It doesn’t work to do what’s right and good

It doesnt work to do whats right and good,
To discipline yourself by force of will,
To practice love and hold your anger still,
To quell desire, act as you think you should.

Nobody wants your charity, though they
May smile and thank you as they turn away.
But trust yourself, give every voice free play,
And healing will find you by close of day.

You ask, does that mean it’s ok to kill?
(You’ve suffered wrong, and so you feel you could.)
That anger is the dross of your childhood,
Regard your question as grist for the mill.

If you step back, let nature take her course,
Your native love will prove the stronger force.

— JJM, #5 in the I Ching Sonnet Project


Graphic: Adele Aldridge           




There is a time for action, but not now;
Preserve your latent energies; just watch.
The case is critical, and if you botch
This exercise, it might derange the Dao–
No! Dao eternal, solid as the sea,
Cannot be modified by you or me
You might, then, ask, “in what way are we free,
If ultimately Dao is destiny?”

Like gravity, the Dao is weak, but firm.
We’re bound for paradise at end of day,
But we may choose our path along The Way—
We walk or crawl or dance or march or squirm.
The Dao conveys a message, deep and true
Without prescribing what we are to do.

— JJM (#33 in the I Ching Sonnet Project)

From InText


Just ask

You can always borrow wisdom, you know—
Don’t feel you have to figure it all out.
Surely you know someone whose thoughts about
This question you trust, eager to bestow
Her sage advice on your receptive heart.
Excuse yourself for not being all-wise
Embrace another’s wisdom in the guise
That it appears; suffice it that you’re smart
Enough to recognize in whom to vest
The sacred trust that only you can grant.
Your willingness to let her voice supplant
Your own is fact sufficient to attest
Your worthiness and faith. So now you must
Put doubt aside, let fate reward your trust.

— JJM (#4 in the I Ching Sonnet Project)

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The Scientific World-view needs an Update

We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.
— John Archibald Wheeler

The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
— Mrs Haine, my 6th Grade teacher (1961)

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
— erroneously attributed to Mark Twain

Yesterday, I posted at ScienceBlog an essay that I won’t reproduce here. The gist was

  • Parapsychology research has solid findings, consistent enough that physicists should stand up and pay attention.
  • The smartest people looking for a physical Theory of Everything are limiting themselves to reductionist theories, while the parapsychology research is pointing in other directions.
  • Mainstream science treats mind as an epiphenomenon, arising from computation by some yet-to-be-discovered mechanisms. But there is evidence from parapsychology and more mainstream research that mind is a fundamental constituent of the Universe, with effects including non-local physical interactions and (perhaps) determining the very physical laws that keep the whole show running.

I go on to speculate that the mechanical world-view derived from 19th century physics has never been replaced, even though it is inconsistent with 20th century quantum physics; and that the mechanistic/reductionist world-view has taken the meaning out of our lives and spawned the existential angst and chronic depression that are epidemic in modern Western socieities.

Finally, I speculate on the future of quantum biology. Life is a bulk quantum state, continually monitored from the inside by a chunk of consciousness that has taken up residence.

Please read and comment if you’re interested in such things.


The Gift Economy

It might begin with a renewed Occupy movement, or with Parisian Gilets Jaunes going viral. But I don’t think so. My guess is that it will start with a Universal Basic Income — UBI.

Remarkably, Bernie Sanders and Mark Zuckerberg agree on the importance of a UBI. A growing list of American billionaires now support UBI . It’s in their self-interest.

Capitalists need customers. Long after people’s basic need have been met, their appetites must be goosed so that they keep their shopping carts full at For thirty years, American consumers have been acquiring more stuff by going deeper into debt, but at any interest rate north of Zero this can’t go on forever. Capitalism demands consumers with money in their pockets. But companies are beholden to their stockholders , maximizing short-term profits, and they can’t raise wages if they want to. So they want the government to do it!

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A Transformative Time Bomb

These same nearsighted billionaires don’t realize that UBI pulls foundation from the whole oppressive system. Work has long ago ceased to be rewarding. People show up and do what they’re told because they have no choice. If they can lower their standard of living a notch, live by their wits, they’ll drop out of the rat race in droves!

Maybe they’ll stay home and play video games for the first month, but in every place where UBI has been tried , people become more productive, more creative, kinder, more community-minded. They will plant gardens and learn to play the guitar, volunteer at children’s hospitals and design murals. Citizen scientists and citizen journalists are born. Violent behaviors decline. Rates of accidents and disease drop through the floor.

…and that’s just the beginning

Once people have leisure and security in their own lives, they enjoy helping others. An alternative economy self-organizes, arising from the bottom up . This is the opposite of a capitalist economy. It is an economy based on gift. People offer their gifts because it feels good. It is what we want to do, once our basic needs are met. It is the source of all our wellbeing, it is how we know who we are and that our lives are worthwhile. We earn a reputation for giving that makes others eager to give to us.

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The Gift Economy – This isn’t a new-age-y theory. It is the way humans have lived with one another for most of the last 200,000 years. It is how hunter-gatherers live even now. It is a tried and true way to provide a community’s economic needs, and it is how we are meant to live.

And then…

When people have leisure, they tend to think. They talk to one another. They understand what is working and what is not working. They understand that their neighbors feel the same way they do and — here’s the real danger — they organize.

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This is our future, and it can’t come too soon.

A Biblical labyrinth

If love is both our highest virtue and
The way that Satan gets beneath our skin;
If Christian agape is strict command,
But carnal love (or thought of it!) is sin;
No wonder that we’re hopelessly perplexed.
We cannot conjure love by acts of will,
We’re ever underloved and oversexed,
While basic human needs we seek to fill
Are buried deep in sanctimonious shame.

Beseeching absolution from God’s wrath,
Entrained by currents that we dare not name,
We want for light to seek the blessed path
That never one alone but only two
Can see—So, may I lodge my faith in you?

— JJM, #54 in the I Ching Sonnet Project

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