Tag Archives: Wisdom

Education

People sometimes use the word education when in fact they mean brainwashing. I’m quite sure that most people who do that are not aware of the fact that they do so because they have been brainwashed themselves.

An example: “We should put more funding in education of African countries so that they can build a democracy from the bottom up”. Great idea, but how would this look in practice? Money would go to certain organizations, monitored by their funders according to Western standards. They would employ people to build education programs, benchmarked along Western thought, then train people to teach the deep truths that stand at the base our beautiful democracy, powered solely by light and guided by the highest ethics. Then, at the end, of course, they are checked for optimal performance.

Such structures provided by nation states are often seen as education. Mandatory programs, packages of concepts, knowledge that is transferred and tested, ranking the students into their overseeable life paths, may lift society to a different standard, but they are only a limited part, a controllable bit, of a collective learning process that could also be tuned to enlivening, respect and curiosity-driven exploration of whatever it is that the human mind is eager to find out. I would say real education starts at the point where teacher and student receive the space and the freedom to show each other their views on reality in all its colours.

Transmission of knowledge is important, but we should honour the pathway through which this occurs. That pathway would in my view be called mutual trust. The possibility that another might see something out there which you don’t, not because he or she is more or less capable or suitable to see it, but merely because that other stands on a different position. Exams and profiles undermine such trust.

To translate this back to the omnipotent West, perhaps indeed, there was a time when our long fought for ideals made sense and empowered society at large. But these ideals are starting to take the form of dogmas, heritage we should protect and keep in place with tighter rules and regulations. Our knowledge is growing old, expiring, starting to fail us and begging for fresh inputs from the same societies we have kept in the enlightened dark for centuries.

And yet more importantly, I think we should all allow our inner wise guys to sometimes shut up and listen to the voice of the weak and silent for a change. The fact that we still understand education in a top-down way, taking all these quality checks for granted, shows us a whole lot about our status quos. If only we could see that in the mirror…

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The good, the bad and the energy

Let´s talk about energy for a bit. I mean the cultural phenomenon, the modern version of aether. In particular the concept of positive energy versus negative energy. And I mean it in contexts such as: ´this guy has such negative energy´, or ‘wow, you can really feel the positive energy here’. I have a bit of an objection against this distinction, particularly the negative pole, because it legitimizes judgmental beliefs. I think it motivates people to believe in their own projections, and by that stimulates the construction of their own mental cage.

The reason why I bring this up, is that the belief in spiritual energy is often seen as an emancipation from the religious dogmatic thought. Heaven and hell are let go because they are seen as a design to blind us from the truth. But if that truth is that you should follow positive energy and avoid negative energy so that you can reach nirvana and leave this semi-damned existence, then I don´t think much as changed.

What would you think if I told you that there is positive fire and negative fire? Good water and bad water? Sacred air and evil air? Perhaps you´d laugh, or perhaps you´d think I mean the level of pollution of a pond or a city street. Or maybe you´d say that it all depends on the intensity of these elements. Their pressure. I don´t think you would think that I mean that those elements are somehow negative.

Okay, so what if we assume that people who talk about negative energy mean to say that the energy is polluted? In many cases they probably do. My question would be: what is the energy polluted with?

It is an important one to answer, I think, because we´re talking about a medium here that, in my view, is easily coloured by our thoughts and emotions. That´s how a stressed person causes an emotional sandstorm just by walking into a room with people, or how a little kid can fill the hearts of many with delight. You would have to be quite trained or at least very sensitive to distinguish the level of pollutedness of the energy from the impact of your own emotionally charged perception on that energy.

I think that most often when people get negative vibes from someone, what they actually perceive is an incompatibility of their emotions with those of another person. I would explain this by differences in energy pressure. When an active person meets someone who´s tired for example, it can be quite irritating for both. That doesn´t mean that either one has negative energy. With a bit of willpower from both ends, such pressure differences can be easily overcome.

Energy could also be perceived as negative when it triggers a fear or discomfort. In my case that´s most often the fear of the unknown or the fear of being manipulated. It could also be the fear of not being accepted or the fear of pain or death. But being afraid of something doesn´t mean that this thing is harmful to you. And even if it is, harm will be healed.

What I guess I want to say is that classifying aspects of life as negative immediately makes you miss out. It is closing your own doors to life. I do believe that real, deep experiences of energy can be an intimate, revelatory thing with potential to give direction to life. By all means, attend to them as they come.

Winter Ramblings

Over the years, I have accumulated some subconscious rules as a blogger. Customs, so to speak. Most of them for the benefit of clarity. One is to treat one topic at the time. Another is to write the article in pen first. There are phases when I have to do effort to find a topic to write about. This week, I have gathered so many impressions and frustrations, that I’d like to break my rules and fire an incoherent set of thoughts back onto the internet. My lunch consists of a piece of precut raw brocolli of which I take bites only when I manage to lift my fingers of the keyboard.

