Category Archives: compassion

Judging U.S. War Crimes – a reblog

Judging U.S. War Crimes

Chelsea Manning, who bravely exposed atrocities committed by the U.S. military, is again imprisoned in a U.S. jail. On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019, she was incarcerated in the Alexandria, VA federal detention center for refusing to testify in front of a secretive Grand Jury. Her imprisonment can extend through the term of the Grand Jury, possibly 18 months, and the U.S. courts could allow formation of future Grand Juries, potentially jailing her again.

Chelsea Manning has already paid an extraordinarily high price for educating the U.S. public about atrocities committed in the wars of choice the U.S. waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chelsea Manning was a U.S. Army soldier and former U.S. intelligence analyst. She already testified, in court, how she downloaded and disseminated government documents revealing classified information she believed represented possible war crimes. In 2013, she was convicted by court martial and sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking government documents to Wikileaks. On January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted her sentence. In May of 2017, she was released from military prison having served seven years.

“Where you stand determines what you see.” Chelsea Manning, by virtue of her past work as an analyst with the U.S. military, carefully studied footage of what could only be described as atrocities against human beings. She saw civilians killed, on her screen, and conscience didn’t allow her to ignore what she witnessed, to more or less change the channel. One scene of carnage occurred on July 12, 2007, in Iraq. Chelsea Manning made available to the world the black and white grainy footage and audio content which depicted a U.S. helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians. Twelve people were killed, including two Reuters journalists.

What follows is part of the dialogue from the classified US military video footage from July 12th:

US SOLDIER 1: Alright, firing.

US SOLDIER 4: Let me know when you’ve got them.

US SOLDIER 2: Let’s shoot. Light ’em all up.

US SOLDIER 1: Come on, fire!

US SOLDIER 2: Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’.

US SOLDIER 2: Alright, we just engaged all eight individuals.

Amy Goodman described the next portion of the video:

AMY GOODMAN: Minutes later, the video shows US forces watching as a van pulls up to evacuate the wounded. They again open fire, killing several more people, wounding two children inside the van.

US SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse. We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly picking up bodies and weapons.

US SOLDIER 1: Let me engage. Can I shoot?

US SOLDIER 2: Roger. Break. Crazy Horse one-eight, request permission to engage.

US SOLDIER 3: Picking up the wounded?

US SOLDIER 1: Yeah, we’re trying to get permission to engage. Come on, let us shoot!

US SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.

US SOLDIER 1: They’re taking him.

US SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.

US SOLDIER 4: This is Bushmaster seven, go ahead.

US SOLDIER 2: Roger. We have a black SUV —- or Bongo truck picking up the bodies. Request permission to engage.

US SOLDIER 4: Bushmaster seven, roger. This is Bushmaster seven, roger. Engage.

US SOLDIER 2: One-eight, engage. Clear.

US SOLDIER 1: Come on!

US SOLDIER 2: Clear. Clear.

US SOLDIER 1: We’re engaging.

US SOLDIER 3: I got ’em.

US SOLDIER 2: Should have a van in the middle of the road with about twelve to fifteen bodies.

US SOLDIER 1: Oh yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield! Ha!

Democracy Now, in the same segment, asked former U.S. whistleblower Dan Ellsberg for comments about releasing the video. “What were the criteria,” Ellsberg asked, “that led to denying this to the public? And how do they stand up when we actually see the results? Is anybody going to be held accountable for wrongly withholding evidence of war crimes in this case…?”

Chelsea Manning’s disclosures also led to public awareness of the Granai massacrein Afghanistan. On May 4, 2009, Taliban forces attacked U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan’s Farah province. The U.S. military called for U.S. airstrikes on buildings in the village of Granai. A U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber was used to drop 2,000 lb. and 500 lb. bombs, killing an estimated 86 to 147 women and children. The U.S. Air Force has videotape of the Granai massacre. Ellsberg called for President Obama to post the videotape rather than wait to see if Wikileaks would release it. To this day, the video hasn’t been released. Apparently, a disgruntled Wikileaks employee destroyed the footage.

