Archive | January 2021

The Pivot in the Dance

Q&A: How do dancers spin without becoming dizzy? | Yale Scientific Magazine
The art of turning completely around while actually going nowhere.

In conversation with Mutti on Monday, she asked “Should I report X [a person in Gran’s neighborhood] to the FBI. Um….., I said, “Tell me more?” I know the neighborhood in a way Mutti does not. So, yes, the people one block over, who still keep their Trump/ Pence 2020 and Trump Law & Order election signs on their lawn, dedicated GOP, but not domestic terrorists. I wasn’t sure what to say about X. X lives a couple blocks away but I knew immediately who she was talking about.

X put a flagpole on the front lawn. A giant flag pole. And then put up a yellow Gadsden flag. A big flag. It’s been there for at least 3 years. Mutti said she noticed the flag was gone the Sunday (Jan 3) after New Years. It hasn’t been back since. And too, the house has been all dark. And all the cars are parked there, as if they are away. Um…. “Tell me more?”

On Friday, a brand new American flag appeared on the pole. But the house is still dark, the cars haven’t moved. It’s still like that today. She thought perhaps X, and his flag, had gone off to attend the Capitol Insurrection. I told her if X and X’s Gadsden flag had been at the Capitol, and was still not returned therefrom, X was likely “visiting” with the FBI already.

Amazon.com : Don't Tread On Me Flag (Gadsden Flag) - 6' x 10' Nylon :  Outdoor Decor : Garden & Outdoor
This is the Gadsden flag.

Don’t get me wrong, if I thought X and X’s Gadsden had been at the Capitol, fled afterwards immediately, returned home and rehung the Gadsden? I’d have phoned up the FBI tip line myself. But at this point, it seems to be taking care of itself. It’s not like X has ever tried to hide X’s viewpoint. Hence the flagpole in the front yard. Everyone knows. If X’s actual neighbors, who know X personally, want to report X….so be it.

I’m frankly less concerned at this point with Gadsden wavers — who got so frightened by what happened they had to pivot and call someone 5K miles away to run out, buy an actual American flag, and hang it up at their house — than I am with the leaders of insurrections. But before I get to them, I want to talk about Mike Pence.

I consider Mike fully complicit in what happened. He’s Enabler In Chief. Did he do the right thing and certify Biden’s win? Of course. What choice did he have if he wanted to keep his political career going and at the same time get rid of his 2024 competition [the current POTUS]? This was the first tile he had to knock over to get POTUS45 out of his way. As for the 25th Amendment? No, he won’t do it. Because that would leave the POTUS free to run again. That would tank his 2024. So, no 25th. Again, politically, he’s thinking of 2024. He has to get rid completely of the POTUS. That means impeachment and conviction. That’s Mike’s end goal.

If you’re thinking Holy @! It’s just politics. The big set piece is constructing his political narrative in a way to win over all of the POTUS’s White Evangelical Christian base. And this is where things get fun. I suspect, very soon, there’s going to be a pivot in the WEC camp. It’ll be lead by WEC pastors who’ve been friendly to Mike since the year naught. They’ll say they’ve heard from God. They’ll move the WECs away from the POTUS as Cyrus narrative, to a “POTUS as Saul and VP Pence as David” narrative.

David (Michelangelo) - Wikipedia
Now playing David to your Saul, and waiting for you to fall.

The Cyrus narrative worked great, for getting the POTUS installed. But it’s hard to maintain now. But if pastors start casting the POTUS as Saul, God’s chosen but flawed leader, who eventually is abandoned by God, then encircled by Israel’s enemies and commits suicide (along with his son Jonathan, thus ending any possible family succession)? Oh yeah, that’s a keeper for so many reasons.

Pence is already the classic David. To WECs, he’s at the court of Saul, but not at all like Saul (he’s exactly like Saul, but that’s another story). And of course, since the Capitol Insurrection? When the POTUS tried to goad his followers into killing Pence for him? It’s the same narrative as in the Bible when Saul tries to kill David. It can’t get any more on the nose. It won’t take a biblical scholar to make this jump. For Pence, it’s a way to blame everything on a scapegoat and not take any blame himself.

I don’t think POTUS45 will commit suicide. If he lands in jail, then yes maybe. But actual suicide doesn’t matter. For the WEC contingent, the Democrats impeaching and convicting the failed POTUS, a second time, will be viewed as “Saul” being “surrounded by God’s/America’s enemies.” Once convicted, the POTUS and his family will be political toast. But, here’s the good part, to all those WECs. God will have used “God’s enemies” to bring down God’s failed chosen one. Their own hands didn’t bring Saul down. So, in their view, they’re not to blame for anything (except, you know, choosing Saul over God).

Image for post
King Saul for a new generation. Written in 2016, pre-election, still holds up for Christians.

So all the WECs and Pence will still be morally clean once the POTUS is gone. Pence is now free rise, “as God always intended.” But let’s not beat around the bush here. While all this is great for Pence, the reality is, these WEC leaders desperately need Pence. They have to pivot hard for Pence as David because they need to keep their own power in tact. After a suitable day or two of the rending of cloth and tears, those WEC leaders will need a new reason for their continued existence. One which allows them to claim their failure (backing the failed POTUS45) was really a God-ordained win.

Pivoting to Pence as David, allows them to save face. They can continue on and rebuild, with Pence. Nothing has to change for them – nothing. And what’s the GOP’s role in all this? Well, as the WEC core pivots to Pence, it pivots away from POTUS45. This frees up the traditional GOP in the house and senate, to land on POTUS45 like a ton of bricks. They are free to impeach and convict with impunity. They can proceed to wall off and purge out the POTUS-loyal among them. They can restructure the party to lock the fringe loyalists out of the RNC and out of GOP primaries.

That’s how I think this will play out in the core WEC circles. It’s a narrative that works for everyone, except of course the loyalist extremists wanting to overthrow the government. So…..

US Capitol insurrection deaths: What we know - CNN
See the Gadsdens? Um, are you my neighbor?

…back to the Capitol Insurrection….I want to be clear here, because the news media hasn’t actually touched on this. What happened on Jan 6, didn’t start on Jan 6. And I’m not talking about the months of GOP pot stirring to get extremists stirred up. No, no, no. I’m talking about the staging prep for and ramping up of the insurrectionists which culminated on Jan 6. But all that started Jan 2nd, and really up ticked on Jan 5th, right on the National Mall, all in plain view. To understand thing, all you have to do is read the rally permits. Which I did. And I hope the FBI did.

You can find these at the brief outline of the rallies Washingtonian article by Andrew Beaujon. This includes Scribd links to the full permits. You should look at every security person/groups name, every speaker listed, every bit of these permits. They tell you a @load about what was going on. But I’ll try and nutshell it all for you here.

The ginning up of people begins with the Rally to Revival. Staging for this event began at 5 am on Jan 5th and was to be over and ended at 11:59 pm that day. Trucks and equipment for the event, including “security,” are running around all that time. They provide their own security. Their own. Look at the list of names of the speakers (some of which are misspelled — Robert Stone, actually Roger Stone). Look at what they are talking about during their rally.

If the FBI really wanted to find suspects, they should be combing through these speakers networks and mailing lists. Because it goes to reason the speakers’ followers came to see them speak. Duh.

Who are these militia seen charging up the steps of the U.S. capitol during  the Capitol siege?
Side left: chain. Side right: authorized security for the rally had for a dress code khaki pants and black shirts.

Several news sites showed a clip of people going up the Capitol steps dressed in military regalia, in an organized chain (above, red blocks), and asked: “Who are these people?” I would direct your attention to the speaker named Robert Patrick Lewis, head of the 1st Amendment Praetorians. Don’t know what he does? He brings together former military, former cops, and intelligence veterans and trains them to protect the 1st Amendment. Uh…yeah.

So when people say, “These people forming a chain looked trained.” Uh …. yeah. One would expect his trained, by military, police, intelligence and then by him, followers to be there to hear him speak. Anyone at the FBI talking to them?

