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November 01, 2007


But, but... the world will go to hell in a handbasket while you are away! Enjoy yourselves!

Quick question... What do you do with the bears that you catch? ;-)

"Okay, not bear-hunting."

Aw, shucks! (I was hoping for some kind of interesting metaphorical bear.)

Have fun [wave].

It's gonna really be a good trip, EW.

Where you're going, the Wifi gods are not jealous. Lots of free wifi in public places, to say nothing of other.

During the confirmation vote I will probably be travelling to DC for my nephew's bris.

(Do I have time to visit the Capitol?)

If our lameass Democratic Senators let the Mukasey nomination through, I'm going to get shitfaced drunk. And then the next morning I'm going to send off a bunch of money to progressive candidates for Congress.

Mr. Emptywheel's NFC North driving tour. Hmmm.

Chicago Bears - Bye
Detroit Lions vs. Denver 1PM
Green Bay Packers @ KC
Minnesota Vikings vs. San Diego 1PM

Chicago, Green Bay, Minneapolis and Detroit and back in five days? You're skipping Minneapolic right?

Have a safe trip!

Neil - I believe the Lions have bagged the limit on Bears for the year, having swept both games. Will be interesting to see how they do against the Broncs, who let even Green Bay run all over them and GB has zip for a running game. Denver isn't the team it usually is, but it will be a better test of the Lions than most of their early schedule. The Chargers appear to have finally gotten untracked a little and should take care of the Vikes easily enough.

Marcy I will be gone when you get back see you thank you for everything and Mr EW

No one knows what can happen on a trip. I went down to Altai in southern Siberia in August and early September to the Khazakstani, Siberian, Mongolian, Chinese border and when I got back Rove and Gonzales had resigned and I had an infection in my right leg that required surgery, skin grafts and 45 days in the hospital. At this point I am up and walking about but no disc golf yet. Still now we have the AG nominee who is playing coy with the truth about torture. The Bush adminstration playing hide the peanut on key documents showing its criminality, Miers and Rove yet to testify and a congress that seems to be caught up in the business as usual game as Bush just plucks his blithely hurricane guitar singing his war ditty leading the country into his neverending fantasy of alcholic violence. Things seem to be in such drift. At least you folks over here seem to know what the stakes are.

Neil -- That's some driving for an NFC North tour, since they are all away games this weekend ;)

Have fun EW and make sure Mr. EW ties your food up to a tree, nothing in the tent or car, bears are crafty ;)

Holy smokes J. Thomason, sounds like you've had an awful couple of months. Best wishes for a full recovery and return to disc golf...

Actually Altai was awesome in the big picture. The rest I could have done without.

Next time I'm in Siberia, I'll be sure to swing by ;)

Jeebus J. Thomason! Had not seen you around in a while. did not realize it was because you decided to go Hemmingway on us, complete with gangrene leg and everything. Welcome back, hope all is returning to normal for you...

Have a great trip - drive safe!

Oh. My. God. Kagro X and George W. Bush are in agreement (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/11/2/104257/324). Surely the apocalypse is upon us ;)

While you 'wheels are rolling North, the dollar (as you predicted) is going South.

Also, we had a jumper this morning - Coffin left Chewbacca's old seat in Shooter's Office.

For this light posting weekend, I'll be retreating at the meditation hut to track (and record field notes on) the Bear of Karma - which, in general, is poorly understood by us Westerners.

Speaking of Bears, here are some of the lyrics to an abolutely hilarious song/story by Jimmy Buffet called "God's Own Drunk" -



...And that's when I first saw the Bear. He was a Kodiak lookin' fella 'bout 19 feet tall, he rambled up over the hill 'spectin' me to do one of two things: flip or fly, I didn't do either one. It hung him up. He starts sniffin' 'round my body tryin' to smell fear, but he ain't gonna smell no fear, 'cause I'm God's own drunk and a fearless man. It hung him up. He looked me right in my eyes and my eyes was a lot redder than his was. It hung him up.

So I approached him and I said, "Mr. Bear, I love every hair on your 27 acre body. I know you got a lotta friends over there on the other side of the hill. There's ole' Rare Bear, Tall Bear, Freddy Bear, Kelly Bear, Relly Bear, Smelly the Bear, Smokey the Bear, Pokey the Bear; I want you to go back over there tonight and tell 'em I'm feelin' right. You tell 'em I love each and every one of 'em like a brother and a sister; but if they give me any trouble tonight, I'm gonna run every Goddamned one of 'em off the hill."

