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A Sutra (一切如來心祕密全身舍利寶篋印陀羅尼 Sūtra of the Whole-Body Relic Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī The Heart Secret of All Tathāgatas)

A Sutra (一切如來心祕密全身舍利寶篋印陀羅尼 Sūtra of the Whole-Body Relic Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī The Heart Secret of All Tathāgatas) | It Comes Undone-Think About It | Scoop.it

Thus I have heard:


    At one time the Buddha was at the Jewel Brilliance Pond in the Immaculate Garden of the kingdom of Magadha. Surrounding Him were hundreds of thousands of Mahāsattvas, great voice-hearers, gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, human, nonhumans, and others. At that time, in the assembly was a great Brahmin named Immaculate Light, who was well educated and intelligent. People delighted in seeing him. Having taken refuge in the Three Jewels, he persistently did the ten good karmas. Benevolent, wealthy, and wise, he intended that other people acquire benefits, great fortune, and prosperity.


    Immaculate Light rose from his seat, came to the Buddha, circled Him seven times, and offered the World-Honored One incense and flowers. He also covered the Buddha with priceless wonderful garments, necklaces, and tiaras of gems. After bowing down at the Buddha’s feet, he stepped back to one side and said, “I pray that the World-Honored One and the huge assembly will come to my house tomorrow morning to accept my offerings.”


    The Buddha gave him permission in silence. Knowing that the Buddha had accepted his invitation, the Brahmin hurried home. In the evening, he ordered extensive preparation of food and drink of one hundred flavors for the banquet. Water was sprinkled, the halls were swept clean, and canopies and banners were set up.


     In the next morning, carrying incense, flowers, and musical instruments, together with his retinue, the Brahmin came to the Buddha. He said, “The time has come, and I pray that the World-Honored One will grace my house.”


    The Buddha greeted the Brahmin Immaculate Light with kind words and made an announcement to the huge assembly: “All of you should go to this Brahmin’s home to accept his offerings, for the purpose of letting him receive great benefits.”


    Then the World-Honored One rose from His seat. As the Buddha stood up, His body emitted all kinds of radiance with intermingled wonderful colors, illuminating and filling the space in the ten directions. Being thus alerted, all set off on the road. Respectfully escorting the Buddha, the Brahmin carried wonderful incense and flowers with a reverent heart. He led the way, along with his retinue, the Brahma-kings, the god-king Śakra, the four god-kings, and the eight classes of Dharma protectors, such as gods and dragons.


    The World-Honored One, having traveled not too far on the road, came to a garden called Abundant Wealth. In that garden were the ruins of an ancient pagoda, dilapidated and collapsed. With the courtyard covered by thistles and the doors sealed by creeping weeds, the rubble resembled a mound of dirt. The Buddha went straight to the pagoda. Forthwith, the pagoda issued vast, bright light, illuminating and glowing. A voice from the heap of earth praised, “Very good! Very good! Śākyamuni, Your action today is excellent! And you, Brahmin, will receive great benefits today!”


    The World-Honored One paid respects to the ruined pagoda by circling it clockwise three times. He took off His upper garment, placed it over the pagoda, and wept tears with blood. He then smiled. Meanwhile, all Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions, looking on together, also shed tears, each emitting light to illuminate this pagoda. The multitude was so astonished as to lose their color, and they all wanted to resolve their bewilderment.


    Vajrapāṇi and other Bodhisattvas also shed tears. Twirling his vajra in glowing flames, he came to the Buddha. He asked, “World-Honored One, through what causes and conditions does this radiance manifest? Why did the Tathāgata’s eyes shed these tears? And why do Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions emit vast auspicious light? I pray that the Tathāgata will resolve my bewilderment.”


    The World-Honored One replied to Vajrapāṇi, “This great treasure pagoda of accumulated whole-body relics of Tathāgatas contains innumerable koṭis of the heart dhāraṇīs, the secret seal of the essentials of the Dharma of all Tathāgatas. Vajrapāṇi, because of the essentials of the Dharma contained in it, the pagoda has become tiered seamlessly like sesame seeds. The bodies of 100,000 koṭi Tathāgatas are also like sesame seeds. Contained in the pagoda is the accumulation of the whole-body relics of 100,000 koṭi Tathāgatas and even the store of 84,000 Dharmas. Also contained in it are 99 billion koṭi Tathāgata-crowns. Because of these wondrous things, the site of this pagoda has superb, awesome virtue and serves as a spiritual testament. It can fill the entire world with auspicious events.”


    When the multitude heard the Buddha’s words, they shunned dust and filth [their afflictions] and acquired the pure dharma-eye. Because the capacities of the multitude were so varied, each received a different benefit. Some became Pratyekabuddhas; some achieved voice-hearer fruits, becoming Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, or Arhats. On the Bodhisattva Way, some achieved the level of avinivartanīya or acquired sarvajña; some attained the First Ground, Second Ground, or even the Tenth Ground; and some fulfilled the six pāramitās. The Brahmin shunned dust and filth [his afflictions], and acquired the five transcendental powers.


    Witnessing these unprecedented occurrences, Vajrapāṇi exclaimed, “World-Honored One, how wonderful and how extraordinary! If people acquire such excellent merit by merely hearing about this matter, how much more merit will they acquire if they hear the profound truth and elicit their faith with an earnest mind?”


    The Buddha replied, “Hearken! Vajrapāṇi. In future times, if, among male believers, female believers, and my four groups of disciples, there are those who are inspired to copy this sūtra, they in effect copy all the sūtras pronounced by 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas. Their merit will surpass the roots of goodness they have been planting for a long time in the presence of 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas. All Tathāgatas will support, protect, and remember them in the same way as they cherish their own eyes or as loving mothers care for their young children. If a person recites this short sūtra, he in effect recites all the sūtras pronounced by Buddhas of the past, present, and future. For this reason, 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas, also called Arhats, Samyak-Saṁbuddhas, will come, jam-packed sideways without any gap between them, like sesame seeds in a pile. Day and night they will appear and support that person. Thus, all Buddha-Tathāgatas, who are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, will come. The first group of them has not yet left, and the next has arrived. They all instantly move away and return again, like fine sands whirling in quick water. Incessantly, they come again as soon as they turn away. If a person makes offerings of incense, flowers, solid perfumes, garlands, garments, and wonderful ornaments to this sūtra, he in effect makes an entire offering, before 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas [in worlds] in the ten directions, of divine incense, flowers, garments, and ornaments made of the seven treasures, all piled high like Mount Sumeru. Planting one’s roots of goodness can be accomplished in the same way.”


    Having heard these words, the eight classes of Dharma protectors, such as gods and dragons, as well as humans, nonhumans, and others, filled with wonder, said to one another, “How marvelous is the awesome virtue of this old pile of earth! Its miraculous manifestation must have been caused by the spiritual power of the Tathāgata.”


    Vajrapāṇi next asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, through what causes and conditions does this pagoda made of the seven treasures now manifest as a pile of dirt?”


    The Buddha replied to Vajrapāṇi, “This is not a pile of dirt, but a wonderful, great treasure pagoda. It is hidden because of the inferiority of sentient beings’ karmic fruits. Although the pagoda is hidden, the bodies of the Tathāgatas are indestructible. How could the vajra-store bodies of the Tathāgatas be destroyed? After I have abandoned my body, the ending of the Dharma will be unrelenting in future times. Sentient beings that act against the Dharma are bound to fall into hell because they neither believe in the Three Jewels nor plant any roots of goodness. For this reason, the Buddha Dharma should be hidden. But this pagoda will still be solid and will not be demolished because it is supported by the spiritual power of all Tathāgatas. However, ignorant beings, covered and obstructed by their delusion, not knowing how to unearth and use the treasure, simply leave it buried. For this reason, I now shed tears, and other Tathāgatas shed tears as well.”


    The Buddha then told Vajrapāṇi, “If a person copies this sūtra and enshrines the copy in a pagoda, this pagoda will then become the vajra-store stūpa of all Tathāgatas and the stūpa supported by the heart secret of the dhāraṇī of all Tathāgatas. It will become the stūpa of 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas and the Buddha-crown and Buddha-eye stūpa of all Tathāgatas, and it will be protected by their spiritual power. If you enshrine this sūtra inside a Buddha statue in a stūpa, the statue will in effect be made of the seven treasures. This statue will be so efficacious and responsive that one’s wishes will be fulfilled without exception.
    “According to your ability, construct for a stūpa these things: canopies, nets, columns, dew-catching wheels, fine eaves, bells, foundations, or steps. Whether you use earth, wood, stones, or bricks, they will turn into the seven treasures because of the awesome power of this sūtra. Moreover, all Tathāgatas will increase the power of this sūtra. Keeping a sincere promise, they support it incessantly.


