“If Americans Want To See the Devil, Let Them See”
Martin LeFevre: After the FBI deflected from their own negligence in the Parkview Florida school slaughter by indicting 13 Russians on Friday for interfering in the presidential election, and after President Trump used the FBI admission that it “dropped the ball” to deflect from his own ongoing malfeasance, a high level Russian said it best: “If Americans want to see the devil, let them see.” ... One of the best studies of good and evil by an American writer is Herman Melville's novella, "Billy Budd." ... Rife with Christian symbolism of the fall of Adam and the crucifixion of Christ, Billy Budd is nonetheless a subtle philosophical treatise on the nature and operation of good and evil in man....
Feb 19, 2018, 4:26pm
America Has Become a Landscaped War Zone
Martin LeFevre: Images of immense pain and sorrow on the faces of high school students in Florida in the wake of another maelstrom of violence and bloodshed in America keep coming to mind and heart. ... America is also rotten to the core, and until that fact is faced, this shit is going to continue. If you need any further evidence that this is a benighted land, consider the words of some of the students who knew the killer: "A lot of kids joked around, saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. It turns out everyone predicted it." ... Contrast these comments from students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with those of parents and teachers, who insisted they were living the "very residential, very safe and wonderful community" of Parkland, Florida. ... This complete contradiction and disconnect describes the condition of the culture, the Grand Chasm between what young people know and view as normal, even joke about, and the truth that adults refuse to admit and face and act upon...
Feb 15, 2018, 4:00pm
Why 'Changemakers' Have Changed Nothing
Martin LeFevre: Though it may be part of human nature to try to have things both ways, adults with any maturity realize we cannot. ... In simple but not simplistic terms, Americans can be described as a people that have been raised to believe that not only can they have things both ways; it's their right. That's why even highly educated people in this land fail to develop an ear and eye for contradiction. ... The social entrepreneur con and conceit has an existential contradiction at its core: You can be both part of the mass, and be your own person, an individual. ... The word 'individual' means 'not divided.' What we are, and what society values, are dividuals, not individuals. An individual stands alone and is undivided...
Feb 13, 2018, 4:25pm
Calling Out Evil
Martin LeFevre: Nikola Tesla is rolling over in his grave. Tesla was an even greater inventive genius than Edison. He wanted to provide the world with free energy. A few days ago an odiferous capitalist named Elon Musk launched a "Tesla" on a permanent orbit around the sun. ... In the first place, it's astoundingly anthropocentric to speak of "the Earth's future" when we're actually confronting Humanity's future in the present. And it's mind-bogglingly obtuse to speak of "tomorrow's world" when the man-made ecological crisis is a real and present danger. Have these people ever heard of the Sixth Extinction? ...
Feb 10, 2018, 4:47pm
Putting First Things First
Martin LeFevre: I dislike the term 'mystical experience.' What happens in the brain during meditative states is neither mystical, nor an experience. It's an event, a phenomenon that's new each time. ... The brain has the capacity of gathering, through passive observation, attention that is quicker than thought. Attention then acts on thought, without will, effort or concentration, quieting the mind. That's all. This can happen with anyone, if you understand how to observe without interference and choice...
Feb 7, 2018, 3:18pm
We Are Humanity
Martin LeFevre: Humanity is in real and present danger, not the American republic. For "our descendants enjoy healthy lives aware of their place in this wild thing we call nature," we have to cease seeing nature as a thing. Thought makes things, not nature. That's not a semantic difference, but an existential distinction. ... What is sufficient to change the disastrous course of humankind, which is destroying the earth and the human potential in equal measure? A psychological revolution obviously, but what does that mean? ... It means a creative explosion on a global scale, even greater than the regional creative explosions that occurred around the same time in ancient Greece and India...
Feb 3, 2018, 5:55pm
The Moon and Mind Emerging From Eclipse
Martin LeFevre: Though more than half of the moon's face was still blood red, the whiteness of its left side grew before one's eyes as the earth's shadow passed over our lifeless sister sphere. It was a stunningly beautiful, reverential moment. ... These are the moments that matter most in life. ... What is the self then? The self is the mud and debris of memory and experience in the stream that sees itself as separate from the stream. It can become so thick as we age that it chokes off the current. Access to the cleansing movement of life then becomes completely obstructed. ... That's what is happening to human consciousness...
Feb 1, 2018, 3:33pm
Il Duce Lives!
Martin LeFevre: Watch any five minutes of President Trump's State of the Union Speech on YouTube, and you'll agree that he channeled Mussolini for the entire address. From the fixed, jutting chin and upturned head, to the arrogant nodding to his own xenophobic lines, to the hideous, degenerate mouth, to his hollow clapping throughout the speech, the clownish Trump aped the clownish Mussolini. It was evil reincarnate. America, which once "lit up the entire world," now darkens it beyond measure. ... In America, individualism has produced a moribund culture and country, which the Republicans in turn exploit with a patina of patriotism. ... What does "fundamental change" really mean? ... To emotionally perceive the world as a human being, rather than as a member of any ethnic, religious or national group...
