Saturday, December 29, 2018

Proclaim liberty throughout all the land

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Above is an image of the Liberty Bell, which rang out in the Old State House of Pennsylvania (a building which later came to be known as Independence Hall) to summon the people to the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776. The Declaration of Independence was itself adopted in the same building, as was the later Constitution.

The words imprinted on the Liberty Bell, when it was forged in 1753, come from the text of the scroll of Leviticus chapter 25 and verse 10:
Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.
You can see these words on the image above, if you zoom in enough (they wrap all the way around the bell, and at the end of the verse itself is stamped LEV XXV X, which you can see coming around from the left at the top of the bell).

As Professor Michael P. Hudson points out, in an important interview recorded with Bonnie Faulkner of Guns & Butter from September 26, 2007 (interview #141, embedded below), the word translated "liberty" in the King James version of Leviticus 25: 10 is the Hebrew word "deror" or דְּרוֹר (Strong's number H1865), which means "uninhibited flow" and, by metaphorical extension, the forgiveness of debts. Later, the same Liberty Bell and its ancient message became a powerful symbol among the movement to abolish slavery in the decades prior to the Civil War.

As this article from 2017 by texas university (t.u.) Professor Jonathan Kaplan explains (and as Professor Hudson also points out in his 2007 interview), that specific Hebrew word for the forgiveness of debts is cognate with an earlier Akkadian terms dararum and andararum, which also refer to the forgiveness of debts and which appear in proclamations on ancient Mesopotamian tablets dating back to the second millennium BC. 

Ancient civilizations -- and ancient scriptures -- had a very clear understanding of the significance of debt, and of the importance of keeping debt from devouring the people of a society. In the gospel account recorded in the text of Luke chapter 4, when Jesus is described as beginning his ministry with the reading of a text from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue, the text that he reads is Isaiah chapter 61, verses 1 and 2, which also contains the same phrase, translated "proclaim liberty" using the word "deror" (forgiveness of debt). The ancients understood that credit in society was necessary, and that it could serve productive purposes, but that it could also become predatory and lead to a downward spiral which could only be corrected through the cancellation of certain types of debt.

Recently, Michael Hudson has released his latest book exploring this very subject, entitled . . . and forgive them their debts, taking its title of course from the verse in the Lord's Prayer, which Michael Hudson points out is often mis-translated as "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" rather than as "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," even though the Greek words employed in the original text itself are opheilema and opheiletes, which unequivocally mean "debts" and "debtors." 

In that interview from September 2007, when the global financial crisis was just beginning, Professor Hudson explained how issuance of mortgage credit at levels far beyond anything that would have been permitted in previous decades led directly to the housing bubble and subsequent collapse -- and how the dismantling of the Glass-Steagall provisions in the 1933 USA Banking Act invited the types of securitization of mortgages that played a central role in the financial crisis. 

Now, more than ten years after that earlier interview, Professor Hudson has recorded a more recent interview on Guns & Butter, which goes even deeper into the ways that credit can be used productively instead of destructively, tying the discussion in to the larger context of economic rent and neoliberal fiscal austerity. 

Tying the question of government spending (fiscal policy) to the subjects of economic productivity and the reduction of rentier interests (defined in the interview) or their proliferation, Professor Hudson explains during this interview that:
Classical economists saw the proper role of government as being to create social infrastructure and upgrade living standards and productivity for their labor force. Governments should build roads to minimize the cost of transportation, not private companies creating toll roads to maximize the cost by building in financial charges, real estate and management charges to what users have to pay. [ . . . ] The great question is, what is the government going to spend money on, and how can it spend money into the economy in a way that helps growth? [ . . . ] Instead, the rentier classes have hijacked the government, taking over its money creation and taxing power to spend on themselves, not to help the economy at large produce more or raise living standards.
These are concepts which impact every one of us in modern society, and which it would behoove everyone to understand, but which are rarely if ever explained. Indeed, as Michael Hudson makes quite clear in that second interview, the neoclassical economics doctrine which is almost universally taught in schools (all the way up through college and postgraduate level economics) is deliberately deceptive -- hence the title of this most recent Guns & Butter interview, "The Vocabulary of Economic Deception," and the title of Professor Hudson's second-most-recent book, J is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception.

The divide between the conventional neoclassical "orthodox" economists and the so-called "heterodox" economists such as Professor Hudson is clearly laid out and explained in another essential text which will help make some of the points he brings up in these interviews much more understandable: Modern Monetary Theory and Practice, by Professors William Mitchell, Randall Wray, and Martin Watts. 

As long as people do not understand these concepts, it will be much easier for those who have in Professor Hudson's words "hijacked the government" to continue running it into the ground, and running the people into unsurmountable debt.

