Censorship


http://america.post911timeline.org/

Emperors uphold censorship,
But extreme repression leads to extreme reaction.
Individualists believe in freedom,
But extreme expression leads to extreme reaction.

The emperors of China and Rome punished any expression that displeased them. Whether it was dissent, unpleasant news, or a portrait that disgusted them, they were ready to destroy the perpetrators without hesitation. Today, there are democracies but no less a tendency to punish dissent, manipulate information, or castigate artists. Those in power should be careful: Push the people too far, and they will rebel.

Artists from early on have tried to push the limits of their expression. Driven by the desire to create, they have sought to strike down every boundary. But as long as they do this in a social setting, they should not outpace their audiences. Those who create must be careful: Challenge the people too much, and they will rebel.

So there are two extremes. The desires of the powerful, who feel that censorship is a just tool, and the tendencies of the creative, who feel that they should have no limits to their freedom. Those who follow Tao avoid these extremes. They avoid becoming the ruler, for such a position is fraught with danger, hypocrisy, and disappointment. Neither will the become the grandstanding artist; to arouse others is like wise dangerous. If they must rule, they use compassion as their standard. If they do create, they find satisfaction in self-expression. Above all, they avoid any extreme that will take them from Tao.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

Censorship is the systematic use of group power to broadly control freedom of speech and expression, largely in regard to secretive matters. Sanitization (cleaning or decontamination) and whitewashing (from whitewash) are almost interchangeable terms that refer to particular acts or campaigns of censorship or omission which seek to “clean up” the portrayal of particular issues and facts which are already known, but which may conflict with a presented point of view.

In a modern sense, censorship consists of any attempt to suppress information, points of view, or method of expression such as art, or profanity. Censorship is commonly used by social groups, organized religions, corporations and governments. There are also groups which specifically oppose censorship.

Censorship, unlike acts or policies of sanitization, refers to a publicly set standard, not a privately set (or government-enforced but unannounced) standard. Censorship does not attempt to cover up material made by an organization, but rather to restrict or abolish defined types of material produced by private citizens.
Wikipedia

As the Internet was taking flight in the early 1990s, John Gilmore, one of the co-founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leading online civil liberties group, is credited with having coined the infamous phrase that “the Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” Gilmore’s view has since been regularly invoked whenever there are failed attempts to limit the dissemination of information.

Beginning with a string of cases dating back to the Paul Bernardo trial in the mid-1990s, the Internet has undermined court-ordered publication bans in Canada with surprising frequency. The latest incident occurred last month when a U.S. website posted evidence from the Gomery inquiry that was subject to a publication ban. The ban was lifted within days, however, as Judge Gomery acknowledged what had become obvious to all – supposedly secret testimony was readily available to anyone with Internet access.

While these events seemingly affirm the notion that the Internet is beyond the reach of governments and courts, my recent trip to China provided a powerful reminder that unfettered Internet access is far more fragile than is commonly perceived. China, which boasts the world’s second largest Internet user base, is currently home to more than 94 million Internet users, yet their Internet is far different from ours.

These differences are not immediately obvious. My hotel in Beijing featured high-speed Internet access much like that offered in hotels throughout North America. Logging onto the network was a snap and I quickly found that bandwidth speeds were comparable to those found at home.

It was once I sought to access common news sites that I found myself face to face with the “Great Firewall of China.” Google News, a popular aggregator of news stories from around the world, would not load into my browser, apparently blocked by a filtering system that employs 30,000 people to regularly monitor Internet traffic and content. Similarly, while the BBC website would load, attempts to access news stories on that site yielded only error messages.

My frustration increased when I attempted to download my own email. While I was able to access my Canadian-based mail server storing my messages, the download was short-circuited midway as I suddenly lost the connection. Although I initially thought that perhaps the error lay at the Canadian end, when the experience repeated itself, it became clear that the Chinese system was filtering my email messages and cutting off the connection. Michael Geist, Face to Face with the Great Wall of China

“You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken – unspeakable! – fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse – a little tiny mouse! – of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.” — Winston Churchill

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. — John F. Kennedy

“Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.)
Is planning a ban on smut
Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.
And his reverent occiput.
Smite. Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and do your dut.,
Gird up your l–ns,
Smite h-p and th-gh,
We’ll all be Kansas
By and By.”

— Ogden Nash, “Invocation,” 1931

Tell congress to knock it off. No Internet Censorship! No SOPA or PIPA.

Patterns

“The pattern, and it alone, brings into being and causes to pass away and confers purpose, that is to say, value and meaning, on all there is. To understand is to perceive patterns. To make intelligible is to reveal the basic pattern.”

