October 24, 2008

I just wanted to pick up on the comments on Ran’s blog about schooling and socialisation because ever since we started telling people we were unschooling our children (often we just say homeschooling so as not to frighten them) the single most common objection we receive is;

“But what about you’re child’s socialistion?”.

After several irritating years of this it suddenly dawned on me that no one had ever said;

“But what about your child’s education”!!!

From talking amongst friends, and with homeschoolers on-line, it appears that this a pretty universal experience for all of us.

There’s a mad absurdity about this situation but I also think there is something deeper – people happily, and immediately, concede that school is not that great a place to learn because (I suspect) that at a subconscious level they completely understand the main purpose of school based socialisation. They’ve internalised the values of the domination system and move immediately to defend it.

The absurdity has hidden depths too. The meaning of the word socialisation obviously has to do with a child learning social skills but there are no specific classes on socialisation at schools, and even more bonkers children spend their time almost exclusively with people of their own age who couldn’t possibly teach them how to socilaise because they are at a similar level (Not to mention the issue raised on Ran’s forum about socialisation being repressed for most of the day).

It goes deeper though: In New Zealand homeschoolers have to submit to being reviewed by the education ministry in the same way that schools do and we recently heard from an unschooling parent who said that the reviewer asked a few question’s about their child’s socialisation. First of all this is not part of the New Zealand Curriculum or the curriculum document that the parent’s submitted to the MOE when they applied for a homeschooling exemption (so the reviewer had no right to ask about it). But when they told him that that child regularly plays with a large number of neighbourhood children on a daily basis the reviewer said that it didn’t really count!

He was only satisified that the child was getting proper socialisation when they said it went to more formalised events like soccer practice – despite the obvious fact (or maybe because of it) that child to child interaction is completely mediated by a dominant adult.


Also: Ran ended his piece with this comment;

…it’s almost impossible to come out of the schooling system with both high intellect and high social intelligence

and I would add that it is the ones who come out with low social intelligence who end up having more power and the most say in how our society functions.

Whic of course is the system working exactly as it’s supposed to



October 3, 2008

You know I will probably never visit the LATOC discussion board when looking for advice on how to handle the coming upheavel in our way of life and while guns-and-gold are doubtless getting a big look in at the moment, Ran is still dispensing his much calmer advice and generally soothing the troubled waters of those who are prepared to listen. I want to take this direction one step further though and talk about how we’re going to do more than just surivive and for that kind of thinking we need Bill Mollison. Old interviews of Bill are all over the internet and I recommend reading lots of them to pick up on his vibe of ingenuity.

One of the worst paths we can follow at this point is to try to preserve our existing way of life even as it becomes increasingly untenable. Maybe out of habit, but more likely because we don’t know the alternatives, we’ll just struggle on with an ever harder daily grind. I’m pretty sure now however that permaculture has the vision we need to chart a new course – and it doesn’t just come with a new plan for the future but also a new way of thinking that will be especially valuable for a culture that has grown dependant on authority figures to do it’s thinking for it.

One of Bill’s interviews compared permaculture thinking to the marital arts philosophy of Aikido in that it seeks to turn adversity into strength. I have to admit I don’t know much about Aikido that here’s Bill Mollison with just one of a million tales of ingenious inventiveness.

We grow a lot of prawns in Hawaii, [Bill is actually from Australia] and you could grow them in your glass house up in Maine, freshwater prawns, and they eat single-celled algae, so we don’t know how to cultivate those, so we just simply float about 20 ducks to a quarter acre and they do the job of growing the algae. The duck manure is almost immediately colonized by algae and that’s what the prawns eat, the algae. So 25 ducks per quarter acre,100 per acre, and you can produce $60,000 worth of prawns per quarter acre twice a year. Think of that. And that’s just duck shit. Duck’s shit is the basic fuel for that system. Now, what are you going to feed your ducks. Very few ducks enjoy eating much grass. They love Tradescantia and sweet potato but they love snails too, so you can put in lots of water lilies in clumps here and there and in between them you put a lot of horseradish. Snails love living in water lilies but they come out and eat horseradish. And also, if you put a lot of nasturtium in, you get a lot of snails, so if you’re going to grow ducks you gotta grow horseradish, nasturtium, Tradescantia, water lilies and Agapanthus (African lily). You’ll get plenty of ducks which means you’ll have plenty of algae in the water and you can grow prawns, and the prawns haven’t cost you a penny. They’re just a second offshoot of your ducks feeding and enjoying themselves. So the system fuels itself.