It is quite clear, however, that the ancients understood these concepts, and that they included them as central themes in the Biblical scriptures -- as well as in texts from other, even earlier cultures (you can even see debts involved in creating the central crisis in the Mahabharata of ancient India). They knew that it was a societal issue, and that the very structures of society had to be designed to ensure that debt did not end up enslaving the majority of the population.

The period of the New Year (albeit often observed around the period of the equinoxes rather than around the period of the solstice) was the time when deror or andararum was proclaimed in the ancient traditions. Thus, as we prepare to observe another New Year, it would be very appropriate to take some time to examine these concepts more deeply, in order to prevent the kind of economic deception which is presently being practiced on a wide scale, and which is in fact being taught in  even the most respected of economics departments, with very few exceptions.

As resources, I would recommend the two Michael Hudson interviews discussed above, and embedded below, as well as the three books linked above, and also the eBook entitled Diagrams and Dollars referenced in this previous post.

And, of course, we also have the precious resource of the world's ancient wisdom, entrusted to our ancestors in remote antiquity, and preserved for our use today as a treasured inheritance, as relevant and necessary to our lives today as ever in the past -- and perhaps even more so than ever.

"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."

Guns & Butter #141, September 26, 2007:

Guns & Butter #395, December 12, 2018:

Monday, December 24, 2018

Birth of the Buddha, Birth of the Christ

Here is a new video I've just published, entitled "Birth of the Buddha, Birth of the Christ" -- which explores some of the parallels between the nativity accounts of the Buddha-to-be and the Christ-child.

Although the details of the stories themselves are very different, there are numerous astonishing parallels, many of which are discussed in this new video -- and which can be shown to relate to the fact that the stories of the birth of the Buddha and the birth of the Christ are based on a foundation of celestial metaphor, as are virtually all the other myths and scriptures and sacred stories from around the globe.

In the story of the birth of the Buddha, the mother of the Buddha-to-be, whose name is Queen Maya (also known as MahaMaya) is described in many ancient texts and commentaries as being of impeccable character, giving generous alms and performing the proper holy-day vows, as well as being free from any previous sexual relations or any lustful thoughts, as well as having abstained from taking any life, abstaining from theft, from evil conduct, from lying, and from taking any wine or strong drink -- all of which indicates that the conception of the Buddha-to-be within her womb was a kind of Immaculate Conception with parallels to the gospel accounts and traditions.

See for example the translation of the 123rd sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya, which is a canonical Buddhist text dating to perhaps the third century BC.

That ancient text and other accounts of the incarnation of the Buddha declare that when the Boddhisatva decided to incarnate in the womb of his mother Maya, all the heavenly devas rejoiced -- which is another parallel to the descriptions of the birth of the Christ recounted in the gospels.

The video above explores some of the celestial foundations for the distinctive aspects of the story of Maya and her dream of the elephant. It then goes on to explore ways in which both the Buddha and the Christ can be seen to be associated with the constellation Ophiuchus, and ways in which the visit of the revered sage Asita to the parents of the infant Buddha parallel the actions of the aged and holy man Simeon in the gospel accounts of the presentation of Christ at the temple.

I am convinced that the accounts of the birth of the Buddha and of the birth of the Christ have profound meaning for our lives. They point us towards the spiritual birth which takes place after the physical birth, signified in many myths by the great turning-point of the year (at winter solstice), and towards our reconnection with our own divine nature and Higher Self.

They also point us towards the awakening from illusion and the reconnection with truth.

I believe that it is extremely beneficial for us to meditate long and deeply on these stories, and to read them closely, becoming aware of every detail, and to think about what they are trying to convey to us for our own lives.

As Alvin Boyd Kuhn says, in a passage I am fond of quoting, these ancient scriptures are not apprehended in their full force and applicability until every reader discerns himself or herself to be the central figure in them.

I am convinced that when we learn to listen to the myths in the language that they are actually speaking, we are more likely to be able to hear what they are trying to say to us.

And I am also convinced that the best way to hear what they are saying is to go to the ancient myths themselves and converse with them (rather than listening to what I or anyone else tells you that they are saying).

And it is my hope that in this holy season these ancient stories will be a blessing to you in a new and meaningful way.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter (solstice) is Coming

Our earth will pass through the point of December solstice (which is winter solstice for the northern hemisphere) at 2223 Greenwich mean time today, Friday the 21st of December, 2018.

For those of us in North America, the clocks will read 1723 Eastern time (5:23 pm), which is 1423 Pacific time (2:23 pm).

The point of winter solstice (that point on our annual cycle when the north pole is pointed most directly away from our sun) was imbued with tremendous spiritual significance in the code or language underlying the world's ancient myths and scriptures, virtually all of which can be shown to be using the same "code book" of celestial metaphor.

