A Spiritual Atheist is Better for The World Than a Non Spiritual Religious Person

The ‪#‎Spiritual‬, ‪#‎God‬, And ‪#‎TheMysterious‬

The truly spiritual person is better for the world than the non-spiritual; that is to say, for example, that a spiritual athiest is better than a non-spiritual Christian, or Jew, or Muslim–for him or herself and for the world. The spiritual can see truth more readily, whether it is in science, or in the Divine, or in the law, or in nature, or in Zen or theism, for that matter.

The spiritual can be righteous. The non-spiritual cannot. This will perturb the non-spiritual scientist, the non-spiritual Christian, Jew, and Muslim–the non-spiritual Buddhist and the Athiest… because they aren’t spiritual, either, and because they mistake the meaning of the word. It will especially perturb the non-spiritual Athiest, because he rails against spirituality.

John Lennon was right: “God is a concept…”, but that does not mean God is not real; rather (and I add) it is the definitions of God that are unreal; God is a manlike form to many Christians; God is formless to Jews and Muslims (I could rather agree with that). Christians were thrown by the ‘in His image’ bit. But God is a concept proven by the fact that everyone is touched by God, either by disagreeing with it or believing in Him, or believing in it… or not.

And God is a concept because in each religion describing God and/or giving God voice, He or She is interpreted different ways–and evolves, too.

The Hebrew god was probably the Canaanite god. That became a part of a trinity in Western Christianity. Before that, Jesus was a man who became God, a god who became man, and so on. The Muslims had a mysticism that was pagan, before Muhammad Abdullah showed up, like the people who became the “Jews”. Then, each of these religions split into denominations–all describing God differently.

The Japanese have Shonto gods (or spirits, really) in all of nature. The Koreans had Dangun and a She-bear, and as thwir Confucian Chinese neighbors, qorship thwir parents and ancestors–as do other Asian nations. The American Natives have Mother Earth, The Greeks had gods in human likeness who like the Semite gods, right into the time of Abraham, mixed with humans. The Canaanites, Egyptians, Babylonians, American Indians, Europeans, and others had fertility or female gods. The Indians have many Hindu manifestations of one god. It’s all “higher power” and it’s all God. Even Buddhists, who have no god, adopted from the Hindus, Dharma and Karma, the governing “cause and Effect” law (or “God”) of the Universe. It is a force in human consciousness, and an aspect of the human condition to see a “mana” or spirit where we cannot explain, and even where we can.

Einstein steadfastly did not believe in a personal god, but spoke of “the mysterious.” Only the fundamentalist worries about this, and is thereby injured and injures by it. All that is important is the reverence, the inquisitiveness, the struggle, the humble nature in the face of it, and how it brings us together.

Fundamentalists are the only ones who truly do not understand God. This is because these people, these poor souls, in their effort to do good and in there mortal fear and self-limited minds, don’t know three things, and they cower in fear of them:

1. The encompassing simultaneity of Honesty and its concomitant, Courage;
2. History
3. Science

The better one knows history and science, and the more one is honest, the more one sees, grows smarter, develops courage, and inspires confidence, love, intelligence, and freedom–all the things any good god wants for its people.

Spiritual people inherently build and embody these assets, or acquire them in earnest efforts to be righteous.

Unfortunately, the mentally challenged (and I don’t mean people formerly known as “retarded”, but simply those possesing cognitive barriers) and the imprisoned in ignorance by themselves or others, cannot escape the vulnerabilities that make them susceptible to fundamentalism.

In a sense, I digressed, but what I just said was important. Anyway, those who are spiritual can see God in the Dharma, Karma, El Shadai, Baal, Anat, Isis, Ishtar, Zoroaster, Zeus, Yahweh, Lao Tzu, Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, Ghandi, Darwin, Marx, Einstein, Curie, Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh… in the Earth, the Moon, the stars, the galaxies, the atoms… in love.

