Recent thoughts of the Dalai Lama
When we are angry we are blind to reality. Anger may bring us a temporary burst of energy, but that energy is blind and it blocks the part of our brain that distinguishes right from wrong. To deal with our problems, we need to be practical and realistic. If we are to be realistic, we need to use our human intelligence properly, which means we need a calm mind.
The very purpose of spirituality is self-discipline. Rather than criticizing others, we should evaluate and criticize ourselves. Ask yourself, what am I doing about my anger, my attachment, my pride, my jealousy? These are the things we should check in our day to day lives.
It is important that when pursing our own self-interest we should be “wise selfish” and not “foolish selfish”. Being foolish selfish means pursuing our own interests in a narrow, shortsighted way. Being wise selfish means taking a broader view and recognizing that our own long-term individual interest lies in the welfare of everyone. Being wise selfish means being compassionate.
There is a saying in Tibetan that “at the door of the miserable rich man sleeps the contented beggar.” The point of this saying is not that poverty is a virtue, but that happiness does not come from wealth, but from setting limits to one’s desires, and living within those limits with satisfaction.
Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness. When one desires to alleviate the suffering of others and to promote their well-being, then generosity - in action, word, and thought - is this desire put into practice. It is important to recognize the "generosity" here refers not just to giving in a material sense, but to generosity of the heart.
The creation of a more peaceful and happier society has to begin from the level of the individual, and from there it can expand to one's family, to one's neighborhood, to one's community and so on........................................
The Future of Conservatism was yesterday's subject on Start The Week (Radio 4).
Peter Hitchens has never been a writer I'd bother to read, but at least he represents 'traditional' or 'one nation' conservatism - the party of Harold MacMillan or even Edward Heath, the kind of 'caring' conservatism that existed before Thatcher came along with her neo-conservative revolution, and made the Tory brand nasty and toxic: a party for the City, pro-greed, pro-selfish individual advancement, pro-privatisation, no such thing as society, etc.
Hitchens pointed out that traditional Conservatism was supposed to be a party guided by Christian values. Today's conservatism is "completely uninterested in matters of morals and culture", and neither is it interested in "preserving the particularlity of Britain", hence it allowed industry to collapse, and allowed what's left of it to be sold off to the highest bidder - i.e. asset-stripper. He made it clear that in his view Thatcher and Reagan were walking disaster areas. Which is telling it like it is.
George Monbiot also tells it like it is:
The right's stupidity spreads, enabled by a too-polite left
Conservativism may be the refuge of the dim. But the room for rightwing ideas is made by those too timid to properly objecthttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/06/right-stupidity-spreads-enabled-polite-left
Self-deprecating, too liberal for their own good, today's progressives stand back and watch, hands over their mouths, as the social vivisectionists of the right slice up a living society to see if its component parts can survive in isolation. Tied up in knots of reticence and self-doubt, they will not shout stop. Doing so requires an act of interruption, of presumption, for which they no longer possess a vocabulary.
Perhaps it is in the same spirit of liberal constipation that, with the exception of Charlie Brooker, we have been too polite to mention the Canadian study published last month in the journal Psychological Science, which revealed that people with conservative beliefs are likely to be of low intelligence. Paradoxically it was the Daily Mail that brought it to the attention of British readers last week. It feels crude, illiberal to point out that the other side is, on average, more stupid than our own. But this, the study suggests, is not unfounded generalisation but empirical fact.
It is by no means the first such paper. There is plenty of research showing that low general intelligence in childhood predicts greater prejudice towards people of different ethnicity or sexuality in adulthood. Open-mindedness, flexibility, trust in other people: all these require certain cognitive abilities. Understanding and accepting others – particularly "different" others – requires an enhanced capacity for abstract thinking.
The new study looks embarrassingly robust. Importantly, it shows that prejudice tends not to arise directly from low intelligence but from the conservative ideologies to which people of low intelligence are drawn. Conservative ideology is the "critical pathway" from low intelligence to racism. Those with low cognitive abilities are attracted to "rightwing ideologies that promote coherence and order" and "emphasise the maintenance of the status quo".
