Russell Brand: The Spiritual Revolution

Russell Brand talks to Alex Jones about humanity’s spiritual revolution and the source of the elite’s power.

Russell Brand: Radical Prophet, Mystical Force of Nature

>by David DeGraw

Russell Brand, that controversial, formerly drug and sex-addicted, adolescent funny man, who was spawned from UK “reality” television, became a movie star with roles in mindless comedy blockbuster hits and was briefly married to a pop princess, has evolved into one of the world’s most important radicals.

In this modern age, where the spectacle of celebrity is used to distract, bamboozle and pacify the masses, where ignorance is placed on a pedestal and repetitiously rammed down our throat, raping our young minds, enslaving us in the all-consuming cult of consumerism and a never-ending narcissistic rat race to the bottom, Russell Brand has emerged as an enlightening force.

Behold, Russell Brand: comedian / trendsetter / thought-leader / revolutionary / spiritual guru. The more you pay attention to him, the more you realize that he is a madly brilliant critical thinker, a prophet of sorts, a spiritual sage, a shaman of radical positivity. Russell knows how to dance with fame, as he sprinkles subversive mind-opening truths like pixie dust.

He is currently on a whirlwind worldwide comedy tour, fittingly called Messiah Complex. His performance weaves through famed radical icons such as Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Gandhi and Jesus. Yes, Jesus the radical, the man who cared about the poor and chased the moneychangers from the temple. Russell makes you yearn for a modern day messiah who can chase Wall Street from our lives and deliver us to freedom. Alas, as Che said, only you can liberate yourself. There is much truth to Che’s words. However, as Brand makes clear, we are bred to follow false idols and live in a “cult of the hero.” Famed social psychologist Jacques Ellul summed it up:

“The cult of the hero is the absolutely necessary complement of the massification of society…. This exaltation of the hero proves that one lives in a mass society. The individual who is prevented by circumstances from becoming a real person, who can no longer express himself through personal thought or action, who finds his aspirations frustrated, projects onto the hero all he would wish to be. He lives vicariously and experiences the… exploits of the god with whom he lives in spiritual symbiosis.”

Russell Brand Messiah Complex tourKnowing that we have this ingrained bias built into our cultural programming, it seems clear that the propaganda-addicted masses need icons, now more than ever, who can help expand their consciousness and inspire them to new ways of thinking and living. As Brand jokes about being the second-coming (in bed, not in the biblical sense), you can’t help but think to yourself; is Brand evolving into one of these very icons he pokes fun of? It may seem like a stretch, and it is extremely high praise to even playfully ponder such a question. That being said, I see Brand as a seriously liberating force with limitless potential as a counter-cultural radical iconoclast.

As he masks his message in an intense, quick-witted, relentless rapid-fire torrent of self-deprecating humor, it subversively slips through your habitual thoughts and hits home in a profound way. Amidst all the laughs, I decipher and sum up his message this way: we are all distracted, dumbed-down and mentally conditioned by mainstream media, while corrupt politicians have been paid off by a small group of shortsighted, greed-addicted billionaires and multinational corporations, who are consolidating wealth and resources on an unprecedented scale, and destroying our future in the process.

This may be commonsense to anyone paying attention to the true state of the world, but for the overwhelming majority, to the propagandized masses, he delivers this eye-opening message in bedazzling fashion, with humorous, disheveled sex appeal, which makes him irresistible to the people who need to hear this message the most. The talented trick of it all, he does it all in a very compassionate, fun-loving, and, most importantly, non-preachy style. As Oscar Wilde once said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” Brand lives by that quote, he even has it tattooed on his arm.

Above all, Brand’s spiritual vibe comes through, radiating love and empathy for humanity as a whole. That may make the cynical among us roll their tired eyes, but he pulls it off in a genuine way. Celebrity, sex, spirituality and humor are all highly infectious. These days, they are most often used to manipulate, deceive, divide and disempower us. Brand is now flipping that script, he is using them to empower, enlighten and unite us. His hilarious and controversial bad boy attics have slipped him into mainstream consciousness, and his ever-growing celeb status ensures he will stay there for a while to come. He’s a Trojan horse inside the gates of mainstream media. The soldiers are only just beginning to sneak out, freedom seems within reach.

