Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Further proof

That the frontlines of the War on Terror in the West lie in a nexus of Britain and Pakistan, helping spread al-Qaeda viral ideology. Also the most dangerous place for Americans--as these are British citizens who can easily fly/come to the US.

[Further proof that the notion that non-state actors are always supported by the state and therefore the state should be be pre-emptively changed--we're not invading Britain anytime soon I think].

Story here.

This attack was meant to replicate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's tactics in Iraq--interestingly not bin Laden/Zawahiri. i.e. to videotape executions and post them on the web. In this case of a Muslim police officer, meant to send the signal--again this is pure Zarqawi--that any alliance with infidels makes a Muslim kuffar and therefore open to attack.

The Brits again--like in the foiled airline terror bombing--show their years of dealing with domestic terrorism, aka IRA and Orange Prot. militant groups, has given them smarts about how to deal with these threats.


A helpful practice I've found for awakening to the authentic self is a variant on the Big Mind process. I sit, let everything rest, and then repeat slowly: I am the Authentic Self. And then look and feel into the space, see if anything changes.

From my experiences through EC, I can re-recognize the "return" of the space-identity through this process. I don't want it to sound gimmicky, it's more a mantra and a sign of surrender.

From the Dept. of WTF?

From AP:

Lavender and tea tree oils found in some shampoos, soaps and lotions can temporarily leave boys with enlarged breasts in rare cases, apparently by disrupting their hormonal balance, a preliminary study suggests.
But the growth goes away if the oils are discontinued.

Carbon tax

Interesting carbon tax proposal in LATimes today. [One of the co-authors is the founder of, how weird is that?].

Here's the proposal in short form:

By many estimates, a tax of about 27 cents for each gallon of fuel consumed and $30 per ton of carbon dioxide from electricity generated would be enough to an economy in which pollution is essentially rewarded to one that rewards clean technologies. This amounts to about $180 billion a year, less than 1% of the $17-trillion U.S. economy. Our carbon tax proposal is based on the principle that every consumer of fossil-fuel energy should have to pay the price of getting rid of the carbon generated by burning it. So the owner of a gasoline-powered Hummer who drives it 10,000 miles a year would pay $200 a year, and a Prius driver would pay $50. The carbon tax also would be imposed on gas or oil used to heat homes. But energy sources that don't generate carbon (such as wind, solar and other renewable resources) would not be taxed; instead, producers could sell emissions credits to carbon polluters.

The key to the plan is market based incentives. The tax money will not go to the government but to the populace:

But instead of going to the Treasury, the tax money would be credited into individual "energy savings accounts." Each taxpayer could decide how best to spend it to reduce carbon emissions, to benefit himself and the planet. You could use your $555 toward installing solar panels on your roof, cutting your electricity bill to zero. Or you could direct your tax money to a charity that plants fast-growing trees at the equator, or to a private company that would suck up the carbon in the atmosphere and sequester it under the ocean floor. You could pool your "cooling tax" money with your neighbors and build a windmill to supply your town with electricity or a plant to supply you with a non-carbon alternative to gasoline.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

authentic selves--from within

In the continuing thread on some of the proto third-tier intuitions, a few attempts at description from within.

But again, I want to emphasize this is not my "average" mo in life. Right now in fact, as I've mentioned before, I'm struggling mightily just with day to day existence. Feels like an extra weight--regular things seem more draining than usual, don't bounce back as quickly as normal, etc.

Much of that pain comes from the inability to live with the ambiguity of all these experiences, selves, and daily necessities in the "real" world. Like anything my very limited exposure down some of these roads has freed up certain energies but in other ways only made life more strange and difficult.

In fact, part of the stress I think is that I just want to get some of this down and be done with it.

It's really fascinating to me how words (signifiers) actually line up with signifieds (the actual experiential referent)--or they don't in many cases. You hear words differently, the same words in many cases, mean something deeply different. Deeply meant to refer to depth.

This paradox is at the core of the entire mystery of life. Why is it we don't hear the truth until we are ready to hear it? How do we go from not being ready to being ready? How is it that you water the plant, give it sun, clear the weeds, and yet......without warning a bud. None of that has made the thing grow. It is the case but there is no explanation as to why it is this way.

Same with this process. These words are useless and possibly even worse when they do not line up with their state and/or stage referent. And once a person has reached that address they don't need these descriptors. So it doesn't work for those who aren't there, nor for those who already are. So in a sense, why even speak? Because somehow (I sense) this is like the watering and gardening. It's the best we can do, but by itself it is null.

So this authentic self experience. One thing to note (address-wise) is that one can have a state at any level. Anyone can go to an enlightened communication (EC) gathering and experience an altered state at whatever level in whatever lines.

EC is the practice of speaking about the arising of the space between individuals as it is occurring. That is why it is so difficult at first to discipline oneself to continue to pay attention to the space between not what is going on in the subjective stream at any moment. Nor to refer to other outside readings or insights that the state may spark for other contexts. Those are very tempting to add but for the time of the practice they are barred.

When people begin to follow this procedure, there is a feeling of immediate knowledge whether anything said is in or out of that state and a realization that the others who are "in" (this is very crude language I apologize) know what is said from the space or not.

There is a way of being together that humans do not otherwise practice in my experience. The egoic field is deeply cleansed and the weighed down feeling of life is gone. The histories, the conditions of small s selves dissipates for the time and you see people with their egos dropped. They sit, speak, look different. It is an amazingly humbling experience; one of deep love.

The first feeling usually of this state is a profound release of self-contraction and a corresponding excitation and fascination with life. So much inertia, pain, confusion dissolves and there is this intense alighting of the self. Words thrown around are surge, ecstasy, etc. For the first while the feeling itself could be very addicting and goofily blissing out. The sense is almost of being on top of the world, almost bobbing above Life, and this strong current of Descent and desire to Participate, which I had never experienced prior to this.

Ideally there is a balance between the Freedom (the resting) and the Fullness (the fiery release), but it did seem at some points there was more fire than resting in the space from which it arose--and contractions and possible problems around that I imagine.

But again that is "just" a state.

It only really hits its stage, its true location, in the color scheme around late indigo or violet. [This is Wilber's pov on the matter as well. The Authentic Self=Nondual state plus 3rd tier stage].

Then the issue ceases more and more to be about the state, about the release. For one thing, the comedown, in my experience, is often extremely painful. After having experienced even just an hour of being with human beings with the egos dropped together, the veils torn between us, then this world and its interactions become infinitely more painful. You know that they don't have to be this way and how limited and contracted, how pathetic in ways they really are--compared that is to our identity beyond all this history, trauma, and drama.

It is impossible to say what/who "you" are at that moment, but it is not Such and Such a person, born this date, who has X job, wife/husband, kids, belongs to xyz organization, religion, political party, all the nonsense, all the dead things we spend our lives defining ourselves as and talking about.

A fluidity opens up. In the inspeak, this is being on the edge, the edge of evolution. The Kosmos is everything that has every occurred plus this moment (which is free and creative). The authentic self lives in and for that moment of creativity--hence the paradoxical simultaneous feeling of freedom and eternity (no past/history) AND fullness and embodied time speeding up (Eros).

This fluidity is the simplicity beyond complexity that Juma mentioned in his comment to the previous post. And as I mentioned before, I am seeking a way to normalize this identity--not create a heroic spiritual mythos around it, emphasize power and agency in it, and exclude the self.

To be in this Self and live in the muck, it being profoundly beautiful and yet average as average can be. I highly recommend reading JWood's comment to the previous post. He says it better than I can.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Iran and Saudi Arabia in Lebanon (for peace?)

Interesting story on Iran and Saudi Arabia working together to stabilize Lebanon. This is exactly what Bush should be promoting. It is only happening as a result of it being clear the US is going to be pulling out the region and taking a hit (though remaining a major player just no longer THE player) status wise.

It also is a result of the demise of Hussein who was the bulwark the Saudis hated but cynically employed to keep Iran away.

The possible deal-breaker? Syria. The issue being of course the UN Tribunal over the murder of Lebanese Rafik Hariri.

As I said before, Syria needs to be worked on Golan Heights with Israel so they have some buy-in to this new collective emerging. The Saudis work Fatah and Hamas (Iran could be brought in on this as well), while the Saudis and Iranians are funding a civil war/sides in Iraq, the Saudis support the US isolation of Iran, US works to pry Syria away from Iran, use Iran to block Syria in Lebanon.

This is the one right piece of Rumsfield's make the problem everybody else's problem. Play all 9 sides five different ways in four different combinations.

authentic self (con't)

A first (very rough) hash, fleshing out some of the details of what in another I called the authentic third-tier. This language and ideas/experiences that grow out of the sphere of Andrew Cohen's teachings.

So, a true but partial--from my pov--on the teachings. In later posts, I'll try to explain more the inside the feeling, markers as I've come to be aware of them--which I have to say is very basic. Dependable I believe but very basic.

In other words, the teaching involves certain key terms which in the context of Kosmic Addresses, I have experienced---even if as I'll show below my interpretation/understanding of them is different in significant ways. I find that they truly do ex-ist in the Kosmos. [Which is an entirely different matter than a psychological read on the community dynamics. That analysis is important, but different from the one I'm interested in for the moment.]

