bigger cosmic project where mind and matter are linked As the subject is abstruse, we consider it best to let the author introduce his own work on this forum:


"What if the role of consciousness subsists inside a bigger cosmic project where mind and matter are aspects of each other and a subtle communication between all the living beings is constantly actuated using the quantum entanglement mechanism? The book postulates that information is non-locally stored inside the quantum vacuum, in the ambit of my “Big Library Hypothesis” (BLH), a new interpretation of the so called “Akasha” concept now interpreted in the light of physics and informatics. It also examines how matter is created and recreated from the quantum vacuum (being the seat of consciousness) and about extraterrestrial intelligence and potential methods to communicate with it using non-local methods (although fully scientific in the physical sense). Much in the book, although speculative in part, concerns the possible ways to violate the Laws of Nature and the possibility that the so called “magic” can be explained scientifically (using mostly quantum theory).

"There is also a discussion about shamanism, esotericism and “atavistic figures” of religion seen in a new light. Much in the book is dedicated to a scientific interpretation about what the spirit and the soul really are and about their immortality as a quantum information system. Finally, a special chapter is devoted to a detailed theory explaining the nature of some “anomalous unidentified aerial phenomena”, where physical science and ancient wisdom are equated. The book is not a collection of random ideas, but original thinking matured during years of study and research. The study is authenticated by ample documentation both in the text and in the extensive reference section where more than 100 sources are cited. A dictionary of scientific words that may be unfamiliar is also included.  The book – although being “visionary” – at some points, has nothing to do with New Age but with explorative and frontier Science. It is addressed to curious and forward thinking people of who believe both in the rigour of science and in a healthy (even courageous) openmindedness. And also to the many scholars – including philosophers, psychologists, spiritualists, parapsychologists and metaphysicists – who study and/or practise spirituality and the phenomena arising from it."

Commentary: This book is a departure for Buzzword Books which has never considered publishing a scientific explication on this subject. It may interest you to read the author's brief summary of his chapters and their content:

Chapter 1 – The weird world of quantum physics

This is a very ample and complete presentation of the most important concepts of classical quantum physics, including some basic equations. EPR and double-slit experiments (and their implications) are also discussed.

Chapter 2 – Quantum entanglement and consciousness

This is a discussion of all the most important concepts about the quantum entanglement mechanism, in the light of Bohm’s ontological physics. Bohm’s metaphors and the concepts of explicate and implicate orders are described as well. Some basic equations – in which the concepts of “pilot wave” and quantum potential are introduced – are included and their meaning is deeply discussed. Much is stressed on the fact that matter and consciousness cannot exist the one without the other.

Chapter 3 – A quantum pilot for the body

This is a presentation of the most advanced ideas about quantum electrodynamic coherence and its application to the living being. Gariaev’s, Popp’s and Del Giudice’s ideas and findings are exposed. The importance of biophotons and DNA is discussed.

Chapter 4 – The quantum brain

This is a very ample description and discussion about Penrose-Hameroff’s theory (OrchOr) about “quantum brain”, based on the concept of quantum coherence of microtubules in the brain. The way in which consciousness moments are formed is explained in great detail. A constant comparison with Bohm theory is done, where consciousness (implicate order) and its neural correlate (brain) cannot exist the one without the other. A up-scaled comparison with a bigger “quantum universe” is finally mentioned (Zizzi’s theory).

Chapter 5 – A quantum spirit?

The idea about soul/spirit intended as informative systems (and not transcendent concepts) is introduced in the ambit of a model in which physics of information is invoked and where the spirit is the implicate order of the body. Immortality and syntropy of information is introduced as well.

Chapter 6 – The spirit and synchronicity

This quite important chapter describes the joint work by Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli about a mechanism (“quaternary diagram”) able to describe and explain the synchronicity phenomenon. A comparison with Bohm’s physics is constantly discussed. The Global Consciousness Project is also mentioned.

Chapter 7 – Multidimensionality and synchronicity

This deals with a speculative model of this author explaining phenomena such as synchronicity and premonition. The hypothesis of different dimensions of time is discussed too. Everett’s many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and superstring theory are discussed as well. Consciousness is hypothesized to be an entity living simultaneously on more dimensions. In this light an explanation of lucid dreams is given as well.