He took two steps backwards and didn't know what to think...


Have a great trip!

And, just when you head out, National Journal does some serious reporting on the Nacchio filings and exactly what the NSA was asking for.


I'm sure you'll get around to it. Happy trails!


I think the Lions and Vikings are at home. The packers are at KC and the Bears have a bye week. Still, it would be a lot of driving. When EW gives us a title like "Mr. Emtywheels NFC North" driving tour, I want to decode it. I think they're headed to Wisconin via Chicago, not sure about Minnesota or Detroit.


It sounds like the Chargers Vikes game will be the one to watch. I asked my friends last night who they like in the Colts @ Patriots showdown 4:15 pm on Sunday. I like Pats for the win in addition to wanting them to win it. How about you-bmaz et al.?

Digby on Bush and torture in his college years.

[Garry] Trudeau said he penned his very first cartoon to illustrate an article in the Yale Daily News on Bush and allegations that his fraternity, DKE, had hazed incoming pledges by branding them with an iron.

A view of ‘torture’?

The article in the campus paper prompted The New York Times to interview Bush, who was a senior that year. Trudeau recalled that Bush told the Times “it was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn’t hurt any more than a cigarette burn.”

“It does put one in mind of what his views on torture might be today,” Trudeau said.

Branding pledges with a hot coathanger was not part of any initiation at DKE at Amherst but then again, we were thrown out of national for electing a black president and for voting (2/3rds vote) to admit women as members.

Neil -- thanks, I misread your earlier comment, oops! FWIW, I hope they head on north to Green Bay and the UP before heading back south in MI. It should be lovely up there this time of year. If they do head that way, they may indeed find themselves a bear (less likely in the southern part of WI).

Chargers Vikes, really? MN has been awful and LT has picked up the Chargers, I may be wrong, but I don't think we're looking at a close game there. Colts-Pats should be good, Colts have home field advantage, don't know if it will be enough. My game to watch will be GB-KC, but then you knew that, right? Go Pack!

Text analysis in the woods, though the Field+Stream cartoon was better, 2ndAmendment.

*My* local Colts fan doesn't think they have much chance of winning this game. (This is a guy from Indiana who actually flew there *from LA* for one of last season's home games, a guy who is wearing an all-Colts outfit today.)

bears hide in Bush's don't they...te hee...wink!

Schumer and DiFi to vote YES on Mukasey. Damn.

More on Bear Hunting...

Wheeler Expounds on Blogosphere
By Rachel Cameron. Tuesday October 30, 2007

Marcy - Verizon has wireless internet that works over the cellular network. The new Rev-A network regularly gives me 800kbps-1Mbps download speed and 300-400kbps upload - it's my primary internet connection. About $60/month, and worth every dime if you travel much or even, as I do, need internet access at client sites.

"Before the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee completely cave-in to Bush, at minimum they should demand that Judge Mukasey appoint a special prosecutor to investigate if war crimes have been committed. If Mukasey refuses he should be rejected. This, indeed, should be a pre-condition to anyone filling the post of Attorney General under Bush.

If the Democrats in the Senate refuse to demand any such requirement, it will be act that should send chills down the spine of every thinking American."

John Dean

Karma refers to “the intensity of egoic action.”

Karma operates based on how intensely you ‘desire’ mental and physical outcomes in the world of your circumstances – How strongly does your world have to be the way you want it, as opposed to how it is?

To make reference back to the Going Fishing meditation on the Buddha Mind, Karma is the Energy of Desire involved in selectively Grasping at Objects in the Stream of Thoughts.


To recap, the mere act of Grasping at Objects in the Stream of Thoughts ‘creates’ the evanescent sense of ‘self’ as actor, as a ‘separate’ and unique person, as an Ego living ‘inside’ a dramatic life story.

In grasping at Objects in the Stream of Thoughts, an ego attempts to control outcomes within its perceived circumstances.

Very simply put, from a mental and physical point of view, Ego desires More Pleasure [fame, fortune and ‘feeling good’] and Less Pain [ignominy, dispossession and ‘feeling bad’].

When an Ego gets what it wants – more pleasure, less pain - it’s happy.

When an Ego gets what it doesn’t want – more pain, less pleasure - it’s sad.