    “If a sentient being makes obeisance and gives an offering of only a little incense and one flower to this pagoda, his grave sins, which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of life and death, will all be expunged at once. He will be free from catastrophes during his life and, after death, be reborn in a Buddha family. Even for a person who should fall into Avīci Hell, if he only makes one obeisance to the pagoda or circles it clockwise once, the door to hell will be blocked and the bodhi road will be opened.


    “Furthermore, the place of the pagoda or of its image will be protected by the spiritual power of all Tathāgatas. The place will not be damaged by hurricanes and lightning bolts. It will be neither disturbed by venomous snakes, vipers, scorpions, or other poisonous insects, nor harmed by lions, rampaging elephants, tigers, wolves, jackals, or other animals. It will be free from the terror of yakṣas, rakṣasas, pūtanas, piśācas, spirits, monsters, and epilepsy. It will not be troubled by diseases, such as chills, fevers, skin ulcers, carbuncles, scabies, or psoriasis. One can avert all disasters by seeing the pagoda briefly. At the place of the pagoda, horses, six kinds of livestock, and people, including young boys and girls, will not be plagued by epidemics. They will not die unnatural, accidental deaths, nor be harmed by knives, clubs, flood, or fire. They will not be attacked by bandits or enemies, and they will have no worries about famine or poverty. They will not be subject to the power of sorcery or curses. The four great god-kings and their retinues will protect them day and night. In addition, the twenty-eight classes of yakṣa generals, the sun, the moon, the five planets, and cloudlike comets will protect them day and night. All dragon-kings will increase their vital energy and bring rainfall at the right time. All gods, including those in Trayastriṁśa Heaven, will descend during the three periods of the day to make offerings. All fairies will gather during the three periods to circle the pagoda, sing songs of praise, give thanks, and pay respects. The god-king Śakra and goddesses will descend during the three periods of the day to make offerings. The place will be remembered and supported by all Tathāgatas. Such will be the pagoda because it contains this sūtra.


    “If people build a pagoda using earth, stone, wood, gold, silver, bronze, and lead, and if they copy this spiritual mantra and enshrine the copy in the pagoda, then as soon as it is enshrined, the pagoda will in effect be made of the seven treasures. The upper and lower steps, dew-catching wheels, canopies, bells, and columns will all be made of the seven treasures. Also, the four sides of the pagoda will have the images of Tathāgatas. Because of the essentials of the Dharma, all Tathāgatas will firmly protect and support the pagoda, staying in it day and night without departing. Because of the awesome power of the mantra, the pagoda made of the seven treasures, which contains the wonderful treasure of the whole-body relics, will soar up into the midst of the palaces in Akaniṣṭha Heaven. Wherever a pagoda stands like a mountain, all gods will view it with reverence, stand guard, and make offerings day and night.”


    Vajrapāṇi asked, “Through what causes and conditions has this Dharma such superb virtue?”


    The Buddha replied, “Because of the spiritual power of this Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī.”


    Vajrapāṇi said, “I pray that the Tathāgata, out of compassion for us all, will pronounce this dhāraṇī.”


    The Buddha responded, “Hearken, contemplate, and do not forget it! The radiance of the copies of the bodies of all Tathāgatas of the present and the whole-body relics of all Buddhas of the past are contained in this Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī. The three bodies of every Tathāgata are also in it.”


    Then the Buddha pronounced the dhāraṇī: "namas tryadhvikānāṁ sarva tathāgatānāṁ | oṁ bhuvi-bhavana-vare | vacana-vacati suru suru dhara dhara | sarva tathāgata dhātu dhare | padmaṁ bhavati jaya vare mudre | smara tathāgata dharma-cakra pravartana vajre bodhimaṇḍālaṁkārālaṁkṛte | sarva tathāgatādhiṣṭhite | bodhaya bodhaya bodhi bodhi | budhya budhya saṁbodhani saṁbodhaya | cala cala calantu | sarvāvaraṇāni sarva pāpa vigate | huru huru sarva śoka vigate | sarva tathāgata hṛdaya vajriṇi | saṁbhāra saṁbhāra | sarva tathāgata guhya dhāraṇī-mudre | bhūte subhūte | sarva tathāgatādhiṣṭhita dhātu garbhe svāhā | samayādhiṣṭhite svāhā | sarva tathāgata hṛdaya dhātu mudre svāhā | supratiṣṭhita stūpe tathāgatādhiṣṭhite huru huru hūṁ hūṁ svāhā | oṁ sarva tathāgatoṣṇīṣa dhātu mudrāṇi | sarva tathāgata sadhātu vibhūṣitādhiṣṭhite hūṁ hūṁ svāhā"


After the Buddha finished reciting this spiritual mantra, all the Buddha-Tathāgatas in the pile of earth voiced their praises: “Very good! Very good! Śākya the World-Honored One, You have appeared in this turbid, evil world to expound the profound Dharma for the benefit of sentient beings that have nothing and nobody to depend upon. Therefore, the essentials of the Dharma will long remain in the world, bringing wide, abundant benefits and joyful peace.”


    Then the Buddha told Vajrapāṇi, “Hearken! Hearken! The essentials of this Dharma have inexhaustible spiritual power and boundless benefits! It is like a wish-fulfilling jewel atop a cylindrical banner, constantly raining down treasures and fulfilling all wishes. Next, I will briefly describe one ten-thousandth of these boundless benefits. You should remember and uphold it for benefiting all sentient beings.


    “If an evil man after death falls into hell, he must suffer uninterruptedly, not knowing when release will come. However, if his descendants say his name and then recite this spiritual mantra, upon completion of only seven repetitions, the molten copper and burning iron in hell will suddenly change into pond water with the eight virtues. This man will have a lotus flower supporting his feet and a jeweled canopy over his head. The door of hell will break and the Bodhi Way will open. His lotus flower will fly him to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. There, his knowledge of all knowledge will spontaneously unfold. Delighting in expounding the Dharma endlessly, he will be ready to attain Buddhahood in his next life.


    “Moreover, a person who, with a heavy heart, suffers from 100 diseases as requital for his grave sins should recite this spiritual mantra twenty-one times. Then 100 diseases and 10,000 distresses will be eliminated at once. His lifespan will be lengthened, and his fortune and merit will become immeasurable.


    “Suppose a person has been born into a poor family because of his karma of greed and stinginess. His clothes cannot cover his body and his food cannot sustain his life. Emaciated and haggard, he is despicable to others. This person, ashamed of himself, goes to the mountain and plucks wild flowers not owned by anyone. He grates rotten wood for incense powder. Then he goes to the pagoda to make obeisance and offerings, circling it seven times, repenting in tears. Because of the power of this spiritual mantra and the awesome virtue of the pagoda, his poverty requital will end and fortune will suddenly arrive. The seven treasures will appear like abundant rain. However, at this time, he should give to the poor and needy, completely honoring the Buddha Dharma. If he is reluctant to give, his riches will suddenly vanish.


    “Suppose a person, planting roots of goodness for himself, builds a pagoda at his pleasure, using earth or bricks that he can afford. The pagoda is as big as a mango, its height about four finger lengths. He copies this spiritual mantra and enshrines the copy in the pagoda. Then he makes obeisance and offers incense and flowers. Because of the power of the mantra and his faithful heart, vast, fragrant clouds will come out of the little pagoda. The fragrance and the light of the clouds will pervade the dharma realm, widely doing Buddha work with fragrance and radiant clouds. The benefits he will receive are as I have just stated. In sum, all his wishes will be fulfilled without exception. During the Dharma-ending age, if, among my four groups of disciples, good men, and good women, there are those who, following the unsurpassed Way, do their best to build pagodas and enshrine this mantra in them, I cannot finish describing the merit they will acquire.


    “If a person goes to the pagoda to ask for fortune, he should make obeisance and offer a flower and a little incense to the pagoda, and circle it clockwise. Because of his virtuous act, rank and glory will arrive unsought. Longevity and prosperity will increase without effort. Foes and bandits will fall without being subjugated. Vengeful thoughts and curses will return to their source without resistance. Epidemics and evil forces will be turned away without need of being purged. A good husband or good wife will come without being persuaded. Beautiful good children will be born without being prayed for. All wishes will be fulfilled at will.


    “Even for ravens, owls, turtledoves, hawks, wolves, jackals, mosquitoes, ants, and the like, which momentarily come into the shadow of the pagoda and step on the grass there, their affliction-hindrances will be annihilated, and they will recognize their ignorance. They will suddenly enter a Buddha family and freely receive Dharma wealth. Even more are the benefits to humans who have seen the form of the pagoda, heard its bell tolling, heard its name, or been in its shadow. Their hindrances caused by sin will all be annihilated, and their wishes fulfilled. Their present lives will be peaceful, and they will be reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.