You know who else spoke there at that same rally? Congresswoman Lauren Boebert. And, the following day, Jan 6th, after the Secret Service told everyone hiding and under siege (including Boebert) not to text or call anyone, Boebert texted out “The Speaker’s been removed from the chambers.” Alerting the people who wished to kill the Speaker to search elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that’s conspiracy to attempted murder.

Facing calls to resign, Boebert shifts blame to Democrats, Hollywood |  9news.com
Um…..yeah.

Now have a look at the second permitted event for Jan 5th. The Silent Majority, but not your grandparents SM. They list one speaker, for 500 people? Pretty small for a majority. Nevertheless, the SM are permitted there from Jan 5 at 10 am till Jan 6 at 7 pm. That’s their permit. Two days of rally speeches? For 500 people? And during those 2 days, they set up and break down on both. So trucks and equipment moving around both days without any questions asked. For 500 people?

But here’s the fun part, the security, as written, from the permit:

LL.Volunteers and Staff: All, staff, volunteers and, exhibitors involved with the activation will be issued some form of identification. Permittee has indicated that volunteers will be identified by Silent Majority hats and black jackets and will help maintain order among your participants.

NPS permit 20-0271

Now take a look at this picture from the NYT below. It was taken Jan 6th from a video entitled: ‘They Got a Officer!’: How a Mob Dragged and Beat Police at the Capitol. Have a look at the cowboy hat to the officer’s right (your left). See the fellow in the nice black jacket. See the logo on it? It’s the rising star and logo of the Silent Majority. Looks awfully like one of those SM volunteers just there to help maintain order, is doing something quite different.

Perhaps the FBI could ask for list of the SM’s “security volunteers”?

Rioters attempt to protect a Metropolitan Police officer from other members of the mob after they dragged him down stairs and beat him.
Silent Majority security attacking a cop, with help of an elderly marine?

Now we come to the final permit, for the Women for America First’s Jan 6th rally. The big POTUS finale rally. The permit states 5K will attend, but at the last minute, like the day before, this was amended to 30K! Set up for this rally began Saturday Jan 2 at 6:30 am. So, 4 days to set up. 4 days of trucks and equipment moving around with privately provided security again

The permit for this really extends to 8 pm on Friday Jan 8. Seriously? 4 days to set up and 2 days to break down? This doesn’t sound right at all. My sense of this extended period to Jan 8th is that in some twisted vision of Rudy Giuliani’s legal world, the POTUS was convinced that if Biden wasn’t certified by Jan 6th at midnight, somehow “to save the country” the POTUS would automatically be declared winner (like Bush v Gore) by the SCOTUS Jan 7, and get another 4 years? I’m guessing here. But it’s probably close to that based on Giuliani’s weird phone call asking Tuberville to stall.

I’m also guessing a major desired outcome of the rally was violence, to get some blood shed, so the POTUS could then be seen and heard to send in the national guard and declare himself the “law and order” guy. Dictators typically rise to power by saying “You need me to keep order.” I think, the more dead bodies that day, the better to the POTUS. And it didn’t really matter to him whose bodies those were.

Law & Order - Wikipedia
Or some whacked out version thereof.

Remember, he’s a reality tv guy. Brought to power by the Touched by An Angel people. What’s better tv for his ginned-up, angry, at-home watching base than killing people live on tv? It’s good tv. It’s spectacle. It’s giving red meat, in the form of murdered people, to his base. Kill his own? Sure, they’re martyrs. Kill lawmakers? Sure, they’re traitors. Then he’d call in the troops and say “See, I’m law and order. You need me.”

I’m sorry if this shocks. It’s just how it is for people like the POTUS, people who view themselves and their lives through their media stream. The rallies, the people attending them, they’re all about him. They’re connected, all a part of his show. The organizers and speakers are all his subalterns. They prepped his/their followers into a frenzy at their own rallies and then handed them off to the POTUS for his rally so he could then aim the berserkers and set them loose on live tv. It’s a logical pattern of concerted action. It’s co-conspirator behavior.

How much planning to storm the Capitol was going on at these rallies, and during the setups and breakdowns? Who all was involved? I couldn’t tell you. But I imagine the best place for leaders to finalize plans and launch an attack is always on-site and within striking distance of a target – so leaders can watch. The idea that any of what happened on Jan 6th was spontaneous violence? Absurd. People were engaged, trained, and released hell-bent a targeted violent attack, by leaders who picked the target. The US Capitol and anyone in it.

We’ll know more in a few months. The FBI has over 70K tips to follow already. As for lack of briefings? You don’t want to brief a large group of all lawmakers, when it’s very apparent many lawmakers in your audience were actively involved and would seek to use your information to shield themselves and their insurrectionist friends. So, consider the FBI etc silence all part of the dance.

Concert dance - Wikipedia
Making the leap back to sanity, Jan 20!

Final notes.

Mutti reports the current covid rate in Gran’s area is 1:100, one in one hundred people has tested positive for covid. A large fairground is opening to give vaccinations, but so far, only to those in 1A group. Which doesn’t include Gran. Which is totally stupid, because people over 90 have the highest death rates and when hospitals decide to “triage” people out of care, it’s the very old they send home to die. Anyone 70+ should all be 1A. At least then they’ll have a chance to live.

And a friend in LA got a US Treasury Economic Impact card, which had an exp date of 1/24 and instructions to hold onto it. Apparently the US Treasury expects the second GOP-caused market crash to severely impact the economy and well being of the millions for at least 4 years. And, apparently, the US Treasury also expects that more stimulus will be issued over the coming 4 years to combat it.

This is the state of America now. All because of 4 years of unrelenting bananas leadership of the GOP and POTUS45. All I can hope is this is the year we finally decide to finish the Reconstruction. The attack on the Capitol could not have happened if white supremacy had been killed off 150 years ago, as it should have been. Had GOP members of Congress died on Jan 6th, it would have been at the hands of the very people they had courted for votes by suggesting their extremist, violent, hate-filled world view had merit and then made policy.

Prehistoric people started to spread domesticated bananas across the world  6,000 years ago
I apologize to bananas everywhere.

It still appalls me that only when the GOP membership is about to die at the hands of their own party members, whom they stoked into violence, do they finally give a crap about extremist Christian white nationalist violence against people. They don’t care about this same violence, which they stoked and stoked and stoked, that’s been falling on everyone else for the last 5 years.

They just care about what happened to them, that day. And even during that horrible day, they still can’t bring themselves to give a crap about anyone but themselves and do the right thing. Like wear a mask in a crowded room. And after that horrible day? Still can’t lower a flag to half-mast right away for the policeman who died defending them. Still can’t flat out vote to impeach and convict their authoritarian leader who tried to assassinate them. Wow.

Jan 20th? You can’t get here soon enough for me. Jan 20 is also, Bodhi Day. The Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali. And National Cheese Lover’s Day. Hmm…a little chanting, and then we’ll watch Joe get sworn in over some festive fondue, and a dry white white – because it’s Dry January still. That’s what the means right? Drink only dry wines?

I’m off WP posting till after Valentine’s now. I promised the Significant Other. See you on the other side!

Japanese Cherry Blossoms In Full Bloom With Wooden Bridge Walkway In Kasuga  Park With Lantern During Spring Season In April In Nagano Japan High-Res  Stock Photo - Getty Images

This entry was posted on January 13, 2021.

When in the Course, a Human e-Vents

Traditional Floral Sorry For Your Loss Sympathy Card | Moonpig
Seriously.

Friends contacted me a lot over the past couple days, from all over the world, expressing sympathy and asking how I was. As if an attempted coup d’etat was somehow an illness. It was weird. But it made me think. In a way, we can see America’s, democracy’s, enduring strengths and yet to be addressed weaknesses in terms of “life threatening disease” events.

In the body, when an infected area is discovered, it’s walled off by the healthy tissue around it. Eventually, it either heals or, if left to fester, develops into a large bulge, an abscess. WHen things get bad enough, the abscess explodes spraying disgusting pus and stench everywhere (watch any episode of Dr Pol).

