Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

The Killing Fields

Posted: January 13, 2013 in Change, Mindfulness, Photography, Travels

[music: The Partisan – Leonard Cohen]

Walking through The Killing Fields was a sombre and emotional experience.

I have been asking myself what responsibility the citizens of democracies have for the actions of their government? I have the feeling that citizens of most democracies have absolved themselves of their countries’ actions, “It’s the government that did it, I didn’t agree” or “Had I know, I wouldn’t have agreed.” Terzani provided me with my own answer to this question: a vote for war with Sparta means going to fight and possibly die… whether you voted for war or not. Citizens need to have ‘skin in the game’ for a democracy to function as one.

We act as we want the world to be. Inaction, indifference, ignorance must be more than tacit approval or disapproval, they are active participation. Despite the discomfort of considering oneself a collaborator in whatever crimes the nation has committed; what other incentive do we have for engagement?   Isn’t a democracy simply a collective responsibility? They certainly aren’t limited liability companies, no matter how much this idea is attractive to leaders and the herd. We elect representatives to represent us, we can not feel that we delegate responsibility of the decisions, we only delegate the action of taking them.

When citizens fail to act to hold their leaders, legislators, prosecutors, and judges to their own standards, then they are themselves complicit in their actions; the citizen is, after all, both the initial decider and final arbiter, no matter how much how lazy or how cowardly he may be. I think that freedom has been erroneously interpreted as “right to abstain from” responsibility, when in fact it must mean “obligation to” act, challenge, change.

Evidence would suggest that our leaders would prefer that we remain ignorant. I find it ironic when references to the ‘nanny state’ refer only to state social programs (like healthcare, unemployment insurance, welfare) and not other matters of state (see link for examples). So I ask myself, why? Now it’s Orwell that provides me with an answer (see below).

My conclusion is that private opinions don’t matter, only our acts are material. Feeling helpless is not an excuse, we all have the ability to set priorities, to take small simple step. And I am the first to opine instead of act. I would go further and ask myself whether the members of groups, churches, associations bear, at the very least, moral responsibility for the actions these organisations?

I ask myself these questions because wars, genocide, war crimes, do not spontaneously appear, they are often the direct or indirect result of the foreign or commercial policy of ‘third party’ nations… our nations. Here is a Hollywood illustration.

I’ll end this with two quotes from George Orwell:

“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” 1984


Big Jet Plane

Posted: November 28, 2012 in Mindfulness, Travels

[music: Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone] ~ acoustic version 🙂

As the pilot applies full throttle, the jumbo jet accelerates down the runway. Moving at 300 kilometers per hour, they approach the end of the runway and the overrun area comes fully into view, the nose begins to lift. It’s too late to abort.

Some decisions are like this. Once you start down certain paths and set things in motion, changing your mind comes with serious consequences. People make these mistakes, managers make these mistakes, nations make these mistakes.

Air travel gives us a new views of our planet and allows us to reach places we might never had had the opportunity to visit. It also prevents us from discovering the land and people below, obscures opportunity. It’s fast, easy, cheap… modern?

Sometimes we can jump on and off and take a breath in somewhere new.

Not all decisions require commitment, not all journeys require defined destinations, and it’s useful to understand the difference.

[music: XX – The XX]– 10 hour XX intro!

At the end of July, I spent a week diving on Koh Tao (turtle island) with the very professional diving school Scuba Junction (which I highly recommend if you are planning a visit).

There are only two reasons to spend time on Koh Tao: exceptional Scuba Diving or early-twenties partying. As this island is exclusively devoted to tourism, the locals and imported immigrant workers have adapted to the touristic environment of party goers, luxury resort divers, and an occasional ‘normal’ scuba divers. Aside from diving, there is little that could entice me back to this island; it had a mini-beachside Disney feel to it, there were too many tourists, and the locals were not genuinely welcoming – to the point of being exploitative (i.e.  the very real motorbike scam).

During my stay, I did have the chance to speak with some very interesting Westerners, travellers. One gave me his copy of The Snow Leopard. Over diner one night, another asked me, “We all need money, but what does one really need it for?”

“Food, shelter and health. The rest of what we need, money can’t buy.” he replied. “I use money to buy myself freedom from the things the rest of the world covets.”

Since we spoke, I have been giving this idea a lot of thought; what I have come up with is not terribly original, but it’s not the originality of the thought but how one puts it into practice that I have found to be interesting. [Generalization warning] The world is increasingly being driven my a notion that we need stuff, iPads, smartphones, designer clothes, 64 megapixel cameras, a 64″ 3D flatscreen TV in every room (24″ in the WC), you get the idea. We spend time thinking about these items and then once acquired, we move on to the next target.

So I have made a few decisions: (1)  Get rid of everything I do not use. (2) Buy to replace, not to add. (3) Favour manual over electric. (4) Reduce my physical possession footprint. (5) Favour local over multinational (the human drive for profits and improvement on a human scale is admirable). (6) Focus on what I can achieve with what I have, rather than buying into the belief that something new will make my ambitions effortless.

This post was originally going to be a simple photographic journey, so here are my Koh Tao photos (Lightroom Koh Tao preset):

Thoughts & Mind

Posted: October 5, 2012 in IdeoKoan 圖像公案, Mindfulness

[music: Symphony #2 – Mahler]


October part III

Posted: October 1, 2012 in Change, Mindfulness, Music

[music: October – U2]

And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care

And Kingdoms rise
And Kingdoms fall
But you go on…

…and on…”

October, U2, 1981


[music: Cathedral – Cocoon]

October is tomorrow and it is supposed to be my lucky month! But I figure that even luck can use some help; awareness of its presence, openness to the opportunity, and space to follow it.

So, this post is about the fourth tetrad of mindfulness-mediation. After we have calmed the mind and are able to concentrate, we can turn our attention to knowing and release.

This is an excerpt from the entry on Anapanasati Sutta in Wikipedia:

“Contemplation of the Mental Objects (dhammā)
Focusing on impermanence
Focusing on dispassion
Focusing on cessation
Focusing on relinquishment”

Any search on the internet will present you with a much wiser choice of references and interpretations.

Nevertheless, this is my take:

[music: Canadian Lover, Falcon’s Escape – Destroyer]

from the album ‘Thief’ – this song is free on