Tuesday, November 29, 2011

the narrow path

An old book that I have read in the past stated that there are more or less two ways to travel through this life. It described them as the broad way and the narrow way. How true that is.  I am not a christian. nor in fact am I a bona fide member of any religious institution. But I am quick to accept that there is deep wisdom bound up in our numerous traditions. It only becomes apparent when all the accumulated dross and dogma are scraped away to reveal the light hiding underneath.

I have found the narrow path to be both painful and rewarding, as well it should. Any true path through this life will never willfully refuse to admit the highs and the lows, the hurts and fears, as well as the loves and joys. Any thing professing continuous bliss should be suspect from the get go. It is a fantasy that will topple the holder of such a belief into an abyss of doubt and disillusionment, followed by dark depression. More often than not that person will emerge out the other end of this psychological and emotional tempest a more cynical and heart hardened person, something that our present civilization seems well apt at producing.

How can I be so certain? Because I myself was that very cynic. And I mean cynic in the modern, negative, usage of the word. Too much innocence, too sensitive a soul, too trusting a nature, and you are ripe for rough handling at the whimsy of our neo-darwinist society in all its darkened glory. The cherished view of self and life collapse in a heap of frustration, anger, and pain. But, if approached as a way of learning this crisis can teach one how to regain a better foothold than before, and discover a new and more personal truth around which it is possible to reconstruct one's outlook on life.

The narrow path will appear to get narrower the longer one travels it. Your personal creativity, your personal truths, your attitude and outlook on life will all be challenged by everyday events and it becomes easy to slip into the same habits of arrogance and self-centerdness that are the defining characteristics of the much broader, more well traveled way through life. Upon careful reflection this constricting of the mind can be seen for its real purpose: to challenge you to keep rethinking and reevaluating your own thought and truths, thus keeping you always on your toes. It can all be a bit unsettling. And well it should. We live in a time of so much self-assuredness and so much ego driven selfishness, that any fluid approach to life and what it can mean to you personally, is an open invitation to attack on an intimate level, the place that hurts the most.

The vast majority of human kind have slavishly committed themselves to the cold embrace of reason and its step child, logic. Reasons icy alter numbs the mind making it hard for the intuitions of the heart to be heard. How many times have people accepted the slyly selfish whispering's of their so called friends, only to deny their own heart and suffer some tragic consequence as a result. And it is not just confined to realm of personal interaction. Allowing our present day civilization to become the mistress of neo-darwinism and all manner of divisive and separatist fundamentalism's has brought our world to the very brink of planetary genocide. A dark night on a personal level is hard enough to endure. How much more will our planets dark night be in its effect upon those who have to live through it?

Having experienced ego collapse and lived with the dark night that follows, I have become reluctant in the extreme, in fact I am loath, to surrender myself to the insidious and pernicious insanity of the present human paradyne. In the age old story of the garden of Eden and the fall from grace, a lot of words have been penned in trying to explain what it all means. From a literal belief to mare metaphorical take on it, the explanatory descriptors  are varied and sometimes amusing. I for one subscribe to the view that it is a  description of the separation of the left and right brains through the intervention of the reptilian brain, that usurped the harmonious thinking of the two interlocked halves with an ego based selfishness that has been the cause of our continuous slide into depravity despite the ongoing evolution of our sciences and technologies. It takes a great effort on any one's part to try and bring back into harmony both haves of the brain. It calls for a conscious effort to actually be aware of what one is thinking and why. It means looking for answers to problematic psychological blocks by digging into the depths of our past experiences, many of them in childhood. And it is ongoing. There is no real end except death. You have to accept it and come to understand how to settle down where there is no settling down. 

Travel in peace.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

linux for the rest of us!

This is not going to be another one of those posts deriding Ubuntu that have become the norm of late. Yes I am unfortunately leaving my beloved Ubuntu, but it is not because I am this way or that way about Unity, etc. For the record I would like to say to all those tech pundits and geeky know-it-all's, get some sun light and shut the f**k up already. Make your brownie points off something else.  That said, I have to admit that 11.10 has let me down.

I have used Ubuntu since 7.04. It has always just worked, even when back in that day I had to google and forum search to find out how anything worked. Can anyone remember installing Google Earth from a bin file? How about Real Player? Things are so incredibly easier today, and I think that contributes a lot to all this hoopla on pipe these days.

Ubuntu 11.04 worked for me. My machine is an Asus netbook. It has to be. I travel, and weight and space are major considerations. I am not a web designer or some such thing as that, just an ordinary writer wannabe. Bottom line, my needs are not overwhelming but there are some important items that are must haves, mainly battery life. I can remain disconnected from the web for extended periods, so extending the life of my battery is a number one priority. Right up there with usability is compatibility with my work style. I took to 11.04 quite quickly. I have an open mind to new fangled things, and can usually get a handle on something pretty quick. The combination of keyboard shortcuts, a new thing for me, and the multiple desktops, made a nice boost to my work flow. But I hated Banshee with a passion. At the time I had just the one gig of ram and Banshee grayed out constantly. But at least, with an emphasis on patience, I could work with it. Trying to nip this problem in the bud, I installed a two gig stick before the release of 11.10.

