May 31, 2012

The Kingdom of God is Within You

God (and the Gods in other religions) are the archetypes for internal parts of ourselves. The collective vision of God, or the Gods, in a religion or culture is the collective subconscious understanding of that internal archetype; thus, the various understanding of what God is, and how God operates. Therefore, what we say God wants is, in fact, what we want, on a subconscious level.

It is said that God, or the Gods, created human beings—and, analogically, we created our selves.

Within the wombs of our mothers, we took the matter that was given to us through the nutrients provided
by our mothers, and the energy it contained, and we literally created ourselves; an act of self-creation.
It was not our mothers who divided our cells for us as we grew in their wombs – they provided the
environment within which we could grow, and the materials, but WE did the growing.

And, we still continue to create our selves even now, in every moment, physically, psychologically, emotionally, as our cells divide and we transform the matter and energy we feed ourselves into our living body and thinking, feeling brain.

We are in control of our own self-creation, in every possible sense.

So, when people say things like, “God loves you,” in fact what we are saying is that the part of them
within themselves which is Divine loves you, unconditionally and forever. This is an expression of what
the Greeks called “Agape.”

Likewise when certain some people say “God hates fags,” what they actually mean is that there is a part of them within themselves which hates homosexuals—the ‘God’ within them.

It is not an external God which loves of hates others; it is the internal Mind which we personify in the image of God; the ‘person’ in places deeper than those of which we are conscious.

Thus, the Kingdom of God (the domain where God rules) is, indeed, within us.

And, as we create and re-create ourselves from moment to moment, we create ourselves in God’s image… or, more accurately, we create our internal personification of God in our own image; a partial reflection of our own personalities.

December 10, 2011

Journeys

In the company of the clouds, anything seems possible.
Above the storms, we sense we’ve won.

We reflect on the past, and dream of the future;
Everything before us shines with promise as new and fresh as a sunrise.

Details that loomed above us from the ground become small from 20,000 feet.
New perspectives; clean sheets of wisdom and comforting memories half-forgotten now ascend with the rise of engines and wings.

Sharing the air-conditioned atmosphere with familiar strangers
Each of us wondering about the stories of the other and yet never asking,
As if imagination were the better tale.

Together we depart the World; Together we return:
Close travel companions in a camaraderie de silence.

In the lowered air pressure of a crowded cabin we expand and transform
Coming out of hiding within our fleshy shells
We emerge into a different sunlight; we look different
And we see things differently.

Journeys are the midwives of thought.

December 8, 2011

Sydney

The plane lifted off from the CHC runway in rainy, cold weather, in the darkest hour before sunrise.  Three and a half hours later we broke through the scattered cloud cover over Sydney on the northern approach, the sun reflecting brightly off the sea in a way that starkly silhouetted the iconic harbour bridge and opera house in  beautiful ways.

And as the plane hit the tarmac again, I felt a familiar excitement rise through me once more—the excitement of Newness, and the promise of a better life that glisten like the sea of the harbour around me.

I’m about to head out to find a bar or restaurant job, which I hope will sustain me for the meantime while I figure out exactly where I’ll be kicking off my massage practice. I have to call a bunch of mining companies in WA to see if they are interested in taking on a contract masseur, and then I’ll be saving up a grand or two to start me off, whether I stay here in Sydney to open a one-man practise, or head across to the outback. There’s also the possibility that I’ll hate Sydney, and shift again, to Melbourne; I know already that I really dig that place.

Sydney, though, I must say, looks good. There are THINGS here, and people whom I know. In fact, I realised a few days ago that I know more people here in Sydney than I do in Christchurch, or even Melbourne. It’s been a delightful surprise to find out that so many of my old friends are kickin’ around in Sydney.

I just finished re-touching my résumé for the umpteenth time this year, and shall now take a walk down to Newtown and then up to Darlinghurst on the hunt for what will be my NINTH job this year.

By the gods… it better be the last. Ha ha!

November 17, 2011

Occupy Christchurch: Moving Forward

[An open letter addressed to Occupy Christchurch]

Tena koutou, kia ora koutou, na reira mauri ora tatou katoa.

We’ve been at this for a while now.