On Capitol Hill, we saw a group of deeply deluded people, walled off by democratic elections. This infected group might have recovered if the salve of truth was applied by a doctor they trusted. But alas, no. It was instead constantly poked and prodded (and asked for money) because this doctor was himself a fraud, a mere medicine show, and felt he would benefit from increasing their sickness. And at last, this infection, festering over a few months, frenzied into an eruption and spewed forth for all to see and smell the stench there of.

Federal murder probe opened for Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick who  died following riots - ABC News
Thank you for your service. Rest in Peace, thou good and faithful servant.

I am deeply saddend by the loss of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who fought and was murdered for our democracy — by fellow his citizens at the direction of the POTUS, the POTUS’s cabinet and appointees, and supporting members of Congress. It is my profound hope that he is honored with a funeral that includes lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda. It’s the least he deserves. If I were his family, wrongful death civil suits against the POTUS, his family, administration, Sen Hawley & Sen Cruz, the RNC and Rep Louie Gohmert Jr.

But, returning to our metaphor, the body cannot heal unless the pus is expelled. And to be sure there will be no deeper infection, no re-infection, such a wound must be cleaned out, disinfected, allowed to drain and very often antibiotics must be administered to help the body’s natural immune system beat back a deadly disease that left unchecked might kill the person.

What is true of human bodies, is true also of political bodies. Some countries may mock. Authoritarians may tweet with glee. But the US problem did not stem from democracy, but from lack thereof. It stemmed from a foreign bacteria, authoritarianism, trying to inject itself into our body politic. The reaction of the body was swift, from day one. The white blood cells of journalism and informed protest leapt up. The democratic American body politic has been fighting off the infection of authoritarianism for 4 years.

Abscess in need, pus indeed | SinaiEM
Thankfully not a brain abscess, this time.

I think it’s been tremendously hard for the US but it’s been good too. Never before have we been so forced to confront our inequality, our injustice, our social, economic, political, educational, health care, etc reality. Never before have been so forced to admit there is danger within our gates. That authoritarians have made a home, their policies given a genuine welcome, in one of our major political parties. The cure, of course is more, greater democracy. Our failure here has been allowing some to benefit while others are left behind.

We are one people. To remain so, we need one standard of living, healthcare, education, justice for all. We have all seen what republican authoritarianism does. In a year, 350K dead, millions unemployed, homeless, without health care or education, or cleaning running water, with health care workers in trash bags, but 58 new billionaires. And that’s just what they did at home. Their abuse of our democratic allies, in favor of anti-democratic authoritarians, and their desire to destroy our very planet, all humanity’s existence, to trigger the return of Jesus and make a profit till he gets here, is a whole other story.

You cannot cure a sickness until you see it, and admit the sickness exists within you. Now, everyone can see it. Now, no one can deny reality. Although it was interesting to watch to newly resigned former POTUS spokesperson Alyssa Farah claim on Andrea Mitchell’s show today that the female insurrectionist who was shot and killed while storming the Capitol was “good people.” I guess she still, even now, wants to be rehired by some POTUS-supporting GOP candidate next week.

MLK and the silence of good people | The Seattle Times
It needs saying, again.

I pity the former service member who was so deluded by the GOP, so sick from self-indoctrination via social media, FOX news, rallies, etc, that she traveled 5K miles, away from her loving family, because she was hell bent on overthrowing democracy in America. But I cannot say, however much I might wish to for her family’s sake, that in her dying moment, committing insurrection at the direction of an authoritarian attempting a coup d’etat, she was “good people.” [Still using the Charlottesville Defense]

To those who lived and walked away, that isn’t the same as getting away with it. It isn’t hard for the FBI to see who came into DC by train, bus, air travel before the rally and left after. It isn’t hard to check DC area hotel reservations. I’m sure that the FBI will pull google/apple phone location services info. Then of course, all that posting and streaming on social media. It will not be hard to discover all those who were there and are now….

Well, I suppose, if we tell the truth unvarnished…they are now all co-conspirators in a murder of a federal police officer. That’s murder with special circumstances. Every person who was there at the Capitol, is now a murderer. That’s how it works. You walked into the bank with people intent on robbing it, because that was your intent too. It doesn’t matter that someone brought a gun you didn’t know about. Or that they pulled the trigger and they murdered the teller. You’re now a co-conspirator.

45 Co-conspirator Synonyms. Similar words for Co-conspirator.
Confederate…..uh, huh.

Legally, you get the same punishment as the murderer. My guess is, many people who were there, now wish they had been more on the anti-death penalty side of things. My advice, if you were there, is turn yourself in to the nearest FBI office. Take your phone and your media account passwords and show them everything. Tell them everything. Maybe there will be deal for you. Maybe you’ll get parole, someday.

To those who wish to claim “I was lied to. I was in a cult.” Indeed yes. I agree. And I’m glad you’ve been awakened. But I’m not sure a diminished capacity defense will stand up. That is one of the problems with political / religious motivations taken to extremes. But the US has never shown mercy to misled people. Young American teenage girls who got sucked into Al-Queda via social, who media became brides of “freedom fighters” at 16, and mothers/widows/refugees at 18? No, no. The US didn’t want them or their children back on US soil, even if they were now awakened and repentant. And their crimes, were all done overseas.

One doubts grown Christian American men and women, on American soil, who attacked the beating heart of American democracy, our Capitol, who entered and destroyed and murdered a peace officer, who were bent on derailing the most secure, legitimate, most actively participated in election in American history, will be accorded more mercy. This is sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind. You got used. You were betrayed by the POTUS and the GOP. I understand. But the measure you meted out for others, no mercy, will now be meted out to you.

Weighing scale - Wikipedia
Oh, now you want the big weight?

This brings me to Christians extremists. I’m sure this term disquiets you, but you saw them there, on the Capitol steps, with their co-conspirators, waving large “Jesus Saves” signs. Or dressed in skeleton masks holding Bibles, prop-like, the same as their cult leader did a few months back.

I certainly understand that these “once upon a time” Christians, have been totally consumed now by a political cult. But let’s not forget it was a cult their Christian leaders indoctrinated them into. Leaders who wanted political power preached authoritarian propaganda from their pulpits and media outlets. They directed their flock to vote for the very antithesis of Jesus’s values. They held maskless rallies during the pandemic in their churches for love of a false god. The great salvation for them stopped being Jesus years ago.

Is there actually any daylight between an Osama Bin Laden and the current POTUS? I think not. Both used religion to create insurrection to gain for themselves and their family/friends riches and power. Both are authoritarians who couldn’t care less about their followers or the faith they abuse. And the religious leaders bowing down to such men are no better. Venial, petty, grasping, greedy, lustful, angry, drunk on their own egos. If people turn away from Christianity in droves in the US, we should not be surprised. This propaganda parody of Christianity is an abomination.

House ethics committee recommends censure for Rangel | McClatchy Washington  Bureau
Yes, please.

Which brings me at long last to the members of Congress. What to do about the infection there? Well, The Guardian has provided a handy list of coup d’etat co-conspirators. I’m not sure it’s a complete list but it looks to be. It’s alpha by the state they serve. Which senators objected to certify Biden as president?

Senators challenging the certified results in Arizona and Pennsylvania

  • Objected to both (5) 
  • Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) 
  • Roger Marshall (R-KS) 
  • Joshua Hawley (R-MO) 
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) 
  • Ted Cruz (R-TX)
  • Objected to one (3) 
  • Rick Scott (R-FL) 
  • John Kennedy (R-LA) 
  • Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)

Which US representatives objected to certify Biden as president?