Only the the poor fundamentalist wants to do the opposite of the spiritual Buddhist, Zennist, Christian, Muslim, Jew or scientist–even of the Athiest… recreating god in his image, blaspheming against the mysterious and attempting to own God, and use him as an omnipotent military general as Moses did with the early to-be Jews. The later Jews civilized their god. Jesus did so more. Today we can finish the job, because we are the authors of our interpretations of the Divine–in whatever form it comes to us. The Muslims have work to do, too, because their loving religion was hijacked, too–by fundamentalists. It also has violent punitive Deuteronom-ous and Livitican overtones, still in effect.

The important thing is the community of beings and things around the idea of the mystery inherent in all God’s manifestations–as one, and if you want to pray to that, listen to that, hear the wisdom in the words of that which your tradition crafted of that, then you are of the spirit. But where it describes violence, you must know this this is the work of ego, and not divinity. Where it describes Election of one group over another, this is vanity and exceptional ism that was needed in a desperate age gone by. Where it prescribes bondage or control, this is greed and fear. And dominance over creatures different is primitive and cruelty. These are proofs of the flaws if religion, not the Divine, the Dharma, the Mysterious, or even of us.

Take the “miracles” of corporeal existence and sentience and thank the mysterious, or God, but leave the ego out of it. Why else, do you think the Hebrew and Muslim Word left God nameless and image-less?

Copyright 2015 Mando (Carl Atteniese Jr.) All rights reserved.

World Pressure to Curb Gun Laws in the US

(from my Facespook, at Carl Charles Atteniese IIOctober 2 at 8:36pm)

‪#‎WorldPressure‬ to Bear on ‪#‎US‬ ‪#‎GunPandemic‬

In light of the ongoing daily and monthly tragedies involving citizen gun ownership in the US and the vast numbers of lives they are taking, I propose world citizens of other countries pressure their governments–or take it upon themselves–say through an international petition with such organizations as‪#‎AmnestyInternational‬ or ‪#‎Avaaz‬ (as that would undoubtedly have a much higher chance of success)–to do the following:

Write the UN, asking them to do a human rights investigation into US mismanagement of its security in terms of betraying the public trust and in terms of not providing a safe place for international students and business personnel, tourists, and medical tourists who–it could be argued–have to come to the US as it is a major international economic, historical, medical-service, and educational destination of high import.

It is abundantly apparent to coherent observers, that on the whole, American citizens and their government (of which they are an integral part by representative governance)–cannot or will not remedy the gun violence issue and it grows more and more heinous and more common all the time.

It is, I believe, time to call on the world of nations to bring moral pressure on us, before this unravels the fabric of our society’s sense of peace and prosperity any further.

It doesn’t take any great expanse of intelligence to imagine the probability of another American gun massacre, such as those that took place amoung the last thirty-four in number, in which a large number of foreign nationals will die.

Furthermore, the US is highly involved in the affairs of other countries in the interests of security. Surely other countries then have the right to so involved in our affairs.

It is time for world action when a nation as internationally involved as the US is suffering a pandemic of self-unraveling proprtions such that it will soon have international consequences if it doesn’t already. I suggest the world take action, on behalf other nations, and for the restoration of this great one, as well.

Lunar Modules Are Not Like Spiders Anymore

I am officially voicing my support for asking space journalists to cease and desist from likening lunar landing craft to spiders. In the late fifties and early sixties they may have looked remotely like twisted versions of arachnids. Now, peeps, come on–they look like lunar landers. Let’s look at why: first, it’s cultural and linguistic; lunar landers have been on paper in sci-fi pulp magazines since the forties–and in blueprints & in the form of mockups since the fifties; and we had real ones from the sixties onward-which flew in space and went to the moon! Second, it’s mental: lunar landers are a real fixture of the public mind and are so unique an artifact that they have earned their place in our cognition as a source item to be likened to, instead of being an oddity to have some other thing held up to identify them. They aren’t novel, anymore–so they don’t need the help of animal similarities. Finally–thirdly and furthermore, spiders have eight legs, not four or five, are oblong, and possess a low center of gravity. They are squat, not tall and ungainly, and they have legs that protrude from low center points–not from vertical attachment spots that look like ladders. The comparison was original and helpful, once; it’s not, any more. It’s silly, illogical, misleading, and cliché.

Who’s with me?

