What’s with all the Hatred of Donald Trump

Boxing Trump

Trump: Yep, this is about Donald Trump

So let me just start this out with something that I find interesting. Not Trump. Yet. We’ll talk about him in a minute. First, let’s talk about hate.

How is it that people who are supposed to be all about love feel totally right and justified about hating things? I don’t think you are supposed to pick and choose. And if you hate something, maybe there is a good reason why that you should explore? But let’s just agree that your hate is something undesirable, instead of justifying it. What if you could actually enjoy the things that you hate? Would your life be more enjoyable? Maybe? Cool.

So let’s explore. Donald Trump. I know lots of yogis that pretty much shut-down when he was elected. Why are you reacting so heavily to something that hasn’t even effected you yet? That is very un-yogic. I know a girl that felt the need to leave the country! Rusty Wells threw a fit! Why? And how is it possible you have manifested this intense hatred about the whole situation? Didn’t Jesus say LOVE thy enemy? Wtf. It doesn’t make any sense. He isn’t even given a chance? There can only be one explanation for the fanatic hatred that has spread like wildfire through the popular culture of America. The American popular media.

People are being brainwashed, man…

The news is seriously brainwashing people according to some hidden agenda. That’s one of the things I learned in Asia, where their propoganda is infantile in comparison and much more general. Our media does some weird shit because propoganda has goals. And it has been used for a really long time. Think about Nazi Germany during World War II. Hitler got the entirety of his people morally defending genocide. Even at the beginning of the war, they were aggressively pursuing a racist agenda to pretty much exterminate polish jews. All caused by progoganda. Government communication to its people is one of the most fascinating aspects of history because it indeed influences the history itself drastically. That shit is meta as fuck. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a fireside chat with Reagan, but those are some very interesting moral constructs that we can all learn from.

Why do we let this shit happen?

How is it possible? Why do we let other people influence how we think? Why do you even have the preferences that you do? Well, I guess its just part of living in society. We think together. And people pay lots of money to influence us. But we were never immune to the self-imposed propoganda that exists in our world; its an important part of understanding what culture is. But it is up to us to decide what we truly value. Conditioning is something that only yoga, certain sports, exercise, meditation, and or naturalism can undo. Basically you have to unlearn what you have learned by replacing it with something else, unless you are doing nothing. And I would consider doing nothing to be a meditation.

The media is a method of communication

Propoganda is just another word for government marketing or just attempted influence through the media. Obviously, wealth is what truly creates the largest influence over the news and media. Every country does it, if they are smart. And lots of corporations do it. And the biggest countries in the world are very, very good at influencing the media of other countries through their corporate influence. So everyone does it.

Back to Trump, I think the media is conditioning people to hate him. So I like him. And I’m not saying I love him, I honestly don’t know him well enough to really judge. But I agree with most of his policy so far. If we are at war with Syria, we can’t allow immigrants into the country. We need better regulation of the movement of drugs through the Mexican border. We need to focus on making the American economy great if we want to help the world. The only thing that I feel is missing is a re-appropriation of the military towards the climate. But that’s crazy talk for any politician.

Finding Good Sources?

But honestly, with Trump, I feel like judging his character through the looking glass of the television is inappropriate if I want to properly inform myself. The channel OHN is pretty good I guess, and there are tidbits of CNN and FOX that are okay, don’t get me wrong, but I think overall, they have big hidden agendas created by the DNC and RNC which take in money from the biggest corporations on the planet (specifically the big banks and multinational conglomerates that control 90% of the investment capital in the world). Also, the government regulates them, like they can’t show nudity or use swear words like fuck and shit and bull-crap like that. So there’s that to keep in mind while watching them.

I love lemonde.fr they are great at being neutral; ahh the French and their ideals. Anyways, International news is great, BBC is still pretty influenced by the British State, but its another, different source. We just have to be wary in our country because of the amount of money and therefore influence that corporations have over our media.

Anyways, if those media/bank/government guys hate him, I’m pretty stoked. If you listen to his speeches, they are good. He is spontaneous, and imperfect. He seems sharp. I think there is a lot of corruption in Washington that he is rooting out and he is getting a lot of hate for it. Think about rooting corruption out of the FBI. Doesn’t it seem like something like that might be happening?

2018 Could be an Awesome Year for the US

Trump needs to keep himself safe because the fanatic hate that has developed is kind of explosive and dangerous. I think there’s a good chance that he is draining a big fat swamp. That would free up all kinds of things for our economy.

So seriously, if you feel violent about Trump, you should examine how you got to feel that way. Don’t be too serious about it, this kind of stuff is weird. But people need to get over this idealistic view of what America is. Obama literally sold us out to corporations and their profitability.

We can be a great influence on the rest of the world, but only if we are thriving. And we are not. We need to focus on making ourselves, our education system, and our economy as good as it can be. Mostly we need far better public education. Then healthcare and the climate and all of our other problems will just start to work themselves out.

So I decided to get political for a minute just to express something that I have been pondering for quite some time. I guess I’ll write the article about goals now, which was my intent when I began writing, haha.

Write About Your Trump Hate in the Comments!

I’m honestly curious, please share 🙂

Examples of TRUMP HATE (these are all links, click those suckers)

  1. STOP HATE DUMP TRUMP
  2. TRUMP HATES DOGS?
  3. TRUMP CAUSES HATE CRIMES BY EXISTING
  4. TRUMP CREATES RACIAL DIVISION
  5. HUFFPOST HATES TRUMP
  6. Some Random Anti-Trump Resistance
  7. WASHINGTON POST HATES TRUMP
  8. Chicagoans LOVE TRUMP HATE
  9. TRUMP HATE CITIES
  10. THE MEDIA HATES TRUMP (and why, maybe?)

Seriously read #10, so interesting… but also biased, of course.

PS: pls don’t hate me for writing this..

