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Greed is a false god

2:49 pm in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Today is Easter Sunday.

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, resurrection is an ancient myth that was old before humans invented writing. The Ancient Egyptian story of the resurrection of Osiris dates back to a time long before Menes unified the Two Lands creating the fabled Old Kingdom of Egypt in approximately 3,000 BC.

Jesus was a rabbi and the core principle of his teachings is the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Rabbi Hillel, who lived and died before Jesus was born, expressed the Golden Rule:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Law. The rest is commentary. Now go and learn.

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and incompatible with the Golden Rule.

Nevertheless, greed is the so-called invisible hand that regulates the free market and, according to neoliberals, the only acceptable form of regulation. Not only is unrestricted greed an acceptable business plan, it has become the only acceptable business plan. Thus, has greed been accorded godlike status.

And we wonder why the world is so messed up.

On this day that we celebrate resurrection and rebirth, we would do well to recommit ourselves to living the Golden Rule. Believing it is not enough. Breath it. Live it. Become it, now.

Rabbi Hillel also said,

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?

We are in this together.

Greed is not a path to prosperity. It is a path to corruption, exploitation, enslavement and chaos.

We all know know it.

Now let’s do something about it.

Rabbi Hillel’s Three Questions: What Did He Mean?

10:25 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog.

I have always been drawn to the deeper questions in life.

I spent quite a bit of my life confronting those questions on a daily basis while defending clients charged with death penalty offenses.

I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases. I believe that, as long as we remain alive, we have an opportunity for redemption, no matter what we have done.

As we tread water waiting for Judge Lester’s decision on Friday regarding the defense motion to disqualify, I have taken the opportunity to establish some guidelines and rules for the site.

To further set the tone for a new way in the blogosphere to learn about law and grow in wisdom together, I decided to provoke some philosophical thought and discussion regarding Rabbi Hillel’s famous three questions. Rabbi Hillel Wikipedia states:

Hillel (הלל) (born Babylon traditionally c.110 BCE, died 10 CE[1] in Jerusalem) was a famous Jewish religious leader, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud. Renowned within Judaism as a sage and scholar, he was the founder of the House of Hillel school for Tannaïm (Sages of the Mishnah) and the founder of a dynasty of Sages who stood at the head of the Jews living in the land of Israel until roughly the fifth century of the Christian Era.

He is known for many things, including this expression of the Golden Rule:

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

The man had a way of cutting through the bullshit and getting to the essence of things.

I do not mention him for any religious purpose. Instead, I mention him as a sage and, specifically, for the following three questions he asked his students.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

But if I am only for myself, who am I?

If not now, when?

What are your thoughts?

Conclusion: Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 29

7:56 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Author’s Note: Each chapter of this book can be read as a stand-alone and it is not necessary that they be read in numerical order. All of the previous chapters are posted here in my Diaries or at my blog.

I welcome comments and will respond as time allows. Thanks for reading.

Chapter 29

Conclusion

The Jewish sage, Rabbi Hillel, asked his students the following three questions:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

But if I am only for myself, who am I?

If not now, when?

I wrote this book to serve as a guide to answering these three fundamental and important questions. Let us review them one at a time.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

You must accept responsibility for whom and what you are.

First, you have to figure out who you are by recapitulating your life with ruthless and detached objectivity, identifying the good and the bad.

Shine the light of your attention on the bad and synthesize it with the good to become a better person. Suppression never works.

Second, you must tend to the care and feeding of your soul by using death as your advisor, paying attention to synchronicity, and following the path with heart. You will not live forever and you should not rely on anyone else to figure out who you are and tell you what to do. You will have wasted your life, if you do, and you will join the living dead: just another indistinguishable zombie in a sea of zombies.

Your life is a priceless gift from your Creator. It does not belong to anyone else.

You have something special to contribute. Find out what it is and do it.