How many celebrities do you know who can turn a glitzy GQ swank-fest gala into an easily understood rant on the corrupting influence of money in politics? The GQ controversy was just one of several recent bursts of radical enlightenment to come from Brand. (See him school MSNBC “news” anchors here and watch this compilation of clips here.)

Russell is the editor the latest copy of the New Statesman. His theme is Revolution of Consciousness; the magazine features the work of some of the world’s most radical thinkers. In a new must see BBC interview discussing the release of the magazine, Russell is in affable battle mode matching wits and mental jabs with veteran “newsman” Jeremy Paxman. (Watch the video to the right to see one of the most radical interviews you will ever see on mainstream television.)

He opens the magazine with a manifesto of sorts, featuring gems such as these:

“Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites….~

I don’t vote because to me it seems like a tacit act of compliance; I know, I know my grandparents fought in two world wars (and one World Cup) so that I’d have the right to vote. Well, they were conned. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing to vote for. I feel it is a far more potent political act to completely renounce the current paradigm than to participate in even the most trivial and tokenistic manner, by obediently X-ing a little box.~

Total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic system is what interests me, but that’s not on the ballot….

Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels….~

Along with the absolute, all-encompassing total corruption of our political agencies by big business, this apathy is the biggest obstacle to change…. We have succumbed to an ideology that is 100 per cent corrupt and must be overthrown. The maintenance of this system depends on our belief that “there’s nothing we can do”…~

We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir….~

The revolution of consciousness is a decision, decisions take a moment. In my mind the revolution has already begun.”

In my mind, Russell hits the nail on the head when he speaks of a revolution of consciousness in political and spiritual tones with an emphasis on propaganda. To create the revolution that we need to get us off of this disastrous path and out of this obsolete paradigm, people must become aware of the processes that condition our consciousness and contract our awareness. Even the most independent minded people vastly underestimate how propagandized we all are. Just because we have repetitiously been told that we are free, doesn’t mean that we are. We live in a mental prison that we have all been bred into.

As the old line goes, you must first see the walls before you can free yourself. In this regard, Russell is a gladiator of the mind, exposing walls that the propagandized masses have rarely seen. Perhaps his dedication to meditation and yoga has tapped him into a truly divine realm. Just get within his presence, frequencywavelength and watch him flow ~ he radiates a contagious, shockingly uplifting energy ~ and you will feel your own frequency and vibration elevate you into another dimension.

Indeed, the revolution of consciousness has already begun. Enough with the reading, let’s see the mystical maestro work his magic…


Technology, consciousness, and how the universe is built

In the early 1990s, hypnotherapist Jack True was trying to show me how perception operated in hypnotized subjects.

As a joke, well it was a half-joke, he said the following: “If you’re doing a scientific experiment on gravity, and you start dropping various objects from the top of a building, you’re going to find out some interesting things about the way gravity operates in the universe.

“But if you don’t care about gravity and science, when you drop the objects from the roof, some will fall and others will float.”

What he meant was this: if you want to find out how to build things and run things and propel things and blow up things, you can look into the universe and eventually obtain that information.

The information will seem to be definitive about how the universe is built. It will seem to be the only model. It will seem to be the truth.

But that’s an illusion. Actually, competing models about the universe are available, and depending on your intent, you can discover and put together as many as you need.

They all work. They all look like mutually exclusive systems. But they aren’t.

The picture of tiny particles whirling through space and time is fine. It works. It enables the kind of technology we have now. It can be proved with mathematics. It can be verified until the cows come home. But it’s not the only choice.

Jack once had a patient who, three years earlier, had suddenly developed nearsightedness.

So Jack put him in a light trance and worked on it. Nothing.

Finally, after a number of sessions, Jack told him that perhaps his view or picture of the universe was standing in his way. Perhaps he needed to come up with another picture. Jack liked to try these radical approaches.

In ensuing sessions, Jack had his patient invent dozens of different models of how the universe was constructed. None of them were based on physics.

The patient was getting interested. He suddenly recalled that, as a very young boy, he’d thought the world was a kind of vacuum surrounded by extremely dense space, which was actually solid. He’d had dreams about this “reverse configuration.”