    “If a person, without extra effort, applies a glob of mud to the damaged wall of a pagoda or uses a fist-sized stone to support a leaning pagoda, because of this virtuous act, his fortune will increase and his lifespan will be lengthened. After death, he will be reborn as a Wheel-Turning King.


    “After I have abandoned my body, my four groups of disciples, in order to rescue sentient beings in miserable existence, should come before this pagoda, make offerings of incense and flowers, and recite this spiritual mantra, making vows in earnest. Each and every mantra word and phrase [they utter] will radiate vast, bright light, illuminating the three evil life-journeys to end all suffering. Once those sentient beings are delivered from suffering, their Buddha seed will germinate. They will then be reborn as they wish in Pure Lands in the ten directions.


    “If a person recites this mantra earnestly on the top of a high mountain, all sentient beings within the scope of his sight, including those in furs, feathers, scales, and shells, residing near and far in mountain valleys, forests, streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans, will annihilate their affliction-hindrance and recognize their ignorance. They will realize their three Buddha natures and eventually attain the great nirvāṇa. If people walking the same road as this person are touched by the wind blown through his clothes, step on his footprints, see his face, or converse with him briefly, their grave sins will all be expunged and their siddhis perfected.”


    The Buddha then said to Vajrapāṇi, “I now entrust this secret spiritual mantra and this sūtra to you all. Revere, protect, uphold, and disseminate them in the world. Do not allow the transmittal [of the Dharma] to end for sentient beings.”


    Vajrapāṇi said, “I am honored to receive the trust of the World-Honored One. I pray only that we will requite the World-Honored One for his profound grace, day and night protecting, upholding, disseminating, and pronouncing [the mantra and the sūtra] to the world. If there are sentient beings that copy, uphold, and remember them unceasingly, we will command the Brahma-kings, the god-king Śakra, the four great god-kings, and the eight classes of Dharma protectors to protect them day and night without leaving even temporarily.”


    The Buddha said, “Very good! Vajrapāṇi, for the benefit of all sentient beings of the future, protect and uphold this Dharma, and make it endless.”


    After the World-Honored One pronounced this Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī and widely did His Buddha work, he went to the Brahmin’s home and accepted his offerings, causing humans and gods to receive great benefits. Then he returned to the place where He was staying.


    During that time the bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, upāsikās, gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, nonhumans, and others in the assembly greatly rejoiced. They all believed in, accepted, and reverently carried out the teachings.

—Sūtra of the Whole-Body Relic Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī,
the Heart Secret of All Tathāgatas
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T19n1022B)
Eli Levine's insight:

May all beings be conquered by truth, care, and love within themselves.

 

May all beings be happy.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0cLOhi7DWM

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5 facts about the minimum wage: Pew Research

5 facts about the minimum wage: Pew Research | It Comes Undone-Think About It | Scoop.it

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Via Bonnie Hohhof
Eli Levine's insight:

It is, quite honestly, criminal that we permit so many people live on so little so that a few people can have so much more than they can ever hope to spend in a lifetime.  These people are people too, and they are entitled, as human beings and American citizens, to live and have the ability to thrive and pursue happiness as well.  What good comes for those who take so much while delivering so little in return for the rest of us by comparison to the labor and potential contributions of these tens of millions of people?

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Some Thoughts on Trade

The principles of free trade must also be balanced with the insurance of well-being within the given society.  Jobs will be lost as a result of trade and since the free market will not likely provide opportunities for retraining, it would behoove the government to ensure effective training programs to help people transition to new jobs that are more valuable in the context of the given global market economy.  This must also be done while ensuring that wages are not left to stagnate for the sake of businesses' profits or executive compensation, which will ultimately cheapen the any bargain from the perspective of human society and prevent meaningful growth, health, and improved well-being from manifesting in the given society.  With these two caveats in mind, free trade, indeed, does ensure a certain degree of improved quality of life by making goods cheaper to the general public.  However, without jobs, there will be no room for people to afford the cheaper goods and without the insurance of fair wages, all of the benefits will go to the top executives and shareholders at the expense of the general public that the deals were intended to help.  There is also the issue of national defense which has to be considered when making calculations in trade deals, as a loss of meaningful manufacturing capacity can make a country by default less sovereign and able to protect itself from those who have manufacturing capacity.  The societies in question will have to balance these points when making trade deals that truly benefit everyone in their given societies.  Otherwise, it's just a transference of wealth from the many to the few with no room for advancement and improvement for the many, along with a potentially weakened strategic position in the context of an overall global system.

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A Hypothesis About the Nature and Framework of Law in the Universe

There doesn't appear to be a hierarchy of laws, in the traditional linear sense.  Rather, there appears to be an interconnected web of laws and rules that apply to the universe, the society, and to the individual.  The purpose of this piece is to logically get a theoretical image of what is present in our universe with regards to law and the limitations and possibilities of human beings within the context of this universe.
 
The universal laws apply to all societies and to all individuals.  They can include, and are not limited to, the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, societies, and economies.  They influence behavior and performance on the micro scale and on the macro and vice versa.  These are incredibly complex laws, with many caveats, nuances, and possibly different levels of application.  However, they are what are most relevant to human beings as they seem to be the hard limitations of what we can and can't do, and how we approach things in this universe at the very least.

 

The next level of law are the social laws.  These are the aggregate and collective logics of individual human or otherwise societies.  They help define the group; in terms of internal identity and external identity relative to other groups.  These social laws are what we're raised with and influence and are influenced by the content of the individuals in the society.  These have mixed effects on the individual(s) in society, depending upon the content of the individuals in the society and their willingness/ability to acknowledge and accept these social laws.  Thus, unlike universal laws, which do not appear to be changeable by present human technology or awareness, social laws are malleable to the needs of the society, because they are only present if individuals agree to follow them.  However, as experience has shown with the major innovations in human social law, these laws are limited by what came before them, with humans frequently reverting back to the same logics and principles when the change occurs with force or all of a sudden. 

 

This brings us to the individual, who both internalizes and absorbs the socially aggregated and universal laws and finds themselves subject to sometimes breaking or attempting to break the other two sets of laws with mixed effects depending upon the popularity and legitimacy of the social law(s) or whether or not the laws are indeed universal in nature.  It is through mutations on this individual level that can spread within the social law and eventually, if at all, spread to the rest of society and influence the very behavior, logic, and perception of the individuals' fellow human beings.  However, the individual is always limited by their biology, circumstance, and the consequences of their actions.  These appear to be universal laws that are always applicable in the universe, as far as we can tell with present technology and comprehension of the universe.  A human can only imagine what he/she is somehow familiar with and not all humans have the same capacity for imagination or comprehension as others. 

 

Thus, we are bound in a networked nest of sometimes conflicting, sometimes harmonious laws in which the universal laws triumph over the social and individual laws and the social and individual laws have a mixed relationship where one influences the other and vice versa.  It should be noted that this is only a thought experiment and the derivative of the Socratic method of philosophy.  Hopefully we'll someday be able to test these frameworks out to see how law actually works in the natural sense, the social sense, and on the individual level.  To know this is to, again, understand our limitations and potential to move beyond or around those limitations.

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A Simple Critique of Neoclassical Economic Theory: Micro and Macro Edition

The economy is much more complicated than the businesses that occupy it.  While it is important to understand how businesses and businesspeople respond to external factors in the economy, based on internal preferences and desires, it is also important to bear in mind the relative value of financial profit relative to environmental, social, and economic concerns.  Since businesses and businesspeople are too preoccupied with monetary gain and profits, it behooves the society, businesses, and businesspeople alike to turn over final authority over the economy, at the very least, to the society under the trust of the government in order to preserve the businesses and business interests non-monetary concerns.  The beauty of an effective and efficient democratic system, free from the constraints of businesses, businesspeople, and general social elites, is that the government is more likely to be corrected by the society and the people living in the society than if it were left to the oligarchic manipulation by the economic and social elites.  Working people benefit from being protected from businesses and businesspeople attempting to take advantage of them and their labor.  Businesses and businesspeople benefit from maintaining a relative environmental and social homeostasis in which they can best operate to make money within the constraints of society, the environment, and technological know-how.  Without this combination of factors, it is impossible to maintain a society in which people can live or make money over and above the financial costs that are required to maintain such a system.

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Hammurabi's Code of Law

"When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak, so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind." - Prologue, Code of Hammurabi.

