If  a tree falls on Google Maps and nobody sees it fall, did it fall in the real world?

An interesting conundrum explored in this short video by low-end production team The Vacationeers, whereby fictional users of a virtual world, by the click of a mouse, cause change in this world, a post-modern, Web 2.0 allegory if you will to the ageless Indian philosophy of Advaita Non-Dualism, a system of belief and practice which resolves existence and non-existence, self and others, this world and the one beyond to a single, undifferentiated reality. It’s kind of like imagining the entire universe as never ending menu of pizza toppings, baked upon a single, infinitely sized pizza.

Ramana Maharshi“If a man considers that he is born, he cannot avoid the fear of death. Let him find out if he has been born or if the Self has any birth. He will discover that the Self always exists, that the body that is born resolves itself into thought and that the emergence of thought is the root of all mischief. Find from where thoughts emerge. Then you will be able to abide in the ever-present inmost Self and be free from the idea of birth or the fear of death.”

“The world is illusory, Only Brahman is real, Brahman is the world.”

“There is nothing wrong with God’s creation. Mystery and Suffering only exist in the mind…”

“That which is not present in deep dreamless state is not real.”

—Quotes by Ramana Maharshi on Non-Dualism

Keanu Reeves in A Scanner DarklyHeady stuff, and hyper-intellectual mind-candy explored in better detail on film by The Matrix and A Scanner Darkly, which coincidentally both feature the exceedingly cosmic Keanu Reeves—although even this fan of serendipity defies drawing a bow long enough to find cosmic parallels in that.

Yes, the idea that an action in Google Maps can cause change in the real world may be completely non-sensical, but like most science fiction you can not deny that it is hyper-fascinating. And, as in the philosophy of non-dualism, what could be more fascinating than the idea that thought alone can change reality…

Quarter acre sections; a sky tower that doesn’t really go all the way to the sky; spotlessly clean suburbs; rolling, semi-green, semi-bald hills covered in sheep and mountain bikers; speedos for fashion rather than the beach; xylophones; a calypso beat, and druids in a city where almost nothing is older than 150 years—just some of the eccentricity galore in this irrepressibly happy, undeniably strange music video from Auckland, New Zealand band Bressa Creeting Cake—the only group with a truly awful pun for a name to win a national music award.

Or to describe Palm Singing in the words of the band:

“A very happy holiday song full of gaiety, summer, and love for one’s fellows.”

Strange backyard rituals around a bonfire aside, who on earth could possibly bad-mouth that?

My friend “Krazy Karl” was once a member of this band—before he made a stand for sanity. I need no longer wonder where the “Krazy” came from…

In New Zealand, the concept of “six degrees of separation” may not have been invented, but it always applies, and my crazy musician friend and Bressa Creeting Cake are just one example:

  • I work with the guitarist from semi-famous rock band Garageland;
  • I went to school with semi-notorious rock band Shihad;
  • Jemaine of HBO comedy show Flight of the Conchords was in my film classes at university;
  • A workmate was trying to sell a concept for a board game named based on this very concept—that you can connect one person to another through six degrees of separation or less.

Here in the land of four million people and forty million sheep, everybody really does know everybody…

Martin Luther KingToday in New Zealand, the 22nd of January, it is Sir Edmund Hillary’s funeral, the final laying to rest of a national icon, and the only New Zealander to be immortalised on the face of a bank note while still alive. He was also the first person in 1953 to scale the face of Mt Everest.

Disparities of timezones and the passage of sidereal time mean that for the rest of the world it is yesterday right now, the 21st January, when “Sir Ed” has yet to be buried, and it is still Martin Luther King Day, the celebration of another man who scaled a lofty peak—the highest ideals of human equality and brotherhood.

What better time to revisit his famous, nay immortal August 28, 1963 speech at the March on Washington, better known for the very phrase he is remembered for—“I have a dream…”

May every dream for peace and equality come true…

Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream”


A Tribute by Sri Chinmoy to Martin Luther King

“Martin Luther King, beloved king of the heart-world, unhorizoned vision of the mind-world, hero-warrior of the vital-world, life-sacrificer of the body-world, to you my aspiration-dedication-life bows.

“The Saviour-Son gave humanity the lesson of compassion and forgiveness. India’s Mahatma Gandhi, with his message of non-violence, proved to be an excellent student. In America the Absolute Supreme chose you to be His unparalleled student, to love divinely the soul of His creation and to serve unreservedly the body of His creation.

“We, the members of the United Nations Meditation Group, bow to you lovingly, devotedly and soulfully.”

Sri Chinmoy
29 November 1977

(Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King at the United Nations. The programme was attended by Mrs. Coretta Scott King.)


Reprinted from Mahatma Gandhi: The Heart of Life by Sri Chinmoy (1994).

Martin Luther King Resources

George ClooneyImpossibly handsome A-list movie star George Clooney, whose perfectly chiseled jaw and clinically coiffured hair have sold a million movie seats and made countless other men feel insecure, has put his good looks and his heart on the line for a message seldom seen on celluloid, or real life for that matter—world peace. The 46 year old actor and father of none was designated by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week as a U.N. “Messenger of Peace.”

The advocacy role is designed to raise awareness of the world body’s peace keeping efforts, and in the words of the United Nations, “to advocate on behalf of the UN and focus global attention on its efforts to improve the lives of billions of people.”

