Friday, 20 March 2009

Materialising Spirit in 2009

(Specially written for Culture Change)

We live in a material world, or so we are led to believe.

But we also inhabit two other worlds, the mental world, and the spiritual world, and unfortunately the latter has been ignored in the hustle and bustle of an overactive material world.

The Culture Change that we are beginning to experience is caused by the spiritual world suggesting that it has its fair share of prominence.

As in any change in a finite world, we have to remove something before we can add something else. We are now witnessing the removal of certain aspects of our material world, demonstrated daily on a scientific basis by the devaluation of all assets in the material world.

If we wish to examine the material world to find areas that may be of no long term benefit to the advancement of the human race, we could start by observing that a "human being" is in fact a "spirit being human". Our physical body, the source of recognition of our material world, was manifested by our spirit, which through a lengthy and complex procedure involving parents and spirit guides, materialised our physical body and our not-so-physical mind.

Further observation reveals that the era that we are presently leaving has provided us with the evolution of the body-mind link, whereby we have practised using our body to manufacture the concepts of the mind. Whilst there are an infinite number of new concepts that could still be manufactured, we are able to remove emphasis from this area, because we have proven our technical and physical capabilities to ourselves and each other. We no longer need to attempt to manifest every good idea into reality, but can instead be far more selective about the ideas to which we dedicate our energies.

We can draw up a list of priorities, and seriously consider only projects that lie within that priority list.

Our personal priority list could be founded on our basic choice between service-to-self and service-to-others. More and more people are choosing the service-to-others path. There is a need for some kind of organisation to maximise the benefits created by all these people who are prepared to dedicate their lives, or at least certain proportions of them, to helping others.

Maybe members of the Culture Change organisation could consider this need!

We foresee that any list of priorities created by the service-to-others group will include aspects like sustainability, global benefit, designability, parity with nature, desirability, practicality, and lastly expense.

If such a priority list was available, it would be of considerable benefit to any persons who are in the process of life change, which, knowingly or otherwise, could quite easily be all of us.

In terms of sustainability, our first thought will always be centred on survival, not only of our present material body, but also those of our families, friends, societies and the human species as a whole.

If every person who is searching to find themselves is able to access some guidelines provided by those who have gone before, then there will be a greater possibility of achieving a more unified effort. Once desire is unified with effort, then physical materialisation of that desire is inevitable, as proven by the advance in technology and the many creations during our dying 'modern' era.

Anyone seriously considering their personal situation must first decide that they are determined to change. There are only two choices - either to change, or to stay the same, and the latter defeats all known natural laws - so we may as well align ourselves with nature, and welcome the change.

Having done that, the availability of a set of guidelines to help us to determine precisely what we would like to change will be of tremendous benefit.

We can start our self-examination by observing that the early morning alarm clock, the modern era's answer to the cockerel, disturbs whatever we are doing, and causes us to begin taking conscious action. If we all remain conscious of our actions, all day, every day, we will all behave more often in a manner beneficial to society.

We will desist from our antisocial habits. If we find that we are involved in the promotion, manufacture or service of anything that is not beneficial to society, we will make plans to adopt a more sociable activity for our energies, and the negative aspects of the modern era will gradually disappear.

This will generate a ground-up Culture Change that benefits flora and fauna as well as the human species. Our home planet, sometimes known as Mother Earth or Gaia, will be able to heave a sigh of relief as the stress of the modern era subsides, and nature’s efforts to advance become the central directing force for human efforts. Unbelievably rapid progress will be made as soon as man's efforts are aligned with those of nature.

This transition is described in many ways in many revered books, and is prophesied by more than a few of our semi-extinct ancient cultures.

So we see that individual effort, no matter how small becomes a catalyst to huge change.

This leads to an urgent need for the development of priorities of the new human culture, because factors of free will mean that we must be a part of the design of our own destiny, and Changed Culture.

* * * * *

Lifestyle changes

My lifestyle has changed since my luxury days as a managing director of a computer software company. Each day since then seems to have been spent in disposing of baggage, both physical and mental.

The epitome of this self-imposed deprivation was the time I spent living alone for eight days in a cave, with the only company being about a dozen bats.