Above is a new video I just made entitled "Winter (solstice) is Coming," which briefly examines some of the ways in which aspects of the popular HBO series Game of Thrones (based on the book series by George R. R. Martin) can help us understand the way that the "lower half" of the annual cycle -- including "winter" and especially the point of winter solstice itself -- was connected with the concept of spiritual death and renewal.

Previous posts which examine these and other aspects of this important annual station of the year include:
Wishing everyone a Good Yule and an uplifting December solstice!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The blessings of the gods, and the ways we cheat ourselves out of those blessings

image: Wikimedia commons (Vineyards in California -- link; Dionysos and Eros -- link).

The world's ancient wisdom, given to every culture on our planet in remote antiquity in the form of myths, scriptures, and sacred stories, can free us from mental prisons -- whether self-imposed as is often the case, or imposed on us by widely accepted lies which can run through an entire society.

Many myths (such as the story of Thor's visit to the hall of the jotun Utgarda-Loki) and ancient wisdom literature (such as the Tao Te Ching) urge us to perceive the world around us as it actually is, rather than as our preconceptions or our past accumulations and assumptions tell us that it is (or tell us that it should be).

When we fail to perceive things as they actually are, and operate based on mental illusions or self-deceptions, we fall into prisons of our own making -- or into mental prisons which others fashion for us.

The examples which could be offered for this important concept are endless -- and range from the mundane to the profound. 

In this short discussion, I would like to focus on a societal misconception which may at first seem to be completely unrelated to the deep teachings of the world's ancient wisdom, but which is in fact closely connected to their teachings regarding the gifts of the gods to men and women, and to the ways that we cheat ourselves out of those blessings -- a pattern which can perhaps be seen in many other aspects of our lives.

In the realm of economics, no concept is more fundamental than the definition of money, and yet it is widely misunderstood -- and because of this misunderstanding, society's ability to fully enjoy the blessings of the real resources which are the gifts of the gods (or, if you prefer, the gifts of nature) is severely compromised. 

Perhaps the most concise and most highly readable short treatise explaining the way money really works in society is an illustrated book written by J. D. Alt in 2014 entitled Diagrams and Dollars: Modern Money Illustrated, apparently available only as a Kindle book but which can be purchased for $1.50 (USD) and read in its entirety on any networked computer or mobile device.

Once you read and understand this little book and its brilliant illustrations, you will gain a new perspective on the origin of money and the way it relates to the ability of society to make use of the resources in that society for both public and private purposes. 

As J. D. Alt explains in chapter 6 of that text, a correct understanding of the way a money system works is directly related to an understanding of the way in which we as a society have the ability to "pay ourselves to build and create goods and services that make us collectively healthy and prosperous" -- and, even further, "that what can be  accomplished is not limited by the number of Dollars available for Sovereign Spending [ . . . ]. The limitation, instead, is imposed by the real resources -- labor, materials, energy, and technology -- which are sustainably available to implement our collective goals."

In this assertion, author J. D. Alt is echoing similar assertions made by other respected economists who are challenging the conventional (and false) framework of the way money operates in society (and the conventional and false economics which continue to be taught to students at all levels of education, and which continue to inform the misleading news reporting which is drummed into us nearly every day). 

For example, in a recent blog post by Professor Bill Mitchell of the University of Newcastle (in Australia), Professor Mitchell lays out a rather comprehensive explanation of the way money actually works, and declares at one point that: "it should be understood that the real constraint on government spending is not financial but real -- the actual resources that are actually for sale." This assertion is identical to that made by J. D. Alt and quoted above (I would recommend reading J. D. Alt's book first for an overview prior to diving into the much more in-depth discussions offered by Professor Bill Mitchell).

Once you begin to understand what J. D. Alt and Professor Mitchell are explaining, you will be able to understand the deliberately misleading mental frameworks being imposed on listeners through news stories we hear every day about how crushingly large "global debt" has grown, and how it is acting as "kind of a dead-weight for global growth," such as the recent radio piece embedded below and entitled "Global Debt reaches record high $184 Trillion, IMF says" (and similar stories are frequently featured in this and other countries about the national debt).

Although this subject can be somewhat confusing at first, the important assertion of J. D. Alt, quoted above (and echoed in somewhat more condensed form in the quotation from Professor Mitchell) reveal what is at stake in this discussion. The discussion is actually about making use of real resources, such as "labor, materials, energy, and technology" -- and when we allow ourselves to be tied down by false constructs regarding "balanced budgets" and "deficit spending," then we cannot properly utilize those real resources.

To take the very first of the real resources listed as examples by J. D. Alt, which is labor, we can see that the deliberate imposition of an obsession with balanced budgets and restrictions on the ability of governments to influence the utilization of resources through fiscal policy (by the monetarists of the Chicago School, beginning most aggressively in the 1970s) has led to completely unnecessary and extremely harmful levels of involuntary unemployment -- in other words, it has led to the failure to make use of one of the most important natural resources gifted to any nation by the benevolent gods: the labor of the men and women that the gods allow to be born in that country, and the gifts and talents with which those men and women have been blessed.