The true but partial is only on the teachings themselves. Again I want to stress this is very much my own interpretation based out of my reflection from a whole series of experiences and philosophical-religious streams. This is not "orthodox" Cohenism. Just my own ramblings.

The True:
--There is an Authentic Self: which is the self-identity that takes shape somewhere around violet, for lack of a better term. Very generically, third-tier.
--This identity is something like a Soul-identity. A soul-level as a stage not a state.
--The Authentic Self when awakes inherently is interested in evolution, seeks out others of the same ilk (intersubjective strong).
--It is not the same as traditional state forms of enlightenment (e.g. Zen, Dzogchen, sahaj samadhi).
--This shift does have a feeling of being from life lived as bottom-up to top-down.
--When these Authentic selves get together and converse, there is a so-named enlightened form of communication, where there is a feeling of what I call One-Networked Mind. Not One Mind, not some Super Monad uber alles, but One-Network that all minds can choose to plug into and connect in. The knowing that occurs here (relative to Soul analogies) is non-rationalistic reflexive. It is more than not less so. Not ir but trans-rational.

The Partial:
--That this Authentic Self is impersonal (as opposed to trans-personal).
--That the I becomes the We. A new I/We arise together. Not One Mind (Super-We) but One-Network.
--The ego is to be caged.
--The re-hanging that occurs in the Top-Down shift is complete and therefore no shadow work ever to be done.
--Following on last point: no use of lines. (Shift is always partial).
--That the traditional enlightenment scheme gets thrown out altogether (as opposed to supplemented).
--That this Authentic Self is only interested in evolution. Emphasis on only. And that interest taken to be always active. What I see as the Masculine version of the Authentic Self absolutized as the only manifestation of it.
--No relativization of its awareness. The third-tier is not built technologically yet, so consciousness development beyond techno-economic (right-hand) becomes isolated communities of practicioners who if they fool themselves lose touch with the reality of how quickly change will take place, naive, self-righteous etc.
--There are stages beyond this.

In other words, AC describes his position as transcend and exclude. That's third-tier transcend and then exclude everything below. In this context, I'm trying to flesh out and experience within myself--my own spiritual practice such as there is one in my life--what Authentic self transcend and include would be.

That is the essential cleavage--all other differences are just modifications of that basic one.

So an old argument is whether integral (for now let's say Wilberian) transcends and includes Cohen or vice versa? My answer is both, depending on what we are describing. The integral self-identity is centauric. Even when it is an "enlightened" centaur (or mermaid as my girl likes to say)--i.e. 2nd-tier structure stage with deep state-stage realization, it is deeply limited and limiting.

The Authentic Self opens up vistas, awarenesses, and insights that do not ex-ist in the integral sphere. Period. That is my assertion. My suggestion is take up the practice/inquiry, meditate about it, and see. Otherwise my words are meaningless pro or con.

On the other hand, the authentic self space is deeper but has less span. In fact, little to no real span at all--why it is so hard to describe. For work in the world, 3rd-tier isn't necessary. 2nd-tier is. It is has a span and practices that can do things in this world those spiritual teachings can not. Spiral Dynamics and Integral are promoted in WIE? Magazine, so that is a start anyway I guess. But if those simply stay as 3rd person systems to learn and not made operating systems in oneself, then they are useless as well.

Transformation alone is a form of fundamentalism. There is up, sideways, and below: transformation, translation, and embrace.

My close friend says there the spiritual life is three fulcrums (3 f's): freedom, fullness, and flavor.

Freedom comes from awakening to the Absolute. Or enlightenment (enlightened consciousness) as traditionally understood, e.g. Heart Sutra. The identity before/beyond space-time, birth & death, the cycle, etc.

Fullness is the Embodiment of that Freedom in Form. Evolution + Enlightenment brings a new understanding of Form and therefore (in that context) one can say enlightenment evolves. Wilber & Cohen, whatever any other faults, I've learned this from them.

Flavor is our unique manifestation of these in the world. The focus on impersonality and transcend and exclude destroys this. It undermines shadow work which I think is always necessary. Flavor would include higher gears of types, traits, and the rest.

One tentative (very tentative) postulation that my friend and I have reached is that in the authentic self, the flaws of the vehicle from a self pov get transmuted. As a Christian I symbolized this as the Risen Christ with Crucifixion Marks, which a la Doubting Thomas, become places of healing and connection not fear and pain any longer.

As to my own example of this as an adopted child I've struggled deeply with what one author calls "The Primal Wound"--the ripping away physically and psychically from the mother. It does not define who I am but it does color every aspect of my personality. Sometimes positively sometimes negatively. And no matter how much therapy is to be done on it (and some is always needed) it will never actually be healed completely.

That fear, the loss of the mother, the feelings of rejection and shame that arise from that, in my experience of this "3rd-tier" identity, becomes interestingly a much more a sense of fearlessness about rejected. Because, the logic seems to be, if you have already been rejected by the most primal of bonds, what does it matter if others reject you? It can't really be worse than your mother?

Out front like that in life, it becomes more a place of invitation.

Again, not every one has to be that dramatic sounding, but I think there may be some type of logic in the structure that carries out a similar plan through different lives. Again, it's a very tentative hypothesis.

But either way, the Flavor notion is a real launching pad I believe.

Aurobindo said when the Psychic Being (the authentic self) awakens, it does the yoga. The Flavor I think is somehow the creative re-imagining and re-calibration and re-use of the self (little s) by this newer S/self (middle class S--if there was one. Capital S is the Great SELF, Atman. So maybe self, Self, and SELF?). The pains and traumas of the little s open up and take on different meaning. So far as I can interpret my experience on this and the reflections of others.

My path, such as it is, in the process of forming is more in this line currently in my life:
--How to recognize this so-called authentic self in self and others. Put crudely, when am I in and when am I out?
--How to support it in life, particularly outside the context of a spiritual community/teacher.
--What to do with "it" beyond the state?
--What is the flavor, how is that a key to discernment of its way?

Canada in Afghanistan

Great article in LATimes on forgotten ally in the forgotten war of Afghanistan (Canada).

Although its nearly 3,000 troops account for less than 10% of the allied forces in Afghanistan, Canada absorbed nearly 20% of the coalition's combat deaths last year, losing 36 soldiers.

The deployment (underdeployment?) and underfunding is putting strain on NATO.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I began a post, relative to Joe's nudge, on what I mean by non-spiritual spirituality, 3rd-tier, etc. I'll rework it a bit and post in a few days I imagine.

But some background. I had a very painful day. The littlest things bring to surface what is really at work. Case in point, I spend 10 minutes talking to my lady on the cell trying to figure out which brand, tablet numbers, mg/tablet, MSM or no MSM, for joints or not for joints, and price on glucosamine for her tendinitis. Finally I get it all together, come home and find out I had actually grabbed the wrong bottle. The "wrong" bottle was in the "wrong" position--I mean I looked at the labels on the shelving and grabbed via label (which would have been right) except this one was mis-shelved.

I got furious and reacted way out of proportion.

Things are slipping in my life. I've always had a hard time with everyday things (chores, money, etc.), but now it is as bad as I can remember. Something is just not wired right with me.

I'm suffering from many things, but just one to mention as backdrop to any further conversations. A sickness I guess, it's almost like vertigo.

Having had enough experiences of what I tentatively call the third-tier, violet, or at least post-integral, to where the experience (state) is strong enough that it can be potentially "tapped" into with little to no effort, it deeply leaves me confused.

Where do I put my time and energy, myself literally?

This kind of spiritual practice is not being developed anywhere except by Andrew Cohen's people. Other spiritual traditions are doing their own beautiful work, but nobody, as far as I know (and I've looked pretty extensively) is doing structures and intersubjectivity as itself a teacher which is the corollary of stages. Again it's not everything but having awakened to (what I see as) its truth, I can't go for less than that.

I have no intention of joining that community. First off, I'm a Christian, my path is already established--I have been trying to incorporate aspects in without becoming syncretistic which isn't always clear. I've never really waded into the whole Cohen debate from within the integral blogosphere bc as far as I know, I'm the only one who has had any real (though by no means extensive) exposure to the teaching, the practice, and the experiences involved.

Seems to me all the rest is just talking heads from outsiders who read negative accounts on whatenlightenment, Mother of God, etc. Nobody is able to discuss true but partial on this front. Also I'm long since (2 yrs+) disconnected from members of the community, so any change in their system I can't comment on.

But I'll say this--I'm not surprised by the charges of former students, however much we know from psychological literature those re-tellings are suspect. They certainly are not completely the figment of their collective imaginations.

I don't believe in the Guru model as compatible with Western society anyway. So I'm prejudiced out the gate. I would not recommend any Westerner to any Guru establishment (other than a basic Zen-like the teacher is just your spiritual teacher model), including Cohen. Wilber said that Cohen's voice (and teachings) needed to be heard--I took that seriously and also took it to mean to differentiate the teaching from the teacher/community. Same with Da.

But having gone there, who is with me? Or who I am with? Without a support, my strength is not enough and the collective gravity of life pulls the self down to a lukewarm place. I could of course practice traditional enlightenment, the Big Mind and all the Rest, but I frankly am "unmoved" by all that. The route has mostly become an escape hatch right now.

