Archive for the ‘Dialogs’ Category

Tolerance

26 June 2021

From Merriam-Webster online:

Tolerance: “Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”

Intolerant:

“a: unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters.”

“b : unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights.”

The engineering definition of this word is also pertinent to my discussion.

Tolerance (engineering): “The allowable deviation from a standard.”

Tolerance has been the watchword of the liberal. (“One who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways.”) And at contentious moments, liberals are likely to accuse conservatives of being intolerant.

The paradox of tolerance

This was first voiced in the modern era (1945) by philosopher Karl Popper:

“…the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.”

For an individual or society to show tolerance and remain so, their tolerance must have limits. And so, the engineering definition of this term is worth considering.

In a designed system, as long as all parts function within their specified tolerances, the entire system will continue to function adequately. When as little as one part falls out of tolerance, the entire system can cease to function!

And we do, in fact, live in a “designed” system, where we – human beings – are the most important parts. As in a machine, if any single part begins to operate beyond its specified tolerance, it must be removed and replaced, or repaired.

Societies principally use law for this purpose. When applicable, this may include religious laws or moral codes. In secular societies attempts have been made to include all important moral limits in civil law. The big problem has been that true repair seldom occurs.

A spectrum of tolerance

People, as you may have noticed, fall somewhere on what might be seen as a “spectrum” of how tolerant they are willing to be of others. The less tolerant may be referred to as “strict” or worse. The more tolerant may lapse into being “too lax” or “permissive.”

What factors drive these variations? As much as I wanted to write about this subject, I had no exact idea of how I might explain the variation we see in people on this subject. The best I can do is refer you to the Emotional Tone Scale. A person’s emotional response to any given situation can depend on many different factors. But two important ones are: 1) where they prefer to be on the tone scale and 2) how free they are to move up and down the tone scale.

Both of these factors are involved with what could be called the study of human psychology. Without getting into this too deeply, various incidents in one’s past can hold one’s attention out of the present moment and stick them in the tone level of that incident. If it was a scary incident, the person will tend to get stuck in fear. If it was an angry incident, then in anger. The lower tones (like grief or apathy) tend to be more “sticky” than the higher ones (like boredom or cheerfulness).

Educational influences from family, group or society can also train people to react certain ways in certain situations. But these influences tend to be less powerful, unless the “lessons” were laid in with pain or threats of punishment.

From this discussion, you might see that it is a little hard to tell how a person will react in any given situation, but the more stuck they are in apathy, grief or fear, the more likely they are to react at that level. So some people – and in particular the more dangerous people – are more predictable than others.

It should be noted that “intolerance” is often associated with conservatism (3.0), anger (1.5) and to a lesser degree with lower tones. While “tolerance” is often associated with cheerfulness and boredom, but also with the lower tones of fear (1.0), grief (0.5) and apathy. However, the “intolerance” of a conservative is of a very different quality to that of a person stuck in anger, where it could turn violent. And the same goes with the higher-toned tolerance of someone who feels confident in their ability to handle “unusual” situations, compared to the lower-toned tolerance of someone who is simply too afraid or hopeless to object.

Thus, what we are really seeing at the higher tones is a saner approach to tolerance, where it has limits that the individual is willing to enforce on the people around them. At the lower tones, the being may really be intolerant of almost everything happening around it, but may fake “tolerance” out of cowardice or uncertainty.

The reality of what it means to be tolerant

In fact, the need to be “strict” or “intolerant” varies with different situations. A high-toned person can tell the difference between different situations, and adjust their tolerance level to one appropriate to the situation.

An instructor of airline pilots must be extremely intolerant of flubs committed by his students, but should be able to come home and “relax” with his kids and let them horse around a bit.

Anyone who is new to a job or position has the right to expect some tolerance for errors at first, but less tolerance for errors when they become a seasoned professional.

The problem of social classes and dogma

When we get into questions of social mobility and civil rights, we run into more problems with tolerance because these subjects deal with lower-toned situations.

People in politics, for instance (which can include many people besides the elected politicians) normally feel under some stress to defend their positions from attack. This can easily leave them with a fear mentality. They have developed as a class a sort of catty or covert way of dealing with both allies and rivals. Anyone who doesn’t follow these niceties isn’t “playing by the rules.” This led many, for instance, to blindly criticize Trump, as he never agreed to behave this way. Sometimes their criticisms had some substance, but they were just as likely to be totally irrational, as operating from fear is not going to result in rational behavior.

More generally, the various different social strata develop different cultures with different levels of tolerance along various dimensions.

Someone in the upper classes may see clear speech as an important survival factor, and be intolerant of slow, slurred, or ethnic speech. However, they may tolerate grossly immoral conduct in one’s personal life as long as it is kept hidden.

A working class person may show intolerance to over-dressing or ostentatious behavior, but be willing to tolerate a certain level of sloppiness that would be unacceptable to a professional person.

In some scientific circles, expressing disagreement with the basic theories that everyone has agreed to can result in the loss of one’s job. While in arts and entertainment, wide variations in appearance and behavior are normally encouraged.

I have experienced a lot of criticism (online) for asserting the importance of Spirit in understanding life. This is a problem of dogma which has actually been laid in at a very low tone level. Any contradiction of this dogma will tend to produce an anger reaction, or else irrational ridicule. Other conflicts between religions have had similar causes.