Remember that you cannot be of service to others if you are perpetually whining and complaining. People like that are energy vampires. Avoid them and never let yourself become one. Remember too the Buddha’s wisdom that physical pain is a part of life over which you have little control, but suffering is a mental reaction to pain over which you do have control.

Heal thyself and be of service to others.

But if I am only for myself, who am I?

Think holistically. You do not exist in any meaningful way unless you exist in relationship to others. Although you are an individual, you add meaning and purpose to your life as a necessary and inseparable part of a relationship with other people, other groups, the planet, and the cosmos.

Cultivate relationships by contributing your energy, ideas, and voice. Do not be a vampire. Never use relationships to suck up energy without contributing something in return. Remember that the energy in healthy relationships always is greater than the sum of its individual contributing parts.

Embrace life.

Be yourself.

Live in the moment.

Experience passion.

Get rid of your television.

Avoid living vicariously through others.

Visualize yourself as a hero on a hero’s epic journey, rather than a victim.

Banish fear, get off the damn couch, go outside, do something positive, and be of service to others.

If not now, when?

Until you run out of excuses is not the correct answer.

Conclusion

I have woven much of the ancient wisdom teachings along with my personal story throughout this book in the genuine hope that it will help you change your life for the better as I have changed mine.

I believe the deeply corrupt and broken United States Government is the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world and its leader, Barack Obama, is the most dangerous terrorist.

All of the life forms on this sparkling jewel of a planet, which is the true Garden of Eden, are endangered. The dream of our forefathers and generations of Americans is endangered. We and the people of the world are endangered. Our destiny today is unimaginable destruction and devastation unless we act to change it through nonviolent revolution.

Time is running out . . .

October2011.org

Much love and good luck.

And one more thing: don’t forget to laugh!

Namaste

August 25, 2011

Cross-Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.

My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.

Now I am a writer and I haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

Heh.

Namaste

Masoninblue

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 6 Golden Rule Applications

9:09 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Chapter 6

Golden Rule Applications

Pharaoh Nebkaure ruled in favor of Khun-Inpu even though he was an outsider, a mere peasant who had technically trespassed on land that belonged to a rich and influential nobleman and his donkey had trampled the nobleman’s wheat and eaten his grain. Despite Khun-Inpu’s humble and foreign background, pharaoh recognized that he was an honorable man with good intentions who was forced into trespassing on the nobleman’s land by the foreman who then used the trespass as a justification to assault Khun-Inpu and steal his donkey and his goods. As the Lord of Ma’at, who was said to decree with his mouth the Ma’at in his heart, pharaoh had little choice but to rule in Khun-Inpu’s favor, even though he was loathe to do so and Khun-Inpu had to respectfully remind him of his responsibilities eight times and threaten to take his own life to seek justice in the land of the dead to get him to act.

Can anyone imagine President Obama ruling in favor of Khun-Inpu in any matter? Or Chief Justice Roberts and justices Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court? How about your local circuit court or superior court judges? I didn’t think so.

One could argue that President Obama’s decision to look forward and not backward is an example of applying the Golden Rule because his decision accurately reflects how he would like to be treated by his successor in office for his war crimes for waging aggressive war, using drones to slaughter innocent people, and condoning the use of rendition and torture. However, Ma’at does not permit the Golden Rule to be twisted and perverted to reach and justify an unfair and unjust result. Nemti-Nakht learned that lesson the hard way.

War is justifiable only in self-defense. The war in Afghanistan is a war of aggression because Afghanistan did not invade the United States and had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. The United States cannot create a necessity to act in self-defense by killing innocent Afghans to provoke them to attack U.S. soldiers who invaded and occupied their land without consent.

Applying the Golden Rule in more mundane circumstances has proven to be difficult at times. Scholars have engaged in endless discussions and written many books about it. Consider, for example, the vexing relationship phenomenon commonly referred to as men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The answer to this predicament, of course, is to realize that your partner might not want to be treated the same way you would like to be treated in a given situation, so you ask before you act, or do a little detective work first. This behavioral adjustment actually affirms the rule because it respects the other person’s right to be different, which is mutually beneficial and generally beneficial to the relationship.

