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The "New Years Resolution"® has to be one of the most egoic concepts ever devised - yep, THIS year will be different! [rolls eyes]

HNY, Michael & Co.! :-D


So maybe you really do what I am talking about when I say that, for all of our stuff and high GDP and wizbang gizmo version XXXXX10000 blah, blah we really are impoverished.

We don't need to share. No. We need to go faster yet and multitask more and some purveyor of gizmo version XXXXX10000.1 will help us get there.....and you have to have it or your not only not "competitive", but you're just not cool.'s nuts - totally batshit crazy. and it's our culture. and there seemingly is no end to it. and it will kill you.

But in a couple hours it will be 2012. The world as we know it has but 12 months. The new world will be much different. Taking it easy will actually be a cultural value. The song, by the Eagles, will be the new national anthem; replacing all those explosions and death related memes in that impossible to sing tired old tune.

That is what the champagne and bourbon are telling me, anyhow.


True, but there is another way of looking at this. We could just as easily say it's the soul that demands and is hungry for experience, of all kinds. We don't incarnate only to grow an ego, but also to grow a soul. All experience feeds the soul – remember Keats said that the world is the vale of soul-making.

Creative (new) choices feed the soul most.

Spirit is another matter. It contains all possible choices and is the plenum from which we select. Meditation is a way of avoiding choice, or, paradoxically, choosing everything.

Happy New Year! The year of free-energy is upon us.

The widom of hindsight :)

Sorry: wisdom lol

Michael you probably know all this already but I'll set it down here for anyone who doesn't but you've touched on one of the key areas where so-called mysticism or spirituality very clearly overlaps with Newtonian physics.

According to physics any system can only perform as much work as it has energy for.

And according to mysticism each of us only has so much energy to work with in our daily endeavours hence the need (if we're to investigate 'spirituality') to develop what Idries Shah called spare capacity by cutting back our energy expenditure on our everyday worldly concerns, (what Al Ghazali referred to as "reducing your people").

This's supposedly what the study of Economics - "housekeeping" - was originally developed for by the likes of Pythagoras, to enable students to learn how to manage their daily energy expenditures so they could be in the world without being of it, (as opposed to living in a cave or the wilderness which for many is counterproductive to say the least).

And this process of gradually weaning ourselves off the socialization processes we're bombarded with on a daily basis, (the internet, tv programs and movies, newspapers, news reports, government exhortations to worry about our weight, our health, our kids/parents, terrorists, etc., etc., etc.) all supposedly begins by simply setting aside some time during the day to doing what the earliest Christians/gnostics referred to as basic witnessing, i.e., simply sitting or standing there doing nothing, paying attention and observing the way our thoughts and emotions operate in our head and affect our bodies as if we're scientists studying unknown lifeforms operating in an eco niche where they maybe shouldn't be.

Great post, Michael.

One of the reasons I wanted to leave Japan for good in 2004 is that the whole *society* seems to run on this self-inflicted stress. Especially in the business world but certainly not only there.

For example, I had bosses who would regularly want to start off late for appointments. There was nothing in particular to make us late, but they'd fool around at their desks until the last minute. Then we'd take off for the appointment in a rush and a panic.

I regularly get translation assignments from Japan at the last minute. It's just the way it is.

I have come to see a lack of preparation or, at a more extreme level, a willful disregard of likely negative consequences as a hallmark of Japanese thinking. Examples would be the attack on Pearl Harbor and the horrendous lack of preparation for disaster at the nuclear power plant in March of 2011. Oh goody, we have a crisis to handle now!

Of course, this kind of thing can happen anywhere, but Japan seems particularly prone to it.

Happy New Year, all!


Michael Prescott:
”I'm not much for New Year's resolutions...”

I’ve been somewhat puzzled by them for some time now. I mean, if a change is worth making, why wait for a new year to make it?

Ever since I’ve read Bill Plotkin’s books, I have found it difficult to think of ego as something undesirable or problematic. It can certainly be a haranguing and neurotic voice, but it can also be a dedicated and resourceful agent in the service of something greater than itself. At least that’s the side of it that I see nowadays.

Matt said:

"One of the reasons I wanted to leave Japan for good in 2004 is that the whole *society* seems to run on this self-inflicted stress. "

And yet through their culture also runs a theme of peace and serenity, as in the traditional Japanese way of decorating homes with such quiet simplicity and lack of busy-ness. Buy maybe that's a thing of the past?