Charlie Hebdo and his clan got killed. What a surprise. We all saw that coming for years. Is this an attack on freedom of expression? No it is not. It is an attack on insults to a religion. An over the top reaction, I agree, but a reaction nonetheless. We in the West are lucky to be able to get killed while doing the thing we love. Thousands of journalists are killed world wide every year (just a passionate guess, I admit), For saying far less bad things.

Yesterday, the ECB announced that the deflation in Germany is worse than expected. Bad news, we would say, but the European stockmarkets went up. Huh? Because investors have learned by now, that when this happens, the ECB pumps in some new artificial money to prevent a crash. Therefore, they invested their own money, just to be able to fish more out of the market later. I sincerely hope the ECB takes a wiser decision this time.

My new favourite word is Wiggle. Wiggle is a great word. Not only is that because of the sound it makes when you say it and the smile you put your face in when you do, or the feeling you get when you wiggle your toes, but also because I discovered that wiggle is also an emotion, and I’m looking forward to write an article about that one day and I know this sentence is way to long but I don’t care.

O yes, I posted a new video with my friend Michael Kailis, yesterday. If you want to kill me for it, come visit me. By the way, I just noticed I have outsling. I hate rain. Don’t expect me to reread this, just going to look for a picture now, and post it right away, breaking another rule as I go. Deal with it.

The Mystery of Loneliness

I remember when, one day while I was living in a mountain village in the Andes, an older lady came down from her little one-person hut in the Puna, about a day’s walk up from this remote place. She seemed remarkably easy to communicate with. Far more than most villagers, she listened. I asked her how she was able to live in a little cold hut all on her own and so far away from all others. “I live there with God” she answered. It made sense. “But don’t you miss people?” Then she replied – and I’ll never forget – : “you know, every human will one day let you go”. Something inside me knew she was right. If it’s not in the breaking of your ideals, or in literally moving away, it’s in the inveterate tendency to die. It amazed me that she smiled with it.

We’re approaching the darkest day of the year. This darkness guides me back into my inner world. I am very aware of the motions inside of me, to notice that even among groups of beautiful people, I have always been a very lonely guy. I notice that it’s simply very hard for me to tear down the projections and the expectations we all enforce on each other. To keep sensing through the facades. To touch each other from beyond the material or even the mental, and be aware of it. Because this is so hard to conceive, I settle for the cages casting themselves around me. I even fight to keep them there.

Out of this internal view, I see that most of my actions are attempts to avoid the loneliness upon me. I think I’m not alone in that. Career tigers, for example, seem merely to run so that one day their isolation vanishes before their eyes. I believe that the search for the spiritual is in fact a search for proof that we are not alone. Creativity a scream to be heard by the unfathomable other. Our fear for isolation stows us on towards utopia.

It’s in days like these that my expectations towards others disappear. We’re all in it, struggling to be in touch. The awareness opens the gate to another world. A place where everything is more common. Suddenly, I connect with people on a deeper level. Just as long as I don’t forget.

On that day in Huancaya, the lady from the highlands asked me “am I wrong?”

Bait

If you were a fish, which bait could a fisherman use to catch you? Money? Sex? Love?

There is a program that’s able to estimate your age and sex quite accurately just by what you tweet. And have you heard of Kred? That’s a website where all data on Twitter activity are put into graphs. These data are now accessible under the motto of transparency. Paying customers can then see analyses about many types of influential words, sentences and multimedia. They could study reactions of target groups, but also those of individuals. It’s a start. I think that these techniques will get much better in the near future, up till the point where programs will be able to detect our childhood traumas from the photos that we post.

With the arrival of social media and E-identities, psychologists and cognitive scientists have access to endless data on the patterns that guide the human brain. What determines our choice? Which patterns make us into who we are? Marketers, states and many others will learn and take a leap closer to the aspects of ourselves that we thought were safely hidden. If, over the course of the coming century, we’d like to stay mentally free, I think it’d be wise to join in on that learning.

It is an option to back off from internet interaction, in order not to be deciphered. In that case, the fishermen will study your neighbours, brothers and sisters. They will still find out who you are and where your desires are hidden. Another option is that you start to fish for yourself and see what works and what not. Taste some of the bait from time to time, and see how you respond to it. In that case you will add information to the pile and give the insights you gather back to the mass. You’d contribute to the creation of better bait that makes more people snatch. Either way, the bait will get tastier, juicier and more thought through than ever.

If you were a human, which bait would lure you?

Thesis Spiritual Experiences in Nature

For those who are interested, I wrote a thesis in 2011 on spiritual experiences in natural areas in the Netherlands. I got an 8,5 for it. I have have written an abbreviated version for publication, but it was rejected for one or two good reasons and a whole list of quite silly ones. My intention remains to publish it when I have more time. Whenever that may be.

Here it is:

Havik2011ThesisSpiritNature

Pirates in Wonderland

“I can tell you in advance that you will not enjoy this meeting.” The words of the local mayor surprise me for not more than a second. Sooner or later, this had to come. “We have decided that we will not give you the permit for your yearly festival.” After this meeting, Salome the chairlady, Jan Jaap and I will each have a seven euro beer. It’s only when they present the bill that I will let my anger out. Such things ought to be dosed.

