“There must always be a discrepncy between concepts and reality, because the former are static and discontinuous while the latter is dynamic and flowing”
William James

Some Problems of Philosophy

Brutal Honesty

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Today a former president of Israel, a country where until recently I spent most of my adult life, was sentenced to imprisonment for charges of rape and sexual assault. I believe it can be a brutally honest day for the people who still carry some core of identification with Israeli society (I didn’t feel one when I was there and don’t feel one now – I am connected through friends and family who still live there).

I am not thinking of a man who grew up in a military male chauvinistic society who didn’t catch on to a shift and evolution of values from women as wombs to women as equals.

I am also not thinking of women who grew up in a military male chauvinistic society where they were expected to be submissive tas women and then learned through others channels (MTV?) that they also need to be alluring as women.

I am thinking of a military male chauvinistic society where an individual rose to the highest symbolic (in Israel the president is mostly a symbolic figure with supposed political neutrality) leadership role through decades of public service in varying positions of power.

I am thinking of a military male chauvinistic society where an individual rose to the highest symbolic leadership role and then lied about his actions both to his people and to its judicial system.

I am thinking of a military male chauvinistic society where an individual rose to the highest symbolic leadership role and then lied and then refused to respect the decision of its judicial system.

I am thinking of a military male chauvinistic society where a public legal system hesitated to prosecute and preferred to compromise despite what was probably overwhelming evidence.

I am thinking of society where abuse (regardless of gender), lies and disrespect of it’s underlying laws are de-facto norms of behavior.

It isn’t easy being an Israeli today. The hardship can be easily avoided by clinging to superficial emotional aspects of this story that have an “us and them” thread that makes you feel good about yourself. But it takes brutal honesty to look at it all and ask “How did I contribute to this?”. I asked so many times and tried to do something about it in so many ways … and ultimately failed … so I chose to leave.

Funny writing this post after the previous one.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Israel | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Country

n

I sat down to write this short post and as I did so I thought to open it with a disclaimer. I wanted to open the disclaimer “It’s been a year since we’ve left Israel … ” and then I thought to check the date and found that it is November 8th and at around this time (8am) we were either in or near the plane on our way to Romania. So …

Disclaimer1: It’s been (exactly) a year since we left Israel and though it has been a trying journey, we haven’t looked back since. I have said numerous times that though we now live in Romania I don’t feel any more a member of Romania then I did of Israel. I now live in my own small country Bhudeva surrounded by other people who live in a village called Mociu surrounded by a few other neighboring villages. We try to consume mostly local products, some things we get from the nearest city (Cluj Napoca) and some things from all around the world. Countries, to me, signify costly shipping and in some cases taxes.

Disclaimer2: We don’t have any media at home – no newspapers, no radio and no TV. We do have access (though still limited – we are hoping to have full access soon) to the Internet. Occassionally headlines from the world reach me indirectly through blogs that I read and occassionally I visit news sites and sample a few headlines. That is my only source of news and my reflections and observations come from that stream.

I have said numerous times that when we left Israel we didn’t just leave a country we left country altogether. We have left social security, health care and probably other infrastructures that make up a modern day “country”. We are also trying to leave (as much as possible) money and modern day economics.

Everywhere I look I seem to see countries in trouble. Israel, USA, EU countries, Arab countries, Far east countries (I am not interested enough to go back and make a detailed list). Some are troubled by internal unrest, some by political or social unrest, some by financial unrest, some by natural disasters. Though almost all of them have some form of outside enemy … most seem to be under attack from within. It is as if their own core (defacto!) values are being amplified into an extreme reality that is turning against them. It seems they are being torn up by internal unrest more then by external unrest.

Looking at both an alternative life we are trying to create and at countries all over the world, I can’t help but wonder if countries are a sustainable life mechanism? Are they becoming obsolete? How long will it take to arrive in a future where there are no countries? How much suffering and destruction will be created until we get there (I am confident that when countries do fold they will not go down gracefully but will struggle in vein to their last dying breath)?