Tolerance and criminality

Criminals are uniformly low on the tone scale, and we see grossly irrational behaviors from them when it comes to tolerance.

An angry criminal can be violently intolerant to the point of murder. A fearful criminal (more common) can feign tolerance for all while secretly trying to do everyone else in.

Any society doing even half well does not tolerate criminal behavior, as gone over earlier. So criminals have the problem of being constantly not tolerated (as they can’t help themselves from feeling the way they do, and attempting to act on those feelings.) Under these conditions, locking up a criminal does nothing for them. The truly dangerous need to be separated from society, but would do better if they had access to a very large open (but secure) space. And the ones who aren’t so separated will usually be found secretly working very hard to get society to tolerate criminal behaviors.

Special issues in the news

A biological man who wants to compete as a woman in women’s sports is being a criminal. I’m sorry, but that’s my view.

Two men or women who want to “marry” each other are spitting at the tradition of marriage as the foundation of family life and of society. But perhaps they can be tolerated, as some even wish to raise children.

The problem of gender identity is misunderstood because most people do not realize that we are immortal spiritual beings. As I have stated elsewhere, I believe that most people would be willing to live with the gender dictated by the sex of their body if they knew that as beings they have no gender and as immortals, they will always have another chance to “get it right.” Without an understanding of Spirit, the subject of gender becomes a totally confused mess.

And then there is Critical Theory. This movement comes from a very low-toned and messed up place, for they somehow think that they can achieve total tolerance for the oppressed by being totally intolerant of the oppressors. This sounds to me like a bid by the criminals to be allowed to run free and do whatever they want.

Yes, there are sticky patterns of racial and ethnic injustice across this planet. But these cannot be understood or resolved without an appreciation for Spirit and a recognition of the existence of Suppressive Persons, neither of which Critical Theory does. For a society to survive well, anti-social acts cannot be tolerated. Critical Theory does not accomplish this, and so it cannot succeed. It, instead, tolerates crimes against anyone who can be identified as intolerant, not for their personal actions, but due to some group they supposedly belong to. This becomes a suppressive generality, a sure sign of criminal thinking. We don’t need Critical Theory to bring true justice to this planet; we need Scientology Ethics!

School of Rock Returns … and other events

9 June 2021

When I finally found the School of Rock Elk Grove’s Facebook page, I learned that they were having a third big concert on Sunday June 6th. It was scheduled for Noon to 9pm. I arrived just after noon, and only stayed a little while.

“Backstage” above, and below, from the audience.

They were playing under an amazing young jacaranda tree that currently looks like this:

Meanwhile, in the park…

I usually don’t walk through at lunch time on the weekend. All the picnic tables were taken!

The live artists that I had seen earlier in the week had left this behind:

Did he really mean “You’re” instead of “Your?” Probably.

Elsewhere…

The next day I took my weekly grocery shopping journey and found these amazing day lilies in Folsom.

I spotted this stand-up paddler on the Aquatic Park lake. Some geese swam right by him.

AA

And I saw a young buck further down the trail. As usual, he didn’t really want to pose for me.

Santa Fe Super Chief engine

On my next visit to Old Sac, a new engine had appeared in the yard!

The man who was handling this engine and the switches told me (because I failed to recognize it myself) that this was one of the “Super Chief” locomotives, a famous and iconic diesel engine of a slightly earlier era. He told me that they have the air brakes working on this one, but not the motor.

With the help of an engineer, they used a working engine to push this one beyond the track switch that leads to the shed. This is a rather unique switch in that it is both 3-way and manual.

After the man switched the lead-in track to the middle stall in the shed, the engineer moved over to a half-length engine, coupled it to the Super Chief, then pulled it into its place in the shed. I suppose they will work on it there, and perhaps get the motor operational.

This engine had been sitting in a shed at the Railyards, which is way over on the other side of the Amtrak station, and just today had been brought over here. So I was very lucky to see it while it was out!

Should we blame it on the humans?

This message, chalked onto the sidewalk between DOCO and the Old Sac Tunnel, is worthy of some philosophical discussion.

Say you were in a super-advanced rat colony where the rats had developed a full civilization, complete with philosophers and politicians and police. Something like Animal Farm (Orwell, 1945).

The colony, after some time, found that it was not doing so well. There didn’t seem to be quite enough food to go around, and the bedding was getting considerably soiled and stinky. The politicians tried to correct this by setting stricter rules, which the police rats dutifully enforced. But some of the philosophers became convinced that, as rats were “just animals,” there must be something wrong with them that makes, them, ultimately, suicidal as a species. Thus, the situation was, ultimately, hopeless.

Only one rat was brave, quirky, or insightful enough to ask this seemingly irrelevant question: “What about the humans who take care of our cages? Don’t they figure into our problem somehow?” The rats, being proud as rats tended to be, did not want to admit to themselves that they were actually living in cages and were therefore under the sway of “higher forces” who “took care” of them. His idea to teach everyone how to live in the wild, then stage a breakout, was roundly condemned, and he was put on half rations, socially ostracized.

And so, the rat colony did, in fact, die out. Except for the one philosopher rat who, in the end, managed to escape and live out the rest of his life as a “free” rat, under the house of the rat keepers. This was, of course, little consolation to him. He had not even found a female rat that would agree with him, and so his ambitions for Rat Freedom died with him…

Blame versus responsibility

Those rats were in a bad situation, no doubt about that. And so are we humans, here on Earth.