For no apparent reason, the patient now felt much better. He felt freer. His eyesight improved, nearly to its former level.

I had a chance to talk to the patient. “The most astonishing thing,” he told me, “is knowing that if I hadn’t invented these other models [of the universe], it’s likely I wouldn’t have regained my eyesight.”

Jack told me his experience with this patient was part of the reason he stopped doing hypnosis. He said that having one and only one model of the way things are is, in fact, the result of being in a core trance. He realized everyone is, to one degree or another, already in a hypnotic state. Therefore, his job should be to wake people up.

JACK TRUE, the most creative hypnotherapist on the face of the planet, is featured in THE MATRIX REVEALED. Jack’s anti-Matrix understanding of the mind and how to liberate it is unparalleled. His insights are unique, staggering. 43 interviews, 320 pages. That is just a faction of what THE MATRIX REVEALED has to offer.

I once had a consulting client who owned a small business. It had been successful, but it was now in an extreme condition of disrepair. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong.

His books were a mess. His records were a mess. Employees were coming and going, and they were all failing at their jobs. Sales were down, and he was in debt.

He presented me with a list of everything he’d tried, to get things back on track. The list was formidable. This was a smart man. But nothing was working.

I told him he had no choice but to re-imagine the whole business from scratch. He had to find a completely different way to build it.

At first, he had no idea what I was talking about.

Then slowly, painfully, he began to write down all sorts of scenarios by which he could reconstruct his company.

Eventually, the mists cleared, and he began to feel better. He tore down everything and started over. He came up with a radically new way of doing business. And it worked.

It was an example of the One versus the Many. The One is the way a person chronically views reality. It’s the central perception which seems to be obvious, irrefutable, and permanent. The Many is the envisioning of multiple and different views of reality. It shakes up the status quo in the psyche and shifts into new territory.


Whether the universe is made of particles or waves, was produced by the Big Bang or the translation of lines of code from a two-dimensional surface, or as a result of vibrating Strings, it can be said to be a projection, a demonstration.

It can be viewed as an absolute unity, just as a stage play strives for absolute credibility. But of course, the stage play is wise enough to end. And then the audience walks out. But the universe is a projection that wants to impart the illusion of permanence.

This illusion is brought about by a scheme of interconnectedness, in which each particle or thing appears to be related to every other thing, or, from a different point of view, reflects every other thing, in a series of mirrors.

This is the overarching meaning of the ancient symbol of the maze. You move through the paths and arrive back at the beginning. The journey is always self-contained.

From the perspective I’m presenting here, the horse that finishes last in the race is named Truth, when truth is sought and found inside the continuum of this particular universe.

It’s not merely, as some physicists venture, that there are universes parallel to this one. There are universes everywhere. They are infinite in number. And then there is a “greater” infinity—those universes that have not yet been created.

Taking this as a starting point, and inventing multiple scenarios, multiple worlds, universes, and futures, one gains back power. Power beyond what one thinks, at any given moment, is possible.

Jon Rappoport

The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at

Ugga Sutta: Dhamma-vision

And now a moment of Zen…

Then Ugga, the king’s chief minister, approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: “It’s amazing, lord, & awesome, how prosperous Migara Rohaneyya is, how great his treasures, how great his resources!”

[The Buddha:] “But what is his property, Ugga? What are his great treasures & great resources?”

“One hundred thousand pieces of gold, lord, to say nothing of his silver.”

“That is treasure, Ugga. I don’t say that it’s not. And that treasure is open to fire, floods, kings, thieves, & hateful heirs. But these seven treasures are not open to fire, flood, kings, thieves, or hateful heirs. Which seven? The treasure of conviction, the treasure of virtue, the treasure of conscience, the treasure of concern, the treasure of listening, the treasure of generosity, the treasure of discernment. These, Ugga, are the seven treasures that are not open to fire, flood, kings, thieves, or hateful heirs.

The treasure of conviction, the treasure of virtue, the treasure of conscience & concern. The treasure of listening, generosity, & discernment as the seventh treasure. Whoever, man or woman, has these treasures, has great treasure in the world that no human or divine being can excel. So conviction & virtue, confidence & Dhamma-vision should be cultivated by the wise, remembering the Buddhas’ instruction.