That’s from a very long and inspiring interview at Seeds of Change. This next example is from another long interview at Mother Earth News

Here’s an example I like to use: I call it my chicken model. Take four separate elements: a hen coop, a greenhouse, a pond, and a small forest. Now you can have these on your farm . . . and place them wherever you like, in no particular relationship to each other. In that situation each one functions individually, and they all consume energy. But if you make the forest a forage range for the chickens by putting the coop in or near that forest . . . if you attach the greenhouse to the front of the chickens’ shelter . . . and if you set the pond in front of the greenhouse — as illustrated in Permaculture Two — well, then you’ve got a nice system of interrelating functions, the familiar checks and balances.

Just look at all the ways you produce energy in this system: the chickens’ body heat, the direct sunlight that reflects off the pond and hits the greenhouse, the radiation of the trees at the rear, the decomposition of chicken manure, and on and on. If you sit down and sketch this system out, you’ll find that it’s fantastically complex — with thousands of functional interactions — and will run itself . Operating on its own energy, the system automatically switches on and off. As the sun gets high in the sky, the greenhouse absorbs more heat . . . so the chickens get hot and go out, thus removing the source of animal heat. While they’re outside, the birds forage in the forest and leave their manure to enrich the soil. After dark, of course, they’ll go back inside to keep warm . . . taking their body heat with them.

Look at each chicken by itself and the variety of functions it’s performing in this one simple model: In the coop the hen operates as a radiator, an egg producer, and a manurial system. In the forest the bird acts as a self-forager, a tree-disease controller, a fireproofer, a fertilizer producer, and a rake. One can use chickens to do quantities of useful work . . . in fact, I don’t know what you can’t do with chickens, once you get started!

I tend to have the view that there’s no problem that’s insurmountable if I think about the solution for long enough, but Bill Mollison seems to operate on the belief that there’s no problem that can’t be turned into an advantage if you think about it just right – and it’s that kind of attitude that we’re all going to need as we go about recreating our culture (and saving our butts) over the next few years. I think we’ll also need some of Bill’s attitude just to keep our energy levels high in the dispiriting face of the diet of doom most of us follow.


1 gone, 1 back and 1 idle

September 16, 2008

I’m the idle one, if you haven’t guessed.

The gone one is Ted from Free Range Organic Human who left this parting message (if you haven’t seen it). I didn’t agree with every single thing Ted wrote but I have alwas admired the way he approached his own journey with such an open mind. I also admire his move to go cold turkey on the internet. I’m not ready to do the same myself but I completely understand where he’s coming from.

UPDATE: I just checked back and Ted has made another posting – from what he says leaving the net behind is obviously not easy. This could be interesting.

The back one is Dan, with a personal rebirth and a site rebirth. Don’t be confused by his new portal, the logo is the button you press to get into the main site (It confused me for no more than a couple of minutes:-). He’s starting off with a blog post about his recent personal changes and also a new essay. Dan is moving so fast down the path of personal exploration that I’m being left in his dust – luckily he’s leaving a great trail to follow and a great list of reading for the rest of us.


Free Will

July 26, 2008

I stumbled upon a blog entry at Reality Sandwich from Charles Eisenstein which I really like. In the comments from two posts back Dan touched on the issue of whether we really have true free will and here,  coming at it from a slightly different angle is what Charles Eisenstein has to say:

…do you ever have the feeling at such times that you didn’t choose the compulsive habitual behavior at all? You just found yourself doing it, you didn’t choose it. In a valiant attempt to take responsibility, you might say, “Why did I choose to do that?” yet your felt experience was not one of choice, but of helpless automaticity. There is a good reason for this. The reason you feel like you did not make a choice is that, in fact, you did not actually make a choice. You did not choose to start shouting, to have a cigarette, to eat the whole bag of chips, to browse some porn sites, to flip on the television. Your feeling of helpless automaticity is accurate.

It is not that we humans are automatons, bereft of choice or free will. It is that we make the real choice long, long before we appear to. We choose indirectly, through who we create ourselves as. We create ourselves as someone who will, or will not, start yelling in a given situation. We create ourselves as someone who will, or will not, smoke cigarettes. We create ourselves as someone who will or will not respond to a given situation in a given way. Therefore, if you want to change the way you think, speak, and act, you can only do so by recreating your self. You cannot enforce behavioral changes through will, nor through the program of threat and incentive that we mistake for will.

