Why the citizen vote and national sovereignty continue to mean less and less

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were the objects of tremendous scholarly attention. At the time the state-centric model of world politics was undergoing one of its many attacks and NGOs were enlisted in the assault. Many scholars argued that since non-state actors were growing in number and power, students of world politics would be better served by paying attention to these as well as, if not instead of, nation-states.

For example, a substantial number of multinational corporations (MNCs) had assets in excess of the gross national product (GNP) of certain states and had projects in numerous countries, leading many scholars to argue that MNCs were curtailing state action and represented an independent variable for explaining world events.

Likewise, advances in communications technology opened the way for non-state actors such as revolutionary groups, the Catholic church, and political parties to play a greater role in world politics.

Innovations in overseas travel, international wire services, computer networks, and telecommunications were enabling these actors to influence the ideas, values, and political persuasions of people around the globe.

Scholars argued that they were having a significant impact on questions of peace, international morality, and the salience of political issues. In short, the surge in transnational activity suggested that the nation-state might not be the most important variable for explaining world events.

– Paul Wapner, from “Politics Beyond the State: Environmental Activism and World Civic Politics”, 1995

What is Nirvana?

Many people think the objective of Buddhism is to free oneself of attachments to hopefully one day reach some sort of normal, neutral Nirvana.  The results of a successful Buddhist practice is actually much more than that.

Buddha’s four noble truths begin with the acknowledgment of Dukkha, or suffering.  The assumption is that this state of suffering or dissatisfied anxiety is universal and normal for every human.  In reality it’s the opposite.  Our natural state is one of pure awareness of reality.  This natural, base state is how we’re born, then it’s covered up and masked as our egos develop through the various delusional teachings we receive as we grow up.  Even Jesus referred to becoming once again as little children as we seek a path back to God.  Over the past two thousand years, Western culture has convinced most of us that God is “out there” some where, when in reality God is right here, right now, within all of us.

Through meditation and following what Buddhists refer to as the “middle way”, we can uncover our natural state and once again become aware of how things really are.  The entire point of being a Buddhist (being awake) is not to believe in a set of moral rules, or adhere to some specific type of behavior, or convince others of some sort of dogma.  The point of following the Buddhist path is to return to one’s original insight into the true nature of reality and to once again connect with the eternal ground of awareness.  Many faith traditions refer to this eternal ground as God.  Buddha Dharma (method) doesn’t conflict with the various religious traditions because Buddhism isn’t a religion.  It’s just a method one can use to once again be awake to what’s real.

Love and compassion flow from this original state.  Truth and loving behavior arise naturally.  Nirvana, or Heaven is discovered in the eternal now, not at some point in the future, after we’re dead.

Happiness and bliss occur naturally from within, so that eventually there’s no need to attach to anything external.  The impermanence of pleasure, the fear of loss, illness, pain, even death shrinks, fades, and eventually can potentially vanish along with all the other false mental constructs, such as the never ending sentimental past or the anxiety-ridden future that never comes.

There is no other concept of happiness or impermanent sense of bliss that can even hope to approach the white light of pure awareness that occurs naturally from being truly awake, free of attachments, and present in the eternal now.

Conch Farm

I took this picture today with my cell phone while waiting for some friendly island people to cook up some conch. It was delicious.

Natural Codes

In Nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments. There are merely consequences; actions and reactions. Trees fall. Lakes dry up. Predators hunt and kill.

Only humans apply moral codes to natural actions and reactions. And, those codes are always relative to the current time, place, and power structure. Moral codes arise, fall, appear and fade away, just like clouds or ocean waves.

So, I guess, in a way, moral codes are part of nature, too.

But, sadly, most people consider their moral codes separate and external from nature, and even themselves. They consider themselves separate from nature, too; a separate “self” riding around in a bag of skin.

This, of course, isn’t the case. Our bodies, minds, ideas and feelings are all one thing. And, we can’t survive without sun, air, and water, so our bodies are one-and-the-same with nature. It’s all one thing.

The illusion of everything being separate is what causes us to crave and attach to things we wish we could later quit doing. It’s what causes relationships to stop and wars to start.

If we better align ourselves and our moral codes (regardless of their origin), with natural laws, we’ll see better progress with social justice and integration.

Simple solutions are often the most powerful

Ten minutes or so is not much time to spend listening to a wise person describe simple truths that can and have changed the world.  That’s about how long this video is.

Considering some of the more idiotic ways we spend our time, it would probably help most of us a lot if we would watch and listen to this video more than once.

Salamander in the herb garden

This guy showed up to help my wife with her annual herb garden planting.  Those herbs are one of my favorite things in the Spring and Summer.

In addition to the visual beauty they add to our outdoor living, they’re constantly used for cooking.  And, they just make the whole place smell good.

Critters like this love hanging out there, too.  There’s always a nice surprise crawling out of the herbs when we’re trimming and pulling.