Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I have a question for my readers: Does this description of 'the enlightening activity of wisdom' sound like gnosis to you?

How does Yamāntaka terminate death?

Directly from Wikipedia.org-- "This question depends upon the meaning ascribed to the term death – but one way in which this ability can be identified is through the enlightening activity of wisdom. The wisdom mind is able to perceive that death has no intrinsic, concrete existence: our understanding of death emerges solely from the conventions of the world. Also, when we achieve the same realisation of Yamantaka - who is a Buddha - then we have transcended death.

There are three types of death spoken of in the Yamāntaka Tantra : Outer death is the regular end of life, which is embodied by Yama, Lord of Death, who resides in the south, seven stories under the earth. The inner death is ignorance of the true nature of non-dual reality. Instinctive habitual grasping and aversion to objectively "real" objects and subjects arises from this ignorance. The secret death is dualistic appearance on the subtlest level of clear light mind and illusory body. With the practice of Yamāntaka one overcomes those types of death and gains immortality as a Buddha."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Orson Scott Card's "philotic twining" Theory

In Xenocide, the third science fiction book of the Ender's Game series by author Orson Scott Card, I was surprised to find the physics theory of philotic twining to have a gnostic slant. From Wikipedia, here is the best description I can find of the theory, in three distinct sections

Pay particular attention to the theory of 'ai
ùas.'My own notes and thoughts are at the end.


A philote is the basic building block of matter, the true indivisible particle that is not made up of smaller ones. Philotes take up no space and are essential to the theory of philotic energy. Each atom has a philote of its own, each molecule likewise, and ultimately each human has an aiùa, an intelligent philote. It is suggested that perhaps a single philote, which could be referred to as God, contains the essence of humanity, and/or all sentient species in the known universe.

Early in the series, philotic energy is used as a form of faster-than-light communication, in which messages are transmitted instantaneously via ansible. Later, it is used as a form of near-instantaneous travel, with items to be transported being sent Outside and then back In, arriving at the specified destination (which may be any distance from the origin).

Philotes combine or 'twine' to make up all matter in the universe. This twining also makes possible the ansibles, which allow instantaneous communication over any distance via quantum entanglement. Philotes have no mass or inertia, only location (similar to a geometric point), and extend infinitely in two directions. All philotes are qualitatively different from each other, in that some are 'smarter' than others. As one moves up the levels, from philotes to quarks to atoms to molecules and so on, the patterns in which the philotes twine become increasingly complex. Not all philotes are 'smart' enough to be able to control and maintain these patterns. It takes very 'smart' ones, which are called aiúas, to inhabit actual life forms, and an organism's 'master' philote, or its aiùaSanskrit for life), is considered to be the physical site of its soul. (

The Hive Queens of the Formic race are born like the rest of the Formics: unintelligent. The mother of the new queen calls a philote from another place, a non-place, and it comes. The Hive Queen also mentions that humans do the same thing when born. It's the act of becoming sentient. It is discovered that these philotes come from Outside, where there is no sense of location and all matter resides in one geometrical point (see above section for more detail).

In the study of philotics, philotes are essential threads of energy, which have no mass, and the measurable dimension of a mathematical point, which entwine or "twine" and create holons, which are then interpreted as solid sensory phenomena by sentient beings.

The theory of philotics

Philotes are the fundamental building blocks of all matter and energy. Philotes have neither mass, dimension, nor inertia. Philotes have only location, duration and connection. When philotes combine to make durable structures, protons, neutrons, atoms, molecules, organisms, planets, etc., they "twine up". Each philote connects itself to the rest of the universe along a single ray, a one-dimensional line that connects it to all other philotes in its nearest immediate structure.

All of those strands from philotes in that structure are twined into a single philotic thread that connects to the next largest structure. The threads twine into a yarn to the next largest structure, and then into a greater rope of larger structures. This has nothing to do with nuclear forces or gravity, nothing to do with chemical bonds. Philotes are beneath all observable manifestations of matter and energy.

The individual philotic rays are always there, present in the twines, going on apparently forever. The rays twine together to the planet, and each planet's philotic twine reaches to its star, and each star to the center of the galaxy — and who knows where after that.

The philotic twines from substances like rock or sand all connect directly from each molecule to the center of the planet. But when a molecule is incorporated into a sentient living organism, its ray shifts. Instead of reaching to the planet, it gets twined up into the individual cells, the rays from all the cells are all twined together so that each organism sends a single fiber of philotic connections to twine up with the central philotic rope of the planet.

When a twined structure is broken — as when a molecule breaks apart — the old philotic twining remains for a time. Fragments that are no longer physically connected remain philotically connected for a while. The smaller the particle the longer the connection lasts after the break up. The more complex the structure the faster it responds to change. After nuclear fission, theoretically, it takes hours for the philotic rays to sort themselves out again, perhaps not in an identical manner. The energy released in fission may result from the breaking of philotic twines.

At one point, Jane hints that she is responsible for the ansibles's safety. The philotic rays themselves have never broken, only the machinery, but shouldn't they have, after at least 3000 years? She says she keeps them entwined, using her power being a sentient being that lives in the ansibles's connections.