The locals believe that this cave contains a monster, so consequently no-one ever goes near it, even though it is only about an hour's walk from the local hill-tribe village where I lived. I had arranged for my wife to prepare food once per day, and for one of my village friends to deliver the food to a location a few minutes walk from the cave. The first night, my faithful dog stayed with me, but he rejoined my Lahu friend when he returned to the village after delivering food on the second day.

I spent the entire time there in meditation and doing yoga. I learned a great deal about myself, not the least of which was the importance of certain things in life. I learned that without the benefits of society, in this case my wife and delivery friend, I could not eat. I learned that as long as one is sheltered from the wind and rain, then accommodation is not too important.

But after a couple of days, overcoming the sheer boredom was the biggest problem. I had intentionally not taken my spectacles or any reading or writing materials with me, so that I would not be tempted by my old habits of constantly reading and researching. After I had strolled around the locale and absorbed all there was to absorb, I could find very little to occupy my mind. And therein lay my secret - my mind - constantly demanding to be occupied by something - anything really. My body demanded food and sleep, and sometimes exercise, all being short term things that soon passed, but my mind never ceased its demands.

Learning to control the mind is a wonderful thing which most people never even consider. This is the great power of mediation - hatha yoga helps us to control the body, and meditation helps us to control the mind, after which a marvellous thing happens - we begin to discover the missing part of our being - the spirit.

I believe that the human race will move away from the toys of today which constantly keep the mind occupied, discouraging the realisation of spirit, and that the collective human consciousness will become more spiritually orientated.

This is the essence of Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now". By concentrating the mind on precisely and only what the body is doing and noticing, we avoid wandering off into hypothetical situations where we find all of our fears and worries. These fears and worries become constant, and prey on our mind like vultures. In the absence of fear and worry, we become more open, and more able to sink deeper into the true reality.

Once we have recognised the reality of our spirit, we also realise the true reality of so many other things. Like the abject failure of science, whose precepts are so dogmatically followed by so many dedicated non-believers, that ignorance of the spirit leads us to spend most of or time in a belief system that is so flawed it is almost worthless.

Having crossed the hurdle of "spirit recognition" we are able to move on in huge leaps and bounds as we familiarise ourselves with our new surroundings - a completely different world hoves into view. We realise the failings of religion, as something that was very valuable in our earlier stages of evolution, but no longer suits non-dogmatic thinking.

Slowly but surely, we begin to understand that there is absolute and total organisation around us, disturbed only by man's lack of knowledge and wisdom. We begin to gain an insight into a truly awesome power that is so far beyond the mind of man and his computers that it creates a sense of humility in human insignificance.

We realise not only that there is significance in every event in our lives, but by careful meditative analysis, we begin to realise what that significance is.

We realise why we were born.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Socialism with Chinese characteristics

