Marxism and Buddhism. The reason I bring this up is because of something in Be Here Now:

My partner was reading it and pointed out that it’s bullshit on an important level (if not every level). The reason hippies (I’ll read that as “anticapitalist agitators”) exist is because capitalism requires people to be oppressed. It hired police to achieve that oppression. The cause of all this lies in the violence inherent in capitalism. That’s what creates this duality, not bad vibes.

(That is, people don’t want to work 12-hour days building pyramids. People who object to building pyramids for pharaohs are Dass’s “hippies”–those whom the pharaoh then chooses to incentivize into keeping the “hippies” in order, those become the police. It’s not a damned thing about the laborer’s “vibe” that causes the cop to enter the scene. It’s a combination of the pharaoh’s realistic concern that his pyramid’s not gonna get built and the fact that he has the power/wealth to convince people to come use violence to see that it does. A society in which some have the power to require others to build pyramids for them–a class society–that’s the source of the police. Sure weren’t any fucking cops back in hunter-gatherer days, no matter how freaked out anyone got.)

There IS a connection between capitalism and the lack of mindful living on this planet. Capitalism alone, the stress of find-a-career-or-live-in-fear-of-starvation it generates in most people alone, that may not be enough to have made so many people living not-in-the-moment–but what is is the mass distraction machine we’ve built to deal with the pain of that fear and all the other pains that capitalism causes.

I was going back over old stuff I’d written and I think I pinpointed what I originally meant when I started talking about “art for art’s sake.” I think what I mean by the phrase is producing art with the hopes of material success; producing art with the hopes of oneself becoming “great” as a result; producing art that will be used to distract people and not to help educate them, to help them improve their lives. Art to be consumed where the consumption of it is an end in itself.

The title of this article and its explanation have been sticking with me. It seems like something we can build on:

The Future Must Be Green, Red, Black and Female

The human species must acknowledge that any future that allows us to retain our humanity will jettison capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy – and be based on an ecological worldview.”

I was talking with someone recently who was telling me that they had seen Christianity work for many people. I asked him to elaborate on the specific nature of the religious practices (I forget specifically what I asked), and he said "Pure Jesus." I said, "No, no, specifically, what are they doing?" He said that they were praying.

And praying does help those who do it—or, at least, it's fair to say that praying does frequently help many of those who do it. I can't speak for all the different things that are called praying, but I know that a big subset of them are what might be called gratefulness rituals. To perform this ritual, you can just kneel or bow or in some way put your body into a position of humility, and then just think of all the many things that have helped you along your way, all the assistance of every kind you've ever received—realize that you would not be where you are without so many other people doing so many other things, both for you directly and for you as part of society. Try to count your blessings, remembering all the specifics. And also maybe think of the beauty of the sky and the stars and the earth and be grateful. And at the conclusion of such a ritual, you might meditate for a moment, let your mind go silent, and thereby demonstrate to yourself that you are being given the whole world, because you can literally do nothing and yet it still goes on.

I think if most people consistently practice that ritual (or many, many other things like it), they will see an improvement in overall well-being—and, mind you, I mean not only using some external evaluation of well-being but also and especially well-being as reported by themselves.

Religion is (or at least should be) a set of practices and perhaps frameworks that help a person stay wise, help them stay humble and stay present and stay loving (and so on). Religion is that which ligares (ties) a person re (back [toward the harbor of centeredness and presentness and lovingness]).

Buddhism began this way.

And more than that, if a metaphor about the origin of the universe—some notion of God or Brahman or the tao or lila and so on—does indeed verifiably help people get their cognitive shit together better; if some religio-psycho-geometric framework can act as a kind of firmware patch on the brain and change how certain aspects work globally (that is, throughout the whole brain and mind), then the study and contemplation of that metaphor might also be thought of as a ritual, as a religious practice—and by that, again, I mean a specific set and sequence of very specifically performed actions to be undertaken. A technique.

