The Origins of Foolishness
Welcome to the April 1, 2005 weekly edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang.
Today is All Fool’s Day, and we celebrate the Feast of Fools, which occurs at a transitional time of year, when Mother Nature tends to play tricks on all of us. Here in New York, we had the first sunny days of spring last week, snow finally melted away, and now we are bracing for massive floods from expected torrential rains tomorrow, followed by a potential spring snow event.
April is derived from the name of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, known as Venus to the Romans, and thus April is the month of love. Love, of course, makes fools of us all.
In Rome, April 1 was the date of the Festival of Veneralia, dedicated to Venus, goddess of love, death, orchards, waters and sexuality. Women washed a statue or image of Venus in rivers and lakes, adorned her with precious jewels and long robes, then burned incense in honor of the Goddess. These practices were done to secure happiness in love, popularity, ease in birthing and abundance in the home.
Ovid’s “Fasti” describes the practices: “Then dry her neck and restore to it her golden necklace, now give her a fresh-blown rose. Ye too: She herself bids bathe under the green myrtle. Learn how to give incense to Fortuna Virilis in the place that reeks of warm water. All women strip when they enter that place. . .Propitiate her with supplications; beauty, and fortune and good fame are in her keeping.”
During the Middle Ages, the French celebrated New Year's Day on March 25th. Festivals were held each day culminating on April 1st when people exchanged gifts and parties peaked. King Charles IX decreed that France would adopt a new calendar developed by Pope Gregory XIII, In 1582, changing New Year's Day to January 1st. People who forgot that New Year's Day had been changed were considered April Fools. Those who had accepted the dates of the new calendar played tricks on those who had not and referred to the unfortunate victims of such pranks as "April Fools". Favorite pranks included sending them on a "fool's errand" (an invitation to a non-existent party, for example) or attempting to make them believe that something which was true was actually false. Over time, this practice evolved into an annual tradition of April 1 pranksterism, eventually migrating to England and Scotland during the Eighteenth Century and later exported to the American colonies by British and French settlers.
May you enjoy an April respite from the despotism of the rational mind, abandon logical thought processes and open your heart to nature and to the spirit of love, found in nature and in your loved ones’ eyes. Be willing to play the fool for Venus’ sake, and emulate her ancient Roman and Greek devotees, who acted out all manner of foolishness in her name on this day, when lovers ordered each other to run senseless errands, engage in fabulous, impossible quests, and perform ridiculous rituals to demonstrate the rule of the heart over the head.
Initiate fun-loving foolish rituals by giving hilarious herbal gifts invoking the spirit of this ancient festival. Give your loved one a saffron crocus, considered the flower of mirth and merriment. Or present them with columbine, whose flower is associated with ribaldry because of its similarity in shape to a court jester’s cap and bells. Combine coxscomb (silliness), chrysanthemum (good cheer) and hyacinth (playfulness) in a fool’s bouquet.
At a profound spiritual level, the significance of the Fool cannot be overstated. This Universe we live in, and strive to comprehend and harmonize ourselves with, is but an entry hall to a far greater reality that we cannot mentally comprehend. This unknowable greater reality, from whom all mental concepts and manifest forms recoil, is the Ground of Being, the ultimate Source of Creation, from which the Universe itself, the Universal Life Force Energy, and all manifested sentient and non-sentient beings arise throughout all time and space.
This Ground of Being is worshipped as the God Brahma by the Hindu sages, is known as the Void by Buddhist llamas, and is depicted in the Sacred Tarot as The Fool.
In the Hindu Upanishads, there are four great statements that stand as signposts to the nature of ultimate reality, the truth of being.
Prajnanam Brahma: Consciousness is Brahman. Consciousness is the Absolute, that ineffable energetic essence which the Alchenists called "ether", which fills all of space, and is present in everything from the Creator to the simplest forms of matter.
Aham Brahmasmi: I am Brahman. The "I" is the witnessing consciousness, the "Higher Self" that stands apart from the mind, transcends the egoistic personality, and contains the collective consciousness, both the archetypes of the collective unconscious and the superconscious elements of Higher Mind that connect the individuated self to the Unity of Creation manifest as Absolute Consciousness, the One Self, known as Brahman.