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

What evidence is there that Jesus died for the sins of the world?

Good question.

My answer: This is a meme (an idea), so what we should look for is how this meme came into existence, not attempt to prove the idea itself true or false. It is a metaphor, one which may or may not speak to you. But we can be sure of one thing, when this meme was born, it resonated with those who first hear it.

1) Produce or be filled with a deep, full, reverberating sound.
2) Evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions.

The idea (or meme) that Jesus died for our sins has been accepted as symbolic truth for 2000 years. The question is where did this idea get started? My answer: the Book of Hebrews. At least that was the 1st written “authority” that made this claim. It was written before the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and the theology therein is quit complex. This book is a remarkable achievement for the fledgling Jewish cult who’s founder died only a few decades prior. The author is unknown, but the ideas being advanced are themselves very advanced.

‘And almost all things are by the law purged with blood;
and without shedding of blood is no remission.’ ~ Heb. 9.22 (KJV)

In first century Palestine the Rabbi’s taught that according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. It was believed that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.Naturally, after Jesus died, it didn’t take long for a theology to develop that he was send by God to die for our sins, that his blood was required to pay our debts.

Jesus was a Jew living in the Second Temple period who spoke the local language. One area where the difference between biblical and Second Temple Hebrew is rather dramatic is that of sin. During the Second Temple period it became common to refer to the sins of an individual or a nation as the accrual of a debt. This explains the diction of the so-called Lord’s prayer, “forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12).

The metaphor of sin as a debt is rarely attested in the bulk of the Hebrew Bible. But as soon as it became a common place to view a sin as a debt—and this took place early in the Second Temple period—it became natural to conceive of virtuous activity as a merit or credit. This logical move was advanced significantly in rabbinic literature by the fact that the words for debt and credit (ḥôb and zĕkût) are logical antonyms. It should come as no surprise that the rabbis were fond of telling stories in which a person’s credits (zĕkūyôt) were weighed against debits.

It was out of this world-view, that the Book of Hebrews was written, and the Christian meme/religion was born. People needed to believe in God and they needed to believe forgiveness of sin was possible. These two things were linked in the Jewish mind as surely as the linkage between debt and credit is linked in our mind. Debt was their sin, and credit was the grace of God. Put this idea together with the idea of blood sacrifice (the Jewish tradition) and soon the “good news” of Jesus Christ (i.e, that “the Kingdom of God is near”) takes on a new and deeper meaning. Now the refashioned gospel message of Jesus Christ those early adopters were eager to preach was this: Jesus did for you, what you could never do for yourself, he died for your debts (sins) and by his blood (grace/credit) you are now debt free.

in early Syriac Christianity a similar construal of debits and merits exists—even though Syriac lacks the noun zĕkût meaning “credit” or “merit.” This can be seen from the way in which St. Ephrem, in the fourth century, characterizes the victory won by Christ.

Blessed is [Christ] who endured, withstood, and triumphed (zākyâ’);
his head is held high with its crown.
He is like a creditor (mārē ḥawbâ’) who demands his payment with a bold voice.
He is not like me, too weak to fast, too weary for the vigil,
The first to succumb (ḥāb). My enemy is skillful.
When he overcomes me, he lets me rise only to throw me down once more.
O Sea of Mercies, give me a handful of mercy,
so I can wipe out the note of my debt (̉ešṭar ḥawbāty).

The picture drawn here is that of Christ’s encounter with Satan in the wilderness just after Jesus’ baptism. There he is tempted by Satan and emerges as the victor (zākyâ’). In Ephrem’s view, both his fast and his obedience in the face of temptation allow Christ to accrue enormous credit. He becomes, in Ephrem’sterms, a creditor, or more literally, “a possessor of a bond (mārē ḥawbẩ),” who can boldly demand his wages. Ephrem, however, laments his own condition. Unlike Christ, he is so weak that he would be the first to succumb in such a test (ḥāb).His only hope is that Christ will have mercy on him so as to wipe out his bill of indebtedness. 0 Ephrem must rely on the merits that his redeemer has secured.

The Greek philosophers developed their “God meme” independent of the Jewish idea. Socrates clearly understood the dilemma involved with a Holy and just God forgiving sin without eternal consequence, he once remarked, “It may be that the deity can forgive sins but I do not see how.”