If we tweak our hypothetical relationship between two emotionally healthy and well adjusted adults, however, and make one person an addict, treating that person the way they want to be treated by supplying them with alcohol, for example, enables and reinforces the addiction to the everlasting sorrow of both people and their relationship. Plug in narcissist or any other major character disorder, including the discovery that your darling “Lovey” is a serial killer or even worse, President of the United States, and you will readily make the connection. This type of situation may be resolved by a negative expression of the rule; that is, refraining from doing something to another person (enabling the addiction) because you would want him or her to refrain from enabling your own addiction. Under either formulation of the rule, the action taken or avoided is driven by the desire to be of service to another as opposed to acting selfishly. One must, of course, be ever vigilant to the infinite number of ways in which a selfish outcome can be disguised by an ingenious mind as acting in the best interest of another person or the common good.

Free market economics, globalization, and the trickle-down theory are examples of acting selfishly supposedly for the benefit of the many, but there is no evidence to support such a belief. For example, the disparity in income between rich and poor in the United States is greater today than it has been since before the Great Depression that began in 1929. Free market economics, globalization, tax breaks for the rich, and the trickle-down theory of economics have made the rich richer and destroyed the middle class in the United States. Greed is not good for anyone and the Gentle One who warned that it would be easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven knew that greed destroys human beings. He wanted people to strive to be spiritually rich, not monetarily rich.

Imagine how much better this world would be if everyone in it honored the goddess Ma’at, others, and themselves by practicing the spirit of the Golden Rule. As Rabbi Hillel said, “That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Christians and Muslims can substitute the New Testament or the Koran for the Torah; the meaning is the same.

The catastrophic problems we face today are the natural and probable consequence of a conscious awareness focused on constructing a self-important identity out of self-differentiation. To say that I am not “X,” however, does little to satisfy my craving to know who I am. It does, however, feed my desire to feel special, and the more special I feel the more unique I become. Satisfaction is missing, however, because now that I have convinced myself that I am unique, I feel entitled to be acknowledged as unique without realizing that I have birthed an addiction that I must continue to feed to avoid an identity crisis. Yet, I need an identity crisis, perhaps many, to reach the Aha Moment when I finally accept that my search for identity through a process of self-differentiation from others necessarily leads to selfishness, isolation, and existential dread because my uniqueness invariably disappears without the existence, attention, and agreement of others to sustain it. Albert Einstein said,

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

In what sense do I exist, if not in relation to something else?

Am I not who I am because I am a part of the whole?

And if I am part of the whole, am I not part of you and you part of me?

How can this not be true of all humanity?

When we harm others, do we not harm and diminish ourselves?

How can this not be true of all life?

If it is true of all life, how can it not be true of all spirit?

Is this not the essence of the Golden Rule?

As above, so below.

Are we humans not who we are because we are a part of the whole and does not the whole include our mother, Gaia, and is she not part of all that exists beyond her?

Are we not confronted today by dreadful circumstances of our own making that are forcing us to evolve to a higher level of consciousness in which we define ourselves holistically, accept responsibility individually and collectively for creating the miseries that plague us, pledge to once and for all destroy the Tower of Babble dissolving the boundaries that separate us, and place the good of the many above the good of the few?

We must learn to move beyond merely tolerating others to trusting others as we would trust ourselves. This is the principle of mutuality that is central to the Golden Rule. Although this will prove to be difficult, keep in mind that the prophet Muhammad said, “Do good to those who are worthy of it and to those who are not; if he is a good man, then because he is good, and if he is not, then because you are.”