I am not saddened by these thoughts, neither am I happy. I am intrigued. On some days I feel a sense of urgency to get some things (which still depend on countries working) done before things collapse. On most days I am at ease that we have made our move in time and that we will be able, through continued hard work, to settle down into a comfortable life before things get messed up.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Israel, Romania | You are welcome to read 4 comments and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-11-06

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Asthma: When I Can’t Breathe

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When I was 3 years old, so I was told, I suddenly developed a severe case of asthma. I grew up with a variety of inhalers and other preventative medication. My asthma looked. to an untrained eye, like I was suffocating (which I was), there was a trumpet like sound when air was drawn in with great effort, I would get itchy all over my body. It was a very unpleasant experience but I grew used to it and knew to take my medication and wait it out. That was until my late teens / early twenties when my asthma disappeared … all it once, as if it never existed. Breathing difficulty would surface now and again, though rarely, with nothing close to the intensity of my early-life symptoms. My breathing remains to this day sensitive to disruptions such as dust and though I have never developed aerobic endurance, my breath developed and supported me excellently in my Yoga practices.

This was all true until a few months ago. We had just acquired our land Bhudeva and were beginning to make trips out to it to prepare to move out. Out of nowhere severe asthma resurfaced – whining trumpets and all. I faced it this time without any medication. I turned my attention inward and by radiating softness and light from my consciousness out to my body I managed to get through it, numerous times. It usually appeared in the evening or night time. Then, one time, it appeared in the morning, just as we were packing the car for another excursion out to Bhudeva. It was in the car, driving with constricted and unpleasant breathing, that a realization came to me about my asthma.

I feel that it needs to be said that I believe that illness (of any kind – physical, emotional and spiritual) is a kind of indicator that some deep awareness is trying to reach surface awareness – that there is a deep intuitive understanding that is not yet present at a conscious level. Though it can be difficult to do I have applied this belief to myself in recent (10+) years. This means that if possible I do not try to make the symptoms go away (I don’t  visit doctors) but try to patiently wait them out. My experience has been that the illness itself does not carry much wisdom or insight, but that patience and observation with which I meet it do seem to point me in the right direction. There is rarely an immediate reward, insight may surface in my consciousness long after symptoms of illness have gone (in this case 20 years).

So here I am, pursuing my wishes and life values, preparing to finally settle in a place I will be able to call home and I can’t breathe – this biological machine I call my body will not let me take air in. I ask myself “Why?” and a few minutes later a simple answer appears – “I am scared”. I am, scared shit-less, we just spent a large part of the last of our financial resources (what used to be my pension), I am in a foreign land, our house project has come to a sudden stop (lack of money), I am beginning to realize we are going to be living the next few years (at least) in what was at the time a dump of a house (at the time, when we visited our land, we slept in a tent) and the list goes on. I am completely out of my element … nothing is familiar, everything is new, there are so many questions marks and we are pretty much on our own in this adventure. So yeah, I am scared. So scared that I can’t breathe. So scared that something in my biology has decided to fold … I can’t breathe.

But that was not the end of it … I am still driving, still breathing with difficulty when I suddenly realized what it was that “cured” my asthma almost 20 years ago. The headlines of that period would probably go something like: Disturbed teenager developed suicidal thoughts, discharged from army for psychological issues and bailed from university for complete lack of interest – leaving me in a hopeless state. I was scared shitless of living the life that appeared in my mind to be unfolding before me and I got depressed … really bad … clinically … psychologist, psychiatrist … medication … the whole nine yards.

But, and I can’t help but smile as I write these words, nobody seemed to notice or make a connection between my depression and my asthma … or to be precise my lack of asthma. My depression led me to a fortified and isolate experience of surrender and freedom. When I was depressed I was no longer scared of life, I wasn’t occupied with life at all so there was nothing to fear. I could breathe with ease, my body approved, heck it embraced this so called depression … breathing, it seemed, had become a good idea. It seems that asthma has the makings of a simulated-suicide … it feels like dying but without the undesirable consequence of actual death.

