Friday, May 24, 2019

Folk LA: "Echo in the Canyon" (film)

Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven, Crystal Q., Wisdom Quarterly; EITC; FilmTalk (

Echo in the Canyon (2019)
Xshire Movie Trailers, Apr 23, 2019
Echo in the Canyon celebrates the explosion of popular music that came out of LA's Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s as folk rock went electric and The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas gave birth to the California Sound. It was a moment (1965 to 1967) when bands came to Los Angeles to emulate The Beatles and Laurel Canyon [north of Sunset Blvd., Hollywood] emerged as a hotbed of creativity and collaboration for a new generation of musicians who would soon put an indelible stamp on the history of American popular music.
FILM: Echo in the Canyon
Featuring Jakob Dylan, the film explores the beginnings of the Laurel Canyon music scene. Dylan uncovers never-before-heard personal details behind the bands and their songs and how that music continues to inspire today. Echo in the Canyon contains candid conversations and performances with Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn and Jackson Browne as well as contemporary musicians they influenced such as Tom Petty (in his very last film interview), Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, and Norah Jones.
Rating: NR. Genre: Documentary. Directed by Andrew Slater (XI). Written by Andrew Slater (XI), Eric Barrett. In theaters Friday, May 24, 2019.  Limited release. Runtime: 82 minutes. Studio: Greenwich Entertainment.
FREE concert celebrating the 1980s
[FREE CONCERT TONIGHT] Fast Times 80s Tribute at The Rose, Pasadena, CA

"Buddhism: A Method of Mind Training"

Golden Buddha atop Phra That Khao Noi Temple, Nan, Thailand (K. Phothiwijit/wiki)
This is a very basic beginner's outline of the Four Noble Truths.
Wat Tham Sua, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
When we hear anything about Buddhism in the daily news, we usually think of it as having a background of huge golden idols and saffron-robed monastics, with a thick atmosphere of incense smoke.

We never feel that there is anything in it for us -- except, maybe, an exotic spectacle.

Is that all there is to Buddhism? Does the news photograph the real Buddhism? Do glossy magazines show the fundamentals or only the externals?

Let's see, then, what Buddhism really is. Buddhism as originally expounded still exists underneath the external trappings and trimmings.

Though generally regarded as a religion, Buddhism is basically a method of cultivating the mind. It is true that, with its monastic tradition and its emphasis on ethics, it possesses many of the superficial characteristics Westerners associate with religion.

However, it is non-theistic. It affirms that the universe is governed by impersonal rules (regularities) and not by a creator-god. It has little use for petitionary prayer, for the Buddha was a great teacher of gods (devas) and humans.

It regards devotion not as a religious obligation but as a means of expressing gratitude and as a means of self-development. So it is not a religion at all from these usual points of view.
Faith or confidence?

Sutra to the Kalamas, Charter of Free Inquiry
Buddhism knows "faith" (saddha) only in the sense of confidence in the path pointed out by the Buddha. Buddhists are expected to avoid blind faith, questioning everything.

The Kalama Sutra shows that nothing is true or to be "taken on faith" merely
  • because someone -- even the Buddha -- says it,
  • or because it is written in ancient books,
  • or because it has been handed down by tradition,
  • or because others claim it,
  • or because it agrees with our biases,
  • or because of specious reasoning.
One may decide to take the Buddha-Dharma (the Buddha's eightfold path to enlightenment) as a testable hypothesis, having great confidence in it as one investigates to prove it, to directly see for oneself. One is not expected to accept anything unless it can be verified by direct experience in this very life.

That is not to say that everything can be demonstrated rationally and intellectually. Many things exist beyond the scope of intellect and can be cognized (directly known and seen) only by the development of higher faculties. So Buddhism may seem strictly mystical but, in fact, is experiential.

However one arrives at firm conviction from tentative confidence, the fact remains that there is no need for blind faith or acceptance of anything in Buddhism.

Buddhism is a way of life based on the training of the mind. Its ultimate aim is to show the way to complete liberation from suffering by the attainment of the unconditioned (nirvana), the deathless, a state beyond the range of the normal untrained mind.

Its immediate aim is to strike at the roots of suffering in everyday life. More
  • Things as They Are: Talks on Training the Mind (Ajahn Maha Boowa)
  • *Leonard A. Bullen (1909-1984) was one of the pioneers of the Buddhist movement in Australia. He was the first president of the Buddhist Society of Victoria when it was established in 1953 and one of the first office-bearers of the executive committee of the Buddhist Federation of Australia. He was also a co-editor of the Buddhist journal Metta (BPS).