Americans on Democracy

The greatest evidence of mass delusion, ignorance–and perhaps even simple stupidity is in the fact that the majority of the average citizens of this democratic capitalist society are not tripping over themselves, racing to demand the end of private campaign, PAC, and political party finance–which basically make us the lapdogs, human slaves, and victims of the super rich. It is also the clearest form of self-loathing and disrespect.

We may be a legal and financial oligarchy, but we still have the power of association and referendum–but we think the vote is the most important power tool in our democratic shed. It isn’t. It’s a false machine, a toy. The most powerful tool we have is our voice–in petition, assembly, and what we fund. We could literally petition the law to real change, but we allow it to stay as is it is–and as is, private campaign finance is the hand with foreign fingers in our pockets, the gun to our heads, and the knives at our backs–but we keep watching TV and staring at our phones and tablets like zombies, or mental patients with a thorazine drip in our arms, with politicians and reporters whispering lies or approximated stories in our ears, as the super rich funnel cash into their pockets and tighten their leashes. These people don’t really want things to change. And they don’t understand that this is how they could change. That’s why they won’t support publicly funded elections, political parties, and PACs; they don’t really want democracy–not really–not true democracy with totally fair and equal representation across the society….

Sometimes I wonder if privately (and unconsciously?), each middle to upper class group of citizens, each rich group; each ethnic or religious group… secretly wants the option of buying politicians–because Americans are a group of people who have become so comfortable and complacent and/or able to stand the pressures of their discomfort and conscience–because their fears and prejudices are more powerful than their honor and their courage. And I wonder whether secretly they are terrified of true democracy, because it would prevent their respective group (ethnic, religious, academic, class) from having undue influence at their disposal–in an emergency, and so they secretly fear that with true democracy they could wind up with–for example–a string of Latino, female, or black presidents, or Jewish or Chinese ones, or, whatever–and/or with socialized governance that favors the poor and middle class, rather than the rich folk they are or want be. It would mean inclusion for people they don’t desire, or a lack of favoritism toward their group.

To me, this kind of holding on to the cards, the power, the favorites–it all boils down to a lack of courage in the face of righteousness, justice, and logic about what would work in a way that leads to responsibly across the board in society. T me, this is what keeps people down. Ay way you examine it, it pares down to fear and prejudice, which depend on ignorance and lack of character.

The God of The Spiritual

The god a spiritual person talks about doesn’t have any disqualifying prejudicial, limiting, or exclusionary qualities about it. The god a religious person talks about often does.

If we look at the types of people who followed Jesus, we see they were of the spiritual nature–that is, open minded, purely in the now and free of heart, and not religious. They were prostitutes, thieves, common fishermen, tax collectors, murderers–quite different from those who merely tolerated or rejected Jesus, like members of the Roman government or the Pharises.

What is the significance of this epiphany? Well, the Pharises of today are the conservatives and fundamentalists–religious and rigid in their thinking–prejudiced and exclusionary in their actions. These people need to follow “Jesus” and the words of the Bible more or less to the letter, and are not flexible in their interpretation of the divine.

I have been gently admonished, sometimes criticized–and most egregiously–rejected in my life, for having adopted the Zen Buddhist practice, when really all I did was expand and purify my spiritual way.

The lessons I learned in knowing “God” and “Jesus”, the paternal figure and the man, as opposed to what I have done in incorporating the transcendental essence of God and Jesus: the spirits–into my heart and actions, is something the religious do not understand–because they are not spiritual, otherwise they would know the difference between the superiority of the latter, and the limitations and violence of the former.

The point is, the rhetoric is for the closed-minded, the scared, the ones who would actually have been among the Temple Pharisees condemning the man and essence of Jesus–out of mortal fear of the Roman government (of course, to be fair, they also rejected him because he was a textbook heretic according to the Hebrew law).

The freedom of transcendental understanding and divine transformation in love and anything divine is for the free themselves, who do not get caught up in the rhetoric.

Be it through Al-la, Yaweh, Yeshua, Buddha… the transformation is inside you, not in a book or in a temple or church–not in following the words to the letter (which in the theisms can be quite limiting and dangerous, anyway).