But the primary problem for the rats was believing they were “free” when in fact they were living in a cage.

And that is the same problem that we, as humans, are having.

Fortunately there are I would say roughly 100,000 humans on the planet right now who do realize what the actual situation is, and are trying to get themselves up to the point to where they could actually survive as “free beings.” But, they want to take ALL the humans here along with them to a new life of freedom. And many of those humans (even me!) are not convinced that a slave life is really worth changing into a free life. It takes a LOT of effort to learn how to live free! To look at the entire job, all the energy and time it requires, is just too overwhelming, even for a human like me who is completely aware of the situation and the consequences of inaction.

The difference is the difference between blame and responsibility. A person who wants to be free has to accept the responsibility level – the causative approach to life – that goes with being free. The ones who want to be slaves can continue to blame others for the situation they are in. They can even blame the prison guards – if they ever figure out that they are in a prison! But that, of course, won’t get them out. And if they did get out, they would flounder around, not knowing what to do, and eventually find some new way to get trapped, probably.

So this is the big challenge for all those who want a better future for themselves and everyone else, too. They have to get their fellow slaves (prisoners) to realize they are slaves, then to take the responsibility to free themselves.

The New Normal

5 June 2021

This is the Flatstick, a “theme bar” located across the street from my apartment building. I’ve never been inside. The humorous (?) sign to the left is what caught my eye today and what this post is mostly about.

If it hadn’t been for an event just down the street at Solomon’s Deli, I might have saved this post for a later date. But with three visuals and this much intellectual “meat” to try to digest, I figured I would try writing something this afternoon.

The “new normal” is full of cognitive confusions

Most of us want a better life and a better world. Some of us think everyone on this planet wants this. A few of us are very sure that assumption is incorrect.

Many then ask, well, why don’t we have a better world? Most have no real idea, so they are willing to go along with one of the many theories in current fashion about why this planet is still so messed up. A few of us are quite sure that all these theories are incorrect or incomplete.

Learn better behaviors

The theory being put forward, apparently, by “modern” psychology, is that we all need to learn to behave “better.” If a person can’t learn to behave better, they deserve to be shamed, hated or … killed? … in the hope that this will cause them to learn their lesson. Of course, if it seems that a mental illness is causing the problem, then the person belongs in therapy. Maybe our ideas about “right behavior” also need to change, so we can be kind to more different types of people.

The whole theory expressed – however imperfectly – above is full of assumptions that many not be (or aren’t) true:

  1. All our major earthly problems stem from not being nice (kind, considerate) to each other. (Really?)
  2. The way to make more people act kind is to train them to act that way. (Okay…)
  3. If a person can’t be so trained, he must have a mental illness of some similar condition requiring therapy. (Who makes this decision?)
  4. Mental illnesses respond to drugs because the mind is in the brain. (This is categorically incorrect.)
  5. Maybe the behaviors we used to think are bad (lying, cheating, stealing…) really aren’t that bad, because we’ve never been able to get anyone to stop doing them. Maybe we just have to accept these behaviors and learn to be kind to those people, too. Then the world would be a much better place. (This, of course, is totally insane.)

Faith, freedom and honesty

This encapsulates the approach of most who today call themselves “conservative.”

If a man of faith is given freedom, then he will do good, because he will be motivated by God, and God always does good.

You can tell a man of faith by his honesty level. Those who lie to gain advantage are not persons of faith.

God’s law is above civil law and guides the conscience. Civil law guides the day-to-day dealings of men and women. Abide by the first and enforce the second, and that should be all that is needed.

This approach has been somewhat useful over a long period of time, but is hard on real criminals, who are incapable of being honest. Thus, this approach is constantly being fought by criminals, who constantly seek to give religion and related subjects a bad name. This has led to the secular behavioral approach, given first.

Conflicts

Secular behaviorism is currently considered more “liberal” and enlightened than faith-based approaches such as classic conservatism.

The problem is that in faith, or in any religious belief, there lies a grain of truth which will never be forsaken by the faithful. And so the faithful will never, never, never be persuaded to embrace secular behaviorism in any of its forms, particularly in its current form, which seems to show “mercy” for criminals.

The grain of truth cherished by the faithful is that there is a power higher and more lofty than the powers of the physical universe; that this power, in fact, created the physical universe.

While it is technically incorrect to attribute this power to just a few beings, or gods, this mistake does not cancel the truth of the more basic assertion. And so a belief in Spirit lives on, and it will always be opposed to the denial of Spirit.

The traditionally faithful tend to gravitate to certain moral teachings for the reasons that they are part of their sacred texts and also seem sensible. In a more traditional moral system, sexual relations between same-sex individuals seems ridiculous, or wrong, because it does not forward God’s work of perpetuating the race. Similar arguments can be made against killing an unborn fetus or trying to change one’s body to match one’s fancied gender orientation.

But because the current “liberal” approach is so anti-Spirit, conservatives have had to make a place for people who are “socially liberal” but can’t stand the thought of handing power over to lunatics. This has given the Left the poetic license to brand conservatives as totalitarians. Currently, the Left is much more intolerant than most conservatives.

Is the “old normal” really that bad?

A bar run by a reasonably sensible conservative would not treat any of the “sicknesses” mentioned on that sign as good enough reason to kick you out of his (or her) bar.

COVID-19 is a treatable and fairly mild disease that most of us should now be immune to.