Journal Update: Finding ways to Create

Updates from the Thunderdome

This is going to be more of a personal update, I’m may just be probably almost about to go on a rant.

This week someone grabbed my phone from the back of the yoga studio I instruct at and trashed my phone. They didn’t even sell it or anything. Just ruined it. What a waste of an amazing piece of technology, humph.

So now I am blessed to have no phone enslavements and am just doing my best to simply continue onward. It’s just kind of disheartening to feel like my space was dishonored and some idiot who can’t even properly steal things trashed my stuff. I even think I know the person that stole the phone and I’m just disappointed in the whole situation. What a fucking waste of time! Nothing is more useless than some of these entitled, poor americans who feel like they deserve things and aren’t willing to work hard for anything.

The NFL is a great equivalent to this. What the fuck are those players doing? I don’t even think they really know what they are fighting for/against. I really feel like it is far more of an anti-establishment movement than an anti-cop movement. I mean, Obama is far more of a reason that minorities in this country are suffering than cops are; he basically tried to enslave the citizens of American to the corporate government allied banks. Worst president since Regan imho, and that is completely nuts, considering the Bushes were in office. The American media are huge liars, in so many aspects. What a bunch of idiots. But it’s probably this way simply because the banks & government own them. Watching the news has become so toxic, they literally just lie and embellish the entire time. So I only watch HBO now. WOOHOO WESTWORLD IS AMAZING!!! (just started yesterday) and I just watch a tiny, itsy bit of netflix here and there.

So here I am just spending all of my time creating yoga classes and music and writing and painting as much as I can, but I have also picked up some work trimming in GV to pay the bills. But now I have to figure out this whole phone thing, because I use it for all my music in yoga classes and I have been wanting/preparing to start a youtube channel for about 3 months so I need to camera. So yeah, money money money. BOO. I hate money :/

Always Working Hard on Yoga Instruction

I am still teaching 7 yoga classes a week, at East Wind Yoga in Auburn and Roseville and am constantly improving my delivery of cues and my dialogue. I am passionate, it is a calling, I love working with the yogis more than anything else. I am breaking through barriers, learning how to connect on deeper levels, and am teaching people how to use, honor, and appreciate their bodies as they learn to use them sustainably. I feel like it is part of what I am meant to do here. Maintaining my own practice while I teach is the most difficult part of this, but I am making it work. I could use another trip to India, honestly. The space that I had to practice there last time was nothing short of blissful.

I am writing a book that I am really excited about and am going to turn it into a beginner youtube tutorial series. It’s called, “Practice Yoga” and will be 25 chapter, or 25 days of practice. The idea is to “work up” to the final day, which is an advanced adaptation of the intermediate series of Ashtanga. I will also start a workshop for the primary series pretty soon here. Definitely excited for those things.

Exposing ‘the E.T.’ and the HAZE Album

Right now I am trying to use twitter and not getting any traction. Music is hard to submit to others because it is so unique and I really feel like people don’t give new, unique music a chance from people who are completely unknown.

I’m not playing any shows right now, which makes it kind of rough for me cause I spent the vast majority of my free time (whenever I’m not teaching yoga) to make music. I just wanna dance with the partiers!

For a few months I have been starting a youtube channel for ‘the E.T.’, and soon I will start live streaming out to all of my followers from my production sessions. I’m also considering making some sound design and mixing tutorials, which could be a really cool addition to what ‘the E.T.’ can bring to fans.

Oh and make sure you check out my HyperDrive music video, I think it’s the best one yet.

Letting go of what isn’t necessary

There’s no point in stressing out over my phone. At least something worse didn’t happen, but it is so damn annoying to have to spend my time on that, when I have so many other projects that I am working on. Oh yeah, I’m also finishing another painting! This one is super cool 😀

Lessons in Confidence and the Immediate Future

Right now, I am in the grind. Simply trying to get better at everything that I do, from teaching yoga, to writing music, to this blog, to creating new media for people to digest. I want to be able to offer the highest quality of service (because that is what I value) and want to be able to deliver before I start taking major leaps of faith, i.e. my first show as ‘the E.T.’.

When I step on stage, I want to have full confidence in my ability to deliver my message. If the audience doesn’t like it or appreciate it or whatever, that’s fine, but I want to appreciate it. Otherwise, what is the point? So I’m letting my confidence build and build as my skill level rises and can’t wait to see where all of these amazing projects take me.

Thanks for reading, happy Monday everybody! Tomorrow night’s yoga class is going to be fun, the class is going to be one of the most challenging ever!!

 

 

The 5 Major Problems with Hinduism (esp. the Caste System)

Biggest Hindu Temple: Akshardham (the Hindusim & the Caste system)

Modern Hinduism

As humans, we like to idealize about things that we don’t necessarily experience. The grass is always greener where you aren’t.

Recently, this has occurred quite often in the way that Westerners view eastern religions in the yoga community. I definitely experienced this before I saw the religions in action when I visited southeast Asia.

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions on the planet and is the primary religion in Southeast Asia and India. It is the world’s third largest religion, after Islam and Christianity with one billion followers.

Hinduism is far more of an aggregation of diverse traditions, rituals, and philosophies rather than an organized religion. Despite this traditional disparity, which has unified since ancient times, modern Hindu philosophers have helped to universalize the religion into several core concepts:

  • There is a divine nature in all beings
  • Dharma and right living
  • Social Justice
  • Peace
  • Shared sacred literature

Together, these concepts combine to make up the modern philosophical view of the Hindu religion, which is really more of a category of rituals and traditions than an organized religion. The diversity of the religion is astounding.

Hinduism has had a profound effect upon India and has helped to form the social and cultural norms that have spread throughout southeast Asia. In reconciling the religion’s philosophical ideals with the modern culture of India and other Asian countries we can start to see some major problems with the religion’s traditions in regards to the functioning of humanity within their society.