Were it not for Chelsea Manning’s courageous disclosures, certain U.S. military atrocities might have been kept secret. Her revelations were also key to exposing U.S. approval of the 2009 coup against the elected government in Honduras and U.S. dealings with dictators and oligarchs across the Middle East, which helped spark the Arab Spring rebellions.

Prior to her arrest in 2010, Chelsea Manning wrote: “I want people to see the truth, regardless of who they are. Because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

Chelsea Manning’s principled and courageous actions provide guidance for us to control our fears. We must seek an end to war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas where the U.S. terrifies and kills civilians.

More articles by:

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org 

March 11, 2019
Kathy Kelly

Judging U.S. War Crimes
Nick Pemberton

Killing a Mockingbird
M. G. Piety

On Biblical Inerrancy: Some Reflections for United Methodists and Other “Christians”
Evaggelos Vallianatos

Robots in the Vast Memory Palace of Myth
George Ochenski

Dying to Make a Living: the Shame of Industrial Mortality
Louisa Willcox

Action Jackson: Of Poachers, Grizzlies and Coexistence
David Schwartzman – Quincy Saul

The Path to Climate Justice Passes Through Caracas
Norman Solomon

Biden on the Relaunch Pad: He’s Worse Than You Thought
Martha Rosenberg

The Downside of the World’s Love Affair with Shrimp
Dean Baker

What’s Behind the Weak February Jobs Report
Ralph Nader

Who will Displace the Omniciders?
Laura Flanders

Making American Journalism Great and Different
Thomas Knapp

Don’t Panic: The Retail Apocalypse Isn’t Disaster, It’s Progress
Elliot Sperber

Dragonfly or Drone
Weekend Edition
March 08, 2019
Friday – Sunday
Andrew Levine

Border Security: What and Who is it Good For?
Paul Street

As the World Burns: Hurtling Towards an Unlivable Planet
Rob Urie

Gender, Class and Capitalism
Jeffrey St. Clair

Roaming Charges: Flag Humpers
Charles Pierson

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the Bomb
Sudip Bhattacharya

Capitalism and the Reactionary Power of White Identity Politics
David Rosen

“Deaths of Despair”: Trump and the White Working Class
Joseph Natoli

No Strategies to Erase Damage Already Done
Nicolas J S Davies

The Conflict of Our Time: U.S. Imperialism vs the Rule of Law
Kenn Orphan

The Blindness of Empire
Jeff Mackler

U.S. Gears Up for War on Venezuela
Sarah Gertler

Criticizing Israel isn’t Anti-Semitic, Here’s What Is
John Feffer

The Trump/Kim Bromance: It’s Gross, But Let’s Hope It Leads to a Third Date
Nino Pagliccia

Washington’s Escalation for Venezuela’s Oil
Brian Cloughley

Trump Moves the World Closer to Wars
Rev. William Alberts

Biblically-Legitimized Imperialism
Ron Jacobs

Hijack the Starship, Major Tom
Sam Husseini

Ilhan Omar’s Choice
Binoy Kampmark

Militarised Conservation: Paramilitary Rangers and the WWF
John W. Whitehead

Forced Blood Draws & Implied Consent Laws Make a Mockery of the Fourth Amendment
Manuel E. Yepe

Venezuela Wins Round One Against the Empire
Karla Molinar-Arvizo

Worse Than a Wall
Seth Sandronsky

Police Violence and a Safe Black Space
Dean Baker

Medicare for All is Doable and Most Americans Want It
Chris Zinda

Realtime Training for the Cascadia Megaquake
David Swanson

Has NATO Met Its Match?
Raouf Halaby

The Whoes Hectoring Ilhan Omar
Neve Gordon

The Witch Hunt at Westminster
Jérôme Duval

The “Hirak” Movement in Algeria Against Bouteflika’s “Mandate of Shame”
Olivia Alperstein

A Modest Proposal: Don’t Start a Nuclear War
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

Our Preoccupation with the Presidency is Killing the Planet

Traveling in Space, an Essay

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

Quote: “To travel in space you must leave the old verbal garbage behind: God talk, country talk, mother talk, love talk, party talk. You must learn to exist with no religion, no country, no allies. You must learn to live alone in silence. Anyone who prays in space is not there.” — William S. Burroughs

Perhaps one of the hardest “lessons” for the Avatar to learn is to proceed as if one were utterly alone in space; in the universe; in the Cosmos. To cut off all ties with all the known, to refuse any thought of neediness. To realize and accept how absolutely necessary it is to never open one’s thoughts to, or ever utter a single word of, any sort of prayer.

