Archive for March, 2009

The Pathless Path – We’re already here!


1 Giant Leap (IMDb) is a great CD and DVD of world music made by a couple of English guys, Duncan Bridgeman and Jamie Catto, who travelled the world with a laptop, a keyboard, some recording equipment and some basic rhythms and then recorded artists from all around the world.  

The DVD has a mixed bag of writers, thinkers and armchair philosophers mixed in with the great soundtrack. One of them is Tom Robbins, who tells this story, which relates well at any time, but especially to how we collectively view our current position in history as discussed in my last post:

The Bodhisattva decided he needed to go and see the Buddha.

So he set off on foot and somewhere along his journey he came upon a man who was sitting in the lotus position, meditating.  But he had made several mistakes, in that he hadn’t chosen a shady spot, so he was out in the sun and getting absolutely cooked by the sun – he was all sunburned and dehydrated.  He had also made the mistake of sitting on an anthill, so the ants were crawling all over him and eating his flesh and he was absolutely miserable.  And as the Bodhisattva went by he said, “When you see the Buddha, ask him how long it’s going to take for me to become enlightened.”  The Bodhisattva promised to do that and continued on his way.

A few days later he came across a second man who was dancing and laughing and singing – just in a state of exhilaration – just bopping around.  As the Bodhisattva went by this man said, “Hey, when you see the Buddha, ask him how long it’ll be before I’m enlightened.”  And the Bodhisattva promised.

So he went on, had his audience with the Buddha, and a few weeks later he came back along the way.  This time he came upon the first man first.  By now the ants had taken most of the flesh off of his body and he was blistered from the sun – and he was practically dead, absolutely miserable.  The Bodhisattva said, “The Buddha says it’s going to take six more lifetimes for you to become enlightened.”

The guy says, “Oh, no! No! I can’t stand it!”

The Bodhisattva goes on and comes up on the other man who was still laughing, still dancing, still singing – having his sips of wine and nice food out of a food bowl from time to time.  

As the Bodhisattva went by he said, “You see that bush over there?  You see that small tree – the one with all the leaves on it? The Buddha said for every leaf on that tree, that’s another lifetime you’re going to have to endure before you’re enlightened.”

And the man said, “Is that all!” and began dancing and laughing and singing even more exuberantly.

And at that moment, he became enlightened. 


Enjoy the moment!



Honouring Capitalism

EnlightenNext magazine recently revived a 2005 article by Howard Bloom, which is even more topical now than it was then:
Reinventing Capitalism
In the midst of our current financial crisis, it may seem natural to cast doubt on the entire enterprise of Western capitalism and wonder if its basic tenets of progress and production have led humanity astray. But according to avant-garde cultural theorist Howard Bloom, writing in EnlightenNext back in 2005, such dismissals tend to overlook the true evolutionary significance of our economic system:   

  The problem does not lie in the turbines of the Western way of life—industrialism, capitalism, pluralism, free speech, and democracy. The problem lies in the lens through which we see. Capitalism works. It works clumsily, awkwardly, sometimes brilliantly, and sometimes savagely. So we need to dig down to find out why. We need to reveal the deeper meaning beneath what we’ve been told is crass materialism and see how profoundly our obsessive making and exchanging of goods and services has upgraded the nature of our species. This is not a mindless consumer culture destroying the planet in an orgy of greed. It is the most creative and potentially idealistic bio-engine this planet has ever seen. We desperately need a reinvention and a re-perception of the system that has given Western civilization its long-term strength and its recent weaknesses. We need to wake up capitalism to its mission—a set of moral imperatives and heroic demands that are implicit in the Western way of life. By reinventing capitalism and injecting our own souls into the machine, you and I can raise the bar of human possibility.

Read the full text of Bloom’s column “Reinventing Capitalism.”

I have to admit that my outlook on the achievements of our modern ‘western’ civilisation has tended to be a little negative. I’ve marvelled at the wonder of what we’ve achieved, but never fully honoured it, tainted as it is always by a flavour of sadness and anger at the exploitation that it has taken to get to this point. Surely this is calling the glass 5% empty though – overlooking the blindlingly obvious. There has never been a better time in known human history to be alive on so many levels, especially as a creative or a thinker.  So many people now enjoy a level of health and comfort exceeding even that of kings a few hundred years ago.
I think the ideas he’s hinting at here need developing and clarifying, but I like the gist of it – i.e. honouring our current model rather than condemning it.
I love this vision:

Imagine what it would be like to go to work each morning in a company that saw your passions as your greatest engines, your curiosities as your fuel, and your idealisms as the pistons of your labors and of your soul. Imagine what it would be like if your superiors told you that the ultimate challenge was to tune your empathic abilities so you could sense the needs of your firm’s customers even before those customers knew quite what they hankered after…

This is what I love about the potential of the current system too – that power of possibility that comes when a team is really working well on all levels to create something new and exciting – for the good of all levels of life.
Maybe all we really need is to wake up and realise just how amazingly lucky we are to be alive at this moment and to spread that excitement around.  After centuries of poineering toil, all it will take is for a few of us to look up from our feet at what we’ve collectively created and go ‘Wow!!! Look what we’ve done!’ and then nudge a few others and point it out to them.
Before we know it, we’ll be living the full expression of life on all levels.  It’s so close.
Let’s get this party started!

The importance of ‘small’ details

Context on cover Plasticine character Morph on the cover of Esquire magazine (Mar 2009)

Plasticine character Morph on the cover of Esquire magazine (Mar 2009)

If infinity exists at a point, then how important are the apparently ‘small’ details?

How cool is this small detail of Morph sitting on the barcode of Esquire magazine*?!

How important is the battery light on the new MacBook where they machined the aluminium so thinly that the light shines through the metal, when they could have just made a hole?

How important are these details to you – to your relationships, to your perception of brands, to your sense of wonder?


(*I saw this edition of Esquire magazine (March 2009) at the hairdresser.  It had a fantastic section where the animated plasticine character Morph (YouTube) appeared in a fashion shoot (some pics here).  In some editions I think he appeared on the cover.)

Trust and Economy

How important is trust in the economy?

It seems to me that trust is the oil that lubricates the smooth running of an economy – without it everything seizes up.  In my last post the picture suggested that Economy is the Art of Sharing – the distributing of resources* (‘stuff’) amongst people equitably – and surely trust is a key component of sharing.

(* I nearly used the classical economics term ‘limited resources’ then, but I now believe that to be limited, scarcity-based thinking of last century.  Especially as the ‘stuff’ begins to include intangibles, there is no scarcity or limitation other than our imagination.)

The recent economic blip appears to my eyes to be caused by a sudden lack of trust in the banking industry.  You could say that the banking industry relies entirely on trust as, other than the notion of ‘security’ (an extension of trust), banks don’t actually sell or offer anything tangible.  In the emerging economy trust will become key.  New-century tools like eBay rely heavily on trust as do citywide car sharing schemes that are becoming ever more popular.

I foresee a new economy based on these principles of sharing and trust, where money still exists, yet isn’t required for every transaction, as the word ‘sharing’ implies.  This is the economic model for our new century where our collective humanity is coming to the fore.

Prediction:  Exciting times ahead – beyond anything we have yet imagined!


Happy sharing!


The Economy – the Art of Sharing


The Economy - the Art of Sharing

The Economy - the Art of Sharing

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