These problems begin to show up in the structure of a society, as well as cultural tendencies, individual habits, and norms that are commonly accepted by the population. The following are the six major problems with the philosophical tradition:

  1. The Caste System
  2. Ahimsa
  3. Samsara
  4. Moksha
  5. Marriage
  6. Responsibility

The Caste System

The caste system, or separation of classes is probably the largest problem within the Hindu philosophies. People are born into their caste and cannot change it. There are five social classes defined by the Vedic philosophies: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras, and Dalits. Varna, meaning class, and Jati, meaning caste, will help us to understand how the caste system is structured and implemented.

Brahmins are priests and teachers and are engaged in obtaining the “highest” spiritual knowledge. They are traditionally holy men with training from the age of 5, but can also be warriors, fishers, or other such professions. One usually continues the profession of their father and ancestors.

Kshatriyas are military elite and rulers. During wartime they protect and during peaceful times they rule. These were typically not chiefs, but the ruling elite.

Vaishyas were the class of farmers and cattle rearers until the more modern period where they transitioned to become money lenders, traders, and land-owners. There are lots of sub-castes in Vaishyas and there have been revolts by the class throughout history.

Shudras are the final caste in the system besides untouchables, or Dalits. Their duty and function is to serve the other castes, which has many potential problems for the members of the class. Some scholars believe that members of the caste were rejected by the other classes and therefore became the lowest class on the metaphorical totem pole.

Dalits are arguably not a caste, but rather untouchables and those rejected by society at large and make up about 20% of the population. India has passed several laws to protect this group of people because they are historically very discriminated against. They are also known as the casteless people.

One is born into a caste based on their family and are derived based on their occupation, though it wasn’t always the caste (get it?). The modern version of the caste system is a result of the colonial British Empire and served to provide administrative structure for the regime. It is essentially similar to slavery and modern India’s government has fought this discrimination with affirmative action, job reservations, and government jobs for the lower castes.

It’s pretty easy to see how the caste system promotes slavish living conditions and discrimination. It has influenced other religions and other countries, especially in the Indian subcontinent and is very visible in the social structures of most of the southeast asian countries. The promotion of the caste system is the biggest problem in Hinduism.

Ahimsa

Ahimsa is the concept of non-harm and means not to injure and applies to all living beings. Although the concept has many positive functions in human society, it promotes passivity for injustice and is probably one of the largest contributors to the reason that the caste system exists at all. Non-harm in nature is not possible, as the consumption of living matter is completely necessary for the sustenance of life. I am not saying that peacefulness isn’t possible, but life itself is somewhat of a violent process.

Certain individuals require meat for optimal nutrition. Animals shouldn’t feel guilty about living according to their nature, which humans have defined as immoral. So Ahimsa is a great ideal and peace is something we all should strive for, but it’s not necessarily possible in the reality we live in. Even your body is a battlefield for bacteria and micro-organisms. It is simply the way of things in the world.

The concept itself beckons respect for all of life. This is something that is very positive, as it denotes appreciation and promotes consideration of the divinity of all beings. Therefore, if you hurt a living being, you hurt yourself, according to the concept. However, in practice, you must injure other beings to feed yourself. Plants, trees, fish, and all of life is used for humanity to prosper so why are animals different?

Essentially, Ahimsa renders people very peaceful, which is positive, but it can also lead to passivity and acceptance of things that probably should not be acceptable. An example of this is the caste system. As we go down this list, you will start to see some patterns arising that play off of each other and contribute to a climate that is the Hindu religion in modern India. Gandhi was one of the primary promoters of Ahimsa.

Samsara

Samsara is the repeating cycle of birth, death, and rebirth believed by most eastern religions. The idea is that your current life is one of many past and future lives that all affect what you are experiencing now. Karma is what affects your destiny, but the Buddha taught that there was no beginning to the cycle, just an end that comes with Moksha, or liberation from the cycles of deaths and rebirths.

Obviously, this can breed complacency in life as well. There is no evidence to suggest that any of this is real (subjective data is not evidence) and it can lead, again, to acceptance of behaviors and circumstances that might otherwise be fought against. It also takes away from the present moment and can allow an individual to blame circumstances outside of reality for their current predicaments.

Moksha

Moksha is the concept of liberation from Samsara. This is the end goal of the Hindu ascetic’s karma and life. This is essentially an equivalent to heaven for the Hindu and denotes enlightenment, though it differs from the Buddhist ideals of enlightenment because in the Hindu religion, Moksha requires death. It represents self-knowledge, self-realization, and freedom, but also the completion of a fulfilled life of Dharma.

Again, this can create complacency, but on the flip side it can create acceptance for difficult circumstances and hope for the future. It also lends itself to an idealization of the end of life, rather than the present which can be negative. Moksha is a powerful idea, but again there is no evidence to suggest that reality does in fact work this way, so it can lead to delusional behavior.

Marriage

Hindu marriage is a traditional union where two individuals join together to pursue Dharma and Moksha and is recognized by law. Consummation is normally required for the marriage to be validated and most rituals lead to the consummation of the marriage. Marriage is normally arranged by the family, but is not necessarily an indicator of higher divorce rates, or unhappiness in the relationship. Modern India is changing this, as individuals are starting to appreciate choosing their spouse, rather than having their marriage arranged.

Marriages are arranged according to a variety of factors including: astrology, genealogical records, parental relationships, and wealth. Normally, parents arrange the marriage, but in modern urban India, this is changing rapidly.

There are eight types of Hindu marriage, but their differences are mostly ritualistic in nature. Divorce is supposedly extremely rare in Indian marriages.

The biggest problem with Hindu marriage is that there is almost no choice in the relationship. Though many individuals are happy, there are certainly those that aren’t and that are required by their culture and religion to maintain the relationship. If you take the view that marriage should always be eternal this might be a positive thing, but if you believe in free-will and individual happiness you might think this is negative. Hindus tend to be very accepting of their marital circumstances so normally they don’t disclose the circumstances of their relationship freely and tend to be oppressed because of gender roles in India.