That is what it means, primarily, for me to be self empowered. Of course the argument immediately turns to the fact that my life is circumscribed by all the things needed to make that life possible. Yes, those things are there indeed. But the Avatar knows that they are not there to make her life possible, but to surround her with chains and to eat her flesh, then her mind. That is what it means to live in a predatory system.

That does not invalidate the earlier claim that I must not allow a word or thought to express neediness. That is done by refusing to enter any debate, support for, or defense of, any system purporting to be “for” me. To believe that a religious, state or financial system is there for me is akin to the steer milling about in the loafing barn believing that the agri-business that owns it is there for its survival and long life. An Avatar must be a bit smarter than that. To know how the System operates and what it uses as fuel is certainly the beginning of wisdom.

I am free to discuss with anyone the state of the economy, or regime changes and resource wars; to commiserate over on-going genocides and people’s fears over their particular nation’s political trends or the death of a friend or happiness over a planned trip or wedding or birth of a child. In all of that I must remember that I am no longer a part of it; that whether it impacts large numbers or one individual it does not affect me in “that” way. I must remember to remain emotionally detached from these issues with the understanding that if it turn out to be a problem, when it approaches me; comes home to roost, I am expendable in the next step: providing what help I can muster for the losers, victims and survivors.

There is much (deliberately infused) misunderstanding about detachment. It is usually understood as a state of not caring. In fact it is the opposite: only a detached and self empowered individual can truly help another. When I approach someone in a detached state I am pure giving; the needy predator within is effectively shut-out. In a detached state I can see a need and know what has to happen to alleviate it. I know what my personal resources are and how best to apply them to the situation. Having learned not to express neediness, any other-than-myself “help” avenue is closed off. I take full responsibility for whatever I am about to commit myself to doing. For the Avatar that can translate as giving up everything, including one’s life. So be it because at that point it’s all about me, and I am in control of my own life.

Giving up one’s life in service of others: is that such a big deal? In a crisis where so many are losing out; where many poor are literally dying on the streets of the richest countries and richest cities, is it “extraordinary” for an individual to participate fully in becoming part of the downfall? The Avatar’s question is, why should my life be worth more, or be more precious to me, than his, hers, theirs’? People in general tend to talk up a good game about love. Everybody except me seems to be in love with love. But what does that translate as, when push comes to shove?

I’m sure if I lived in a theater of war and attendant atrocity I would see real examples of love expressed courageously by many. But as always, I would know that such examples, such efforts, are not usually motivated by a changed and permanent mindset but rather by circumstances. That’s the problem with love: it is dependent, weak, transient and exclusive.

The self empowered, detached, responsible Avatar eschews love as a too uncertain an emotion. To live as if one were already dead so as to function fearlessly the Avatar requires something much more reliable than an emotion. Enter compassion.

Again, as with detachment, there is much misunderstanding about the concept of compassion. Generally it is considered to be just one of a list of ‘virtues’ a person should exhibit, such as decency, love, caring, kindness, patience. Certainly nothing wrong with expressing such but honestly they have little holding power. A change of circumstance can drastically alter the response. This I have seen.

Compassion is never circumstance-dependent because it is entered into by self empowered personal choice. It is a personal commitment to a way of life and it is inclusive. It may well be what the Buddha had in mind before his teachings were hijacked into a religious enterprise, before it became “Buddhism” which, like any religious enterprise, possesses no power to change anyone’s mind. Compassion, before it can be claimed by anyone, must become the purpose of one’s entire life with the ultimate goal of the individual becoming pure compassion, however many aeons of time that may encompass.

To be compassionate is traveling in one’s own space, living alone in the silence of one’s sacred self-awareness, able to filter out the shallow and ever present ocean of socially-induced noise.

A Sisters’ Conversation

 a short story  by  Sha’Tara

Well hi Diane. Haven’t seen you in ages.