Chris still arises in that space as really messed up. And whoever "I" am in relation to him, that relationship is also pretty unhealthy--my low self-esteem has kicked into very high gear of late.

Integral is the best than can be achieved for the world. But it is a long way away from any real manifestation. 2%, 5% or no. And it has been very painful for me to see I-I not succeed, not live into flourishment, hell even sustainability/integrity.

Plus I go to a school where any so-called integral discourse is completely banished. There isn't anywhere in the churches where this kind of thinking is given space. I mean the integral one and even traditional nonduality, forget about anything else.

I have no center. I've failed miserably at "integration." But honestly I guess I don't care enough.

I don't really know where this is going, other than as a kind of warning to the reader. If you for whatever reason--AND I ADVISE NOT TO (seriously that's not me being coy)--follow in on these meditations of mine, they come from a place I can't claim (and won't) is trustworthy.

Not in a grounded way. There are perhaps nuggets and kernels hiding in the bush here and there. I should tell you to seek traditional ways which will tell you that once you realize your identity beyond space and time all is well, etc. I'm cynical now and my cynicism is probably showing through. It's not wrong, it's just once I awakened to truths that aren't covered in that story--however arrogant it may be appear or is for me to make that statement--a part of me knows and can't go back.

What that something is, I'll try to explain at a later time. The keywords are authentic self, post-metaphysics, etc.

A couple of years back I went through a period of "dropping the whole thing." I just did things--gardening for example. I was free but fairly selfish from another angle. I wasn't full. I just stayed in the Absolute er the Absolute stayed me. I was kind sure, but I didn't do anything.

I could go back to that, but I know I won't and don't want to. That space at least has taught me that this fucked up space isn't a problem just an issue. Or set of issues. In fact, I'd say that I don't even really know that all of me wants it differently than it is now. Part of it out of spite and martyrdom complex no doubt, but another just because this is what it is. Of course there is another part of me that wishes I didn't live with the feeling that I'm untrue to myself. That I'm living a lie.

That what I was aware of and my life actually lined up. That I lived in a world that actually nurtured my soul instead of killed it. But for now and my intuition tells me for awhile to come that will not be.

The best thing to do now is find a way to serve. Not in some pious way just because.

Smart Move By Saudis

Hamas, Fatah accept Saudi offer to host peace summit, reads the title of this piece by Haaretz.

The Saudis might be looking for a way to peal off Hamas from Iran. If so, this would only work with a Syrian deal with Israel, which every day looks more like the one thing Sec. Rice could actually pull off--not Israeli Palestinian peace deal. Remember the original ME push with Clinton was preceded by the Madrid Conference by Sec. Baker. The thinking was not to start on the Israeli-Palestinian issue until the Syrians and Israelis were straight.

The Summit will be held in Mecca appealing to pan-Islamic senses (and possibly of the Sunni variety over Shia).

Ray Harris on Palestine-Israel

Ray Harris has a new article on the Arab-Israeli conflict on Integralworld. I strongly recommend it. As Ray realizes, wading into those waters is quite dangerous. But he does about a balanced a job as I think is possible.

As in the Lind & Bergen article I linked-commented on, Harris shows that the route of the issue is pride--not economics, poverty, etc. as left leaning analysis tends to. Not that those don't fuel the fires, they do and often horrifically so, but the fire itself comes from humiliation.

Every one of the religions has a dark side. Christianity's because of the murder of Jesus is a glorification of suffering/spiritual masochism. Islam's because it was written during a war is the fear of loss. The idea of returning to the sources, as in the Reformation, vis a vis the Quran brings one back to the context of warfare. For Islam to enter an orange phase, this context will have to be deeply negated. Of course the West isn't helping by actually creating wars all over the place, but there you go.

In other words, what happens when Muslims are no longer the most powerful? Is it because they abandoned the true faith and must take up jihad and they will be victorious--the mythic fundamentalist response. How will it, how can it admit that mythic Islam, tribal-mythic classical Islam, has been negated by industrialized technology, modern politics & economics and values like human rights (especially for women).

How Islamic countries can achieve modernity (rule of law, rights) true to its own system will require their own Jeffersons, Lockes, etc. It will not come, as the Western tradition did, via individualism. There are precendents that will need to be creatively re-imagined: consultation, Muhammad as Constitution writer, etc. But like all transformational leaps, it will be in large part mysterious.

There is a real "struggle" for what grace means today in Islam---particularly for the Sunnis.

To summarize Ray, he thinks the most integral response, which follows the Prime Directive is support for the state of Israel. He actually favors a one-state solution for both groups, but thinks that is unattainable with the current mutual suspicions, hatreds, and cycles of violence.

But a two state solution is going to fail because Palestine is crumbling and may split up into even more countries.

While Ray does not apologize for Israeli atrocities (and mentions them) as well as Israeli discrimination of Arab Israelis and non-marriage between Israeli and non-Israeli Arabs, he notes that Israel's economy is the source of most Arabs jobs. Low end and "menial" though they may be. Discrimination there may be, but it is better than the Arab world itself. It's not good, it's just the Arab world is that sad right now.

My only question is what Ray thinks are the long term implications of this policy? Can Israel sustain over generations this policy of occupation and (yes I agree with Carter here) ethnic apartheid? How can Israel maintain itself in an increasingly global platform on this basis? It is the same question I have for Europe. Will the enforcements just continue to get worse and worse a la Children of Men? As the Israeli demographics continue to shrink and open-source guerilla warfare (Hezbollah) has been shown to not per se win against Israel but not lose and score psych-ops victories, how can Israel maintain this stance? Will not hardline Likud elements push for an all out conflict?

non-spiritual spirituality postlude

Joe P has what I think is his best post on his writings yet, here. I just leave it to readers to investigate for themselves. Also, please remember him for prayers/intentions of healing. He's having some very painful health matters, which he details here.

He's also challenged me to write more clearly on non-spiritual spirituality.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Divide and Conquer

Following up on the last post, a more finished version of much the same argument I'm making on the surge's larger policy: Edward Luttwak in the WallStreetJournal. Er, what it should be.

Here's Luttwak:

It was the hugely ambitious project of the Bush administration to transform the entire Middle East by remaking Iraq into an irresistible model of prosperous democracy. Having failed in that worthy purpose, another, more prosaic result has inadvertently been achieved: divide and rule, the classic formula for imperial power on the cheap. The ancient antipathy between Sunni and Shiite has become a dynamic conflict, not just within Iraq but across the Middle East, and key protagonists on each side seek the support of American power. Once the Bush administration realizes what it has wrought, it will cease to scramble for more troops that can be sent to Iraq, because it has become pointless to patrol and outpost a civil war, while a mere quarter or less of the troops already there are quite enough to control the outcome. And that is just the start of what can now be achieved across the region with very little force, and some competent diplomacy.

Luttwak goes on to describe how the US currently has alliances with the Sunnis (Saudis and Jordanians) against the Shia alliance--most prominently seen in Lebanon--while at the same time supporting the Shia Arabs of Iraq. One common denominator: Arab over Persian. [Although Hezbollah is also Shia Arab].

As long as the Shia Arabs of Iraq can not stem the insurgency, they will align with the US (and Sadr stay on sideline) while the Sunnis of Levant and Peninsula will need the US against Persian hegemony.

Then the key paragraph (as I see it):

The Sunni-U.S. alignment in Lebanon, which interestingly coexists with the U.S.-Shiite alliance in Iraq, may yet achieve results of strategic importance if Syria is successfully detached from its alliance with Iran. Originally it was a necessary alliance for both countries because Saddam's Iraq was waging war on Iran, and periodically tried to overthrow the Assad regime of Syria. Now that Iraq is no longer a threat to either country, Iran still needs Syria as a bridge to Hezbollah, but for Syria the alliance is strategically obsolete, as well as inconsistent with the country's Arab identity. True, Syria is ruled primarily by members of the Alawite sect that is usually classified as a Shiite offshoot. But that extremely heterodox faith (it has Christmas and the transmigration of souls) is far different from the Shiism of Iraq, Lebanon or Iran--where it would be persecuted; and besides, at least 70% of Syrians are Sunnis. That may explain why the Syrian regime has not used its full influence to overthrow Mr. Siniora: His stand against the Shiite Hezbollah resonates with his fellow Sunnis of Syria. But another reason may be the promise of substantial aid and investment from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates for Syria's needy economy, if the regime diminishes its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, or better, ends it altogether. The U.S., for its part, is no longer actively driving Syria into the arms of the Iranians by threatening a march on Damascus, while even the unofficial suggestions of negotiations by the Iraq Study Group made an impression, judging by some conciliatory Syrian statements. The U.S.-Sunni alliance, which is a plain fact in Lebanon, is still only tentative over Syria; but it would be greatly energized if Iran were successfully deprived of its only Arab ally.

The one piece Luttwak leaves out is Hamas in Palestine--an Arab ally of Iran. If Syria were pulled out of the Iranian orbit, however, Syrian Hamas which is considered more radical than the Palestinian variety and seems to have some levers over the organization, could theoretically be persuaded to tone down. Maybe not. Don't know that anyone has argued either way on that point.

