South America, 1967 Trip.4 – Manaus to Belem, Brazil

Third Class Amazon riverboat accommodation – 1967

This post has been moved to a larger post as part of my South America series.


What Can We Learn from Ancient Egypt?

Worship the Sun – it’ll outlast all the other gods we have created in our own likenesses to suit our purposes.

Carve your history on stone in an arcane language. That way the narrow-minded crusaders won’t destroy it.

Forget vowels, you don’t really need them – it’s tough enough being a scribe.

Don’t let a Roman, even if he looks like Richard Burton, run your armed forces.

Build things out of really big rocks with a very wide base. Make them narrower on top. Finance them with real assets like gold. They will stand the test of time.

This was posted on my old blog on December 15th, 2008

The Good Society

A deeply thoughtful article on the dangers of disrespect for our hard-won, bled-for democratic institutions.

The Parallel Parliament

In their 1991 groundbreaking work The Good Society, authors and researchers led by Robert Bellah concluded that without institutions modern society might as well padlock the door and wait for the end. Regardless of how diligent, generous or capable an individual may be, without the ability to strengthen and enhance our institutions all historic societal gains will be lost and people will become adrift from one another.

The writers made a case for our institutions being the “patterned way we live together,” and concluded with what should have been obvious to all of us: “We live through institutions.” Granted those things that have held us together in the past – places of worship, governments, media organizations, educational institutions, and even democracy itself – can, like us, lose their way and contribute to an overall dulling of the senses. Yet since life without such essentials is impossible, our only real alternative…

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Becoming a Child of Illusion

The following are taken from Pema Chögrön’s book, Start Where You Are. The gist of Pema’s philosophy is that we should recognize that suffering exists in the world, but that rather than feel anger or sorrow for our own suffering, we should accept it, breathe it in and breathe out sympathy for the similar sufferings of others. When we, through the practice of tonglen, realize how materially insubstantial we, and the world we perceive, really are we can start to erase our ego and cultivate a joyful mind. Tonglen means “taking in and sending out.’

It is a type of meditation that helps us to overcome suffering and weakness.

From Chapter Four I have selected the following quotes:

First, my favorite:

Good and bad, happy and sad, all thoughts vanish into emptiness like the imprint of a bird in the sky.

Trungpa Rinpoche, teacher of Pema Chögrön.

*** Continue reading “Becoming a Child of Illusion”

Atheism 2.0

I’m wrestling with an idea promoted in a TED talk by Alain de Botton. I have been an athiest for several years. Formerly deeply involved in my local RC church, I became progressively skeptical due to the absence of signs of the workings of God’s grace among the parish.

The final straw was when conservative parishioners treated our pastor very shabbily – a man I had great liking and respect for.

Then I read The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur, who argued that Jesus of Nazareth of the Christian gospel never existed. I followed up his book with an energetic examination of his sources and came to the same opinion as Harpur. Continue reading “Atheism 2.0”