Representatives challenging the certified results in Arizona and Pennsylvania

Objected to both (120) 

  • Robert Aderholt (R-AL) 
  • Mike Rogers (R-AL) 
  • Mo Brooks (R-AL) 
  • Gary Palmer (R-AL) 
  • Jerry Carl Jr. (R-AL) 
  • Felix Moore (R-AL) 
  • Rick Crawford (R-AR) 
  • Paul Gosar (R-AZ) 
  • Andy Biggs (R-AZ) 
  • Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) 
  • Ken Calvert (R-CA) 
  • Darrell Issa (R-CA) 
  • Devin Nunes (R-CA) 
  • Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) 
  • Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) 
  • Mike Garcia (R-CA) 
  • Jay Obernolte (R-CA) 
  • Doug Lamborn (R-CO) 
  • Lauren Boebert (R-CO) 
  • Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) 
  • Bill Posey (R-FL) 
  • Daniel Webster (R-FL) 
  • Matt Gaetz (R-FL) 
  • Neal Dunn (R-FL) 
  • John Rutherford (R-FL) 
  • Brian Mast (R-FL) 
  • Gregory Steube (R-FL) 
  • Katherine Cammack (R-FL) 
  • Scott Franklin (R-FL) 
  • Byron Donalds (R-FL) 
  • Carlos Giménez (R-FL) 
  • Buddy Carter (R-GA) 
  • Jody Hice (R-GA) 
  • Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) 
  • Rick Allen (R-GA) 
  • Andrew Clyde (R-GA) 
  • Marjorie Greene (R-GA) 
  • Russ Fulcher (R-ID) 
  • Mike Bost (R-IL) 
  • Mary Miller (R-IL) 
  • Jackie Walorski (R-IN) 
  • Jim Banks (R-IN) 
  • James Baird (R-IN) 
  • Ron Estes (R-KS) 
  • Tracey Mann (R-KS) 
  • Hal Rogers (R-KY) 
  • Steve Scalise (R-LA) 
  • Clay Higgins (R-LA) 
  • Mike Johnson (R-LA) 
  • Andy Harris (R-MD) 
  • Tim Walberg (R-MI) 
  • Jack Bergman (R-MI) 
  • Lisa McClain (R-MI) 
  • Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) 
  • Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) 
  • Sam Graves (R-MO) 
  • Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) 
  • Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) 
  • Billy Long (R-MO) 
  • Jason Smith (R-MO) 
  • Steven Palazzo (R-MS) 
  • Trent Kelly (R-MS) 
  • Michael Guest (R-MS) 
  • Matthew Rosendale Sr. (R-MT) 
  • Richard Hudson (R-NC) 
  • David Rouzer (R-NC) 
  • Ted Budd (R-NC) 
  • Dan Bishop (R-NC) 
  • David Cawthorn (R-NC) 
  • Adrian Smith (R-NE) 
  • Jefferson Van Drew (R-NJ) 
  • Stella Herrell (R-NM) 
  • Lee Zeldin (R-NY) 
  • Chris Jacobs (R-NY) 
  • Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) 
  • Jim Jordan (R-OH) 
  • Bill Johnson (R-OH) 
  • Bob Gibbs (R-OH) 
  • Warren Davidson (R-OH) 
  • Tom Cole (R-OK) 
  • Frank Lucas (R-OK) 
  • Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) 
  • Kevin Hern (R-OK) 
  • Stephanie Bice (R-OK) 
  • Mike Kelly (R-PA) 
  • Scott Perry (R-PA) 
  • John Joyce (R-PA) 
  • Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) 
  • Joe Wilson (R-SC) 
  • Jeff Duncan (R-SC) 
  • Tom Rice (R-SC) 
  • Ralph Norman Jr. (R-SC) 
  • William Timmons (R-SC) 
  • Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) 
  • Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) 
  • Tim Burchett (R-TN) 
  • John Rose (R-TN) 
  • Mark Green (R-TN) 
  • Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) 
  • Michael Burgess (R-TX) 
  • John Carter (R-TX) 
  • Pete Sessions (R-TX) 
  • Louie Gohmert Jr. (R-TX) 
  • Randy Weber (R-TX) 
  • Roger Williams (R-TX) 
  • Brian Babin (R-TX) 
  • Jodey Arrington (R-TX) 
  • Michael Cloud (R-TX) 
  • Lance Gooden (R-TX) 
  • Ron Wright (R-TX) 
  • Patrick Fallon (R-TX) 
  • August Pfluger II (R-TX) 
  • Ronny Jackson (R-TX) 
  • Troy Nehls (R-TX) 
  • Morgan Griffith (R-VA) 
  • Ben Cline (R-VA) 
  • Robert Good (R-VA) 
  • Thomas Tiffany (R-WI) 
  • Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI) 
  • Carol Miller (R-WV)

The remedy provided by law for members of Congress is called Censure and Expulsion. Reprimand exists but is hardly fitting for a coup attempt. A Censured member is forbidden to hold any important place in Congress, such as Speaker or Head of the Judicial Committee. In effect, they will never be power players. Expulsion means they are removed from Congress and cannot again ever hold office there. I’d strip them of their federal pensions, health care, and security details as well.

I would say C&E is the best option for the Senate and the House. Each chamber holds its own C&E votes on its own members. There would need to be new elections for these opened seats. And I’ve no objection to new Republicans being in those seats, if that’s what people want to vote for after seeing the Capitol attacked by Republicans because Republican members of Congress and a Republican POTUS and his administration told them to and then had withheld the National Guard [a la Chris Christie, Bridgegate].

The 9 things you need to know about Bridgegate - The Washington Post
More GOP shenanigans.

I think the people in districts where members are expelled deserve to make what new choice they will. I don’t care who it is they send back to Congress. I just don’t think any currently elected members who are insurrectionists, who clearly hate democracy and the republic on which it stands, who only care about kissing the POTUS’s ring and clinging to power so they can continue to profit from the country’s destruction, should be allowed to remain in Congress. Just saying.

As for any American cabinet member or VP? I would have expected them to use the 25th Amendment literally after certifying the vote. Sadly, no “committed to America” Americans have ever existed in the current cabinet. De Vos and Chao were like rats on a sinking ship yesterday. They couldn’t avoid doing the right thing fast enough. And the VP? He is currently in hiding from because voters of his own party, who apparently have been convinced by the POTUS that the VP should die – by hanging. Lynching a white man can now be seen as an option by these “good folks.” Imagine that. A macabre step toward racial equality?

As for the POTUS, of course he should have resigned yesterday. He didn’t. No surprise. He should be impeached. The problem there is a full 2/3 of GOP House members and 1/4 of GOP senators are on the record pro-authoritarian anti-democracy insurrectionists. I don’t see other, normal, Republicans forcing them to vote to impeach, by threat of censure and expulsion. But it may not matter. The GOP is being swallowed alive by the sinkhole of its own making at this point, the POTUS. The life history of the POTUS has been he drags down to destruction everything he’s involved in. I guess in this case, that’s not a bad thing.

Huge sinkhole opens up outside Naples hospital, forcing evacuation of Covid  patients - CNN
Once it opens, it’s over.

Not passively accepting evil. Protesting against it. Don’t worry, friends. We have faced many trials, but we have persevered, and we will finish the work. America will reach a higher, better level of democracy, because as Americans we dare to confront what is wrong and are willing to work together to put it right.

This entry was posted on January 8, 2021.

Feast of the E-piphany

Your plans, delivered.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany in our house. It’s always Jan 5, irregardless (yes, ir-regardless) of the Church calendar. Sometimes we do presents then because it’s the feast of the arrival of the 3 Kings, who brought presents. I wasn’t expecting presents this year, but there they were when I woke up, nestled around the nativity. It was quite the haul 6 Stillman & Birn coldpress sketchbooks for the months I’m travelling, 5 pair of Mutts.com socks, 4 Pentel drafting pencils, 3 pots of vegan buttercream icing, 2 tubs of bag balm (1 for me, 1 for the pets feet/noses), and a 15.7% Zin from the home county.

Also included, a Rhodia Goalbook (5A dot grid). The Significant Other said a weekly Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal planner was probably not the best idea for my 2021, given I was going on 2 more tours of duty in So Cal, and the year was basically a write off before it’d begun. (Dutch honesty can be quite bracing.) He was right of course. On the other hand, his year apparently would require a Hobinichi Techo!

