[NetBehaviour] Our long global nightmare is over

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 26 23:14:34 CEST 2019

I think even the Buddha tried to point out the insufficiency of Buddhism, and point us to something else.  Sometimes called "a finger pointing to the moon."  Why the moon?

Impossibility is a difficult something to know for certain.

Suppose we saw a photograph today of Bishop Tutu kissing the newest baby of the British Royal Family.  This photo could mean nothing, something good, something bad, or many different things, granted.  Suppose then, not knowing what if anything the photo means, the Bishop mentions his book about joy -- or gives a signed copy of the book about joy he co-wrote with the Dalai Lama -- to the Royal Couple, inscribed to their new child.  Then the Prince could mention Parliament's program in mindfulness as it relates to the Dalai Lama.  Suppose then the Royal Couple became interested in global initiatives around contemplation, mindfulness, peace and reconciliation, and interfaith dialogues.  Suppose then also neuroscience made significant strides in confirming that meditation (or mindfulness, or contemplation, or art-awareness, resting consciousness, different names are OK) can dramatically reduce fear and improve creativity, problem-solving, mutual respect, communication, and cooperation, by impacting the cognitive networks of the brain, at least hypothetically.

Suppose then, at random in various locations, some people, aware of some of the above or not, gathered to have a "Bohmian dialogue," as described in David Bohm's book On Dialogue, about the book On Dialogue.  Bohm suggests that such dialogues have never been the norm, but sees no reason why they could not occur -- no reason they would be impossible.  He has seen them occur among some of the key physicists of the last century, like Einstein and Bohr, or not occur as the case may be.  He calls this attitude "tactical optimism."  The cost of such dialogues is zero, so there could be several or many even if the chances of finding anything new and to the purpose are low.  Bohm implies that such dialogues, or information-flows, have a special capacity for innovation because they are not predetermined, allowing varied, diverse information to circulate in ways never seen before and be observed doing so in ways prior observation had not.  Bohm could very well be wrong, but facing what we face today it might be worth the couple of hours to read his book with a group.

Suppose then, nothing at all of what I have described happens, except that I decide to choose On Dialogue as my next nonfiction choice for my actual book club, and do that, or, if my next choice is fiction, choose Labyrinths by Borges.  Maybe I end up choosing neither, and forget I ever wrote this email.  Or perhaps, someone has a conversation with someone somewhere about Bohm and they call Prince Harry who founds a Dialogue UK foundation for the increase and flourishing of mutual understanding among all people, nations, and the natural world.  Who am I to say the latter is physically impossible?  It may very well be, but I don't feel that I know for a fact that it is.  Even as just an act of art I may be entitled to "persist in lucid awareness of the absurd."

Or like Abbey Road says: "seems like years since it's been clear"!  🙂

From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2019 2:25 PM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Alan Sondheim <sondheim at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Our long global nightmare is over

I have to say I agree with Gretta here. I don't meditate, but I read extensively in Buddhism. There are many Buddhisms, many ways to center onself or decenter oneself for that matter.
Networks are "about" nothing in my view; they're abstract structures which are applicable in many ways. There's no goodness or badness in them. The networkings of bio-geo-chemical cycles for example has been transformed by humans and global warming is violent, people are of course dying, wars and refugees are increasing as a result of diminished resources.
In this sense, I think mindfulness is a problem, not a solution. How we handle ourselves and our pain and anxiety is one thing; how we talk about, act, protest, demand, petition, act ecologically responsible, etc. is another. One doesn't necessarily lead to another. And there's no "new birth of genius" that I can see - instead there are strongmen, whole ecosystems being destroyed. I am most pessimistic about this, which doesn't stop me as Bernard Henri-Levi said years ago, from protesting with every breath, with my fist raised in the face of catastrophe, but on a practical level I think nothing but ecocides are in our future - and that's a word that, for me, implies whole species burned alive, screaming with no help in sight. If we don't start at degree zero, we kid ourselves. The nightmare is not over; it's just beginning, even though some of us were teaching and talking about this all the way back in the early 70s, late 60s. As far as "across all nations" is concerned, unfortunately Trump's anti-globalist stance is becoming increasingly prevalent. (I think all life is and has always been intelligent, and intelligence, culture, goes "all the way down" but that's another discussion.
So I would say, would argue, degree zero, with our backs to the wall. Because that's what happens in fires, hurricanes, massacres, refugee camps, prisons, floods, iceberg calvings, droughts, wars, epidemics, and so forth; I take my lesson from the disappearance of insects. I agree with Gretta below, perhaps I think also that individual wellness is vastly overrated; I have friends who have been involved heavily with the Tibetan translation project, with the Kalachakra, with the Dali Lama, and they had a rabbit confined in a coop in their back yard, who finally died, cooped in all weathers, and all their meditation in the world didn't review the suffering of the animal. They didn't connect; we couldn't connect them. I have no hope, which means that every good act that might make a difference is a gift.
But resist!

Best, Alan

On Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 3:57 AM Gretta Louw via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:
I enjoyed reading this / hoping for this, though a big part of me is not buying the idea that we’ve woken up nor that the nightmare is over.

I meditate myself (mostly starting out as a coping mechanism that helped me deal with anxiety-insomnia), but also see a lot of truth in criticisms that the mindfulness obsession of today is very much about relocating angst about the state of the world and legitimate discontent with political, environmental, and social injustices to tensions going on within the mind of the individual. i.e. the system is not broken -> you’re broken. Here’s one article I dredged up on short notice but I think not the best one: https://theconversation.com/mcmindfulness-buddhism-as-sold-to-you-by-neoliberals-88338

I think often about a talk I happened to hear by a buddhist meditation teacher who explained that he first got into meditation - in the 60s - as a way of dealing with his fear of dying while he was protesting the Vietnam War. He went on to talk about how people often consider meditating an apolitical act, or wonder how ‘just sitting’ can affect change in the world. He said meditating is just sitting, but it matters *where* you sit.

Some morning thoughts…

take care all,

On 25. Sep 2019, at 22:52, Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:

History is indeed a nightmare, but fortunately we have now all woken up!

Networks are not about technology.  They are about living things, first and foremost.  Plants, people, coral reefs, polar bears.  These are the real networks of value.

The purpose of the technology networks is to serve and support the life-networks, not to be ends in themselves and certainly not vice-versa.  Life-networks are both individuals and groups.

Now that the nightmare is over we can focus on individual wellness via mindfulness, natural-intelligence-positive neuroplasticity, and a new birth of genius across all nations to save the planet and ourselves.

It's a great time to be a living intelligence!

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