The knowledge is joyous oneness. This is “God”, if there is one. The result is love. This is the Spirit.

Violence And Religion

This Was My Reaction to ISIS Captors Saying They Could Rape Women Because ‘it Pleases God’ There have been some additions here and there to make my points more clear, understandable, compassionate, and just.

This Religion And All Religions That Justify, Accept, or Regulate Slavery, Prejudice, Heinous And Ridiculous Punishments, War, and Sacrifice–They Have to Go–or They Must be Revised. I am calling for reformations or… the disallowance of their presence in scriptural form–for the sake of safety, love, compassion, and good sense–no other reason.

Religions that justify violence are not safe, and so have no place in civilized society (and they are different from fiction and fantasy, because they are not those things in the minds of the faithful–they are factual and prescriptions for life); they are unequivocally and inherently dangerous.

People who say only crazy people resort to the old ways of these religions are being extremely short-sighted and inabstract in the least, and as unintelligent, ignorant, dangerous, and evil as those who say “guns don’t kill people” in the worst case scenario: they apparently exhibit cognitive deficiency or betray a certain gross cognitive dissonance where they don’t. Many of them are probably being disingenuous, too.

What we allow to be taught to children and elements of society finds its way into society at some time, in some way, to some degree–among the literal and fundamentalist and extreme–among the mentally ill, the cognitively challenged, and among the intellectually deficient or mediocre of mind and spirit; among the over-stressed, the disenfranchised, the angry; among the otherwise normal people who are simply made ignorant and controlled (which is what most of these fundamentalists are–people born innocent and cognitively healthy, but made insane by doctrine and its precipitant behavior); this is unacceptable and plainly stupid.

“Extreme interpretations” of religion are not so extreme, just literal; the killing they advocate is there, in the texts of Christians, Muslims, and Jews. This is no longer appropriate. If it were not there, it could not be interpreted dangerously. And saying that many societies show example of millions of people who do not interpret the scriptures violently is irrelevant; as long as the violence is there–like a gun–it will be used, and is.

Therefore, you don’t teach or allow the teaching of dangerous superstitions and the refutation of science & observable reality, nor the opposites of egalitarian compassion–and above all, you don’t make it or allow it to be called divine. It matters not what book says it’s okay. This is what separates religious works from literature; the former is holy dictum, said to be handed down from on high by the author of the universe–so if it has prescriptions or justifications of violence in it, you can’t get more pernicious than that if you incarnate Darth Vader and Hitler and remove their souls; the latter (simple literature) is mere entertainment and artful interpretation of the human condition. The former is a disaster waiting to happen under the right conditions. And history is replete with such disasters, most of which were committed by people acting in the mindset of the theisms, or in secular religious movements of the state, employing cult of personality adulation for supreme leaders. The concept of a single god, separate form humanity creates the idea of superior and inferior in people, and usually its men over women, and straight men over gays and bisexuals and the other species. If we are going to respect the existence of these religions, they must be made respectable and relevant for modern times.

People will defend religion on holy grounds, cultural grounds, and literary grounds. Violence should not be part of any modern civil culture–the violence of slavery, the violence of the subjugation of women, the violence of the murder of people who leave the faith or make clothing of the wrong materials, the violence of persecution of non-believers due to the ridicule of them, the violence of dismemberment and stoning for theft or infidelity, the violence of the out-casting of and killing of homosexuals… the violence of war against peoples’ not chosen by God, and the violence of the perpetuation of ignorance and the dissemination of visceral fear, taught to children—in whose minds the seeds of neurosis are thus planted.

In the very least—if we are not to eradicate these religions, for the sake of tradition, cultural identity, and the good parts therein, then we must either ask that they be revised, or that their texts not be allowed in civilized, egalitarian states. But then will hear that religious scripture is literature. If we don’t ban violent literature, then why ban the words of religious violence?

This defense of religion as mere literature is pale. You don’t defend something as mere literature when it is taught as coming from a deity and is used to set up societies, has the power to regulate human relations, marriage, law, and punishments—when it dictates the origin of the universe, affects peoples’ health, and determines the direction of policy. That’s politics and government and “Holy Scripture”, and so is infinitely more powerful—unjustly so.