Weirdly he bought the all Japanese version. He doesn’t speak Japanese. He said he was hoping it’d push him to think outside the box, maybe learn Japanese (or, maybe he just waited too long to order the English one?). Either way, we popped the Zin open at dinner and spent the evening having fun with grids, rulers, washi tape, tabs, and color pens and talking about our different planning styles, which may sound utterly crackers. But one might need to come from a Germanic or Asian background to understand the concept of peace (ie, the illusion of control) through planning.

Having had to deal this last year with Gran using all “on the fly” planning, which I’m fine with for myself alone, I’m trying to be a little more of a planner in 2021. But lazy planning. For instance, I riffed on AmandaRachLee for January. Having goals, rather than plans? That’s probably better. I need the flexibility. I might make it to Easter, or even May Day, with a few goals getting accomplished, if I don’t plan. Planning might lead to overwhelm.

And on that note, at this point, if you wish to avoid the last of the Buddhist stuff, which you might find overwhelming by now, you can “joyscroll” (my newly minted 2021 word) down to the cheerful picture of the orange slices.

Back again

The following is basically a guilt-gift post.

I see La Mere twice a week when I drop off her groceries. I always bring a couple of her dishes, from the recipes she gave me, prep-ed to go into the ovens. We let them bake while I clean their condo and play with my cats. Then we try the dishes together, sometimes with Le Pape, and I get “tweaks.” Not critiques, just adjustments to the recipe if needed. The leftovers go home to the Significant Other, who never has any comments but “I love this!”

Dining with La Mere one day, she said, “I wish I had more to teach you.” She gestured to her family history written in cuisine on the table before us. “My grandmother would never share her best recipes.” It’s always sad when people die before their important knowledge or secrets go un-transmitted. “Maybe she thought you’d discover her secrets, on your own, down the road?” I replied, trying to sound positive. “Why must I first reinvent a wheel to travel down this road?” she asked. I had to admit, she had a point.

I thought it would be fun, especially for any Buddhist folks, if I left some things about the WT for people to figure out on their own, down the road. But now, I’ve come to think that was an error. It can take a long time for lost knowledge to be discovered again. If it ever is. And the preservation of knowledge was the whole impetus for the Rime movement. So, today I tell you all I know. So you have a wheel, which you can hopefully keep turning, and which may someday take you where you need to go.

Jonathan Pangborn | The Personality Database [PDB] | Marvel Cinematic  Universe
Jonathan Pangborn, man of compassion.

In the world of Tibetan Buddhist thought and symbolism, I’m not a person of high learning nor was I ever privy to deep secrets. And that’s as it should be. I’m Jonathan Pangborn. I got my miracle and went back to my life. I’m not embarrassed to own that. WT, Tibetan Buddhism, and I, we’re all still tight. And maybe for me, turning back, was what was supposed to happen. After all, without Jason Pangborn, how would Stephen Strange have found his path?

I’m sharing things I know/suspect/think about this artwork. It’s not all that can be seen or known. It’s just what I seen and know. Hopefully this helps someone, someday, see and know more, and gets them further down their own path. You never know. Ok, so, that said….As an artist, I deal in the illusory world. I know a portrait of Vigee-Le Brun, is not Vigee-Le Brun, even if Vigee Le Brun painted it. It’s an illusion. It’s shape and shadow, light and color masquerading. It’s a version of reality.

Art can be seen as magic, in a way. But it’s magic I understand, which to me is the definition of science. Art is also a magic I practice. I’m versed in it. Because I can understand and work this type of ‘magic,” when I really stop to look at art I can sometimes see understand messages artists leave behind that casual viewers miss and figure out how the spell was cast. (It drives my friends mad. I have to go to museums alone now.)

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It’s telling people, “Damn right, I can paint better than a man.”

I’m far less versed in Tibetan Buddhism. This can be a difficulty. Each sect has its own way of describing things, the same things. If I look at a Kagyu or Sakya or Gelug artwork, I understand it less because my background in Nyingma. Though the main symbols are the same for all sects, the nuances can be different. A Gelug friend once stared talking about the 3 doors. I said “The 3 Doors? What 3 doors?” After a bit of discussion, I realised the Nyingma call them the 3 gates.

Sure, gates and doors are similar. But also really different. I don’t speak Tibetan. Maybe in the sutras, the same word is used in Tibetan or Sanskrit. Maybe the problem is a variance in the English translation. But maybe not. Maybe the 2 sects actually look at the same thing slightly differently. And if that’s so, you have genuine worldview and philosophical differences because what lies behind a door is always way different than what lies beyond a gate.

Anyway, all that to say, I think the WT above is a Nyingma piece of art that was given to a Sakya mind incarnation (JK Wangpo) of a Nyingma lama (Jigme Lingpa). I may be 100% wrong but, for purposes of this post, that’s my viewpoint. I’m a good artist, but I’m not a trained thangka painter. My view on the art and symbolism is limited. You should feel free to question my views and substitute your own better informed ones.

So, let’s jump off the cliff and start with this: although WT appears to be a meditational support thangka, and it is that, it’s also something very different.

In the world of thangka there are 2D representations of 3D (or more D) worlds. The picture you see just above is a standard Kalachakra mandala. I’m sure you knew that. But it’s also a 2D version of a 3D world. To “see” the 3D world, you have to mentally pull it up from it’s center point. If you do that, it looks more like what it actually is. This image below is the 3D world which the 2D thangka art represents. Definitely a bit easier to mentally walk around in for us.

Long before the modern Western world had an inkling of cosmology, physics, and multi-dimensional universes, people in India, China and Tibet were actively working through these ideas, these realities. I don’t claim to understand the life of an atom or its sub-particles. But I know they exist. I can barely grasp the world of the tiny tardigrades (waterbears) that can live, and love, even in the vacuum of space. But I know they are real. As for the world of the mycelium? Way beyond my understanding – even though it’s a real world, that I’m a part of.

These are worlds within our very world. And we still know little to nothing about them, except that they exist. What of the worlds beyond? It’s humanity’s essential nature to seek out truth, wisdom, to explore reality. A Native American tells people there’s a dragon under the mountain, you can’t go or dig around there, you’ll die. People do go and dig, and find radioactive uranium ore, which can kill you. So, does the dragon exist? Do Buddhas exist? Are they an ancient scientific stand-ins for energies we don’t know how to name?

People were flushing toilets indoors, in their homes, in the Indus Valley in 2500BC. But, that knowledge was lost. It took a long while for us to get back to that level of knowledge. Ancient knowledge isn’t something we should….pooh-pooh. It’s a base to build on. Thankgas are loaded with ancient knowledge about the world, the cosmos, physics. But you have to be willing to accept that’s trye, and to look with an open mind. Otherwise, you miss some really intriguing ideas, questions, answers, etc.

Ok, back the 3D world. When you look at the Kalachakra mandala, and mentally pull it up into 3D, into your reality, you see something completely different. You’re no longer living in 2D Flatland. Flatland exits, we can see it, but it’s not our world and its inhabitants cannot grasp our world. Our world is 3D (Fatland?). This same sort of thing is going on with the White Tara. Her thangka is a 2D Flatland version of something that’s real and powerful in the 3D world, a stupa (chorten in Tibetan). And it’s a very specific type of stupa, a Dharmakaya (Enlightenment) stupa.

This kind of stupa is supposed to lead you to enlightenment just by looking at it. And you can see why in the photo above. If you know the language it speaks, the language of shapes, the first elemental language we grasp as children, and the language of Buddhism, you can work out how to get from step 1 (Samsara) to step 7 (enlightenment). Why do so many Tibetan Buddhists have epiphanies when they pull up in front of our specific WT thankga? Because it’s speaking to them at subconscious level, using shape. In the deep recesses of their minds, it’s recognized for what it is, an enlightenment stupa.

An enlightenment stupa has a specific shape, which you can see above. It’s shape contains the 5 wisdoms and 5 elements. It basically binds the power of the natural world to the spiritual world, so to speak. One could say, that’s a bit of magic (science). I can’t say it’s not. The Nyingma have always been okay with that sort of thing. If it freaks you out…remember Tesla knew a world of wireless communication was possible, long before it happened. Some people freaked out and called it magic, or worse madness and impossible folly. Today we live in Tesla’s world.