Philotic Web

The Philotic Web is a philosophical and metaphysical construct of the Ender's Game series of books by Orson Scott Card. The philosophy of philotes and the philotic web they create first appeared in Xenocide, the third book of the series. It describes the interconnection of not only all the aiuas in the universe, but also the lesser-intelligent philotes. The "web" itself is used by Jane to access not only the combined knowledge of humanity, but also as a pseudo-storage device to house her memory and higher reasoning functions.

The web is the direct result of every philotic connection in the universe. These connections never touch each other in the truer sense of the word "web," but every being can be linked to every other being by their interconnected philotes. These philotic connections are not static, and can be strengthened or weakened over time. For example, Si Wang-Mu and Peter Wiggin begin their journey together having only a small philotic connection. As they spend more time together and grow increasingly more affectionate and emotionally attached to each other, their connection grows stronger and stronger.

The philotic connections spoken of in the Enderverse can grow to monumental proportions based solely on emotional and "spiritual" connectedness. Grego is spoken of as having formed a very intense philotic web with the angry mob in Xenocide in a matter of minutes. Additionally, philotic connections can cause physical disturbance or emotional distress when severed.

It is also important to note that philotic connections exist between living and non-living things alike.


The very last sentence strikes me deeply in the sense that we are all very materialistic creatures. Our wants. Our things-we-think-we-need but in essence can do perfectly fine without. If this philotic twining of ours with material items comes to be too important to us then WHO are we so strongly connected with? No one. And nothing except our own greed for more 'things' to surround ourselves with to distract us from how hollow our lives are without more meaning.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Orson Scott Card 'Xenocide' Excerpt On Godliness

Orson Scott Card is #1 on my list of all-time favorite authors. I can read his books a dozen times and always find something new to ponder, some new angle or emotion I didn't read before, and truly count it as time well spent. Politics and religion are written with equal fervor and this makes him especially adept at presenting moral problems for society to consider.

Xenocide, which is the third book in the Ender's Game series, has two backdrops: the world of Lusitania and the world of Path. Lusitania is a planet where a human colony settled before they realized that there lived a varelse(sentient but eternally cruel) species of virus which infected/influenced the life cycle of every life form there. It's a race against time to discover how to kill the descolada(the virus) while not harming the other sentient creatures on the planet BEFORE a fleet sent by Starways Congress blows up the planet because it has been deemed too dangerous to humanity to let survive.

On the world of Path, a colony of Taoist Chinese have settled and the brightest minds have teamed up with Ender Wiggin and his family on Lusitania via video conference to solve two puzzles at once. The descolada virus on Lusitania is the first. The second is a solution to the obsessive-compulsive-like behavior the geniuses of Path all exhibit. Starways Congress genetically altered the people of Path centuries before with a defect which would hobble their genius by making them slaves to OCD behavior. Hand washing, tracing wood grains on floor panels, staring without blinking, whirling around, hair pulling, and a multitude of other behaviors are rampant. 'The godspoken' of Path are revered by the common people but are slaves to their own individual need to 'purify' themselves by doing these empty rituals. Path's caste system is about to be turned upside down.

The following excerpt is a conversation concerning the characters' collaborative effort. In it, we see the clash of cultural conditioning and philosophical reasoning of two very different worlds concerning supreme beings or intelligences of the universe.


(Page 273, italicized emphasis on words are from the original text.)

"And we're
not special, none of us!" cried Wan-mu. "We're all as ordinary as mud! There are no godspoken. There are no gods. They care nothing about us."

"If there aren't any gods," said Ela, mildly correcting her, "then they can hardly do any caring one way or another."

"Nothing made us except for their own selfish purposes," cried Wang-mu. "Whoever made the descolada-- the pequeninos are just part of their plan. And the godspoken, part of Congress's plan."

"As one whose birth was requested by the government," said Wiggin, "I sympathize with your point of view. But your reaction is too hasty. After all, my parents also wanted me. And from the moment of my birth, just like every other living creature, I had my own purpose in life. Just because the people of your world were wrong about their OCD behavior being messages from the gods doesn't mean that there are no gods. Just because your former understanding of the purpose of your life is contradicted doesn't mean that you have to decided there is no purpose."

"Oh, I know there's a purpose," said Wang-mu. "The Congress wanted slaves! That's why they created Qing-jao-- to be a slave for them. And she wants to continue in her slavery!"

"That was Congress's purpose," said Wiggin. "But Qing-jao also had a mother and father who loved her. So did I. There are many different purposes in this world, many different causes of everything. Just because one cause you believed in turned out to be false doesn't mean that there aren't other causes that can still be trusted."

"Oh I suppose so," said Wang-mu. Sh was now ashamed of her outbursts.

"Don't bow your head before me," said Wiggin. "Or are
you doing that, Jane?"

