Despite my deep interest in politics, I haven't commented much on this Presidential election. Since Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race, it's just become a pathetic shitshow- the ultimate choice of a lesser of 2 evils.
However, this election season has been a rich source of absurdity & downright insanity. Just when I think things can't possibly get any stranger... it inevitably does.
I saw this video this morning, and was in awe of its craziness & pure genius.
I've been on vacation for the past week. I usually refrain from interacting with my websites or social media while I'm away. Now that I'm back, I will start to post more regularly again.
I have been going through a lot of personal changes recently. In the midst of these transitions, I try to be aware of the fact that the biggest obstacle in life is one's own fear.
Although I have never read the Dune books by Frank Herbert, they seem very interesting & I plan on reading them one day. I came across this quote awhile ago, that spoke to the effect that fear has on us and how we must address it.
It's hard to imagine that all our information that makes up what we know as "human history" is a tiny percentage of the total existence of homo sapiens sapiens.
There is so much of our heritage that has been forgotten or lost over time. Even after the rise of organized society & civilizations, many aspects of our history have still faded into obscurity. Only now, with the growth of archaeology, technology, and the collaboration of a wide range of disciplines, has some light begun to be shed on the vast darkness of our past.
At the same time, we are using the accelerating accumulation of knowledge that started in the distant past to create a future that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors.
This video is an entertaining, yet informative, summary of our ancient origins. It is a look at the amazing legacy each of us carries within us, as a part of the ever-progressing human story.
This Presidential election season in the US has been the craziest, in every sense of the word, so far.
Despite my prediction of a showdown between Bernie Sanders & Donald Trump only being half right, I think it's still very much a battle between ideologies & worldviews.
One thing that this election has brought to the forefront is the self-reinforcing "echo chamber' that can result with any party, when supporters of a candidate or cause have limited sources of information. People tend to practice confirmation bias, and only seek out media or narratives that fit their existing conceptions.
I try to avoid this with my own views, by approaching media that doesn't necessarily fit my thinking. I am registered as an Independent voter, but I tend to see myself as a progressive thinker. Therefore, I often expose myself (begrudgingly) to conservative media such as Fox News, or right-wing comment boards. This gives me some insight into the mindset of people with different perspectives. Sometimes it actually changes the way I view a particular topic, and sometimes it makes me shudder in horror.
This article was an excellent look into how the seemingly vast and diverse resources of information on the Internet & other media can actually lead to the propagation of misinformation and outright falsehoods.
The Flower of Life is an ancient symbol, made of interlocking circles, that represents the interconnected nature of reality & the myriad forms that arise from it. It has been used in art & architecture throughout history.
The reader I mentioned above is Marko Manninen, and he has done very extensive research into the legacy of The Flower of Life. He has also compiled image galleries with examples from around the world of both the pattern & it's base visual component, the 6-petal rosette.
Recently, I've been listening to many talks & lectures, and I just finished a compilation of Terence McKenna, called "True Hallucinations". It was a great collection of audio, video, and stories from the mind of perhaps my favorite speaker & thinker.
At one point in this video, he has a great bit that I've heard him ask in other variations, questioning our ability as simians to truly comprehend the reality we live in.
"Ultimately what you're thrown back on is that you are a monkey!
It's nothing to be ashamed of, but on the other hand, it's nothing to write out of the equation either... You're a monkey, for God's sake, and yet you're asking to understand the nature of reality! What would you think of a squirrel that ran around with that as a goal?"
"For talking monkeys to speak of truth is hubris of the highest degree. Where is it writ large that talking monkeys should be able to model the cosmos? If a sea urchin or a racoon were to propose to you that it had a viable truth about the universe, the absurdity of that assertion would be self-evident, but in our case we make an exception."
It reflected my feeling that horrible things have been going on since the beginning of the human species. It seems so bad now because of our instantaneous access to information.
People from older generations, who grew up in the 50's & 60's or earlier, refuse to believe that crime statistics are going down, and that we generally live in an overall less violent world. With the 24/7 news headlines, it seems like bad things are happening constantly... which they are, and always have! The only difference is that now we have a deluge of media bringing it to our attention.
In the "good old days," there were still horrific things going every day, all around the world. The only difference was that the people who lived back then (who were mostly kids at the time) were kept in the dark due to lack of media.
Anyhow, futurist Ray Kurzweil seems to agree with me and elaborated his views on the matter in a recent talk.