Racism is an archaic mindset that seems out of place in the modern world. But there’s no reason to assume it would prevent someone from being a perfectly civil bar patron.

Same with homophobia.

What we had with the “old normal” was a general agreement that truth was valuable and worth pursuing, and in a like wise, honesty was worth practicing.

We were discovering that politicians, news casters, scientists, even doctors, could play the role of criminal and lie to us. We discovered that we needed to trust our own sense of rightness more and question “authority” more. That freedom was workable in the context of human rights, but not in the context of absolute freedom for anyone to do anything they wanted. We were beginning to discover that a certain type of personality was trying to take over this planet and destroy all our progress towards real truth and understanding and replace it with a new updated sort of superstition and slavery.

So they decided to accelerate their efforts, and made great progress in that direction over the last year and a half.

Do we really want that to be our world? Will it really result in more kindness and generosity, less suffering and fear? Will it end war, sickness, pollution or global warming? If not, why should anyone support it?

These are my questions to you.

Birthday celebrations at Solomon’s

Hey, to me this was strange. But I could tolerate, I guess, a guy dressed in a rainbow skirt wearing a colored wig and way too much makeup hosting an event at my local Deli…

To be hugged by such a dude might be a bit much for me. But look, ma, no masks! Could we maybe inch our way back to the old normal?

Larry Visits…background

29 April 2021

I plan to write a little series of short illustrated articles about places I have visited recently.

I want those articles to just be about the places, and sometimes the people I found there.

But that leaves out the question: Why did I visit those places?

It all started when…

I suppose it all started when someone decided this would be the perfect time to release an experimental virus on the planet and thus create a massive global scare that would send people screaming for face masks and medical cures while neglecting the important things in life, like companionship.

At first I was simply aghast. Next I became convinced that we were being gamed – same suspects as all those other times. The pattern had become clear… at least to me and a handful of others.

But by that time the battle lines were drawn. This, it seemed, would be a fight to the death. It would shake our confidence in many of our public institutions and shake my confidence in my own church, perhaps even in myself; I was alone.

As related elsewhere, after a significant struggle, one of my newest friends reappeared. She was, if anything, much more tired and battle-worn than I was. She had put her heart and soul into a career, and had been rejected – in effect – by her own dream. She was so glad to have someone to talk to! And I was, too. But, she had to say goodbye and return to her hometown and her family. Her carefully-built world of independence had totally collapsed. My carelessly built world of interdependence was likewise in a shambles. She left me with a suggestion: Maybe you can find some friends using dating websites.

What? I had never dated! But the notion intrigued me, and so I tried it.

I met some interesting women. A few in person, but most only online. I met some old acquaintances, and made some new ones. But most of them were looking for a new husband, and I was not looking for a wife. So we were “playing” different games that operated on different rules! A few understood, and few others, somehow smitten, chose to ignore these differences and plow on regardless.

The Bay Area connection

I was born in the Bay Area and spent a lot of good times there. It is only 50-100 miles south of Sacramento. Could I make some new friends there? Would that even make sense?

My first challenge was to find a way to get there. This search was encouraged by a woman who really wanted to meet me. And so I found a very cheap commuter bus that could take me on weekday trips to and from the Bay Area. These trips took almost 2 hours, but the bus was ridiculously inexpensive, and it went right to a BART station. My first trips using that bus have already been documented here.

Weekend visits would be more problematical. The best choice seemed to be the Capitol Corridor train service. It was more expensive than the bus, but it only took an hour to get from Sacramento to Martinez. The first article in this series will cover that trip.

The next challenge was to get from Martinez to Bay Point (Pittsburg) where my new friend lives. My next article will cover a hill I found in Bay Point that people climb to from a nearby park.

Past and future travels

In the past I have also visited Yuba City (where my young friend now lives and works) and in the future I plan to visit Placerville and other towns. Usually I take my phone on these trips rather than my camera. The photos from my phone I find somewhat inferior, one reason being that it has no optical zoom. But they convey in broad strokes what I have seen and the environments I have experienced. I hope you enjoy these Larry Visits… articles.

Thoughts on senior dating

10 March 2021

As my readers may or may not be aware, starting mid-January I have been using several dating sites in an attempt to find some women who would be willing to share some of their time with me.

This is basically the first time in my life that I have attempted anything like this. I am finding it very instructional.

About 1/3 of the U.S. population are single adults. There might be about 1/4 of these caused by divorce and 1/8 of these caused by death of spouse. There are also increasing numbers adopting single living as a way of life.

What I see on the dating sites are mostly a mix of divorced and widowed women. There are a few older women who never married, and when I run across them, I sometimes ask them for their story. My own story may be pieced together from other posts on this blog.

What this means is that a significant number of women I am meeting on line have men in their lives that they used to be married to. They might even be sharing their kids with the guy, to give the kids a chance to spend some time with both their biological parents. I walk into these lives with a combination of no experience with marriage plus my Scientology training, and whether I “fall in love” with her or not, my first impulse is often to see if I can solve or patch up the divorce.

My Scientology training includes what LRH calls the Third Party Law. There is a link to this on my “Shorts” page.

This law states that for a conflict to persist, a third party must be present and actually promoting it.

I get to know some of these women, and find evidence for the existence of third parties in their lives who might have contributed to the breakup of their marriage.

In a situation like that, what’s the ethical thing to do? “Take advantage” of the situation and try to step in as their new boyfriend? Or step back and see if I can help them sort things out and patch the marriage back together?