My breathing and I are going through a challenging and sensitive period. There are physical difficulties – hard physical work, dust, dirt, smoke … things that directly effect my breathing. There are emotional challenges – fears come and go, there is tension that sometimes accumulates. There are spiritual challenges – bringing our life to where it is, embracing it and continuing to pursue it (together with the physical and emotional challenges) is a huge leap of faith – it is an intense spiritual practice. My breathing reflects all of these movements faithfully. Sometimes it is outright asthma, sometimes difficult breathing … but now I know to meet it with a soft respect. I don’t fear it, I can contain it, I can be patient with it and I can get through it (heck, I recently even played Shakuhachi – a wind instrument – with it!). Asthma, of all things, seems to have become an enlightening experience.

I can’t help but wonder with awe what it was that happened when I was just 3 years old, what deviation from dharma, caused such a young body to choose not to breathe.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Romania, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Good Design?

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One of the last software design projects I partook in was with telecom company who wanted/needed to overhaul their product line. They had new hardware in place and needed new software on top of it – which was the purpose of this project.

The software they already had was tragic in every possible way. It was mashed together by their development team without any design intention, with an outdated user interface software framework and with no understanding at all of market needs and positioning.

The first phase of the project was an analysis of what they had, what they had going for them, what competition had and where the market was. They were lagging behind the market, they had poor branding. Had we tried to catch up with the market we would have lost the game … the gap was just too big. However we did manage to identify numerous opportunities for unique positioning – there were recurring weak spots in most of the competitive products and we went after those.

The project was unpleasant. They felt like an old and tired government organization. We had marketing pretty much on our side but the development team who was very technically oriented (and outdated) were skeptical and constantly challenging or ignoring our approach to their product – this despite many attempts to bring them into the game. I remember the head of development was also very petty … claiming that we were paid to much for what little donation we had to the project.

At one point in the project we were all sitting in a fairly large meeting and I openly said to them that I don’t think they understand the position they are in. I poingantly said that unless they find a way to reinvent their product they would all be out of jobs in a few years (this was a very old and well established hi-tech company in Israel). In my mind it wasn’t about pixels or colors or even features – it was a question of life and death for them as a company.

I somehow managed to bring the project to completion with OK design artifacts … but overall I felt that the project was a failure. That was until this morning I found (as usual a little late as I am fairly out of touch with happenings in the world) that about a year ago, after numerous acquisitions and attempts to save it, the company folded … and in a bad way.

Sadly, I now feel that the project was a success. I called it the way I saw it and I did everything I can to communicate my perspective and help them from that understanding. I also truly felt that product-wise there was hope – and we aptly demonstrated it (I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the opportunities we identified are still there, unclaimed in the market place). As they were at the time I left them, there was no justification for them to continue to exist … and now they don’t.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-30

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  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: sunshine, flour, sheep-wool, barrel, more compote, plans and life 🙂 #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: milk, horse & carriage, hay, hay, hay, hay & sanding #
  • boy have I got some insights about asthma … looking back at almost 40 years of living with it … hope to find time to write about it soon #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-23

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  • gray & potentially rainy day, we r cleaning and arranging inside, 1st time using washing machine, hot wood-boiler water, music – home-ish 🙂 #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: collecting hay, 3 new chickens, insulating for winter, sealing the rocket stove, hot water & shaving 🙂 #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-16