I was actually looking for you. Let me buy you lunch. I really need to talk to you Elise.

Yeah? What about?

First off, the family is worried about you.

Worried about me? Why?

They worry about your lifestyle, living alone and well, quite free-wheeling if you get my drift.

It’s how I live my life, how I like to live it. Simple, uncomplicated, nobody really to worry about and it’s nobody’s business but mine.  Years ago I figured that “the family” and associated friends were actually my jailers so I broke out of jail.

Well thanks for that. Do you have to live alone?

I do, but I am not actually alone. I have those friends of mine in my head. They don’t try to control my life and don’t ask for much, just a bit of time now and then you know, to touch base.

Touch base? How?

They talk to me; what other “how” is there?

You hear voices in your head?

Of course, don’t you?

I don’t have entities in my head telling me how to live my life, no!

Are you sure about that? No one, ever, insisting you pick up a tabloid at the supermarket checkout, which you do to find out later there is an article in it you’d been dying to read?

That isn’t someone talking to me, that’s me making a personal decision!

Would you say the same thing if you’d been with a friend and she’d suggested you buy the magazine because it has something in it the two of you had been talking about and you could read about it?

That’s totally different. You’re talking about someone real, someone standing right beside me.

So someone standing beside you is more real to you than someone inside your own head?

Of course. She wouldn’t be an imaginary friend as would be someone in my head.

This is interesting. You would find someone separate from you speaking to you audibly in actual words more real than another living right inside your head speaking to you directly without the use of words?

I don’t have imaginary friends.

Let me try something here. You are seven months pregnant and you meet your friend, say her name is Rosa, pushing a baby carriage with her six month old baby boy in it. Is her baby more real to you than your own whom you are carrying within you?

That is a really stupid comparison. I know my baby is real, I can feel it; I can see how he’s changing my body as he develops.

But someone inside you who does not take up space; doesn’t demand energy from you and doesn’t need to be seen, can’t be real because of that?

Look, this is ridiculous. The only person in my head is me. There is no one else there.

So you do admit there is someone in your head?

Yes, me. I talk to myself and that’s perfectly normal. Everybody does that sort of inner dialogue.

Why do you do it if the ‘you’ whom you are engaging in your head is purely imaginary, i.e., non-existent?  Why would you or anyone knowingly engage a conversation with no one and if no one answers why do you listen? What are you expecting from the exchange?

Nothing, it’s just what people do.

If you do something, should it not serve some purpose?

I’m not going to dignify this topic any further. I actually wanted to ask if you’d come to Danny’s birthday party this Saturday?

Danny? Who’s Danny?

My son!  Your nephew! It’s his sixteenth birthday, do you think you can make the effort?

Sure. Still in the duplex on Alexander?

My God you’re hopeless! When Graham got his promotion we moved out of that dump. We’ve been living on Mount Thom for two years now. I’ll text you the address.

You have my cell number, Diane?

Yes, got it from Gram. You gave it to her when you did the home care for her through her hip replacement.

Gram? Oh you mean mom. Yeah, of course, it’s what the grandkids call her I suppose.

I should have called you but thanks for doing that for her, I couldn’t have done it with the redecorating and Danny’s sports – I’ve been run off my feet, literally.

Don’t sweat it, I’ve done it for lots of people.

Like it doesn’t make any difference to you that it’s mom we’re talking about?

People need my help, they need my help, why should it matter to me who they are?

If you weren’t my sister Elise, I think I would hate you.

Don’t be jealous of my freedom, Diane. You exercised your own brand when you chose redecorating and your son’s sports over your mom’s convalescing needs. See you Saturday.

Yeah.  

 

 

 

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #20

[begin blog post #20]

Chapter 10 – Deirdre of the Sorrows

The heroine of a tragic Irish legend. Deirdre, the betrothed of the king of Ulster, eloped with one of the three sons of Uisneach. All three sons were slain by the king and his henchmen while Deirdre was unharmed and left to mourn them. Two well known writers have based works upon this legend – William Butler Yeats in “Deirdre”, and J. M. Synge in “Deirdre of the Sorrows”.

“I baptize you Deirdre of the Sorrows,” I say as the rich blood follows the creases in her forehead.