It is also unclear what Hezbollah's status vis a vis Iran would be minus Syria acting as a conduit for Iranian weapons to Lebanon. As Luttwak says Hezbollah appealed to their Arab identity and pan-Islamic anti-Israeli aggressor identity when Saudi Arabia initially opposed their venture. Then the Saudis, after their people at homed embraced Hez., of course relented.

It might take what Mickey Kaus likes to call a triple bank shot on this one, but you pull Syria out of Iran's orbit, get Hezbollah finally back into the government, use Syrian Hamas (now Syria is on board) to get Fatah and Hamas to get over their struggle, AND satisfy some Russian and Chinese demands.....why do we think China set off a anti-satellite missile this week? Think it unrelated to talk of Israeli/US plans on Iran?

Actually maybe that's a quintuple bank shot.

Then you have Iran isolated. Good luck Madame Secretary of State. Oh yeah, if you can keep the Likud far-right of Israel from pre-emptively botching the whole thing and/or a well placed terrorist attack (or 2 or 5), and the Europeans won't want to use military means likely either.

But it all has to start (ala ISG) with pulling Syria out of Iran. Sec. Baker almost did it once, he is the only man who could do it now. That would alter the landscape quite significantly as Luttwak notes. Even if it wasn't originally in the plan--which was regime change for Damascus for sure.

The desire to isolate Iran, in my mind, could work only if it is lodged to a realization that like it or not they and Hezbollah are there to stay. Isolate them, push on them (A BIT only) to further weaken Ahmadinejad, then back door to Supreme Leader Khamenei and have his men pull the deal off, thereby completely isolating the Iranian President.

Needless to say I am skeptical, but there is always hope, even with this Administration.

Iraq Week Jan20-27

A few things are already shaking out from the surge in Iraq.

1.The Mahdi Army is disappearing, avoiding a confrontation with the US. The Prime Minister of Iraq has told them to back down so as not to put him in a position where he has to choose between them and the Americans.

2. The US is ramping up actions against Iranian agents in Iraq. If the US ends up killing innocent Iranians--e.g. pilgrims, which number in the thousands particularly right now during the Shia high holy days of Ashura (Tuesday is the apex of the celebration), look out.

3. The US has re-entrenched its Arab allies even though most of the outside support for the insurgency comes from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Sunni Syria.

4. The PM security plan for Baghdad is a Shia operation--that is fight the insurgents only plan. Anger was expressed by at least one Sunni lawmaker who the Prime Minister in front of the entire Parliament then accused, of criminal activity. Not the best of starts for sure.

5. The Americans are trying to ally with Sunni Tribal Sheiks to fight al-Qaeda. I hope this works. Story here from WashingtonPost. There is deep worry that they will undermine the Sunni parties in Parliament (who may or may not deserve some undermining honestly) and more importantly be infiltrated by insurgents, just as the Police and Army are infiltrated by Shia death squads.

For all the talk in Washington, should the Senate draft a non-binding resolution, should they not, are they aiding the enemy, should Bush be sending more troops into a civil war, I think the outline of what is to occur is fairly clear.

The American Troops will do a good job in what they can do--kill insurgents. Baghdad will experience more in the way of car and suicide bombings (this week already numerous ones) and less in the way of head to head confrontation. Insurgents will flee to other provinces, e.g. Diyala (where the US plan has not determined to send any), and violence will increase in other areas of the country. Mosul, which had been fairly quiet of late, has experienced a major uptick in violence and bloodshed this week.

Petraeus will showcase the new counterinsurgency manual which is better, from what I understand, than the previous one, and the new reconstruction efforts will I think do some good, but the question is what the President is really after. Bush is like the Catholic Church. Whenever anyone calls for change, his first instinct is to fight them, label them an aider to the enemy (heretic), and then eventually he does change his course and then states that he is not changing course and following the plan he always has. Like the Catholic Church's idea that it never teaches anything new only what it always has but perhaps forgotten. i.e. Tony Snow saying the President was "never stay the course."

The reason I bring that up is after watching John McCain on Meet the Press last week, I'm more convinced than ever that the surge is a short term surge for a quick victory in the press and begin a pullout. McCain repeatedly emphasized that this plan should not be seen as a quick victory solution. He was, without saying it, speaking to the Bush White House. The Democrats are all against the plan, so he certainly wasn't talking to them, nor the Republicans (like Hagel & Co.) who have joined them. So the only other possibility is that he was speaking to Republicans (John Warner types?) who want to oppose the surge without undermining the President and their party--that group might call for a pullout as soon as anything looks decent in Iraq.

McCain of course is for a massive upsurge, long term commitment--i.e. well into his presidency which would start in 09--until there is total victory. You may not like his policy, but at least he's been consistent. My opinion, along with Ricks, is that the US will have some force presence in Iraq for another 10-15 years. We still have troops in the Balkans for example.

Bush has tried to shoot the difference, seems to me, between the so-called McCain Doctrine and Democrat/ISG begin phased redeployment now. For all the talk of the failure of the ISG from the wonks, it has in an underground way, fundamentally changed the debate. It, with coolly and logically, dismantled the picture the administration wanted to give in Iraq.

Nixon "escalated" while simultaneously beginning talks with the VietCong. The difference here of course is that Bush is surging-escalating while not beginning talks with the VietCong-like Iranians and Syrians. The blowback from the Vietnam pullout was severe--the Khmer Rogue comes to mind.

This blowback will I'm afraid be possibly as brutal, which is why Bush has to get these countries down to the table right now. If he is moving towards withdraw, as I believe he is under the cover of "victory" in a surge or a cut and blame strategy of laying the fault on the Shia-led government, then he has an obligation, in my view, to work towards containing as much of the violence as possible. If we simply pull out with the diplomatic angle worked, the Turks may intervene in Kurdistan, which would be an enormous blow to the US--those are its only two even approaching secular Islamic democratic allies. The Saudis will most definitely be pulled in. King Abdullah of Jordan will be as well, as his regime is very worried about al-Qaeda attacks and blowback into his own country (ditto the Saudis). The Iranians are already there and well placed, far more integrated than the Americans. They can and will attack either themselves and/or through proxies, at will.

Hezbollah which this week continues its attempt to bring down the US and Saudi-backed government of Fouad Sinora, would go from street protests to assassination attempts and open warfare with the government. The Palestinians--Fatah US and Saudi-backed versus Hamas Iranian backed--would renew their open conflict and Rice's MidEast peace push would go up in flames. Three civil wars as Jordanian King Abdullah rightly predicted.

To be truly Kissingerian, Bush would be lining up this anti-Iranian coalition at then under the table negotiate with them--SCIRI would play that role. AND be stripping Syria from Iranian support by getting the Israelis to give back the Golan Heights and end their at war status.

If Bush does not push for this "diplomatic surge", then I'm afraid that events will spiral downward, and Dick Cheney will finally get his wish: an attack on Iran. I'm daily more afraid of an aerial attack on Iran occurring by the summer.

The president can initiate attacks for 60 days without Congressional mandate. Bush would not get mandate for war with Iran. If Bush pulled this trigger, a constitutional crisis is looming. Cheney might bring the White House back to its Ford-era nadir. What you meditate on you become. Cheney has meditated on the lack of presidential power for 30 decades. Now he is creating it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Update on French Race

From Guardian concerning Segolene Royale, socialist candidate for French PM:

Ms Royal, the Socialist presidential candidate, has been accused of a series of blunders by supporters of her centre-right opponent Nicolas Sarkozy. Recently in Beijing, she praised the speed of the Chinese justice system, while avoiding the question of human rights. But yesterday she told reporters she supported "sovereignty and liberty" for Quebec. Her comments followed a meeting with the head of the minority Parti Québécois, which wants Quebec to secede from Canada.

And the retort:

Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper warned: "Experience teaches that it is highly inappropriate for a foreign leader to interfere in the democratic affairs of another country."
[This is the best I can do on Canadian politics--kinda sad I know. Not interested in commenting on the Vancouver serial murder case.]

Anglican-Catholic Union on Gay Adoptions

From the BBC:

The Church of England has backed the Catholic Church in its bid to be exempt from laws on adoption by gay couples.Catholic leaders in England and Wales say its teaching prevented its agencies placing children with homosexuals and they will close if bound by the rules. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Rowan Williams and John Sentamu have written to the prime minister. They say "rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well-meaning".
I actually favor this policy, and I'm glad Rowan Williams has made this stand. I believe strongly in the rights of conscience, even I do not agree with the policy that some consciences have come up with. Particularly in a pluralistic society. I'm against laws that prevent gay couples from adopting (as in many US States, including my home one of Ohio). In fact as an adoptee and Christian, I am deeply hurt when I see other Christians advocate for banning gay adoption, when I have seen loving gay and lesbian parents take in children. That show me something of God's love and told that they are sinners. Still, as much as that position hurts me and hurts others I love, I'm equally against governments telling churches what to do--minus of course illegal & criminal activity.

Continued bad news out of Israel.

It's president looks headed to indictment on charges of rape.

More importantly, the army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz has resigned over losses in the recent war with Hezbollah.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is facing increased calls for his own resignation, held a conference including hardline Likud leader Bibby Netanyahu, Republican candidates for prez, and neocons--up for possible discussion: a war with Iran?

An important piece of Israel is that the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister (Peretz) are both civilians, with no military past. The Prime Ministers of the past: Barak, Rabin, Sharon, all were defense ministers before taking command.