Defending religion as literature is like saying the owner’s manual of a car is science fiction. Scripture is instructional authority from the highest agency. Allowing it to contain anti-egalitarianism, violence, slavery, and rape is the definition of foolishness if not insanity and cruelty and organized megalomania–to any thinking, honest, compassionate, and healthy human mind with a shred of self-esteem and intelligence.

Ban these words from egalitarian democratic societies and do not let people in to democratic and egalitarian societies who observe, protect, defend, or excuse them. Porn is porn; violence is violence. Stop allowing children to see it. Stop splitting hairs over culture and antiquity and that disease of the incompassionat, unthinking, and militant: ‘PC-ism’.

This dark-age poison has to go. Get rid of it from the face of the planet or for anthropological significance, relegate it to two-foot-thick glass cases in maximum-security museums, and you will only see this inane, horrifying tragedy of wasted minds and torturous immorality where it is left to rot the heart and mind–until the human souls in these places get tired of being cut off from the civilized world and they change the ways of their people–of their own accord.

See to an eradication of violent religious passages from any books in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Africa–wherever thinking, compassionate, advanced egalitarian society exists.

I guarantee that if we do this, America will also see a monumental decrease in its cold and cruel Republicanism, too.

If it’s in the religious books, it’s in the mind and in our politics. Edit it or ban the books.

How long before it happens here, AGAIN? I would bet it is happening already.

NY Times: ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape http://nyti.ms/1TucUEA

Incessant Demmands for Unaccepted Apologies

From NPR News – Japan’s Abe Notes Regret And Past Apologies In WWII Speech http://n.pr/1Ern78

I Am Supremely Discouraged by Wise Asian Nations whose leaders continue–year after year–to fan the flames of shame and pain and do not accept decade after decade after decade–a multitude of deeply remorseful annual state apologies from the Japanese.

It particularly troubles me because some of these nations have very spotty human rights records in the current era since World War II, with histories of exceptionalist foreign invasion, duplicitous hacking practices, atrocious death penalty statistics, and reputations for high levels of xenophobia, endemic societal enthnophobia, sexism, poor opportunities for the aged and poor, and rampant cultural ageism. So how can they partake in finger-wagging at Japan, especially in modern times? To me it so plainly obvious that this is opportunism at work, and spiritual decrepitude in evidence–which amounts to a representation of a very low national character, indeed.

Some of these nations are human traffickers extraordinaire, with economies dependent, in no small part, on economically entrenched prostitution while harboring a citizenry abusive to and discriminatory toward members of foreign armies who protect them from one another.

If it weren’t shameful it would be comedic, how these Asian nations pick at the apologies of Japan and they blame Japan still–nation which paid torturously for its missteps–with fire-bombing and nuclear blasts that maimed, poisoned, and killed hundreds of thousands–if not millions; then Japan resurrected itself into one of the world’s most kind, civilized, and peaceful philanthropic nations.

To me, one who called Asia over an eighteen year period his home, two times and for fifteen total years, this has more to do with the national characters of the nations in question; I found it very difficult, for example–in Korea–to observe both sincere apologies and sincere forgiveness among those otherwise sweet people, and I found it came after long periods of cold, if at all. It was very consistently curious–but this, is not. It seems indicative to me.

For shame, North Asian Mainland and peninsula–for shame. Put an end to this and clean up your own houses. This behavior is beneath your greatness and kindness and subtracting from your world image, national potentials, and priorities. You are only hurting yourselves, making enemies of people who have come to love the Japanese fiercely, and damaging future relations with them and their friends–of which I am one.

Art’s Not Dead And Comedy is Its Heir

Whoever said art was dead had no god, no special powers, and no crystal ball–nor did he have an over-reaching intellect, because he could not foresee the future we live in now, where comedy has become the most relevant and powerful art form–more so than Hollywood or even Indie films, which cannot be said to be commenting on and affecting the body politic as effectively and in such a real-time fashion–more powerfully than any other form of creative expression.