Conclusion

There are always positive and negative aspects of philosophical concepts, depending upon how they are implemented. Many of these problems can also be very positive, such as increasing acceptance of circumstances and ability to cope with harsh realities. However, some also lead to very negative things, such as not caring about the environment, massive pollution, separation of people by genealogy, and extreme poverty for those who are not accepted by the culture’s standards. Discrimination is relatively normal in the Hindu religion and especially in southeast Asia and the Hindu religion definitely contributes to this.

Many aspects of Hinduism are positive, but these are the major negative issues with the religion. Philosophy is often paradoxical, so if anything is unclear please comment below. Additions are also always welcome!

Dachau Concentration Camp and Nazi Germany

Today I was lucky enough to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp for Memorial Day. World War II sites are places where I feel proudest to be American; honestly, while I am traveling it doesn’t happen as often as I would like. Dachau is just outside of Munich and took the better part of 5 hours to experience and tour.

This was the second concentration camp I’ve visited. When I was 21 I visited Austwitz, which is really more of a death or extermination camp, rather than a concentrated labor camp. In other words, people were taken to extermination camps after they were deemed unfit to work in concentration camps or if their “offense” was bad enough in the eyes of the Nazi power. 1.1 million people died in Austwitz, whereas 40,000 died in Dachau; one of the explanations why was that Nazi Germany needed the labor in order to continue its production as a war machine.

Dachau was much different than Austwitz, besides the obvious factor that is wasn’t so much of a killing machine; it focused more on labor and training SS guards to be completely brutal and inhumane towards their prisoners. It was a place of torture and desensitization that reminds me of medieval torture machines and all kind of war crimes and inhumane treatment of people. In addition, Dachau was far more known within the German country; facts about Austwitz and the atrocities committed there are still coming to light because of the cover-ups of the Nazi regimes.

Dachau started as a camp for political enemies, most prominently communists and major opposition to Hitler’s Third Reich. That is one of the primary ways he gained control over the country; he would send anyone who opposed his ideals to concentration camps to be “rehabilitated”. Mostly people were tortured and forced to work as slaves. Over time, his attention turned more broadly to the Jewish population and towards the extermination of eastern European populations, most devastatingly Poland.

Propaganda from the time period was hyperbolized and Hitler preyed upon the fear and weakness in the country’s economic infrastructure after WW1. His cabinet was completely ruthless, taking every advantage that they could to control the mindset of the population and terrorizing their enemies so that they either fled the country, or were sent to concentration camps such as Dachau.

Over 30,000 people at a time would be held at standstill in the courtyards of Dachau, oppressed by beatings and random killings by the SS guards that were at first posed as suicides. Over time they began to kill in front of the residents. Nearing the end of the war, they were forced into long marches that could last weeks and would claim thousands of lives at a time. When US soldiers arrived on April 29th 1945, 10,000 people were very sick and over 3,000 dead bodies lying about the camp. During the concentration camps functioning, over 40,000 people died; 40,000 is the number of confirmed deaths and that number is certain to be low. Over 200,000 people moved through the camp during its 12 year operation.

Concentration camps and extermination camps were run in largely the same way, except for one thing; prisoners at extermination camps were usually brought straight to the gas chambers, then cremated while prisoners at concentration camps were forced into slave labor. Both were considered less than human by SS guards and the guards were forced to call them “things or objects” rather than to refer to them as human beings. Their rights were stripped from them and they became the number on their sleeve, though in Austwitz they were infamously tattooed with their number, which was unique.

Humans were separated into categories based on their “crimes” against the Nazi party: Jews, unemployed, mentally unstable, homosexuals, immigrants, and other religious groups were completely discriminated against in the camps, largely as a result of the Nuremburg laws that institutionalized racism. They were given special patches on their arms and uniforms of dark blue and white to wear in the camp, most of which were very cold.

These human prisoners were processed on arrival; their clothes were stripped, all possessions were taken from them and they were shaved completely, disinfected, then showered torturously with boiling hot then extremely cold water in alternation, according to how much the SS guard wanted to torture the prisoner.They often laughed. Signs saying “Work is freedom” lined all of the concentration camps, a kind of false hope, which is something very important to the psychology of a concentration or death camp. They were subjected to morning role-calls where they would stand outside in the freezing cold for hours at a time at complete attention or be subjected to beatings which they had to count along with the guards. If they missed a number or didn’t know German, the SS guards would restart.

SS guards were particularly fanatical, an elitist group of torturers and killers that eventually were outsources from other countries, but that were originally only the craziest of the Germans. Eventually the Germans ran out of fanatics and had to recruit from other countries; these men were the worst of the worst and had no problems with torture or performing the most brutal of acts upon other human beings.

One of the most interesting and vile parts of Dachau were the psychological experiments. They essentially tested the limits of human survival upon unsuspecting victims, by performing high altitude tests on their brains and bodies, putting them into below freezing water to see how long they could survive, and trying experimental drugs on the prisoners. They would inject things like pathogens into their bodies then see how long they would survive with certain types of medications. Some of the most horrific photos came from this portion of the memorial.

Probably the most disturbing were the piles of bodies, frozen, completely malnourished, dead, sick with typhoid fever, you name it and it happened there. By the end of the war, Germany was out of food and the prisoners at the concentration and death camps were the first victims to go without.

That’s when the forced marches occurred, when Heinrich Himmler issued an order on the 14th of April 1945 to ensure that prisoners did not fall into the hands of the enemy; instead they should die. This is probably the biggest reason why the US troops arrived to see what must of been one of the most horrific sights of the war; corpses strewn about and piled together, nothing but skin and bones. Disease was rampant and many who survived until the liberation died afterwards because of their condition. The Americans held trials for the SS in Dachau for the next three years, until they handed the area back over to the Germans.