Eli Levine's insight:

These are the principles for which I stand.  Like Hammurabi, I submit myself to the conditions and workings of the universe (read, God) as discovered by scientific investigation and analysis, not by revelation and opinion.  I am just a human.  I am not likely to do much in this world for the sake of others, nor will I likely be successful at communicating these concepts to the leading classes of the world and to the working underclasses whom the upper classes have such scorn and disregard for.  I will always, however, be throwing myself in calculated and adaptive manners at the wall isolating humanity's conscientiousness, for the sake of humanity.  We should never rely on written laws for constitutions for our guidance, but only on the discovered truths of the universe in which we live and must make our living.  There are an infinite number of possibilities for actions we can take, limited by practicality and feasibility.  These remaining practical and feasible options are then limited by what is actually healthful for us, which is then limited by what is optimally healthful for us.  The trick now is to experiment with methods of organization and political games, such that we can fine tune our society's politics, such that the needs of the general public becomes the central focus of our political leaders, not the perceived needs and interests of a particular population or group of populations.  This is how you're best able to maintain a system; this is how you're best able to preserve your office, your institutions, your legacies, and, perhaps, even leave a positive memory amongst the people once you inevitably depart from this lifetime.  If you don't truly want to be happy, healthy, successful, and able to be in office or have a lasting, sustainable, and perpetual institutional basis for society, how then can you expect to survive in office or ensure your own health and well-being, let alone, the health and well-being of others?  If you truly want to be happy, healthy, successful, and able to be in office and have a lasting, sustainable, and perpetual institutional basis for society, then why would you take actions which actually leads to the destruction and degradation of your office and institutions for any reason whatsoever? 

 

I therefore testify to the world that there is a common reality which has natural features to it with unwritten, yet at least partially discoverable rules of cause and effect to them which we can partially manipulate for our overall improvement or our overall detriment as a collective and individual species.  The trick to staying in office is to follow, learn about, and abide by these natural laws, and then apply them for the general well-being of the public through adaptive, dynamic changes in policy, programs, at the absolute expense of the particular interests for the sake of the absolute and relative interests of the general whole.  There is no need to rely on the lawyers or merely eloquent arguers of opinion who don't, and likely won't, accept the natural laws and conditions of society.  The trick to dialogue and debate is to discover truth, in its most subtle, complicated, and simple terms.  That is how you preserve a society.  That is how you preserve institutions of society, formal and informal.  That is how you, as a policy-maker and decision-maker keep your seat and make it easier on yourself to justify your positions and get re-elected in the short term, which then condenses into the long term.  I for one have no more use or interest for the incorrect and unfounded opinions of others.  I think that, given a comprehension of the bad, while allowed to have tastes of the good, will help guide society as a whole to the same general conclusion in the long term, which then collapses into the short term all too soon.

 

I will stand for these principles and these facts from now, until the time that I physically die in this form, and throughout all time and space, for my own absolute improvement, or my own absolute detriment in this lifetime and beyond.  I stake my life, liberty, and happiness on this being actually the truth.  Let all challengers come to knock it down.  I will continue to stand by it honorably until it is actually and conclusively knocked down by someone more adept at perceiving the world as a whole than I am.  I will then, at that point, humbly alter my opinion to bring it in alignment with the new understanding of common reality and cease to support it.  That is how science works and I am only human.

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Making an International Sense of Community

We will not have an global governmental system of any sorts until we first recognize the communal nature of all human societies and respect the sovereign right of all peoples to self-determine and make their decisions on a national, regional, and global level.  There can be no central leader, no cabal of powerful nations or people to rule over all.  Such a model is impractical and infeasible, and will likely be undermined in time by the many smaller nations, or else, fall prey to its own stupidity and purity of thought and reasoning.  The first practical step to creating a global civil society that has legitimacy on the bottom levels of human society would be to eliminate the veto power of the 5 Permanent UN Security Council Members.  The effect of this would be that all nations would have a say in whether to intervene in a given area, with defacto power and influence being turned over to the regional, national, or intra-national  levels, such that the locals can have ultimate control and say over what happens to them in their own territory.  We all have a stake on this planet to mediate disputes in such a way that they that it works for the people who are in conflict and to resolve common problems for all of humanity, such as resource consumption and environmental impact.  You cannot have a centralized, singular, and conscientiously homogenous body in charge of the diverse planet.  Rather, the world must be regarded as a community of peoples, not unlike neighborhoods within a city or clusters of people in an apartment building, with reasoned respect given for all person's privacy with collective action being taken only in instances of severe violations of common human dignity and well-being.  Corporate private interests must be subsumed for the sake of the collective well-being and, in that check to personal ambition and prowess, the individual is better able to survive and be well on this planet. 

 

So, my suggestion would be to eliminate the veto power of the Permanent UN Security Council Members and for the great nations of the world to scale back their meddling operations to recognize the sovereignty and dignity of each human being, at the absolute expense of corporate and financial interests, for the relative gains to having those supreme egos checked.  This is my conclusion based on my observations of history, human psychology, and sociology.  We cannot continue to afford to bully or act unitarily and capriciously against our own perceived threats, nor can we counter popular resistance in its home territory.  This is my general prescription for logic in International Relations, not firmly in any of the schools of thought.  This is a new synthesis based on the old schools and at least my own observations and interpretations of facts.  Test it, shape it, mold it.  In the end, it is always going to be power backed up by kindness and legitimacy that wins, rather than power backed up by pure force alone.  As it is on the personal level, so as it is on the collective.

 

Enjoy!

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Strike Me Down, and I Shall Become More Powerful Than (Conservatives) Can Possibly Imagine

What progressives and liberals need to recognize, is that they need to go down with their honor and dignity in tact.  The United States is, and always has been, an essentially progressive nation, where inclusion, equal opportunity, and human rights, the essentials of liberalism, are put on pedestals while monarchy, aristocracy, exclusion, and the corporate pretender wannabes, the essence of conservatism, are shunned and vilified in popular culture and sentiment.  We want leaders who are accountable, responsive, and genuinely concerned with the well-being of ourselves as leaders.  Why would we vote for anyone who doesn't fulfill these things for us on a practical level?

 

The progressives in their present form need to pull back, reorganize, go underground if necessary, and cede to the conservatives and Libertarians all the power and influence that they want.  The leadership should be prepared to get out of the country and find safe haven overseas while maintaining lines of communication inside.  We need to prepare for war, make friends overseas, and prepare for combat if necessary against the conservative and Libertarian forces.  Let the people eat the dog shit provided by the wannabe corporate aristocrats, and they'll more than likely grow weary of it.  They'll long for a return to what their government was meant to be about.  This is the United States of America, not the play pen of some inbred pseudo-nobles.  I think that, if given enough rope, and provided that the progressives avoid being condemned as a group by the public, the conservatives will hang themselves or be forced to evolve on the terms and lines of the progressives.  Conservatism in government is little more than an abusive, unfeeling, and uncaring relationship with the public.  Only the public can make the ultimate cut with the conservatives.  The progressives, for their part, must get themselves ready to out campaign the conservatives on the grassroots level, and possibly fight a popular guerrilla war against the bankers, the corporate executives, and the establishment union leaders and entrenched interests.  It is time that our leadership should recognize their true interests relative to the public.

 

I call this the Obi Wan Maneuver.  "Strike me down, and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

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LiquidFeedback - more than Liquid Democracy

LiquidFeedback - more than Liquid Democracy | It Comes Undone-Think About It | Scoop.it
Eli Levine's insight:

This could be one of the most significant tools for organizational and social management. Imagine a direct feedback loop between administrators and managers an the general public of their organization. Imagine people being designated to speak and choose on behalf of everyone rather than on the few who are able and willing to turn out to vote. Imagine a responsive, evidence driven government aligned with the general needs and desires of the public. Imagine what we, as a society, could do with this technology, insight, and incentive structure. 

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The Preservation of Power

You don't have to join a rebel movement in order to play an effective role in supporting it. Shelter can be provided, misinformation for the opposing troops, food, disguises, safe passage, etc, all can be provided by civilians. If the movement is popular enough, it will be impossible to get rid of it with this kind of support.  Force will only alienate the opposing army from the public, making their situation all the more untenable. People see through deception in time, and there will be no end of random volunteers and loosely organized forces to stand against what can be technically more advanced and numerous troops.  Never underestimate the power of narrative, being reasoned and reasonable in your positioning and dialogue, followed up by genuine action with sincere desire to do what's right by everybody, sometimes, at your own absolute expense.

 

It's called maintaining a good relationship with people.  I think it's the only effective way to maintain power, consequence, position, and authority in any given human society.  It involves listening, caring, and sometimes putting the needs and desires of others above your own immediate or short term wants and hopes.  That is, from my experience and observations of the past, the best way for power to preserve and earn itself.

