Links to my Books

Links to My Writings

Third Daughters at Smashwords
Meditations on Maintenance for the Kindle
Memoirs of a Super Criminal for the Kindle, Nook or Smashwords
One Year in the Mountains for the Kindle, Nook or Smashwords
Adventures of Erkulys & Uryon for the Kindle and Nook

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Selling Art

I sold an art piece the other day. I was glad for the sale, it boosts the ego, right? I might have a showing at the Portneuf Brewery next month, but then my next show is not until May at Walrus and Carpenter. I want to be a selling artist. That is the whole point and goal, but it is a lot harder than it looks. I have to get my name out there (visit my website at Fine Art America, click the link above) and then I have to draw the crowd who likes my work, who has the money to buy (getting harder and harder in this economy) and who has the inclination to purchase an original piece of art work.

But then after the sell I have this momentary let down, like losing a good friend. That piece has been hanging on the wall for so long that it has become part of the natural enviroment of the studio. So I will miss it, but be glad I made the sale. I hope there will be more to come.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Predictions

I did an art show last night. I sold one painting, which was more than I had anticipated. I have another show in May. They are part of the Pocatello First Friday Art Walk. I don't think too many people go out on a Friday night to buy art. I think it is more of a "cultural" experience, Friday night out-on-the-town type of thing. But hey, it is exposure.

On to the topic. Predictions. Art and predictions don't seem to go hand in hand... but with a dem. moving into the White House in January, perhaps more money will be freed up to support the arts. Which leads me to think of both the political and economic realms of life. So my predictions:

  1. The Dow will fall to 7,000 by this time next year before making a recovery.
  2. Unemployment will reach 10% before recovering to a more stable 5-6%. It will bottom out next year and take another year to 16 months to recover.
  3. President elect Obama will have two years to run as far as he can with his agenda, then the Senate will switch power. The House will stay in the democratic party control.
  4. Partial pull out of US troops from Iraq will instigate even further civil war fighting in that country and spreading further across the Middle-east. This will require not only a larger US force but also UN Peacekeepers and NATO force involvement. Russia will use that time to move in on some of its former states. Watch for this to happen in the late summer/fall of 2009
  5. US social life will reach new highs, even as the economy sinks. Escapism will boost movie sales, book sales and other inexpensive get-aways.
  6. Three movie stars will marry and later divorce (each year for the next gazilion years).
  7. Baliwood will begin to rival Hollywood for dominace on the world market by the end of 2010.

OK so some of these predictions seem far fetched. Can Anyone really eclipse Hollywood? And some seem common sense. But those in the middle... well, time will tell.

Come buy my art or a print of one of my pieces. Just click the Fine Art America box at the top of the page.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The philosophy of education

How do we educate today's children to become tomorrow's adults with a sense of personal responsibility, value and community pride? I think the education system in the USA is lacking some fundamentals. It seems that it is consumed right now with theories on how to teach but lacking in any true direction about what to teach. It seems there needs to be a shift in the whole educational process which better educates the children for the future. Creating well rounded people is noble but not attainable. It is better to create well thinking people who can stand on their own two feet and make it in the world. I think we need to concentrate on character development at a younger age, and then on critical thinking in the middle school grades. I also think science and the arts need to be balanced. The teaching of theory needs to dovetail with practical experiences.

The promotion of university as the pinnacle of education needs to be done away with. There are valid reasons to continue on with education, but it should not just be "the thing to do." For this reason, trade and technical schools should be created, funded and promoted as equally valuable avenues of education. Let us prepare educated, thinking and well trained people.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Righteousness

In a comment from a previous post I was asked to start a new line dealing with the idea of right/wrong/moral, etc. So here is my attempt at it.

I grew up in a very conservative denomination of Christianity where spirituality is defined morally. If one wants to please God then one must act in a predefined moral way. Of course the outcome of such thinking is legalism (as a side note, legalism is death to spiritual maturity). Legalism is a strict moral code with God as the final authority. But as I began to explore my own faith and spirituality I found that morality is not based in legalism, but rather righteousness.

Righteousness is striving to act in the right way in the right time. There are no set and hard rules, for each situation will be different requiring a different right action. Which brings us to the point of this post: How do we know how to act? How do we determine the right action in the right time? I believe it comes down to character development.

I am not sure if we are all good or bad from birth. I think much of it is learned over time. I think it comes down to finding that balance between good for the individual and good for the community. Finding that balance is no easy task. As I reflect upon writing this post, my mind keeps moving towards specific, but I am trying to keep it abstract. So how do we teach character development and moral balance without falling into the legalism of endless does/don'ts lists?