Comedy, today, communicates and moves large numbers of the citizenry to political change by informing them without mincing words and worrying about some business or abstract and arcane dualistic agenda; comedians tell it like it is and are generally not bought off by corporations. They may have to tailor their message to a degree in order to conform to FCC regulations, but for the most part–with the advent of cable and online broadcasting–comedians can say virtually say whatever they wish.

Comedy, today, therefore is hyper-relevant–and not only happening only in expensive galleries and old museums–for profit and antiquity, fashion, or for mere entertainment; yes, comedy is born in talent, skill, and vison and it is expressed through a practiced craft (a collection of crafts, actually and multi-tasking observational and psychological, and journalistic skills), but comedy is not intended only for our amusement–though it amuses us wonderfully.

Comedy, today, is not shallow, as many other art forms are relegated to being minus a cultivated intellectual culture; it’s not simple decoration or intended for self-aggrandizing display; it’s certainly not for private journalistic creation in diary form. It is for the general public. It may be commercial, but it is above all, pure. In fact, it is my contention that comedy is the last refuge of free speech. It does not fall victim to over-liberalized or lying conservative political correctness, a force that is going down in history as possessing a greater dumbing-down effect on our society than that of prime-time television.

Indeed, comedians are at the forefront of the battle against PC militancy, saving intellectual discourse and nuance in communication.

Comedy is an art form that is a breathing social force built on truth, observation, and monologue that inspires dialog and thought about everything affecting individuals and society–everything that effects our nation–like Picaso’s Guernica affected the world or as agit prop in both the West and in the former Soviet & present Chinese and North Korean religious states of communism did and do–only, in American comedy, comedians are not lying.

This author is no communist, but permit me to use some terms that will show how powerful comedy has become, in order to make a point. Comedy has developed into a better source of inform-ation, news and social outreach on politics, big business, the environment, the growing police state, and foreign exceptionalism than our free press. In this way it has become a pillar of the movement of the masses and the proletariat (the poor, working, and middle classes)–against the evil, encroaching, careless, and destructive forces of capitalism that we have allowed through pathetic campaign finance laws to run our country and destroy equal representation, sensible banking, energy, environment, education, health, trade, and gun-control policy—as well as governance regulating the military industrial complex and foreign policy. Marx and Engels never saw this coming–nor did Ayn Rand–thank the Gods of Greece!

Comedy, in our era, is so powerful that governments around the world restrict its craftsmen, and comedy has answered the call of Jefferson, replacing–to some degree, journalism–as a necessary foundation requisite to the maintenance of democracy.

The reach of political comedy in our times (with a requisite nod to the internet and technology) is so effective, that very un-funny people have been all but forced to defend themselves against its penetration into their hypocrisy–such as we saw with George HW Bush and “W”, and as we observe regarding Fox News, today–to name only three examples.

Who was it that said art was dead? Was it Nietzsche? Well, let’s not go to hard on him. He was original, caring about his times, and creatively expressive & insightful. Actually, he had said God is dead. Well, maybe for him–and for those that abuse the gods, today.

Marcel Duchamp is actually the one that “Art is dead” is attributed to (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Duchamp), but he and Nietzsche lived in a time when men like today’s Republicans, some Democrats, and many businessmen & despots were actually in control. In contrast, and proving art is not dead, we live in a time when men like George Carlin, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Jon Oliver, Jon Stewart, and–to some extent–Jim Jeffries, Louie CK, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and even Rachel Madow, are showing with humor whom the would-be emperors are and why they have no clothes–and they are shining a spotlight on those who prove goodness is certainly alive as well as in politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Art is very much alive, and has a punch line; the joke’s on the bad guys.

About “Kaaru No Eh”

“Kaaru-no-Eh” means “Carl’s Pictures” in Japanese. with this name I amuse myself, and I pay homage  the Ukiyo-e print masters of seventeenth and eighteenth century Japan because of their gorgeous and original way with picture making.

In the future I will feature an article here on Ukiyo-e and perhaps a video–as well as sample images of the traditional Japanese art-form.

What Kind of Name is That?