Peretz in his own Labour party is fighting off an insurgency from within from former PM Ehud Barak on precisely this point.

Israel, as Barnett says, is headed towards its own Cold War moment. The Iranians will have a nuclear weapon; a government that calls for their downfall and extermination. Just like the US &West and the Soviets.

Israel is weakened and faces like many other nations globalization as putting pressure on post-racial post-ethnic post-religious futures. Unfortunately for Israel the groups whom would be entering the land are pre-nationalistic, pre-modernist, many of whom desire the overthrow of the government and the destruction of the state of Israel.

I'm very worried that the Israelis would get to the point that they would launch air strikes against Iran--especially as Olmert needs a victory to shore up political favor--and the US would call them off and do it ourselves.

Interview of Moqtada al-Sadr

From Italian newspaper La Repubblica, English translation here. (Hat tip: Juan Cole).

First question is to how PM Maliki, who until recently was considered a supporter of Sadr has turned on him and the Mahdi Army.

Moqtada answers:
Between me and Abú Asárá [al-Malikí] there has never been much good will. I have always suspected he was up to something and I never confided in him. We only met a couple of times. The last time he said to me, "You are the backbone of the country," and then went on to admit to me that he was "obliged" to fight. Obliged, you see?
Sounds a little cagey too me, but the "obliged" reference is to Maliki as stooge of the Americans. Sadr has called consistently since the fall of Saddam for the Americans out. This week Sadr's politicians who were in protest of the government have returned and his men have melted back into the grounds and have strict orders from Moqtada not to pick a fight with the Americans.

Interestingly Sadr claims he is doing this because it is the Holy Month (Muharram) and fighting during the Pilgrimage month is forbidden in the Qu'ran:

MS: The Qur’án forbids killing in the month of Muharram [21 January through 18 February 2007]. So they'll do all the killing then. There is no better time for a true believer to die, Paradise is guaranteed. But God is merciful, we are not all going to die. After Muharram, we'll see.

Sadr then talks about how his is being targeted, has to sleep in a different location every night, has sent his family into hiding for fear of their murder and expects martyrdom anytime soon.

Q8 considers the charge that his men were behind the now infamous (via cellphone video and Youtube) execution of Saddam Hussein where hooded men tell Hussein that Moqtada is behind this.

Moqtada responds (underline in original):

They were people paid to discredit me. To make me look like the person really responsible for that hanging. Listen to the audio again, the proof is that in reciting my prayer they left out some basic passages. Stuff that not even a child in Sadr City would ever have done.
Again that might be some propaganda on his part. I can't verify or disverify that statement and haven't seen any who would know tackle the question. It is well known that up to a 1/3 of the Mahdi Army is out of Sadr's control and now apparently, according to Sadr himself, has been infiltrated just as they have infiltrated the police and army.

The next question, 9 is possibly the most revealing about his war with the Sunnis.


It is true that we are all Muslims and all sons of the same country, but they must first distance themselves from the Saddamites, from the radical groups, from men like Bin Ladin, over and above just repeating their "No" to the Americans. The only thing that will be enough is for their ulema to accept our conditions [and issue a fatwa against killing Shiites]. So far they have not done so.

The Saddamites is code for Baathists (sounds like sodomites translated this way). The radicals are Salafi jihadists from outside of Iraq mostly who are the main purveyors of suicide bombing according to Peter Bergen.

The ulema are the Sunni Muslim scholars and Sadr almost certainly means here the Association of Muslim Scholars. In late 2005/early 2006 Sadr wrote a message to the Association telling to declare a fatwa (religious ruling) on Sunnis killing Shia--Sadr I think wanted to join forces in an anti-American insurgency Shia and Sunni together--but the Association responded that they would be killed by the al-Qaeda in Iraq. [Again echoing Bergen's statement that al-Qaeda in Iraq might possibly be the largest group in the region--this is not all together clear and whether this al-Qaeda would want to promote attacks on American soil. I think they are more likely to attack neighboring regimes like Jordan, Iran, the Shia Iraq gov't, the Kurds, the Syrians, who knows]. Either way after the Association turned down Sadr's request, Sadr told his men to fight the Sunnis, particularly after the Samarra mosque bombing.

But most interesting of all, a charge I had not heard before, that Sadr repeats at least twice in the interview, that the real power behind the throne is Ayad Allawi, the former Prime Minister, currently living in exile, a secular Shia cum Baathist during the Hussein years. [Sadr is against re-entrance of Baathists to the government]. Don't know if this is just conspiracy thinking on his part or what--but I hadn't heard anything of this sort before.

Finally I'll end with a fairly chilling V-like quote from Sadr himself:

But even should I have to die, the Mahdi would continue to exist. Men can be killed, but not faith and ideas.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lind and Bergen

An excellent piece, via NewAmerica, on pride and humiliation as cause to terrorism.

Lind and Bergen quote politicians and thinkers from both right and left (incl'd the President) that poverty is the root cause of terrorism.

Contrary to that thesis, they assert:

But it is a mistake to treat human beings as profit-maximizing rationalists who can be persuaded to put aside their differences in order to collaborate on a common project of promoting global prosperity. Individuals and communities often have incompatible secular or religious visions of the good society. And, for better or worse, human beings are social animals, deeply concerned about rank and status, both as individuals and as members of communities. Ambition and humiliation, personal and collective, inspire more political conflict than economic deprivation. In short, if our goal is to understand the conditions that give terrorist movements popular appeal and to understand how virulent ideologies spread from madmen and isolated sects to mass movements, our emphasis must be on subjective perceptions of national, religious, and ethnic humiliation, rather than on the humiliation, genuine as it may be, which is associated with poverty.
Terrorists are often from the educated classes.

Looking more broadly, consider the work of former CIA case officer -- and now forensic psychiatrist-Marc Sageman. After studying the backgrounds of 172 al Qaeda members and associates for his 2004 book Understanding Terror Networks, he concluded that this was not a group of feckless, unemployed no-hopers. In his sample of jihadist terrorists, two-thirds had gone to college; they were generally professionals; their average age was 26; three-fourths were married; and many had children.
Rather than poverty what is the cause? Their answer: humiliation.

The central role of communal humiliation in inspiring terrorism is the key finding of University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape’s study of suicide bombers, Dying to Win. According to Pape, two factors have linked Tamil, Palestinian, Chechen, and al Qaeda suicide bombers. First, they are members of communities that feel humiliated by genuine or perceived occupation (like the perceived occupation of the sacred territory of Saudi Arabia by virtue of the presence of U.S. bases, in the eyes of bin Laden and his allies). Second, suicide bombers seek to change the policies of democratic occupying powers like Israel and the United States by influencing their public opinion -- in a sense making the occupying power suffer the same level of humiliation they have felt.
What then to do?

The first priority, therefore, of an anti-radical strategy must be defending the people, territories, and interests of the United States and other targeted regimes against terrorist attacks...While bin Laden and his allies must simply be defeated, their appeal to potential new recruits can be limited by policies that reduce feelings of collective humiliation in the Arab and Muslim worlds...In addition, major Muslim nations that are sources of jihadist recruits must change too. If there were more open societies in the Muslim world, there might be more political space for Islamists who reject terrorism when out of power and who, if they gained power, would abide by the norms of the international system. This would likely reduce the appeal of al Qaeda as an alternative to conventional political participation.
Then the conclusion:

Reducing poverty in the Middle East and around the world is a laudable goal in itself, for humanitarian reasons. But it would be a mistake to treat prosperity as a universal solvent that can deprive jihadists like bin Laden of allies and sympathizers in populations that feel humiliated by foreign domination or frozen out of politics. Ultimately, both foreign occupation and domestic autocracy are political problems that must find political, not economic, solutions. The campaign against jihadism and the campaign against global poverty are both justified. But they are not the same war.

non-spiritual spirituality

Following up on the Wilber-Aurobindo mashup, why I don't write on spiritual issues very much. Even though I'm studying to be a priest.

For one thing, I take really seriously Wilber's charge that all writings, especially spiritual ones, that do not locate experience via post-metaphysical semiotics is metaphysics. Metaphysics hides egocentric avoidance--it is non-dialogical. Even postmodernism has its own metaphysics, never asking where interpretation, contexts, arise from.

So I write in my own metaphysical form on politics, environment, and the rest because I can give a (hopefully) turquoise-ish response to issues and thinking has developed to where that can be dealt with on a regular basis.

Mystery of Existence writes eloquently, far more eloquently than I ever could, on spiritual experience. If that is what people are looking for, just go to the pros.

Though not a criticism, just an observation, it is still (mostly) individual description of experience--phenomenological modernism. Perception is semiotic---semiotics itself is perspectival. Perspectives are......?

Godwin writes metaphysics, by his own admission, which is beautiful in its way, but is just dumped on the reader. By its non-intersubjective format, it can simply call forth those who for whatever reason who already vibe with that frequency. It requires a spiritual hero to sally forth--hence Godwin's self-reference as dear leader (somewhat tongue-in-cheek, somewhat not) and the comments section. There are more reach arounds there than a NY swinger's party.

My buds at Buddhist Geeks dialogue around a topic--for example this really excellent one on concentration. But it is not really a questioning of questioning. It never asks about the ground from which the question itself arises--it assumes its place (a good one for sure) in the universe, assumes its perspective, the backdrop of concentration-Buddhism.