Charles Eisenstein was surprised to find scientific backing for his idea:

In a study published this year in Nature Neuroscience, European researchers found that the outcomes of simple decisions can be detected in the brain up to ten seconds before the subject is aware of them. They conclude that we make choices ten seconds before we think we do, but perhaps these last ten seconds are only the final stage of an invisible, cumulative process of years. As the research does confirm the automaticity of our actions, the researchers could not help but say that their experiment seems to prove that free will is an illusion.

Eisenstein responds with:

Actually, they are looking for free will in the wrong place. Free will only operates in our self-creation, and it is from this that we make predetermined “choices” that are really just manifestations and symptoms of our self-creation.

So, how do we create ourselves? We create ourselves through the one and only choice we actually do have at any given moment. It is our only power as human beings; it is the entirety of our free will. Our only choice, our only power, our only means of self-creation and world-creation, is our power of attention. In other words, at any given moment the only thing we are actually choosing is where to place our attention. Everything else is automatic.

I think the reason this particularly hit home to me is that I’m working with someone at the moment who is totally into the negative explanation for everything. People are rude, they’re stupid, they’re taking the piss, in fact “the whole town is f—-d”. He can always tell you a person’s shortcomings and although he’s generally right he’s also totally wrong because there is always more to a person than their shortcomings.

Anyway, aside from the general dragginess of being around this I realised the other day that it was starting to infect my personal viewpoint and I was beginning to approach a few people in the shop with suspicion in the back of my mind – and occasionally letting this attitude out too. What the guy I’m working with does when he’s in that situation is to temporarily repress his feelings while the person is in the shop which only serves to feed back into his feelings of resentment of the world – although it’s important to note that the temporary repression doesn’t always work either.  I couldn’t have found a better example of what the article talks about.

At least I have a clearcut example of what happens when a person focuses entirely on the negative story but I think I will have to make some kind of stand against it because my subconscious doesn’t apply any judgement when it hears the negative viewpoint, it just soaks it all up.


The Death of the Free Internet

July 23, 2008

Via Idleworm, The Death of the Free Internet. I remember reading how, with the advent of printing presses, the elite in places like Britian were so incensed that ‘radical leftists’ and the like were printing their own papers (and the common people were being exposed to dangerous political messages) that they passed laws making it harder for non-elite publishers. I’m sorry I can’t recall exactly what these measures were but the main point was that they didn’t work because they were so blatant and heavy handed. In the end the thing that killed the radical papers was the use of advertising.

Naturally there were few advertisers who agreed with the politics of left wing papers and so the establishment papers were able to sell for a substantially lower cost thanks to subsidies from advertisers and eventually came to dominate the market – and so we have the sorry excuse for the media that we all know about today.

It appears from this article that history is about to repeat itself where the internet is concerned. China has tried restricting access to the internet and received a lot of flak for it but now in Canada the subtle approach is about to be tried.

What will the Internet look like in Canada in 2010? I suspect that the ISP’s will provide a “package” program as companies like Cogeco currently do. Customers will pay for a series of websites as they do now for their television stations. Television stations will be available on-line as part of these packages, which will make the networks happy since they have lost much of the younger market which are surfing and chatting on their computers in the evening. However, as is the case with cable television now, if you choose something that is not part of the package, you know what happens. You pay extra.

And this is where the Internet (free) as we know it will suffer almost immediate, economic strangulation. Thousands and thousands of Internet sites will not be part of the package so users will have to pay extra to visit those sites! In just an hour or two it is possible to easily visit 20-30 sites or more while looking for information. Just imagine how high these costs will be.

My only hope is that with the whole decline of civilisation thing, people will be starting to wake up to the nature of the powers-that-be by then and will be more inclined to oppose this move. Although that seems kind of naieve now that I’ve actually written it (but I’ll leave it in anyway). I’ve heard that mainstream people visit mostly commercial sites on the web anyway and was trying to think what they may view that was a bit more off-piste and the only thing I could come up with was blogs. So my other hope is that so many people like blogs that there will be a mass of people upset that they can’t read their favorite blogs or that they have no readers any more and that they will make a difference.

Alternatively it may make not matter anyway. As Kevin has posited, sites like his are great for tracking how much of the population are thought criminals and since his readership only comes from the fringes of society in the first place it may actually be the case that the internet has made no difference to the political landscape anyway. Then on the other hand (my 4th) and to paraphrase Ran’s comments from earlier today, it may be simply that the elite are so mean they’ll just want to crush the free spirited nature of the internet regardless of any strategic considerations.