Tat Tvam Asi: Thou Art That. Swami Krishnananda explains this paradox thus: “Sage Uddalaka mentions this nine times, while instructing his disciple Svetaketu in the nature of Reality. That which is one alone without a second, without name and form, and which existed before creation, as well as after creation, as pure Existence alone, is what is referred to as Tat or That, in this sentence. The term Tvam stands for that which is in the innermost recesses of the student or the aspirant, but which is transcendent to the intellect, mind, senses, etc., and is the real 'I' of the student addressed in the teaching. The union of Tat and Tvam is by the term Asi or are. That Reality is remote is a misconception, which is removed by the instruction that it is within one's own self. The erroneous notion that the Self is limited is dispelled by the instruction that it is the same as Reality.”
Ayam Atma Brahma: This Self is Brahman. Swami Krishnananda instructs students that “This Self is Brahman, which is the substance out of which all things are really made. That which is everywhere, is also within us, and what is within us is everywhere. This is called 'Brahman', because it is plenum, fills all space, expands into all existence, and is vast beyond all measure of perception or knowledge. On account of self-luminosity, non-relativity and universality, Atman and Brahman are the same. This identification of the Self with Absolute is not any act of bringing together two differing natures, but is an affirmation that absoluteness or universality includes everything, and there is nothing outside it.”
As an anthropomorphic depiction of this unknowable Ground of Being, The Fool in the Tarot is represented as a playful carefree figure who lives without self-consciousness, without mental considerations, without social conditioning and without attachment to outcomes or antecedent conditions leading to present situations.
Therefore at a microcosmic level, The Fool represents the unthinking human being, in his or her natural condition prior to the great journey toward Self-realization depicted in the Great Wheel of Tarot, and also the innocence of the Self-realized being who has completed that Great Work, who has experienced the many initiations imaged in The Trumps of the Great Wheel of Tarot, and who has achieved liberation from the eternal round of reincarnation.
Thus the end result of the great human journey of incarnations is to arrive at the still point, the center of existence, which is truly everywhere, to know the circumference, which is truly nowhere, and to be the self-conscious embodiment of the original innocence, being, wisdom and bliss inherent in all creation. The end is to return to the beginning, and to know one’s true identity, inherent in that beginning, for the first time.
Thus does the Sacred Tarot depict the reality of existence at the Hub of Creation in the imagery of The Fool.
This is Unity. This is the Yoga of the West.
Top Satya Center Stories of the Week
In his groundbreaking article “Spirit or Empire? The 21st Century Revolution”, Filipino activist Nicanor Perlas, winner of the 2003 Right Livelihood Award (a.k.a. The Alternative Nobel Prize), and author of “Shaping Globalization: Civil Society, Cultural Power and Threefolding”, discusses his experience in creating successful mass anti-nuclear and anti-globalization movements in the Philippines, outlines the basis for spiritual activism, and explains how and why the 21st Century Revolution will succeed in overthrowing the elite forces of Empire and globalization.
“From the perspective of the past and the present, the future that wants to be born is ‘impossible’, distant, but a dream,” Perlas explains.“But the future cannot be a mere continuation of the past, no matter how that past seems so familiar and rational to us. The future, of necessity, will appear in the garb of the ‘impossible’, and only people with vision and deep spiritual creativity can know this and act on this—visionary individuals often called ‘crazy’ by their friends, and even their loved ones. But, dear friends, the ‘impossible’, a more human future wanting to be born, calls us all to resist and transform the Empire-Cyborg Matrix.”
SatyaCenter content partner Lilipoh Magazine, a unique quarterly wellness magazine dedicated to The Spirit in Life, interviewed Perlas about his unique, uplifting vision of a new future for humanity in the important article entitled “A New Revolution”.
In her article, “Global Warming: The Boiling Point”, Satya Center contributor Maya del Mar, whose world-renowned astrological insights helped educate a generation of American astrologers, provides an insightful review of an important new book about impending environmental disaster and practical steps to avert the worst of our self-created woes.
“We have two choices (besides blindly jumping off the cliff, like lemmings),” says Maya. “We can regress into a primitive lifestyle—or we can mount a global project to replace every oil-burning furnace, every coal-fired generating plant, and every gasoline-burning car with noncarbon and renewable energy sources.”
In “Rosalie’s Healing Story”, the parents of a Downs syndrome child recount their family’s pursuit of alternative health remedies for Chloe’s severe upper respiratory ailments, and how their anthroposophical doctor recommended a winning strategy. Learn how to prepare and use a “Lemon Chest Compress” for congestion, stubborn respiratory ailments and colds.
Breaking News Headlines 24/7 at Satya Center
Check out SatyaCenter’s 24/7 alt.newsfeed and read breaking news stories from Pacific News Service. Tune in to Satya Center’s 24/7 environmental news headlines and listen to environmental news radio from Environmental News Network at ENN EarthNews.