Again none of this is criticism just observation. My own desire is for something else. That something else, which isn't really explainable, is a product or my own spiritual inquiry with close friends. With experiences of so-called enlightened communication and being a part of a matrix where meaning is created and recognized in real-time.

The blog can not reproduce that, so I don't know what to say else. Nothing else spiritually is interesting to me. The actual experiences that occur are really un-interesting to me--I come mostly from the John of the Cross-Meister Eckhart school of apophaticism, experiences as such are not delved into very much. The love beneath them, the service in the world, the practice of abnegating oneself is more important in this frame.

And talking about how much and how great I am at abnegating myself would self-destruct the whole thing and be egocentric in being un-egocentric.

What occurred to me this morning is that the space I'm interested in doesn't have the technological (right-hand) embodiment yet such that it could be imparted in the way I intuit.

As it stands now, we have hyperlinks, which immediately link to the exterior-world of websites, op-eds, statistics, wikis, etc. But what about a inner-link, that wouldn't just link to an already interpreted, already metaphysically and unilaterally decided upon, but link the actual injunction, worldspace and inner felt sense/meaning/awareness pointed to.

A psychoactive display mechanism. Allusions to The Matrix or the Singularity apply--3rd tier technology to support and help "shine through" 3rd-tier consciousness.

Best piece on Romney I've seen yet

From Jonathan Last at Philly Inquirer.

Admittedly, Romney has not really been on my radar much, but this is a very helpful piece.

Romney has by all accounts to date run an excellent campaign. His first stumble has occurred recently where video of his earlier races from the 90s, where he says he is pro-choice, not a Reaganite Republican. This is a problem because as Last states:

Romney is a moderate, yet he decided to position himself on the conservative side of the draw as he runs for president. Smart politics. It means that, in the early phases of the nomination fight, he will be jousting with second-tier candidates such as Sam Brownback and Newt Gingrich instead of fighting for space with the two moderate heavyweights: John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
But Last makes what, in my opinion, is a very good point:

But conservatives probably have little to worry about with Romney. As a politician, he has proven that, when he makes a promise to a constituency, he sticks. For instance, when he was running for governor in 2002, he may have been having misgivings about abortion, but Romney promised voters that he would have a "moratorium" on state abortion law and wouldn't try to change it. And even when he realized that abortion was morally repugnant, two years later, he kept his word on the "moratorium."

But more worrisome for Republicans is another point Last makes that I've not seen before:

If there is a conservative concern about Romney, it shouldn't be with his ideological moorings, but rather with his electoral record. Romney has one primary victory to his credit (from 1994, when he captured the Republican senatorial nomination) and one general-election victory (his 2002 gubernatorial win). Against that, he lost his 1994 Senate campaign, did not have a primary opponent in 2002, and withdrew from seeking reelection in 2006 because he had almost no chance of winning. Republicans might wonder how Romney will fare against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida and Pennsylvania when he couldn't handle rookie candidate Deval Patrick as an incumbent governor in Massachusetts.
Last then concludes by saying perhaps Romney's great political skills (which are I think undeniable) could make Mitt the "Republican Clinton" and that Republicans might need a Clinton to beat a Clinton.

Dinesh Dsouza Needs to be Learned

His op-ed here, imo one of the worst (and there have been some bad ones) on the GWOT front.

The op-ed, in support his new book which contends that the Cultural Left is responsible for the attacks of Osama bin Laden shows no signs of DSouza having read Peter Bergen, for example, the world authority on Bin Laden. Bergen recall interviewed bin Laden--first Westerner to do so--back in the 90s.

Here's DD setting the stage on what is wrong with the liberal pov:

For many Western liberals - and even some conservatives - the war on terror is a clash of opposed fundamentalisms: Christian fundamentalism vs. Islamic fundamentalism. And the solution? Promote secularism both here in America and throughout the Muslim world. This means urging our Muslim allies in Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and elsewhere to get rid of Muslim laws and have secular laws. It means closing down the Muslim schools and replacing them with secular schools. It means encouraging secular programs on radio and TV.
First off many liberals do not see equivalence between Bush's War on Terror and bin Laden's jihad, some do (as he quotes). Many see it more as American hubris--secular hubris--not Christian fundamentalism that is the issue. But anyway, on the real point.

Then this comment from Dinesh:

Not only is this diagnosis of the problem wrong, but the solutions proposed are actually fueling Muslim rage and making future terrorist attacks against us more likely. The reason is that, from the point of view of Islamic radicals, America is not hated because it is Christian. Rather, America is hated because it is secular, what Osama bin Laden has called "the leading power of the unbelievers." So by promoting secularism, we are corroborating the charge of radical Muslims that we are the enemies of their religion, and this also alienates traditional Muslims and pushes them into the radical camp.
Never mind bin Laden usually does mean "unbelievers" as both Christianity and secularism--seen in his eyes as the logical end of Christianity--but what, if this were true would it mean? Should we cease struggling for transparent governance, human rights, and markets in the rest of the world?

More DD:

This view of the war is founded, however, on a superficial understanding of bin Laden's rhetoric declaring a religious war of civilizations. Bin Laden does speak of the world as being divided into a "region of faith" and a "region of infidelity." And at times he defines the clash as one between Muslims and the "crusaders." But the context of bin Laden's arguments clearly shows that he is not speaking of a religious war between Islam and Christianity. In the same videotaped remarks in which he posits these conflicts, he praises Christianity. In one statement, he observes that Islam respects the prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam "without distinguishing among them."

So please pay attention to what happens in this next quotation because its slick:

Islamic radicals such as bin Laden make their case against America and the West not on the grounds that these cultures are Christian, but on the grounds that they have abandoned Christianity. In his May 2006 letter to President Bush, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faulted America not for being Christian, but for not being Christian enough. Many years earlier, the radical theoretician Sayyid Qutb made the same point: The main reason for the West's moral decay is that in the modern era, "religious convictions are no more than a matter of antiquarian interest."

Notice how DD went from bin Laden to Ahmadinejad? All are "Islamic radicals."

bin Laden, again read any Peter Bergen on this point, is only interested in American foreign policy--that is why he says his Jihad is against the Crusaders and Zionists. It is true that bin Laden was advocating boycotts of Pepsi in the Afghan 80s because of America's support for Israel not because of the secularism of caffeine.

Read the list of grievances by bin Laden:

--American troops in Saudi Arabia
--Support for Russia over Chechyna, Philippines over Moros, China over Uighurs, Indian gov't over Kashmiris Rebels, Israelis over Palestinians
--Support for Arab autocrats: Mubarak of Egypt, Saud family, etc.

The Iranian Revolution, which is Shia not Sunni as al-Qaeda, has always been about Death to America and the imperialism of Western culture. Social-cultural hatred. Not foreign policy--0ther than the Shah, assassination of their president by CIA, and hostage crisis of course. It was Khomeni, not bin Laden, who called for the murder of Salman Rushdie. A country who has cultural-religious battles but not necessarily foreign policy ones if ripe for a neo-realist policy of simultaneous bargain and containment. If nothing else, the Iranians have a state, al-Qaeda does not.

DD concludes:

Thus, the liberal doctrine that the war against terrorism is a battle of two opposed forms of religious fundamentalism is false. This is not why the Islamic radicals are fighting against America. From the perspective of bin Laden and his allies, the war is between the Muslim-led forces of monotheism and morality against the America-led forces of atheism and immorality. Secularism, not Christian fundamentalism, is responsible for producing a blowback of Muslim rage.
First DSouza is right that it's not a battle of two religious fundamentalisms. The American versus Salafi jihadism is if any kind of battle between fundamentalisms, a democratic Marxist utopian variety (neoconservatism) and politicized modern Islamic one (Qutbian jahiliyah jihadism). Although fundamentalisms is only one of many factors involved.

But the notion of a Clash of Civilizations (Christian versus Muslim, Western v Muslims, secular versus Muslim) is mostly a right-wing meme from Sam Huntington.

Of course there is destructive moral relativism (green wave) that is unable to handle distinctions around these topics. Slogans like Bush is the Real Terrorist, etc. But D'Souza's main flaw, as I see it, is the deep American egocentric analysis---it is all America's fault. Either right-wing from relativists or the Cultural Left via DD. A more nuanced analysis is needed. How can the complexities of the modern world be reduced to a bunch of burned out Boomer hippies who ought to lose their jobs in academia?

A few other notions are necessary:

1. The Islamic world is in the midst of its War---Shia versus Sunni and modernist verus traditionalist.
--America was pulled into this fight by bin Laden, a rather marginal jihadi, as a last act of desperation in jihadi ideology. The invasion of Iraq resuscitating the dead movement and giving them training fighting the greatest army on the planet in the heart of the Middle East. The blowback in years to come is going to be deeply painful.

2. Globalization, which is far stronger than just the US or West (China, India), seeks out transformation of all economic systems that do not meet its modernist ways. It is coming to the Middle East no matter what US foreign policy may or may not be. US policy certainly will affect how globalization happens there but the Chinese for example are the ones investing in the oil fields of Iran.
--Globalization always brings revolutionary ideologies, conservative backlashes, and all the rest.

