Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Breakdown of Constitutional Government in the US

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the signs of the breakdown of constitutional government and how it links?

CHALMERS JOHNSON: Well, yes. Militarism is the -- what the social side has called the “intervening variable,” the causative connection. That is to say, to maintain an empire requires a very large standing army, huge expenditures on arms that leads to a military-industrial complex, and generally speaking, a vicious cycle sets up of interests that lead to perpetual series of wars.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

On the Overvaluation of Teamwork

work done by a number of associates with usually each doing a clearly defined portion but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole.
Teamwork is a failed paradigm. Too much emphasis is given to Teamwork at the expense of individual effort. This is simply another way of obviating personal responsibility in America's drive toward mediocrity.

No one is more important than the individual. Individuals make accomplishments. Although at times these accomplishments are made in a team setting, the team is most often contrived. When I expound my perspective on teams with my colleagues, two examples are prevalent: sports and symphonies. However, each of these metaphors can be taken to boldly underscore the significance of individual contribution as determined by rôle rather than the accomplishment of a team. If each member performs his own rôle efficiently, the objective of the team will be realised. Anything less is disingenuous, as it requires others to take up the slack. There is no reason to subordinate to the group. As C G Jung said (roughly) "Those things valued by Society results in the diminution of personality of the individual."

Professional baseball supports my argument perfectly. In baseball teamwork is heralded. Take for example the bunt or the sacrifice fly. That is the epitome of sacrificing oneself for the team. But this stance is specious. For the rôle of the individual at that juncture is to sacrifice. Once the goal of the individual is recognized and defined, we are no longer bound to describing this as teamwork. Even scoring takes into account the nature of the sacrifice so as to note its importance. The bottom line is that if an individual player fails to reach a certain goal or perform at a certain level; he will no longer be a member of the team. We should take more examples from the arena of sports. There is a lot less unproductive dead wood abound in professional sports, though we might all have notable exceptions to this assertion.

With the departure of Michael Jordan from the National Basketball Association, we have lost another prime individual. Not many ever accused Jordan of being a team player, and nobody made any excuses. Universally, he was the go to guy. It was generally accepted, and the only price the team had to pay was a string of championship rings. If individuals on other teams could have risen to the individual challenge posed by Jordan, the rings might have been placed on different fingers.

Is the symphony the consummate Team? Is the interdependence upon each other paramount in order to produce a Masterwork? Does the reliance on the conductor to manage the orchestral team subjugate the individual performers? No. Yet again this is a red herring. Each player has a rôle to play. Individuals playing these rôles in concert produce a harmonic euphony. It takes but one individual to reduce this to cacophony. The first violinist has a part, as does the second. The conductor participates in giving direction. This is a management rôle. None can afford not to play under the assumption that someone else will compensate for him. This is a train of thought that is allowed to pervade corporate settings from coast to coast and to the world beyond.

It does not follow that a student and a teacher are a team. The are two individuals. While it might be argued that the teacher might by altruistic (subordinating his individuality to the so-called team), the student is focused on a personal selfish quest. Therefore, this does not fit the definition of the team. Moreover, professional teachers are paid to teach. In this instance it is the rôle of a teacher to teach.

While symbiosis is a team concept with merit, it is still contingent upon the efforts of each individual in the relationship. And while synergy can exist at certain levels, this is more of a Holy Grail than is practical to expect at all levels. Moreover, interpersonal synergies cannot be imposed. These will manifest and extirpate with the vicissitudes time.

In the end it should not be incumbent upon the team to support weaker members of the Team. It should, however, be incumbent on the team members to rise to a certain level of attainment. While thing such as learning curves exists, these should be understood and defined at the onset. In the absence of real goals or systems of measure, inefficient working models will continue to propagate and infiltrate our corporate structures. We need to again understand that there is no one as important as the individual. Grasping this concept wholeheartedly will ensure a more competitive and productive workforce as we move into the second millennium.

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Karma and the Unconscious

I, as others, have struggled with the concepts of theism versus atheism. Along most of the way, I had simply opted to call myself agnostic. Now, I consider myself an atheist and a Buddhist, which I have attempted to reconcile through the years.

A few years ago in conversation with a friend, who happens to be a Scientologist, the topic turned to karma. Scientologists, he informed me, are also atheists, and they do not believe in the concept of karma. After all, he argued, who would be the scorekeeper? Since God is an archetypal concept and archetypes do not keep score, who could it be, I wondered?