Jane must have answered him, an answer that Wang-mu didn't hear.
"I don't care what her customs are," said Wiggin. "The only reason for such bowing is to humiliate one person before another, and I won't have her bow that way to me. She's done nothing to be ashamed of. She's opened up a way of looking at the descolada that might just lead to the salvation of a couple of species."

Wang-mu heard the tone of his voice. He believed this. He was honoring her, right from his own mouth.
"Not me," she protested. "Qing-jao. They were her questions."

"Qing-jao," said Ela. "She's got you totally boba about her, the way Congress has Qing-jao thinking about

"You can't be scornful because you don't know her," said Wang-mu. "But she is brilliant and good and I can never be like her."

"Gods again," said Wiggin.

"Always gods," said Ela.

"What do you mean?" said Wang-mu. "Qing-jao doesn't say that she's a god, and neither do I."

"Yes you do, "said Ela. "'Qing-jao is wise and good,' you said."

"Brilliant and good," Wiggin corrected her.

"'And I can never be like her,'" Ela went on.

"Let me tell you something about gods," said Wiggin. "No matter how smart or strong you are, there's always somebody smarter or stronger, and when you run into somebody who's stronger and smarter than anybody, you think, This is a god. This is perfection. But I can promise you that there's somebody else somewhere else who'll make your god look like a maggot by comparison. And somebody smarter or stronger or better in some way. So let me tell you what I think about gods. I think that a real god is not going to be so scared or angry that he tries to keep other people down. For Congress to genetically alter people to make them smarter and more creative, that could have been a godlike, generous gift. But they were scared, so they hobbled the people of Path. They wanted to stay in control. A real god doesn't care about control. A real god already has control of everything that needs controlling. Real gods would teach you how to be just like them."

"Qing-jao wanted to teach me," said Wang-mu.

"But only as long as you obeyed and did what she wanted," said Jane.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Haven't been terribly consistent with practicing lay gnosis for a while. Ok, to be honest- I completely stopped the past few weeks. My heart's been kinda heavy with a lot of stuff I (stupidly) wanted to deal with on my own and... there's really no good reason to tell you the truth. Just me being silly and lazy.

Last evening while laying in bed waiting for sleep to overtake me I decided that I'd buckle down and get a good session in. Several minutes of lay-gnosis-hand-tingling later I dropped off into sleep in a so-so mood. Then the dream began.

I was inside a dome-like structure I understood to be our planet, and walking down with other people into large cavernous rooms. These rooms were situated to appear almost like a movie theaters, with rows of chairs and big screens with low toned entertainment playing. Something odd about it struck me- every so often a few of the chairs were scooted around at odd angles and there were even couches thrown around here and there.

As I walked into this chamber and tried to find a seat it came to mind that the reason why people were moving down here was that there was some sort of conflagration- fire or war....something... I don't know exactly- which happened above. The surface was not hospitable any longer.

I sat in a chair and looked across at the woman who faced me. She was a normal looking young woman. Reading some sort of publication. Magazine, I think. The chamber wasn't too packed. But I saw a few people sporadically standing up and leaving by way of a narrow corridor which moved deeper into the planet. I couldn't figure this out. There were no signs stating what it was. And the woman sitting across from me noticed my confused look toward the tunnel. She shrugged and went on reading her magazine.

Watching the people who stood to move toward the corridor I realized that just before they did this, some nameless and perfectly ordinary person would sit down beside them for a few moments and then would lead them toward the door. This went on for some time. The people never came back. The realization that these people were being 'interviewed' came to mind. But interviewed for what?!

Once I made the connection with the interviewers and the interviewees I took a glance around and noticed something shocking which I did not see as I sat down originally- dotted throughout the chamber in the multitude of chairs were corpses. People who had literally waited in that room until they died.
I felt the presence of a person sitting down beside me and I turned my head to look at them. Don't remember their face. But I remember standing up. And then I woke up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Gnostic's Perspective On Gaza Violence

Browsing around Amnesty.org I tripped across a startling article and interview concerning the ongoing fighting over Gaza. It is copy/pasted below in its entirety.Before you scroll down to read it, however, I'd like to offer my own concerns and thoughts over the bloodshed.

I have tried and tried to understand what the fight is about, desperate to see something more than what I was. Behind all the rhetoric and slander and propaganda the only thing which seems to be a resounding theme on both sides is: this is our land and the Lord says so.

I don't mean to belittle or downplay the seriousness of the bloodshed which has occurred for so many decades in that area of the world but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! Cripes, people.

The United Nations is literally allowing this to continue. I have to agree with Norman Finkelstein on that. It's the equivalent of (True story. Just happened yesterday.) my eight year old son getting out of line to do a task and then when he comes back the boy who moved up to his space punches him in the nose rather than let him back in. The repercussions which the school enforced was a one week suspension of the boy who punched my son. Does the UN do anything? ..... not really. They seem to be putting their own spin on who's worse and slapping them with sanctions but the bloodshed tells a different story altogether. And on it goes.