I will end this post here and wait for a few comments to help find a direction for further posts on this subject.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Idea of Art

When the first human picked up a piece of charcoal from the fire pit and began to scratch marks onto the rocks nearby, art was born. And from that moment to this day the idea of art has been debated. What is art? How does art differ from craft, from trade? What meaning should be given to art? Does meaning reside in the artist or the audience? When art becomes utilitarian does it stop being art? As is obvious the questions concerning art can be endless (also boring, unless you are a philosopher or artist). I believe that there are no clear cut answers. I think each artist, each participant, each audience member has to search their own spirits for the answers to the questions concerning the idea of art. But the real shame is that few people really earnestly search their hearts for answers that they hold dear. And this apathy towards deep thinking extends to all aspects of life: politics, religion, culture, music, art, food... (again another possibly endless list). It is much easier for many to find a respected leader to follow, then it is to think their own thoughts, develop convictions and hold to them.

And so what is my deep thought on the idea of art? I think art has meaning when it is made by the artist, that meaning may or may not translate to the audience, but the audience will develop their own meaning. My art is spiritual, although I do not require the audience to view it as such. In my art, I search for something that is "more" or "other" than the physical, the mundane. I would like to think that my art holds many meanings and each time it is viewed (meditated upon) one can walk away with new insights. I like to think of painting a piece as a spiritual exercise. I like to thinking of viewing a piece as a spiritual exercise. I know that may seem like much to grasp for... but I feel the same way about nature around me. My mood and attitude which I bring to the viewing can color (emotionally) a painting more than any descriptions or captions by the artist. I would hope that my art can reach out to others in the same manner. But if it does not I am not disappointed. I think of my art as spiritual expressionism.

Perhaps this is a wandering answer to the question, but it is where I am at this point. As my art grows, as my spiritual life grows I am sure my answer will also mature and grow. That is a part of life and a part of thinking deeply: growth into the next phase of life.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Absence

Wow how time flies once you have a new baby. I thought yesterday was July 14th but I look up and two months have speed by. After having a new edition to the family everything changes: priorities, time usage, energy usage, the ability to think... It is very strange, but also very satisfying. Our little boy is the joy (and frustration) of our day. We are adjusting and reorganizing our lives to accommodate the little guy. At times it is difficult, we don't have the time to do the things we want to do (update blogs) and definitely no time to do the things we like to do (go for bike rides or camping). But in time once a new balance is reached things will be better and easier and more enjoyable. So maybe in the near future I will have more time to update my blog and philosophize about life and art and religion and culture and all the things I like to think about. Until then stay tuned for the even more sporadic updates.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Birthday

At 5:52 on July 12th 2008 my son Owen was born. What a wonderful day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All that you can

In my undergrad and graduate programs I studied philosophy and theology. One of the theologians I studied was John Wesley. He was one of the founders of the Methodist movement in England. He worked primarily among the poor who had a terrible time in that day and age. They had no rights, awful working and living conditions and little hope for upward mobility. They lacked education, training and skills of all levels. The government persecuted them and ran them from the cities. The laws of the time were so focused against the poor and "debtors" that they could and did lock you away for the most trivial of infractions and repeat offenders would be hung at the gallows. This was the time of indentured servitude to make it to the "New World." England was on the verge of revolt. In stepped the Methodist movement which centered around social causes. They established food closets, homeless shelters, worship centers, training facilities, educational centers and helped to change a nation. Some researchers even go so far as to say that the Methodist movement may have prevented a civil war in England. And I say all that as a preface to this:
One of John Wesley's maxims was:
Earn all that you can, save all that you can, give all that you can.

Now in America today it seems that maxim should still apply. But the maxim that seems to be in operation is Earn all that you can, spend all that you can and then find a creditor to help you spend more.

Look at the Wesley maxim:
Earn all that you can.
Earning gives one potential and opportunity. Not only does it better your own life but it also benefits the life of your family. Everyone is pulled up when you increase earning. But increased earning does not mean increased spending.

Save all that you can.
Earning allows you to live a better life. But some of that earning should (must) go to savings. Things happen and if a bad thing happens and you lose your ability to earn, then you need to have a safety net. It is advised to keep a few months of savings on hand. That would give you a lead time to find new work. Plus, one needs to save for retirement, save for vacation, save for kids' education, save to buy a house... save all that you can. Then you are prepared and ahead of the game when bad things happen. Or you are prepared and not needing credit when you wish to take a vacation or return to school or buy that car. The bank doesn't take part of your hard earned money in interest and fees. Saving money has the benefit of preparing for hard times, getting more for your money when you do spend it, and provides a certain peace of mind.