Einstein said, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Within the Buddhist concept of samsara, life as we perceive it is an illusion. Within samsara, there are various levels, containing, among other things, humans, animals, gods, and demigods. Outside of samsara, it is empty. So, karma exists within samsara, but who is the scorekeeper?

Then the thought came to me: karma can exist independently from a scorekeeper, per se. The scorekeeper is simply the unconscious. Of course, the unconscious comes in two flavours: personal and collective. What this means is when a person commits an act, good or bad, the unconscious registers the act. Moreover, the collective unconscious registers this act, too. In the true existential sense, we are in full control of our own karma. This is captured in the common expressions: "what goes around comes around" and "we reap what we sow."

Since most people are vastly unaware of their unconscious, it controls them and is perceived as karma. Enlightenment, then, is simply another term for Individuation. Once enlightened, a person becomes fully conscious, seeing and understanding the contents of the unconscious. Karma no longer affects this person, as the integrity of nature in all of its forms is fully realised.

"If we observe unconscious processes, we see that wrong deeds do not have to be avenged by other human beings, for they are punished from within. The murderer ultimately kills himself. This is the terrible truth repeatedly confirmed. Frequently one is shocked by the injustice of human life, but, psychologically, this is not true and it sometimes makes one shudder to realise what people risk. They may succeed in the outer world, but they incur terrible psychological punishment." 1

The problem is that the Self can never be fully integrated. As Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle roughly states: As soon as one notices phenomena, uncertainties remain because of the act of observation.

When we must deal with problems, we instinctively refuse to try the way that leads through darkness and obscurity. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness. But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer. (Jung)

Like the West, Tibetan Buddhism considers the mind to have two constituents: sem, the ordinary mind, and Rigpa, a primordial, pure, pristine awareness that is at once intelligent, cognisant, radiant, and always awake. 2 These aspects relate well to the unconscious and conscious mind, respectively.

"The masters tell us that there is an aspect of our minds that is its fundamental basis, a state called 'the ground of the ordinary mind.' Longchenpa, the outstanding fourteenth century Tibetan master, describe it this way: It is unenlightenment and a neutral state, which belongs to the category of the mind and mental events, and it has become the foundation of all karmas and traces of 'samsara' and nirvana." It functions like a storehouse, in which the imprints of our past actions caused by our negative emotions are all stored like seeds. When the conditions are right, they germinate and manifest as circumstances and situations in our lives.

"Imagine this ground of the ordinary mind as being like a bank in which karma is deposited as imprints and habitual tendencies. If we have a habit of thinking in a particular pattern, positive or negative, then these tendencies will be triggered and provoked very easily, and recur and go on recurring. With constant repetition our inclinations become steadily more entrenched, and go on continuing, increasing and gathering power, even when we sleep." 3

1. Marie-Louise Von Franz, Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales, Revised Edition, Shambala Publications: 1995, p. 49.
2. Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying (February 1994 twelfth printing), Harper Collins: Chapter 4, p. 46-48.
3. Ibid. Chapter 8, p. 111.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Obligate Siblicide

What is obligate siblicide?
Obligate siblicide is a natural tendency of some species to kill a sibling—either directly or by ignoring. Some species, like the Blue-footed Booby, have been documented to engage in this sort of behaviour. It is purported to be a mechanism of survival of the survivor.

Do Humans Engage in Obligate Siblicide?
Biblically, this form of siblicide is demonstrated in the Cain and Able story. This is obviously and tautologically siblicide, but is it obligate siblicide? This is open to debate, but a more insidious manifestation arrives in a form of psychological obligate siblicide.

What Is Psychological Obligate Siblicide?
When I use the phrase psychological obligate siblicide, I mean where this does not involve physical killing, rather it envokes feelings of this in the "victim"—the black sheep, the outcast.

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sacred Words

A linguist and etymologist, I am not. However, my interest in these areas is strong. This morning I was reflecting on certain common words with sacred origins.

Enthusiasm: (Greek: enthousiasmos) — This originally meant "to be possessed by God."

Sacrifice: (Latin: sacrificium)
— This means "to make sacred."

Ecstasy: (Greek: existimi: έκστασις) — This means "to be outside oneself."

Standard Fare
Catholic: (Latin) — Universal


Children of Lesser Gods

To Be Continued...

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OK. I am not new to blogging. I have had several over the years...including this one, but I have yet to find a blogging application I preferred. I have a couple at Yahoo! 360, one at My Space, and a couple of this type. I am going to make an attempt at maintaining only one, but since people are familiar with other extant sites, there may be a migration path. Not having copious amounts of time, I make no claims as to the content or frequency of postings.