Sun shines in the center of the sky.
All things turn their faces toward the light.
All things in this life depend on direction. In our world, all is oriented toward the sun : The planets revolve around it, the seasons depend upon it, and our very concept of night and day is tied to the sun’s rising and setting. The sun is the dominant element in our lives.
In all other areas of our actions, we cannot avoid making arrangements that have a center or orientation. Our lives require composition, just as the solar system has a relationship and structure. Yet all structure and orientation is essentially arbitrary. We take the sun as the center of our world because of our vantage point. To someone standing in another galaxy, our sun is nothing more than another point in limitless space. There is no absolute standard by which to truly call something the center. Therefore, all arrangements and all compositions, all determinations of a dominant element are relative, subjective, and provisional.
There is no center except for that in our own consciousness. When we look at the sun and the arrangement of the planets, we must also include ourselves as observers. How else is there the determination of what is being seen? Consciousness is part of the phenomenon. We are the center, and there is no absolute measure.
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
I have to confess a love for fiction and this has been on my to-read list for a while. I also get a kick out of “what if” stories and this 1992 novel is a doozie !
Not really steampunk, but giving off a great steampunk-ish vibe, three quarters of the fun of Anno Dracula is picking out the literary references. You have characters from Conan-Doyle bumping into characters from Stoker running into characters from Wells who are friends with characters from Wilde who team up with real life people in Victorian London to solve the Jack the Ripper murders; all under the conceit that Van Helsing didn’t succeed at the end of the Dracula story and now vampires co-mingle with humans and are slowly taking over …..
a really fun read –
In spite of knowing,
Yet still believing.
Though no god above,
Yet god within.
There is no god in the sense of a cosmic father or mother who will provide all things to their children. Nor is there some heavenly bureaucracy to petition. These models are not descriptions of a divine order, but are projections from archetypal templates. If we believe in the divine as cosmic family, we relegate ourselves to perpetual adolescence. If we regard the divine as supreme government; we are forever victims of unfathomable officialdom.
Yet it does not work for us to totally abandon faith. It does not follow that we can forego all belief in higher beings. We need faith, not because there are beings who will punish us or reward us, but because gods are wonderful ways of describing things that happen to us. They embody the highest aspects of human aspiration. Gods on the altars are essential metaphors for the human spiritual experience.
Faith shouldn’t be shaken because bad things happen to us or because our loved ones are killed. Good and bad fortune are not in the hands of gods, so it is useless to blame them. Neither does faith need to be confirmed by some objective occurrence. Faith is self-affirming. If we maintain faith, then we have its reward. If we become better people, then our faith has results. It is we who create faith, and it is through our efforts that faith is validated.
Drought burns basins to dust,
Light rain is a dew of mockery.
Receive without complaint,
Work with fate.
When the countryside is gripped in drought, it is useless to complain. Even when light rains fail to moisten the parched landscape, we should accept what happens. This is the way of Tao, and one who follows Tao accepts what comes.
We may have ambitions to move in one direction, but Tao will decide otherwise. We may have plans for the future, but Tao will bend time differently. T here are those who will cry out in anger and frustration, but the follower of Tao remains silent and goes about the business of preparation.
Acceptance does not mean fatalism. It does not mean capitulation to some slaughtering predestination. Those who follow Tao do not believe in being helpless. They believe in acting within the framework of circumstance. For example, in a drought, they will prepare by storing what water is available. That is sensible action. They will not plant a garden of flowers that requires a great deal of water. That is ignorance and egotism.
Acceptance is a dynamic act. It should not signal inertness, stagnation, or inactivity. One should simply ascertain what the situation requires and then implement what one thinks is best. As long as one’s deeds are in accord with the time and one leaves no sloppy traces, then the action is correct.
Can we please treat Gaia with the respect that she so desperatly needs and deserves ??
There’s a popular saying about our planet and humankind’s negative effects on its ecology:
“We treat this world of ours as though we have a spare in the trunk.”
Since the nearest planets that could possibly sustain life appear to be more than 1,200 light years away, it may be wise for Earthlings to do what we can to preserve the nice place we already have.