Either way, with my training I realize that a lot of these broken marriages are being caused by poor decisions fed by bad data on the subject of human relations. Scientology is all about human relations. Most people would benefit from studying it.

The bigger picture

Many commentators and observers, including Hubbard, believe that human culture is under attack in order to weaken it prior to a political takeover. These attacks would certainly include attacks on the traditional family structure.

There is considerable difference of opinion about exactly which social movements or trends are part of this attack:

  1. Feminism/birth control/abortions. Most liberals think that giving women a place in society more on a par with men is a good thing. This has, however, led to breakdowns in traditional child raising structures and moral questions concerning promiscuity and unwanted pregnancies.
  2. Gender issues. “Gender” has come to be defined as one’s attitude about one’s sexual identity. “Sex” now means biological forms and structures. In the absence of any concept of Spirit, I think allowing kids to choose a different gender from their sex is confusing and dangerous for everyone involved. There could be spiritual realities behind such a choice, but if this is not known and explored, it leads the kids to think that they are just the effect of their genes.
  3. Demasculinization of men. There are studies that point to various factors that are decreasing male testosterone levels. This has to do mostly with various man-made substances introduced into our environment. Some think this was done on purpose as part of this cultural attack. It seems to be resulting in more gender confusion and lower sperm counts among men. There are also increasing complaints of erectile dysfunction.
  4. Legal frameworks that tend to “reward” single mothers. These laws have led to an interesting “male rights” movement. They involve various biases or favoritism regarding who gets custody, who owes child support, and how welfare payments are handled.
  5. Psychoactive and other medications. There are many medications which create emotional side effects like irritability, depression, or even violence. These effects could definitely harm a marriage, and are pernicious because they are often assigned to other causes.
  6. Attacks on religion. Religions have been the traditional custodians of family values. If this and other benefits of religious communities are overlooked by the secularists, then their push against churches could lead to extensive cultural decay.

Brave new world

Some believe that a techno-space dystopia is inevitable on Earth. This could come to pass.

But it has been noted by researchers like Hubbard that we on Earth are particularly averse to corporate slavery. That is why we are here on Earth and no longer driving space ships around the galaxy. We didn’t agree with the worlds we were kicked out of; why should we be any different now?

In fact, the population seems nearly evenly split. A huge number seem fine with corporate slavery and the “safety” that results, and the rest despise it to varying degrees.

But I think it is safe to say that the corporate bosses will not leave us alone about this. They are too profit-motivated to let an entire planet of 7 billion people do as it pleases. So it looks like we have a fight on our hands.

May your relationships stay strong and your love powerful! We’re going to need it.

When the Bright Moon Rises – A Review

3 March 2021

Here is my review of this book by Dena Merriam which I have just finished reading. The official publishing date of this book is last year (2020) but I just recently received a copy of it from the author (or her friend) on the condition that I would write a review of it when I finished it.

From its first pages (the Dedication) it is obvious that this book will invite the reader to become involved in some of the more esoteric aspects of ancient spiritual wisdom.

After a brief introduction and Between Lives narrative, it launches into the exquisitely emotional story of a woman named Sundari, who lived the younger years of her life in a half-primitive tribal clan in India which was later forced to join the more robust urban culture growing up along the rivers. That culture was attempting to stay true to the sacred teachings known as the Vedas.

Several chapters later the book shifts its focus to its central story, the life of Zong Shu, last wife of famous Tang dynasty poet Li Bai. I knew nothing of Li Bai until I read this book. And I was quite amazed to discover that this man is an actual historical figure, and considerably revered in China to this day. Dena writes as Shu, one of her past lives. Shu was very involved in Daoism, and was mentored by a teacher who, it is later revealed, also played an important part in the life of Sundari.

During her spiritual training, Shu recalls big chunks of her life as Sundari, as well as other lives in China. And so the theme of the book gradually coalesces. The people of India were know as people of the Sun, while the people of China were known as people of the Moon. A central theme of the book is a “wedding” between the Sun and the Moon (Bright Moon), which reflects Dena’s own longing for a reconciliation between the ancient spiritual traditions of India and China, which she feels could carry the whole planet forward towards an age of peace and spiritual enlightenment.

I must emphasize that this book attempts to accurately portray actual past lifetimes of its author. To my knowledge, there are no other authors (of this planet!) writing memoirs of this type. In my mind, Dena is beginning a whole new literary tradition on Earth. Hopefully her stories will not remain the only examples of this tradition!

Yet these stories stand out for their meaning and relevance. They are carefully crafted, and very much seem to be told from the viewpoint of the roles that Dena played as she lived on Earth. Yet, the prose is very consistent. In each story, it is Dena telling us of her own experiences! Though her name changes in each life, she remains the same being, with the same basic approach to life, the same dreams, the same deep ability to love and feel love.

This book is full of spiritual wisdom and full of poetry! It is not a steamy memoir of passionate romantic liaisons. This is a recounting of Dena’s journey towards spiritual knowledge. The method through which Dena recalls her earlier lifetimes is only lightly covered in these stories. But the value of past life memory to self-understanding is obvious and repeatedly demonstrated.

This same lesson that has been passed on to me by my own spiritual teacher. He has in his turn paid homage to both the Vedas and the Dao in his lectures and writings. He dates the Vedas as 8200 years old, which is not that far off from Dena’s estimate of 11,000 years.