“When they ask you for your name, don’t give it to them. They will hold you responsible for everything that happens.” Colan has entered the Coffee Barack -my old house- and it seems to me as if he tries to move us to a mental war against the state. In the past week, we have done all in our capacity to cut back the growing feeling that the absent permit is just another expression of the increasing party repression by governments all over Europe. I think this case is different: we have an open communication channel with the municipality, and we’d like to keep it that way.

There is another tendency: in the past decade, the droef festival has grown enormously. Outsiders have lobbied in Droevendaal, persuading inhabitants to allow a party in their house. Some of these parties had darkened the atmosphere at some specific spots. Last year this seems to have withheld the police to enter our terrain because the were afraid. The Droevendalers, of course, have always prevented trouble. This place is their home.

We have moved the earth and the skies to scale Droeffest 2012 down. Steered two hundred inhabitants into a new direction. The police seemed to threaten us this morning, sending a constant stream of police cars over our terrain, visible and undercover, fining those who’d parked their cars in front of their own house. We have greeted them friendly, tolerated their threats and shown them there is more to life than rules and control. The party is great as always. Smaller, decentralised, but the atmosphere is as it sould be: relaxed and connected. Bands play in gardens, DJs bring about a silly mess and beer and rum – though hidden – are as available as ever. The theme: Pirates in Wonderland.

One week later the story is not over: it’s merely a start. It’s an example of how a mass of people can be wiser than their anger. More caring than self destructive, even in the face of such childish governmental futilities. On October 10th, we will go back to the municipality, holding the facts. We will ask the fines back and show them diplomatically, how childishly they were playing this game. We will demonstrate the redundancy of some rules and negotiate a new course. I hope this will become an example of how non-commercial organizations, groups without money, can prevail with merely the powers of reciprocity and reason. Searching for a path where freedom is achieved not against, but together with the other.

Isaac

“You’re the man, right?” “I’m da man!” a high singing voice. I find him cool already. They serve my tea and I enter the big church hall to see a session of a man I’ve been hearing about for over two years.

The principle is simple. Isaac sits on a chair on stage. Whoever feels like it joins him on a slightly less comfy one and tells him how he or she feels. Those who come are not allowed to keep on talking, because that way the public is guided too much into their thoughts. We take a little distance from our minds together and see that all we need is inner peace.

“I’m afraid.” Silence. “I’m afraid that I will lose my family”. Isaac watches him carefully. “We sometimes say ‘I love you’, but who is it we love, then? Do you ever wonder who that is?” He directs the question to the public. The microphone goes around for people to answer. “A projection”. Says someone. She explains that if people say they love someone, in fact they follow a mental image. “Did you ever try to love yourself?” Asks Isaac. “Who is it you love, then? And who is it that loves?” It’s the joyful manner in which he speaks which makes this situation pleasant. And the topic of course. My mind’s eye shows me the fusion of clouds of consciousness into a common delight which I’d call love. I’d say that’s what ‘I love you’ means. But I don’t state that now. Why answer such questions out loud?

“I’m afraid I’ll lose my job.” People have all kinds of fears these days. Again, the careful observation. “Yes, that happens”. He turns to the public. “Did you ever try that?” To be afraid of losing your job? Why don’t we all try that for a little bit?” Everyone tries. “Did it help?” “No.” I notice how it slowly gets dark.

When the session is over, I shake his hand. “I could see you resonate”. He says. He’s right, in his presence, the people on stage moved me. I understand why my housemates like him.

A touch of Anger

Did you ever hear of the Club of Rome? They’re scientists. In 1972, they made a computer model taking up factors like the global population growth and technological innovations. The model showed that if mankind would take no global political actions, the human population will start its collapse around 2040. In 2004, they checked the model once more. It turns out that we’re on the right scheme to get in trouble in thirty years. While I am working with these data, the homepage of the NRC newspaper from the Netherlands reads the following message: the government cuts in scientific research. Which branch? Environment. A closer read reveals that with the money used for research, the government wants to compensate companies for doing that instead. A net increase in financial flow towards science paid with a decrease of scientific independence. The idea: environmental science needs to be profitable.

I have recently had several discussions -with my housemates for example- about the topic that we need to do something before it is too late. Their point: change yourself and you’ll change the world. I believe that there is a truth in that. But it does not take away the fact that we are governed by people who lack vision. It does not change the fact that a big part of our expenses is still completely retarded. Many of us are just sitting there looking in the other direction while we are heading towards an enormous iceberg and our captains fail to steer while they still can. When did we start calling cowardice wisdom? Are we really all going to stay put, filling ourselves with ailments and inner peace?

I am not suggesting that I can change the world from where I am. What I am saying is that we can not tolerate excuses that withhold us from doing all we can to keep the possibility to inhabit this world in the coming century. We need to turn the tide. All together. And I won’t rest until we do.