Why am I writing about such horrific things, or even visiting such terrible places and low points in human history? To learn from them. Desensitization is very real in today’s world, moreso than maybe ever before with the amount of people on our planet. These types of atrocities still exist today, genocide is a very real aspect of the world we live in. I believe that we can transcend such things if we can learn from our past.

“Never again” is what you will see in the memorials at the camps. In French, “plus jamais”, pretty much a direct translation. Every human is a unique individual, so in the same way that there were surely SS guards who doubted their leadership, there are surely ISIS members, Taliban members, and members of other terrorists groups who revolt against their leadership. Stereotypes can be useful, but we have to give people the opportunity to be more than a category or label. We owe it to ourselves to look for the humanity in others even when we have no reason to anymore. I believe that this is one of the fundamental tenets of hope and what will drive our race to higher level of cooperation and flourishing in the state of the modern world.

(The internet where I am staying is really bad, so I will add some pictures to this in the near future. Sorry I can’t offer more visuals on this post.)

 

Dear Berlin, I love you (but not you Hitler)

Adolph_Hitler_Berlin

Berlin was a breath of fresh air after a long time of journeying in Vietnam, taking night buses and trying not to get scammed every day. It was a bit weird to be completely anonymous again, but nice all the same; I was able to practice Ashtanga in the park all three days that I visited Berlin without any interruption or even people staring at me which is something I have come to expect.

Berlin, Germany is a city of history and pain, which I must say is probably the vast majority of European cities. WWII history dominated the city, but in one of the most touching and personalized war exhibits I have ever seen (Austwitz was more personal, but the site’s history is also much more intense). Hitler and the Nazi regime were in full public view in one of the exhibits in the south of the city and the history of the wall was nothing short of incredible.

Berlin_wall
preserved portion of no-man’s land at the Berlin wall

The wall was up for 28 years; many people thought it would only last a few months. 1,000 people were killed in attempts to cross the wall and 5,000 or so were able to make it; but the fear and mental effects on the people were far more impacting.

It becomes pretty obvious that the Soviet Union was the driving force behind the creation of the wall; their tanks reinforced its creation and it wasn’t until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 that the wall was brought down. In addition, the people of Berlin were nearly all against its construction and it tore the city apart; government officials deliberately told the people there would be no wall and many thought it would only last a few days, maybe months. 28 years later, a church, cemetery, apartments, and countless lives were victims of the wall. The tributes to the people were personalized and specific; reading the stories brought you to the time period and it was easy to understand the grasp that fear had on the Berlin people.

There was another exhibit in the South of Berlin, near Potzdamer Platz that displayed details of the Nazi’s rise to power, making full view of Hitler and his regime’s eventual control over Germany, especially over Berlin. The feature picture of Hitler is from that exhibit. It is amazing to see the political climate that created the third Reich and the amount of control that it took over the German population. There was no explanations, simply facts and personal stories that allowed me formulate what it could have been like back in the 1930s and 40s in Berlin.

The food was great, but the Germans seem to eat about 90% meat (the other 10% is potatoes) which is just not my favorite style of food. I did end up having some Currywurst and Snitchzel, though I’m glad I don’t eat it on a daily basis. The people in Berlin were very kind and even though I didn’t go out at night, you could tell that there was a raging night club scene. If I go back, which I really hope to, that is something I will be doing my best to experience in full throttle. I needed to rest after two weeks of night buses and non-stop traveling in Vietnam.

I stayed in two hostels, both were good, though we stayed at the Pfefferbett and it wasn’t amazing; toilets flooded at night, their magnetic key system was absolutely horrible and the WiFi was bad, but it was pretty clean and the beds were nice. The East Seven Berlin hostel was stellar, clean, WiFi was great and the people who worked the hostel were very friendly. I definitely see myself heading back to Berlin in not too long, maybe for some music! That would be cool.

I recently put some new google Ads up on the site, I’m definitely going to keep them up because I think that they are completely non-intrusive and honestly, I’ve worked hard on this blog and think that I deserve at least some compensation for putting so much work into my writing and what it has become. Also, nothing is free; this blog takes money to maintain and I have been shouldering the cost completely. Think of it like I’m trying to get to the point where this blog is self-sustaining, because right now it isn’t.

So please don’t be turned off, understand that I have to eat like anyone else and I really want to get to the point where this blog sustains itself. Nothing is free. I am also completely out of space on my server so this might be my last couple of pictures for a while. If you are interested in supporting my writing, you can just send me an email @ [email protected]

Otherwise, have a great day, I’m off to explore Prague, possibly the most touristic city in Europe (seriously, tourists are everywhere here). More travel blogging on the way 😉

 

Diamonds in the Rough

"Rough diamond" by Unknown USGS employee - Original source: USGS "Minerals in Your World" website. Direct image link: [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rough_diamond.jpg#/media/File:Rough_diamond.jpg

“A diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any bulk material; it can be contaminated by very few types of impurities. Most natural diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure. A material with superlative physical qualities, most of it original from the strong bonds between its atoms.” -Wikipedia

Sometimes, people rise above their circumstances to greatness. They are forged, hardened by pressure and time to rise above their surroundings and to become more than anyone thought they could become. I’ve been lucky to witness this in several people from all over the world. People all over the world have the capacity to be greater than their circumstances would “normally” dictate.

There’s a popular saying going around now: “Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.” I have come to believe that this is completely untrue and a complete idealization; all you have to do is look at the amount of corruption in much of our species to know that people often take the easy way out. Look at the US senate, can you really say they are doing the best they can with what they have?We are lazy beings, like all other mammals we want to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sun and the food it grows. (in balanced quantities of course)

This isn’t to say that people will always take advantage of everything they can; instead, its acknowledging that there will always be both sides to the equation; those that take complete advantage and those that take none and in fact give willingly with no thought of receiving. I’ve witnessed a lot of both lately while I’ve been traveling.