Give all that you can.
When is the last time you dug deep to give all that you can? We will take the most crazy opportunities to earn all that we can; sacrifice family, friends, and health to earn the big bucks. And if we want something bad enough, then we will scrimp and save to get it. But when do we really give ALL that we can? How does giving help? Why give? Giving creates solid communities. If the giving is going to help others who truly need the help to make it through a hard time then it builds a strong community. If the giving goes to programs that builds education, training, community programs, etc. then it creates a stronger society. And that is good for you because we all benefit from a strong society. Not only does it feel good to see the fruit of giving through better educational facilities, or better parks, or families being fed, but it also is good for them and for you. There may be a time when you need a little help and if the program is not in place because no one ever gave to it, then it won't be there for you either. How deep can you dig to give all that you can?

I hope that this does not sound too preachy, but it seems that a lot of today's financial and economic problems are due to people's misperception of money and its role in life. Money serves us, we should not serve it. If you don't control your money then it will control you. Be wise with the penny and you will always have an extra dollar.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Happy Fathers day!!!

Sometimes I get to thinking about being a Dad. I mean when we are growing up you just take parents for granted. But after you have your own kids and you find yourself saying and doing things that you remember your own parents saying or doing to you... well you have to stop and think. It also makes me appreciate my parents and all the crap I put them through. Now it all makes so much more sense. I mean you really have to live it to sympathize with it. Parenting is tough.

The funny thing is you really do have to live it. You can read about it, study it, observe it, critique it, but ultimately none of that can prepare you for living it. Words of wisdom, advice about life and raising kids is all fine and dandy but until you are really knee deep into it none of that advice makes much sense. And then try to remember what some auntie or grandma said about kids and discipline and education and.... everything else they like to go on and on about. It all just goes right out the window once living the life of a parent begins.

Yes I think there needs to be some underlying philosophy of child rearing that holds relatively consistent between the parents and other care givers, etc. But really... Sometime life just runs you over and it all flies out the window. Sometimes you will just do whatever it takes to get five minutes of peace and quiet.

I love my parents and have a much better understanding of where they were coming from and who they are. I think they did a good job in spite of all my attempts to sabotage their hard work.

I hope that someday my kids look back on me with the same attitude, until then I will pick my battles, hold the line, and do the best I can each day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Natural vs. Artificial

I was reading recently about the coming doom predicted by the Mayan calender. According to the theory in December 2012 we will move into a new era. Sort of like in the Chinese calendar moving from the year of the dragon to the year of the rat. Of course, some take this 2012 as a sign of Armageddon (which is Christian end time not Mayan end time) and then all of the conspiracy theorists take over and predict all types of horrible things. But in reality nothing so amazing is supposed to happen (cross our fingers). It is simply moving from one astrological frame of reference to another. In this new era, a new balance is supposed to be reached between heaven and earth, or humanity and nature, etc. You can Google it if you desire more details. This is all just a preface to some thought I had. As I was reading, the author of the article about 2012 pointed out the disparity of time. We live in time dictated by the clock, not by nature. Think about that for a moment.

Think about Nature and the natural flow to life:
  1. Seasons
  2. Birth/death cycle
  3. Migratory cycles
  4. Sunrise/sunset time frames
  5. Eating when hungry
  6. Subsistence living
  7. Hunter/gather: nomadic

Natural living is the rhythms inherent in nature expressed through intuition and instinct.

Now think about artificial living and the flow of life it creates

  1. 9-5 work hours (set work days) and long commutes
  2. Clock time
  3. Calender time
  4. Money ordered existence: consumer mentality
  5. Residential housing, private ownership
  6. Existence (self worth) defined by career or ownership

Artificial living is through constructs created to shape life with ulterior motives dictated by external pressures not internal needs.

Now I know perhaps I have lost some of you at this point. No, I don't advocate going back and living in caves as hunter/ gatherers. But I do wish that we could allow natural rhythms to have a say in how we live and commune with each other. What if I could eat when I was hungry instead of at dinner time. If I was tired can I sleep in or will my boss get mad if I am an hour late, even though the extra sleep will make me more productive? Yes, there are easy abuses in this system. I think it takes a lot of trust in fellow humanity. Can I depend upon the other person to do their job? But does that matter? Look at the stock market. That is a completely artificial system built into and on top of other artificial systems. But even it has its natural rhythms. And will it collapse if I take a few extra minutes sleep? Can a company be run upon the ideas of natural rhythms in life and in trusting others to do their jobs? Or are we all that cynical and suspicious?