From Worldly to Real Wisdom

Ajahn Chah ( via Ven. Sujato, Ellie Askew, Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly
What are the essentials of mindfulness?
The world with its never-ending ways goes on and on. If we try to understand it all, it leads us only to chaos and confusion.

However, if we contemplate [mindfully, systematically, dispassionately observe] the world clearly, then true wisdom will arise.
The Buddha [when he was the Scythian Prince Siddhartha Gautama] was one well-versed in the ways of the world. He had a great ability to influence and lead because of his abundance of worldly knowledge.

Knowledge becomes wisdom.
Through the transformation of his worldly mundane wisdom, he penetrated and attained to supramundane wisdom, making him a truly superior [enlightened] being.

So if we work with this teaching, turning it inwards for contemplation, we will attain to an understanding on an entirely new level.

When we see an object [any object], there is no object. When we hear a sound, there is no sound. In smelling, we can say that there is no smell. All of the senses are manifest, but they are void of anything stable. They are just sensations that arise then pass away.

Capitalism vs. Journalism (comedy)

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, TBS, May 22, 2019 Act 2; Crystal Q., Wisdom Quarterly

Journalism's corporate sponsors
Corporations are snatching up news outlets and cleaning house. Now you can buy toilet brushes from the same place you get your headlines. Subscribe, twitter, facebook, instagram, medium. More:

Female sex in "Booksmart" (movie)

Annapurna Pictures, May 18, 2019; CC Liu, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Booksmart (final trailer)
IN THEATERS TODAY, MAY 24, 2019 (tickets: Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern, female perspective, Booksmart is an unfiltered comedy about high school best friends and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming-of-age story for a new generation. [We're lookin' at you, Gen Z.]

WARNING: Cuss words, adult content, and nasty pop film quotes!
Directed by Olivia Wilde. Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, and Jason Sudeikis. Connect with Booksmart website:

The Donner Party: American cannibals (video)

Wiki; Murder With Friends (Pop Trigger); Xochitl, Pfc. Sandoval, S.Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly
When Anglo Americans of European descent decide they need a better place to survive, "Oh great... another migrant caravan!" (Marty Two Bulls/

The Donner Party Cannibals
(Murder With Friends) Grace and Amir dive into creepy American history with the tragic story of the Anglo-American Donner Party. This group of 87 whites were invading land west of the U.S. because of government promises of homesteads for white "settlers" willing to trespass on Native American territory to claim the west for the new and growing country of expansionists with a "Manifest Destiny" propaganda campaign slogan on their lips in the mid-1800s. They resorted to murder and cannibalism ignorant of how else to survive the winter.

Did they really eat each other?
We have a right to asylum from East Coast!
The Donner Party was a group of American white colonial invaders called "pioneers" who set out for California in a wagon train.

Delayed by a series of mishaps and bad planning, they were snowbound in the Sierra Nevada mountain range from November 1846 to February 1847.

The Native can't keep us off their land!
There was murder. And some of the emigrants resorted to cannibalism to survive, eating the bodies of those who had succumbed to starvation and sickness.

The journey west usually took between four and six months, but the Donner Party had been slowed by following a new route called the Hastings Cutoff across Utah's Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake Desert.

Real history of the U.S. (
They lost cattle and wagons in the rugged terrain, and divisions formed within the group of families, not all Donners. Their food supplies ran low after they became trapped by an early, heavy snowfall high in the mountains.

In mid-December some of the group set out on foot and were able to obtain help. Of the 87 members of the party, 48 survived to reach California. Historians have described the episode as one of the most spectacular tragedies in California history. More

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Rudolf Steiner on patience and progress

Rudolph Steiner via Ven. Sujato, Ellie Askew, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
The Seven Apocalyptic Seals as drawn by Rudolf Steiner in his edition of The Apocalypse of St. John (1907). These seals were also inscribed in the Goetheanum in Switzerland (wiki).
Steiner 1892 (etch/Otto Fröhlich)
The founder of Anthroposophy, German philosopher Rudolf Steiner, eventually realized:

"Patience attracts the treasures of higher knowledge; impatience repels them. In the higher regions of existence, nothing can be achieved by haste and unrest. Above all things, desire and craving must be silenced, for these are qualities from which all higher knowledge quietly withdraws." So meditate.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rare win for indigenous Amazon jungle tribe

(New Yorker 5/15/19); Ellie Askew, Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Waorani women celebrate their court victory (Dolores Ochoa/AP via The New Yorker).

