Mural by Shaza Khaled and Aliaa El Tayeb, who studied at the Luxor Faculty of Fine Arts. The mural is inspired by a photo-shopped image of a protester in Greece dancing with a ballerina.

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Remaining Human: A Buddhist Perspective on Occupy Wall Street.

They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers. We are awakening from a dream which is turning into a nightmare. We are not destroying anything. We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself. We all know the classic scenes from cartoons. The cat reaches a precipice. But it goes on walking. Ignoring the fact that there is nothing beneath. Only when it looks down and notices it, it falls down. This is what we are doing here. We are telling the guys there on Wall Street – Hey, look down! 
We are awakening from a dream. When the Buddha was asked to describe his experience of awakening he said, “What I have awoken to is deep, quiet and excellent. But,” he continues, “People love their place. It’s hard for people who love, delight and revel in the fixed views and places of absolute certainty, to see interdependence.” –  Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek’s rousing speech at Occupy Wall Street protest

Remaining Human: A Budhist Perspective on Occupy Wall Street is an inspiring article written by .

Stone’s message is an important one. As a student of the dharma, one learns to cultivate the middle way, and part of that is casting a discerning, questioning eye over one’s own views, intentions and actions. It is easy to let passions run amok and cloud vision and judgement. As the Buddha once said, “what you think you become”. Unchecked anger becomes violent action and is met with anger and violent resistance. We’ve seen in the past how the important issues which protesters seek to bring to light can get over-shadowed by unchecked passions and unskilful actions. As we all know, the media/news loves drama, and what could be more dramatic than a protest which erupts into violence. If this happens politicians will seize upon the opportunity provided by the unruly mob to shift attention from the important issues which people are trying to raise through their right to peaceful protest, and the core message will be lost in a media feeding frenzy of sensationalism and spin.

That is not to say that passions should be suppressed. More skilfully guided, and creatively employed. Occupy Wall Street, and other recent inspired expressions of the people’s voice (Cairo, Egypt. Where the people refused to pushed to violence. Patience, peace and unity won the day) have been victories for just such an approach. Keeping the right attitude is so important. Just as unchecked anger will spread and multiply, so too will a balanced and peaceful, skilful, determined and creative attitude. Through these means the people will begin to awaken from the dream to the reality of the situation. As Stone writes in his piece,  Enlightenment is not personal; it’s collective. There is the tale of the rampaging elephant who is subdued by the Buddha’s unwavering light of peace and compassion. This truth will spread. Through unity and solidarity these skilful means can have the most potent effect, and once the ball starts rolling along the right path, momentum will build and no obstruction will stop its progress.

Remaining Human: A Budhist Perspective on Occupy Wall Street

Block the Bridge, Block the Bill!

This Sunday, thousands of protesters organised by UK uncut, including everyone from Labour MPs to union members, health service officials, doctors, and the angry public, will join together to block traffic on Westminster Bridge, in a symbolic and powerful effort to show the Governement just how angry we are. I cannot think why the whole country wont turn up, there are free coaches to london, so if you are still umming and ahhing, get on it. This is crucial to the future of our nation’s health. Everyone should be there, no matter what their political leaning. We are all subject to illness, accident, to bad luck. Imagine if the cost of a simple operation left you unable to pay the rent? Doctors in York are already telling patients that they must go private for small operations- and this is just the beginning. See details of the event on the UK uncut website Another excellent article with alot of information about the bill and why this protest is so important is on the excellent website ‘left foot forward’

Perhaps a lot of us don’t realize how lucky we are…  In America, a friend of mine was sent home from hospital with meningitis  because she could not afford medical bills. If you check out the tumblr for ‘We Are the 99%‘ , it soon becomes clear that many of those in the states suffering with poverty, illness and debt, are in these situations due to ill-health, where treatment incurs huge costs, where healthcare is for profit. Four years ago my best friend, who contracted cancer in her 20s, was operated on by the NHS, and her life was saved. Though already a massive advocate of free healthcare, I think it was this that solidified my absolute dedication to saving the service. But we all have stories to tell. Anyone who is not panicking about this should think for a moment about all the people they know that might not be around if it weren’t for a free healthcare system. Did you have a problematic birth? Have you ever been to hospital? Even tonsillitis can kill if untreated. Today, I have a broken foot, in need of operation, which has been ignored by my local health service, whose stretched budget does not allow for such ‘unecessary’ operations to take place.