In relation to gnosis this is the lowest of the lowest asinine behavior to tolerate after this many years. Naturally Jehovah doesn't really seem to give a twit that this war. Or, it feeds His ego driven greed even further. Two groups of people fighting not just over a sand box but over some supposed religious "right" to it. Says who? A God who condones war over land and material possessions or men who have twisted the "words of God" to mean what they want it to? Nobody is ever going to get to the Land of Milk and Honey until they're dead. Give it up. IT'S A METAPHOR!!

Both sides refuse to back down and nothing will change. The bloodshed will continue, whole generations will be lost, and we'll still be sitting back watching with more and more loud sighs of boredom as the years pass.

The argument has become a morbid, overgrown beast which doesn't even sell newspapers anymore. I do it myself and so do my friends: Open the newspaper to the World section. See a new article on bombing in Gaza and say to each other

"Another bombing over there."
"Over where?"
"Huh. ok."

And that's the end of the discussion. No tears. No charity drives. Why? The propaganda machines from every side(and faction) in this war have websites, paid-ad-banners, recruitment efforts.... it's endless. But the empathy is at an all-time low because quite honestly, there are too many other issues forced in our faces on a daily basis. Local issues.

If it's the UN's job to force the region to get it's act together then by God(or whoever the heck you believe in) DO SOMETHING before somebody does something truly drastic over there and drops bigger bombs.

Interview Norman Finkelstein: "We ask the ones who were kicked out of their homes, to recognise the legitimacy of the ones who kicked them out."

09 September 2008 at 00:49 by Pieter Stockmans

Norman Finkelstein is an internationally recognized scholar on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Finkelstein was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1953. His mother, Maryla Husyt Finkelstein, is survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Maidanek concentration camp. His father, Zacharias Finkelstein, is survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz concentration camp. Until recently he taught political science at DePaul University, Chicago.
His books include The Holocaust Industry and Beyond Chutzpah Finkelstein remarkably unites scholarly rigor with moral outrage

Norman Finkelstein follows human rights organizations closely and writes extensively on Israel’s human rights abuses. Often he cites Amnesty reports, also in his latest book Beyond Chutzpah. At the same time, he argues that human rights organizations should pause and reflect from time to time on their communications about human rights violations in conflicts, in particular in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Finkelstein speaks openly and does not shy away from controversy. I discussed with him the role of the EU and of human rights organizations in the in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He is not afraid to call the EU hypocritical when it continues to give massive financial aid, without throwing in the political weight it could have to solve the roots of the conflict.

Finkelstein: There is a human rights clause in a lot of the EU trade agreements that is not implemented at all and completely ignored when it comes to Israel and this is shameful. As to why EU member states do not call for the implementation: every state has its priorities and Palestinian life is simply not that important in the EU. Under pressure of domestic Jewish organizations politicians and the public turn a blind eye to Israel’s human rights abuses. Each state has its own incentives to ignore the Palestinian question, whether it’s a domestic lobby, whether it’s fear of the USA. But it’s a fact that the EU ignores its own organizational instruments, especially economic treaties.

The official EU policy on Israeli human rights abuses is one of dialogue. The Commission’s view is as follows: “Suspending the Association Agreement, which is the basis for EU-Israeli trade relations but also the basis for the EU-Israel political dialogue, would not make the Israeli authorities more responsive to EU concerns at this time. Keeping the lines of communication open and trying to convince our interlocutors is hopefully the better way forward.” What are your thoughts on this?

Finkelstein: This is nonsense. This was the exact argument that was used for a long time to deal with the apartheid regime in South Africa. They call it ‘constructive engagement’. There’s no need to talk now. There’s no need to dialogue. What is there to dialogue about? There is a need to impose sanctions. That’s the very beginning. Israel is economically very dependent on the EU: the EU is Israel’s number one trading partner. Israeli leaders are not stupid. If the EU only starts threatening to suspend the Association Agreement, they will start calculating. We’re not even talking about controversial sanctions like a cultural boycott. We’re talking about provisions that are right there in their own trade agreements. The human rights clause is being grossly violated. The whole thing of having a human rights clause is not to talk about it, but to do something about it.

It is not only nonsense. It is also pure hypocrisy. Why does Israel gets a soft treatment and Hamas gets the full blow of boycott and sanctions, while Israel’s human rights record is much worse? Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000 there have been 4700 Palestinians killed and 1045 Israeli’s killed. On both sides, as Amnesty has written, the overwhelming majority were civilians. So Israel’s record of killing civilians is about 45 times worse. When you kill that many civilians, it becomes hard to argument that it’s only out of self-defense. It becomes state terrorism. Leaving aside house demolitions, confiscations, curfews, collective punishment, torture, etc. We’re just looking at fatalities and clashes. Why do you recognize Israel? Why aren’t there sanctions imposed on Israel?

The standard answer is because Hamas must first recognize Israel.
Finkelstein: On the Palestinians, mainly on Hamas, numerous unreasonably demands are imposed, like the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel as a state for the Jews. But think for one second: it’s crazy to try to impose the legitimacy of a state for the Jews in Palestine on the surrounding Arab world. Would any American go to a Cherokee Indian and impose on him to recognize the legitimacy of the English settlers and the American state on Indian land? Basically you ask people who were kicked out of their homes, to recognize explicitly the legitimacy of the ones who kicked you out.