The only other thing I should mention is that we’ll probably still have email – and email lists, which will still allow for considerable interaction between groups of dangerously like minded people. I wonder how they’ll try to clamp down on those?


Pay Attention

July 20, 2008

In my meanderings around Saharasia and The Fall I also came across Eckhart Tolle, I think Dan may have linked to an article about him ages ago but anyway here’s a quote from a chapter of his book The Power of Now. (I won’t speculate on the issue of whether his appearance on Oprah is a good or a bad sign and nor will I bemoan – for long – that fact that his latest book is out on-loan at the local library and that I would have to wait for a further 13 people to borrow it before I could get a look).

The first sentence was written specifically for me I’m sure:

The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the only true liberation. You can take the first step right now. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old gramophone records that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years. This is what I mean by “watching the thinker,” which is another way of saying: listen to the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence.

When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say, do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door. You’ll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it. This I am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind.

So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel a conscious presence – your deeper self – behind or underneath the thought, as it were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream – a gap of “no-mind.” At first, the gaps will be short, a few seconds perhaps, but gradually they will become longer. When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. This is the beginning of your natural state of felt oneness with Being, which is usually obscured by the mind. With practice, the sense of stillness and peace will deepen. In fact, there is no end to its depth. You will also feel a subtle emanation of joy arising from deep within: the joy of Being.

It is not a trancelike state. Not at all. There is no loss of consciousness here. The opposite is the case. If the price of peace were a lowering of your consciousness, and the price of stillness a lack of vitality and alertness, then they would not be worth having. In this state of inner connectedness, you are much more alert, more awake than in the mind-identified state. You are fully present. It also raises the vibrational frequency of the energy field that gives life to the physical body.

As you go more deeply into this realm of no-mind, as it is sometimes called in the East, you realize the state of pure consciousness. In that state, you feel your own presence with such intensity and such joy that all thinking, all emotions, your physical body, as well as the whole external world become relatively insignificant in comparison to it. And yet this is not a selfish but a selfless state. It takes you beyond what you previously thought of as “your self.” That presence is essentially you and at the same time inconceivably greater than you. What I am trying to convey here may sound paradoxical or even contradictory, but there is no other way that I can express it.

Instead of “watching the thinker,” you can also create a gap in the mind stream simply by directing the focus of your attention into the Now. Just become intensely conscious of the present moment. This is a deeply satisfying thing to do. In this way, you draw consciousness away from mind activity and create a gap of no-mind in which you are highly alert and aware but not thinking. This is the essence of meditation. In your everyday life, you can practice this by taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention, so that it becomes an end in itself. For example, every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing. Be totally present. Or when you wash your hands, pay attention to all the sense perceptions associated with the activity: the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap, and so on. Or when you get into your car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence. There is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you feel within.

Shortly after reading this I was feeling particularly worried about some issue or other and managed to remember to shut the voice in my head down by focussing 100% on the task I was performing at the time – and it worked! The level of tension I was experiencing eased right off.

So many of us use the statement “I just can’t stop thinking about “……” and it’s because we’ve been trying to replace one disembodied thought with another disembodied thought. I’ve mentioned in the past about how I’ve found rock climbing to be a good way to pull my mind of out a depression or stop that worrying voice but now I realise there is no need to go to such extremes, all I need to do is pay 100% attention to any real thing that is right in front of me.


EFT and Eyesight

July 19, 2008

Three years ago I was at an Ecoshow talk and the speaker, who was an eco-psychologist of sorts made an aside about how children develop eye problems and start to need glasses at an age when ‘it all becomes too much and the don’t want to see it any more’. The assumption that our children have a hard time in childhood was of course easy for me to handle but I had never heard the idea that eye problems were a symptom of pschological issues.

I think the next reference I saw to this concept was on Ran’s page where he talks about his attempts to regain his eye sight. He refers to the tension in the muscles around the eye that cause the sight problems as being similar Wilhelm Reich’s concept of body armour.

In my last post about EFT I suggested that the concept of body armour and the EFTconcept of trauma being stored in the body’s electrical system were probably closely related and indeed, as Miguel testified in the comments for that posting the proponents of EFT have had some success with improving eye sight.

From the EFT website here is a brief comment from someone who appears to be a Behavioural Optometrist about the connection between emotion and vision.  And here is a quick case study of someone having their eye problems resolved at an emtional level. Note that those unfamiliar with EFT there will be a bit of unfamiliar jargon but that the improvement in sight will be very obvious. It’s also a good example of just how damn quickly EFT can resolve some problems.