We already have massive corrupt pharmaceutical corporations, and branded drugs, and look what profit has done to that system… Why do we consume so many mind-numbing anti-depressants and tranquilizers these days? They are, of course, heavily marketed. Ever noticed the brand-name on your GPS mouse-mat? Eli Lily perhaps? Seroquel? If the NHS is opened up for profit, then morality goes out the window. It will no longer be a system to care for the nation’s health, but like everything else in this corrupt nightmare of super-capitalism, it will be run for the monetary gain of shareholders. So those expensive chemotherapy drugs you need for your metastatic cancer? Not available, bad for business. As to those unhealthy and unnecessary brain-scans- you will be told you need more, as they can make a huge profit on them. Granted, I see the system of profit as flawed at it’s base. But a healthcare system for profit? The word evil springs to mind. And I take issue with that word.

When the right wing press and the British Medical Association are both disgusted at these changes, with the BMA stating ”the BMA still believes the Bill, as it currently stands, poses an unacceptably high risk to the NHS in England.” we must panic, we must hit the streets. There is so much to protest at the moment, the world is angry, with protests in America, Greece, the Middle East, all over Europe. We must stay strong and show our power, peacefully, but loud as we can, and in unforeseen numbers. We ARE the 99%. 99% of nearly 7 billion people is a crap-load of energy, a mass of voices, a mass of labour, of potential ‘money’, that if withheld will bring down that one percent of amoral cunts who believe they can play with our futures like this. We dd not vote for this. Hell- the majority of this country actually voted for left-leaning parties! Flaws in our democratic system aside- these reforms were NOT in the manifesto of either the LibDems or the vile Tories. In fact, we are happier with our health service then we have ever been. Big business, once again, is proven to own our governments. The conservatives stand to gain from this sell-off, with rich owners of private health services donating to their party. Surprised? I wasn’t. But I am certainly angry.

I will be reporting back on Monday when I return. If you have the time, and you aren’t going yet, get on it. Your lives, the lives of your loved ones, are at stake.

Happy Meals for the Taliban


Strike action on June 30th

I have posted this 3 times using my other internet alter-ego- but it keeps being deleted… Time for a bit of redeye action for this infrequent but angry blogger… I have been censored on my favorite social network (again) so it looks like the government is worried about this Thursday. I am pretty sure I will be so busy moving house on this day that I will be unable to make any of it, but for those that can- here is the info for Leeds…

Picket lines
30th June, 6:30am – 10am
There will be picket lines all over the city – outside schools, colleges, universities and government buildings like job centres and courts. Loads of people will be visiting these picket lines to show their support, feel free to join in. If you’re not sure where to go then head Leeds Met Student Union on Woodhouse Lane from 7am, where there’ll be information about activity across the city.

30th June, 11:30am outside Leeds Met Student Union on Woodhouse Lane
Route yet to be announced, but it will be marching through town down to the rally at City Square. The demonstration will raise awareness about the stikes and be an opportunity to take the anti-cuts message out onto the streets.

30th June, 12pm at City Square
Hosted by the striking unions, the rally will have anti-cuts speakers from across the movement. is a website for the movement which has additional information for folk across the country.

Anyone who uses the health service, anyone who has children in school, anyone who has been affected by the recession and the greed of the rich should be there to support our public sector workers… basically everyone who can be there, should be there. Lets show these bastards what we’re made of!

On Zen & The Ego

A Lotus Mandala

Being an “atheist”, can one also be spiritual? What does spiritual mean? Believing in Spirits? What is a spirit? A zest? A power force? An energy? Something undefinable that just is?

From my perspective there are two sides of us. There is the ego; the analytical voice inside your head, that is constantly chattering away, trying to make sense of “things”. But what is a “thing”? A thing is a concept, an idea, a construct of the ego. In reality, there are no single things, but one single thing; everything. A single thing which is everything and everyone. A single energy which flows and manifests itself in various guises, but which is essentially, all one and the same.

The ego, the thinking mind tries to grasp this as a concept, but the limitations of language, measuring, defining, make it impossible to grasp or to possess with/by thoughts alone. Like a scientist in a lab inspecting something through a microscope we only see a tiny detail at any one time, the thinking mind, the ego, works in a linear way, in a micro sense rather than a macro. To experience the macro level of all things, you must stop thinking, ignore the ego and see it for what it is, simply another manifestation of the single energy. You must see it as another sound just like the rustling of the leaves or the birds singing. The point is to experience the energy that not only surrounds you, but is you. You are a part of it all. What you see is what you are.

I am no Zen master. If I were I would not be using words in this fashion to try to define the undefinable. The whole point of Zen, is to show one the limitations of thinking, language, measuring, analysing. How can you describe the macro in micro terms? You’d be here forever. The many manifestations of this single energy force are infinite; this leads to this leads to this leads to this, and so on, forever. Our egos are all specialists specialising in a particular field, a particular micro at any one time. Everything is simply a part, a component, a happening, of the single expanding mandala or fractal, and as we know, a fractal is an infinite complexity.