Jan 31, 2018, 10:13am
Facing Misogyny, and Misandry
Martin LeFevre: Truth be told, men are the weaker sex. About a generation ago, right around the time the USSR collapsed externally and the US collapsed internally, American men quit on life en masse. Women, not having that option, had to step into the vacuum left by so-called male leadership. ... About 15 years ago, I asked a well-known poet in town if she agreed with the old expression from anthropology, "women are the culture bearers." She said she did. I asked whether she agreed that this is a dead culture. She said yes. ... Power is not a given, any more than domination by men or women is a given. The infinite frontier is not outer space, but inner space. It cannot be 'conquered' however, only continuously learned about through abiding self-knowing.
Jan 29, 2018, 2:26pm
Redwoods Without Me
Martin LeFevre: Redwoods don't normally grow in this part of California, and who knows how many decades ago this little group was planted. ... The soft, stringy bark of the redwoods was pleasing to touch and smell as the rain fell. Man is an arboreal species, and for millions of years, even long after we began to walk on two feet, we slept in the trees, and found safety in them. ... Man is a very cunning animal, but he is not intelligent. Intelligence has nothing to do with smarts, much less cunning. Intelligence is completely beyond thought. Indeed, the more thought, the less intelligence. ... Why, if the evolution of symbolic thought gave the brain the capacity for conscious awareness of the cosmic mind, is thought such an impediment to total awareness, and illumination so difficult and rare?...
Jan 27, 2018, 4:09pm
Can the UN Be Saved?
Martin LeFevre: There are obviously many questions that need to be resolved, beginning with: Is domination a given in relationship? Is power a given in human affairs? Can human beings begin to move beyond power and domination, and create a true world order after the present international order completely collapses? ... Clearly, the United Nations can only remain relevant if it acquires greater lawmaking and law-enforcing international capability. But can the UN be reformed, much less have the kind of authority over 'sovereign states' that would be necessary to bring about a workable world order? ... The United States has made itself irrelevant, but it is not too late for the UN, though it has to be philosophically superseded and politically augmented by a genuinely global consultative body of great moral suasion...
Jan 25, 2018, 5:47pm
Touchstones Through the Fog
Martin LeFevre: Though the fog hadn't burned off as it neared mid-afternoon, I hiked up-canyon beside the same stream that runs through town. The path is named the "Yahi Trail," after the indigenous people who made this area their home until they were exterminated, relocated or assimilated. ... Are the spirits of native peoples who lived on earth still present? Did the land they love absorb their essence, so that anyone with sensitivity can feel something of them? ... This dark globalizing culture is not what the intelligence of the universe wants for human beings. There must be a revolution in people's hearts and minds that changes the disastrous course of humankind, or the human spirit will become as denuded as man is making the earth...
Jan 22, 2018, 3:42pm
When a Great Nation Loses Its Soul
Martin LeFevre: A long-time friend of this column in Tanzania, where 'Meditation' appeared for 15 years until the Arusha Times went under in 2016, emailed me a heart-wrenching question. ... "Martin, Thursday January 11, 2018 President Trump described Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as "shithole countries" in a meeting with lawmakers in the White House. From your view Martin, "Why has Trump decided to describe those countries as "shithole countries"? ... I doubt I can convey to someone in Canada, much less a young man in Tanzania, why President Trump called African and other countries "shitholes." Before I make the attempt however, I want to apologize on behalf of all Americans for this vile and deeply hurtful remark by our venal and vicious president...
Jan 18, 2018, 3:38pm
Chaos: Reaction or Response?
Martin LeFevre: "This Is Not A Drill." No, it's not. This is what chaos feels like. The fact that so many people ran for their lives in terror in Hawaii on Saturday at a mistaken nuclear missile alert attests to how volatile the world is. ... While nation-states play their deadly games, and "the sole remaining superpower" descends to the level of reality TV (except that the adolescent in the White House is playing with nukes), the question becomes, what are ordinary human beings to do? ... It is to respond rather than react. To understand the difference, it's necessary to deal with the anxiety that now permeates human consciousness...
Jan 15, 2018, 4:03pm
On Death Without Dying, and Dying Without Death
Martin LeFevre: Time is a psychological construct, a product of the continuity of thought. With the spontaneous ending of thought in inclusive, effortless attention, time ends. ... And when thought-time ends, the division between life and death also ends. Then there is experiencing of the inseparable actuality of death, without fear or morbidity. ... Is the fear of death inherent in the evolution of symbolic thought? ... These questions pertain to the mystery of man's incorrigibility. But that too has its limits, since the growing momentum of man-made darkness has become synonymous with consciousness as we know it...
Jan 14, 2018, 11:35am