But first of all, Hamas has officially accepted the settlement of the conflict along the 1967 border. Secondly, give me one Israeli document where Israel has recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Is there any official who has ever recognized it? This is pure hypocrisy. You apply the principle to one side. These are the kinds of demands that are literally insane. It’s about making demands which you know the other side will not accept, and thereby assuring that you could continue to annex the land and take over everything. They could solve the conflict tomorrow, but they don’t want to solve the conflict because Israel doesn’t want these 1967 borders. This is never said out loud, but this is a fact. It’s like Jimmy Carter said: peace will come to the Middle East when Israel accepts international principles and the concept of legal borders, when Israel is prepared to determine its borders according to these principles. They don’t want to. So they keep on making unreasonable demands, which they know are unreasonable.

You hold a strong plea for international law. But what should we do when international law doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on Israel. For example, the advisory opinion of the ICJ will never be translated into a binding UN security council resolution.
Finkelstein: Well, in that case the EU could turn to its provisions in its trade agreements and act decisively upon the findings by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and B’tselem. The EU has provisions that allows it to force Israel to give an effect to international law. But the EU isn’t doing anything. We only impose these provisions on the weak.

You think ‘urging’ Israel to change its policies won’t get us anywhere?
Finkelstein: All you have to do is look at the track record: is there any evidence in the past that Israel changed its policies because it was ‘urged’ to? Dialogue is necessary with people misunderstanding each other. You have dialogue to clarify misunderstanding. There is no misunderstanding here. Israel itself knows exactly what it’s doing. It know it’s illegal. The EU knows. It’s not a misunderstanding. What’s the point of a dialogue? To tell them it’s wrong? Well, they already know it’s wrong.

Then why does the EU maintains its soft approach?
Finkelstein: There are numerous reasons. One is indifference to Palestinian suffering. There is also an element of racism. The Western world likes stupid Arabs. With Arabs who are intelligent, who do not back down, they have a real problem. The West doesn’t hate Hezbollah because they are terrorists. Half of the states in the world are terrorist. They don’t like the fact that they’re smart, dignified and resistant. The EU is also accomplice to Israeli crimes. Israel wants peace. Nobody wants war. Most people don’t think of war as a desirable human activity. But Israel wants its own version of peace.

The EU is accomplice to Israel’s unilateral imposing of a solution and it thereby even promotes impunity. There are sins commission and sins of omission. The EU is not doing what they are supposed to do. They go on trading with Israel as Israel is committing these atrocities. It’s also the EU’s present relation to the US, the pressure of domestic organizations that work for Israel’s interest and the theory that sanctions against Jews is the Nazi boycott all over again. This is what the Nazi’s did. Don’t you remember 1934, they imposed an economic boycott. This kind of crazy arguments are very effective.

Jewish suffering is being used for political purposes. This is one of your main arguments.
Finkelstein: Exactly. The claim is, that if you suffered more, you shouldn’t be held to the same standards as anybody else. That your suffering gives you unique rights. It’s like the security argument. Everywhere else in the world it’s being considered preposterous to occupy someone else’s territory because of security. But Jews are allowed to derive from elementary principles. Why? Because of the holocaust. That I find unacceptable. The holocaust industry says you can’t compare the holocaust to anything else. But this is the end of history!

History is all about compare and contrast. Compare and contrast the French and the Russian revolution. By refusing to compare the holocaust to anything else, the holocaust industry keeps us from learning from it. I have a real problem with measuring human suffering. I think it was Plato who said, that if you take two happy people and it’s impossible to prove that one is unhappier than the other. Someone who has been in prison for 30 years and survived and someone very wealthy who has been in the prison of his self-torment up to the point of committing suicide. Who was more unhappy? Who suffered more. I don’t know. How do you measure it? I don’t want to get into that. It’s not my business. Nobody has the courage nowadays to speak ordinary truth. Amnesty is pretty cowardly too. They are very cautious when it comes to Israel. Also Human Rights Watch research and publications on the Lebanon war. It was disgraceful.

Then what is, according to you, the role of human rights organizations in this highly sensitive conflict, where human rights fall victim to ‘security considerations’ more than anywhere else? And how they position themselves?
Finkelstein: I think the most striking thing about human rights organizations is, how completely detached their language is from what is actually happening. There is a huge gap between the language used and the reality that it refers to. Take the striking case of Gaza. You constantly use the word ‘disproportionate force’. Is that really what’s going on? Is that really only what’s going on. The only problem is the disproportionate. If Israel would us proportionate force, everything would be fine. Is that really the only problem? Or is the real problem that Israel is committing an atrocity?