It is funny how much the stereotypes of Japan do *not* match the present situation.

In general, the Japanese homes that I've been in are a disaster of poor taste and messiness. Quite frankly, it's a level of clutter that would not be tolerated in most US homes. And just plain dirtiness and grunginess.

Japanese offices--the same thing. Quite often clutter and chaos.

The stereotype is a room with tatami mats, shoji, and an elegant scroll on the wall. That just isn't the reality today. More likely off-white wallpaper that came with the apartment, fake wood-grain flooring, crappy mismatched furniture, no dishwasher in the kitchen,* and a haphazard approach to decoration in general. It's depressing.



*It blows my mind that a convenience that was in American homes in the 50s onward and could readily be afforded by most Japanese families basically doesn't exist in the country. There *are* dishwashers: countertop models with pathetic capacity and performance. I have never seen a basic under-counter model in Japan in a home or in a store. Most Japanese people wash dishes by hand. Yes, it's ridiculous.


Another thing is that the whole Zen thing doesn't exist in Japan. People don't believe in Buddhism, don't meditate, and in general don't have spiritual practices. All of the stats about how many Japanese people are Buddhist or Shinto are complete crap. Surely 90%+ of Japanese people are spiritually non-practicing, maybe higher. That doesn't mean they're atheists, however. The average Japanese person is a "slopnostic": "Hmm, maybe there's something out there, maybe not, don't really think about it, don't really care. Pass the remote/game controller."



I think there are some people who need to create a crisis in order to get motivated, and will create a crisis on purpose. (I had a boss who deliberately did this, just to get himself and others "motivated.")

On the other hand, maybe what Michael did would have worked, and he would have been really pleased. We wouldn't have a lot of great and useful things if someone didn't say, "let me try this." The problem seems to be where to draw the line. Anyway, hope everyone has a very happy and prosperous New Year.

I loved the quote from Barbara Sher. Or rather, her quote from Pietro. Thanks for that. Glad I strayed from my to-do list long enough to read it on your blog!

"The stereotype is a room with tatami mats, shoji, and an elegant scroll on the wall. That just isn't the reality today."

I was afraid that might be the case. That's what happens when you talk to someone (me) whose only exposure to Japanese interiors comes from visiting Japanese tea houses in Southern California.

I guess I should have know better based on what I've seen in some contemporary Japanese movies.

And yes, I was wondering about Zen and the current state of spirituality in Japan. Sad to hear there's such a lack of interest there.

"Most Japanese people wash dishes by hand."

Glad to know I'm not the only one. :o) My kitchen is too small for a dishwasher.

Also I loved your apt and hilarious description of the ego. Small and quiet it is not.


Shoulda said, "Most Japanese and New Yorkers wash dishes by hand." Wait, you're out West, right? "Most Japanese, New Yorkers, and Los Angelesers wash dishes by hand..."



"Most Japanese, New Yorkers, and Los Angelesers wash dishes by hand..."

OK, Matt. We can be friends again.

Nah, I used to live in L.A., and I can confidently state that most Angelenos own dishwashers.

I had a friend out there whose kitchen was too small for a regular DW, so he bought a portable one that could be hooked up to the sink. Used it for years, then sold it to his landlord when he bought a house in Lancaster (out in the desert).

Yeah, those portable ones are the ones they have in Japan.

By the way, in general the kitchens in Japan are *not* too small for dishwashers. It's dumb.

"Nah, I used to live in L.A., and I can confidently state that most Angelenos own dishwashers."

Probably true. I, on the other hand, don't even have room for a portable.

So why do I live in this small space? It's a question of priorities, and making the most of what my budget can afford. What matters to me is clean air and quiet. And living in the rear unit of a duplex near the ocean, I've got both of those.

When I drive by luxurious homes (with dishwashers, no doubt) that front onto busy streets with lots of traffic noise and pollution, it amazes me that people would choose to live like that.

My New Year's resolution and instant cure for the pointless waste of time: stop arguing with skeptics!

That's a good one, David!


It's funny that you compare the today's people with the sharks, because many people are like sharks not only that they are afraid to stop, but that they do not look back, like sharks who can not look back because they have no neck, an idea that appears in an episode of Futurama. Is the presentism of the present time, failing to appreciate the tradition, not knowing the old studies, including psychic investigations especially, not reflect on the future.

Happy new year!

The song, by the Eagles, will be the new national anthem; replacing all those explosions and death related memes in that impossible to sing tired old tune....hahaha I'm just kidding

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