Freedom

“Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans in the finite space of a planetary ecosystem as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.”  ~Frank Herbert, in Dune

This thought makes me uncomfortable.

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I Have Learned

“I have found that to be here and not anywhere else is the key to total concentration. By living in the present, I am in full contact with myself and my environment; my energy is not dissipated and is always available. In the present there are no regrets, as there must be when thinking of the past, and worrying about the future only dilutes our awareness of the present. I have learned to focus all of my concentration on each individual moment, whether it’s a voice on the other end of a phone line, a face looking at me from across a desk, that single eye of a camera, or that rose garden. There is only now, only this moment. There is nothing else. Nothing.”  ~Chuck Norris, from The Secret Power Within © 1996

I had mentioned to Mona that I liked Chuck Connors– The Rifleman, Branded— and she got her Chucks confused and got me a couple of books by Chuck Norris, the martial artist.

It was a happy accident.  Because of it, I’ve read his autobiography, Against All Odds, and the book I excerpted above, and enjoyed them both.

Even though we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, I think Chuck and I would get along fine if we ever meet.

Kindly Treated

“In other words, a devotee should not ignore any living entity. The devotee must know that in every living entity, however insignificant he may be, even in an ant, God is present, and therefore every living entity should be kindly treated and should not be subjected to any violence.”  ~A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda (source)

Pierced

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ~1 Timothy 6:10

I don’t think this means money in the literal sense of coins and paper, I think it’s meant to mean self-centeredness and selfishness in general. When you look at the actions considered “sinful,” you always find selfishness at the center. Adultery, stealing, dishonesty, false idols; all of those things happen when a person puts their own pleasure above all else.

And the seldom-quoted second half is, to me, the more significant part: “pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” While those things might bring a temporary distraction, they don’t offer lasting happiness.  Karma might hit them dramatically with a divorce or a prison sentence, it might lock  them into a cycle or repeated peaks and valleys from which they cannot escape, or it might just be the crushing realization, late at night, that their lives are hollow and unbalanced.

I don’t know of any selfish people who are happy. There certainly aren’t any who are kind. And ultimately, as they spend their lives forever chasing their next high, they become completely insignificant.

There are always consequences.

“It was a beautiful thing, really.”

“It was a tsunami. In April of ’82 there was an article in the New York Times about a new gay cancer, and everyone thought ‘oh well.’ I was in my twenties. I wasn’t worried about a thing. But then every week you started to hear about somebody becoming ill. My boss was one of the first. He was a famous florist. He went into the hospital on Thanksgiving and was dead by Easter. I lost most of my friends. A lot of the first men to die were privileged. They were closeted, corporate white men. During the day they were bankers but at night they’d hit the leather clubs and bars. But they learned their privilege didn’t matter after they got sick. They were just ‘gay.’ We had to fight for AIDS to be recognized by the government. We joined together with people of color, and junkies, and prostitutes. It was a beautiful thing, really. Our feminist lesbian sisters taught us how to protest because they’d been doing it for decades. They showed us how to organize meetings, and bring people together, and force the government to the table—things we’d never had to think about as white men.”  ~HONY