This is not to suggest that all conservatives are stupid. There are some very clever people in government, advising politicians, running thinktanks and writing for newspapers, who have acquired power and influence by promoting rightwing ideologies.
But what we now see among their parties – however intelligent their guiding spirits may be – is the abandonment of any pretence of high-minded conservatism. On both sides of the Atlantic, conservative strategists have discovered that there is no pool so shallow that several million people won't drown in it. Whether they are promoting the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the US, that man-made climate change is an eco-fascist-communist-anarchist conspiracy, or that the deficit results from the greed of the poor, they now appeal to the basest, stupidest impulses, and find that it does them no harm in the polls.
Don't take my word for it. Listen to what two former Republican ideologues, David Frum and Mike Lofgren, have been saying. Frum warns that "conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics". The result is a "shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology" which has "ominous real-world consequences for American society".
Lofgren complains that "the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital centre today". The Republican party, with its "prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science" is appealing to what he calls the "low-information voter", or the "misinformation voter". While most office holders probably don't believe the "reactionary and paranoid claptrap" they peddle, "they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base".
But when I survey this wreckage I wonder who the real idiots are. Confronted with mass discontent, the once-progressive major parties, as Thomas Frank laments in his latest book Pity the Billionaire, triangulate and accommodate, hesitate and prevaricate, muzzled by what he calls "terminal niceness". They fail to produce a coherent analysis of what has gone wrong and why, or to make an uncluttered case for social justice, redistribution and regulation. The conceptual stupidities of conservatism are matched by the strategic stupidities of liberalism.
Yes, conservatism thrives on low intelligence and poor information. But the liberals in politics on both sides of the Atlantic continue to back off, yielding to the supremacy of the stupid. It's turkeys all the way down...............................................
by Charlie Brooker
The Mail's report went on to detail the results of a study carried out by a group of Canadian academics, which appears to show some correlation between low childhood intelligence and rightwing politics. It also claimed that stupid people hold rightwing views in order to feel "safe". Other items they hold in order to feel safe include clubs, rocks and dustbin lids. But those are easy to let go of. Political beliefs get stuck to your hands. And the only way to remove them is to hold your brain under the hot tap and scrub vigorously for several decades.
As you might expect, many Mail Online readers didn't take kindly to a report that strived to paint them as simplistic, terrified dimwits. Many leapt from the tyres they were swinging in to furrow their brows and howl in anger. Others, tragically, began tapping rudimentary responses into the comments box. Which is where the tragi-fun really began.
"Sounds like a BBC study, type of thing they would waste the Licence fee on, load of Cods wallop," claimed Terry from Leicester, thereby managing to ignore the findings while simultaneously attacking public service broadcasting for something it hadn't done. For his next trick, Terry will learn to whistle and shit at the same time.
Not all the respondents were stupid. Some were merely deluded. Someone calling themselves "Hillside" from Sydney claimed: "I have an IQ over 200, have six degrees and diplomas and am 'right-wing', as are others I know at this higher level of intelligence." His IQ score is particularly impressive considering the maximum possible score on Mensa's preferred IQ test is 161.
On and on the comments went, turning a rather stark write-up of a daft-sounding study into a sublime piece of live online performance art. A chimps' tea party of the damned. The Mail has long been a master at trolling lefties; now it's mischievously turned on its own readers, and the results could only be funnier if the website came with free plastic lawn furniture for them to lob at the screen. You couldn't make it up.................................................
Education & Zeitgeist Corner
Sue Palmer (Toxic Childhood) spoke well on the Today programme this morning on "schoolification" - "The mechanical target-driven model of education."
For more thoughts on education versus schooling, click this blog:
And take a look at this editorial:
Good article in Guardian Education today by Michael Rosen:
Dear Mr Gove: Michael Rosen's letter from a curious parent