I watch these squirrels run around my back yard. Right now they are mating and eating and doing squirrel stuff. But in another few months they will begin to store up for the winter. Those who store up enough survive; those who don't die. Pretty simple. Apply that to humanity. Is it even possible to live that simply? Think about it. Think about what would happen if the tree charged the squirrel a percentage for the nuts. And the dirt, a charge for storage. And then some hawk had to be paid for security. Of course the tree doesn't want more nuts; it wants fertilizer. So the squirrel has to find a way to trade nuts for fertilizer which introduces the middle man and then of course, the bank who charges interest on the exchange rate. And now the poor squirrel has to gather twice as many nuts to pay all the fees, charges and taxes (because those hawks can't be left unsupervised and the banking system needs to be regulated and so they need a government). And still it may not be enough to make it though the winter because there could be fluctuations in the exchange rate that eats up all the savings. How is a man to make it in this new crazy world? This is a drastic oversimplification. Or is it? Can we simplify society, life, community, work, etc. to reflect the instinctual natural tendencies? Can we blend the natural and the artificial to create a balanced, harmonious life, taking the good that both has to offer? Or is this a crazy Utopian dream? Maybe 2012 when force and answer or maybe not.

Monday, April 7, 2008

For Good or for Pleasure

Why do you do the things that you do? Is it for the good or for the pleasure?

I was reading in the Upanishads the other morning and I read a passage about the difference between good and pleasure. It is often a hard distinction to make. But it is a very real and very profound one. Think about it for just a moment.


What is good? In one situation what is good may be different than in another. I don't think it can be defined in any hard and solid ways. It is a loose concept with few parameters. If it is self- seeking then most likely it is not the good. Seeking the good puts the self as the subject not the object. The good extends outward from the one doing the action to the furthest reaches possible. It is not contained in the action or the one committing the act. The good begins in one place but then moves outward in every expanding circle of influence. What is the good? I think it is up to each person to wrestle with that question in their own terms, life and situations.

What is the pleasure? Pleasure is that which feels good but with the self as the object and others as the subject acting towards or on the object. It tends to be, ultimately, self-seeking. Do for "me" that which I want, like, need. Pleasure is a misleading but very enticing way of life.

What would happen to the world if we started seeking the good instead of the pleasure? What would happen to our life, our community, our countries if we stepped outside of our desire to find pleasure, but rather put ourselves second and sought the good for others? How big of an impact could we have with just a little perspective change?

This is a difficult idea because the difference between the good and the pleasure is often not that big and it is easy to slip from one to the other. And to seek the good is often a personal choice. No one outside that person can address the idea of motive, they can only witness the results. My seeking the good may look very different than your seeking the good. I just have to trust in myself that the good will be carried out and not fall into judging, condemning and second guessing those near me. I think ultimately actions will be proven with results.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Becoming an Artist

So far in this blog I have not talked too much about my artwork. Art has always been a part of my life. Over the years the time I spent doing art has waxed and waned with my available time, energy, space, etc. Yet in all my life it seems that art has remained a constant. But not until recently did I put it together with the rest of my life and embark on this adventure of being an artist: that is using art as a means of expression for inward and outward searching. I am philosophical and intuitive by nature but even so I have not put a lot of thought into why or how I "do" art. When I sit down to paint or draw, a different part of my being opens up and moves forward. It is hard to describe. At times a certain image will float about in my mind until I can finally sit down and express it on canvas with paints. At other times when I sit before the white canvas or blank page I can see the picture begin to take shape and all I need to do is color it in. As my skills have developed it has become easier to express that which is my head or that which I see on the canvas. But where those thoughts, images, etc. come from remain a mystery. I am not sure if that mystery is something I need to pierce at this time.

There are times where I might break from this expressive art and move to a more intentional art piece. For example, if I want to speak about the environment, a religious theme, capture a moment in time, etc. Then I will sit down to do sketches, work up colors, etc. and then begin the painting. I find those pictures hard to paint. Some of my frustration comes from lack of skill level, some from general frustrations that all artist have about perfection, and some from boredom. But in those moments discipline and perseverance carries the day. It is hard to move forward with a piece that seems to just drag on and on. But I also find that it is in those pieces that I have the most growth in skill development, patience, and reward.

I enjoy reading about art history and theory. I would say that to this date the biggest influence on my thinking and painting has been the German Expressionist, the Bauhaus and Kandinsky in particular, and Schiele, Klimt, (these last two being interesting because I am a landscape painter and they are primarily portrait painters), and Hodler.