I know I haven’t been present very much in the last couple of weeks, but please believe that I am constantly reading, thinking, reading more, feeling things out, reading and thinking again. This movement grips me; I feel like I am a part of it, because I am one of those people who has been waiting, plaintively, for it to happen, for many many years. Now that it is happening, I feel as if I have been preparing for it for my whole life, and I can barely believe that the time has come for us to initiate the change we all know is necessary.

WHERE WE ARE NOW
We began with a Statement of Purpose for Occupy New Zealand. We’ve organised marches, rallies, picnics and free markets.

We’ve spoken to loads of reporters and even the NZ Police. We’ve engaged with countless passers-by on a plethora of issues.

Anyway, yes. We’ve been doing this for almost a month. The media and some members of the public still don’t know what the hell we’re on about, and to an extent, I think it’s not unfair to say that some of us are still a little… uncertain of the details. We all know that the system is broken, because of the blatant fact that there is poverty where there shouldn’t be, and there are rich people hogging all the wealth while these others starve and remain mired in ignorance and poverty.

What I mean is, I don’t think many of us understand the framework of mechanics that has caused this situation to come about. How many of us can sum it up in twenty words or less…?

So, the question begs: What’s next? Are we going to narrow down some discussion topics with which we can engage our community in more well-defined, coherent ways?

SYNTHESIS
Perhaps it’s time to begin better synthesising what we’ve been saying, by identifying and focusing on the main themes of our discussions so far. Continue reading

November 10, 2011

“Isn’t It Funny How A James Likes Hunny”

Early last week we had a bee swarm settle itself into one of our drain covers. Graham, my mum’s partner, freaked out a bit and called my mum while she was at work, wondering what the hell to do with about five thousand bees swooping and diving around the front of the house.

Fortunately, right across the street and a few doors down we have a friendly local beekeeper named Harvey. Graham buzzed him up and asked him to come over and collect them, which he did with a broad smile.

bzzzzzzzzzzz

Turns out that fresh swarms are useful for beekeepers because the bees in a swarm are usually healthy, and looking for a new home. That means that keepers can combine them with existing hives which may be weakened, especially following winter die-offs, and the combination turns into a win-win situation.

The facts that swarming honey bees have no hive to protect, and have also gorged themselves full of honey before leaving the old hive, means that they are fat, happy, and almost never sting, so you can just pick up a swarm, put it in a box, and move it where you like.

After I’d learned about Graham’s adventure, I decided to go across to Harvey’s place, knock on his door and have a wee chat. I’ve been interested in urban beekeeping for a while now, and this could be an opportunity to learn more.

As it turns out, we are just coming up towards the honey-flow now, which begins in a few weeks. At the moment, the hives are gradually becoming more active, the queens are furiously laying eggs and hatching larvae, and hives are separating and combining all over the landscape. Harvey was happy to take me out this morning to visit the four sites where he has his twenty or so hives so he could check on their health and activity.

"Are you my moommy?"

At 8:00am this morning we began by loading up four hive stacks on to the back of his truck to take out to one of the farms in the area. The air was warm with the promise of summer, and the sky was blue with streaks of white over the northern horizon. It was a perfect day for a little tour around the countryside checking up on beehives.

Farmers and beekeepers have a really cool symbiotic relationship where the bees get to feed themselves, and the farmers get their crops pollinated. Some commercial growers, such as kiwifruit producers, actually pay up to $200 a hive to have bees on their orchards. In a large kiwifruit orchard over two hundred hives could be placed, meaning quite a few dollars for the keepers.

We had a yarn with Dale the farmer about his son’s new dairy farm, then Harvey arranged to visit Dale for a “proper sit down and a cuppa” later in the weekend, and eventually we unloaded the four hives into a space near the front gate next to a stand of gorse. The clover out in the pastures is just starting to come up now, and will begin nectaring in a week or two, just in time for the bees to get really busy.

As I was helping Harvey get the last hive on to the dolly on the flatbed, I got my first sting; I managed to slip the top box open, and after the trip on the back of the truck the bees were feisty. While I was wearing a veil and gloves, I still got a ping on my forearm though my shirt, and instinctively flicked the hive’s valiant defender off. Harvey got me to stand well back, in the open breeze, while he placed the last hive. Thankfully I had very little reaction besides a bit of soreness for about five minutes; reassuring, since it’s been about 15 years since I last got stung.