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Constitute

Constitute | It Comes Undone-Think About It | Scoop.it
The World's Constitutions to Read, Search, and Compare
Eli Levine's insight:

Very cool.

 

While I believe that the only constitution that truly matters is the one that gives rise to natural laws, it is interesting to look at how each society and given political unit (which does not naturally correspond to a society necessarily) determines what is right for them in their particular situation and cultural condition. 

 

There is a consequence to every written law that gets produced that is independent of the intentions and desires of the individuals who crafted it.  There are, in fact, universal laws which apply to societies, economies, and environments.  However, in addition to accounting for the universal, natural laws of each given society, it must also be reckoned that there are particular natural laws for each social unit that are socially constructed and, therefore, apart of natural law as a sort of customizable appendix of customs.  I think that it is this wiggle room and diversity that we have within natural law that gives us, as a species, our greatest strength.  Rather than be limited by one way of looking at the universe, we can look at it in different ways and receive different correct answers that compose the whole of our universe.  There are right and wrong answers and hypotheses.  But it is through synthesizing all of the different perspectives that we can get the most accurate perception of our universe, just as insects have compound eyes to give them a more accurate interpretation of the physical world around them so they can manage to fly safely and avoid predators and problems.  Add in the other senses, known and unknown, and we flesh out and push the limits of our abilities to work with the universe for our own health and well-being and our own survival.  Remember, if you don't have the appropriate functional nerves for something, you're not going to perceive it (just as we can't taste with our hands or smell with our feet).  By accurately synthesizing the perspectives of all people, accepting what is there while eliminating that which isn't really there, you enhance our ability to perceive, work with, and live in this universe amongst ourselves and our cosmological cousins around us.

 

Therefore, the preamble to my universal constitution would be "In accordance with the discovered natural laws of the universe and with the utmost respect for the particular laws of each society, for the sake of all living beings in the universe, we hereby institute this government for the sake of improving, maintaining, and sustaining all of society and all living beings within it."  We are, in fact, one society.  We're just made up of many different societies and many different individuals within those individual societies.

 

Enjoy!

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Self-Organization, Emergence, and Constraint in Complex Natural Systems

Contemporary complexity theory has been instrumental in providing novel rigorous definitions for some classic philosophical concepts, including emergence. In an attempt to provide an account of emergence that is consistent with complexity and dynamical systems theory, several authors have turned to the notion of constraints on state transitions. Drawing on complexity theory directly, this paper builds on those accounts, further developing the constraint-based interpretation of emergence and arguing that such accounts recover many of the features of more traditional accounts. We show that the constraint-based account of emergence also leads naturally into a meaningful definition of self-organization, another concept that has received increasing attention recently. Along the way, we distinguish between order and organization, two concepts which are frequently conflated. Finally, we consider possibilities for future research in the philosophy of complex systems, as well as applications of the distinctions made in this paper.

 

Self-Organization, Emergence, and Constraint in Complex Natural Systems
Jonathan Lawhead

http://arxiv.org/abs/1502.01476


Via Complexity Digest
Eli Levine's insight:

We are naturally constrained by many natural laws in our universe.  Our governments are likewise constrained by physical laws of nature as well as the natural laws behind people, societies, economies, and ecosystems.  Where the constraints came from in nature, I don't know.  But what I do see, is that like the natural laws of the universe, societies impose other constraints upon our actions, behaviors, perceptions, chosen courses of action, abilities to frame issues and topics, abilities to define conditions within our social systems.  Governments can likewise make and define constraints for behaviors or willingness and ability to behave on the part of the citizenry, either by offering incentives to get people to behave in a particular way or to penalize and possibly limit some actions and chosen patterns of behavior. 

 

It should be noted that the laws and chosen constraints and incentives of the government on this level of existence can only be as good as the people who sit within them and make choices.  They are also limited by the physical laws of the universe and the natural laws, conditions, desires, and motives of the general public that composes the whole of society in aggregate and as that which is greater than the aggregate; the combined whole of human thought, behavior, and sentiment. 

 

These human-made constraints (created by governments and social authority figures) are also imperfect in their ability to contain and constrain the society, since the society and its members have autonomy from the government.  Humans and human societies are more constrained by the natural laws and the limitations of knowledge and perception that are present in our brains and neural systems.  Therefore, it can be said that human-made social constraints are less important than the natural ones that exist amongst ourselves and within the universe that we are apart of.

 

Therefore, I think that in order to continue to advance humanity and contribute to our potential to survive, endure, and thrive, we should be constantly and safely pushing at the constraints of what we already know and can do as individuals and as a species.  Our government(s) should focus on studying the universal natural laws of societies, economies, human behavior, and environmental functions in addition to the particular laws of their own societies, making laws and legal systems that work better and better with the natural laws of their own societies and amongst all human societies.  We should capitalize on our differences of perspective and opinion, sifting out those that don't fall into line with discovered reality while using that which is accurate to complete the puzzles of our universe in order to produce something greater than what we've presently got and to continue to advance ourselves safely and in accordance with what is actually helpful, healthful, and ethical for all sentient life in the universe.  Study, research, observation, and exploration are what will make tomorrow better than today, even as the natural laws and some conditions remain the same.  Health, well-being, quality of life, sustainability, and the ability to thrive for all are what we need to prioritize and produce as a society over financial profits and short term economic gains for a few.  Some constraints can be pushed, some can't, and some really shouldn't from the perspective of health, well-being, quality of life, and the ability to thrive for all.  Welcome to nature.

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A multifaceted program causes lasting progress for the very poor: Evidence from six countries

Eli Levine's insight:

Don't ever tell me that poverty is a condition that will always be around or is something that laissez-faire economics will take care of.  Quite frankly, it's lazy thinking and unfeeling to view a challenge such as poverty or extreme poverty as a feature of human society that has a place in such global abundance or that doing nothing will solve the problem.  Furthermore, I am willing to hypothesize that these efforts to relieve poverty, using time, energy, and resources from the production of wealth in our societies will not come at a great expense to that production of wealth and may, in fact, balance out or exceed on its returns for the overall global economy, especially with more consumption, increased savings to protect against shocks, and if it is done in an environmentally sound and sustainable way.  It's science, but it's not rocket science.  Enjoy!

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Data Mining Reveals a Global Link Between Corruption and Wealth

Data Mining Reveals a Global Link Between Corruption and Wealth | It Comes Undone-Think About It | Scoop.it
Social scientists have never understood why some countries are more corrupt than others. But the first study that links corruption with wealth could help change that.

Via ukituki, Alejandro J. Alvarez S.
Eli Levine's insight:

The question then becomes whether wealth, or the lack thereof, is a cause of corruption or wealth is caused by a lack of corruption.  It makes sense in my mind that a lack of corruption leads to increased potential to make wealth because the appropriate use of resources (ie, using resources for their stated purposes) and the honesty that underlies that point could, in my view, make for more wealth than the dishonest methods and inappropriate usage of public funds would.  We could hypothetically run simulations to test which one is the case, similar to the Sugarscape experiments.  On the other hand, a lack of resources may incentivize those who don't have much to take more from the public resources and use them for private uses (ie, what I call the Jean Valjean effect).  More experimentation should be done to tease this out.  Perhaps by knowing what they're giving up by having corruption, the officials will be more circumspect about how they live off and take from the public till.

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ukituki's curator insight, February 10, 5:22 PM

Paulus and Kristoufek use this data to search for find clusters of countries that share similar properties using a new generation of cluster-searching algorithms. And they say that the 134 countries they study fall neatly into four groups which are clearly correlated with the wealth of the nations within them.

The method that makes this possible is known as the average linkage clustering approach. It begins by assuming that each country represents a cluster in itself and then looking for the nearest neighbour in the ranking. This pair then become a new cluster and this cluster placed back into the list as a single entity. The process is then repeated until it produces a single cluster of all the countries.

Alejandro J. Alvarez S.'s curator insight, May 14, 1:01 AM

Interesting :D

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The Evolution of Science, Society, and Policy Engineering

A big problem with data is that it takes time, energy, and resources to accumulate and acquire.  This is easier to do in the "hard" sciences where things are done in laboratory conditions over relatively short periods of time.  In the social sciences, data collection can take years or decades and has to be done in the fuzzy conditions of the real world or in a simplified world that may or may not be accurate in a computer program. 

 

The first step to making our government operate more effectively and efficiently is to make a conscientious and sustained effort to ethically and effectively collect data.  The next step is to synthesize and analyze the data to tell a story about how things work in our human societies.  The third step, and I think, the most difficult step, is to actually use the data to achieve better results in our human societies and across human societies.  To do this, we must sacrifice our old notions of how things are and how things ought to work in an endless stream of refinement and bias smashing until we recognize the universe, ourselves, and our places in it for what they really are. 