The Intensity with which an Ego is driven to ‘want’ outcomes is Karma.


In the orthodox ‘ego-centric’ Judeo-Christian traditions, God deals ‘you’ a one-time hand at birth and has a plan for ‘your’ life that gives you the opportunity to ‘get back to Him’ at the time of ‘your’ death. The sum total of your ‘being-ness’ is said to take place in this life and the after-life to come.

It’s accepted as one of God’s Mysteries that people are scattered all over the socio-economic spectrum, and that some endure greater hardships than others. Some people live longer than others. Some people are afflicted with disease, while others are disease free. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. It doesn’t seem to make sense that God loves all his children the same, because some – without any obvious rhyme or reason - appear to have His favor more than others.

In non-dual (not two, and not one, either - no separate existence) Eastern spiritual traditions, ‘you’ are born because of Karma, the good things and bad things that happen to ‘you’ during your life are due to Karma, and ‘you’ die because of Karma.

Karma is the ‘ego cloak’ that covers every sentient being’s radiant, perfect, non-separate primordial essence – it’s the cloud of confusion that is generated by ‘grasping at objects in the stream of thoughts.’ Underneath that cloak, the essential ‘you’ is timeless, spaceless, non-separate sentient being-ness, in any socio-economic circumstance. In the Eastern traditions, the Spiritual Journey is about removing the Cloak of Ego that covers your true essence – liberating the primordial essence from the grip of Karma.

And that’s one of the major differences between the Judeo-Christian Model and the Eastern Model – in the East, your primordial essence keeps coming back until it’s liberated from its confusion, from its Karma. Mind you, it’s not the same personal consciousness coming back every time, rather it’s the same cloaked primordial essence coming back with the same Karma that it left off with from the previous instantiation – wrapped in a new set of circumstances and personality – a fresh body/mind that you know and believe is a separate, unique entity, ‘yourself.’

Karma is so powerful, that your primordial essence will wear-out a confused body/mind with suffering, discard it, and pick-up another one – over and over. As an Ego reading this, you are not aware of the previous instantiations of your primordial essence – ‘they’ are shrouded by this current lifetime’s grasping identification between its current body/mind and current circumstances – locked into a fearful and doubting awareness, bounded by birth and death.

However, Karma accounts for why you were born into the circumstances you were in this lifetime. Depending on where the previous instantiation of ‘you’ left off working on the Karma surrounding your primordial essence, is where ‘you’ started in this life – with a personality and socio-economic position exactly tailored to your Karma. And, where you leave it at the end of this life will be where the follow-on instantiation of your primordial essence begins its next leg through the suffering World on its way back to its original home.

So, in the Eastern conception, primordial essence journeys spiritually through thousands and thousands of different iterations of life, in thousands and thousands of different circumstances, with thousands and thousands of different living body/minds – serially according to the workings of Karma, which I’ll go into in greater detail tomorrow.

The good news here is – each Ego – your Ego - has the opportunity during this lifetime to improve its Karmic situation (or make it worse!). Depending on the spiritual work an individual does in this life, one can completely throw-off the Cloak of Confusion and realize Liberation while living - unexcelled complete perfect enlightenment – thus ending the cycle of rebirth – or, one can keep journeying on, wandering in confusion through the suffering World.

Tomorrow – Heaven, Earth and Hell: The Rhyme and Reason of Karma
Monday - A Model for Ending Karma through Practice

We prefer you stick to elephants, Marcy...

Unless, of course, it's Ursus DiFius.

More on our ‘Can’t leave Home without it’ Karma Bear.

But, first, Primordial Awareness – the essential you – reading these words right now – ‘knows’ that true being-ness, liberated awareness, is characterized by five qualities:

Durable - un-moved by changing circumstances
Serene – fully satisfied in the here and now
Beautiful - attracted to all experience
Clear-sighted - not confused, seeing 'things as they are'
Highest - above all notions of subject and object

That’s what gets obscured when we leave the Home of our Primordial Being-ness. Awareness that doesn’t change in its presentation gives no sense of Time, and since it is the same awareness everywhere, it is experienced as Spaceless – where could an Ego hide?

If we were to take the time to sit down and reflect on the World we live in, we would see that the still-expanding Universe is a perfect harmony of balanced unfoldment whose tendency is to move towards expressions of increasing conscious awareness of itself.