“Strange name,” she says.  “Deirdre…  I have a name!”

She says it so loud, I have to put my hand over her mouth, leaving blood all over her face.

“Shhhh you idiot.  Yes, you have a name.  You are the richest young woman in the kingdom of Tassard now.  How do you like that?”

“It is good.  But what does the last part of it mean?    Of the Sorrows, is that also my name?”

“The name belonged to a young woman in a story from a land I knew a long, long time ago on another world.  Deirdre was a young girl chosen to be the bride of a powerful king.  But she loved another man, a  younger one, and she escaped with him and his two brothers.  But the king found them and killed her lover, his brothers and all the other men who had helped her or had ever looked upon her with love.  Then he let her live in her permanent mourning.  She never had another lover, never married, living and dying in sorrow for what her beauty and desire had done to others. 

“She was a heart breaker, but she inherited the heartbreak, you see?  What we do to others often returns to us.  And now because you love me you must share in my sorrows, not just in the pain we all must endure because of how things are here, but specifically in the suffering of heart our relationship is going to entail for you and me.”

“I don’t understand.”  She shrugs and shakes her head, her hair having been allowed to grow longer, brushing over my shoulder. 

I try to explain: “As I have told you, I was not born here, Deirdre.  I came here, full grown some years ago.  I remember coming here with a single-minded purpose: to collect information about this world, store it in my mind and take that back with me to my home world.  It has been my hope that in time, somehow, I may be able to help the women of Malefactus (it’s what I call this place) by creating change in the power structure that keeps things as they are.  If I can do that, and if some of the women here catch some of my vision also we can create beautiful change here, not just for the women you must understand, but for the men also.

“Remember this: it is not normal for men to kill women.  It is not normal that women should be the slaves of men.  All the things done that hurt others, these are evil things.  Evil destroys worlds.  On another world which is called Earth and where I had many lives before this one I saw much evil too.  When people like me see evil being done to others we experience much sorrow of heart.  

“On that world, the people practiced slavery also, for a long, long time, and in some places it was still going on when I left, though it was not called that.  They did many other terrible things that made their world in every way as evil and as abhorrent at this one.  They made people starve to death if there was money to be made in it.  Babies died along with their mothers, tens of thousands each day and very few of the people cared.  Young women, often just little girls, were sold into prostitution, as sex slaves to men, just as they are here.  Instead of chains, men used drugs and money to hold them.  Millions over the years were abused, their lives destroyed and many were killed, or killed themselves in despair.  Many more died of terrible diseases that continually plagued the people of Earth because they refused to understand the cause of it all.

“They tortured and killed millions of people for having different skin colour, or for believing different things.  Many of their great religions (that is to believe in spirit beings like gods or goddesses) were ruled by male gods who hated women.  There were times when women were killed by having stones thrown at them or they were burned alive, tied to a post because men were convinced these women were evil creatures, in league with a great enemy they called Satan or Shaitan.”

Even this child of Malefactus, with all the evil she had already known, gasped at the images my words gave her.  I had never thought of Earth as having such a similar, if more diversified and creative path of evil, to Malefactus.  Or perhaps I had seen, but never actually understood the depths of it.  It is hard to see the evil of one’s society when born and raised in it; when programmed to take it all for granted for as they say here: it is the way of it. 

I continued to explain.  “Things were done to their planet that hurt the air and the water; the animals and the fish and billions of creatures, of non-human lives died, often entire species were destroyed.  Poisons were spread by machines.  There were always diseases and they fought wars all the time.    There never was a time when there was no war being fought.  I am not speaking of the small groups of men who rampage through a countryside and fight each other for honour or slaves.  I am talking of wars that burned entire cities to the ground, poisoned lands and waters and killed everything in their path; when one bomb would leave millions dead or dying in horrible circumstances.

“Earthians killed others in the name of their gods but it always was to take their lands or any goods or valuable thing they had.  But even through those horrors the people never learned because in those days they were able to make more people than they could kill.  So the deaths, you see, did not seem so obvious.  It was as if they did not really happen.  The people of Earth could not feel the pain they caused others. 

“Not being able to feel the pain of another: that was the main problem of Earth just as it is here.