You are criticizing the laws of war now.
Finkelstein: International law is the minimum we have. But it’s the very minimum. Let’s not forget international law is not holy. It allows for so much suffering, it allows for so much killing. The idea of laws of war is like etiquette for cannibals. Human rights organizations shouldn’t always stick to its technical, bureaucratic dehumanizing language. The use of language is of vital importance to explain the world what’s going on on the ground. By using technical language, you will not reach the public and you will not have the impact you’re looking for.Why is someone like Jimmy Carter courageous enough to use the word ‘atrocity’ to describe the horrible situation in Gaza. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have never found it in them to use language like that. I think this is very odd.

Of course I am aware of Amnesty’s strong work on individuals and in this way they do show the human side. But I don’t think that’s the issue here. Take the issue of Gaza again. What is going on in Gaza, the blockade, is state terrorism, it’s not merely ‘collective punishment’, it’s pure state terrorism because it’s aim is political. But you never see it described as terrorism. If terrorism means the targeting of civilians to achieve political goals, what are the Israeli’s trying to achieve in Gaza? They’re trying to get the Palestinians to get rid of Hamas. That’s exactly the targeting of civilians to achieve a political goal.

Still you cite Amnesty quite a lot in your writings.
Finkelstein: Correct. But I also know Amnesty has a terrible record when it comes to the Israel/Palestine conflict, a shameful record. After 1991 it started to get better. But now they’ve all gotten terrible again. Up until 1979 Amnesty refused to denounce Israeli use of torture. From 1967 on, Israel was systematically and methodically torturing Palestinian detainees. From 1987 until 1993 Israel tortured, according to Israeli human rights organizations like B’tselem, tens of thousands of Palestinian detainees. Amnesty refused to write about it. The most it would recommend was that Israel should look into the question of torture. Only in 1991 they raised the issue, when they put out their book on Israel’s military courts. Amnesty acknowledges now in its most recent publication on torture, that Israel had been torturing Palestinian detainees since 1967, which is true.

When it comes to Israel, Amnesty becomes afraid that jews decide to pull the money from the organization. Jews as liberals finance liberal organizations like Amnesty. In the last report of Human Rights Watch on the Lebanon war, they claimed that Israel targeted civilians by mistake. How is it possible to drop 4,6 million cluster bomblets in South Lebanon indiscriminately on villages and HRW couldn’t figure out if it was a war crime. It didn’t find evidence of a war crime.

You write about anti-semitism and the misuse of the argument. Let me quote you in one of your articles on your website: “Although the subject of many reports by human rights organizations, Israel's real human rights record in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is generally not well known abroad. This is primarily due to the formidable public relations industry of Israel's defenders as well as the effectiveness of their tactics of intimidation, such as labeling critics of Israeli policy anti-Semitic.” Also Amnesty is being accused of anti-semitism Is this strategy of the misuse of these arguments a big threat to human rights work?
Finkelstein: The threat is as big as people are cowardly in giving in to the threat. Carter is pretty good. People keep calling him an anti-semite and actually his record and arguments are getting better. If you have a clear conscience, the anti-semitism thing won’t bother you and you go your way. It’s as strong a weapon as you allow it to be. The real threat is that Amnesty and other human rights organizations are becoming apologists for Israel. And then you have those who say that it is not enough of an apologist to satisfy Israel’s supporters.

What should organizations who work for peace and human rights do against these false accusations that serve only to weaken their call for justice?
Finkelstein: The answer is very simple. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that we’re anti-semitic. How does that change the facts? Do they become different, just because I’m anti-semitic? And if we are anti-semitic, how does that explain all the other human rights organizations, including the Israeli human rights organizations? B’tselem reached the same conclusions as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. Are they all anti-semites? So either everyone is anti-semitic, or maybe they’re telling the truth.

What about the security argument?
Finkelstein: The security argument does not justify just about any action. International law says that a state cannot use force unilaterally. The US used terrorist tactics against Cuba since 1959. Does that mean Cuba gets the right to annex Florida, as Israel claims the right to occupy and annex the West Bank because it is under a security threat? The US invaded Nicaragua. Does that give the right to Nicaragua to occupy Louisiana? You have to see what security allows for. And it doesn’t allow for answering to security threats with occupation or annexation. Under security, a state has the right to build border protection, deploy troops, build checkpoints on its own side of the border. And I’ve got news for you: in July 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza are occupied Palestinian territory. It’s not Israeli territory. You’re not allowed to deploy troops on somebody else’s territory without their permission. These are very obvious principles.

You speak of uniting the many against the few, what do you propose very concretely?
Finkelstein: Let’s look at what the consensus is today and unite the many around this consensus. Let’s look at the UN General Assembly, let’s look at the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, let’s look at what human rights organizations say and they give us a sense of what’s the consensus among the many. We should organize around this consensus. That’s the way you change things. God helps those who help themselves. Unless we demand power for ourselves, unless we won’t enforce our will based upon reasonable principles that can be understood by the many, things won’t change.

If you would’ve told me thirty years ago that Nelson Mandela would be the president of South Africa, if you would’ve told me thirty years ago the US would have a black president, if you would’ve told me a guerilla army of 1500 could force one of the four most powerful armies in the world to defeat, I would’ve told you ‘you’ve lost your mind’. People who organize, can get their act together and force change. But by staying indifferent, nothing will change.