I couldn't find a video, but here is the relevant excerpt:
On the effect of the modern information era: "People
think the world’s getting worse, and we see that on the left and the
right, and we see that in other countries. People think the world is
getting worse. … That’s the perception. What’s actually happening is our
information about what’s wrong in the world is getting better. A
century ago, there would be a battle that wiped out the next village,
you’d never even hear about it. Now there’s an incident halfway around
the globe and we not only hear about it, we experience it."
I don't really post about my art as much I should... but I guess I don't see this blog as a commercial venture. I've written here for 10 years because, as a professional graphic designer, it is another creative outlet for me that I enjoy.
This one sums up my artistic sensibilities & personal philosophies. It's simple, but represents the merging & emerging of dual polarities. This dance of creation & destruction is happening at all scales in the Universe. It is the oscillation & vibration of reality. It is Creation, God, The Field, Tao...
Click here to buy a print or other product. The image below is a hi-res digital wallpaper. Thanks!:
I haven't posted in a week, since I had some vacation days & really haven't been on the computer.
When I logged on, though, I noticed an uptick in page views for some reason. I appreciate anyone who takes time to read posts on this blog, but today I have about 5x as many views as usual! It seems like my post about Star Wars Day from a couple years ago got linked somewhere. Thanks to any new visitors, and I hope that you read through The Monkey Buddha archives.
Speaking of space themes, I came across this awesome image on Inner Cosmos, of a boy looking upon our world through a window of a space station or ship.
Buddhism, at its essence, is more of a philosophy of mind than a religion, as most Western cultures understand the term. Although certain sects worship deities & believe in a Pure Land, the historical Buddha simply taught people how to awaken their consciousness and cultivate awareness.
Because of this philosophical trend, as opposed to religious dogmatism the Abrahamic religions, Buddhism has been uniquely open to scientific inquiry. The Dalai Lama has fostered extensive conversations about the mind, quantum physics, and other scientific disciplines.
Xian'er can answer simple questions about Buddhist ideas, chant mantras, & move around via voice commands.
The merging of spirituality and technology is one of those things that seem paradoxical- but only if your perspective is still immersed in the duality that Buddhism & meditative practice seeks to dissolve.
One development that holds a lot of promise for changing the dynamics of food production & distribution is the vertical farming approach. This is the modern method of using tall buildings with indoor aeroponics or hydroponics & LED lighting to grow plants in a more efficient way.
There is no soil to be depleted, much less water used, no insects to destroy the crops, and a fraction of the land area needed in traditional farming.
I was just reading that AeroFarms, a company that has developed environmentally low-impact vertical farming techniques, is planning on opening the world's largest facility in my home state of New Jersey. We have many traditional farms and produce distributors in this area, but I'm glad to be close to the cutting edge of this kind of food-production technology.
There are many food-related advancements that will completely change our relationship with what we eat in the near future. I think vertical farming is a major game-changer, and we will see many more facilities popping up as the process becomes more cost-effective and productive.
Today is Independence Day in the USA, and I'm glad to be living in this country with all it's strengths and faults.
I'm definitely not a nationalist or a very patriotic person, but I'm happy to celebrate the freedom I have with a weekend of BBQs & parties. Here I am eating clams & crabs yesterday, while sporting a USA tattoo & wristband.
I was drinking Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale, from the Yards Brewing Company's "Ales of the Revolution"- based on recipes by the founding fathers.
I'm off to another party today, and am grateful to have time to enjoy after weeks of packing, moving, and having yard sales.
I'm almost done moving from my current place of residence- with all the organizing, packing, cleaning, and weekend yard sales that it entails.
I've been living at this place for 10+ years, even before I started The Monkey Buddha... in the early days of blogging! :) The house I lived in was built in the 1800's & had a lot of history. I've had a lot of great memories & time spent there. However, the nature of the Universe is change, so I'm ready to move out & move on.
Until I'm settled & can blog regularly on my free time, my posts have a bit more been sporadic than usual. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled anti-programming soon.
On Reddit I saw this great GIF of a little gorilla beating his chest and taking a fall. The look on his face after he looks up is priceless.
Here is a video, with more of his reaction afterward:
Last night, my girlfriend & I were having one of our usual deep discussions. She had read something by Osho & asked me what I thought of him. When looking up information about him, this led to our discovery that Osho's parents practiced Jainism. I told her that she would identity with that belief system- because they were not only vegetarians, but they avoided harming or killing all living things, including plants.