An Uncommon Victory for an Indigenous Tribe in the Amazon
Nemonte Nenquimo (Rodrigo Buendia/AFP)
On April 26, 2019, a parade of hundreds of Waorani, an indigenous nation in a remote part of the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle, marched triumphantly through the streets of Puyo, the regional capital of the eastern province of Pastaza.
  • PHOTO: Nemonte Nenquimo and other Waorani representatives marched in Puyo on the day they won a lawsuit against the government (Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty).
Many had come from villages in parts of the rain forest that have no roads -- journeying by canoe and small plane. They were celebrating a new court ruling, which held that the Ecuadorian government could not, as it had planned, auction off their land for oil exploration without their consent.

The New Yorker picks Miss Congeniality (Trump)
Nemonte Nenquimo (pictured), a Waorani leader, told me that they had come to Puyo to reclaim their right to self-governance and that the verdict had made them feel safer.

“The court recognized that the government violated our right to live free and make our own decisions about our territory and self determination,” she said, over WhatsApp. “Our territory is our decision, and now, since we are owners, we are not going to let oil enter and destroy our natural surroundings and kill our culture.”

In February, the Waorani, together with Ecuador’s Ombudsman, a parliament-appointed official who serves as a public advocate, had filed a lawsuit against the Ecuadorian government for not properly consulting with them before opening up their territory to potential oil exploration.

In recent years, Ecuador has divided much of its portion of the Amazon jungle into blocks to lease the mineral rights in an international auction. One of the blocks included Waorani land.

Waorani Native American village in disregarded rural Ecuador (Kate Fisher/wiki)
In 2018, the government removed Waorani territory from the auction but said that the region could still be subject to future drilling.

Indigenous Peoples Day, Los Angeles
The path to the verdict had not been certain. In March, a group of Waorani women shut down a hearing with song, protesting the conditions under which the case was being tried; they objected to it being held in Puyo, far from the Waorani villages, and to the absence of a court-certified translator.

Many of the Waorani representatives wore traditional dress in court and had red bars painted across their cheekbones and brows. Singing a song about their traditional role as protectors of the forest, they drowned out the judge and lawyers until the judge finally suspended the hearing, which was rescheduled for April.

Nemonte Nenquimo and other representatives of the Waorani people marched in Puyo, Ecuador, on the day they won a lawsuit against the government, over plans to lease oil rights on their land. More

On impeaching Trump (comedy)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, 5/22/19; Ashley Wells, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly

Stop investigating me...or else!
U.S. Pres. Don Trump's contribution to Wednesday's infrastructure meeting was to donate one gigantic roadblock. #LSSC #Colbert #Monologue Subscribe to "The Late Show" Channel: ColbertYouTube

Tate Reeves

Meditation practice is worth more than study

Ajahn Mun via Ven. Sujato, Ellie Askew, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
People who have studied a lot of the Doctrine and Discipline (Dharma and Vinaya called Buddhism) -- who have learned many approaches together with their many ramifications -- when they come to train their minds, find that their minds don’t settle down easily into concentration.

They need to realize that they must first take their learning and put it back on the shelf for the time being.

They need to train “what knows” -- this very mind -- developing their mindfulness until it is super-mindfulness, their discernment until it is super-discernment, so that they can see through the super-deceits of conventional truth and common assumptions that set things up, naming them, “This is this” and “That is that” -- days, nights, months, years, earth, sky, sun, moon, constellations, everything -- all the things that thought-formations, the conditions or effects of the mind, set up as being this or that.

How to train the mind to meditate

Dhr. Seven, Ellie Askew, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly, Wiki edit
To train a wild elephant (the mind), tether it to a post until it calms down.
The goad
B. Alan Wallace and Daniel Goleman discuss shamatha (serenity), mindfulness, and introspection, which they tie to metacognition:

"Throughout Buddhist literature the training in shamatha [serenity meditation] is often likened to training a wild elephant, and the two primary instruments for this are the tether of mindfulness and the goad of introspection."
The Attention Revolution (B. Alan Wallace)
"Buddhist psychology classifies introspection as a form of intelligence (prajna), and its development has long been an important element of Buddhist meditation.

"A similar mental faculty, usually called metacognition, is now coming under the scrutiny of modern psychologists.

"Cognitive researchers have defined metacognition as knowing of one's own cognitive and affective processes and states, as well as the ability to consciously and deliberately monitor and regulate those processes and states.

"This appears to be an especially rich area for collaborative research between Buddhist contemplatives and cognitive scientists."