There is also value to this book in terms of theological history and understanding. We should bear in mind that Dena’s stories give us insight into how those traditions were taught and used back in those days. She estimates that her lifetime in India happened approximately 3,000 years ago, which is before the time of any extensive use of written language in that region. Thus Dena gives us a window into details of life and thought in those times. Such details are available through no other known research method.

I experienced these stories as very emotionally powerful. And though the power of these stories could be attributed to the literary skills of their author, there is also the factor that they are true stories. For me, truth always gives an edge to a story, an edge difficult to duplicate in fiction.

My personal reactions to these stories

All of Dena’s stories involve the development of extremely strong bonds between people. These are normally experienced as bonds of love. Though there survives to this day folk wisdom concerning how some people seem to be “meant for each other,” Dena’s stories make it clear that this is no mere saying.

Thus, my recent fierce attachment to a woman 40 years my junior might not be totally explained by the fact that she is very pretty. After all, she felt something special for me as well. With Dena’s writings, we get a chance to explore how relationships can develop over many lifetimes. Thus, the emotions connected with such relationships can be totally excruciating, but their power remains mysterious because the earlier sources of those feelings have been forgotten.

In the central story of this book, a very spiritual younger woman falls in love with an older man who, through extensive travel and social interaction, has found a way to express profound spiritual truths through poems about common experience. In my own recent relationships, there have also been age gaps. Yet in my case the personalities seem somewhat reversed. She is the more adventurous one, freely expressing Spirit while hardly being aware of her own considerable wisdom, while I am the home-bound spiritual scholar who has filled his life with deeply-held feelings rather than extensive adventures. I cried many times as I read this story, particularly towards the end when the older man died, forcing the younger woman to carry on without him.

But I also cried over her compelling desire for a new kind of peace among men. A peace that would be based on love rather than “mutual assured destruction.” The wars that occurred in China during the later part of Li Bai’s life nearly destroyed the previous culture, and terrorized an entire generation with the most perverse atrocities imaginable. And so has war continued to be an abomination in the hands of men.

In closing, I might mention an observation made by the author which I believe to be quite valid: She saw the corruption of the early teachings to be due in part to the decreased ability of Earth people to remember with accuracy, and with an overall decline in psychic ability, which together destroyed the workability of oral tradition in times before language technologies were adequate to preserve the teachings in their original form.

She also noticed that the fall of the Tang dynasty in China coincided with the Dark Ages of Europe, suggesting that something happened planet-wide that “polluted” the spiritual abilities of the people of Earth. This idea that some new suppressive force appeared on the scene around that time is supported by other research.

Here I quote Dena from near the end of the book:

Our identities were not confined to Bai and Shu. We were two souls who had a deep connection, a long and charged history behind us, and a path before us that we could not yet see, but one that likely we would each have to walk alone. We didn’t know if we would come together in the future or not, but it didn’t matter. A deep connection once made never dissipates. because it does not operate in the field of time and space.

Dena Merriam. When the Bright Moon Rises; The Awakening of Ancient Memories.

And so it is! She states here a fundamental truth of life and we should heed her words. How many lifetimes have we all been interacting with each other? We are probably all connected with each other to some extent. And that is worth keeping in mind the next time you’re not sure what to think about another person. Perhaps that person was once someone you deeply loved!

Endless Yearning

3 March 2021

Endless my yearning
To be with you in Ch’ang-an.


Faraway, where chirping crickets
thread autumn songs
around the well’s gold rail,
coldly I sit, cramped
on a bamboo mat
crusted with blue frost.

Dim is the light from my only lamp,
darkly ablaze my longing for you.
Lifting the curtain, I stare

hard at the moon.
Helplessly, I sigh and sigh, longing
to smell the flower-scent of a woman
who dwells far from me
as the remotest cloud at sky’s end.

Above, the night climbs
into boundless black.
Below, the river tosses up
billows of darkest green.

Must heaven be so high?
Earth so vast?

Between them, my unfed soul
flies over a road that even in my dreams
is blocked at every mountain pass.

This endless yearning
Breaks my heart!

Li Bai, about 750 A.D. as translated by Stanton Hager in 2018

Seven Daffodils

2 March 2021

Seven golden daffodils, shining in the sun
They light our way to evening, when the day is done
And I can give you music, and a crust of bread
A pillow of piney boughs to rest your head

Limeliters

I Visit My Hometown

26 February 2021

In recent weeks I have made a couple of visits to the Bay Area. They involved multiple facets of experience. Though I live with them all jumbled together (as we all do) I will try here to separate them out a bit.

The trip

Not too long ago, I discovered a commuter bus that makes a few trips each weekday all the way from Sacramento (Amtrak station) to the Pleasant Hill BART station. Connecting to BART then gives me access to a huge region (commonly known as the Bay Area).

Senior fare on the bus is only $2.50. I have taken the early morning bus both times. On the first I was the only passenger out of Sacramento and on the second I was one of two. It picks up a few more at subsequent stops. Coming back around 2:45 in the afternoon, there are usually six or eight. Most of them get off at Fairfield or Vacaville.

At the Pleasant Hill BART station.

The trip takes about 2 hours. It is pleasant, usually. I use the time to read the latest book by Dena Merriam. I have promised her to write a review when I am finished!