MandoThat’s what my mother said that my father asked her–about my new name. I know that to many people it may seem pretentious to change one’s name. People like Prince and The Edge do it. And actors do it. Did you know that Japanese woodblock masters did it? It was done to protect one’s family name, among other reasons. Hokusai, I think, had something like thirty names. However, long before I received this name, I had thought it appropriate for a thoughtful person to change his or her name–to better suit how he or she sees him or herself. After all, my father did, too!

This is my Dharma name. It’s pronounced “Mahndoe” and written M-a-n-d-o. In Korean ‘Man-do’ literally means Ten-thousand Ways, with ‘Man’ (pronounced “mahn”) meaning ‘ten-thousand’, or ‘many’, and ‘Do’ (pronounced ‘doe’) meaning ‘way’ (which can also be written and pronounced “Gil”)–but as Man-do (the way it should be transliterated from Korean) was transmitted to me by my teacher, it was conveyed to mean ‘Many Paths of Change’.

The name in Chinese is “Wan Tao”, meaning basically the same thing (Ten Thousand Ways).

Please look at the red pictographs on above. The Swastika (on top), is Sanskrit, and means, ‘Luck and Well-being.’ This symbol is under the eaves on all Buddhist temples in Korea. The second character–on the bottom–is “Doe”. In Chinese, it is ‘Tao”, as in the Tao Te Ching’, or ‘Way of Virtue’ (the name of the collection of philosophical poems attributed to Lao Tzu). Two of my Dharma Brothers–who took their precepts the same day as I–have this word, “way”, in their Dharma names. There is Cheon Do (Way of Heaven) and Gil Do Way of Ways. My other Dharma Brother’s name is Seog Chon, meaning Upright Stone.

In Japanese, this name is “Manji no Michi”, or literally, Manji Michi, and the meaning is the same as described above.

A Dharma name is a name given to a Buddhist practitioner. The Dharma is the law of the Universe–in other words, the natural order of things. The Dharma also is the teaching of The Buddha (the [most]  enlightened one). Buddha, whose real name was Siddhartha Gautama is a real historical figure who meditated until he realized the way of the Middle Path as the means to less suffering and enlightenment. This path is way of living based on a detailed methodology and the notion that all is in our minds.

The assumption should not be made that says a Buddhist practitioner believes this or that, thought there are some basic notions. Buddhism to some is a religion. To me it is a practice (to some that’s the same thing, but you will accept my meaning that a religion these days generally means a belief system requiring faith in unproven things). Some would say Buddhism is my religion, but it is not–not in the traditional, modern-day meaning of ‘religion’.

To me, Buddhism–and specifically Zen Buddhism–is a humble, honest, moral practice and a way of looking at the universe that says ‘all is one’, and suffering is in the mind and caused by the mind. The practice part of Buddhism involves meditation and a moral path of inflicting as little harm as possible. It also says that we must accept reality for what it is, not what we or some doctrine wants it to be. For me this is perfect, because I feel a religion of philosophy is only as good as far as it abides by reality and does not attempt to recast it in some self-serving image. A good religion or philosophy also must not preach punishment or pain–only benevolence. To do otherwise is politics.

Buddhism is a non-dogmatic way of looking at the universe, focusing on what is perceived and it is focused on Right Mind, Right Action, Right Thought, and Right Speech. Some other reasons I chose this practice: I was enamored with the peaceful, revalatory, and epiphanal ways of meditation. The more I read about it, the more I learned that this way of being was more honest and pacifying–spiritually, scientifically, and socially–than anything I had heard of or witnessed. For Christians who feel this is bad, I suggest they look into it, and if they cannot part with their religions but still like Buddhist philosophy and practice, they can become Zen Christians, because the practice of Zen conflicts with nothing; there is no worship in it and it brings peace like nothing else. However, it is true the Buddha suggested his followers not to depend on a god or gods, but rather on ourselves.

Of course if one attempts to practice Zen she or he will be relieved of most–if not all–illusions and delusions, so that following religions based on faith in stories that have no proof will actually become impossible, moreover, the Buddha said not to put faith in any gods, but he also told people not to follow what he said outright–and rather to investigate things for themselves.