Currently I am a bi vocational artist, I have to hold a "real" job to support my habit (my art). But a day I can spend in the studio is a good day. And after a really hard day or week at "work" I really look forward to my art time. It relaxes me, reconnects me and empowers me. Art is a must in my routine, even if just a little at a time (or all that I can get).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Project update

It has been a month since I started my world literature project. I have made some progress and have began reading some texts. It is an amazing project. The hurdles to overcome at times seem too large to even grasp. But with some diligence I think I can move forward, one little step at a time. My list is growing, as it should, even though I am running into problems of dating. Some sources put a text at a certain date but other sources date it differently. I am also cheating a little. Instead of listing every little scrap of text written on papyrus, inscribed in stone or preserved in mud tablets, I am only listing the source I am using for the whole collection. Well that is the technical side and I am still working out the methodology and approach.

As for insights. I have found human thought occupied with three subjects so far. The Code of Hammurabi, the Law of Manu and the Torah are great examples of the first and second concerns of human thought: Law and religion. Even in the most ancient of times laws regulating moral conduct, religious life, civilian life and lawsuits were abundant. We as a people group are very litigious. And the law carried outward from civil life to religious life, or visa versa. Religious codes of conduct, sacrifice, priesthood, etc. occupy a lot of ancient texts. Even ancient myths center around the role of the gods in the life and creation of the world. It takes centuries of Babylonian and Assyrian thought development before the role the human is even explored in relation to the gods. The third thought which I have found preserved in ancient texts is the idea of personal legacy. Kings, rulers, priests, etc. all wish to leave a written record of what they had accomplished in their life time. Lands conquered, wealth gained, armies destroyed, cities built... it goes on and on and today it is all gone, but to them in that day it was SO important for the memory to be preserved.

Well I will keep reading and reflecting. Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

World Literature

So I have decided to undertake a rather massive project. I want to organize a list and then read as much of what is contained on that list as possible. The list will consist of all the literature of the world organized in chronological order. And when I say literature I don't just mean fiction. I mean anything and everything that has been written down and preserved through the ages. That in and of itself is daunting. The most ancient texts are easy because there are so few of them that have survived the centuries. But once you get into the middle ages and cultures with writing abound it is going to become an organizational nightmare. Not only do you have the West (Greek,Latin, French, German, English language writers), but I am also searching out the Middle East. Also, at the height of the Islamic culture there was just as much if not more writing taking place in all subjects than ever in the west. And then there is the far east: China, Japan, etc. Those empires had their scholars, philosophers and writers as well. So this raises the next problem: finding readable English translations for the works. I could read them in their original languages (and for this project to have much scholarly application I probably should) but I don't think I have the time to learn all those languages as well.

Why would I want to undertake such a task? Does it have any merit? I think the list itself would have some use. (I am secretly hoping it already exists some place and I will find it in one of my searches. So far I have only found lists segregated by their respective cultures or time periods). I think that human culture is more connected than we might at first assume. I think the segregation by culture or time period is artificial to how things really work. I think that ideas, concepts, philosophies, stories, fictions, etc. travel and flow with the human populations. I think that in the past, humanity traveled and with them so did their ideas. And as such through the study of what was preserved in writing we can get a glimpse of how ideas spread about the globe. Did the idea of monotheism spring up naturally in various places, or was it brought from one to another? Or the idea of democracy? Or the way in which armies waged battles and conquered lands? I think a project like this could have many different applications even though it is going to be daunting and I doubt I will get much past the first few centuries of the common era (CE).

So far, I have listed with mostly accurate dating writings from the Greeks and Latins before the common era (BCE). I also have a start into Sumerian and Egyptian literature. The most ancient text that has survived to date appears to be "The Code of Hammurabi" followed closely by the "Epic of Gilgamesh." Both of which seem to come from a pre-Babylonian era (that is from the land of Iraq). It is five centuries before you get to Homer and the Greek classics. There are writings in Asia and Egypt that seem to come from this same era (2500-900 BCE). After 900 BCE, writing seems to begin to grow in volume. But even then each century only has a few surviving authors, thinkers or works.

And so my first insights are:
  1. Writing seems to have appeared in various cultures around the same time.
  2. The fact that more of the written record is available the further forward you move in history may stem from either or both of the following: more people are writing and/or less time has elapsed for the record to be lost.
  3. Humans feel the need to preserve what they deem as important.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cultural malaise

I was recently reading the surrealist romance novel, "Nadja." The author of this book was also one of the founders of surrealism (if being found surreal means anything). He wrote the "Surrealist Manifesto." This got me thinking about movements in the arts: Dada, surrealism, modernism, expressionism, impressionism, etc. Some of these movements have their political component as well as their cultural aspects. When I pull an art history book off my bookshelf and flip through it, it is divided up into nice little sections devoted to "movements." Some of these movements come with their own manifestos, some with their own communities (i.e. the Bauhaus) and some are just loose schools of trends.