Clooney responded that he was deeply honoured to receive the appointment, currently held also by actor Michael Douglas, primatologist Jane Goodall and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, stating that “I look forward to working with the United Nations in order to build public support for its critically important work in some of the most difficult, dangerous and dire places in the world.”

Which just might be the best lines this Oscar winner has ever delivered.

The hirsute actor may be a stranger to a hair-piece, but he is no stranger to world peace—Clooney is a long time activist and spokesperson for political and social causes, most notably in advocating a resolution to the Darfur conflict in Sudan.

George Clooney speaks on behalf of SaveDarfur.orgTowards this end Clooney has in recent years made the film Sand and Sorrow (2007), delivered an address to the UN Security Council, toured and written letters to countries involved in the region to encourage them to commit to decisive action, and formed a non-profit organisation with fellow stars Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle named Not On Our Watch.

One of only three people to have been given the title “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine, one cannot help suspect this famously self-deprecating actor values his new title far more:

“I’m certainly the last person to give advice on, well, anything.”

“When you’re young you believe it when people tell you how good you are. And that’s the danger, you inhale. Everyone will tell you you’re a genius, which you are not, and if you understand that, you win.”

“You have only a short period of time in your life to make your mark, and I’m there now.”

In light of his outspoken liberal principles and deeply held personal convictions, there has been a movement in recent years to convince Clooney to run for political office. With honesty somewhat unbecoming of a political aspirant, Clooney responded in the negative, and humourously to the overture:

”Run for office? No. I’ve slept with too many women, I’ve done too many drugs, and I’ve been to too many parties.”

Whatever his declared vices, or his commendable forthrightness, it seems safe to say that George Clooney has done more to change this world than many who hold political power, for in the actor’s own words:

“The only failure is not to try.”

George Clooney’s Video Diary from Sudan

Further information

jackkerouac-ny-1953.jpgHaving written all of half a dozen blog posts in a handful of months, it might seem likely a less than timely time to write about how to make one’s writing effortless, but maybe this is a kind of reverse serendipity—for right now effortless writing is just what I need.

Read on—where these seven ideas are concerned, I for one will definitely be taking my own advice…

7 ideas to make your writing effortless

Writing doesn’t have to be hard; in fact it can be as easy and natural as spoken conversation. All writers struggle in the beginning to develop creativity and flow; use the following seven tips to sharpen your talent and reach your goals.

1. Carry a notebook

Carry a notebook with you at all times; when inspiration hits, seize it and your notebook with both hands. All writers recommend carrying a notebook; use it for the surreptitious jotting of thoughts when and where ever they might appear.

Jack Kerouac, foremost writer of the Beat movement of the 50’s and ’60s—a moniker and eminence he was deeply uncomfortable with—carried one everywhere, forever sketching poetry and novels to be in the most unlikely of places—”Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy” in his words. Likewise Walt Whitman, 19th Century ‘Father of American Poetry’ and inspiration to Kerouac, who went one step further and carried an entire manuscript, a paperweight sized bundle that would one day be his Leaves of Grass.

2. But use it in the right place

walt whitmanFunnily enough, this oft revised and reworked masterpiece was the cause of Whitman’s dismissal from at least one job—fired from the Department of the Interior by an enraged employer upon closer inspection of the ‘paperwork’ on his desk. Which suggests that some places are better to write in than others, although in Whitman’s defence, most writers can relate to the truth that inspiration may strike in the most unexpected places.

3. Make writing a good habit

Writing is a good habit which can benefit from a little encouragement. To this ends, many writers recommend a specific place to write, almost like a meditation shrine, dedicated to this solo, inspirational practise. For some a specific time of day is conducive—a daily regimen just like eating, sleeping and exercise. Creativity can wax and wane like the passage of the moon; take time and place of writing as two aids to assist obstructing clouds to part.

4. Regularity builds the muscles of writing

Make an attempt to write every day, without thought or judgment for the quality you produce. Writing is like a creative flow; it will not begin if you do not turn on the tap. One method is to write like a river bursting its dam, words spilling over onto the paper before you. Follow the rivers’ flow as far as you can, and in time the distance you travel will grow. Look not at this metaphorical river’s banks or rocks ahead of you; flow forth like water, always moving.

5. Writing is like meditation

Writing can be like the act of meditation itself, a secret known to centuries of haiku poets who were also meditators, and practised it as such. Write regularly, in silence and with one-pointed focus to achieve your goal. Furthermore, the discipline of regular practise, as in meditation, encourages an ever deepening flow of creativity, and a more fruitful, productive experience.

6. Suspend critical thought

Suspend judgment during a first draft, even if your mind screams that you are writing poorly. More important is to write, write, write; regardless of quality let the words pour upon the page—revising and polishing are for a later date. The editing process is a different mindset from that of writing, which requires creativity to flow directed but unimpeded; for the sake of creativity leave this more critical part of your being to one side. It is not without reason that professional writing seldom sees the occupations of writer and editor in a single person.

7. Exercise your body, not your mind

Running, and exercise in general, will actually help your writing. Meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy calls running meditation for the body; it clears the mind and purifies the emotions in the manner of a breath of fresh air, dispersing anger and depression as though clouds in the sky. Negative qualities are an anathema to creativity—it’s total polar opposite; take physical exercise as a simple tool to clear the road ahead when you are writing. It also makes a good time out.

Writing is like running in a sense; the hardest part is getting under way, but once started a momentum is built which will carry you along. Surrender to this and your writing may one day become effortless.

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