Socrates knew well enough for a perfectly just and righteous God to forgive sin without eternal consequence it would deny His own nature of justice and a righteous God could never deny Himself or His own nature. The new Christian meme solved this quandary.

The author of Hebrews make the case that Jesus death matched the prophetic hallmarks of a Passover lamb. Particularly the one sacrificed during the advent of the 10th plague in Egypt whose blood had to coat the posts and lintel of Hebrew homes, symbolizing Christ’s blood being on the doors of our hearts. Like the Passover lamb he had to be without blemish (sinless) and his bones could not be broken. Like the High Priest would do when the sacrifice was complete, Jesus was said to yelled out “It is finished.”

The author of Hebrews is brilliant. The problem was this: there was no man to intercede in heaven, so God had to become our intercessor Himself. God had to become flesh and “tabernacle” among us, and then He would return to heaven as our High Priest to finish the job once and for all time. According to the earliest Christian theology, this was the logical reason that Jesus came to Earth. By using details from the history of the Jewish religion and mixing them with this idea that Jesus died for the sin/debts of mankind, the outcome was that the Kingdom of God he preached had indeed come. Jesus was our new High Priest now seating at the high hand of the Father as his Holy Spirit dwelt in the hearts of every believer. 

As brilliant as this new theology was, there was one problem. Those disciples in Jerusalem who followed Jesus didn’t get it. After Jesus died, they followed his legalistic brother “James the Righteous” who declared himself the new High Priest of Israel and modeled the Jerusalem church after the Jewish Sanhedrin. This was the first “false authority” to set it self up over the new faith, and it marked the first false step that become the Christian religion we know today.

Over the centuries many more priesthoods were set-up to usurp the power of the mystical High Priest in Heaven. These religious hierarchical structures assumed they had authority over all men on Earth, including Kings. Soon these ecclesiastical societies become political structures and their undue influence endures to this day. 

Where you believe in Jesus or not, this quote from Buddha seem fitting:

“Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don’t rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don’t infer or be deceived by appearances.”

“Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion.”

“Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good.”

The Thicket of Views

Today I was looking for the a podcast on Buddhism that I had listen to when I first moved to Zion over a year go. The title that I had stuck in my head was “Buddhism Before Buddhism” but my first Google search didn’t return anything useful… don’t you just hate that?

After doing some more advanced searching I found what I was looking for: The Book of Eights by Gil Fronsdal. This is Zencast #321 and it is very good, I would encourage you to listen to it. One thing I learned from this dharma talk is how the Buddha warned against quarreling and thinking one’s own religious views are the “truest” or the best.

Indeed this so-called “Book of Eights” is among the oldest sutras known to exist and represents the earliest teaching of Siddhārtha Gautama. It really is Buddhism before Buddhism… that is to say, this book lays down the raw ideas and unrefined teaching of the Awakened One before they became crystallized into the the formal tradition we now call Buddhism. It is much like hearing Jesus give his “Sermon on the Mount” rather going to church and having a pastor give his views about Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church.

Any way, I when looking for this “Book of Eights” hoping it had been translated into English (which it hasn’t been yet). I did another search for ‘Gil Fronsdal’ and stumbled on to a Tumblr post critical of things Gil may (or may not) have said while giving a talk called “Remembering 9-11: Choosing A Compassionate Response.” Here is a quote from that blog:

I listened to this Dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal. In the discussion that followed, Fronsdal, an excellent Buddhist teacher, unwittingly showed that an awakened heart does not necessarily lead to political understanding.

When someone mentioned the U.S.’s penchant for oppressing and exploiting other nations, Fronsdal responded with the “well, everybody else does it too” defense. He then praised Americans for their spirit of volunteerism, saying that the support they give to non-profit organizations is unequaled in any other nation.

That’s because other nations have social systems that take care of their citizens’ needs rather than leaving it up to individual generosity. Fronsdal’s view perfectly represents the American social pathology, an unquestioning acceptance of the status quo – missing the point that, while it is admirable that citizens volunteer to help other citizens, it is vile that they have to. His is the standard liberal view that praises kind treatment of slaves rather than condemning slavery.