 

We were at this same place once before, way back in the Renaissance when Western civilization rediscovered, refined, enhanced, and built upon the awareness and knowledge of medicine.  We can infer causal relations amongst aspects of the social system, just as we learned about the human body. However complex and interconnected societies and parts of society may be, it is incorrect to say that it is impossible to figure the age old problems of societies, economies, and environments, even if we may not presently have the statistical techniques or software to do so at the present time.  We can either invest in this new research now and implement what we can ethically implement at this time to help ourselves, or we can wallow in the willful ignorance of the past, consuming planet and society in the pursuit of wealth and relative power that is not real and is not being used well anyway. 

 

Policy making is a science; politicking is an art.  The former serves as the root for the latter, even though the former is effectively impotent without the latter.  Politicking without grounding in the science of policy engineering and compassionate care will always only backfire on those who are exercising their technical abilities to politick.  Policy engineering, however, needs to be wrapped in the garments of effective and appealing politicking in order to be preserved, implemented, and expanded. 

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Concerning the Baltimore Riots of 2015

I would like to start by acknowledging that I know that prospective employers, specifically Baltimore Corps, may be reading this and other posts.  While it would be easier to pat the leadership of the city on the back and tell them that it's not their fault, the simple fact of the matter is, that it is not true.  Quite frankly, they have failed to resolve the underlying issues that are erupting and have been bubbling under the surface for quite some time in the general American society, let alone, within their own little corner of America.  Police departments cannot be allowed to exacerbate tensions amongst the very real communities of Americans, nor should police officers be left unpunished and at liberty while they run rampant in our streets.  We cannot keep officers who see everyone, especially those of color, as a criminal and every action as a threat.  It is a fault of the city governments of this country that has led us to this place and a lack of truly effective action on the part of the state and federal governments to call the local governments, no matter how remote and backwards they may be, to account for their actions.  A government is not a throne upon which the idle and stupid can afford to sit, nor can it ever really be used as a tool to serve the already powerful few at the expense of everyone and everything else.

 

I would caution to those who would exacerbate the violence on the side of the protestors that more violence on their part will only lead to more violence in return.  The same goes to the police and those pathetic individuals who think that power is a badge and a gun that allows one to beat on people without consequence, or those who think that the public is best served when the already powerful few are served above all others.  I don't condone violence.  But I will point out that it's a natural consequence for governing people who fail to adequately do their jobs on a day to day basis.  We need police officers who live and serve in the regular neighborhoods of the communities in which they work, not those who are imported from other places and treated as mere units in a large organizational machine.  We need to stop putting some bankers' and executives' profits and sham economic "growth" ahead of our citizens' well-being, quality of life, and environmental sustainability.  Above all we need to acknowledge the actual limits of government force and manipulation,0 and the real role that governments can play in preserving, maintaining, and advancing our entire human society.  We cannot keep dishing out favors to the already powerful, and I will not stand in the way of those who would rip out those who are toxic in government to our larger society.  When peaceful methods are rigged in favor of a few, the public will more likely resort to violent methods to get their way.  That is why you don't rig the peaceful methods in the first place and prevent them from working out, sometimes, against your own personal absolute favor.  If you can't do your job or take the criticism that is needed to do your job, get out of government, and stop playing with social and environmental forces beyond your comprehension.  I would rather stand and have my honest say than be a quiet sycophant.  That is what makes me valuable in government to anyone who wants to govern.  If you can't get on this level, you're truly out of your league, and I don't care how "savvy" you may think yourself in the cat games of political "power".

 

Enjoy your night. 

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Steps to Take After the NSA Shootings, 3/30/2015

The American governments at all levels and in all places are going to have to come to terms with a few things.  The first set of things are their own anti-social, repressive, oppressive, and anti-democratic tactics and methods and policies that they have enacted towards the general public.  The American people cannot and will not voluntarily be marched into a neo-feudal serfdom without some form of resistance springing forth.  Worse still, the people who will be behind such a resistance will also be the least qualified, least able, and least willing to establish a functional and effective new order from the ashes of the old.  The second set are the anti-social, anti-progress, moronic, baboon-like group of radical right wing personalities and people whose anti-social, anti-progress, and anti-democratic tactics are what have brought us to the point where one is dead at NSA headquarters.  These are the fat cat millionaires and radical right wingers who are sitting in our Congressional delegations, posing as bankers and businesspeople, making a mockery of the American spirit and the nature of Americans throughout all levels of society.  We can either be cleansed of these people by ignoring them, voting against them, and by defending ourselves with lethal force if necessary.  Or we can continue to sit around and do nothing while they dismantle our entire society and environment in the name of profit, control, and some abstract notion of liberty that they've never questioned or seriously examined.

 

I've always suggested that we turn our attention towards ridding our human societies of these conservative elements and the more pragmatic economic elite who fund them.  The shooting at the NSA should be taken as a wake-up call for all Americans to unite against the growing right wing despotism that is threatening to erode our nation's core integrity and to disband the dysfunctional and ineffective establishment "left" in favor of a new progressive state in America that relies on science, evidence, and the well-being of all people, not just the rich, as the benchmarks for good policy and good policy-making.  Financial wealth for wealth's sake should not be the end all of a society's goal, nor should we condone or accept those who can't get that through their heads. 

 

A government and its members are never self-sustaining entities.  A government and their members rely on the legitimacy, acceptance, and authority that is granted to them.  These are things which can be revoked with disastrous consequences to follow for all people, including for the governments' members, when and if they are revoked.  Governments can fail; their existence is not guaranteed.  Best to continue working with the general public in a dialogue for the sake of improving the quality of life for people rather than act as if there are no consequences for your actions.  The sooner our governments in the United States and throughout human society get this through their heads, the sooner we'll all be better off.  We need to eliminate the right wing by allowing them to eliminate themselves, and the world will be that much closer to being reasonably settled, even though it will never truly be settled in the long term or short term.  This will never be a utopian world; some problems will continue, old ones fade away, and new ones will rise.  What we can change is how we live, interact with, and respond to the changes and common reality, first, by acknowledging that there is a common reality where all opinions, hypotheses, and perceptions are not equal and should not be given an equal light if they prove to be unfounded and without evidence to support them.  The second thing we need to do is learn about this universe as thouroughly, deliberately, and accurately, specifically with regards to ourselves and to our own place within it relative to all other things on the individual and collective level.  The third thing is to apply the lessons in our daily lives, policies, laws, programs, and actions, such that we can live healthier, happier, and more sustainable lives as individuals within the context of our environment and our societies.  We can follow these three steps and all the subsequent steps and implications, or we can all collapse as a civilization and ruin ourselves and the world around us in the name of senseless greed and baseless ideology.  These are the options.  What side will you be on?

Think about it.

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Survival of the Adaptable and the Well-Prioritized

A society derives its characteristics from the collective behavior, attitudes, desires, hopes, dreams, wishes, and aspirations of every individual who lives within it.  Every society has a different way or logic about how they go about their business in government and in society, just as every person has their own strategy to achieve their own desired goals and outcomes. Sometimes they're in alignment with the universal laws of humanity and of human society.  Sometimes they're optimal, or more optimal than others.  Sometimes, they're less optimal or less helpful than others.  Sometimes, it's just a question of luck that they succeed or fail, with no control over what went wrong or what went well for them.  The trick then is to work out what is significant for the general public's well-being (which is also the leading powers' well-being), and what isn't.  We can only ethically encourage governments and leading societal figures to change what is significant for their own benefit at the very least (for the public's well-being at the very most).  We must then work to accept those things that are insignificant for the public's overall well-being.  We must either respect the diversity of the societies of the universe, or we will forever be miserable and dragged into conflict, bitterness, and hatred trying to change that which will not forcibly be changed as well as that which is insignificant, irrelevant, and maybe damaging for a society to experience in their turn.  I hate to use this buzzword, but there must be synergy across cultures, societies, and peoples, if we are to achieve better social, economic, and technological conditions for our own selves, at the very least, for all others, at the very most.  The constant goal needs to be health, well-being, sustainability, and adaptability for ourselves and for the peoples of the world collectively.  Otherwise, we will kill ourselves seeking out the irrelevant, the non-existent, and the self-destructive.  The societies who are best able to pursue these goals while maintaining and adaptive and defensive edge over others will undoubtedly be the longest surviving societies with the most enduring social, cultural, political, and economic institutions.  May the best societies succeed.  May all others revert backwards or become extinct in their present or desired form.