As in the Sufi parable of the three blind men who each describe an elephant differently because their descriptions are based on touching different part of its body, we must accept and recognize that the One is more than the sum of its many parts. There are many paths to the One and we should respect all of them. As Helen Keller said, “I do not want the peace which passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”

Let us see ourselves as coequal Ambassadors of the One for whom nationalism, patriotism, the vast array of the rest of the isms, and the formal structure of religion no longer matter. We revere all that exists, as it is as much a part of us as we are a part of it. We celebrate our existence and pledge to heal, protect, and preserve Gaia for she is part of us, our mother, our home, and Garden of Eden.

As T.S. Eliot said,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Cross-Posted at my blog and Smirking Chimp.

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

Heh.

Namaste

Masoninblue

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 5, Whatever Happened To The Golden Rule?

11:08 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Chapter 5

Whatever Happened to the Golden Rule?

Edward Arlington Robinson wrote,

Miniver Cheevy
Child of scorn
Wished that he’d never been born
And he had reasons.

The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is a corollary of Ma’at and a foundational principle of most religions. The Hebrew sage, Rabbi Hillel, who recognized that brotherly love is the fundamental principle of Jewish moral law. (Lev. xix. 18), explained the importance of the Golden Rule when he said,

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah, ; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

Matthew, a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, described the importance of the Golden Rule in the following exchange between Jesus and a Pharisee lawyer questioning his authority.

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The prophet Mohamed expressed the Golden Rule as,

That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.

The Golden Rule has long recognized what scientists sequencing the human genome have recently confirmed. Humans are 99.5% genetically the same, no matter the color of our skin, the language we speak, our gender, sexual preference, age, race, ethnicity, or religious belief. Some scientists do not believe human genetics support the concept of racial differences. In other words, differences in skin color are no more significant to them than differences in eye or hair color and, therefore, an emphasis on categorizing people by the color of their skin is inherently flawed, reckless, and dangerous. In fact, there is considerably more genetic variation among brown skinned people than there is among white skinned people since Homo Sapiens sapiens originated in southern Africa in the border area between Namibia and South Africa approximately 200,000 years ago and emerged out of northeast Africa about 80,000 years ago. Natural selection favors people with brown skin in the hot sun-drenched tropics. White skin is the result of a genetic mutation that originated in humans after they emerged out of Africa and settled in northern Europe and north central Asia. Differences in skin color have no effect on intelligence. Differences in behavior are due to being raised in different cultures with different values and access to clean water, a nutritious and balanced diet, and education. For all of these reasons, these scientists believe racism is the inevitable result of a long and sorry history of classifying people by skin color. I agree.

Therefore, the “enemy” that our brothers and sisters encounter on a battlefield in a distant foreign land who wears a turban and speaks a foreign language is 99.5% exactly like them. They just look a little different and it does not take a great leap of faith or intuition to realize that they want to be treated by other people the same way our brothers and sisters in uniform want to be treated. They resent the presence of our brothers and sisters in uniform in their country killing their brothers and sisters just as we would resent their presence in our country killing our brothers and sisters. Because we are fundamentally the same, when we demonize the other, we demonize ourselves.Whenever we kill another person, no matter the reason, we kill part of ourselves.

Ubuntu is a Zulu word that describes the foundation of African societies. In essence, it means that a person is a person through other persons. Desmond Tutu said ubuntu is about community:

When we see another, we should recognize ourselves and the God in whom all people are made. My humanity is caught up in your humanity. I am a human being only because you are a human being. There is no such thing as a solitary human being . . . And for that reason, the highest value is accorded to harmony, communal harmony, and anger and revenge and bitterness are corrosive of this harmony. And in a sense, it is the best form of self-interest to forgive you, because if I do not, my anger against you, which goes toward dehumanizing you, dehumanizes me in the process. The minute you are diminished, whether I like it or not, I am diminished. And so if I can enhance your humanity, ipso facto, my humanity is enhanced. When another person is diminished, I am diminished.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow when I present Namaste: Chapter 6, Golden Rule Applications.

Cross-posted at my blog and Smirking Chimp

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

Heh.

Namaste

Masoninblue

“Who is your Leader?” “No One; We are One.”