If you look at WT below, the outside is square. Inside that square is a circle. Inside that circle, if you pull up from the top 3 leafs, the bottom 3 jewels and the 2 side clouds, you get the 3D, 4 sided triangle. If you pull up again, the rings outside WT become the parasol. Her lotus sits on top of the parasol. You then have the moon seat, under Tara. The moon becomes the sun. And Tara herself becomes the jewel. All the parts of the enlightenment stupa are there in 3D. Pretty cool, right?

Now I’ll show you how the artist discretely added all the extra bits. You can think of the 4 corners of the square as the 4 Noble Truths. Then, as you look up the central axis, you see the 3 jewels (the common refuge). Straight up above the 3 jewels, you see the root of the lotus. Here’s where things get kind of Nyingma. Nyingma has also an uncommon refuge, called the 3 roots. See the 3 leaves at the root of the lotus? I think they represent the uncommon, 3 roots, refuge: lama, yidam, dakini.

Just so you don’t have to scroll to the top again.

Heading up from the root, look at the leaves under, supporting/surrounding the lotus flower. We have 4 distinct groups, each with 3 leaves. These are the 4 Immeasurables. See the 7 large flowers around WT? These are the 7 Elements of Enlightenment around the bumpa. Remember when we counted the mountains? The 8 mountains you can actually see? These represent the 8-fold path. The 13 leaf groups around the upper part of rainbow ring? There are the 13 bhumis you’d find on the triangular spire.

So now you see all it, right? And now, it’s understandable to you that this is an enlightenment stupa. And now you know why Tibetan Buddhists have so many epiphanies looking at or asking this WT for help. Also, I hope you also notice that this artist really is beating you over the head with the message that this WT practice will lead you to enlightenment. And again, I do not know what “this” WT practice is/was. Maybe it’s in the Longchen Nyingthig? That’s Nyingma. Maybe it’s something to do with the Chakrasamvara Tantra? That’s Sarma. I don’t know. Me, as a small potatoes practitioner? I do small potatoes WT practice, with this WT support, and hope for the best.

Okay, something else you should know about stupas or chortens. They always have something in the center (in the bumpa) that makes them powerful. You can think of a chorten like an altar if you’re Catholic or a mezuzah if you’re Jewish. There’s something inside that gives off power. Typically the object is completely encased, shielded, hidden from view. In the Catholic world, we use a relic. Maybe it’s a saint’s tooth or bones. Buddhists use body parts also. Sometimes though, as with the Jewish example, a manuscript or sutra text is in the bumpa. So you can use a 3D object of power or a 2D object of power.

Light Blue Enamel Metal Mezuzah
This is a mezuzah. TraditionsJewishGifts.com

Obviously you can’t put a 3D object in a 2D painting. And there’s another problem. If you put the entire 2D object in a 2D painting, you’ve fully exposed the object of power. That’s a no, no. Powerful things are powerful. There’s a reason nuclear power plant’s have shielded cores. So, what to do, what to do? Well, you could do what the artist here did, that is, put in a very powerful, but very well-concealed (maybe 3% visible) symbol. And leave it to the viewer to recognize the tiny tip of the symbol for the whole iceberg.

Can you guess which is the visible part of the symbol on WT?

Remember that necklace I obsessed over and told you about? That upper necklace, that triangle with a dot? If you take that triangle with a dot, and you use it as the center triangle….. You can work the symbol out from there using other pictorial markers the artist gives you. I’ll spare you the agony. You end up with a Sri Yantra, in which WT sits. Sri Yantra is the visual representation of the Indian Goddess Sri Lalita or Tripura Sundari, the beauty of the 3 worlds. Interesting, right?

Ok, now you’re probably thinking, “Sure, I see the WT thangka is maybe less a thangka and more a powerful enlightement stupa. But what does Buddhism have to do with this Indian Goddess? Or yantra? Can you prove this further?” Really? I tell you all this and ….Sigh… okay, I’ll try. But remember, tiny scratch the surface knowledge here. Remember way back when I first counted all the green leaves and told you there were 64? I think this is for the 64 Dakinis. I’m not going into it here, but you can read the post.

Devi By Unknown 19th century artist from Rajasthan – Dehejia, Vidya (1986). Yogini Cult and Temples: A Tantric Tradition. National Museum, Janpath, New Delhi. page 21, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95671218

People think of Tibetan Buddhism as Tibetan. Fair enough. It’s become Tibetan. But it’s roots are still Indian. Buddha was from India. Guru Padmasambhava was Indian. Princess Mandarava, Guru Padmasambhava’s first consort, was Indian. Mandy often gets written out of the stories, but Guru P. had two main consorts. First was Mandarava and second as Yeshe Tsogyal. In Tibet, it’s all about Yeshe Tsogyal. It makes people forget just how deep Tibetan Buddhism’s Indian roots run.

In the painting above, the artist clearly didn’t forget. Have a look at Devi (note the 3 eyes) on which is superimposed Yogini Chakra, a wheel of the 64 Yoginis. Devi is shown with weapons including a pistol as attributes of power. She is standing on a prostrate male figure. The painting portrays the Yoginis as aspects of Devi rather than as separate semi-divine beings. But remember, in India, a dakini, is a yogini, is a real woman. Real woman = real powerful aspect of the divine goddess.

In Buddhist Tibet the tradition of very powerful, very human, female adepts and Buddhist teachers that are fully equal to the men continues to be understood. But not as widely as it should be. Sadly many people hear “dakini” and think of little sparkly naked fairy ladies who help men become realised and that’s because of a lot of the thangka art that goes in that direction. I get the deeper meaning. I get that women practitioners were often marginalized and ended up in weird places (like charnel grounds) to be left in peace to practice. And I get that they were also objectified. Yeshe Tsogal was given to Guru P. Given, as property. Mandy at least chose the Dharma and Guru P.

Just saying, maybe it’s time artists revisit this visual trope?

Masterpiece Yeshe Tsogyal Thangka - Dakini Heart Essence – Garuda Trading
Yeshe Tsogyal. GarudaTrading.com Lovely, but… all the men have clothes on.

Uh….where was I? The 64 leaves? Oh yeah, right. Since 64 is the number of dakinis there are said to be, maybe the hidden implication is we have a hidden retinue of 64 dakini with the hidden Sri Lalita? That’s a speculation. I find it really interesting there are so many layers of “objects of power” from so many sources hidden in one art work. It’s kind of wild. The only thing I can think of that might account for it is … If I am Jigme Lingpa, and my goal is to save a lot of old Buddhist teachings from a lot of different sources, but these teachings are currently considered outre or even heretical, I might need a thangka to both hide this knowledge from some but still transmit or reflect it to others in the present/future.

So, objects of power have power hidden within them. But what gets hidden within them is always the choice of the creator. So asking, “why were all these different objects put into one art work?” is a valid question. Also, it’s important to ask about purpose. One object is enough to give something power, for one purpose. Think, Staff of the Living Tribunal, maybe. If that helps you out. But needing multiple objects of power? Clearly this is to extend power beyond just the one, to the many. Sorry, coming to the edge of my brain’s abilities now. Perhaps, if your purpose is generating enough power to save a lot of different types of wisdom, not just one type, you need to draw down on a a lot of different objects of power?

I don’t think, but again I don’t know, that this is an attempt to “draw power from the dark side,” for all you Marvel U fans. I don’t think it’s an attempt to subjugate and use the power of other systems to support a single type of Buddhism. The sense I get from this art is it’s creating a continuum. Maybe it’s some kind of grand unification (for all you theoretical physicists out there)? I don’t think I can say more, because I just don’t know. Objects of power activate only under the right conditions. Think, the Cloak of Levitation, maybe. If that helps you out. Whatever is going on here, I don’t possess the right conditions.

A detail from the Lukhang Temple murals. The image depicts Guru Rinpoche – or Padmasambhava – accepts obeisance from the naga king.
From Lukhang. Padmsambhava talking to a Lu (naga) king. And his horse? Image by Thomas Laird. Amazing color!