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Why I'm Close-minded

I know that I'm closed to some things.  But it's just silly to be open to everything.  Honestly, why should we take the opinion that the Earth is the center of the universe seriously, or that 1+1 can equal anything other than 2?  The same principles apply in our social, political, economic, environmental, and government worlds.  You make one configuration in government, in policy, and in funding, you get a series of possible outcomes, depending upon all the other conditions that the government does not and cannot control for.  But, if you make a different configuration in government, policy, and funding, you get a different set of probable outcomes which may or may not actually be better for all of our social units and the entirety of the universe.  Utility is a subjective thing, that is true.  But, as far as human beings go relative to all other life in the universe, there seem to me to be some things that are universal, objective, or both for life as we know it and for human life relative to all other life in the universe.  Water, H2O, is one of those things that I can think of.  The presence of one thing that fills this criteria proves that there may be other things which also fit this criteria.  It doesn't matter what your brain believes or what your brain thinks should be done. 

 

It is possible to look at objective truths differently.  You can look at the sum of two integers equaling 9 in many different ways (9+0, 1+8, 2+7, 3+6, 4+5, or the reverse for each of these values).  But these are the only whole numbers which can sum to 9 and in those specific combinations.

 

Thus, I'm left with the image of a universe wherein our brains and neurological systems are in charge of sensing, interpreting, perceiving, and working with reality first (before you make any choices that will change that reality for one way or another).  Our brains may or may not be healthy and functional relative to common reality, and to ourselves relative to common reality.  Some brains and neurological systems may be pathological to the world (for example, people who persist and refuse to acknowledge common reality and choose instead to invent or produce their own mental image of reality based on their personal motivations and preferences).  The root of all human activity should, normatively, be directed at trying to understand reality, accepting that which holds up to scientific testing and falsification, and rejecting that which actually does not hold up to scientific testing and falsification.  If there is no evidence that is provable for something, why should we simply accept that personal version of reality over our common reality?

 

Now, there are many ways to see reality that are accurate, just as there are many ways to add whole number integers to equal 9.  If you want to get even more complex, there are an infinite number of ways to sum partial numbers to equal 9.  But even then, there only the appropriate combinations of these partial numbers will equal to exactly 9.  The first number determines what the second number is going to be, and vice versa, such that you're again, not able or technically free to add whatever combination of partial numbers that you'd like and try to get 9.  You can't add 4.5 and 3.32 to get 9.  That's just an axiomatic fact.  Therefore, while a plurality of perspectives is likely the desirable conditional set, it must be recognized that there are some opinions, beliefs, and perspectives which simply don't match with common reality.  The template is reality; the authority is the universe itself.  No human may abridge, alter, or influence the discovered laws of the universe, as far as we can tell at present.  Furthermore, if we do end up being able to affect common reality through the altering and shifting of natural laws (as per natural laws that are subtler and deeper than the laws we’re working with), we must be extremely careful not to alter those laws in such a way that our very existence becomes untenable or self-destructive as a result of our tampering with them.  We could, in such a hypothetical situation, wipe out all of existence in our present form if we were to tamper with certain laws in certain ways, just as we may wipe ourselves off by killing off certain species in our ecosystems or altering the conditional state of our ecosystems in such a way that our own existence may be put in jeopardy. 

 

Therefore, in my mind, we get a view of the universe that is highly complicated, complex, and interconnected discretely and across boundaries.  We are bound in this universe, as such, that we technically and normatively should not tamper, alter, or destroy certain aspects of the universe.  We are never, as it were, free from altering the universe or ourselves in the universe without consequence.  The same rules apply on the physical and quantum levels of the universe, so too does it apply in our social, economic, environmental, and political levels.  You are, to begin with, not able to conceive of everything that you can do (thus limiting what you can or may do).  You are not physically or mentally capable of doing everything and anything in the universe that is beyond your abilities to handle, even if you are able to imagine or conceive of those things.  Finally, even if you are technically, physically, and/or mentally able to do some things in this universe, there is a wide range of things that you should not do, from the perspective of preserving your own health, safety, and well-being on the individual and relative levels.  There are right and wrong answers in this universe; better or worse solutions to complex problems.  There are correct, better, and worse assessments of problems and situations, just as there are correct, better, and worse solutions to those actual problems in our universe and for our actual well-being.  There are criteria for our utility, health, and well-being on the individual and social levels which are relevant and some that are not, in actuality, relevant at all.

 

Now, I’m never going to say that I have all the answers to all of these problems or the solutions to every problem that we are experiencing or can possibly experience.  No human can be 100% correct 100% of the time.  All that I’m asserting is that these points are correct 100% of the time in our universe, and that we can experiment with them ourselves to prove that they’re actually true.  What I am proposing and advocating for, is that we switch over to a sustained, systematic review and exploration of our social, economic, political, environmental, cosmological, and integrated reality, such that we can make better individual and collective choices for ourselves in the universe relative to all other things.  Those opinions and desires which aren’t right and/or are unhealthful should be treated as such.  The real sin isn’t having an incorrect belief, but persisting in that belief when it’s been conclusively proven to be likely or definitively incorrect or unhealthful.  That’s all that I’m saying, that’s all that I’m advocating for, and I’m 99.99999999999999999% sure that this is axiomatic for the entire universe as we are able to know and comprehend.  Ignorance is what should be wiped out, and those who won’t or can’t come to grips with reality are the ones we should be labeling as those possessing pathologically formed neural systems.  The solution for these people is optional rehabilitation, if they’re not posing an immediate threat to themselves or others, and care.  I could be wrong too, very easily.  But I’m not going to persist in a belief just because I think or feel it to be right, if it is demonstrably the case that my opinion and belief is actually incorrect or mostly incorrect.  Again, the real sin is persisting in ignorance when it is revealed, not being ignorant in and of itself.  Some people are more able to be correct than others; some people are less able.  It’s only a bad thing if you continue in an incorrect view.


Such is my view of reality.  Such is the reason why I am closed to certain beliefs, opinions, and people.  I hope this clarifies my logic and ways of thinking for you all.  Thank you.

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Principles of International Relations and Human Relations

If you're going to govern over a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, and multi-cultural territory, I think that you're going to have to do one or more of three basic things. 

 

The first, would be to make a common denominator that everyone shares; a singular touchstone of identity that everyone can feel apart.  This cannot be a top-down given thing, but requires communication amongst the whole population (meaning, all peoples from all populations) in order to arrive at that common denominator that cannot be determined in advance.  This is most similar to what the United States has done successfully over the years and least like what is happening in France or other Western European countries.  You need people to be one people.  Just because you may give up something as the host, doesn't mean that you can't preserve the essence of your society in a more general and less specific form.

 

The second is to include people into the political and economic systems, such that you don't have people alienated, helpless, and potentially angry at whomever they have chosen to live with.  Just because new people have chosen to live in a given territory and are given a hard time within that territory by the native population, doesn't mean that they're necessarily likely to go back to wherever they came from.  Again, the American society has done this fairly well over the years relative to others, while we look at other societies with marked social divisions leading to economic divisions and political divisions.  These social, economic, and political divisions are toxic to maintaining health and happiness within a society, as we can plainly see when looking at societies, such as Nigeria or Iraq or Turkey, where exclusion or forced assimilation are the defacto policies of the society and the government.

 

The third option, is to part ways outright and to divide land with the recognition that violence only exacerbates negative economic, social, and political conditions for all sides.  It usually is more costly to fight and hold onto land that doesn't have your people occupying it than it is to let the land break off and form its own sovereignty, for better or for worse, depending upon how all involved handle it. People tend to demand agency and, when that agency is denied, it tends to make things worse for all parties who are involved in the conflict.  We can look at cases, such as India and Pakistan and Bangladesh as ways to not divide territory and societies, while we can look at the Czech Republic and Slovakia as ways to divide territories.

 

These are the principles that seem to be generally at the heart of international relations, political science, sociology, and human psychology.  To neglect these concepts is to spark war, tension, and economic collapse between two or more collective consciences of humanity.  We see this in Ukraine at the present time, as well as in Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine.  It boils down to two basic options.  The first is to welcome people into a society, develop a bottom-up approach to building a national consciousness while including people in the political and economic systems.  The second is to part ways, hopefully amicably, and let the two national consciences be apart with less territory.  You can't force a people to be someone or something they're not, anymore than you can force a single person to be someone or something they're not.  It just doesn't work out, and tends to increase net suffering while decreasing net well-being in the process.  This is based on personal observations from history, cultural geography, sociology, political science, and human psychology.  These have not been statistically tested in practice, nor do I think we can test them with the present data that's available.  However, our consciousness of the past is growing all the time, and our awareness of world events can already happen at the speed of electricity.  We can either use the general information to guide us as best as we can while we collect and model data to make our conclusions more solid, or ignore the information that is already present from these different disciplines and from our world, and simply continue trying to fit the square peg in the round hole.  We can do a much much much better job at handling our public affairs with the knowledge and insights that we can have at present.  What in Hell are we waiting for?