“You see Deirdre, on my home world which is called Altaria, we know there is one Great Law, written in the starry heavens for all the people when they evolve and become like us, having a concept of right and wrong doing.  That Law says they have to care, Deirdre.  They have to care what happens to you and me.  They have to wish that only good happens to others.  Even if it means that they will lose something.  Even if it means they must forfeit their own life!   If they do not care; if their life, their personal pleasures, their riches and immediate comforts, are more important that the well-being of others anywhere, but particularly on their home planet, then they have failed in their attempt at evolving.  They reach a certain place but can go no higher.  They turn in on themselves and begin a tumble towards destruction that increases exponentially year by year.  Each day their death, and that of their world, approaches at a faster rate.  That was the sickness of my adoptive Earth world.

All the evil I have experienced of life on Earth that was then my sorrow and it continues to be.”

Her questions indicate she is a sharp listener.  She says, “You speak as if that world is gone.  Or are the people better now?  Did they learn to care, to feel each other as you and I feel each other?” 

She hugs me tightly as she says it.  She is a true healer-witch and has the gift of knowing.  Her touch is a balm to body and heart.  She wants the pain I feel in speaking of Earth to go away. 

“No Deirdre, that world is not completely gone.  It is going through a terrible purging.  Billions of people have died and the population has dwindled to a fraction of what it used to be.  Everybody that is still alive must now struggle just to eat or to find shelter.  Everything hangs in a very precarious balance.  Some of it has to do with you and me here, now.  We are involved in a great project by billions of individuals from all human worlds to awaken the next level in our evolution – a non-predatory, non-violent way for all of us.”

“What is a billion?”  She asks with a truly puzzled expression I can just make out as Albaral passes by one of our “windows” in the high walls.

How can I explain the chaotic madness of the teeming billions of Túat Har?  I try the simple approach.  “A very, very large number, like grains of sand in a full feeding bowl.  Actually, if you understand what a million is, there are a thousand of them in a billion.”

“That’s so many, so terrible.  So terrible!”  She shuddres violently against me as she says this.  “But why do they need shelter?  Are they trying to hide from something?”

“Earth is a cruel world in its natural cycles Deirdre.  It does not care about human people.  It has great changes of weather in what are called seasons.  Summer is hot and dry in many places and winter is very cold in other places.  In between are other seasons that have unpredictable weather patterns.  People can quickly die from exposure to the natural elements there.  They have to have places where they can keep warm and dry; protect their bodies from the winds, the snows, the rains or just the freezing cold; where they can raise their children from predators – human or animal – and store food.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”   She looks utterly perplexed and there are tears in her big round black eyes.  “This place makes more sense to me than the Earth you speak of!”

“I know you don’t understand sweet.  I’ll find some way to explain it all to you.  Just give me some time.  Or maybe I’ll find some way for you to discover these things on your own.  Be patient.

“Now Deirdre, we were speaking of sorrows.  To know sorrow is to be able to feel by choice the pain of others before your own.  It comes from being compassionate.  It is not something you naturally feel, Deirdre.  It’s something you choose to feel, out of your own heart, something that desires only good things for all people, all things, not just for some who are special.

“Is that not what love is?”

“No sweet.  Do not mistake compassion for love.  Those who do can become very confused about their feelings when the feelings change and they no longer push toward what they know is right.  Love is that special feeling you and I have for each other that we cannot have for others, see?  No one else can share in our bonding.  That is love.  It is what I call an exclusive feeling.  It keeps others out so we can have more of it between the two of us.  It is a good thing for us when we are safe, not threatened, and we share our time alone together.  When no one else wants to take one of us from the other to have her.  When everyone understands our need to be together and gives us our place out of respect.

