25 July 2014

Searching for a Miracle

A few months ago I showed you a video about doing hard time in a Zen monastery. Now here is a look at a Tibetan monastery in Russia where Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov had entered suspended animation nearly a century ago.

You're born, go to school, get a job, make money, get old, and die. Is that all there is to life? Two students disagree and decide to learn the ways of the Buddha to find more in life. Runs 24 minutes.

18 July 2014

"We Don't Need More Copyright" - Tom W. Bell on Intellectual Property

"We don't need more copyright," says Chapman University law professor Tom W. Bell. "Probably we could dial it back and still enjoy this great wealth of culture that's been generated, that's already in our libraries."

Bell, a self-described "intellectual property skeptic," sat down with Reason TV to discuss his new book "Intellectual Privilege: Copyright, Common Law, and the Common Good."

Contemporary copyright law is a statutory privilege that inevitably contradicts our constitutional rights to free expression. The prospect of litigation scares off artists who want to create new works that exist in legal grey areas, like mashups, tributes, or parodies.

Bell's solution rests on a much simpler idea: we should emphasize common law instead of copyright. Common law -- which is to say, the established precedents that govern ordinary property, contracts, and torts -- already form the foundation of the American legal system. It provides plenty of encouragement for artists and designers to create new works, without the statutory failures of the current system.

How might the arts fare in a world without copyright protection? To a large extent, we already know the answer. Perfumes, jokes, recipes, fashion, furniture, and automobile design have never enjoyed copyright protection. Yet there's no shortage of creativity in any of these fields. Artists still find ways to make money -- sometimes a great deal of it -- in the absence of special legal protection.

After meeting with policymakers on Capitol Hill, Bell is hopeful about the prospects for reforming the Copyright Act. Legislators are starting to accept what consumers have long understood about the digital age: modern copyright law hinders the very innovation it was designed to promote.

Runs about 8:30.

17 July 2014

Ask a Monk: Friendship

Caring, attachment, and relationships in the Theravada tradition. Runs 14 minutes.

16 July 2014

The Lost World of Tibet

Old colour films, from the 1930s to the 1950s, combined with interviews of survivors, detail the history of Tibet and the Chinese conquest. Runs 49 minutes.

12 July 2014

Your Ego on Drugs

Michael Prescott started a discussion on psychedelic drugs and how they may just produce hallucinations instead of genuine experiences of non-physical reality like NDEs. He provided a number of examples of bad trips and experiences with insectoids and reptilians and contrasted this with the fact that there have only ever been a handful of reported hellish NDEs. He admits to being biased against psychedelic drugs and not being particularly interested in investigating further (though he shows some more interest toward the end).

The problem I have when reading about these bad trips is that the people usually seem like jerks and bums. They like doing drugs recreationally, looking for a trip rather than insight, they are generally dismissive toward the cultures that use them for spiritual purposes, they hang around with jerk friends, seem like moral relativists, and just exude an air of jerkness. It may very well be that when you pierce the veil of illusion and you're living a crappy life the entities on the other side admonish you to get your act together.

Regarding insectoids/reptilians, earth insects are just as real as earth humans, so why should spirit insects not be as real as spirit humans? I would expect the vast majority of non-physical worlds to be inhabited by non-humanoids. Especially in the lower worlds, where the more malicious or jerk spirits live.

Maybe this is a way of punishing people who reach too far for things they are not ready to possess. The universe is set up in such a way where one cannot gain without giving something up. One cannot gain the Truth without giving up the illusion of the separate self, and when people want both that's like trying to put two north pole magnets together – it just doesn't work. There's a reason people train for decades in preparation for genuine mystical insight, and why only a few thousand people at any one time really put the effort into it at all. It would take the average person possibly billions of years in lower spiritual worlds (which may be very nice heavenly worlds by earth standards, but they're still illusions, just nice illusions) before being able to ascend to the higher formless worlds. When people try to get the Truth all at once without doing the work of preparing their minds to accept it maybe a mechanism is in place to bring forth these more horrific entities. They still get shown the Truth, or as much as they can take in, but they also get kicked in the teeth for trying to fly too close to the sun.

The Truth is itself very traumatic to anyone who is not prepared to receive it. In many of the stories of bad trips the people are all heavily invested in the ego, they all want to pursue a life of sensory gratification, of worldliness, and at the same time they go and reach for the Truth, but the Truth is not material, it is not worldly. People are traumatized to suddenly experience that this life isn't real, that the separate self is a fiction the mind creates, that all this egoic worldly stuff is a lie. It's completely natural to feel broken down, like your life is worthless, when you see you've been going in the wrong direction all along, running in circles, chasing after illusions. It takes a lot of training to basically get over yourself enough to make the mind ready to accept the Truth, and to have the ego boundary shattered all at once, while being heavily invested in the lie, is going to be painful.

Now here's Ken Wilber discussing psychedelic drugs for 18 minutes.

10 July 2014

Alchemy - European Mysticism

The three types of humans: animal, rational, and spiritual (typified by the alchemist); the origin of sin and its elimination; the fundamental drives of human behaviour. Runs 9:40