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How Capitalism Leads to a Sovietesque System in America

In some respects, the United States is more like the Soviet Union because of the influence of Capitalism and Capitalists than anything else. We have a shadow group of wealthy people and interests calling the shots behind the scenes to both political parties who sit in our government. The Soviets had one political party calling the shots to their government behind the scenes via the Politbureau. Both groups of people and their ultimate philosophies and practices lead their societies to the same results and likely to the same conclusions.  Our Capitalist elites extract wealth and relative power from us, the Soviet elites did the same to their people.  Both of our governmental systems and staff neglected to listen to the signs of their social and environmental ecosystems.  The Soviet Union collapsed politically and fell apart into traditional ethnic territories.  The United States is also likely to fall apart if nothing significant substantially changes, albeit, it'll likely be into ideological and cultural camps.


By my reckoning, the solution to at least the American problem is a commitment to democratic principles and a social logic for our economy. Workers should be paid according to their profitability and, when there aren't enough jobs available in the private market, the government should buy up the extra labor and put people to work with living wages and provide job training and education while they otherwise mark time in between jobs and demand cycles. Living conditions could be improved where people live with surpluses produced by productivity, based on demonstrable needs and evidence based practices.  We could probably eliminate Medicare and Medicaid in favor of a universal healthcare and reduce medical costs as well through negotiation with the healthcare providers.  We could maybe even go as far as to nationalize health research (which has already effectively happened), giving profit for health problems that are solved rather than leaving health to the private markets for them to ignore public health in favor of profits. Same could be said for national defense.  Why should anyone be allowed to derive profit from war (which is an anathema to a healthy economy) or to have a substantial portion of our workforce tied up in pointless weapons manufacturing?

 

All the while, our governments can start to coordinate amongst themselves for the production and delivery of services.  Experiments with organizational practices to improve inter and intra governmental communication, as well as attention towards creating fora for dialogue with the public on local and party levels could also take place, such that our government officials can know what the public actually needs and wants.  The delivery, implementation, and interface of these functions can also be experimented with on the local and party levels in order to create a lasting link between governed and governing that can only be broken at both parties' expense.  

 

In the end, the United States is exhibiting the same anti-democratic, anti-social, and anti-environmental symptoms under Capitalism that the Soviet system exhibited under their definition of Communism.  Our government officials and political parties don't seem to truly care to put in an effort to create a two-way dialogue with the public and amongst their own levels and layers.  They also don't seem to care to have in place the necessary tools, mechanisms, and practices to preserve their own legitimacy and authority or to increase their personal and institutional longevity.  Our legislators, administrators, chief executives, corporate shadow government officials and interests don't seem to be thinking or feeling beyond the next election or the next quarterly report on profits.  It is myopic, stupid, idiotic, cruel, callous, and predictably destructive for themselves to continue on this present course of action without appropriate, significant, and substantial changes to the way they think, feel, and work with the larger world that is also them.  Meanwhile, you the citizen will pay either for your complacence in doing nothing appropriate to make momentum against these people happen or your ignorance in your tacit or outright support for them and their practices.  We live together or we die together.  Quite frankly, I think there are a lot of people out there, young and old, rich and poor, who are actually opting for death, as far as the impacts of their choices are in common reality.  The United States will rot from the inside out, due to chronic mismanagement by law and policy makers and practitioners.  We, as the whole American society will pay the price for our choices to be either apart of the solution in common reality or to be apart of the problem tacitly or overtly in common reality.  It all of our choices whether we succeed or fail.  I for one though am not seeing many positive signs amongst the citizenry or the elected and appointed officials who can actually do something for us though.  A perfectly preventable and predictable end for those who actually probably deserve it.  Oh well.

  
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The Blueprint: A Manifesto for a New Age in Society

We need a group who will run for offices, will expect only the effort of votes and support, will use the science of psychology to get their messages across and will use the science of governing to lead and make choices for the public over the wants of the private.  We need a group who will play the long game, not taking into account just the next election cycle; who will stand for the truly American principles of inclusion, prosperity, pragmatic sense, and a basis in reality rather than hallucinations and beliefs.

 

If the conservatives wish to make other stabs at eliminating economic and social democracy, we should get organized into decentralized, organized bands and make ready to fight if necessary to get our governments to work for the American people.  I am not going to be willing to subsidize someone elses' second luxury yacht if it comes at the expense of our schools, health, environment, technology, and overall prosperity.  We should not be robbed of the wealth that we produce through our labor, nor should we be denied the right to live as human beings and pursue happiness in according to our needs, tastes, and desires within the bounds of safety, sensibility, and others' happiness.  I am sick of being told that my work isn't valuable to an organization.  I am sick of someone far away telling me how I can non-destructively live my personal life.  And I can't stand the amount of willful ignorance and logical contortions that the conservative opposition comes up with to continue to justify their poorly chosen stances and priorities.

 

It is time to govern with science and through facts and evidence as to how things are rather than how we think things are or want them to be.  I am done being nice to the conservatives and the ideologues.

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Youth & Consequences: Unemployment, Injustice and Violence

Getting youth development right has never been more pressing. Countering narratives of grievance, along with offering a better vision of the future, is the job of development. The question is how to do it.
Eli Levine's insight:

 

There are many reasons that motivate people to take up arms and fight, sometimes against improbable odds.  Many of our present government leaders seem to believe that people fight against the strong because of economic want or ignorance on the part of the volunteers.  Indeed, this narrative puts the onerous on the rebel factions and leaves no culpability or blame for the powerful and those who seek to have and take power and resources from others.

 

However, this study shows that, as you scratch beneath the narration that is applied to the stories of the fighters by the powerful, and listen to the stories of those who are actually fighting against the powerful in their own words, one finds that there is no actually correlation or real connection between their economic and educational status and willingness to fight, kill, and die.  The words from the actual fighters are that they're angry or feel like someone or something was taken from them by the powerful.  This is then what fuels them to be willing and able to risk their life and take others'. 


Contrary to the logic of the people who sit in halls of power, especially those in the halls of power in the West, the fighters are not entirely motivated by economic want or out of ignorance. As a matter of fact, they may be sacrificing relative economic prosperity and/or be highly educated even by Western standards and still willing to fight, kill, and die. 


What this then means, from the point of view of the powerful, is that their actions are what are causing the violence and resistance against themselves.  When you consider that human beings around the world had social logic and feelings long before (and in more neurologically powerful areas) than modern economies and notions of wealth and education, it should come at no surprise that as you put someone down that they're going to find ways to dissemble, sabotage, and perhaps outright attack those who are causing perceived or real harm to their perceived sense of self, dignity, and well-being.  It may mean waiting for a long period of time for weaknesses to become present and apparent, or dying in the process of fighting against what are intolerable and unacceptable conditions imposed on them by domestic or foreign powers.


In short, while fighting itself can be perceived as an economic choice, it must be remembered that there are sometimes non-economic reasons to fight for humans.  Again, money and modern notions of wealth and education are newer concepts to our species than is pride, dignity, in-group solidarity, revenge, and these other non-material emotional causes to violence.  If our leaders and our societies experienced what they/we put others through just because we have an ability to do so, they'd be fighting against the repression, oppression, corruption, stolen dignity, and lost life too.  Far from a call for division, this is a call for the recognition of other people and peoples as people like ourselves and whom we consider people.  This is a call for effective selfishness and a path to sustainable and real power, not a gift that needs to be given.  This is a call for the creation, maintenance, and preservation of real security for ourselves by recognizing how our faults lead to our problems.  This is a path to marginalize, crush, and eliminate those who would want to stand against us from within their own societies.  All it takes is kindness, comprehension, acceptance, and acknowledgement of sentiments.  When there aren't economic motivations to fight, there are no amounts of gifts that you can pay to make the violence go away; no amounts of educational and narrative manipulation.  The people who think in these ways are incorrect about their assumptions on power, human beings, and human motives relative to common reality.  It shows in their inability to hold land and people for what should be an eternal relationship on Earth and everywhere else.


It's not difficult or large changes that I'm looking for.  Not really.


Silly apes.

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The Atlas of Economic Complexity |

Networks in Macro Economics with World Trade Data
Eli Levine's insight:

A powerful tool.  The key to growth, it seems, is to keep innovating and to provide conditions that are conducive to innovation, change, and growth.  Government policy can help foster this and policy can help foster what kind of growth is achieved (you know, for if we want to consider social and environmental health and sustainability). 

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