This, in turn, led to me discussing the idea that our human
consciousness is only one form of consciousness. Any living system that
receives input, then interacts & communicates with other living
systems is fundamentally conscious.
Even vegetarianism is narrow-minded, in the sense that thinking it's okay to kill a plant, but not an animal, ignores the fact that you are still destroying & consuming a living system to absorb it's stored energy and physical nutrients. Just because it doesn't have "consciousness" in the form of human senses & thought-language, does not mean that it does not have some form of consciousness. A plant can sense changes in its environment, send signals to other plants or animals, and react to stimuli.
Then, I took it a step further & said that on a quantum level, consciousness is all-pervasive, even in seemingly non-living forms. The base energy field, from which our reality arises, is inherent in all things, and must be able to store and transmit information for any observable coherence to exist, at all.
This information snowballs into ever-increasingly complex systems & forms: Quantum fluctuations give rise to -> atomic waveforms -> elements -> molecules -> larger biological & elemental structures.
This cumulative formation of complexity is nothing more than a infinitely intertwined play of energy- originating at the deepest level of the single, unified field of all being.
This "unified field" is talked about frequently in religious philosophy & spirituality, as well as physics. It can go by any name you'd like - God, Tao, Quantum Field, Brahma, The Source, etc. As soon as we name it, however, we lose it. It is not something that can be conceptualized. It is beyond conception.
It is EVERYTHING, on all dimensions & scales.
Anyway, what really spurred me to write this post was seeing the quote below on Daily Zen. It describes the difficult notion of a single, seamless reality- "The Clear Light" -that is beyond our limited conceptions of separateness and individual phenomena.
"When the stains from old habits
Are exhausted, The original light appears,
Blazing through your skull,
Not admitting other matters.
Vast and spacious,
Like sky and water merging
Like snow and moon
Having the same color, This field is without boundary,
Magnificently one entity
Without edge or seam. "
I haven't been able to post because been very busy lately, moving out of my current home. I've been clearing out the place I rent, packing up my belongings, & having yard sales. Once I make the move & finish the transition, I'll have more time to post here.
My girlfriend's parents sell items they find at auctions and estate sales on eBay. Their store is called "Posha '05", and I designed their logo & eBay banner. Anyway, they always come across interesting things I've never seen before.
Last night, I was looking through their latest set of finds & saw a folder with the rosette pattern, which is found in the center of the "Flower of Life" symbol. This is a geometric construction of interlocking circles that is the basis for the design of the strategy game I created, "Da Vinci's Challenge".
The rosette pattern is much older & more widespread than just the use by the Amish. Here is a Flikr photo gallery showing ancient uses of "The Flower of Life", and the simpler "Seed of Life" & rosette designs:
He invented a system of floating arrays that skim garbage of the surface of the ocean, while preventing the aquatic plants & animals under the water from being disturbed.
Unfortunately people create a tremendous amount of waste & garbage that has built up in the environment. This is especially problematic in the oceans, where materials such as plastic are dumped and have accumulated to form the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
If implemented, this invention is projected to remove almost half of the plastic waste from that patch over 10 years. It would take thousands of years to clean using conventional methods.
His foundation recently raised enough funds to conduct a trial of the skimming technology in the North Sea.
I firmly believe that humans can use technology and intelligence to solve any problem, even ones that we create. Hopefully innovators like Boyan continue to create solutions to the most pressing problems facing our world.
I am illustrating a storybook, called "The Tree of Life".
I was contacted out of the blue by the author Danny Ling. He had found my website The Monkey Buddha while doing a Google search for his story. He shared the manuscript with me & I thought it was an awesome story, so we decided to work together to make this vision a reality.
"The Tree of Life" is a story of cooperative problem solving, featuring animal characters with their own unique personalities. However, they must come together to save the ancient "Tree of Life" that is the center of their world.
The logo above is a design that I made for the social media pages about the book.
* Please "Like" or "Follow" the pages if you want to follow our progress. you will be able to see the animal characters I've drawn, as we release them!
“The Tree of Life” is a story by Danny Ling, that explores the interconnected nature of all living things.