Chapter 8 – BLH – the Big Library Hypothesis

This is probably the most important chapter. The discussed hypothesis deals with a non-local informatics system where information can be constantly uploaded and downloaded to/from a “cosmic supercomputer”(located in the quantum vacuum and modulated by its virtual particles) via consciousness. In this light the spirit/soul is considered as an informatics system both as software of the body and as a memory storage system. The way in which the genius (Tesla example) can be triggered this way is also discussed. The process of acquisition of information using this mode is spontaneous and may regard everyone, including shamans and indigenous people: this can happen through hypnagogic/hypnopompic visions and/or through lucid dreams. The hypothesis that such a supercomputer is the result of a (positive) hyper-technology created by a very evolved exo-intelligence (“The Builders”) is constantly discussed. The concept, in general, is that the Universe was not born by chance, although having nothing to do with religious creationism, as the setup of my model is essentially agnostic/atheistic. The concept of “God” is very rarely mentioned.

Chapter 9 – A cosmic non-local threat

This deals about two kinds of “Builders” of the Universe (masters of the quantum information): the positive ones (the correct software) and the negative ones (the Virus). In this part the negative ones are mostly discussed, after observing how the world goes. The existence of people without spirit/soul (bio-drones) is hypothesized, intended as “aircraft models” non-locally remotely controlled by a distorted intelligence.

Chapter 10 – The evolution of the Grand Design

A long discussion about the possible violation of the Pauli Exclusion Principle is presented. An alternative hypothesis about the “abduction” phenomenon is ventured. The possibility of changing the plan of the material universe, by acting on the information on which it is based, is hypothesized. The concept of “creation” of matter from the nothing is introduced, intended as something coming directly from the information stored in the quantum vacuum. The concept of “Tulpa” and “homunculus” are discussed as well, in the light of science. The idea of “particles of consciousness”and their possible connection with the Higgs Boson, is introduced. A comparison between consciousness and gravitational interaction is done in the ambit of superstrings theory. A project plan to prove or disprove scientifically the possibility that exo-intelligence from other dimensions is controlling humanity is presented.

Chapter 11 – The necessity of duality

This chapter shows how the balance of physical forces making the material (micro and macro) universe is a sort of metaphor of the balance of good and evil in our own society. When this equilibrium is broken wars may occur at all levels. The hypothesis here is that someone else is planning to destroy this equilibrium in order to destabilize the human society in order to exert a total command on it, also using neo-religions, new age sects and religious and political fanaticism.

Chapter 12 – Visions and creations
This chapter shows very extensively how the non-local informative nature of the implicate order of our universe is strictly related with the process of matter creation (explicate order): information and creation are linked by a common means, being the quantum vacuum. Subsequently, the question of religious visions (BVM) may be explained as an unconscious access to the Big Library, which would create an hologram or a true being. Much is discussed about the possible nature of hypothesized visiting “aliens” on Earth intended as Tulpa-like creations remotely created and controlled here from a hyper-intelligence from another dimension. Again a possible violation of the Pauli Exclusion Principle is discussed (entering the walls, underground bases without making any holes, Filipino healers).

Chapter 13 – BLH and astrobiological non-locality

This is certainly the most scientific chapter (including a research proposal too). It deals about a new way to make SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) research in a non-local way (from an idea by Fred Thaheld): algorithmic analysis of human EEG might allow to find possible signals inside the noise of the brainwave, being such signals sent using the mechanism of quantum entanglement. Non-local SETI (NLSETI) is constantly compared with the BLH (Big Library Hypothesis), having the first the capability to carry out scientific measurements and the second the role of triggering the human brain using icon-like images able to activate brain processes. Both (NLSETI and BLH) might be simultaneously operational both as a spontaneous process similar to the non-local connection to a “website” and as an intentional act coming from exo-intelligence. Again the physical and informatics-like nature of human consciousness is discussed.

Chapter 14 – IPH – The Intelligent Plasma Hypothesis

This chapter is partly scientific and partly speculative. It includes a long research proposal using measurement instruments. It deals with Hessdalen-like lights (on which this author did several technical publications and talks). Such plasma-like phenomenon is amply described and discussed (results obtained by this author so far and other researchers). Then a very strong hypothesis is ventured and discussed in great detail about the possible “intelligence” of some of such light balls, where plasma and its particles may acquire characteristics of quantum coherence and, like microtubules in the brain, its particles may host a form of consciousness, including possible souls of deceased persons and/or animals hanged to the plasma. This theory might explain ancient beliefs that light balls are “ascended spirits”. This hypothesis can be proved or disproved scientifically by carrying out experiments using a Laser beam and recording everything with photometric and spectroscopic instruments. The idea of BLH is amply recalled all over this chapter, as a non-local connection with a cosmic databank piloting such light balls through the remote action of exo-intelligence.

Chapter 15 – The Hierarchy and cosmic evolution

The highest evolution of sentient beings after death is hypothesized, in the ambit a project of spiritual perfection.