In the Eastern traditions, humans are the ultimate expression of the Universe’s capacity to be consciously aware of itself. The Universe spent a long time making this blue, spinning ball before we flowered upon it.

All beings come into this World shrouded from their Primordial Essence. What makes humans unique amongst all the manifestations in the entire Universe is we have the capacity to ‘lift the veil of confusion’ to reveal, to liberate, the unbounded and most excellent being-ness of All – to arrive at the end of existential suffering, the end of fear and doubt about an impermanent and unsatisfying experience, to instead, directly realize the full potential of the opportunity that Life provides, to transcend the profane for the sacred forever and realize that everything is perfect, as is,


Okay, back to the Rhyme and Reason of Karma. It will be helpful to use a diagram. Draw a mountain – up at a 45 degree angle to a peak, and down at a 45 degree angle again. Use dashed lines to segment the mountain into lower third, middle third and upper third. Label the lower third Hell, middle third Earth, and the upper third Heaven.

The upper third is characterized as ‘less intense, more pleasurable.’
The middle third is characterized as ‘somewhat intense, neutral.’
The lower third is characterized as ‘more intense, more painful.’

As a human, your Karma has brought ‘you’ into being somewhere in the middle third – ‘somewhat’ grasping at objects in the stream of thoughts - on Earth.

Now, draw a stick-figure ‘you’ on Earth. Broadly drawn, you have four options, Karmically speaking, during this lifetime.

1 – You can decrease the intensity of your world having to be your way, being more accepting and sharing of the natural order, decreasing your Karma, and go to Heaven for the next lifetime
2 – You can ‘drone-on,’ neither increasing nor decreasing your Karma, just suffering punctuated by small relative ‘happinesses’, and come back to try again as a human.
3 – You can increase the intensity of your world, being more judging, more taking, increasing your Karma, and go to Hell for a lifetime.
4 – You can stop grasping at objects in the stream of thoughts altogether, ending Karma, and Liberate.

So, Karma delivers you to Earth with a ‘latent’ tendency to ‘Grasp Objects in the Stream of Thoughts’ – bequeathed to you by the last instantiation of your Primordial Essence. You are born to parents and socio-economic circumstances that match your incoming Karmic intensity. The further along the Spiritual Path you are, the better your birth – Buddha was a Prince when he woke-up (it’s presumably easier for people with more free time, like Princes), but the truth is any human can potentially wake-up from any socio-economic circumstance. As you grow-up, that latent tendency to grasp objects in the stream of your thoughts builds a repertoire of conditioned habits to ‘get what you want’ in order to have the World that ‘you’ live in.

An interesting characteristic of Karma is that all lifetimes are temporary and followed by another temporary lifetime. This is both a good and bad thing from the point of view of awakening. It’s good because it means if you fuck-up and end-up in Hell where the suffering is truly intense – it’s only for a while, a hell of a painful while, but it ends and, depending on how the next ‘you’ fares down there, the follow-on instantiation can be boosted out to a better circumstance. Also, it’s a bad thing because it means you can get to Heaven, only to come tumbling down at the end of that lifetime.

The reason humans are the best birth to have is because Heaven is said to be too pleasurable and Hell too painful to liberate from. The only true release from Suffering is to ‘win’ a human life, as we have, and overcome our Karma altogether - in the whole of the Universe, only humans can be Buddhas.

So, the Rhyme and Reason of Karma is directly related to the intensity with which one grasps objects in the stream of thoughts – movements towards more intensity result in a more Hell-like life leading to a stint in Hell – whereas movements towards less intensity result in a more Heaven-like life leading to a time in Heaven.

Best of All is to cease grasping altogether, and just Be.

Tomorrow – A Model for Ending Karma through Practice

All Religious traditions are sacred when they teach the non-dual truth, and all Religious traditions have non-dual teachings. In the traditions of the Hebrew Bible, there’s Jewish Kaballah, Contemplative Christianity, and Sufism in Islam.

The dynamic non-dual teachings of direct realization stand in stark contrast to the ego-centric teachings of static literal truth.

Religious movements are founded by Teachers who’ve experienced direct realization and can effectively pass on the principles for realization to others, who themselves experience direct realization.

History, however, shows that within a few generations of the passing of the Founder, the masses stop waking-up and the Teachings that were originally living within the realized give way to Institutions full of ‘religiously’ entitled Egos who now pronounce the static, literal Truth, while acting as if the dynamic non-dual origins of the Faith had never existed.