Yesterday was a rough day for me; the traveling and budget have gotten to me and I’m exhausted (you can read yesterday’s article on my mental fatigue here. But the equation will always balance itself out. Today I met an absolute gem of a woman on my way to the Minh Mang tomb. Her name was Rei Nguyen.

Rei was a farmer and told us that she and her husband made around 5 million dong per month (about $250). She sent her kids to a school that cost about 2 million per month, in the city of Hoi.

My girlfriend and I rented a scooter for $4 and headed to the tomb this morning, pretty excited to see the most renowned tomb in what appears to be the cultural center of Vietnam. Largely affected by the Vietnam War (known locally as the American War), we were able to see a lot of the effects of the war in our travels, most particularly the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). There was a good amount of propaganda at the museum, especially geared towards the use of illegal chemicals such as agent orange, the US’s involvement in the war, and Vietnam’s victims. This is not to say there wasn’t massive effect from illegal chemical weapons used by the US, but there was no mention of Russia, or of the civil war in Vietnam. As usual, there was a scapegoat to take the blame and the US took full brunt force of it; it’s probably deserved. (again, I’m not saying I know the situation, but I’ve seen this before in WWI & WWII propaganda, Civil War propaganda, and pretty much every war in history is necessarily affected by propaganda where one country is blamed for the entirety of the war)

Rei’s english was incredibly good for anyone in Vietnam, let alone a farmer with an education that ended when she was 12. She works 10 hour days out in the fields with her husband and eats mostly rice and noodles, though she wasn’t malnourished as far as I could tell. She was extremely kind to us, showed us a shortcut to the tomb and then invited us to her small house by the river to talk and have some tea.

The tomb was incredibly peaceful; death has a way of making the life so powerful.  We walked around the tomb for a couple of hours in the scorching heat and humidity, then returned with her to her home.

Happy_in_Vietnam

I noticed she was lucky enough to have electricity and running water; he house was small, with wooden walls and a tin roof and she graciously offered us tea while we spoke about her life and how my life was very different from hers. She ultimately ended up asking for money for her children’s school, but it was far more of an afterthought than most of what I have experienced in Vietnam. Most will ask for money, then turn their back and mutter under their breath when you refuse their service. She offered us a kind smile and sharing of words and experiences that has been unique in my trip to Vietnam.

In this trip, I’ve met people poorer than you can imagine that still show kindness and refuse to take extra money no matter how hard you try. I’ve met people who I’ve gotten along with like I’ve known them my whole life.

One sterling example of this is one of my Muslim friends from Yemen; probably the one of the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met. He owns about six AK47’s at his home and Yemen and left to pursue a more peaceful education in Mysore. Yemen is currently in Civil war and he has been directly affected by it with the death of some of his immediate family members, yet still he pursues kindness and happiness relentlessly. I was with him while it started and there was definitely a lot of swearing and frustration, but it didn’t change his outlook. He goes against any stereotype I could have held against someone of the Muslim religion.

The owner of the Chakra house, Rajesh was like this as well; one of the nicest and most relaxed people I have ever met. He and I will be friends just like the day I left if I ever return to Mysore (which is highly probable). It’s funny how you meet people who you feel like you’ve known your whole life when you travel.

People are individuals and that’s how they should be treated. One is not representative of the whole, because there is so much variation in our species. So at the same time that there are all of these awesome people I have met, there are also some abominable ones.

Let me give you some examples, from history. I don’t like to talk about negatives in reality because people can change and who am I to judge them. With that said, world leaders are different and I feel at full liberty to judge their decisions. There are some terrible people in our world: Kim Jong Il, definitely not doing the best with what he has especially after his most recent execution; neither did Stalin, or Hitler, or Mussolini. Even American leaders smell of stank corruption that can ruin the people: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Nixon, Ulysses S Grant, Kennedy. Even the greatness of America has such powerful potential for corruption because of the essence of its power.

The truth is, humans will look out for themselves before others and in our modern world we absolutely HAVE to expect this from everyone. Think about it this way; even if you are about self-sacrifice, you would give to your children first and foremost the greatest opportunity to succeed in the world. We look out for ourselves before others and this isn’t a bad thing, it’s simply the reality of humanity. This is why the US is struggling right now, our system of checks and balances has become completely unbalanced in the wake of our economic prosperity in the 80s and 90s and leaders continue to take advantage of the people they rule just as they have since the beginning of time.

Unfortunately, this can even apply to our immediate family. You see celebrities with major mental and stability problems, likely because they can’t even trust their support systems and families anymore (this is just my observation, feel free to comment on it). It’s really sad, but that’s how money can corrupt people. Greed, it seems, is simultaneously the great human strength and weakness.

But on the other side, there are people who will give without even caring about what they receive; they give kindness freely and love as often as they can, as long as their basic needs are met. Sometimes, they even defy those. Remember to think of it as an equation, because that’s what the world we live in requires.

Writing yesterday made me feel so much better, today the same. I really hope that these comments are misunderstood, I am trying to be very objective and am applying my experiences to the greater scope of the world we live in together. I walked around today with a big smile and decided that I would kill my fatigue with kindness and it has worked. I feel a hell of a lot better.

Please let me know what you think of this article in the comments, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/padayoga

I always love to hear from readers.

Exhausted in Vietnam

dark_cave

At this point, I am ready to leave Asia. This journey has been a long one; its been almost four months since I left sunny California to head to India.

India was rough; I got food poisoning 3 times, the third time for an entire week before I was able to get my hands on some probiotics and it was not a fun experience. I continued my Ashtanga practice the whole time and it was definitely an empowering experience, but one that I don’t ever want to experience again.

India became very peaceful for me. I was free to meditate for 3-4 hours a day and write stories and make music when I wasn’t meditating. Boredom was absolutely a big part of India and I was already excited to go back to work after a month. By the end of my time there I was so sick of the extra attention of being white and not having anyone to really connect with. When I’m on long trips like this, I always start to miss my family and friends… A lot.