[end blog post #20]

Dialogue with a Teacher

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

“I would be a catalyst for change, a change agent.”
“Why?” She asked, her back to me. She seemed to be staring at something beyond the horizon only she could see.
“Why?” I replied, “It’s this world, Teacher; it breaks my heart.”
“So you would change it then?”
“Yes.”
“You understand how change happens, do you not?”
“I think so… but there are so many ways…”
“No! Not if you desire good change. Yes, many ways to bring about change that nurtures unhappiness, misery and endless grief. But the good change, how do you make that come about?”
“I do not know… I simply do not know how.”
“Very well. I am going to reveal some ancient wisdom to you, then you will understand though it may change your mind about being a change agent. Have you ever fallen in love with someone? Ever been so in love that nothing else mattered?”
“Yes I have been, long, long ago.”
“Can you recall your feelings of that time?”
“Somewhat, yes. Pure madness!”
“Madness yes, but all good change comes from that sort of madness. Life proceeds from that madness. Children are born because of it. Now for the great secret but first you get one guess: where does this madness originate? What is its genesis?”
“Trick question, Teacher? I honestly do not know.”
“Such a seed can only be found in one place in the entire universe: in your heart. You must mine for it, extract it, grind and polish it, love it above everything else, desire it more than anything else then give it out freely and completely to the world you wish to see change come about in.
“Know this, that once you give it away you must die. You know the truth of it, “unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it will not produce fruit.” You were taught this when only a child and you remember that lesson. Of all the lesser teachings you received from your tribal parents and teachers, you kept this one and one other.
“Now remember this also, my Avatar, there are many ways to die. Dying is easy but there is only one way to live: with compassion through complete detachment. You understand?”
“Yes Teacher, I do understand.”
“Does it make you want to change your mind?”
I was very slow in answering her, not because I was unsure about my choices but because the moment was so charged with “sacred” energy. I suppose she would have said my reply was predictable.
“On the contrary, Teacher, this is an affirmation. As to that second lesson you alluded to, I remember it well also…”small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
“Be sure to remain on it.”

Detachment to Life

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

“I’ve always felt that what we are taught of detachment at home is an illusion.  I think the ancients know this too, but let us discover it on our own.  They equip us to go with a story that makes sense only until it is tested.  A truly detached ISSA*, seems to me, at this point at least, is an oxymoron.”  (Antierra monologue speaking of her teachings on detachment while on her home world of Altaria – Antierra Manifesto)

Once the basics of one Earthian incarnation have been experienced – surviving, satisfying desires, experimenting with physical senses, what’s left but death, or entering upon a quest for the greater meaning of Life as a self aware being? 

If one chooses “death” which to me means going on repeating experiences pointlessly, then that’s that.  If one chooses the quest, there has to be a sure way to enter into that which guarantees one will not fall back into such silly behaviour as being a sports fan, chasing the opposite gender for sexual gratification, “making” money, hating, fighting, killing then dying to find out it was all a chimera.

Seems to me the way to freedom is opened through detachment.  What keeps us enslaved to the wheel of the System is an array of attachments each one justifying and strengthening the other. It behooves us therefore to relinquish all our attachments to the things this world offers more as bait than as satisfaction (since none ever completely satisfy, and that should be a very broad hint). 

OK, so I want to learn the meaning of Life, not just the meaning (if there be any) of one little incarnation on this little world but the meaning of Life as expressed through an infinite and timeless cosmos: that meaning! Only a free being can ever hope to enter into such a quest.  Attachments are all those things, big and small, that translate as chains, shackles, stanchions, locks, doors, walls, perimeters, limits that take one to termination.  In this situation, death becomes the final attachment. 

Before one tackles the difficult concept of death, one should consider the pattern of lesser attachments that enslave us to our body and its world and how we are connected to the pattern.  As long as a single attachment remains unexplored and connected, death remains the final enigma. Yet unless one can know all about death, even if the words to describe this certainty do not exist, the quest for Life remains closed.  Death was invented to create the impression that there is no such thing as “Life” as an infinite concept; that “Life” had been conquered. All attachments are lies and death is the final and greatest lie of all when living under attachments.

How then does one person achieve a place of total detachment?  As said above, it isn’t easy.  To my heroine (granted she is under extreme stress in that part of the story) it seems impossible.  But nothing is impossible! Impossible is just another attachment!

Detachment, once decided upon, comes through self empowerment.  All my choices are mine and I take full responsibility for the results.  Sure, there will remain many little itches of attachments, like cold sniffles or skin blemishes, but my immune system is self empowerment and that is how I heal myself, as much and as many times as it takes.  I learn not to repeat stupid or pointless moves. I learn to be satisfied with an experience that I know will not improve the more I do it. 