Unquestioning acceptance of the status quo? That seem like a strange criticism of a Buddhist teacher, after all one might have said the same thing of Buddha himself… and they would have been just as wrong. After all, isn’t the point of Buddhist practice to accept those realities we can not change and focus on changing ourselves?  I think this person is setting up a “straw man” in their own mind to argue with, something we all do from time to time, but the point of Buddhist practice to to do this less and less.

Reading the quote from Tumblr, it was the use of the term “liberal” that got my attention. “His is the standard liberal view that praises kind treatment of slaves rather than condemning slavery.” Wait in minute, is this some radical leftist being critical of a liberal? That’s kind of funny…. but to level an attack on a Buddhist teacher who was speaking on the topic of compassion, that seems a little much. As if that were not enough, this dharma talk was given on the tenth anniversary of 9-11. This makes me wonder where this critic is really coming from. Does this person actually harbor so-mush resentment against the “status quo” that he agrees with the motives (if not the actions) taken by terrorists on that fateful day? At the very least his anger seems misdirected and I would add this resentment was invented inside his own mind–a pure delusion.

I’m as critical at the next guy of so-called liberals (or anyone who takes an authoritarian position and speaks of “American exceptionism”  etc.) but the view being expressed here sounds even more authoritarian–more extremist than the most extreme liberal that I know. He says, “while it is admirable that citizens volunteer to help other citizens, it is vile that they have to. ” Really? I am left to assume this person thinks that in the ideal world we’d have government provide for everyone needs and that until this utopia comes into being, our duty is to speak out against the “vile” enslavement of humanity and actively oppose the “status quo.” That is an individual opinion, but is it fair to demand others share that view?

Buddha spoke of danger of delusion. Well folks, there is a prime example of it. Perhaps humanity is enslaved to gang of criminals capitalist, that could be, but thinking it is the duty of others to change that system is a delusion. I agree Chris Hedges who his book Empire of Illusion said at this point in history it is impossible to bridge the divide between “a literate, marginalized minority and those who have been consumed by an illiterate mass culture.” Damon Vrabel said, “Change is not possible through journalism, the media, or online debates,” here is more of what he has written in the save vain:

IF we participate in the system, I’m not opposed to it at all. How could I be? I’d be a tyrant if I wanted to force hundreds of millions of people to change their behavior. And the fact is, that “IF” was answered long ago. We Americans have chosen the material benefits of being managed by the financial system for generations. We like demand-side freedom, i.e. choosing between Coke and Pepsi, but don’t want supply-side freedom. We like the supply-side to be taken care of for us. We love the benefits that come from it being imperially run—the credit card always works, the gas station is always open, our water faucets and light switches do what they’re supposed to do, the markets keep going up (oops…maybe not). All of our economic needs are outsourced to others, so we have the luxury of spending our time pursuing wants. And if these types of benefits are good for us, they’re good for the rest of the world. We have no moral authority to stand opposed just because we’re now going to lose our privileged position—a rather childlike perspective.

In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta, the Buddha cautions Vacchagotta, the wanderer, against adhering to the “thicket of views,” i.e., forming an opinion one way or the other about a variety of metaphysical topics (Is the cosmos eternal or infinite? Are materiality and consciousness the same or different? Do Buddhas still exist after death?) The Buddha tells Vachagotta that any position one can take: “is a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. It is accompanied by suffering…. and does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation; to calm, direct knowledge, full Awakening…”

The same goes for political views.

Anyone can have opinions. They come cheap. I have a million myself — If you want one just ask, and I will tell you. It’s amazing how much I know (that’s a joke). How’s President Obama doing? Is there a conspiracy to create a New World Order? Are we heading into a fascist police state? Is the money system of the United States unconstitutional?  Should we elect Oath Keepers as sheriff and take back our Republic from the bottom-up? Don’t get me started =)

It’s fun to have opinions — they keep the conversation lively. In any case, it’s impossible not to form them. The question is whether it’s possible not to be overly attached to them. Our views (religious, political, or otherwise) can lead to quarreling, disharmony, and anguish. The sage advice of the Buddha was to drop our opinions and let go of our views, in this way we avoid those quarrels which lead us to suffer and cause others to suffer with us. The main point that Buddha was making is this: all our suffering is self-inflicted pain. When we express a strong view on a debatable topic it is  like holding a hot coal in our hand, it is best to drop it before we get burned.