My progress in the Ashtanga practice was unmistakable, but by the end it really wasn’t important to me anymore. Where was I going anyways? So now I can do full lotus, supta kurmasana, and I can pretty easily get one foot at a time behind my head; but so what? What does that mean for my life and my happiness? Absolutely nothing. I listened to Alan Watts a lot in India and my favorite quote of his was: “So when you have achieved enlightenment, so what? What now?” and that’s where I think I’ve ended up.

So by the end of India, I was exhausted. It’s not easy to live in a third world country; the boredom alone is enough to drive you a little insane. But then I headed to Nepal.

Nepal was a breath of fresh air and a nice rest for me. I stayed with people who didn’t hesitate to act when the quake happened; which I was very lucky to avoid. These guys enjoyed their lives so much and I met people from around the world that I had an absolute blast with. I stayed in the city the whole time because my budget over here was very strict; I came over with less than $3,000 for 4 months of serious travel and I’ve been to 6 countries, all of which are very poor.

After leaving Nepal, I was lucky enough to meet up with my girlfriend/best friend. She was a much-needed break from being alone. We planned to meet in Myanmar, but a technical difficulty with my flight on Biman Bangladesh airlines (NEVER fly with them if you can avoid it) left me stranded in Dhaka for an overnight stay in the airport.

I was lucky; a family that I met in the airport randomly and extremely kindly  offered to let me spend the night at their apartment. They gave me kindness that I won’t soon forget. Then, in my first real terrifyingly close encounter with extreme poverty conditions (which I was a part of for a solid day) where I begged for water and for help. A girl named Anna came to my rescue and helped me to find the family’s apartment that I had completely lost. Another stroke of luck and kindness that I won’t forget; neither will my stress response system.

After narrowly avoiding some terribly consequences in Dhaka, I was able to get a new flight to Yangon, Myanmar and was excited to see a tiny bit of westernization for the first time in months; sky scrapers, parks, and paved streets were never so beautiful to my eyes. And I got to see my girlfriend again, which was what I was really looking forward to. The culture of Myanmar was the easiest for me to cope with in Asia; people were kind and treated you like a human rather than a commodity. Bangladesh was the worst; people will absolutely take as much advantage of you as they possibly can and all of the westerners that lived there looked completely exhausted as a result.

We moved on to Thailand which was surprisingly touristic, but again nearly everyone was more concerned with your money than with anything else about you. It gets exhausting over time to have people trying to get from you and sell you on things. In Thailand, we visited Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai, and flew from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Bangkok was not fun for me; it reminded me of a combination of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, but at least they were used to tourists.

Ho Chi Minh was far different from my expectations; most everyone in the city is trying to take your money by offering Rickshaws, taxis, even random scooterers will stop you on the side of the street and try to get you to ride their scooter. And people are always trying to please you, even if they are completely wrong. This is part of the reason I got so lost in Bangladesh; if someone doesn’t understand you, they’ll make something up that they think you want to hear. It’s frustrating to say the least.

So we took the night buses from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang, which was another breath of fresh air; kind of. Out hostel was amazing, I highly recommend Mozjo Inn if you are ever in Vietnam, the hostel alone is worth a trip to that city. We went scuba diving there and it was amazing! No license required.

Hoi Anh was next, which is an extremely touristic town and didn’t have too much history, though the influences of China and Japan were incredible to see.

Today, I am in Hue, which is a great city, but relentless. I am tired of the extra attention, tired of people trying to sell me things, tired of people who are trying to take money with a huge smile on their face. Most act like they want to know where you are from then are quick to turn around and try to sell you things. It’s nearly impossible to actually meet anyone over here, especially due to the fact that they view you as a commodity. We’ve exchanged some nice jokes with our hostel owner and a couple of waiters, but most aren’t interested in us unless we have money. Its disheartening to see, but it goes to show that human are the same; we love to idealize about the peacefulness of the East, but the truth is that its even more chaotic than America.

This becomes obvious when you pay your first 5 dollars to enter a Buddhist temple. Money runs the world now and its painfully obvious here with the amount of poverty that exists.

Surprisingly, just writing this article has made me feel a lot better. It’s so tiring to be harassed ALL the time. Sometimes, its nice to just be able to share a smile and continue on our separate paths. It’s also weird to miss America, but I know that this will pass, just like all things and I will be doing my best to enjoy these last few days to the fullest. But man, I am tired. Ready to meet up with my mom and sisters in Germany and return to the west… and I am very excited to come back and keep teaching yoga, making music, and to see all of the friends that I miss a whole hell of a lot. Its been a long journey and I am seeing the end in sight and am happy about it; a sign that I am where I need to be.

Please don’t take this as a negative review of Vietnam; this has just been a long, arduous trip for me, partially due to the budget, partially due to the amount of ground that I’ve covered in the past month and a half. But keep in mind that the people here in Asia will get everything that they can from you, just like in the rest of the world. I know that once I am in a comfortable bed again, I’ll look back with fondness on these hardship and eventually, I’ll want to do it again 🙂

 

Overpopulation and its Potential Effects on Humanity

overpopulation: John B Calhoun rat universes

Overpopulation and Humanity’s Destiny

If we don’t halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity- and will leave a ravaged world.

-Nobel Laureate Dr. Henry W. Kendal

 

By the year 2050, the Earth’s population is estimated to reach a staggering 9.6 billion people. Many scientists would consider this to be overpopulation of the planet. It is currently believed that there are 7.2 billion people on Earth, but this is just a guess. In reality, we don’t really have any idea how many people are on the planet, just a lot of supposedly “good guesses”. And unless we make some major breakthroughs in the fields of energy, ecology, climatology, and agriculture the human race has a good chance of experiencing a severe decline in population, possibly even extinction because of overpopulation. A lot of things need to change in our civilization’s infrastructure if the human race wants to survive for the next millennia and even more if we are to prosper.