But as I look around today I don't see too many manifestos being written about the arts, culture, society, etc. Nor do I see schools and communites working in harmony under one direction towards a common goal or understanding. Maybe I am just out of the loop and these things are going strong, but it seems that culture has hit an apathetic stretch. The 20th century has just fragmented the continuum, destroyed the chronological continuity. Or perhaps I am just standing too close in history.

History takes time to reveal that which will be kept and that which will be tossed a side. When we stand close to the moment it is hard to determine how that moment will unfold. Kierkegaard was ignored in his day but a century later impacted the philosophical world greatly. Today it is hard to tell what effects that the modern authors, thinkers, artists will have on tomorrow. Gresham is a prolific writer. Is he who the future will remember as great literature of the 20-21st century? (Is Shakespear great because he survived the ages, or did he survive the ages because he is great)? I mean is Thomas Kinkade and his millions of prints going to define the artistic life of the West for the 24th century art historian? Is that what is becoming of art? The best marketing team gets to write the history? (Not that I want to debate the artistic merit of Kinkade at this point). Maybe that is the way it always has been: wars and the PR teams who champion their causes. Maybe the manifestos and the current schools do exist. They just can't get the big time marketers to back them.

So what does that mean to me (or to you)?
Let us search out the cracks and nooks of life to see who is there doing what. Let us go off the beaten path and into those back alley galleries, those little art school showings, those coffee house colletions. Let us set aside the obvious PR/Marketing of the big time press and turn to the lesser publishing houses. Let us support the local arts, search out the local bookstores for the local authors and musicians and artists. And above all let us learn to create from the heart with purpose, style, and distinction. Maybe you can write the next manifesto about how art and life should relate.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Spirit and Matter

The supposed duality of spirit/matter used to be easy to phathom and we may be returning to a time where it will no longer be a problem. Until the 19th century it was assumed that the spirit world existed and in some ways interacted and affected the material world. But as natural philosophers became scientists, alchemists became chemists and universities added science as a course of study besides the humanities, the spiritual world became suspect. If it could not be weighed, measured, or observed then it did not in fact exist. The material realm became supreme and the spiritual realm was to slip quietly away. But then philosophy split again and gave birth to psychology. The study of human emotion and the human mind led down all sorts of crazy paths. Some of those paths died off and others are still walked today. And one of the most probing questions that philosophy and psychology asks is, "What does it mean to be human?" or more exactly, "What is consiousness?" And this question gave birth to neuroscience, the study of the brain. But it is much more then just the study of the physical stuff held in the head, it is also the study of the mind; how that physical stuff makes thoughts, emotions, memories, etc. And that is the turning point. That brings us full circle. In the brain is the mind. In the material universe is the immaterial consciousness. How the brain creates the mind or how the mind creates the brain is still a mystery. There has not yet been found that mechanism that creates, controls or maintains the conscious. We know that we are self aware we just don't know HOW we know we are aware. And if this self evident awareness is immaterial and not prone to the same type of materialist science that brought the supposed death to the spirit, then perhaps it is wrong and the spirit world still exists and still has some effect on us today. Perhaps just as a science of the mind was created, we now need a science of the spirit to explore such things. Not a theology or a religion, but a skeptical (read: objective) approach searching for methods to resolve questions of the spirit. (I believe that if such a science was created there would be great interest in its fellowship with some of the current trends in quantum physics).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Entropy

Entropy is a term used to define the movement towards being inert; it is a definition of potential energy available for work. As a system uses energy it moves towards inertia. Once all the energy is used and if more energy is not put in to the system, then the system ends. Think of a wind up toy running down until someone turns the key to add more energy. I think life is the same way. I don't mean biological life (although if we stop eating or adding energy through food, then our systems come to an end in death), I mean psychological life: the power to be.

Some people seem to have an overabundance of psychic energy and life comes easily to them. They can see the possibilites before them and they plan how to capitalize on it. They can see life as it opens before them and they have the energy, discipline and orginizational skills to take full advantage of it. Little seems to bring them down. How do they do this? Where do they get the energy to sustain themselves?

Other people always seem to be fighting entropy. Life is always on the down-and-out regardless of how hard they try. The energy is just not available to move forward with plans and decisions. Entropy is always a constant worry. Life seems to always take more than it gives. Why do some people always lack the energy needed to get ahead, or even to stay the same? Why is life always pulling them down?