None of this due to the American Left, which if it is as powerless and ignorant (if not more so) than other right-wingers have told us, and I tend to agree with, than how are the primary ones to blame for the attack?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Aurobler? Wilbindian?

Political events have pulled me away from some of the deeper meditations I had begun with the Kosmic Addresses, p-m reference and so on.

I was talking to my lady last night. She was telling me about her experience at yoga that day. She was explaining how amazing she found it people discovered ways to contort the body, breathe into different parts of it, and isolate the minutest aspects of the body and done well, the positive effects that result.

Just taking physical yoga for a moment--the basic process is tighten/stretch and release. Both are equally important. The second the deep release is often forgotten, even in physical yoga alone, in Western societies, so hung up on achievement. Physical yoga "works" best when one stretches just beyond one's comfort zone but not much beyond that. Over-stretching avails nothing.

When we expand from physical yoga to the Indian Context of Yoga--there are Yogas for everything. Yogas of breath (raja), visualization, selfless love in the world (Karma), sexual-relational (tantra), Devotion to God (Bhakti), The Yoga of Inquiry-Enlightenment (Jnani), mental yogas, on and on.

All are based on this same principle: tighten/bring down/squeeze and release.

In emotional asanas, there is such an isolation of the feeling or the breath, its unwinding, uncoiling and then total release--all is as equally well from the Ground contracted or not.

Aurobindo then brought some profound insights: one the integration of all these yogas. Hence his term Integral Yoga.

Aurobindo's other key insight was that this integration of the yogas was not, as in traditional tantra to be a boddhisattva-only or simply to play with the lila of creation, but to bring down the Supermind.

Aurobindo, due to his Western education and influence, saw the need for Kosmic justice and transformation, something much better dealt with in the history of so-called Western monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (better termed Abrahamic---Jesus, Moses, and Muhammad were not exactly Westerners; they were Middle Easterners!!!).

He created lines of thought to make Education, Poetry, Humanistic Learning, Politics, etc. Yogas. I'm not going to comment on those, but for anyone interested go check it out.

The Supermind is the bridge for Aurobindo between the Ultimate Nature (Sacchiananda--Being, Consciousness, Bliss) and Creation. It is the "bringing down" of Brahman to the lowest plane, in his terminology, that of matter, thereby divinizing the material world. The concept of the divinization is itself very Biblical. See St.Paul's Letter to the Romans: All creation groans until the day of its release and revelation as the children of God.

Alan Kazlev has brought forth his own ideas of, what he calls, a Neo-Aurobindian Integral theory & practice. (Integral Esotericism). He often compares his theory (esoteric) with Wilberian integral, which he terms Exoteric--as a result Alan calls himself post-Wilberian. I recommend, no matter what one's position on all this, his writings. For example here.

Alan, however, shows no real understanding, far as I can tell of post-metaphysical "Wilberian" thought--so-called Wilber-5. What I'm going to explore, tentatively, is the interaction between post-metaphysics and Aurobindo and whether some new light could be shed from their interaction.

Before that, want to say no matter what the frame, everyone should read Aurobindo. Even if there are, as I think, elements that are now out of date, the gestalt of his writings is profound beyond belief and there is a "transmission", for lack of a better word that comes through them regardless of some of the interpretative issues I'll raise below.

To say off the start, Wilber himself comes from the tradition of Vedanta-Zen-Dzogchen-Adi Da which is, to my mind, of the non-Aurobindian variety. Aurobindo sourced himself in the line of the Vedas and Upanishads not the Advaita tradition of Shankara. That is, Wilber's spiritual writings on an evolutionary spirituality, talk about the union of Form and Formless in the more traditional Tantra-Boddhisattva model. Evolution is certainly Spirit-in-action in this thinking but there's still a tendency to pull back from the process itself. The status of creation to my mind is ambiguous. I'm not saying that as critique but more to clear the field.

My own heart, being of the Christian background, I think bends more to the Aurobindian way of being. Or as I would say Christic.

As in Jesus: "Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The Greek word translated as yoke is from the same root (Indo-European language family) as yoga (yug, yuk).

Hence Jesus: "Take my yoga upon you, for my yoga is easy and my burden light."

On the other hand, I fully agree with Wilber's post-metaphysical turn. What he sometimes calls the naturalistic turn. So when I say something like post-metaphysics transcends and includes metaphysics, and Aurobindo, as in this example, is part of the metaphysical strain, a couple of points need to be made clear off the bat.

One--the Supermind vastly transcends and includes integral. Colorized Supermind is ultraviolet, integral teal-turquoise-early indigo.

[Please remember colors are just references to worldspaces--to life, things happening, judgments that have to be made, obstacles to manuever--so we don't have these cliched tirades against the male-centered, uber-linear-ness of holarchical views. They are intelligences in people not of people. Everyone and everything from the Ultimate point of view is no higher or lower than anything else. Nobody ever said development at all costs--even within say AQAL, as just one variation, there are plenty of non-developmental components (states, types, quadrants). Those just words for themselves real live stuff happening. More than anything, such distinctions for me are just about locating beings and their views and loving them and seeing them and being with them. A point which never comes across in such criticisms of "Wilberian" integral, for my money].

HOWEVER, Two, Aurobindo's schema of the ladder of reality (matter, bio, life,....Ultimate) is pre-post metaphysical. It is strongly an individualist-experiential path (even if practiced in common by many individuals), which does not deal with the ways in which all truth-experience -perception is semiotic, intersubjectively molded.

When Aurobindo wrote and projected into the ultraviolet, the world was still mostly mired in blue-orange and only beginning to peak strongly into green. There was no real translation, filling out of the integral spheres (teal, turquoise, indigo). So you can't fault Sri A. for not being aware of how the stages would be developed. But there are definitely insights and facts/experiences available now in the Kosmos that did not exist during his life. And we can not have a teaching less than those, even if we still project a la the Supermind, beyond them. [Critique is only of the partial relative to new info./interpret. since emerged].

And for the record, I have read the entire The Life Divine, although it has been about 5 years. Last time I did such a constructive reframing/criticism of Aurobindo, I got a fundamentalist Aurobindian response, along the lines of: Aurobindo is the greatest seer, hence he was right about everything, hence your analysis is wrong. I expect to get more of the same this time around too. so be it.

Going back to states and stages, which is basically everything (as filtered through the intellect) in this context. There are horizontal state-stages, vertical stages, and also individuals who have pushed through the barrier into the as yet not strongly formed higher stages. But/and those individuals are still deeply shaped by their own contexts and the evolutionary point at which they arose.

So it just needs to be held in mind that Aurobindo in ways transcended integral (stage) and in other ways didn't--if you believe my argument anyway. It's part of the paradox of states/stages which as I've said elsewhere never ends.

The element of the post-metaphysical (naturalistic) turn is that every moment consists of consciousness-matter individual and collective (quadrants).

The Supermind existed, or at least qua post-metaphysics, it is not excluded as a possibility, in Aurobindo's experience. Where he went wrong, seems to me, which given where human thought was at is perfectly reasonable and understandable (this is no slight on the Master), is assuming that Supermind existed separate from his experience which was then to descend objectively on all beings in a pre-set manner.

A fascinating study, one I don't know enough about frankly, would be to chart the influences and his own interpretation of the Supermind--the whole notion of the experience as Supermind...I don't know what the word he used in his language meant, but the translation as Supermind (not say Superheart) is very interesting.

I know that the Supermind is the vehicle to bring the Absolute into the lowest realm. The Absolute for Aurobindo was Sacchiananda--Being, Consciousness, Bliss. But even that formulation is deeply entrenched in that tradition.

That Trinity, if you like, is similar though not necessarily the same as others:

Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, Dharmakaya
Father, Son, and Spirit, called by one Church Father: Source, River, Ocean.
--The frame makes a difference in the actual felt experience itself not just as a latter add on.

Doesn't mean Sacc. is wrong, just limited. Perfect and complete from within its own parameters, as I say.

Moreover, how Aurobindo and the Mother's own backgrounds shaped the experience going in, another totally open field of inquiry seems to me, which only comes to awareness once we let go of a metaphysical notion. i.e. That the Supermind exists out there somewhere, located by these two seers, and then just to be practiced (through Integral Yoga) by all of us to be brought down into matter, conceived as the lowest level.

The issue that comes to my mind the with a post-metaphysical Aurobindo is how to do we talk about embodiment and bringing the Yoga "down" when matter is not the lowest level but the corresponding exterior to every depth? That means that matter is not, as Wilber says, the bottom step on the ladder, but the right-hand of every rung. It is a more embodied, historical view, which leaves open the mystery of experience and the future.

Are we bringing Spirit across then as opposed to down?

There is often talk about "locating" feelings, insights in the body--is there a way to recognize depth within the body? Depth to the exterior as Mark Edwards says.

To use Teilhard's old scheme brought up to date. There is phyiospheric matter (rocks, stars, minerals); biospheric matter (cells, animal forms); noospheric matter (triune brain structure); and theoretically I guess eventually to be psycheric matter (soul matter), whatever the h that might be.

I'm just opening up lanes that I hope others will build on.

What I do know is that a false dichtomy, as I see it, has arisen. An Integral Yoga with primary emphasis on divinization and the unwinding/surrender of the body, soul, mind, breath to the Lord can easily co-exist with a post-metaphysical interpretative structure. Hence not Aurobindo versus Wilber then decide who is right, better, who transcludes the other, and so on.