For its first 250 years, Christianity was known as The Way, as in the way to go in life. It was based on Jesus’ teachings of the timeless principles of Charity for all, Morality for all, and Patience for all – centered on Peace - and was completely non-violent – to the point of martyring before throwing-in with judgment and hate.

But, then ‘Christianity’ got Romanized – the guys in the shepherd suits got changed out for ‘wink and nod’ ball-players (IOKIYAP), and nobody told the sheep. Since that time, the Church has been nothing more than one of the three power centers in Western Egoic Culture, along with Wealth and Government.

Torture? Murdering the ‘Confessed’? Burning un-believers? Selling plots in Heaven? Systematic Pedophilia? Invading heathen Countries at the behest of God? You name it, the ‘Holy’ Church has done it. But, don’t argue with them – they hold the keys to the ‘only way to Heaven’, remember?

It’s not just Christianity, either. It’s All Religious institutions, if not all institutions period – they petrify over time away from service to the suffering, giving way instead to the self-interest of the Egos inside them. Here’s what Krishnamurti says:



Beating within you right now is the sublime heart – the same Primordial Essence - of Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and all the fully-Realized throughout all time. The Teacher you need, is already within – you hold the Key to your own Awakening.

You’ve ridden the wild Karma Bear to this point in your life, and now you would like to tame that Beast, and Rest in Peaceful being-ness. Here’s a Model for Spiritual Practice that depends entirely on your own efforts for success – the only question is: Can you be more disciplined than your Karma is intense?

Here’s what’s happened, so far, in your life. You were born with a latent tendency to grasp objects in the stream of your thoughts – by a combination of nature and nurture you ‘developed’ a personality, an Ego, with preferences and habitual patterns of attempting to get what you want, all reflecting the Intensity of Your Need to control your world.

By the time most people reach the age of 30, they have acquired a mature set of habits and a ‘preferred’ lifestyle – People know what they like by 30, and they like getting it the way they want it, when they want it – and any deviations are cause for potential ‘upset.’

The way this ‘looks’ for most people is that they have a Finite (limited) number of habits that they use to get through their days and nights – all the low-end Maslow stuff – so, for the most part, these habits are performing useful functions like getting food, shelter, warmth, etc, etc.

Basically, you get up in the morning the same way every day. Shower and dress and go to work the same way every day. Engage in small variations on the same set of work behaviors. Drive home and end your day the same way everyday. And, go to bed the same way every night.

These are All useful functions that are necessary for you to meet your needs on a daily basis.

However, ‘you’ believe and act as if it is a dramatic enterprise to even get through one day without upset – with an intensity of belief that ‘your’ controlling involvement is mandatory and necessary to holding ‘your’ World together. This makes for stressful, anxious, angry living, but what choice do you have when you ‘believe’ that your World will fall off its axis if you don’t tend to it with intensity?

So, here’s the challenge of Spiritual Practice – to retain what is useful in action while discarding the noise and confusion. Meet your needs, in Peace, instead of a suffering drama.

Disentangle the Reactive from the natural. Stop the dwelling on objects within each – of a finite number – of your habits. Get up in Peace, instead of opening your eyes and thinking habitually, “Today is going to suck.” Drive to work in Peace – getting worked up in traffic is a choice. Work in Peace, accept your co-workers for who they are. Drive back home in Peace. Share your evening in Peace. Sleep in Peace.

Anytime your Peace is disturbed, you are dwelling on objects in the stream of thoughts – as a Practice, become conscious to those habits that cause emotional reactivity. ‘Seeing’ yourself ‘tense-up’ in morning rush-hour traffic will make you realize that that tensing-up is a choice that’s become habit, but as a choice - you can consciously let it go. The result is More Peace driving where you had Reactivity before.

Again, since ‘you’ are composed of a Finite number of habits of grasping at objects in the stream of thoughts, which give you the sensation of validating ‘your’ importance in a drama - then ‘disentangling’ the Reactive from the Useful results in Greater Peace, habit by habit – until ‘you’ is no longer supported by any habits of grasping, and vanishes to reveal transcendent Primordial Awareness, Perfect Peace, effortlessly accomplishing useful action to meet your needs on a daily basis.

In this way, anyone can ‘liberate’ themselves from their ‘suffering’ while living, working, and playing in the life that they have right here and now.

Namaste, Shanti, Shalom, Peace

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