Harvey: "A beehive is like a single organism."

We left the bees to settle in and headed out to the next site, where we checked for dreaded Varroa mite invasions and added top-boxes called “supers” where the queens can’t enter to lay eggs, so only honey bees can deposit honey in the cells. These top supers are the harvestable portions, and can yield anything between ten to ninety kilograms of honey in one flow season—which is astonishing. That makes for some very busy bees.

After adding a top super on to the four hives here, which each have two brood supers on the bottom, we happened to meet another hobbyist beekeeper who was driving past. After a short chat about what they each do with their honey, the state of Varroa invasions, and (of course) the weather, we travelled on to the next site, down the Waimakariri River Gorge. Here, the farmer was experimenting with an old strain of Crimson Clover, and he and Harvey had decided to place four hives there to see what the honey might be like.

Harvey in the Crimson Clover patch

Finally we went to another farm further down the gorge, and I managed to get stung another five times in short order. Once in the back of my head where my baseball cap fastener opening was exposed and a couple of bees decided to rustle around in my hair; a couple more times on my arms; and, in a fantastic strike, once again just above my right eyebrow. Good targeting, bombardier! (At least I never got stung on the tongue by a wasp hiding in a bottle of beer, as Graham later told me had happened to him…)

We also found another swarm, which we later deposited into the last hive we checked on at another farm. This last hive was significantly weakened after the winter and could obviously use the reinforcements. The swarm had made its way to a gorse branch and would have gone feral if we hadn’t discovered it in time.

About two thousand bees, just hangin' out in the sunshine.

Swarm in a box

Harvey put them in his little suitcase, and off we went. As a final parting gesture, I felt something gently moving under my baseball cap. As I took off the cap and the curious bee buzzed off, I realised that I had literally had a “bee in my bonnet.”

I had a great time out on a sunny day learning about bees. I spent the whole time querying Harvey about everything from the chemical processes of honey production (bees partially digest the nectar, break down the sugars, and dry the honey out to <20% water before capping the honey cells in the comb) to the social dynamics and communication that bees use. They are truly amazing creatures that seem to act as a single organism composed of tens of thousands of coordinated individuals. I found it to be a really connective experience with the elements of my environment; suddenly I was thinking about the kinds of flowers from which bees can draw nectar, how bees are so vital to food production via pollination, and how the many products of the hive—wax, bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly besides the honey itself—benefit we humans.

The day only served to increase my interest in learning how to keep bees (it only takes the investment of a few hours a month to manage the hives), and I also got to hang out with Harvey himself, who is a total dude. He has chickens and a big vege patch out the back of his house, and is as interested as I am in living in ways independent from food prices and reliance on supply companies. We had a solid exchange on this topic, and shared a few simple ideas.

Brilliant.

November 2, 2011

Occupy the Discussion

I had a brilliant conversation with a retired entrepreneur named Bill down at the Christchurch Occupation earlier today.

Max Chubaba (an Indian-born Kiwi), Popx (an English-born Kiwi) and Rob joined us in moving to pin down exactly what it is that the Occupy movement is seeking to achieve, in real terms. When I explained that we were already doing it by engaging each other in this very conversation, he continued by challenging the motivations and philosophies that we have; and, in response, he stimulated us to articulate them in lucid and compelling ways.

One of the things I really appreciated about the exchange was that Bill began by questioning us extensively, not by piling in with his own views and opinions. He was genuinely interested in why we were occupying the space and engaging people in discussion.

Ain't no good reason for poverty in this world.

He asked me what were the issues we were rallying against. I opened with child poverty (one in five children in New Zealand lives in relative poverty). As we explored the reasons for poverty, Bill and I had a solid exchange on “Choice” as a concept; that is, why it appears that we, who are ostensibly self-determining and autonomous human beings who make decisions for ourselves, end up poor, or abusive, or stuck in the state beneficiary system, when instead we can ‘choose’ to do better?

His position was that we are all able to raise ourselves out of poverty, if we simply choose to do the work necessary.

My position in response eventually came down to the observation that even if we do have that choice, we may not be aware of it on a conscious level. If we are raised in an environment that makes us feel worthless, or unsupported, or that simply brain-washes us into taking a place within the societal system and not trying any further, then we are severely handicapped, and that choice has little meaning.

Continue reading

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