Conclusions

Notes

23 technical notes.

References: 106 cited.



View The Hyperspace of Consciousness now in the Buzzword Books General section. 


You can also visit the My Youtube Channel to watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOlK3We-pcY 

And the My Fandalism Channel at  https://fandalism.com/totemtag
________________________________________________

 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Islam - Attar and the inner life



In the twelfth century, the Persian Sufi master, Farid ud-Din Attar composed a profound allegorical poem called The Conference of the Birds. This masterpiece takes the form of a conversation between thirty birds that set out on the quest for truth and their guide, the Hoopoe. From the Invocation of this magnificent work we have selected one telling passage. The translation is by C.S. Nott - still the finest rendering in English. The original publisher was The Janus Press, 1954. The edition we are transcribing from here is the Rutledge & Kegan Paul reprint of 1964.

When the soul was joined to the body it was part of the all: never has there been so marvellous a talisman. The soul had a share of that which is high, and the body a share of that which is low; it was formed of a mixture of heavy clay and pure spirit. By this mixing, man became the most astonishing of mysteries.

We do not know nor do we understand so much as a little of our spirit. If you wish to say something about this, it would be better to keep silent.

Many know the surface of the ocean, but they understand nothing of the depths: and the visible world is the talisman which protects it. But this talisman of bodily obstacles will be broken at last. You will find the treasure when the talisman disappears; the soul will manifest itself when the body is laid aside. 

But your soul is another talisman; it is, for this mystery, another substance. Walk then in the way I shall indicate, but do not ask for an explanation.

In this fast ocean, the world is an atom and the atom a world. Who knows which is of more value here, the cornelian or the pebble?

We have staked our life, our reason, our spirit, our religion, in order to understand the perfection of an atom. Sew up your lips and ask nothing of the empyrean or the throne of God. No one really knows the essence of the atom—ask whom you will. The Heavens are like a cupola upside down, without stability, at once moving and unmoving. One is lost in contemplation of such a mystery—it is veil upon veil; one is like a figure painted on a wall, and one can only bite the back of one's hand.

Consider those who have entered in the way of the Spirit. Look what has happened to Adam; see how many years he spent in mourning. Contemplate the deluge of Noah and all that patriarch suffered at the hands of the wicked. Consider Abraham, who was full of love for God: he suffered tortures and was thrown into the fire. See the unfortunate Ishmael offered up in the way of divine love. Turn towards Jacob who became blind from weeping for his son. Look at Joseph, admirable in his power as in his slavery, in the pit and in prison. Remember the unhappy Job stretched on the earth a prey to worms and wolves. Think of Jonah who, having strayed from the Way, went from the moon to the belly of a fish. Follow Moses from his birth; a box served him for a cradle and Pharaoh exalted him. Think of David, who made himself a breast-plate and whose sighs melted the iron like wax. Look at Solomon whose empire was mastered by the Jinn. Remember Zacharias, so ardent with the love of God that he kept silent when they killed him; and John the Baptist, despised before the people, whose head was put on a platter. Stand in wonder at Christ at the foot of the cross, when he saved himself from the hands of the Jews. And finally, ponder over all that the Chief of the Prophets suffered from the insults and injuries of the wicked.

After this, do you think it will be easy to arrive at a knowledge of spiritual things? It means no less than to die to everything. What shall I say further, since there is nothing more to say, and there remains not a rose on the bush. Oh Wisdom! You are no more than a suckling child; and the reason of the old and experienced strays in this quest. How shall I, a fool, be able to arrive at this Essence; and if I should arrive, how shall I be able to enter in by the door?

Oh, Holy Creator! Vivify my spirit! Believers and unbelievers are equally plunged in blood, and my head turns as the heavens. I am not without hope but I am impatient.

My friends! We are neighbours of one another: I wish to repeat my discourse to you day and night, so that you should not cease for a moment to long to set out in quest of Truth.

COMMENTARY BY BUZZWORD BOOKS EDITOR, D. S. MILLS: At at time when Islam seems reduced to a political tool to justify murderous factions and brutal Jihads, it is important to remember that the original core of this tradition, preserved by the Sufis though contemporary Mullahs might decry this, remains priceless.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

GETTING RID OF 'WEBSEARCHES'. ONE MAN'S EXPERIENCE

Author Jack Cross had a problem. A rogue search engine and advertising dump site had taken over his browser. Read what he had to go through before he found the solution. No, we don't usually include semi-technical articles but this one could help the uninitiated who are, like Jack, not clued about dealing with web predators.