A new friend

I have met a woman who lives in Pittsburg. She wanted to meet me in person but can’t drive. So I decided to see how practical it would be to visit her. The entire travel time round trip from my house to her house is about 6 hours. So this is a bit rough for a single-day meeting, but more workable if I can stay overnight.

Parking lot at the Bay Point station where she lives.

My past

I have a lot of emotional attachment to my home town. It is the only place where I have made friendships with girls or women that ever amounted to anything. I feel more “at home” there. Go figure!

Last Friday I visited the place of my birth, 2120 Spaulding. I was surprised to find it under renovation!

A lot of buildings in this area of Berkeley are being preserved, while others have been knocked down and replaced with new construction, often apartments. I found an impression on a sidewalk in the area dated 1922. So many buildings in this area are about 100 years old now.

Fresher in my mind is the time I spent as a boy in the Berkeley Hills. These hills are a prominent visual feature of this area. When I first saw them on the BART before it went underground to go through Berkeley, I cried.

I returned to Berkeley in 1976 and lived there for about 5 years. The BART was running then, and I used it a lot. On this visit, I retraced my steps along the streets I knew so well back then, and thought a bit of the people I used to know.

Skylight in the North Berkeley BART.

I used to shop at the Co-op supermarket. It has now been transformed into a little urban Target…

Next door was the Co-op Credit Union. Now it is a Mexican restaurant where I enjoyed an early lunch of tacos and horchata. I had to eat them outside, but the weather was very nice.

I used to live in an apartment building at 1951 Chestnut. It, too, has been renovated.

I was on the third floor, this side, and had a very nice view of the city. Across the street was a “quadruplex” (four apartments in one building). A memorable event in my early adult Berkeley life was when a new woman moved into the upper right apartment and walked through her new abode clothesless, apparently unaware that she could be seen from my building!

Across the street from my building was the Finnish Hall, and next to it was a house that included a rear separated apartment, not uncommon in these neighborhoods.

This is where my friend Lenora Warkentin (an accomplished flutist) lived. My second girlfriend also played the flute, as have several other girls or women who I have found attractive over the years!

The gardens of Berkeley are know for their exuberant messiness and colors. This is a perfect time of year to catch many flowers blooming. I also saw several hummingbirds.

Eucalyptus flowers.

On this trip I visited Orinda. As children, on our drives through the tunnel to visit the Piersons in Walnut Creek (now Lafayette) we passed by Orinda probably hundreds of times, but never stopped there.

It has a touristy feel to it, yet most people there this day seemed to be locals. The “theater” actually functions as a food court. It is very cute.

I stopped by a Peet’s Coffee to get a sweet snack, and found this display in their store.

“My parents had a Chemex!” I told the barista. He was surprised, and didn’t know the design was that old. It is in fact older than I am, having been invented in 1941.

COVID

The COVID scare hangs over our planet like a dark storm cloud. It seems so out of place in the sunny springtime of my hometown! The population of the planet were set up for this, and most have fallen for the mainstream story hook, line and sinker.

Here a young mom helps her little one play in the park, wearing a mask! This is so unnecessary it almost makes me sick.

Most people in the Bay Area wear masks everywhere. I even saw a young lady out running in a mask! There are signs everywhere stating that this is our civic duty. It reminds me of a notable episode of The Prisoner (TV show) where the hero was being pressured to conform to meaningless “community standards.” Those writers knew what this was all about! They had probably read 1984 (even if I haven’t)!

I have to keep my mask on while on public transportation, so that meant hours wearing the terrible thing while riding the bus and BART. Cruel and unusual punishment.

Expanding slowly into a “new” future

The BART trains are some of the most futuristic transit vehicles I have seen in any western city. Every door is bent to fit the contour of the car, an enormous engineering complication that the Sacramento light rail does not share.

BART has been running long trains every half hour. Sacramento has been running short trains every 15 minutes. I prefer the Sacramento approach. I have not been on BART during rush hour, but it used to be VERY crowded at those times of day.

I am not familiar with BART’s setup, but all these public transit systems are heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and so have the income to employ drivers, mechanics, etc., even though there are practically no riders. This is a very strange situation for me to watch, since it makes so little sense economically, yet I rely on these systems to get around.

Such systems are part of the “new normal” of corporate hegemony on Earth. They (including our governments, which after all are corporations, too, and operate on a similar pattern) invest in what they want to invest in to suit their corporate plans. The population is persuaded to follow along. Like lambs to the slaughter.

More and more land and housing is in corporate hands. My friend lives in relatively new “apartment homes” like those in the photo below. Such large developments are all over the Bay Area.

Spirit sighs

Dena Merriam’s latest book covers four different lifetimes of a woman seeking high spiritual awareness. I am only half way through it.

The first lifetime happens in Vedic India, 900 years BC. Dena is a member of a wild jungle clan that retreats to an urban area in the face of invaders. There she meets a Brahmin who she falls in love with but cannot marry due to his vows of celibacy.

Later she finds herself in China in the 700s, a woman friend of famous Tang poet Li Bai. Li seems to be the reincarnation of the Brahmin she knew 1600 years earlier. In this life she learns all about the Dao. The book then traces her earlier experiences in China.

These stories speak to me! They speak of great longing, great sadness, and great love for self, for another, for children and parents, for community, mankind and the natural world. I have shared bits of these stories with my best friend. She is touched by them, but also confused. Most of us had no idea that our experience could be so vast and varied! I consider this awareness key to solving our problems here on Earth. If the enemies of Spirit can keep this awareness from growing sufficiently here, they will win and have us as their slaves. Although many of us would rebel and move on, it seems clear that large numbers are fully prepared for this “new” form of slavery and are completely willing to embrace it.