So when I say that I am a spiritual person, what I mean is that I engage in the contemplation of many classically "spiritual" concepts, and find that contemplating them offers me the most beautiful and deeply meaningful perspectives with which to perceive the universe. That I engage in them, and love engaging with them, that it feels natural and makes me feel, in an almost whole-being way (like, synaesthetically: bodily and perceptually and mentally and emotionally and even rationally), like part of—and in a very important way one and the same with—a vast and brilliant harmony. That I believe panpsychism makes all the sense and strong emergentism makes none.

some thoughts on overcoming a fear of death:

when you think of your "I," when you ask yourself "who am I?" especially in light of the fear of death, fear of loss of the ability to experience the world "as yourself," take that notion that you then have in your mind of who that "yourself" is that you are so concerned about experiencing the world as.

what if that "yourself" is always what it feels like you're experiencing the world as, whether you are a stray breeze or a brain. that no matter how tight or loose the eddie that is selfness, the feeling that you are indeed you is not one that can ever go away.

and some have even suggested that the attributes that the mind discerns within itself–that is, when one makes the finest-grained, can't-ever-come-even-close-to-having-words-for-such-subtle-details assessment one can of one's "personality," one's "disposition"–are the attributes of the "mind" that "created" the universe, of "god's" mind, and that "you," the little fractal island/eddie of godmind, shall one day, at the conclusion of a continuous and unbroken consciousness that goes right on unbroken through your death (and, granted, perhaps also through a truly mind-boggling number of permutations of universes and mathiverses and eddying within eddying), return to being the complete god–that you and i and all of us shall again become god complete one day. and that you shall never all-the-way die at any point before or after because the universe, in existing at all, demonstrates that it's not possible for existence to all-the-way end.

The best any liberal or social democrat hopes for is a New Deal. Well, we already had one and they took it away. If that’s all you ever hope to achieve, you are advocating for a sandcastle. Whether you think it’s probable that it can be achieved or not, understand that socialism is the only achievement that, if achieved, won’t just be rolled back. Even the liberal’s (or social democrat’s) wildest fantasy is a sandcastle.

The reports released by the most wealthy and therefore most prestigious think tanks are the ones covered by prestigious newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Since a nation’s livelihood depends heavily on how well its economy is functioning, to some extent elected officials must feel an obligation to do whatever the biggest businesspeople—who successfully insinuate themselves as unquestionably the most knowledgeable authorities about what will create a good economy—say they should do.

One expert from the wealthiest ultraconservative think tank and one from the wealthiest moderate-conservative (“socially liberal”) think tank—that’s who appears before Congress.

Experts from the most wealthy and therefore most prestigious think tanks, that’s who fill the federal advisory committees.

The more thoroughly a policy undermines the profitability of capitalism (“hurts business”—”restricts free enterprise”), the broader and more complex the coalition of generally respectable agencies and institutions will come together to oppose it.

To “concentrate power in Washington” is to give the government enforceable power over corporations.

They preside over the current brutal world order and constantly reinforce it at the margins with violence. They have no ethical qualm against mass brutality to enforce their order. A friend of mine recently argued they wouldn’t commit violence against the American voting population itself, but that’s only because it hasn’t been necessary. If it became necessary, we would cease to be voters so that they could do with us whatever seemed most prudent to safeguard the American Republic and the rule of law.

They get together to talk about how to make capitalism more profitable, though they refer to capitalism as "business." They view organized labor and government spending as their enemies. They oppose anything that gets in the way of the profitability of "business" generally (and also specifically, as in the case of policy developments that might reduce the profits of corporations in certain industries). They also oppose, generally speaking, anything that makes it more difficult for private individuals to accumulate massive amounts of money via capitalism–which in this instance they speak of as "investment."

They don't have to know or desire that the working class suffers. They just have to have a dogma that says that the less government regulations there are, the juster the world. The fact that this stance syncs up with what earns them more money (and, indeed, what allows them to live the lifestyles they live at all)–that doesn't have to be paid direct attention to. They can tell themselves that it's not about the money. They can tell themselves that capitalism is justice itself, so they do right indeed by enacting capitalism most fully–in practice, this means handing the state ever more fully over to the capitalist class, and, specifically, concentrating the power ever more fully into the hands of the very richest.