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Nuclear sites and religion, flags and clouds

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — Oak Ridge, Albi, Bushehr, a Sinan mosque, clouds formation, the Karmapas ]

Cheryl Rofer very kindly suggested a DoubleQuote to me today, comparing and contrasting the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, Oak Ridge:

HEUMF at Oak Ridge

and the Cathedral of Albi — heart of the district in which the Albigensians / Cathars briefly and most interestingly flourished:

Albi Cathedral


I particularly appreciate this juxtaposition because of an earlier DoubleQuote I posted, drawing a similar comparison between Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant:

bushehr 600

and the Mosque of the Conqueror in Istanbul:

mosque-of-the-conqueror 600


Also notable as a DoubleQuote today is this image at the top of a Lion’s Roar post titled Is that the Karmapa’s Dream Flag over Colorado?:

Karmapa Dream Flag DQ

The Karmapa Lama is the holder of the oldest lineage of reincarnated high lamas in Tibetan tradition, and head of the Karma Kagyu stream of teachings. The flag of the Karmapas can be seen below:

flag of the karmapas 600

Here’s the brief video from which that cloud-image was taken:

h/t Jacob DeFlitch

Note also the resemblance to what is probably my personal favorite DoubleQuote, comparing & contrasting van Gogh‘s night sky and von Kármán‘s vortex street:


It may be worth adding that the Buddha is not above using cloud metaphors, as this celebrated verse from the Diamond Sutra, here in Red Pine‘s translation, illustrates:

As a lamp, a cataract, a star in space
an illusion, a dewdrop, a bubble
a dream, a cloud, a flash of lightning
view all created things like this.

Hourani / Ignatius, Clint Watts / Buddhism, Hindutva / Dhimmitude

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — some unexpected and enlightening juxtapositions ]

Three textual DoubleQuotes:

The first, as you’ll see, consists of two brief excerpts from David IgnatiusAtlantic piece, How ISIS Spread in the Middle East, which is worth your attention as a follow up to Graeme Wood‘s What ISIS Really Wants, and mentions Soren Kierkegaard , Baywatch and the Bay of Pigs, so what’s not to like?

SPEC Hourani Ignatius

That’s the use of DoubleQuotes-style thinking — comparative, analogical — occurring quite naturally and informatively in a long-form essay.

My second example is quite different, in that it features an interesting article by Clint Watts of FRPI, using the terminology of “near” and “far” enemies first introduced by Abd Al-Salam Faraj, and note the very different use of the same terms in Buddhism.

SPEC enemies near and far

The terms “near” and “far” used to describe enemies in Buddhism represent metaphysical rather than geographical distances — the far enemy is the polar opposite of a given virtue, while the near enemy seems at first glance to be an embodiment of the virtue in question, but is in fact an inauthentic version, to be avoided. The doctrine concerned is expressed in terms of the four Brahma Viharas or highest emotions.

Finally, there has been a lot of talk in recent years about the Islamic term dhimmi, and I was intrigued to run across a very similar concept applied against Muslims in an early Indian discussion of whether India should be partitioned or not:

SPEC dhimmitude

On reflection I realized that all sorts of other groups operate along similar lines. I found this definition — note incidentally the somewhat language-game-changing remark, “A minority is defined not by being outnumbered” — in a Pearson Higher Ed textbook online:

Minority groups are subordinated in terms of power and privilege to the majority, or dominant, group. A minority is defined not by being outnumbered but by five characteristics: unequal treatment, distinguishing physical or cultural traits, involuntary membership, awareness of subordination, and in-group marriage. Subordinate groups are classified in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender. The social importance of race is derived from a process of racial formation; any biological significance is relatively unimportant to society. The theoretical perspectives of functionalism, conflict theory, and labeling offer insights into the sociology of intergroup relations.

Immigration, annexation, and colonialism are processes that may create subordinate groups. Other processes such as extermination and expulsion may remove the presence of a subordinate group. Significant for racial and ethnic oppression in the United States today is the distinction between assimilation and pluralism. Assimilation demands subordinate-group conformity to the dominant group, and pluralism implies mutual respect among diverse groups.

Did you read that? Frankly I’m at a loss to know whether these two paragraphs were intended as black humor, or are simply humorlessness:

Other processes such as extermination and expulsion may remove the presence of a subordinate group.


Sunday surprise: sinkholes

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — and including a 1936 German illustration of the hollow earth ]

Bryan Alexander on his Infocult blog notes a fascinating symmetry as More sinkholes open up under countries on opposite ends of the Earth — one in England and the other in Australia. The implication that our devouring planet may at last be preparing a Journey to the Centre of the Earth he leaves to his reader’s imagination..