I’m not an alarmist. There’s no need to panic. But you should probably reconsider your consumption patterns, because you will be economically pressured to change them in the next 20 years. Especially if you live in the United States. But the world isn’t going to end in the next 6 months. In fact, Earth will be fine, especially in the long run. We live on a planet that is incredibly good at balancing itself, which we are seeing now with the effects of climate change (see my review of ‘Chasing Ice’ if you want some good evidence of what is happening to the glaciers of the planet). But weather patterns are going to get more and more severe unless we can find ways to mitigate the greenhouse gas effect and humanity’s consumption of fossil fuels.

A Tipping Point for Humanity’s Population?

It is entirely possible that human’s have reached what scientists call “peak oil”. At this point, we might be running out of oil, even though in the last 6 months we have isolated and reproduced a fungus that can produce petroleum. We might also be able to clean up the world’s largest oil spills with a different type of fungus. Advancements in science are what is going to save us. If you don’t know about the scientific method, you should read this article.

All of these developments can be attributed to the massive growth in human population at the cost of our environment. These problems WOULD NOT exist if humanity was better at living symbiotically with our environment. Yes, I say this with 100% certainty. We tend not to look at situations holistically and see only what is in front of us. In this overpopulated state, we need to either mitigate the effects of our oil use while simultaneously finding sustainable sources of it, or we need to find an alternate, sustainable fuel source for the world’s transportation.

Alan Watts said that the fundamental problem with the current state of society is man’s isolation from nature. This allows for our overpopulation of the planet. Things like A/C, cars, roads, airplanes, deforestation, warehouses, skyscrapers, and dams are all examples of destruction of the environment rather than cultivation. Some of these things can be symbiotic with nature if architected properly (ie climate regulation, terraforming, sustainable fuels, nuclear fusion, etc.). Watts said that in the 60s.

The problem with humans is that we view ourselves as separate from our environment, when in fact the two are the same. Religion is a huge cause of this. For some reason, we feel like we are better than our environment, better than animals, because god made us special. In my last article on human microbiota, I explained how humans have a hole inside of us, called the gastrointestinal tract or gut, that is really a part of the outside environment. So in reality, humans and our environment are the same thing. It is largely our ego and search for control that has led us to believe that we are ‘superior to’ or greater than our environment.

The problems are rather simple. Yet people have a tendency to  be so over-reactive to seeing how humans have affected our environment. This allows news companies and especially shitty internet journalism to get an emotional rise out of us. And after this emotional reaction, we tend to become inactive and hopeless, rather than adjusting our behavior. I’ve witnessed this personally within myself. I waste energy on an emotional reaction, rather than thinking about how much waste I create on a daily basis. There are examples in our modern culture. Water consumption in southern California is an excellent example. Some people don’t even believe that there is really a drought.

Americans, as only 5% of the world’s population, use 24% of the world’s energy; some sources estimate the average American uses as much as 160 gallons of water a day. So instead of writing emotional facebook posts, being reactive and emotional about the issue take matters into your own hands; take shorter showers, try to drive less (obviously you have to drive to work and to get your kids to soccer and all that stuff because our infrastructure isn’t setup symbiotically). Try to use less energy, wash only dirty clothes, turn off your lights. Then you can stop worrying about our planet because that’s all you can do. Manage yourself.

We need to consider what it might be like if we had to live in 100% unity with our environment; which sooner or later will become a necessity if we are to survive with such a large population. Cities will be rebuilt. Freeways will be redesigned. We are already seeing the beginning of some amazing developments.

Answers to the problem of overpopulation?

Nuclear fusion might be the answer to our energy problems, but that technology is expensive and we’re going to have to wait for it. However, creating and harnessing the power of stars is how we will survive for the next millennia. There are a few awesome projects happening that might excite you for the future, rather than scare you away from it. The international thermonuclear reactor project is an exciting project underway and Lockheed Martin has somewhat suspiciously said that they have an even more compact reactor on the way (the scientific community is very skeptical because they haven’t yet released data). Our ingenuity will be the key to our survival.

I am trying to say that hopelessness is a silly conclusion and that hope is key to survival and prosperity. One way to inform yourself of some of the negative possibilities in our future is to learn about John Calhoun’s mouse paradise experiments on overpopulation. It is a concept known as the behavioral sink, or societal collapse due to overpopulation. However, even Calhoun left his studies with hope for the future of humanity, especially considering that there were rats that seemed to be resilient to the effects of overpopulation. His studies involved creating mouse utopias, then allowing the mice to overpopulate. In his studies he found

“Many [female mice] were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did. An even greater number, after successfully giving birth, fell short in their maternal functions. Among the males the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep. The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption. […]

The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of three experiments, in which we observed the development of what we called a behavioral sink. The animals would crowd together in greatest number in one of the four interconnecting pens in which the colony was maintained. As many as 60 of the 80 rats in each experimental population would assemble in one pen during periods of feeding. Individual rats would rarely eat except in the company of other rats. As a result extreme population densities developed in the pen adopted for eating, leaving the others with sparse populations.

[…] In the experiments in which the behavioral sink developed, infant mortality ran as high as 96 percent among the most disoriented groups in the population.”

-John B Calhoun from “Population density and social pathology”(1970). California medicine 113

We have Hope for the Future

Over-reactivity from fear is something you should actively fight within yourself. Overpopulation is a problem that humanity can work together to solve. There is no need for fear. Find hope, reasons to belief in your own ability to consume less, if no one else’s. Fear and panic are the enemies to social order. Stop believing the news, especially internet articles aimed at reactivity. That’s what they want, to shock you into reading. If you can fight your fear with hope and action you will lead yourself to more action oriented at personal results, therefore affecting the collective in the greatest possible way that you personally can. See what  you can do, challenge yourself, experiment with alternate lifestyle behaviors. You’ll surprise the shit out of yourself 😉