You said the Lebanon war has been a turning point for Israeli’s and the broader Middle East. Why is that so?
Finkelstein: It was the first time it was Israel urging the UN to enforce a resolution. All of a sudden Israel became dependent on the rule of law, because its power is weakening. It was for Israel a very poor showing. And the other side is getting more efficient and more organized. Israel has throughout its history depended on two facts: that its adversary is corrupt. That their Arab adversaries are stupid. For a long time this has in fact been true. Now Israel begins to see its adversaries not corrupt and quite intelligent. That’s causing them a very big problem. Hezbollah has a strict model of being organized, no empty slogans, no promises you can’t fulfill.

You seem to talk about Hezbollah as if they are morally superior.
Finkelstein: I don’t want to talk in terms of moral. Simply look at their record. Their record is better! Of course we don’t know what their record would be like if they ever gained state power. Look at the Lebanon war. On the Israeli 160 killed, 25% civilians (33 civilians). On the Lebanese side 1200 killed, 80% civilians. It’s just a fact that the record of Hezbollah is much better. Take the case of cluster bombs and bomblets. Hezbollah has been accused by Human Rights Watch of using 3000, Israel 4,6 million. Or take the Amnesty International report on damage done to civilian infrastructure. Israel in the millions, Lebanon in the billions. Whichever way you look at it.

Will a Palestinian state under the two state settlement be viable enough, according to you?
Finkelstein: It’ll be a garbage state, trapped between Israel and Jordan. It won’t have much independence. I don’t have any illusions about it. It will end the occupation, which is a good thing. Beyond that, not much. People will still be miserable, corrupt leaders. But it will be a first step. It sets the parameters.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Prayer of the Messenger Paul

This singular prayer is the very first text of Codex 1 in the Nag Hammadi collection. It stands alone.

Grant me your mercy.
My redeemer, redeem me,
for I am yours.
I came from you.
You are my mind:
give me birth.
You are my treasure:
open for me.
You are my fullness:
accept me.
You are my rest:
give me unlimited perfection.

I pray to you,
you who exist and preexisted,
in the name exalted above every name,
through Jesus the anointed,
lord of lords,
king of the eternal realms.
Give me your gifts, with no regret,
through the human child,
the spirit,
the advocate of truth.
Give me authority, I beg of you,
give healing for my body, as I beg of you,
through the preacher of the gospel,
and redeem my enlightened soul forever, and my spirit,
and disclose to my mind the firstborn of the fullness of grace.

Grant what eyes of angels have not seen,
what ears of rulers have not heard,
and what has not arisen in the hearts of people,
who become angelic,
and after the image of the animate god(demiurge)
when it was formed in the beginning.
I have the faith of hope.
And bestow upon me
your beloved, chosen, blessed majesty,
you who are the firstborn, the first-conceived,
and the wonderful mystery of your house.
for yours is the power and the glory and the praise and the greatness,
forever and ever.

Book Review

The Gnostics
By: Andrew Phillip Smith

Find this book. Buy it. Period.

If you ever wanted to find a truly in-depth discussion on the old gnostic history(including genocides), traditions, scriptures, and influence then this is it. This book took me around two weeks to finish from cover to cover and the reason is not length(226 pages) but of context and further study. I didn't want to put the book down but... my brain was overwhelmed and I had no choice. Giving yourself a chance to absorb the information is a good idea as the twists and turns are quite intense.

The author did not write this book to be a light foray into the idea of gnosis but to be a truly meaty study of the people and their beliefs. He didn't overwhelm with citations, however, keeping the book visually appealing and easy to follow. The references, bibliography, and index sections are rich in new avenues for further study.

Valentinians, Sethians, Marcionism, Manichaean, Hermetic, Mandaean, Bogomils, Cathars, Paulicians, and countless 'cousin' gnostic groups are discussed in comparison and contrast with how they have influenced or been influenced by gnosticism.

Excerpt from page 41 (emphasis by blog author)

Even though they traced themselves back to Valentinus as a revered teacher, and accepted Church hierarchy when they came into contact with it, the Valentinians were notoriously democratic and egalitarian in their dealings with each other. The Church Father Tertullian complained that he could see no strict hierarchy among them, "First, one does not know which is a catchumen or a believer. They enter on equal terms, they listen on equal terms, they pray on equal terms... they do not care if they confess different doctrines, provided that they all help to
destroy the truth... And so today, one man is a bishop, tomorrow another. Today one is a deacon who tomorrow will be a lector. The presbyter of today is the layman of tomorrow. Even the members of the laity are charged with the duties of a priest."

The Church Father Irenaeus also had first hand experience of Valentinians. .....He was dismayed to find that there were many Valentinians in his diocese, and, being particularly concerned that he couldn't easily tell them apart from other Christians, he described them as the usual wolves in sheep's clothing.