Coming back to the yantra. Bon and Tibetan Buddhism both use yantra a lot. There are many types of yantra. They all serve different purposes. Usually they have accompanying rituals to attract good fortune or to avert obstacles and misfortune. Does the yantra hidden in WT have a ritual accompanying it? I dunno. Yantra diagrams are considered a ritual object, but they’re common. In fact, they’re often carved into blocks to make woodblock prints. There’s no reason to hide a yantra in Tibet. So why are we hiding the WT’s yantra? I dunno. What’s the yantra’s purpose? I suspect it invests the stupa/image with additional/universal power. Maybe its presence and what it invokes is akin to invoking all the Avengers in once place? But … I dunno.

If you’re thinking, “So does she know anything?” Remember, I started down this road looking to just buy a new WT thangka. And then I found this WT. And that made me think of my old, now dead, lama and my old, now broken, sangha. And so I started out to do a re-creation of this WT for an offering, as my “do something good, forward-thinking, positive energy, get through this period of covid” project. I wasn’t looking for answers. And I only ever asked one question. My question was “What’s important about this artwork?”

I wanted to know what the original artist or creator, and/or the person who commissioned it, was thinking. I wanted to be sure all the important elements they’d included were elements I correctly restored. I didn’t realise that one question would set off an avalanche of others. I expected multiple layers of meaning. That’s typical in Tibetan Buddhism. I didn’t expect this many layers. So, if you find any of my ponderings unclear or unsatisfying, I get it. But if you need solid answers, it’s up to you to ask better questions of informed Buddhists.

Because 3 is an auspicious number.

Coming back to the WT as a meditation support….. Again, starting at the bottom, you have the 3 Jewels (common refuge), the 3 Roots (uncommon refuge), and the 4 Immeasurables. When you do a practice, this is the order you do it in. I think you could read the 2 puff clouds as the 2 Truths (relative and ultimate). The 7 flowers (2 outer and 5 inner flowers) are possibly a reference to the 7 Limb/Branch Practice, which begins with prostrations and ends with dedication of merit (possibly the 2 outer flowers?). In between the 5 inner flowers (maybe a reminder of the 5 wisdoms?) there are 6 spaces in which there are leaves, so maybe the 6 Paramitas?

I dunno. I don’t know the exact sadhana here. I’m making a general stab at it based on general WT practices. I can’t tell you about the 36 lotus leaves. I know 36 x 3 = 108. Maybe there’s some meaning there. There are 3 longevity deities, WT, Amitayus Buddha, and Ushnishavijaya. Maybe that’s being impled? A common Nyingma WT practice includes Green Tara and Bhrikuti Tara as supporting cast, 3 Taras. Maybe that’s implied?

An important thing to consider is that unlike many other WT images, Amitayus isn’t an ornament on her crown. He has never been an ornament on this WT. She just has flowers on her crown. And that may mean something when combined with the fact that this WT is not like other WTs. She’s not hunched over. It could be, that she’s sitting erect because while outwardly she’s WT alone, maybe on the inner level she’s supposed to be the Yum, in a Yum-Yab? In this case, the Yab figure is invisible. You’re supposed to know it’s there by the clues the artist left. Again, hidden in plain sight.

Shiva as Lord of Dance (Nataraja) | Indian (Tamil Nadu) | Chola period  (880–1279) | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Shiva, Lord of the Dance. Met Museum. Kinda nice to see some male nudity for a change.

I would think the Yab, the consort, would be Avalokiteshvara, but in his red form. And the other name for this form of Avalokiteshvara is Lord of the Dance. Which brings us back to the whole Shakti/Shiva conversation we had because Shiva’s name is …Lord of the Dance. So, again, there’s all sorts of levels happening here — none of which I’m privy to. Chime Phakme Nyingtik, is a practice I spoke about before, which has WT with a consort in Yum-Yab. Maybe the inner practice of this WT is/was something similar to that? Maybe a precursor?

It’s rare to see a yum-yab, a male figure in the lap of a female figure. But WT is one of the few female deities that’s known to be shown this way in a few practices. It’s rare to see WT depicted sitting erect. But this WT is sitting erect. You could easily imagine the yab in her lap. Is this what’s going on? I don’t know. I’m just saying, the shoes fit. There’s a case to made. This could be what’s going here. The artist here is really into encoding things into the picture. Maybe there’s a secret level beyond this as well? But I wouldn’t know enough to even speculate about that.

So I’ll move one to things that I can speculate about. About the other flowers on the WT… I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t know enough to do so. The half lotuses are 14 petals each. I don’t know of anything connected to 14. In Tibetan culture 13 is a very auspicious, lucky, even holy number. I’d understand if they each had 13 petals. But…I count 14. I can’t think of any Buddhist reference to 14, or put together 28. Not saying there isn’t one. Just that I don’t know.

The two champaka are 9 petals on the left and 11 on the right. In Tibet 9 has a meaning. It’s “all.” If you say 9 people, you mean all people. Everyone. It can also mean much. This is similar to the meaning 9 had to ancient Han Chinese. Han used it to mean endless, much or uncertain. I don’t know the association with 11. The Datura flowers are blurry but seem to be 9 flowers on the left and 7 on the right. Again, meaning? I dunno. I can’t tell how many petals are on the Ashoka. Maybe 12 large petals?

Ultimate Guide To Transform Into Jack Black By Wearing Professor Shelly  Oberon Costume
Ultimate Guide, Shelly Oberon.

Like I said, I only know so much. I’m telling you, “I know this WT is a map, but you need Shelly Oberon to read it to you.” I only got this far because after I received the WT empowerment from Lama Samten, my mind opened up a bit. When I would meditate before the WT thangka, I started to realise there were things in the thangka that I saw, but I hadn’t really “seen” before. So, that’s what I mean about purposefully taking empowerments. I had a WT practice. I was already empowered to do it. I took the empowerment to deepen my connection with WT to find answers to my question. And….here we are.

Other things in the WT? The two boats, one with blue people and one with red clothed people. I think that’s supposed to represent two types of practitioners, lay and monastic. Nyingma sanghas have both as a feature. But they may be representative of the sutra and mantra teachings, sailing toward the empty teachings – the 3 small, decreasing in size, clouds that appear to be rolling in from the right, on the surface of the lake, just below the lotus.

In Nyingma tradition you have 3 main teachings (that each break into a further 3, making the total 9 yanas: the 3, outer/sutra, inner/tantra and secret/empty teachings. So maybe the clouds are 3 within the secret/empty teachings? The Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga (Dzogchen)? If one is sailing toward those 3 teachings, that would explain the decreasing cloud size as they head towards White Tara. The final tiny cloud being Atiyoga/ Dzogchen.

Automated Quality and Application Security Testing, Part 2: Straight Out of  the Gate
Gates allow you into an large, generally open area. Doors allow you into a small, generally enclosed space. I think mind, body and speech are areas, personally.

I think the clouds could have another meaning. But I’m not sure. Because the 3 clouds are rolling toward WT, and she as 3 silk ends blowing up into the air, it seems like the viewer is supposed to infer something from that. The clouds and the silks are both having to do with air movement. But I can’t say more than that. I think the 3 rising silk ends are supposed to be the Trikaya. The secret refuge (Dharamakaya, sambogkaya, and nirmanakaya). Maybe. If you “read up” into from the bottom of the picture, you have the 3 jewels, up to the 3 roots, up to the 3 kayas. And maybe that reminds the viewer practitioner of the 3 vajras/gates (doors)?

Like I said, I don’t know. I haven’t got the chops to fully decode this. This White Tara is complex. She’s clearly meant to be, intentionally. Come for the long life, stay for the enlightenment? I wish I could tell you more, but it’s beyond me. My guess is some higher-power lamas could tell you everything about it in New York minute. They wouldn’t, but they could. You gotta earn that knowledge. You have to prove you’re worthy of holding that knowledge. And it has to be clear this is the right knowledge for you. That it’s what you need for your life. Not all knowledge is good for all people. And all that is just as it should be.