SPEC DQ sinkhole

BTW, “opposite ends of the Earth” is a delightful phrase, reminiscent of John Donne‘s “the round earth’s imagin’d corners” — kudos, Bryan!


And while we’re on the topic of the centre or center of the earth, one of my favorite “finds” as a book-crawler was this gem from Frankfurt, 1936:

Johannes Lang Die Hohlwelttheorie

Highly compatible with Nazi occultism, nicht wahr?

And this more recent piece, showing the location of the hidden Buddhist city of “Shambala”, completes the picture:


Maybe our Journey to the Center of the Earth will provide us with some occult Infocult material, eh, Bryan?

Warrior / Spirit

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — is “conflict resolution” in conflict with “conflict” — and if so, what’s the appropriate resolution? ]

In Search of Warrior Spirit Yoga Joe
[left] Strozzi-Heckler’s book, now in its fourth edition; [right] one of a series of figures called Yoga Joes.


Craig Davies at a site called Art-Sheep has a post titled Classic Green Army Figures Practicing Yoga Instead Of Holding Guns, and sees thing in black and white, or perhaps better, darkness and light:

If something is a total opposite to war, that is the practice of yoga. Concentrating or relaxing your muscles and mind in order to release tension, is something a soldier would never have the luxury to do under the dangerous circumstances of war.

Inventor Dan Abramson thought of a amazingly creative and beautiful way to connect the two, by creating “Yoga Joes”, a series of simple green plastic army men that have some killer… yoga moves.

Apart from artistically interesting, Abramson’s cool idea to create a series of yoga soldiers gives an essence of serenity to the cruel and violent nature of war.

“I made Yoga Joes because I thought that it would be a fun way to get more people into yoga – especially dudes… beyond that, I wanted to make a violent toy become peaceful,” he says.

That’s glib, and wrong, and not too far from what many people think who identify with the “peace” side of “war and peace”.


Richard Strozzi-Heckler, on the other hand..

Well, he was one of them, teaching Aikido, arguably the most openly pacifistic of the martial arts — and when he got invited to train some Green Berets, in the words of George Leonard:

Even before the program got started, Richard was excoriated by people he respected for even considering teaching aikido and other awareness disciplines to Green Berets, to “trained killers.”

Leonard goes on to ask some probing questions:

Does this imply that those of us who love peace would have no soldiers at all? And if we do have soldiers, do we really want them to be deprived of the best possible training? Do we want low-grade soldiers with no awareness or empathy? And if we do teach awareness and empathy to our soldiers, will they be able to perform the brutal tasks sometimes assigned them? Surely we don’t want a horde of Rambos loosed upon the world. But if not Rambo, then who?


Think for a minute:

If something is a total opposite to war, that is the practice of yoga.

Yeah? And the total opposite of one is many? or none? or minus one? or all?

If I asked you, what is the opposite of yoga, would you say war?

And what’s the opposite of peace?

I wrote above of those who identify with the “peace” side of “war and peace” — and there are, by contrast, those who who identify more readily with the “war” side — but are those two sides “at war” with one another? Can, to press the point, “peace” be “at war” with anything?



  • Dan Abramson, Yoga Joes: here to keep the inner peace
  • George Leonard, intro to Strozzi-Heckler, In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets
  • **

    Comparative realities?

    toy & statue

    The Buddha‘s Diamond Sutra:

    So I say to you –
    This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:

    Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
    Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
    Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.

    So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

    Christ on a Cathedral, Buddha at the Printshop

    Monday, August 17th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — art & tech interfacing with religion ]

    In today’s news, religious statuary:

    SPEC statues christ buddha


    To the left:

    Vladivostok ‘to get tallest statue of Jesus Christ in the world’

    In Vladivostok, the monument will be composed of two parts: the statue itself and the pedestal housing a cathedral in honour of Archangel Michael.

    The monument stands 50 metres taller than the world famous ‘Christ the Redeemer’ in Rio de Janeiro, and two metres higher than ‘The Christ the King’ in Lisbon.

    I guess that gives it pride (a deadly siubn, no?) of place.

    To the right:

    Japanese temples stop theft by replacing priceless statues with 3D-printed copies

    The abbot of a Buddhist temple in Jiangjin City was concerned about the potential theft of a valuable statue of Amitabha Buddha. After learning about 3D-printing technology, he made a copy of the statue and gave the original to a local museum for safekeeping.

    “There is no way to permanently guard the Buddha statue all of the time,” said the abbot. “Even though this 3D print is just a replica of the original statue, as long as it resides within our temple people can use it as a shrine nonetheless.”

    The image of a 3-D Buddha printing is from the Art Program at Seton Hill University.

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