This Week’s Top Stories from around the Web
Message From the Mayan Elders: The World Will Not End in 2012
Carlos Barrios, March 30, 2005
"We live in a world of polarity: day and night, man and woman, positive and negative. Light and darkness need each other. They are a balance. Just now the dark side is very strong, and very clear about what they want. They have their vision and their priorities clearly held, and also their hierarchy. They are working in many ways so that we will be unable to connect with the spiral Fifth World in 2012."
"On the light side everyone thinks they are the most important, that their own understandings, or their group's understandings, are the key. There's a diversity of cultures and opinions, so there is competition, diffusion, and no single focus."
As Mr. Barrios sees it, the dark side works to block fusion through denial and materialism. It also works to destroy those who are working with the light to get the Earth to a higher level. They like the energy of the old, declining Fourth World, the materialism. They do not want it to change.They do not want fusion. They want to stay at this level, and are afraid of the next level.
The dark power of the declining Fourth World cannot be destroyed or overpowered. It's too strong and clear for that, and that is the wrong strategy. The dark can only be transformed when confronted with simplicity and open-heartedness. This is what leads to fusion, a key concept for the World of the Fifth Sun.
Mr. Barrios said the emerging era of the Fifth Sun will call attention to a much-overlooked element. Whereas the four traditional elements of earth, air, fire and water have dominated various epochs in the past, there will be a fifth element to reckon with in the time of the Fifth Sun: ether. The dictionary defines ether as the rarefied element of the Heavens. Ether is a medium. It permeates all space and transmits waves of energy in a wide range of frequencies, from cell phones to human auras. What is "ethereal" is related to the regions beyond earth: the heavens.
Ether the element of the Fifth Sun is celestial and lacking in material substance, but is no less real than wood, stone or flesh. "Within the context of ether there can be a fusion of the polarities," Mr. Barrios said. "No more darkness or light in the people, but an uplifted fusion. But right now the realm of darkness is not interested in this. They are organized to block it. They seek to unbalance the Earth and its environment so we will be unready for the alignment in 2012. We need to work together for peace, and balance with the other side. We need to take care of the Earth that feeds and shelters us. We need to put our entire mind and heart into pursuing unity and fusion now, to confront the other side and preserve life."
To be Ready for this Moment in History Mr. Barrios told his audiences in Santa Fe that we are at a critical moment of world history. "We are disturbed," he said. "We can't play anymore. Our planet can be renewed or ravaged. Now is the time to awaken and take action."
"Everyone is needed. You are not here for no reason. Everyone who is here now has an important purpose. This is a hard, but a special time. We have the opportunity for growth, but we must be ready for this moment in history."
Mr. Barrios offered a number of suggestions to help people walk in balance through the years ahead. "The prophesied changes are going to happen," he said "but our attitude and actions determine how harsh or mild they are."
We need to act, to make changes, and to elect people to represent us who understand and who will take political action to respect the earth.
Meditation and spiritual practice are good, but also action. It's very important to be clear about who you are, and also about your relation to the Earth.
Develop yourself according to your own tradition and the call of your heart. But remember to respect differences, and strive for unity. Eat wisely. A lot of food is corrupt in either subtle or gross ways. Pay attention to what you are taking into your body. Learn to preserve food, and to conserve energy. Learn some good breathing techniques, so you have mastery of your breath.
Be clear. Follow a tradition with great roots. It is not important what tradition, your heart will tell you, but it must have great roots. We live in a world of energy. An important task at this time is to learn to sense or see the energy of everyone and everything: people, plants, animals. This becomes increasingly important as we draw close to the World of the Fifth Sun, for it is associated with the element ether - the realm where energy lives and weaves.
Go to the sacred places of the earth to pray for peace, and have respect for the Earth which gives us our food, clothing, and shelter. We need to reactivate the energy of these sacred places. That is our work.
. ..Many Mayan elders and knowledge keepers may be eliminated in the next few years. For the first half of the current Katun (20-year period) the dark side has a lot of power. But that will pass 3 to 4 years from now. The tide can turn. Amazing things are going to happen.
Resurgence, by Jeremy Seabrook, March-April 2005
Temperance and discipline are preached by all religions. When these values are challenged by the modern creed of consumerism it is perceived as an assault on ancient conviction and practice, and confrontation is inevitable.