Energy is a slippery substance. It can't be grasped. It is elusive. I think that when it comes to psychic entropy it has a lot to do with the wiring in the system. There seems to be three types of people: the selfish energy suckers, the selfless energy givers, and the balanced few. I should say these three types are predominant on a continuum.
  1. The selfish energy suckers: Some of us consume most of the available energy on our selves and have little to give others. This becomes cyclical until we run out of energy. It is hard to be around people who are consumed with themselves and their need to suck up all the energy. After awhile they are left alone, resulting in a system with no one to draw energy from.
  2. The selfless energy givers: There are others who always give all their energy away and have little left for themselves. Often they become entrapped with people who tend to need energy and always suck it from them. Eventually, they are drained dry and wilt.
  3. The balanced few: We can't spend all our energy on ourselves and yet we can't give it all away either. A balance has to be reached, a give and take. I think some people have that natural balance and they proceed well with life.

It is hard to tell the type of person from just the outward appearance. But in the end it always becomes known by the ultimate results. Learning to have a balance is most difficult. Those that come by it naturally cannot understand the struggle of those who must work hard to maintain it. And those who struggle to move into a position of balance know how hard they must work to maintain it; seemingly that in one lax moment, entropy wins.

This psychic energy comes from various sources. Some of it comes internally, especially with the introvert who needs time alone to recharge their batteries. Some of it comes externally from others, especially with the extrovert who needs crowds to recharge their batteries. Some of the energy comes from a will to be, the courage to triumph and move ahead with life. All of this is filtered through the individuals psychic and physical predispositions. It is not an easy form to color because of the multiple shades of personality and physical characteristics that come into play.

I find that in my own life I feel that I must fight entropy often. I must maintain discipline until that discipline becomes habit, but if that habit is broken then entropy takes over quickly. I can find a million and one excuses to not paint, or write or exercise. I must then make the concerted effort to regain the discipline and reform the habits. Things like life changes, disruptions in routines, change of location or job, etc. are all causes for me to waver in my healthy habits and disciplines. It then takes weeks (if I work hard at it) or months to recover to the place I was previously. That is one reason I dislike change. My natural state seems to be one of low energy. So to take on tasks that require high energy I have to work extra hard and it takes an extra toll. I then need more time to recover my energy, being an introvert that means hiding away. But that time has to be spent in rebuilding my energy, doing things that give me meaning and fill me up, not just vegging out on TV. I have to find that balance between gaining energy and using energy. It is difficult.

Ok I have wandered on long enough. Any thoughts or comments?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Life Stages

Life has definite stages. When you are young they are not so obvious, but as you age and pass from one stage to the next to the next those stages become more evident. It is not as if you walk from one room to the next. It is more like changing seasons, the signs are evident if you are looking; but if you are not then suddenly you are in the midst of winter and not sure how it happened. Being self aware can go along way in preparing for the next season of life, and for making it through your current season with a little grace and wisdom.

Today my wife and I saw the ultrasound of our baby. This is a planned preganacy so we are happy that it is happening. But even so no amount of forethought can adequately prepare you for a new born coming into the world. We still have four months to go... and already we have a video of the boy moving about in his mommies tummy. Yes it is a baby boy. A new stage in life is developing before our eyes. We know it, see it, plan for it. but wow!!!

There are a million little things that you cannot even think of, let alone prepare for when a life change of this magnitude comes along. You just have to take it one day at a time with an eye towards tomorrow, do the best you can and then hold on tight. If you allow it, life can take you to amazing places.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

First Spiritual Principle

I posted a list of twelve spiritual principles. In this post, I will attempt to add to the first principle:
  • The interconnectedness of all things.

Within Eastern philosophy, and Buddhism especially, this is a basic principle. In the west it is a principle that is becoming more accepted through scientific study. In the study of statistics there is a game that is played called the "six degrees of separation." It states that within six moves or associations any two people on the planet can be connected. I know you, who knows so and so, who is connected to what's-his-name, who works with yaya's sister and yaya is the aid to the President of China. The interconnectedness of people. But that is still not quite what this spiritual principle means. In the scientific community, within quantum mechanics in particular, there is a principle called entanglement. It states (oversimplified and therefore much room for error) that when two particles come in contact they can become entangled. And then however one is manipulated the other "entangled" particle shows the same manipulated results. (Take a photon split it into two parts. Polarize one part and the other part, regardless of distance from the one being manipulated, will also take on the same polarization.) Now this is moving closer to the spiritual principle at hand. Take into consideration that everything has come from one event. Therefore, at one time everything was entangled. New energy is not being created or destroyed only changing forms. This brings us to the second spiritual principle. We will return to this idea in another post.