There is only the now. The Now is infinity. Trying to capture that with the finite mind/ego is futile. The past is merely a memory, the future an expectation. There has only ever been “now”.

I’m not saying that there is no place for the ego. The ego after all is as much a part of all this as anything else. You can’t have the macro without the micro, just as you can’t have white without black or cold without hot, smooth without rough, something without nothing, they are all sides to the same coin. They cannot exist separately without one-another. You can’t have a front without a back. What I am saying is that there is a time for the ego and a time for the non-ego. Also, it is good to see the ego for what it is, once you realise that you are not only your ego, but everything else, when you truly see this it comes as a great relief.

Alan Watts is the person I have to thank for putting what I felt at my core, a fundamental truth into words and “thoughts”. He really did have a talent for defining the undefinable. To me he speaks/spoke an ultimate logic.

I’ll leave you with some words from my personal guru and favourite entertainer, Alan Watts.

Saturn’s Hexagon

Above is a short clip from a documentary I saw on the planet Saturn, well the US version anyway.

Obviously Saturn’s most famous and predominant feature, its rings, are very fascinating. What they comprise of, pondering their possible origins (moon collisions!), how long they’ll last, etc., etc. All really interesting stuff, but the thing which most intrigued me in the documentary I saw the other night–so much so that I felt compelled to share it here–was a feature of the planet I hadn’t been aware of prior to watching the film.

In 1979 scientists, via Voyager, discovered a perfect, stationary hexagon the size of four Earths on Saturn’s north pole. Then in 2006 the Cassini-Huygens craft, using superior imaging technology, confirmed it was still there. It’s origins, what exactly the hexagon is, how it’s formed, remain somewhat of a mystery apparently. However, I’m sure I’m not going too far out on a limb by subscribing to one theory I’ve encountered; that it’s maybe got something to do with Saturn’s rotational forces around the axis, and how that effects/reacts with the planet’s storm/weather patterns with regards particular angles and velocities of jet streams. I’ve posted the video of the Oxford university experiment I’m referring to at the bottom of this post, along with the info pertaining to it. There are major gaps in the experimenters’ fledgling theory, like what produces the jet streams with the exact angular velocity required to create the astonishing effect? and why only the north pole? Has it also something to do with the convergence of magnetic fields at the polar region? Theoretical conundrums aside (well, included actually. The mystery of it all, the hidden workings behind it, is perhaps the main attraction), aesthetically speaking, the perfect, six-sided giant polygon of Saturn, and its miniature re-recreated counterpart in the lab experiment, are a treat for the eyes and the mind.

Physicists Ana Claudia Barbosa Aguiar and Peter Read of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom performed the experiment depicted in this video. Using a 30-liter cylinder of water placed on a slowly rotating table they created an artificial “jet stream” by employing a much smaller and much faster rotating ring inside the main cylinder. By introducing fluorescent dye into the artificial “jet stream” they discovered that stable eddies formed and became stronger over time eventually forming stable regular polygonal shapes with each eddy located at a vertex. Also, in varying the rate of rotation of the large cylinder with respect to the small ring, they discovered that the larger the relative difference in rotation rates the less sides the resulting polygon had.

The experimenters postulate that a similar process is occurring on Saturn where the cylinder would be analogous to Saturn’s rotation and the “jet stream” would be analogous to an actual jet stream with an angular velocity greater than that of the planet’s rotation. It is still unknown what exactly would generate such a jet stream and especially one at just the right angular velocity to produce a hexagon.

Egypt Sentences Blogger to 3 Years

There follows a link to a New York Times article about an Egyptian blogger said to be the ‘first prisoner of conscience in Egypt after the revolution,’ The blogger, Maikel Nabil, 25, was sentenced to 3 years for criticizing the military, nothing else, and his views were of pacifism- he was also a conscientious objector and campaigner against conscription. Nothing he was charged with would be legal under democratic law.

Read more in The New York Times


Someone introduced me to the AdBlock browser extension the other day, it’s 100% free and it actually works really effectively. You don’t notice it in action until you go onto a webpage which would normally have a load of adverts (like a video file hosting site for example) and there is just a mass of beautiful blank space where the ad banners usually are!

You may know about it, or another similar browser extension already, but it was news to me that one could be free and work so effectively! So I felt compelled to share it. It’s improved my surfing experience no-end.

Firefox AdBlock
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