The Western version of development and wealth-creation promotes itself as a purely secular phenomenon. The violence it provokes in many pious or devout followers of religion strikes its proponents as gratuitous and inexplicable. How is it possible that fanatics and extremists respond in this way to processes that are directed solely to the material betterment of humankind?
The truth is, the global way of wealth is not secular. Those who want to remake the whole world in the image of the Western societies base their project on perpetual economic growth: on permanent expansion and a limitless capacity to produce. This is believed to correspond to 'human nature', the insatiable desires of humanity, and its boundless yearnings.
. . .It may well be asked whether faith in infinite economic growth, and an economy that can - and must - continue in the same way indefinitely is a more refined belief, or superstition, than any other.
Bombing Baluchistan: Pakistan is rapidly sliding to a failed state
Newsinsight.net, India’s Public Affairs Magazine, Editorial, 03/23/05
When the going is tough, nations, like individuals, survive on hope, and hope is giving way to despair in Pakistan’s largest and perhaps most impoverished province of Baluchistan. A Baluch uprising has rashed up and on in the past year, but now, a Baluch Shia-led revolt has lead to the occupation of at least twelve Pakistani military bases in the area of Dera Bugti and other places.
Pakistani forces are preparing for aerial bombardment, and have warned civilian populations to vacate. In the mid-Seventies, with assistance from Iran, Baluch insurgency was put down by a division of troops and aerial bombardment. Pakistan’s president, General Pervez Musharraf, has warned the Baluch insurgents to stand down, or “they will not know what hit them”. The insurgents are prepared for night attacks from advanced US-made helicopters given to Pakistan to fight Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists, but Iranian assistance may not be forthcoming, as before.
Indeed, the fear expressed in diplomatic circles is that Iran may be stoking trouble in Baluchistan to make it unviable as a base for US operations against it. While all Baluchis want greater autonomy from the Pakistan federation, the Shias want at least separately earmarked districts, which have been fiercely rejected by the Pakistan military. “You cannot oppose the Pakistan military for long,” said a diplomat, in respect of Baluch resistance, but he admitted that this could mark the beginning of Pakistan’s fragmentation. The CIA has already assessed that Pakistan will be a failed state by 2015, collapsing to inter-provincial rivalries, Shia-Sunni clashes, and civil war.
Israel maintaining 'strangulation' policy in Gaza Strip
Haaretz, By Itim and Haaretz Service, 03/29/05
Israel is maintaining a "strangulation" policy in the Gaza Strip and may disavow its responsibility for Gaza residents following the planned disengagement, the B'Tselem human rights organization said in a report issued on Tuesday.
The report, titled "One Big Prison," documents what the organization says are Israel's violations of human rights and international law in the Gaza Strip. The reported violations are primarily related to restrictions of movement Israel places on people and goods traveling to and from the Gaza Strip.
One Big Prison: New Report Warns Against Continued Strangulation of Gaza Strip after Disengagement
Israel has cut off the Gaza Strip from the rest of the world to such an extent that it is easier for Palestinians in Israel or the West Bank to visit relatives in prison than visit a relative in Gaza. This is one conclusion of the 100-page report that B’Tselem and HaMoked publish today. One Big Prison documents the ongoing violations of human rights and international law resulting from Israel’s restrictions on the movement of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank, Israel, and the rest of the world. The report also warns against Israel’s attempt to avoid its responsibility toward residents of the Gaza Strip following disengagement.
Despite the easing of restrictions that Israel declared following the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in February 2005, there has been almost no improvement in the movement of Palestinians to and from Gaza, nor in the movement of goods. The report illustrates the extent to which Israel treats many fundamental human rights – among them the right to freedom of movement, family life, health, education, and work – as “humanitarian gestures” that it grants or denies at will.
Nigeria’s Oil Gangstas, Military Overlords and Shell Oil
Financial Times, By Michael Peel, 03/25/05
In the mangrove swamps of Nigeria's oil-producing Rivers State, the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force was in restless repose. A fighter worked out with dumbbells while others lounged on mattresses in front of a large outbuilding. One young man was reading, aloud in English, from a copy of Macbeth.
Their leader, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, was preparing to take me to a swamp facility where he claimed to refine oil taken from a pipeline operated by Royal Dutch/Shell, the energy multinational. (Asari says this is not stealing; it is the Nigerian government that is stealing.) He had just changed out of a black tracksuit into a bright orange jumpsuit with the Shell logo on the back. He put on a white hard hat belonging to Willbros, the oil services company. "Do I look fine?" he asked, running his hands over his ample stomach.