— Isaiah Berlin, British social and political theorist, philosopher and historian, (1909-1997), The proper study of mankind: an anthology of essays, Chatto & Windus, 1997, p. 129.

“When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it — they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experience. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem.

The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

— Steve Jobs, Wired, February 1996

Pattern and creativity
Are the two poles of action.

It is wise to plan each day. By setting goals for oneself and organizing activities to be accomplished, one can be sure that each day will be full and never wasted.

Followers of Tao use patterns when planning. They observe the ways of nature, perceive the invisible lines of destiny. They imagine a pattern for their entire lives, and in this way, they ensure overall success. Each day, they match interim patterns against their master goals, and so navigate life with sureness and grace. It is precisely this ability to discern and manipulate patterns unknown to the ordinary person that makes the follower of Tao so formidable.

When unpredictable things happen, those who follow Tao are also skilled at improvisation. If circumstances deny them, they change immediately. To avoid confusion, they still discern the patterns of the situation and create new ones, much like a chess player at the board. The spontaneous creation of new patterns is their ultimate art.”

— Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

Time to create some new patterns in my life. Coming back to this space is one of them. So what do you do when you want to create new patterns in your life?

Happy New Year!

May you all have a safe New Year’s Eve and a blessed New Year. I’m sure there will be lots of changes in our lives, as always.

This blog has been rather quiet this year as I’ve been more active on the social media networks, twitter, tumblr, google + and facebook. My intent for the New Year is to get back to this space, into deeper thoughts again, rather than the shallowness that often takes over in the over-busy social networks. It’s not so much about who reads it here, as it is about having a space and a time for contemplation and expression.

May you all find the space and time you need for deeper contemplation this coming year, and may you find your way to express yourself in this world. Namaste!

The Tao of the Self — Eleven

Join thirty spokes to share one hub;
The center hole is just as useful to make a wheel.
Mold clay to create a vessel;
The space within is just as useful as part of the vessel.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
The holes and the space within are as useful to create a room.
We can benefit from what we have
But not having can be just as useful.

The Tao of the Self — Eleven

The Tao of the Self — Ten

Carrying your spirit, embracing your body, mind and soul,
Are you able to live without separating them now?
Concentrating your spirit and becoming tender,
Can you be as open as a child?
Clearing your vision,
Can you see without flaws now?
Loving others, can you lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you accept Heaven’s gifts
as well as you accept your losses?
When you can see clearly in all directions,
how can you still be unknowing?
Giving birth to your ideas and nourishing them,
Bearing them into the world but not possessing them,
Doing your work but not demanding it from others,
Developing yourself and inspiring others,
This is the Primal Virtue.

The Tao of the Self — Ten

Writer (repost from 2005)


“Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid,” by Jan Vermeer

She withdrew into herself,
First writing just for one,
Then touching thousands.
She incarnated ghosts, hurt, and joy
Into paper-and-ink stories of wonder.

One author said, “I can get rid of anything by writing about it,” meaning that the process of externalization could liberate him from the pain in his soul. That realization produced a delicious dichotomy; to free himself: or to hold on to both joys and tortures by remaining silent about them.

Writers write because they must: They need to express something from deep within themselves. They hear voices that others do not. They listen urgently, and they must communicate what they hear.

People feel Tao in the same way that writers feel something unique. In the process of listening for mysterious voices and expressing the wonder that comes is a magic akin to the perfection of Tao.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all. — Lord Byron

“I started with all the handicaps, incapabilities and helplessness. I didn’t talk when I was twenty. I taught myself by the act of writing.” –Anais Nin

“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one;
it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself.” — Henry Miller

Most people are separated from writing about the things they really feel deeply or even sometimes from knowing they feel those things at all. We live in a very shallow sort of society where we are rather actively discouraged from thinking about anything too deeply or expressing our inner thoughts and emotions, and most people come to internalize this and guard their own thoughts from any depth of feeling.

Yet we admire writers who are able to make us feel, and end up caring more at times about fictional characters than those in our own lives. Why? Because we see the depth of feeling displayed in those characters, while those in our own lives are trained not to show their own depths.

A lot of writers write because they can’t express these things in their own lives, so they create fictional characters where they can share their thoughts and feelings.

Tao is about a deep connection with the process of life itself. Once you experience that, you find it everywhere, in everything. It isn’t possible to be separated from it, although some days the feeling is certainly deeper than other days.

I’ve written for a long time for myself. I would like to write for others as well.

Annoyances and Irritations

The light of the soul is bright, but dense clouds of human ignorance obscure it. Where are you in terms of your effort to make your life brighter?