My default browser is Firefox. And several weeks ago, when I fired it up, I discovered that the home page had been replaced by the dreaded websearches home page. Not only that. My computer was being swamped by rogue programs I didn't want. Yes, I could quickly switch to the Firefox home page. But that didn't cure the infection. Strange sites and services continued to download when I was working on other sites or surfing the web.

Why? I had tried to download an innocent enough free program from one of the many sites that provide them. It was clearly not the site to go to as now malware was dumped on me constantly. I checked my other browsers. All were infected with the websearches home page. All, that is, except Safari, which, I believe, has a different basic code.

So what to do. First, I checked on the web. Many sites had solutions for the scourge. You went into the browser and deleted rogue apps. You deleted all your cookies. You searched your program files for interlopers and removed them.

I did all this, constantly. I also checked my C: drive for suspicious downloads and deleted several items from my computer registry. I used the Window virus system checks, the Spybot checks. And I kept doing it. But the unwanted dumps still came and the browsers were still infected. I restored the browsers to their defaults but that didn't work either.

I tried to remove the rogue search engine from the Firefox list. But, apparently it is part of the default and the remove button didn't work.

I got to the stage where I dreaded going on line. And, of course, I had realised by then, that many of the articles about the problem that I read were obsolete. Because the websearches mob had apparently disguised their methods since.

Now I am no geek. Just an amateur with computers. I thought of one last ploy. I deleted Firefox and Chrome entirely, then reloaded them.

Problem solved! (So far.)

Don't ask me why. But, to date, I have had no more troubles. In the process, I have learned a few things about protecting my computer. Trial and error for me. But possibly a help to you.

The takeout? Be very careful which sites you download from. No, I can't remember the name of the one that nobbled me. If I could, it would be here in large type.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

DARWIN AND THE DEATH OF TRUTH


Author Gina Stoner muses on an early study in straight and crooked thinking (and what is this small creature? See end):

In 1944 - at the exhausting end of a devastating world war - Dr Kenneth Walker, a disciple of The Fourth Way, completed one of his many books. It was called Meaning and Purpose and designed to show that the universe was not a mindless juxtaposition of warring forces but imbued with intelligence and life.



Since this book, long forgotten now, was written, science, philosophy and transformational systems have moved on. But not that far. And its arguments remain informative.



What follows is not even a bare outline. Simply sections selected at random, then paraphrased. The intention - to give a flavour of the whole. (The book was reissued by Penguin in 1950.)



Two centuries ago, science was seen as the supreme inquiry - able eventually to develop its own metaphysic. Sadly, little has changed. The vainglorious human still sees himself as the centre of the universe, still considers his mind as the most complex thing in creation and believes he is able to reduce the cosmos - something incomparably greater than himself - to a set of numbers and assertions.



Scientists have eviscerated the qualities of creation, focused on fundamentals such as mass and motion, and judge everything with this monochrome palette. 'At each stage of their progress upwards from inert matter to man, the scientists have attempted to explain the higher in terms of the lower, chemistry in terms of the movement of atoms, life in terms of chemistry, thought in terms of life and consciousness in terms of thought.'



The young Darwin and his intellectual shadow, A. R Wallace both read Malthus's Essay on Population. It outlined the struggle for existence of an increasing population faced with decreasing food supplies and projected that only the strong would survive. Both men borrowed the thought, applied it to animal and plant species and a theory was born. Scientists seized on the new concept which, to their relief, appeared to eliminate once and for all the myth of religion, the possibility of a creator, and also to excise from cosmology all lingering vestiges of design and purpose. At last, they had something they could handle - a pitiless, meaningless universe controlled by blind forces. A pinball series of reactions able to produce complexity without intelligent input.



Bergson, the philosopher of change, had a different view. He said that by using the intellect we may 'take views of life, we may go round it and note its relations, its varying aspects, we may frame and fit it into our scheme of an external order' and, by using what he calls intuition, 'we may enter into it, live its life, follow its movement from within' in which case life appears to us as not a procession of separate states but as ' a continuously moving zone of activity'.



Bergson perceived life as the élan vital and asserted that evolution of life on this earth could not be accounted for unless such a creative force was assumed - for otherwise it was impossible to understand why evolution has not, long ago, come to an end.



As he wrote: 'A very inferior organism is as well adapted to the conditions of existence, judged by its success in maintaining its life. Why then does life, which has succeeded in adapting itself, go on complicating itself more and more dangerously? …Unless there is an impulse driving it to take even greater and greater risks toward its goal of an even higher and higher efficiency.'