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  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: fire, wood, surprise, cardboard, wine & milk #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: fire and water 🙂 basic elements no? #
  • daily http://t.co/xHAaJZ9k report: running water (as in inside the house) and wood #
  • Flowers in the Guns – check out some Internet driven karma http://t.co/iQBFAO8X #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: tehini, a chimney and a home-birth #
  • Breaking Bad continues to be the all time best TV series I've ever seen … and if there is a runner up its nowhere near it! #
  • principles gotta lovem – terrorists have a "negotiation guide" on how2 negotiate with Israel which asuknow doesn't negotiate with terrorists #
  • Andreea was both doula & midwife to her 1st home-birth in Romania and I finished 1st layer of bricks mortared in place 4 rocket stove #
  • I am enjoying hearing about the uprising movement of occupy[name ur place] BUT I feel that an "us and them" mentality is an illusion #
  • such an illusion is most likely to further debilitate the "risers" and further strengthen the "risen" #
  • my gamble was 2 check out of the game… start from scratch (as much as possible) and see what I can do about it with my bare hands #
  • 3 levels of bricks of the rocket stove are built, its freaking cold and drizzling outside, taking a break to warm up and eat #
  • @raymondpirouz indeed "we" not "us and them" … placing blame is easy and comforting … and blinding #

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Flowers in the Guns Revisited

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A while back I wrote a post about a childhood event where I drew a picture of flowers coming out of guns. Then a few months ago, out of the chaotic workings of the internet I got a surprising and pleasant email appeared in my inbox from a fellow human named Stu Martin. Stu is a song writer and performer who’s 2006 released album Love & Peace opens with a song called “Flowers in the Guns” (written in 2002).

We emailed back and forth very slowly over a few months (Andreea and I had just moved out to Mociu and we were flooded by work and mostly disconnected from the Internet) in an attempt to get the song to me using online means. That didn’t work out so some weeks ago (I think – I don’t really have a sense of time anymore) Stu asked for my address to send me a CD. I forgot about it … very busy these days.

Yesterday on the way back from the village center we stopped at the postoffice and Andreea came out holding an envelope containing a CD – Stu’s CD – it came from Australia. It’s a beautiful CD and I am greatful for the universe’s generosity in bringing us together and granting us this experience of connection around the planet and across time.

Thank you Stu for reaching out and for the CD.

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

World Made by Hand

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A few weeks ago a relative (I think he is an uncle … but uncle sounds to generic to me), with whom I’ve connected only in recent years, sent me a book to read. He sent it in a context of a dialogue we were having by email about the direction my life is taking. He had what I presume to be a good-run in business and now travels the world. I would say he is a cross between a realist and a pessimist (he would probably embrace the former and be ambivalent about the latter).

I was happy to receive the book – it was a much appreciated gift that carried over with it care and interest. It’s been a while since I’ve held a new book that wasn’t about some construction or gardening or other life-skill. But, I was tentative about reading it. I am in a new existence … one that comes with an abundance of sometimes hard work that leads to an abundance of fruits. I still feel very much challenged by this new life and am still working on my faith capacity in light of the unrelenting challenges. I expected the book to challenge my faiths and beliefs and I wasn’t sure I needed another challenge.

But I did go ahead and read the book and enjoyed reading it … not so much because of the book (which was OK) but because I could hold a book. I actually rationed the reading out so it would last a while. The book is called World Made by Hand.

It describes a USA which has, through some kind of hinted at disaster, been forced into an old/new existence where there is no electricity, no cars, no government, etc. It uses an unsurprising story line to weave fairly dogmatic characters to draw a picture of this existence. It has a weak quasi-spiritual ending which seems forced upon  a story that wasn’t really going anywhere. I often wonder if this reflected absence of and need for spiritual quality isn’t at the root of many problems. It also amuses me that American culture has a hard time producing anything that doesn’t have a clear and satisfying ending … I see it a lot in movies and now this book too.

Ironically the so called harsh existence of the book is not unlike the real existence of Romanian village life. Here a horse and carriage, though much slower and sometimes bothersome, is often more useful then a gas-guzzling car. It is a difficult thought sustainable lifestyle. We are working to create an improved version of this existence. It isn’t quite a world made by hand because we do rely on electricity and use power tools and sometimes hire a tractor to do some digging for us.  We do use a car to get to the city to acquire things (an infrastructure) we need to create our world … and as we progress our need to visit the city is reduced.

