Sunday, 29 April 2007

A Study of History

My favourite historian, Arnold Toynbee, holds that civilizations are ruled by charm (of the 'creative minority') as the result of which the people 'suspend disbelief' in their government and allow themselves to be guided without rebellion. He argues that the breakdown of civilizations is not caused by attacks from outside. Rather, it comes from the deterioration of the 'creative minority', which eventually ceases to be creative and degenerates into merely a 'dominant minority' (who force the majority to obey without meriting obedience). He argues that creative minorities deteriorate due to a worship of their 'former selves' as the result of which they become proud - and lose their ability to 'charm'.

2016: I have come across this marvellous quote in the context of the Referendum disaster“As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too,” he wrote. “Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action . . . Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.” Gore Vidal’s 1992 The Decline and Fall of the American Empire:

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Nooooooooo!, originally uploaded by Wolfiewolf.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

The History of Intimacy

'I see humanity as a family that has hardly met. I see the meeting of people, bodies, thoughts, emotions or actions as the start of most change. Each link created by a meeting is like a filament, which, if they were all visible, would make the world look as though it is covered with gossamer. Every individual is connected to others, loosely or closely, by a unique combination of filaments which stretch across the frontiers of space and time...To feel isolated, is to be unaware of the filaments which link one to the past and to parts of the globe one may never have seen.

The age of discovery has hardly begun. So far individuals have spent more time trying to understand themselves than discovering others. But now curiosity is expanding as never before...To know someone in every country in the world, and someone in every walk of life, may soon be the minimum demand of people who want to experience fully what is means to be alive. The gossamer world of intimate relations is in varying degrees separate from the territorial world in which people are identified by where they live and work, by whom they have to obey, by their passports and bank balances... but the art of encounter is in its infancy.'

Theodore Zeldin - An Intimate History of Humanity

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Favourite Wines - the Whites

One of my favourite wines - a 'Far Niente' from California. It probably has the most beautiful label of all. I had it for my birthday supper...

A slightly different wine but if of similar quality - Devil's Lair from the Margaret River area of Australia, where others that I also love - such as Cullen and Vasse Felix also live. Roll on summer! And - while we're about it, come and have a drink in the garden!

Monday, 23 April 2007

The Tale of the Heike

The sound of the Gion Shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things;
the color of the sāla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline.
The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night;
the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Spring in London

More images of spring in London; one of the sunniest on record. This Banksian is the first to flower in the garden and the lilacs are spreading their scent far and wide

Monday, 16 April 2007

Shankara - I Am Shiva

Om. I am neither the mind,
Intelligence, ego nor ‘chitta’
Neither the ears, nor the tongue,
Nor the senses of smell and sight,
Neither ether, nor air,
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness.
I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I am neither the ‘prana’,
Nor the five vital breaths,
Neither the seven elements of the body,
Nor its five sheaths,
Nor the hands, nor the feet, nor tongue,
Nor other organs of action.
I am Eternal Bliss and awareness.
I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

Neither fear, greed, nor delusion,
Loathing, nor liking have I,
Nothing of pride, of ego,
Of ‘dharma’ or Liberation,
Neither desire of the mind,
Nor the object for its desiring.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness.
I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

Nothing of pleasure and pain,
Of virtue and vice, do I know,
Of mantra, of sacred place,
Of Vedas or Sacrifice,
Neither I am the eater,
The food or the act of eating.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness.
I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

Death or fear, I have none,
Nor any distinction of ‘caste’,
Neither father, nor Mother,
Nor even a birth, have I,
Neither friend, nor comrade,
Neither disciple, nor Guru.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness.
I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I have no form or fancy,
The All-pervading am I,
Everywhere I exist,
And yet I am beyond the senses,
Neither salvation am I,
Nor anything to be known.
I am Eternal Bliss and Awareness.
I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

Friday, 13 April 2007

Spring Coming Early in the Country

A fine old wisteria struggling with the evening chill on the terrace of Danesfield House, Marlow

Thursday, 12 April 2007

The City

My office stands in the shadow of the Gherkin (Swiss Re) but our building is being redeveloped and is being let to run down. Millers will move about 100 yards to their new office in 2008.

The top photo shows current rebuilding in the area.

The City

Waiting for friends in The Sterling, the pub under the Gherkin, my 'local' in the City.

Friday, 6 April 2007

The Stanzas of Dzyan

The Eternal Parent [the great Matrix], wrapped in her ever-invisible Robes, had slumbered once again for seven eternities.

Time was not, for it lay asleep in the infinite bosom of duration.

Universal Mind was not, for there were no Ah-Hi [the serpents of limitation] to contain it.

The seven ways to bliss were not. The great causes of misery were not, for there was no one to produce or get ensnared in them.

Darkness alone filled the boundless all, for Father, Mother and Son were once more one, and the Son had not yet awakened for the new wheel and his pilgrimage theron.

The seven sublime Lords [levels of consciousness] and the seven Truths [the structure of the universe] had ceased to be, and the universe, the son of Necessity, was immersed in Paranish-panna [the highest truth], to be outbreathed by that which is and yet is not. Naught was.

The causes of existence had been done away with, and the invisible that was, and the invisible that is rested in eternal non-being - the one being.

Alone, the one form of existence stretched boundless, infinite, causeless in a dreamless sleep; and life pulsated unconscious in universal space, throughout that All-Presence which is sensed by the opened eye of Dangma [the perfected seer].

But where was the Dangma when the Alaya [the eternal parent - the matrix] of the Universe was in Paramartha [state of supreme reality] and the great wheel was Anupagaka [without parents]?

The Stanzas of Dzyan - the first of seven

See also The Scientist and the Universe