So imagine my total surprise and udder disappointment when I found the release to be horribly buggy. On top of which Banshee would not play at all. Well, to be fair it would, if I held my mouth right, and the moon was in a favorable phase. It refused to play on battery power all together. Now i can tolerate a lot of BS, but this was simply outrageous. There were just too many bugs. And this has led me to reopen an old mental thread of mine to the effect that I fully believe that many interface bugs are due to the developers not actually using the product they are working on in their day to day activities. Food for thought.

Part of the planning for my next vagabonding adventure have more or less took for granted that I would have the next Ubuntu LTS on my hard drive. Unless things take a radical change for the better, that now seems unlikely. I feel Ubuntu will straighten out and fly right in several more iterations, but I need something stable and dependable now. So i now found myself distro hopping again. It is not quite the same as it use to be, knowing what I know now. But it has been eye opening.

I fiddled with the RPM releases (you know who you are) but I just do not like them. Everybody has a preference. Some prefer blonde's, some brunettes, some go for any ole thing (dogs), but I know what I know. Know what I mean? So I needed a Debian based system, that had the tools on board or in the repos, and would give max battery performance. And the list dwindled down quickly to three: Crunch Bang, Linux Mint Debian, and Lubuntu. Then it got whittled to two: Linux Mint Debian, and Lubuntu. Then finally to one: Lubuntu. Why?

Glad you asked. Because its my machine and I'll do what I want. Just kidding. No it was just some simple observations. Crunch Bang is an old favorite, but Corenominal is not at present actively maintaining it. I felt the release is too old, for a rolling release distro, to install. Linux Mint Debian is my secret fave. The gnome version had some kind of weird stability issue on my netbook, but xfce ran like a champ. And two amazing things happened. The first was that upon detecting my proper screen resolution all the fonts and windows were resized properly. A feat of magic that seems to be beyond the developers of other mainstream releases.  And, heart stopping as it is, Banshee actually worked. Couldn't believe it. It is still the slowest damn piece of work to open though.

But Lubuntu won because it gave the best battery performance out of the bunch. Let me break it down for ya:

  • Windows 7 Starter = 3hrs with power saver mode in eee super engine 
  • Ubuntu Unity         = 2hrs and 20min with Jupiter installed and whitelisted
  • LMDE xfce            = 3hrs with Jupiter installed and icon in tray
  • Lubuntu lxde          = 3hrs and 48min with Jupiter installed and add to session startup

In finding out how to add the syndaemon to disable the touchpad in Lubuntu, I also found out how to get Jupiter running. I added it to the /etc/xdg/lxsessions/Lubuntu/startup file. Who knew? Of course I do not have the systray icon, but it is not a deal breaker as the syndaemon works also.

wrong using Linux Mint Debian. Another small issue that I have with rolling release model is the possibility of breakage during an update. It is low, especially with mint, but none the less, I cannot see risking it in my particular situation.  For the rest of you though, that should not be a deal breaker.

Lubuntu is performing like a champ. It is fast and the battery performance amazing. I have access to all the apps that I use and I am on somewhat familiar ground. It could use a better login screen, something more efficient would be nice. I hope the LTS will be a good fit. If so I can see myself running with it on my netbook far into the future. For any thing larger though, my money is on Mint, for now.

Travel in peace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the soul of evolution

I have been musing upon this blog post for a good while, but when I listened to a recent Buddhist Geek's episode, I had to write this article. Now I am in no way being critical of any thing, these are just my musings on the subject, as they have 'evolved' with time, and I in no way claim them as received truth's.
During the interview, a mention was made of an old Buddhist belief or myth wherein it was stated that when the Buddha became enlightened, the whole universe became enlightened as well. I have to strongly disagree with that statement, mythic or otherwise. I feel very strongly that when the Buddha achieved enlightenment, he came to realize what the universe already new, and demonstrated on an every day basis. To look at Life from a purely human-centric point of view is one of the classic mistakes made by every religion invented or 'percieved' by humans. Among the more primitive tribal peoples, this narrow view point is unknown. Living as they are in close proximity to Life in all its variety, they can not conceive of themselves as separate and apart from nature. They are one and the same with everything. They need no 'god' because they understand that they live with and in and upon that very Source.

If we take a long and open minded view of the findings published by such researchers as Stanislav Grof, it becomes apparent that the soul or spirit that combines with matter to give us life, has passed through many forms on this living planet before it became the form we know as human. Grof has evidence that shows regression memories from other sentient beings as diverse as Redwood trees and reptiles. And if there is lingering doubt about rebirth, I refer you to studies on children who display remarkably accurate memories of a previous life. Over one hundred years ago Judge Thomas Troward of Great Britain, wrote about the soul's travels through the diversity of forms in his book  "The Hidden Power". Reincarnation is no doubt, a continuance of the evolutionary process that began with the primordial Source itself.

Back in the day, I was fascinated by a new farming technique from Japan. Called simply 'Natural Farming', it was the pioneering work of the lay Buddhist Masanobu Fukuoka. His radical farming techniques were based on the Buddhist philosophy, and yielded very remarkable results, as will the practice of Buddhism itself. I still recommend his work to any one seeking to improve their health through better, more nutritious food, and like wise improve the health of our planet. But, when one carefully analyzes his technique, you can begin to perceive the human-centricity at the root. No matter how closely intertwined with the local ecology, it still remains separated from it. It is a semblance of it, and only that. It is not a totally natural practice. So the question remains, is close good enough? Its a tough question. And it needs an answer. Our future generations depend on it. Form is emptiness, emptiness is evolving. But at the root of it, we are still talking form.

Travel in peace.