On this, the third of four occasions I visited Asari, he had not yet quite become the symbol of a Robin Hood-like quest by the poor for a share of the nation's oil wealth that he claims to be today. But he was fast gaining notoriety: his critics, outside government as well as within, saw him as a gangster rather than a political revolutionary. Either way, his rising profile says much about the way the Delta is being choked by a violent and corrupt web of relationships between oil multinationals, government officials, smugglers, ethnic fighters and local communities.
Collision Course: EU vs the Fed – Will Europe Pay for Bush’s Empire?
t r u t h o u t, By Stirling Newberry, 03/27/05
Europe is in the process of trying to pass a new constitution, and it is going to be a delicate business. Le Figaro reported that, for the first time, more than half of French surveyed were against the new constitution, and the opposition asked Chirac to put his own political weight behind its passage.
Why should this be of interest to the US, and even more so to the opposition to Bush? Because Europe and the Bush are on a collision course, over a deep issue: what kind of world we will live in. It is a global game of chicken over wages and prices.
What is this division? George Bush and Alan Greenspan are pushing a world where materials prices are higher, wages are lower, and the profits of large corporations are higher. They are doing this by running very high budget deficits, having very low interest rates, and using China as a vast engine of deflation to keep wages, and thus consumer inflation in line. This leads to what Professor David Hackett Fischer called a "money drought" in his book The Great Wave. We can see the results: oil has gone from a rock bottom $11 a barrel, to hovering over $55 dollars a barrel. Real wages in the US have barely moved, and yet Wall Street banks are showing record profits. Bush wants everywhere to look just like here: high profits, low wages, and a rush for mining and drilling.
This catches Europe in a bind, because it imports energy, and manufactures goods. The higher material prices go in real terms, the more they have to manufacture to buy energy.
Where the rich stash their cash: Global Elites Hiding $11.5 Trillion from the Taxman
The Observer, by Nick Mathiason, 03/27/05
Rupert Murdoch last week floated his family's £3.8 billion personal investment company in Bermuda - saving himself £522 million in taxes.
Bermuda was chosen because the media tycoon, who chairs News Corporation, wanted to avoid the taxman after his firm changed domicile from Australia to the United States recently. Just prior to the Bermuda float, Murdoch bought a 20-room, three-floor residence opposite Central Park in Manhattan for £22m. Days later he bought a house in Beijing.
Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian-born, Labour-donor industrial magnate, is the world's third richest man, according to Forbes. Worth £13bn, he spent £57m on a 12-bedroom London home next to Kensington Palace and could afford to spend £31m on his daughter's wedding in Paris, which included a sparkling performance by Kylie Minogue. Under UK tax laws, he remains exempt from paying a heavy tax bill by saying his primary residence is overseas. Capital gains tax on UK assets can also be also avoided by holding them in a foreign company or trust.
The business empire of retail billionaire Philip Green is mostly held in the name of his wife, Tina, who is resident in Monaco. Taveta Investments, the vehicle used to acquire Arcadia in 2002, paid out a hefty £460m to its owner last year. Green, who spends much of his time in Britain, would have been landed with a £150m tax bill if he owned Taveta; as it is held by his wife, a minuscule amount of tax is due.
These three examples demonstrate one essential fact: the rich can afford to minimise their tax bills, while the rest of us have to stump up. This weekend The Observer can exclusively reveal that the world's richest people are hiding an astonishing $11.5 trillion in tax havens.
The state of the world? It is on the brink of disaster
UK Independent, by Steve Connor, 30 March 2005
Planet Earth stands on the cusp of disaster and people should no longer take it for granted that their children and grandchildren will survive in the environmentally degraded world of the 21st century.
This is not the doom-laden talk of green activists but the considered opinion of 1,300 leading scientists from 95 countries who will today publish a detailed assessment of the state of the world at the start of the new millennium.
. . .The dryland regions of the world, which account for 41 per cent of the earth's land surface, have been particularly badly damaged and yet this is where the human population has grown most rapidly during the 1990s.
. . .Even if slow and inexorable degradation does not lead to total environmental collapse, the poorest people of the world are still going to suffer the most, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which drew on 22 national science academies from around the world.
Walt Reid, the leader of the report's core authors, warned that unless the international community took decisive action the future looked bleak for the next generation. "The bottom line of this assessment is that we are spending earth's natural capital, putting such strain on the natural functions of earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," Dr Reid said.
"At the same time, the assessment shows that the future really is in our hands. We can reverse the degradation of many ecosystem services over the next 50 years, but the changes in policy and practice required are substantial and not currently under way," he said.