We chose to embrace this existence (that we are just beginning to shape), we weren’t forced into it by financial crisis, war or disease (though I believe that others may be forced into in in the future in what may be a personal drama not necessarily a global one). I do believe the world is undergoing a collapse … but I don’t think it is heading into devastation. I believe that it was heading into devastation and that the collapse we are witnessing (those of us with open eyes) is a natural act of healing … one that despite it’s harsh effects will ultimately prevent devastation.

The book also reflects to me an ignorance of mainstream western society (of which I was until recently a member) on how to make a world by hand. I feel fortunate to live in an age where people (way out from the mainstream) have been making worlds by hand and coming up with better and better ways to do so. People who live sustainable and abundant lives while the mainstream is in a losing effort for achieving a petty existence. People who are passionate about sharing their revelations to the few who are interested in listening.

With that in mind … I am going to finish my tea and had back into the barn to continue work on the super-simple and super-wood-efficient rocket stove model (built mostly of purchased firebricks that I hope we’ll be able to manufacture on our own next year) we intend to build in our bedroom.

 

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-02

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  • I don't trust people (men and women) wearing formal business attire #

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Is Humanity Moving into Adulthood?

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-09-18

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-09-11

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-21

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  • if we don't know how to let people die can we know how to let them live? #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-21

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  • if we don't know how to let people die can we know how to let them live? #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-19

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-05

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  • 1st set of power tools have been ordered, first batch of homemade soaps cooked, on other side of Romania small chicks and ducklings await us #
  • we r once again surrounded by boxes and bags … packing … may this be the last time in this lifetime #
  • tomorrow meeting with a local craftsman to consult on how to get the cob renovations we made to stick properly to the old walls #
  • this time staying out for 2 or maybe even 3 nights … still camping conditions #
  • oh and today we finally found a decently priced reliable pump which hopefully will be supplying us with running water next week #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-05-29

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  • Romanian village wisdom: tomatoes are planted after May24 because of Hungarian holiday that brings heavy hail storms. anyone wanna bet? 🙂 #
  • digging deeper & deeper into the young fountain of knowledge around forest gardens … wondering if we will be able to start it this year #
  • @raymondpirouz it's a gr8 life not caring at all about Microsoft (or Apple) operating systems … I'm all Ubuntu and open-source 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz I am mostly GUI (rarely command line) Ubuntu is beautiful, mature, steady and I believe outperforms both MSWindows & AppleOSX #
  • I'll be giving a short Shakuhachi performance tomorrow night in Cluj: http://bit.ly/lSehr9 #
  • I'm exploring Yoga models 2 assimilate permaculture – starting with modes of practice – cikitsa, raksana, siksana: http://bit.ly/mIYTlG #
  • it's already 8am, we should really get going: http://bit.ly/jAaHRz #

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Her Pace

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We are heading out today to Mociu for another couple of days of work renovating the old house (we are moving out in two weeks). It’s already 08:00am and she is still sleeping.

There is a voice in me that sais “wake her up, we are losing the cool morning hours of work” – it’s an assertive and pushing voice. It’s also a subtle expression of fear and anxiety (that we won’t get things done on time). It’s also a voice that expresses a will to control the outcome of things.

Then, when I wait a little there is another voice that says “let her rest well, this is how she is setting a pace for us” – it’s an embracing voice. It’s also a supportive voice. It’s a trusting voice. It relaxes me and gives me a sense of space. It relieves me of a need to plan and control. It brings me back to the moment (a cup of tea, this short post and reading about grafting trees).

Logical arguments can be made either way – so there isn’t really an intellectual resolution to make. Instead it is simply a choice – and I choose to embrace her pace.

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