Each of us creates his or own moral universe, so one could take the meditation of Zen and leave the Buddhist elements of wisdom out of it if one wishes. In fact, I think if more theists were at the same time Zennists, too–if they were Zen Christians, Zen Muslims, and Zen Jews–they would find much more peace–and consequently, they would make life more peaceful for everyone else.

Guns Do Kill People

A poster on Instagram defended guns with a double-image picture of a woman being abused in its first frame, and in the second, that same woman is defending herself with a pistol. The caption read “This prevents this.” I commented that the scenario depicted in the second image causes the scenario in the first, remarking that it is a chicken and egg situation. The person who had posted the picture said people can be killed with knives and that there is a difference between giving guns to children and arming responsible adults.

What I Wrote in Response:

What I said still stands as a reflection of the evidence and as a monumentally flawed and solution-less answer to the problematic questions of conflict, ethnic and political tensions, domestic disputes, religious intolerance, hunger, poverty, illness, and crime–exacerbating violence in the US.

Guns do kill people, in enormous numbers–and it is because people have them that they can kill (it is also because they empower us and inspire us in unnatural and almost narcotic ways; see my article: “What’s Wrong with Guns in America”).

If the guns were harder to come by, so would be the damage they inflict. If guns were difficult or impossible to obtain, people wanting to do harm would have to confront one another at close range, giving a greater opportunity for human contact, interaction, conflict resolution, even a chance at surviving through defense and escape; most murderous interactions might not even happen. Stabbing someone is too intimate and yields a greater possibility for failure, getting caught, and self-reflection.

Saying ‘people will get guns anyway’ doesn’t change the fact that their violence would be voluminously reduced if their acquisition were non-ubiquitous; it would be harder to get them, so fewer people would have them—therefore, their use would decrease exponentially. In addition, there would be a greater stigma attached to them, a greater need for concealment, and thus the greater possibility of perpetrators with guns being caught in suspicious behavior.

It is clinically insane that one can carry around a device in society that can render another miracle of thought, feeling, and life (a human being) inert. I lived in Korea fifteen years. I never heard of one murder by gun, there–because there are virtually no privately-owned guns in South Korea. Some Russian gangsters were rumored to have them. Gangsters kill gangsters. The police basically didn’t even have guns the first ten years I was there. Would you like to know why? The people didn’t have them. So, there was no need for the police to have them.

The kindergarten example I’ve written of is the best example, I can think of for illustrating the fundamental nature of the problem: if a boy has no gun, he has to get up the nerve to come close to you and hit you and spend a lot of time being intimate with you to beat you up. If he has a gun, he can kill you by mistake or intention, but both require only an action akin to pressing a button. It is perfect for success by error or insanity: virtually no skill is required. This is why guns are the weapons of choice among cowards and sociopaths; these personalities are indifferent to people and afraid of intimacy.

Perhaps the most sense offered on the gun problem in America is offered by resident Australian comedian, Jim Jeffries, who are points out the only reason Americans have guns is, ‘they like them.’

He says it’s not an issue of self-defense or home security: ‘You can’t go and retrieve your safely-stored gun to fight an intruder in your house. What are you going to say—dazed, and in your underwear, tripping out of bed—‘Wait, I’ll be right back’? Then you would go to your combination safe, unlock it, and assemble the gun or turn off the safety in the dark.’ It’s all nonsense. Sure it can be done, but with great difficulty. Jeffries then goes on to say that ‘in order for a gun to be useful in one’s defense, you have to keep it loaded and available.’ These are the guns killing people; ‘a person is seventy percent more likely to be injured by gun if he has one in his house.’

All the statistics (statistics are reflections of real life in numbers) show that where there are guns, there are more extremely violent crimes. It’s logical and sensical because it is natural, probable, and true. Guns are for crazy people, and so that’s why crazy people have the advantage, be they temporarily crazy or permanently—whether they are soldiers, police officers, criminals, or right-wingers—and the crazy people are the ones supplying children with guns—by mistake or on purpose—because, Dr. Poindexter, they are crazy. Now, who’s crazier; the crazy people, or the people following them?