Anyway, now I’ll tell you a few other fun things. Consider them part of the E-ticket ride. First off, the shape of the WT’s rainbow rings combined with the lotus and it’s stalk, looks a lot like a wenge wood hook and ring for a Zen monk’s kesa robes. Not to get all Chinese and Zen again, but… yeah. It’s interesting that within the Zen monk’s ring, hidden behind WT’s moon, is the 9th mountain where the Zen temple resides. That’s another reference, to another sort of power. It’s keeping within the theme of encompassing a lot of different views. That’s all I’m saying.

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See the ring his shoulder? It’s the only ornament and the quintessential Zen shape. The circle.

If you like Green Tara? Her blue lotus has been known in Egypt since Pharonic times as a means of getting high. Temples used it in their rites. After people got high on blue lotus and had visions? They were given wine, which combined with the blue lotus created a depressant and brought them down. So, stories of drunken orgies in temples? Possibly a misunderstanding of those devout people having religious visions and then coming down. Which is not to say drugs and an alcohol were never abused in Ancient Egypt (or elsewhere). And it tells you a little something about Green Tara that you definitely can’t say about White Tara.

I’ll also say this about GT. It’s my opinion that the Nepali princess was Bhrikuti Tara. I think Green Tara is probably a Uyghur Tara from the north. Uyghur people used to be Buddhists. They had a very powerful kingdom about the 7th-9th centuries, equal to the Tang. They left behind a lot of paintings that heavily feature green as a color. The area they controlled later came under Mongol control (also Buddhists) and the Uyghur became Muslim. Anyway…given Tibetan directional color, looking at the Taras this way makes more sense. Yellow in the south, Green in the north.

I think in the Great Fifth Dalai Lama’s WT long life practice, he was Nyingma, which features Green and Bhrikuti Taras as supporting figures to WT, we get a sense Uyghur (later Mongol) and Nepali Buddhism, supporting a more Chinese/Tibetan Buddhism. And, yes, because you’re already thinking it, if this White Tara had a more advanced form of practice, featuring a consort, who would be Red, you’d have E,W, N, S. And if one imagines, Samantabhadra (Kuntuzangpo, the blue, cosmic Buddha), overhead, you’re back to the 5 directions, and 5 elements, bound to the 5 wisdoms.

Ok, the Cintamani? Had a chat with a geologist friend over those. Apparently, these are what’s called Impactites. They’re bits of meteor that hit the earth. The black ones are tektites, found all over Indochina. The red ones are heavy in iron ore and as they rust get that reddish color. She said additional kinds were Libyan Glass, a kind of yellow green glass, made of superheated sand from when the burning meteor struck. And there’s something called a pallasite, which is really cool. Anyway, cintamani? Yes, they really did fall from the heavens. And they really did have “unearthly” qualities. But it’s all explainable by science. Which brings me back to science, proto, pseudo, and all points in between.

From Lukhang. Note the artist’s careful depiction of the sunray, as both waves and particles.

In some ways, what we see in old paintings that we don’t understand is often actually old science, at a time when science and religion were blended up in a very different way. It’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Only in our case, we’re King Arthur and the Tibetans are the Yankee. We look at Tibetan art and try to decrypt a language that’s explaining a reality we can’t really grasp. It doesn’t make sense to us. But it’s not because Tibetans were crazy or wrong. It’s an advanced representation of a reality we aren’t privy to (or able to) understand.

It reminds me of when my German teacher (easy A) was trying to teach her child to talk. She showed him an orange, and said “orange.” Then a basket ball, and said “orange.” Then she pointed to a pot vase, and said “orange.” Each time, the child dutifully said “orange” and nodded. (Typical German child.) Then they went out on errands, and he began pointing at things and saying “Orange!” But nothing he pointed at was orange. It was only then my teacher realised that we humans innately prioritize shape over color. Everything she’d told her boy was orange was also round.

If you have a look at the mural above, it probably looks really weird. But take a step back. What do you actually see? You see people experimenting with light, bounced off water, and shone through crystals (which throw up rainbows of prismatic light). The Tibetan text on the 18th c mural which explains the “experiment” is from the 15th c. So, 200 years before Sir Isaac Newton’s poking himself in the eye, light experiments. They are asking questions about the nature of reality, seeking understanding about the world, the cosmos, the origins of life, it’s meaning, and finding answers that become “religion.”

But Buddhism was never anything but a scientific look at the personal psychology of suffering, that grew into a philosophy, that took off into various (scientific) directions in a variety far flung places.

Three Kings Parade in Lanzarote 2020 (Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos)
They knew what they were looking for long before anyone else. They knew how to get to there. These people got there first. All because they used “other” ways of understanding the same world.

In Tibet, we have a culture using mandalas, flat 2D representations, to mentally play with abstract ideas of 3D (and beyond) worlds. That White Tara can be pulled out to 3D vertically, is impressive. That it can also be pulled out into 3D pulling horizontally and you get something completely different? Damn. That’s some serious math, geometry, special conceptualization, etc. There are Ds hidden within Ds. You can dismiss Tibetan lamas chanting in colorful robes if you like, but you can’t deny they have a special way of looking at the cosmos. So, yeah, I want to know more about how those people see the world(s) we share that I only understand in the smallest part.

I’m a science fan. But I’m also religion fan. You can be both. Both require an open mind, a spirit of inquiry, and a lot of humility — because being wrong a lot is par for both courses. I only noticed the hidden chorten in White Tara because, a) I took the empowerment, and b) as an artist I’m used to nonverbal communication, ideas conveyed in shape/color/space. As an artist, I understood I was looking at an image that was trying to say something. But it took an empowerment from someone more knowledgeable and more meditation for me to make the mental leap across space/time, to grasp the thankga/chorten’s language and a small bit of what it was trying to say.

Was it worth it? Hell, yeah. I’m not embarrassed to ask for help when I need it. To seek it out, even from sources others find odd. Science, religion, life, they are all collaborative efforts. If the pandemic has taught you nothing else, you should have learned that. That we’re all on this planet together. If we don’t pull together, the world as we know it can quickly fall apart. Anyway, that’s all I got. Off to my my nativity scene, and one last candle lit before Baby Jesus for the world. Maybe today, the world will have an epiphany. I hope so anyway.

Which Came First: Orange the Color or Orange the Fruit? | Mental Floss
Orange? Round? Best Christmas stocking stuffer still?

We didn’t do presents at Christmas. I haven’t worked since last summer. We all agreed, Christmas presents could be given, but no money could be spent buying them. All in all, I think I got the best of the presents. Live entertainment! I’ve really missed that. In winter there’s the symphony, ballet, opera, theatre, caroling, concerts, comedy clubs….but not this year. So….

After dinner Christmas Eve at the condo, the Significant Other sat me down on the couch with the cats. La Mere sat down at her spinet piano and began to play carols by candlelight. The SO and Le Pape vanished behind the drawn curtains of the small sunroom. Eventually, a hand appeared from behind the curtain, and gave the thumbs up.

La Mere wrapped up her carol, switched on the CD player, then rushed to join me on the couch. Some singing of a decidedly non-Christmasy nature began to pour forth from the speakers. The sunroom curtains whipped opened dramatically, and ….. I suddenly understood. All those 5am Zoom calls to Europe the SO and Le Pape did? That for some reason had to be done at the empty downtown office, even though everyone was under orders by Public Health to be working from home? They were likely not legit.

Full costumes were worn — including down pillow stuffing and a stick-on mustache. They were brilliant. Live entertainment, at last! White goose down feathers kept escaping Ollie’s fat suit. Which sent the cats into a frenzy of swatting and pouncing around them. I laughed till I cried. The dance was followed by them actually singing the whole song, with La Mere accompanying them. It was wonderful. I can now say I’ve danced the tango jiggle, with a Texas Tommy wiggle, with both Laurel and Hardy. And that my Ollie, I will add for the record, is a surprisingly good yodeler.

This entry was posted on January 6, 2021.