Wednesday, March 28, 2007

LA's Boiling Point

Much of Los Angeles are suffering. The Whole Foods Market across from my place of employment seems to be the center of it. Located at 3rd and Fairfax, where mid-Wilshire and West Hollywood come together, the grocery store is filled with employees on lunch break and scrambling shoppers. The wealthy Beverly Hills/Hollywood Hills set is here, as well as the West Hollywood struggling actor crowd. The homeless populations is especially unwelcome here, leading to numerous confrontations. The homeless have decimated their projection and positive outlook. When you think everyone is out to screw you, than people will be out to screw you.

In Los Angeles nothing is enough. If you are making a million dollars a year, you look across to the mansion in the Hills whose owner makes $50 million year. Having a vehicle that works is not paramount. If you are driving anything less than a shining BMW or Mercedes, you must not be making it. Home ownership is restricted to the wealthy, leaving most of the population biting their fingernails over rents that have doubled in the past decade.

These are intense statements, and one might ask where I get off making these judgments. The faces in the market give everyone away. Mouths curl and tighten, holding in the screams of frustration. Even those who have "made it" cannot let go their addiction to stress.

And it is addiction, a mere habit. We are accustomed to believing that stress is our natural state. This lie is the ultimate prank played on the Western World. This facade of false worries began with a simple belief that God had abandoned us, and that we had to worry about every facet of life. From that ballooned the great mental prison.

Los Angeles hit a point of unbearable stress before many other places, and thus it has opened to new ways of viewing reality. Having hit bottom earlier than most, it is the center for meditative practices to lead us out of the void.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nationalism for the Universalists?

Over the past few days I have been researching the movement for a separate Sikh state in the Punjab. Before presenting my opinion, I would like to say that there is no denying the numerous hardships the Sikhs have faced. Their land was carved up during the partition. Those on the Pakistani side endured the violent resettlement of 1949. The Indian government has taken the region's water while giving little in return. When the discontentment spawned separatist paramilitaries, the Indian government reacted by bringing martial law to the Punjab and attacking the holiest spot on earth for Sikhs, the Golden Temple. When Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards in response to the attack, a systematic slaughter of Sikhs took place in Dehli.

I spent some time reading the separatist website The articles I perused seemed rooted in fear. According to the authors, the only way the Sikhs can thrive is to establish an independent nation. Israel was given as the example of a state thriving from its religious identity. Should the Sikhs emulate a state entwined in a massive civil war with little end in sight?

A former Sikh political leader was oft quoted as saying that no one can be a Sikh if he is not in favor of the independent state. This is reminiscent of Catholic bishops refusing communion to pro-choice politicians. Should doctrinal religious rules define political preferences?

I understand the Sikh path as a recognition that there is one God, and that all are brothers on the path to experiencing God. It was founded in the recognition of human dignity and brotherhood in the faces of the regimented caste system and Islamic sharia. A Sikh is a soldier of God, emanating hope and delivering justice when all else is faltering. Injustices have occurred, but the religion should not be transformed into a reactionary movement against said atrocities.

In a world shrinking daily through instant media and McDonalds in every country, coexistence is the sole solution to disaster.
No state can exist that defines itself on exclusion.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Here in Los Angeles we are on track to experience Southern California's driest winter on record. I can recall only a day or two where we received any precipitation more thant drizzle. One week ago we saw a glimpse of summer, with temperatures reaching the high eighties. Then the marine layer arrived, bringing June Gloom to March. When the marine layer arrived a month early last year, "May Grey," became the name of Southern California's month long cloud purgatory.

Stay tuned as the world's weather shifts ever so slightly. Seeing that we have built our society around a fixed weather pattern, things shall be interesting...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Mega Millions multi-state lotto hit $ 390 million last week. As I walked by a Lotto window last week, 10 people waited in line to buy tickets. Faces betrayed a deep anxiety, desperately hoping that the one dollar investment would solve all of their worries.

Or would it?

Imagine winning a sum of cash in the tens or hundreds of millions. Would you be able to relax, to just sit back and enjoy your newfound wealth? Perhaps initially, but having such a fortune requires great generosity. In the past people would have few preconceptions when meeting you. Now everyone is coming to you for your resources, looking past your essence to see what you can provide.

One must be strong to hold such wealth. Judging from the faces of the people in line, they would not be suited to handle hundreds of millions. It would merely change the nature of their neuroses.

The desire of worldly wealth is a distraction from the real problem. People are not in touch with their souls, and think that their identity is their mind. The subconscious is constantly bombarding their conscious, filling it with worries that they are constantly on the verge of failing, of being a street person.. They possess no technology to reach through subconscious sludge to touch the soul. Thus, lives are lived where fear is the predominant emotion.

A higher force is taking care of all us in ways far more subtle than a $ 390 million jackpot.


Friday, March 9, 2007

"Once a man worries, he clings to anything out of desperation; and once he clings he is bound to get exhausted or to exhuast whomever or whatever he is clinging to. A warrior-hunter, on the other hand, knows he will lure game into his traps over and over again, so he doesn't worry. To worry is to become accessible, unwittingly accessible." - Don Juan, from Carlos Castaneda's "Journey to Ixtlan."

Monday, March 5, 2007

According to New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersch, who broke both the Mylai and Abu Ghraib stories, the United States is countering Iran's growing influence by tacitly supporting fundamentalist Sunni movements throughout the region. In essence, the US went into Iraq to defeat Al Qaeda and unexpectedly met an Iran who was seeking regional hegemony. The US has responded by supporting the Sunnis against the Shiite Iranians. It would seem that past failures would keep our leaders from making these same mistakes.This backfired when the US supported the Afghani muhajadeen against the Soviets. Notable muhajadeen veterans make up the backbone of anti-US terror groups, most notably Osama bin Laden. We also substantially strengthened Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran.

It seems like we are running in circles, fighting perpetual wars for a ever distant peace.

This imperialistic model worked well two thousand years ago. We are moving out of a space where force is the medium used to acquire power. Watching these blunders unfold in the middle east is like watching a tyrannosaurus rex feed right before the comet hit the earth.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Brokaw's Greatest Generation

After seeing Clint Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima" last weekend, I started thinking about America's recollection of WWII. Peter Brokaw popularized the idea of the WWII generation as the "greatest generation." While I certainly do not want to diminish their sacrifice, I think there is some merit in exploring how perceptions of this time.

The positions in the war were easier to define. There was no mistaking the enemies: militaristic fascist governments with imperial aspirations. The Germans were willing to use genocidal means to achieve empire status.

The roles have become more fluid, and it is difficult to assign the "good" and "bad" labels. Piscean categorizations are loosing potency. We have entered new territory, and people long for a time when they could wrap their brains around what was happening. Is our affection for the "greatest generation" a nostalgia for a time when all our information was delivered from a handful of sources, when we could trust that our leaders would boldly lead us into conflicts against clearly defined enemies?

The future is bringing different challenges. May we respect the past generation while not longing for the simplicity of the past.