Ideas about communism, as held in the west, are somewhat different to the ideas about communism as held in the east. I would like to mention some of the positive things that I am experiencing as I have lived and worked in China for the last five years. There are people here who, quietly under their breath, bitch and moan about the government, but bad news stories are kept out of the media, so there is never a huge rumble of dissent. Some dissenters are dealt with extremely harshly, especially if they attempt to incite others to dissent, BUT I experience far more freedom here than I ever did in Europe. With the exception of an annual visa requirement, and the payment of minimal tax, the government, or any of its agencies or officers never interfere in my life. Every government officer I meet, although very few, is always polite and helpful. The police department is called the Public Service Bureau (PSB), and as far as I can see, that's just what they do - they perform a public service. When I omitted a photograph from a police registration document, the policeman came to my house to save me the trouble of having to go to the police station again - I almost wept! Whenever I feel that something seriously needs improvement, I am reminded of the words of one of John Lennon's songs: "It's getting better every day" and that is very true in China, where the rate of change is like watching a video on fast forward. I feel certain that no other government in the world could provide sufficient stability for one point three billion people to live in a harmonious manner. The people are not stressed out, swallowing pills by the dozen, visiting a psychiatrist or reaching for the bottle every day. OK yes, I live in the city, and I have only little experience of the countryside, but on the most part, the people are reasonably happy with their lives, although they are all trying hard to better themselves. As yet, there are no noticeable signs of depression. The government here has different ideas, and different priorities to other governments. The number one priority, over and above all ideas of finance or anything else is the need for the harmony of the people. Anyone who attempts to upset the harmony of the people is severely dealt with. Sometimes there are protests, but not publicised too much. Many of the protests are against western countries who try to interfere with the harmony of the people. The Chinese are proud people, and above all else they love their country. If we examine what has been achieved here over the recent past, compared with what has been achieved in most western countries, we see that all Chinese people have seen improved standards of living, while most western citizens have experienced decreased standards of living. Overall, I would say that the Chinese government is doing a better job than most western style governments. So, what is it with this democracy thing. Winston Churchill described it best - “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” If we listen to the average Chinese person, we do not hear much complaint about the government - everyone is too busy bettering themselves. No-one is starving, although there are a few well-fed beggars. The many westerners who live here, while they do have complaints, generally find life here more satisfying than in their home country. It takes a long period of living here to identify and dispose of the ingrained western ideas in order to even allow Chinese ideas to get a look in, but when one is eventually able to be a little more objective, then it appears that this might just be a better way of being governed. The main difference is that the senior politicians appear to be truly concerned about the people as much as they are concerned about themselves. If we compare two recent disasters, being the floods in New Orleans, and the earthquake in Sichuan, then we see that in New Orleans, the government operated as if it had little concern for the people, whereas in Sichuan, the leaders were on site with their sleeves rolled up and directing the rescue effort within 6 hours of the event, almost before the news was being broadcast. The people affected by the earthquake were poor people too, but the amount of concern shown for them, and help given to them, by the government and the people was of entirely different proportions to the happenings in New Orleans. The New Orleans disaster caused a great rift between the people and the government, whereas the Sichuan disaster caused a great coming together of the people and the government. This is the Chinese way. We see that the government has taken the middle path. It has abandoned some of the more onerous aspects of old style communism, and replaced them with some of the better aspects of new style capitalism. The system is now called "Socialism with Chinese characteristics". What is the point of everyone having a vote when most don't bother, and of those who do, they are either ill-informed or lied to. If we were to compare the promises made and kept by Western governments with the promises made and kept by the Chinese government, I am certain who would come out on top, by a huge margin. The politicians here are under great pressure to help the people to live in harmony, and any politician discovered to be corrupt, or of poor character, soon disappears from the public eye. Yes there is serious corruption here, and it is being dealt with, but it is not of the same kind of corruption as the two faced politicians who are working for two masters, as in the west. The senior politicians here are highly respectable people. There are no ulterior motives behind the public face - the government makes its best efforts to represent the people, and does not have financiers and Satanists pulling the strings. There are very many cultural differences between westerners and the Chinese, who themselves are very different from any of their neighbouring country folk. Many of the peasant class Chinese are still quite ignorant in polite circles, but in the cities, led by Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, behaviour is daily becoming more respectable, to the extent that now there is certainly much less antisocial behaviour in a Chinese city than there is in a western city. I had occasion to walk down a dimly lit street at about 2am one day, and I could see six men spread out across the road approaching me. Western thoughts did pass through my mind. As we neared within speaking distance, one of them said to me, in English, "Hello", and smiled. I replied and smiled back, and we went on our way - the Chinese way. Over the last five years, I have heard many complaints from Chinese students about the amount of homework they receive, and the resultant lack of sleep or free time. At the start of the current term/semester, after the recent one month break for the Chinese New Year Spring Festival, the central Education Department issued a directive to reduce homework, and to cease all Saturday school. "It's getting better every day". The people do have a voice, and it does get listened to. In England during the Cold War, I was taught that communism was a dirty word, but from what I have seen of democracy in recent years, I think the word communism has had its slate wiped clean. As I complete this article, the world sits with baited breath awaiting the speech of Wen Jiabow, the Chinese Premier, at the 2009 National People's Congress. The world's stock markets have shown an increase in value in anticipation of Wen Jiabow announcing a stimulus package for the Chinese economy, based on investments in infrastructure and small business start ups. Social harmony is at the top of the agenda. I will circulate news as it happens later today.