Darwin himself had many doubts and qualifications about his hypothesis. But the basic scaffold of his theory is now so popularized that it has degenerated to folklore, much as the complex insights surrounding the idea of rebirth were simplified to the palatable notion of reincarnation.



As Haldane stated: 'No competent biologist doubts that evolution and natural selection are taking place, but we do not yet know whether natural selection alone, acting on chance variations, will account for the whole of evolution. If it will, we shall have made a big step toward understanding the world; if it will no more account for all evolution than, for example, gravitation will account for chemical affinity, as was once believed, then biologists have a bigger job before them than many of them think.'



According to Walker, The Darwinian theory, like the mechanistic Manifesto of Marx, provides an intensification and oversimplification, devoid of all qualifying phrases, doubtful issues, extenuating circumstances. Yet both claimed to contain the master keys by which all doors could be unlocked.



Darwin's hypothesis, to the relief of many, replaced the need for a God. Because, when mere bricks can build a house, the builder is no longer required. And we become the sole representatives of intelligence in an automatic, lifeless universe.



Or can we admit as Zeno postulated 'that the world is a living and rational being since it produces animate and rational entities? Surely this is less presumptuous that to imagine that intelligence and consciousness are the unique prerogatives of humanity. Faced with an infinite universe, the hubris of this view is immense - yet it has now become folk law as well.



The problem here is the fragility of truth. Truths, like religions, die. The original insight is distorted, debased, twisted to suit a purpose, simplified to calm the unintelligent until nothing remains of the original animal but fur and feathers. Then the fossil of the once living insight is debased enough to be accepted as gospel.



To quote Ibsen, the only truths acceptable to the majority are truths 'so stricken in years that they are sinking into decrepitude.' Truths, he declared, live only some twenty years and when they become as old and emaciated as this they are in a fair way to becoming lies.   …It is not until then that the majority takes them and recommends them to society as wholesome food.'



Degraded truths for the masses is the rule.



The effect of crowd psychology is well documented - as is the effect of uncompromising leaders on a mob. In fact the latter are the result of such crowds, not the cause of them. Hitler was a symptomatic of the general mood of Germany at the time. When the masses lose their reason a Hitler always appears. And his first concern is to destroy freedom of the press, free expression of ideas, rights of association by establishing a police state and a pernicious system of informers.



Walker points out that perhaps the whole of history can be looked upon as 'the conflict between culture and barbarism.



He points out that civilizations are founded not by mobs or committees but by individuals with new perspectives who institute new forms of culture. 'Civilizations, based on these cultures, lead to the establishment of an ordered pattern of life. They last for variable periods and are then destroyed, and are replaced at a later date by some new form of culture.'



'Totalitarian forms of government have been followed by totalitarian forms of warfare. …Total warfare has the same effect on a population as have the barbarous forms of government which it is the object of this total warfare to destroy. …Wars solve nothing. They are periodic episodes in the life of those low forms of organisms known as nations - episodes to be endured as earthquakes, hurricanes and other terrestrial phenomena have to be endured.'



In the Republic, Plato wrote. 'An ordinary city, however small, is in fact two cities - one the city of the poor, the other of the rich, at war with one another.' And it is absurd, Walker believes, to cherish the idea of a classless society as it has never, and never will, occur.



Plato's famous contention was that we do not study reality itself but only the shadows it casts on our minds. Kant held a similar view. Now some physicists, faced with the increasing explicability of nature and existence are entering the territory of what Eddington called scientific epistemology. Jeans likened scientist to experts examining the bubbles which, from time to time, emerge from a stream. He wrote: 'These are the transfers of energy and radiation of our life, which affect our senses and so activate our minds. Below these lie deep waters which we can only know by inference.



As Plotinus wrote: 'Knowledge has three degrees - opinion, science, illumination. The means or instrument of the first is sense. Of the second, dialect. Of the third, intuition. To the last, I subordinate reason. It is absolute knowledge founded on the identity of the mind with the object known.'



Do some of us have a facility that does not depend on empirical evidence - that is sometimes able to reach knowledge which lies beyond the range of the senses?



According to Walker: 'One thing is certain, namely, that a synthesis of knowledge will never be achieved from below, but must proceed from above.   …From the discursive and analytical knowledge of science it is impossible to reach these higher principles, but working in the opposite direction, the contradictions in the lower levels of thought disappear.'



The wisest of men have always declared that we know nothing. That all our so called knowledge is relative. That there is a far greater reality of which we only see the edge.



Certainly the warring brothers called science and religion are never likely to agree as they see everything from opposite perspectives.



But is there a third way to discover reality?



Walker thinks there is. 

(The picture at head is a Mulgara - native to Australia.)