Since 1970, every April 22, Earth Day reminds us to do just that.
If you think we have more pressing matters to deal with than keeping Mother Earth in shape, consider the people of Afghanistan.
Climate change impacts the world
In 2011, the Green Club of Afghanistan planted more than 28 million trees. That’s nearly one tree per person in one of the world’s most war-torn nations.
Or, turn your sights to the beaches of California where a group of volunteers collected more than 3 million pounds of trash that could be recycled, and that was just a day’s haul.
The best intentions and actions are driven by knowledge, so here’s a little quiz to help you bone up on ecology:
1. How many pounds of trash did the United States create, per person, every day in 2010?
A. 1.23 lbs.
B. 3.46 lbs.
C. 4.43 lbs.
Answer: C — Less than 5 pounds may not seem like much, but if you multiply it by 365 days, that’s 1,617 pounds of garbage per person over a year.
2. The seven worst metropolitan areas for ozone pollution are all in California. No. 8 is in another state. Which is it?
B. New York
Answer: C — Houston, but some metro areas that may surprise youare not far behind, like Charlotte, North Carolina.
3. What percentage of hybrid car owners replace it with another hybrid when it’s time to get a new car?
Answer: C — Only 35% of people who buy a hybrid once buy one again. With all the praise they receive, isn’t it surprising so few drivers buy a second one?
4. About 70% of the Earth is covered with water. Only a relatively small amount of it is potentially potable fresh water. How much?
Answer: B — Only 2.5% of water on Earth is fresh water. And 70% of that is locked up in polar ice.
5. Though fresh water would seem somewhat precious, Americans use a lot of it every day. On average, what is the approximate daily water use of each household?
A. 25 gallons
B. 50 gallons
C. 300 gallons
Answer: C — 300 gallons. That’s what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. Meanwhile, more than 750 million people (more than 10% of the world’s population) still don’t have adequate access to drinking water, according to the United Nations.
6. A lot of the water Americans consume lands on their lawns. What percentage, on average, is used for outdoor purposes?
A. About 10%
B. About 30%
C. About 60%
Answer: B — About 30% of U.S. residential and commercial water goes for outdoor use. And up to 50% of that evaporates if you water in the heat of the day, the EPA estimates.
7. Which of the following takes the longest time to break down?
A. Plastic six-pack holder
B. Hard plastic container
C. Disposable diaper
Answer: A — A plastic six-pack holder takes 450 years to disintegrate. Consider the impact of plastic water bottles, which take as long to biodegrade. The International Bottled Water Association says that in the top 10 global markets alone, people consumed more than 61 billion gallons of bottled water in 2011.
8. Which of the following accounts for the greatest percentage of total waste in the United States?
Answer: A — Paper is by far the No. 1 item Americans dispose of. But it is also the most recycled material.
9. How much solid waste does the United States produce in one year?
A. 50 million tons
B. 150 million tons
C. 250 million tons
Answer: C — 250 million tons, says the EPA. That’s more than 1,000 times greater than one of the largest cruise ships in the world.
10. Which of the following countries had higher emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, per capita, in 2008 than the other two?
A. United States
C — Australia emitted 26.08 tons of carbon dioxide per person in 2008. For comparison’s sake, a full tanker truck can weigh between 12 and 25 tons. U.S. and Russian per-person emissions that year were 22 and 15 tons, respectively.
Put forth your effort
With no thought of gain.
One should not pray or meditate with any thought of gain. Hold no expectations. Then the rewards will come. If one strives for power and gifts, no true results will come, and one will become lost in lust. Praying for results brings no results — the true spirit appears only when there are no expectations to hamper it.
Books and teachings talk of the results of meditation because they prepare the aspirant for the experiences that will occur. It is important not to look on these writings as advertisements. They are merely descriptions of what you will encounter.
Sit down with no thought of results and you will go naturally and spontaneously with Tao. It is admittedly a paradox. We are to know what to expect, and yet we should allow them to appear as they will. It seems irrational and inefficient. Yet if you would know Tao, there is no faster way to enter the midstream.
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