So the first spiritual principle: everything is interconnected. This can be understood physically and yet the world, the cosmos, is so vast that we cannot hold the complete interconnectedness of all things in our head at one time. We cannot see how it is connected. We can only believe that it is. This principle can also be understood metaphysically. God, or the One, or the Power that Is, or Energy, or Fate is moving things into position creating a master plan which is being played out with or without our consent. If we are religious then we have our own views and beliefs about this line of reasoning and where we stand on it. But now the idea of belief comes into play. We each set a burden of proof to our beliefs. Sometimes blind belief is enough (there's no burden of proof, or an authority figure said it so I will believe it). Perhaps the examples above are enough (or they will lead you on your own search either through science: quantum mechanics; or religion and philosophy: Buddhism) and then your burden of proof will be met. Or you may remain skeptical and need further evidence, something that has not yet come to light.

I understand that at this point, things are greatly simplified. But I feel confident that as I move through each principle with deeper explanations clarity will be obtained. So have faith (in that which you believe you can) and keep reading. Please feel free to post questions and comments.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Perfect Human

I was thinking this week about humanity. We, as humans, are an interesting breed. On the one hand you see the most loving, humble and compassionate acts lived daily. On the other hand, you can find the most despicable, abusive, and harmful act carried out with a certain amount of disdain, that it sickens the soul. And that is just the social/psycho aspect of humanity. The human body is an amazing, awesome instrument, but when it breaks down or becomes addicted it is difficult to watch the results. Humanity is a paradox. From these premises, I started to think about what humans have thought or are thinking about ourselves.

In the past, it was thought that the first humans, the Golden Humans, were perfect. Their perfection was biological, sociological and psychological. It was not only the perfect human form, but the perfect human society, government and philosophy. But the perfection was lost with each seceding generation; the corruption broke down the society, the mind and the body. Perfection was lost and the result was a decaying human species becoming less and less with each passing generation. Even those who strive for perfection in one or more of the humanly characteristics could never fully recover what once was.

This is easy to see today. Genetic diseases are carried on and compounded with each new generation. Dysfunctional mental and social problems breeding even further dysfunctionality.

But then again: the fields of psychology, sociology, genetics are all new fields, even science as we understand it today is new in the grand scheme of human history. So maybe all of the ills which plague us today have always plagued us; it is just that no one mentioned it in the past in the scientific terms we look for today. Silence can tell us nothing. We do know that war, greed, corruption, love, compassion and sacrifice have always existed. But are the negatives on the increase and the positives on the decrease? Does the perfect human have yet to exist? In modern evolutionary terms humanity must always be striving forward. Modern science, psychology and sociology can now point to what may be, in some possible future, a perfect human living in a perfect society. Under the guidance of science, humanity can become greater and greater with each coming generation.

But then again: it seems things don't really change, only the accessories in which we dress ourselves.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Spiritual Principles

A year or so ago, I wrote out a list of spiritual principles, or the beginning of my spiritual philosophy. At this point, there are twelve principles on my list. I tried to keep them simple, but you will notice that those further down the list tend to be longer. I think simplicity is a virtue, but there are times when explanations are needed. At this point, I will just list what I have developed and then flesh them out in later posts with more detail.

  1. The interconnectedness of all things
  2. Energy is the only reality
  3. Energy flows
  4. We can participate in the energy flow (We can participate in reality)
  5. Through participation we come to see (know) the interconnectedness
  6. We are limited in our control of energy, but it is possible to increase our control through knowing the interconnectedness, participating in reality and having faith in that which is (I.E. belief in the energy [God])
  7. Participation is not just metaphysical or abstract. It is also moral and physical. Real participation connotes real action. This is Righteousness: the right act at the right time. Although what is "right" may not always be evident; action is always better then inaction. But don't act in haste. Act with the flow to promote the flow to bring balance.
  8. Living in the flow is a way of life. It begins in the heart with belief, in the mind with understanding (knowing and accepting) and in the body with action.
  9. Life is not divided or compartmentalized. Psyche(mind)/body/spirit is one. Don't overemphasis one area to the determent of another. All three make the conscious person.
  10. Through meditation we strengthen our spirit. Through exercise we strengthen our body. Through study we strengthen our mind. Yet we should not compound the illusions but rather use meditation, exercise and study to find liberation from the preconceived, to come to know the interconnectedness of all and the power of energy in all.
  11. Love is the way of the heart towards peace and harmony; that is balance. It may never be reached, but the way will lead towards the goal. To live love is to live balance. If all is interconnected then love must be extended towards all: people, animals, nature, cosmos...
  12. By releasing that which we think we can control we can truly come to realize what is in our control and how to extend control further. It will be realized that use of force or anger is not control or power but rather the way towards confusion. Acceptance of the ego as secondary leads to release, which is freedom to gain the enlightenment needed to see the interconnectedness and move towards true control/power. This is the way of humility.