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

For me, the thing that most dims my light shining in the world is annoyances. Little everyday annoyances, with myself or with other people or things. As Anton Chekhov put it, “Any idiot can handle a crisis – it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.” It is the day-to-day annoyances that get to me – my husband’s seeming inability to actually close a drawer all the way, my kids’ inability to see the floor as a space to walk on rather than a shelf for all their stuff, the stupidity of the things that are happening in our government, and nearly any demonstration of stupidity can tick me off, really, if I’m not in the right frame of mind. Then there is the meta-annoyance at being annoyed itself – I get annoyed that I am annoyed.

So when I feel annoyed, I am not the calm, rational person with perspective and far-sighted vision that I would like to be. My light dims with the clouds of annoyance and frustration and sometimes even anger. The “watcher” in me, who can usually sit back and observe everything with amusement, becomes caught up in these feelings and for those few moments, the fog creeps in…

“Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to appear. It annoys them very much.” — G. K. Chesterton

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” — Mark Twain

“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” — Isaac Asimov

“If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.” — Kingsley Amis

The Tao of the Self — Nine

There’s no point pouring more into your cup when it is already full.
If you oversharpen your knife, the edge becomes blunt more quickly.
If you have too much stuff, it’s difficult to protect and take care of it all.
Being arrogant about your wealth and accomplishments leads to reproach.
When you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, retreat into yourself.
This is the way that leads to contentment.

The Tao of the Self — Nine

The Mind of Absolute Trust

The Mind of Absolute Trust by Sen-ts’an (Stephen Mitchell translation)

The great way isn’t difficult
for those who are unattached to their preferences.
Let go of longing and aversion,
and everything will be perfectly clear.
When you cling to a hairbreadth of distinction,
heaven and earth are set apart.
If you want to realize the truth,
don’t be for or against.
The struggle between good and evil
is the primal disease of the mind.
Not grasping the deeper meaning,
you just trouble your mind’s serenity.
As vast as infinite space,
it is perfect and lacks nothing.
But because you select and reject,
you can’t perceive its true nature.
Don’t get entangled in the world;
don’t lose yourself in emptiness.
Be at peace in the oneness of things,
and all errors will disappear by themselves.

If you don’t live the Tao,
you fall into assertion or denial.
Asserting that the world is real,
you are blind to its deeper reality;
denying that the world is real,
you are blind to the selflessness of all things.
The more you think about these matters,
the farther you are from the truth.
Step aside from all thinking,
and there is nowhere you can’t go.
Returning to the root, you find the meaning;
chasing appearances, you lose their source.
At the moment of profound insight,
you transcend both appearance and emptiness.
Don’t keep searching for the truth;
just let go of your opinions.

For the mind in harmony with the Tao,
all selfishness disappears.
With not even a trace of self-doubt,
you can trust the universe completely.
All at once you are free,
with nothing left to hold on to.
All is empty, brilliant,
perfect in its own being.
In the world of things as they are,
there is no self, no non self.
If you want to describe its essence,
the best you can say is “Not-two.”
In this “Not-two” nothing is separate,
and nothing in the world is excluded.
The enlightened of all times and places
have entered into this truth.
In it there is no gain or loss;
one instant is ten thousand years.
There is no here, no there;
infinity is right before your eyes.

The tiny is as large as the vast
when objective boundaries have vanished;
the vast is as small as the tiny
when you don’t have external limits.
Being is an aspect of non-being;
non-being is no different from being.
Until you understand this truth,
you won’t see anything clearly.
One is all; all
are one. When you realize this,
what reason for holiness or wisdom?
The mind of absolute trust
is beyond all thought, all striving,
is perfectly at peace, for in it
there is no yesterday, no today, no tomorrow.

via On the Precipe

The Tao of the Self — Eight

The easiest way to be yourself is simply to flow like water.
Water flows easily and benefits everyone without even trying.
It is lifted to the highest places and flows down to the lowest places
And so is like the Tao.

Consider what you let flow into the watershed where you live.
Consider the flow of the deepest feelings of your heart.
Consider how to flow easily with other people, and be good to them.
Consider the flow of the words you say, and their meaning.
Consider what flows from your government.
Consider the flow of the work you do and enjoy it.
Consider the flow in the timing of the actions you take.

If you are sure of who you are and don’t contest it with others,
there is nobody to blame.

The Tao of the Self — Eight

Have to include this version also since it is beautifully written:

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 8
translated by Red Pine (1996)

The best are like water
bringing help to all
without competing
choosing what others avoid
hence approaching the Tao
dwelling with earth
thinking with depth
helping with kindness
speaking with truth
governing with peace
working with skill
moving with time
and because they don’t compete
they aren’t maligned