The post-metaphysics is more about "evangelism" if you like in this world. It does not assume there are not higher planes than we can know about through our bodies (gross, subtle, and casual ones btw). It just knows that even thinking about such a reality is already a perspective and there is no way to prove or disprove such statements, so they are better left open than to be argued for. Because putting such elements in, simply from a practical view, leaves spiritual practice and contemplation open to attack and denigration which is so rife in our world anyway, why give ammunition to the haters?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Iran's Offer to US

When I speak about Iran and the grand bargain that should be made, I'm not alone in this thinking. The Iranians themselves led the way. Read this story and really think about the implications for what this president is doing. Right, left, up down, whatever.

Story from the BBC. In 2003, seeing what was happening with the downfall of Hussein (and then) the Taliban, the two largest Sunni opponents of Iran, Tehran sent the US a memo offering the following:

Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion. Offers, including making its nuclear programme more transparent, were conditional on the US ending hostility.
And guess who turned it down?

But Vice-President Dick Cheney's office rejected the plan, the official said.

Cheney wants a war with Iran. He has for quite some time. He believes in unilateral American power supported by a unilateral (excuse me unitary) theory of presidential power. End support for militants, stabilize Iraq in return for:

In return for its concessions, Tehran asked Washington to end its hostility, to end sanctions, and to disband the Iranian rebel group the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and repatriate its members.

The other big news is--surprise surprise--Ayatollah Khamenei who never was a big fan of President Ahmadinejad has told him to stay out of the nuclear issue. The piece came out in Khamenei's press outlet--the state run press which he controls. Not some underground dissident paper.

So let's recount:

--Ahmadinejad's supporters lost in the (open) elections for city council.
--His theological supporters, principally Ayatollah Yazdi, lost in the election for Assembly of --Experts who decide on the next Supreme Leader bc SL Khamenei rigged the election for Ahmadinejad's crowd (the Islamic revolutionaries) to lose.
--He is openly rebuffed by Khamenei's newspaper.
--In the Assembly Elections Rafsanjani, the man whom Ahmadinejad beat, former President of Iran, and Khamenei's pick (a conservative not a radical populist ala current Prez), is picked to lead the group.
--During the infamous Holocaust Conference, students burned Ahmadinejad in effigy and chanted Death to the Dictator (i.e. Ahmadinejad) and state-run television showed it!!! ie. The Supreme Leader wanted that showed.
--The Legislature has voted to shorten his presidential term by 18 months.
--The Conservatives and Reformists are aligning for a pragmatic center to kick out the radicals, with it seems the Supreme Leader's tactic approval.

Now please tell me this isn't the sign of a lame duck President? The Grand Bargain will come at a higher price now because Iran played nice in Afghanistan and with this memo in Iraq--again this is prior to Ahmad. election. This is the working and mindset of the Khamenei, the man who actually holds power, as well as perhaps Rafsanjani.

And the US labeled them the Axis of Evil. Cheney arrogantly tossed their proposal aside because he wanted to invade and put some regime change 2.0 on. Because we didn't lock them to help stabilize Iraq, they clearly have their agenda for the country and went after it. We don't take them up on the offer, they give IED to insurgents who kill and maim American soldiers. Again, which is at the footstep of the VP's door--he is (partly) responsible for their deaths, loss of life, limb, and sanity. Not solely responsible, but from my faith point of view, when he dies he is going to have to answer to God for that. So I'm not saying that lightly--I'm mean that quite seriously.

Of course Iran's goals and the US for Iraq--stable, unified, ally in War on Terror--were/are not the same, but our goals were never feasible. Iran already does and will have its influence there; when they offered to bring us into that orbit we were beyond ignorant and arrogant to say no. And we are paying an enormous price for this administration's stupidity and blindness in this area.

I'm not saying Iran is not an authoritarian regime. It is. I think authoritarian regimes that are experiencing dropping birth rates (calling Mark Steyn, they better get some babies going in Tehran), mass exodus in the form of "brain drain", economic recession across the classes even as oligarchs are getting rich off oil, Iranian prostitutes all over the world (talk about civilizational decay) are exactly who not to bomb.

Iran like the Soviets will collapse on its own. Its ideology, its formation of human social, economic, religious, and political realities has failed. It has, in integral speak, not met the quadratic conditions or the evolutionary grain. It will fall if only the US doesn't bomb them. Period.

Like I always say, the conservatives do not have enough faith right in our own tradition. In this case the neocons just as with the Soviets. It was one thing to be supplying the Mujihadeen while simultaneously having open lines of communication, SALT treaties, detente, etc. Do that first and then target the IED and networks in Iraq. Then watch the Iranian Gorbachev emerge. This is 1970s Brehznev Soviet Union--still spouting ideology about world conquest, still open to funding terrorists, but bleak and eaten away from within domestically. How can Bush and Cheney be this dumb?

Saudi British mosque vid

ZeroBoss linked this video on a hardline mosque in Britain, funded by the Saudis, that is teaching jihad, sharia on European soil, execution of khaffir (infidels). Although one could legitimately argue that maybe hardline is the wrong word and rather more mainstream.

Islam has not made a major leap into modern theology and social (even if still very conservative) reality. Islam's greatest strength and possible greatest flaw (on the theory that one's strength is one's weakness) is instruction-law-communal justice. This form of theology pronounced by the imam is just a very extreme form of imperial religion. The weakness of course is what happens when the Muslims, the ummah, al-Islam, is weak relative to the infidels, as it were? I'm focusing mostly on Sunni Islam for the moment, since the mosque in question is Sunni. Some of the worst charges against Sunni Islam---non-trustworthiness in treaties, for example--come out the position of weakness. At least historically. If one could argue, and I'm not arguing in this either pro or con, that such activities were necessary for survival in the time of Muhammad and the Early Companions, then are those standards still applicable today? Islam qua tribal-imperial Islam is under attack and should be. Islam itself should not be under attack--and sometimes sadly is.

Islam was the last and in terms of size the greatest of the "blue" imperial regimes. But that time is past and for the religion and its people to have a real future, it has to move forward--and that will only happen twinned with economic liberalization. Particularly in Europe where such trade does exist but Muslim youth by and large are kept out of the loop--socially as much if not more so than economically. Which is far more dangerous. Well educated, with some means, but humiliated young men=radicals. Not just Salafi jihadist ones, but definitely they are part of that trend.

In terms of the video, I'm in favor of its dissemination. I'm not for governmental anti-free speech measures--as interestingly some conservatives have called for putting them in a difficult position to both defend censorship of these views and promotion of Danish cartoons for example.

In American law, which doesn't apply in Europe obviously, but as an example--in American law free speech can be limited if it represents a "clear and present danger" to society. Whether such things as calling for the executions of homosexuals is a clear and present danger is a very valid question--but just so we are keeping score, that would mean certain very extreme Christian fundamentalists in America should be shut down bc such views are promoted.

My point is that the increasing transparency of video capability runs both ways--the young men in the mosque get live feeds from the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia but their group has been infiltrated by a Muslim (presumably) and is equally being shown around the world. I'm all for protests and public pressure (moral sanction) put on say this mosque to can this imam. I'm not a big fan of government censorship-the clear and present danger line is a fine one to determine in many cases. It's not as simple, in this case, as yelling fire in a theater kinda thing.

But to get back to Saudi Arabia politically for a second. Bush's invasion of Iraq was always about Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But Bush ignorantly thought it should have been about Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah as well--and tangentially showing such power to Russia and China to keep them at bay.

If this is WWII all over again, then the Salafi jihadis are the Nazis and the Iranians are the Communist Soviets. The Allied Powers did not and would not have won without Joe Stalin, the Russian winter, and millions of dead in places like Stalingrad. Period.

The Palestinian-Israeli issue is separate. Even if Palestine gets a state, Saudi Arabia will still be a mess. The Palestinian issue is painful but mostly an excuse for Arabs, seems to me. Getting the Palestinians a state and removing the Israeli occupation, which I"m in favor of, will not take care of Riyadh or Cairo. That is why this week the Saudis and Egyptians supported the surge, barely, and said they would offer no real help in the matter. Why they fear Iran so much--it represents not only the rise of the Shia but the realization that this can not go on this way forever. Their last ditch efforts to get the populace behind them will likely be to attempt nuclear weapons programs. Hosni Mubarak's son (Gamil), who Mubarak is attempting make his successor--aka a monarchical dynasty, how "moderate" is that in this day and age?--gave a speech calling for Egypt to go after the bomb. Smart politics on his part.

You make a deal with Iran, Russia, and China--with or without a surge I don't really care at this point--Iraq breaks down and the pressure goes to where it has always needed to go: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt.

Al-Qaeda is an almost purely Saudi and Egyptian organization that only recently is trying to pull in Pakistani British.

Salafi jihadism has to be isolated and attacked from all corners: market flooding (and all that comes with that), police type actions, intel, and military interventions (read: sub-Saharan Africa) where needed. All of which will work with a simultaneous alliance-containment strategy on Iran, itself predicted on Chinese-Russian-US normalization of relations. This is what Nixon would have done, so says Jim Pinkerton.