Prayers will not be answered with greater alacrity or better overall results.  Hockey games won’t improve. TV won’t demonstrate a higher level of intelligence. Cigarettes or booze won’t taste better. Crossing borders won’t become easier or safer and sex… well I think we all know the answer to that one.

I learn not to waste my time on the treadmill or the merry-go-round and I learn to use that salvaged time to better my understanding.  If I have any problem on how to direct this new understanding, I cradle it within compassion thus guaranteeing a successful continuation to the quest I am on.

Yes Antierra, it is possible to become totally detached.  You have to learn to take the broader view of the concept.    

*ISSA: acronym for intelligent, sentient, self aware

 

The Prophet Spoke Again

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

The Prophet spoke once more in the latter days, long after any had been and these be the things she said into the minds of those that would listen.

I am not bringing any good tidings, she said to them, therefore it is entirely up to you whether you listen, or fail to listen, for the message will be given even if only the stones of this world, the pavement of its streets or the girders of its highrises hear it.

You will have noticed that your world has changed once again, and in that change it has turned against you. You speak amongst yourselves of climate change; you debate whether it is the works of your own hands, of the world itself or perhaps a combination of both. You do not know and while you are confused, refusing to face the music you yourselves ordered to be written upon skies, seas and lands, you cannot dance. You but plod, and you weary yourselves with petty thoughts of greedy corporate executives and bankers, corrupt politicians and the endless charade of religion. Thinking yourselves wise, you have indeed made yourselves fools; the duck thinking to survive the winter in a child’s wading pool.

You seek answers where there are none! You deliberately ignore your history to fall ever and anon in the same trap your ancestors fell in and died in. You continue to believe that if you replace this puppet with that one; this god with another; this system with a more “environment friendly” one, you can carry on with just such light brush strokes on the old canvas; that you can carry on with no self-sacrifice, no purifying of heart, no transforming of mind, therefore no essential change.

But know this, if you cannot see it for yourselves: your canvas is rotten, even to the frame that holds it together.

That is the sum total of my tidings, to do with as you see fit. I did not come here to make the change for you, I came but to give warning. If you care about each other and particularly if you care about your own children, you will listen. If you do not, I may as well once again take the name of Cassandra and die in the fall of your great and impregnable city.

Is there any hope? I don’t “do” hope, but I am addressing people who believe in such things. So, look about you, anywhere, and see if there is anything truly new rising from your world; from within your many systems: anything you would bet your life and the life of your children upon? Anything that cannot be bought and sold in the global marketplace or corrupted beyond recognition in your high places of government, banking and worship?

Every prophet is mad, I as much as any other who has ever dared incarnate on this world and in my madness I dare imagine that some of you will ponder this and cry out, ‘Yes, we can see how it is coming apart,’ and add, ‘what should we then do?’

As I said, I am not here to give you answers, that was not part of my job description.

Let me remind you that everyone like myself who has come before and given you strict guidance and rules of conduct has been an abject failure because the teaching was imposed, it did not arise from within yourselves, thus it was powerless to change you. Go ahead, read your prophets, the full time, the part time, the ones you defamed, tortured and killed. You could do worse than re-reading “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran. Read other way showers and rule givers and go as far as pondering the voices of those who called themselves saviours and see what you find these many years later.

I will give you hints though, even if it violates my strict self-imposed mandate. Simple hints. First, your civilization as you experience it and as you’ve known it throughout your very short history, is finished. Its days have been measures and found wanting.

Its very nature is inimical to the concept we call life. It has exceeded its limits to growth. It feeds entirely on bloodshed and destruction and many there are who profit from this and many more who rejoice in the results. That is its greatest sin from which it can neither be healed, or ever rise again.

Second hint: if you would do something that has a chance of bearing fruit, though it likely will be but for yourself as an individual, choose the path of the compassionate being. “How” is entirely up to you.

Quote: “A dominant myth is inclusive, in the sense that people feel lost without it. They can’t attribute any sort of human activity to anything else but the myth. They can’t see their way past it. They feel stymied without it.” (Jon Rappoport) and my added comment: “And what is civilization but a dominant myth?”