Zen Master Seung Sahn wrote a book entitled Open Mouth Already a Mistake, and was famous for admonishing students to “only keep ‘Don’t-Know’ mind.” In a similar vein, Larry Rosenberg reported seeing a bumper sticker years ago which read: “Don’t believe everything you think,” and thought it offered sage advice. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s “Beginner’s Mind” is the touchstone of American Dharma, but admonitions to take opinions lightly have been part of practice forever. Bankei (1622-1693) advised us not to “side with ourselves,” just as the Buddha himself warned millennia ago of “the thicket of views.”

The truth is, all of our interesting and colorful opinions seem to have very little to do with the progress we make, or fail to make, in our practice. If anything, they separate us from the clear, still place we aspire to. Our practice is best when we have little or no concern for what others do or think — and even or especially what we ourselves think — and pay attention, instead, to how we unfold in our own unique dance with the present moment. Guilt from the past, and fear of the future is what takes away the joy of now. This is why students of Zen focus on their breathing… it puts them in touch with the higher-self, and help them rise above the story-telling ego chatter in their heads… it helps them rise above ego-driven opinions and views to find inner peace and joy.

Yes, we may hold strong views, I certainly do… but I’ve learned it help to be reminded that we don’t know what we don’t know… all our opinions are based on limited information. As we gather more information our views will inevitability change. Think about it, do you hold the same views today that you did 10 years ago? How about those opinions you were clinging to so strongly a year ago? Are they still there today? If you met your older self on the street, would that less informed version of yourself quarrel with you? If so, would it be out of ignorance? And what it say your not still misinformed to this day? We don’t know what we don’t know. This is true of everyone, so while we should compassion to ourselves for not knowing everything, we should give that same consideration to others.

Okay, that is my opinion for the day.

What is REAL?

I have been thinking a lot about reality and once I do that, it seems like this life is just some sort of silly drama for someone else’s amusement… what are your thoughts on the subject?

I know what you mean about Reality seeming to be unreal… my brother is a student of The Course in Miracles so he would agree. It is his opinion that we are living in a world of illusion that was created by our desire to experience “what is not heaven” …so you might say we choose to experience separation from God. I have come to share this view, and while it is not entirely clear to me why we would choose to experience “what is not heaven” it seems clear that we did just that…. I mean, here we are… but it would seem we came here to learn a lesson, but the danger is we can get stuck in this world of illusion if we fail to overcome our fear. That seems to be the BIG lesson we need to learn.

I explain it this way: our EGO knows that when the body dies, it too will pass away–therefore the EGO is attached to the body. We make the mistake of identifying with the EGO, but that is not who we are… only who we think we are… and this mistake is part of the mistake we made in choosing to leave heaven, it is part of the illusion of this unreal world. The reality of our Divine Self is hidden from us–but when we can unlearn and drop all illusion, then the peace and joy of Heaven becomes our reality… in such a place (or state of being) we know who we are, we know that death is not real and that we are invulnerable. Our EGO will not and can not accept this reality because it is invested in this world of lack and loss. Therefore, our EGO only knows now to operate under the MO of fear and attack. This is the “fight or flight” modus operandi (method of operation) that we have all learned and now must unlearn.

In other words we are living in hell (in a place of pain where we think we are separated from God), and that is as much an illusion as the holographic universe in which we find ourselves. Once we see this…. everything changes… and like Buddha, we wake-up… for some this happens in a flash and for others it is a process (taking place over a period of time)… but even TIME is an illusion, so don’t worry if your not “waking up” fast enough. In the end, we will all wake-up, so there is no reason to fret over that process… I have come to trust everything is unfolding perfectly. It is not about believing (in something) but knowing this simple truth: heaven is our home, and when we rest in this truth we have peace.

The earth is not for the pleasure of man, but is a place of instruction for his soul. A man more readily feels the stirring of his spirit in the face of disaster than in the lap of luxury. The tuition of the soul is a long a arduous course of instruction and training. The body is a womb, our life the days of conception, and in death the soul is born.