11:17 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Today is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring. The Sun, which is the source of all creative energy in our solar system, enters Aries at 7:21 pm EDT.

Aries is a cardinal (initiates) fire (action) sign in which the Sun is exalted (most powerful) because it is most comfortable and at home in fire that creates and leads the way. The Sun, of course rules Leo, the fifth sign. Nevertheless, the Sun is not quite as powerful in Leo because Leo is a fixed (set in its ways) fire (action) sign. The difference between people born with the Sun in Aries and people born with the Sun in Leo is that Sun in Leo acts in a more predictable manner than Sun in Aries. Sun in Leo wants to be appreciated for what it does while Sun in Aries is compelled to continue initiating while Sun in Leo is basking in its own warmth. The third fire sign, by the way, is Sagittarius, the ninth sign of the Zodiac. Sagittarius is a mutable (adaptable) fire (action) sign that is especially well suited to higher learning and travel. All three fire signs are great initiators and leaders, but poor finishers. They need the grounded and practical earth signs to create structure and flesh out their ideas.

Expect everything to speed up as the wheel enters a new phase in which life renews itself through rebirth. We started the year under two extremely powerful influences involving Uranus, the planet best symbolized by the archetype of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. Uranus is associated with sudden and unexpected change that acts like lightning, materializing in the physical dimension of space-time without warning and destroying structure that impedes growth and progress. We associate Uranus with creativity and revolution. Uranus was the dominant astrological influence during the sixties, for example, and we began this year feeling and witnessing that same powerful force in our lives.

At the beginning of the year, Jupiter (expansion) was conjunct Uranus (revolution) in Pisces, the mutable (adaptable) water (unconscious) sign of the Zodiac. We witnessed the awesome power of the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction expressed in human affairs in the events that occurred in Tunisia, Tahrir Square, and the rest of the Middle East, as well as Madison, WI. The urge for freedom and independence, fueled in part by Twitter and the internet, which are associated with Uranus, is literally unquenchable and continuing.
The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction also was in the early stages of an approaching square (90 degrees apart) to Pluto (death and rebirth) in Capricorn, the cardinal (initiates) earth (practical) sign that creates structure. Although Jupiter, which moves faster than Uranus because it’s much closer to the Sun, is separating from Uranus and the conjunction is weakening, the influence associated with the Uranus-Pluto square is strengthening and will last through 2018.

Pluto, the metaphysical god of the underworld is associated with volcanic activity, nuclear power, rape, war, and willpower. Think of Pluto as the most destructive force in the solar system. Massive destruction and obliteration of structure through war, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and nuclear explosions are associated with Pluto. Suddenly unleashed (think Prometheus unchained) by the lightning-like destructive power of Uranus, Pluto can be associated with unimaginably vast destruction, such as we see in Japan, including the continuing disaster in four of the nuclear reactor buildings at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant.

Y’all may have noticed that events have been accelerating into a blur since the beginning of the year. Well, y’all had better get used to it because sudden death and destruction of all forms of structure, whether physical, ideological, or spiritual, including subconscious patterns of behavior will predominate for the next eight years.

Why is this happening?

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius amid the death throes of the apocalyptic Age of Pisces that began with people waiting for a messiah to deliver them from an evil world. The Messiah was a message delivered by many enlightened souls, including the Buddha, Rabbi Hillel, Jesus, Muhammad, and many others. The message is deceptively simple. Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you and refrain from doing unto others that which you would not want done to you. Yes, it is the Golden Rule.

The Age of Aquarius will be a time when individual desire for freedom and independence will predominate, but it will be expressed ideologically in groups of like-minded people committed to working together in service to the common good. When the protesters who participated in the uprising in Tahrir Square were asked, “Who is your leader?” they responded, “No one; we are One.”

May the record reflect that the message, finally, has been received and all who stand in its way shall perish.

So it shall be written; so it shall be done.

(Cross posted at my new blog: http://masonbennu.wordpress.com/