Excerpt from page 51

The state of the hylic, who lives from the body alone, is roughly similar to that of an animal. A hylic is dependent on the body and on the needs and appetites of the body, and the body is incapable of salvation in itself. For Gnostics there was no bodily resurrection, and they would have agreed with the second century pagan and anti-Christian philosopher Celsus that the resurrection of a physical corpse was a repugnant concept. Those who live only from the body live in ignorance, which is a lack of gnosis, and gnosis begins with the soul and finds fulfillment in the spirit.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Modern Music With Gnostic Flavor

Listening to my iPod on random today I stumbled across one of my favorite songs from Jewel. Hadn't heard it for quite a while and honestly, I don't recall ever hearing it on the radio. It's not exactly PC.

Political correctness is shoved out the window when you examine gnostic writers/poets, singers, and visual artists. It's not that they don't care about selling their work, it's that they don't care, period, about anything except expressing themselves. The drive and need to produce their works is overshadowed by anything else in their lives, even if their greatness is only discovered posthumously. Talking about showing your breasts on TV or abortion or paying clergy for absolution is a bit off putting. Pop singers have it easier. They sing about love's many phases of adoration/jealousy/breakup while those with eyes to see and ears to hear very often have the mouth to back it up. Their efforts are not often well received unless they have other more acceptable(and accessible) music to even out their wildness of spirit.

Jewel's song called "Jesus Loves You" from her album called This Way, fits the bill of a gnostic anthem, promoting the greatest sense of freedom for the human spirit possible and calling into question all the notions literal religions push upon our society.

They say that Jesus loves you
What about me?
They say that money breaks you
I still wanna see
They say you're only half alive
Till you give extra whitening a try

Well i wanna see, I wanna see
What can you do for me?

Showing ta-tas on the TV is OK
I wanna be OK, too
Having my picture in a magazine makes me special
How special are you?
They say if i donate, even I
Can buy a lot in heaven before i die

Well I wanna see, I wanna see
What can u do for me?

I want someone else to pack my lunch
Gonna get get someone else to pull the punch
Pay a psychic for romance
Gonna pay a priest for a...
Will u give me a second chance
Will u give me a second chance

They say abortion will send u straight to a fiery hell
That is if the fanatics don't beat Satan to the kill
It's not what i can do for anybody
It's what their body can do for me

Well I wanna see, I wanna see
What can u do for me?

They say that Jesus loves u
What about me?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Book Review

I'm Perfect, You're Doomed
By: Kyria Abrahams

This author's biography on her childhood within a Jehovah's Witness family is outrageous, funny, and a stark look at just how strange 'those people down the street' really are.

Kyria tells of a cocooned life where Witnesses are holy and the worldly folks around them are going to hell. The catch is this- heaven on earth can't last. Not when your own mother is having an extramarital affair, your father is so bored with his own unemployed life that he hides out in the asbestos filled basement. Demon possession via second hand china, college is evil, and the only way to get out of the house is to get married. So Kyria does. And when hit with the hard facts of life ... that's when the story really gets funny. I wont ruin it for you.

Quite an entertaining read. The only real problem I had with it is that it wasn't so much an exposé on Jehovah's Witnesses as it was a personal story of a youngster within a fundamentalist religion coming to terms with her obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolarism, alcoholism, and chronic housewife boredom. Kyria teaches us that it's all too easy to blame the other person for making our lives miserable, or what we think of as miserable, since the ideal life is always going to be out of reach.

(By the way, the Spanking Room really does exist.)

Chapter 10 excerpts during her elementary school years:

Lately I'd been getting the distinct impression that Sarah was looking for excuses to be alone.

This became clear after she told me that she needed to do homework -- for two months.

"Can I come and do my homework with you?" I asked.

"Kyria, you don't even do homework.

True, by this point I was pretty much failing every single one of my classes and was in the guidance counselor's office once a week. But so what? I wasn't going to college, so it wasn't like I needed high school for anything.

College was at best unnecessary, and at worst atheist boot camp. My parents hadn't gone, and on top of that, we couldn't afford it. At least I'd been in the gifted class where I'd gotten "feeling smart" out of my system. With my fourth-grade knowledge of Logo in tow, I figured I already had a leg up on a large percentage of American public school graduates.

If you dedicated your life to Jehovah, he would provide for you. Taking matters into your own hands by going to school was like saying you didn't believe God could really handle the apocalypse, so you were gonna stock up on M-80s. It was the equivalent of investing in a huge block of real estate in downtown Pompeii.


One of my greatest fears as a child had been accidentally touching an apostate. They picketed our assemblies and always blocked the entrance to the Civic Center by standing in front of the snow cone venders. Apostates had crazy eyes and yelled things like, "J-Dubs lied about the end of the world, 1974!" I wouldn't read their signs for fear of being possessed. I ran past them with my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears. I ran past them because my parents told me
never talk to an apostate.

Talking to an apostate -- someone who used to be a Jehovah's Witness and was now disfellowshipped -- was seen as a disfellowshipping offense in itself. This, we were told,
is like letting a demon enter your mind. We were not allowed to be in contact with any person who might offer counterarguments against the Jehovah's Witnesses, unless we were going door-to-door and proselytizing them, in which case, we were protected by the Holy Spirit.