Danny serendipitously found artist Paul Micarelli on the Internet to
help bring his idea to life. We have been collaborating to turn this
idea into an illustrated storybook, in the style of zen ink drawings
& watercolor paintings. Our vision is to create a beautiful
and enjoyable book which instills enlightened ideals into the younger
generations. By introducing these insights
to children, we hope to help raise the consciousness of the whole
world. These concepts include problem-solving through cooperation,
appreciating the sanctity of life, and having a deep connection with the
to be a part of the ongoing development of “The Tree of Life”. We look
forward to sharing images & ideas related to the creation of the
To contact us about ‘The Tree of Life” project, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you will join us, to find unity through art & storytelling.
Raw Story posted this talk about A.I. & cybernetics with one of the greatest visionaries of our time, Elon Musk. He's also sounding the alarm about the difficulties that we will face as computer intelligence continues to outpace that of humans, on an individual & collective level.
Like "The Matrix" movies, Musk's answer to the problem of emerging artificial intelligence is one of symbiosis.
However, his concept of a "neural lace," to connect the biological nervous system with digital networks, seems like it could present as many problems as solutions. This is the complicated nature of all technology.
This approach sounds similar to my concept of an "Apple iThink" neural-computer interface.
A lot of the issues in this trailer seem distinctly within the realm of possibility. Of course, there will likely be other complicated effects of human cyber-augmentation that we can't even imagine right now.
I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution awhile ago, and although the game was okay, it bought up many questions about the merging of man & technology. These concerns are being further explored in this new game, and perhaps the fictional scenarios will serve as a warning to prevent humanity from creating real suffering through these advances.
No matter how much merge with machines, biology is still primarily a vessel for preserving & propagating genetic information.
As long as people still reproduce through sexual means, there will still be human qualities such as family, intimacy, and love.
If we somehow overcome that fundamental, biological reproductive function (& all its resulting behaviors), then there's no telling what kind of consciousness the individual and collective consciousness of human beings will develop into...
It is the function of art and creative thinking to help lead humanity into the best possible future for people, and all life. Works of fiction like this help us avoid pitfalls that we would otherwise blindly stumble into. We still might have to face these challenges, but at least there will be some collective anticipation of it- and that is necessary to overcome any of the seemingly insurmountable problems that we face.
One of my favorite topics is the cultures of pre-conquest Mesoamerica, including the Maya, the Aztecs, and Inca peoples.
The origins of the awe-inspiring city of Teotihuacán are still a mystery. Amazingly, it was already ancient when the Aztecs discovered it. The name that they gave the abandoned site, Teotihuacán, means "The Place Where the Gods Were Created". The lost civilization that built the pyramid-lined avenues left behind some of their art & the magnificent architecture, but no written language.
I found the documentary to be very interesting. It was about a recent archaeological find in the city, by Mexican archaeologist Sergio Gomez Chavez.
After a rainstorm, an area in front of the pyramid known as "The Temple of the Feathered Serpent" fell through, revealing a subterranean shaft. This shaft, which Chavez descended not knowing what he'd find, ended up leading to an underground tunnel. This tunnel extended to the direct central axis of the pyramid above. It was part of a symbolic attempt to connect the heavens, the human realm, and the underworld.
The "Feathered Serpent" was the deity whom the Aztecs called Quetzalcoatl. This dragon-like figure, called Kukulkan by the Maya, represented the combination of earth & sky- a merger of matter & spirit.
After laborious excavation efforts of the tunnel, many artifacts & secrets about the city were uncovered. Many of the objects found were of ritual significance. It seems like the tunnel was a recreation of the mythological underworld, from which the world was created.
Even before watching the documentary, I had been following this archaeological discovery, interested in the implications for understanding the culture's rituals and spiritual practices.
One thing I was intrigued by was the reported use of pyrite, or "fool's gold", that was embedded in the walls. From what I read, it sounded like there were small balls of this metallic material placed around the tunnel.
However, when watching the show, I was glad to see that they elaborated on this & showed that there was actually a granular, reflective dust that was used. The effect in the dark corridor, when lit by torches, was like a sparkling starry sky under the ground. This, combined with the artificial lake that was created at the end of the chamber, gave the impression of visiting the mythical underworld to the priests & pilgrims entering the sacred area.
I'm sure that this mystical setting, along with the psychoactive substances or techniques they undoubtedly used, resulted in a conscious-altering experience- similar to the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries practiced for thousands of years in Greece.
The spiritual aspects of ancient & indigenous people have always fascinated me. This documentary gave me some insight into the culture of one of the most mysterious sites in the world, and how their mythology shaped their society. I would definitely recommend watching it if you are interested in Mesoamerican history, religions of the world, or human spirituality.