And so I sigh!

Reflections off a new building cast a pattern on a neighboring wall.

Pairing Up

17 February 2021

In recent weeks I have been devoting considerable amounts of my time to corresponding online (or by phone chat – same difference) with a variety of women (I hope they’re all women!) in the search for companionship in the face of an enforced loneliness.

On Silver Singles I have met a woman from South Sacramento who hopes to wrap up her regular work in a few more years and buy her own condo. She has actually met with me, but wore a mask the whole time!

I met a woman from Richmond who encouraged me to publish my own book.

I met a woman who thanked me for being honest about the fact that I am a Scientologist, which disqualified me from her list of possibilities.

I met a woman who didn’t want to meet outside because it’s too cold.

On eHarmony I met a Christian woman who finally figured out that I wasn’t a Christian.

I met a hairdresser and artist in Portland who enjoyed reading my blog but wants to stay put so will continue to look for a match closer to home.

And I met a lady who works in HR for UC-Berkeley who enjoys talking with me and really would like to meet, but (like myself) doesn’t drive and is in fact a bit reluctant to go out.

On Age Match I met a young black woman who was born in London but is currently staying with her family in Ghana. She enjoyed reading my blog and directed me to her blog, but we have a hard time staying connected because of the time difference.

I have met several young and middle-aged woman who seem to long for a lasting relationship to replace a previous one that ended poorly. A few of these have become very devoted to us meeting, and call me “honey” or “babe.” But several of them have asked me for money for various reasons, or requested assistance for financial transactions. And others act offended when I tell them that I continue to chat with other women.

I met a woman from Fresno who just likes to get with men for a little sexual fun and has no real need for marriage but is quite willing to speak quite frankly about her sexuality.

I met anther young woman who seems to be stuck in North Carolina caring for her grandmother, surrounded by men who only notice her for her youth and full figure, is financially challenged and just wants to find a way out of her current situation.

Beauty and the beast, a story of the magic in love.

Meeting strangers on the internet

This age of social media has nurtured a culture of online “con artists” who seek to make a living off the gullibility of others.

The basic con follows an age-old pattern: Pretend you are someone you aren’t. Convince the target (“mark” or “stooge”) that you need their help or are offering something of value, obtain money or goods from them, then disappear.

The internet has only made this easier and easier to do.

Thus, the first question most of us have when we meet a stranger online is: Are they who they say they are?

The Profile

All social media accounts include a profile, often including one or more profile pictures. This is where most of us start in our efforts to ascertain if this person is real.

A skimpy, shoddy, brush off or otherwise odd profile is the first sign of an attempt to deceive. The scammer can steal photos and life data from other accounts, or totally steal the account of a real person. The sloppiest profiles remain fairly obvious. An odd name, an age that doesn’t match the face, an obscure location, just a few posts, all made on the same day. A bunch of friends with African names. These are the “hallmarks” of a scammer.

The profiles that seemed more unique, individualistic, and expressive are signs of genuine people.

Language

The next give-away is poor English.

Some scammers seek to explain their poor language skills by claiming they are French, German or Spanish. While this is always a possibility, they are often posing as someone who you would expect to be well-educated, so this excuse can often seem dubious.

They may also ask you questions that make it obvious they did not bother to study your profile.

Projection

Criminals often project without realizing it.

Most criminals lie or act deceptively and are not trustworthy.

They will often claim to you that they have been lied to or mistreated, and that they are not sure they can trust you. They may seek to obtain useful information from you with the excuse that they are doing it to build trust.

They will express fear or suspiciousness at things you do that you consider normal, like the fact that you are not devoting all of your time to them, or in your attempts to verify who they really are.

They may be unwilling to share pictures of the room they live in, or tell you much about their personal lives.

They will probably try to impress you with alluring pictures rather than genuine facts.

They will not be able to refer you to more data about them elsewhere online.

The real need for intimacy

Real people, bless their souls, are quite often willing to share intimate details about their lives online if they trust you to respond with understanding and kindness.

I have learned some truly amazing things from the women I have met online. And so, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, even with the trouble caused by scammers.

Whether I ever meet these girls or not, I like to think that they consider the chance to share some of their life with another person as a valuable experience for them, and I try to make their conversations with me enjoyable and sweet, even educative if they seem open to that.

I mention Scientology to all of my online contacts, and a few of them seem genuinely interested.

On top of that, I have met a few people during this process that I knew earlier in my life and who I was very happy to reconnect with. Some of them say they remember me or that I meant something to them, even though they did not express that back then. And I often have a similar sentiment.

We all have past loves, now lost, and these connections often give us a chance to tell someone those stories. Those of us who are up to the challenge understand the value of this sharing and welcome it. It is only the scammers who may react with shock or jealousy, or the insistence that we put all that behind us.

A clear lesson I have learned is that we bring all our prior loved ones forward with us. We can see them merely as lost opportunities, or we can see them as part of a growing family of spiritual connections that is there to nurture us and keep us strong as we make our ways through life.

Every friendship, no matter how brief, has value. Intimacy with another is almost always worth seeking and is at the core of what we sometimes call “brotherly love.” Don’t shy from it!

A teenage couple cuddle on the train.