In the united states at this moment, there are well over 500,000 men and women who are homeless (including over 134,000 in my home state of California). In Europe, youth unemployment in France is presently over 20%. In Spain, youth unemployment is over 33%, in Italy it is almost 32%, and in Greece it is over 43%. And yet, even as the resource of labor (the human talent of men and women, and the gifts and abilities which they have been given by the gods) is being wasted at these unacceptable levels, we have politicians fretting over budget deficits -- and indeed laws which limit the amount of deficits which some governments are allowed to plan as part of their fiscal policy.

Again, the reader is recommended to consult J. D. Alt's short and brilliantly-illustrated volume in order to understand why the term "budget deficit" and "national debt" (or "global debt") are actually misnomers, and why these mental constructs are both false and misleading. 

As both J. D. Alt and Professor Mitchell make clear, budget deficits and surpluses in and of themselves are neither inherently good nor inherently bad: there are times when a surplus is appropriate and there are times when a deficit is appropriate. The real constraints are the actual resources given to a nation by the gods (or, if you prefer, by nature), including the gifts of the soil, the riches under the soil, the croplands, and the fruitbearing vines and trees, and the forests, and the riverways, and most of all the gifts and talents of the men and women of that country. 

All of these gifts (the resources of nature, and the lives of every single man and woman and baby born in that land) were explicitly described as gifts originating and having their ultimate fount in the Invisible Realm -- the divine realm, the realm of the gods -- according to the world's ancient myths and scriptures. 

Thus to squander them, or to steal them from the people of that land, is an affront to the gods themselves, and to the divine realm.

Indeed, many previous posts have pointed to evidence from the world's ancient myths which suggests that the gods manifest in this material realm through men and women themselves, and thus to spread deceptive mental prisons in order to deprive the people of the use of those gifts and to deliberately impoverish the people of a nation can also be seen as a serious offense against the Invisible Realm.

Previous posts on this topic include:
Through a form of mind control or misleading illusion, we are being kept from making use of the gifts that are available to us, and which ultimately come from the Infinite Realm itself. However, the same ancient myths and scriptures which show us the Invisible Realm and its potency show us, through example after example, how to emerge from our illusion and our self-imposed separation from the gods.

The pattern described above for money and resources at a societal level is illustrative of the way the pattern works in other areas of life as well. We are being sold a mental framework of deprivation, limitation, and artificial scarcity, when in fact we are surrounded by the abundant gifts from the gods themselves, which are overflowing all around us and most of all within us. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Comet 46P / Wirtanen

As you may have already heard, there is a comet passing through our part of the solar system, Comet 46P/Wirtanen.

This article from Sky and Telescope gives one of the better discussions of the comet and its current pass through our inner solar system, predicted to reach its closest approach to earth on December 16 (Sunday).

That article also includes a good star chart diagram showing the path of the comet as it moves through the background of stars on successive days, which you can see here.

Above, I have created a star chart using Stellarium showing the general orientation of stars for a viewer in the northern hemisphere, and indicating the approximate location of the comet on December 13 (tip of the lowest yellow arrow), December 16 (tip of the middle yellow arrow) and December 19 (tip of the topmost yellow arrow).

Note that the best celestial "landmarks" for finding Comet 46P/Wirtanen on this 2018 approach include the V-shaped Hyades and the brilliant cluster of the Pleiades. Below, I reproduce the same star chart shown above, this time with the Hyades and Pleiades labeled. I have also labeled the outline of the mighty constellation Orion, with whom I assume most readers are familiar:

Personally, I have been out on two successive nights now (last night the 12th and this evening the 13th) and have not been able to locate the comet using binoculars, even though I was able to easily identify the two small stars in the constellation Taurus indicated near the tip of the lowest yellow arrow (where the comet is passing on December 13). These two stars can be seen in the charts above at the end of the green line which extends from the point at the bottom of the "V" of the Hyades (the constellation outlines included in these charts are a conventional outlining system used on Stellarium as a default -- readers should use the constellational outlines suggested by H. A. Rey for finding the constellations and for perceiving their connection to ancient myth, but I have included the conventional outlines above because they give a line from the "V" of the Hyades to stars that might serve as useful referents for locating the comet).

However, the comet is expected to become somewhat brighter on the following nights as we approach the 16th, and it will also be movin go a location between the Pleiades and the first star in Taurus behind the Hyades (the first star which that green line connects to, behind the point at the bottom of the "V" of the Hyades).

Below is a computer animated model showing the orbit of Comet 46P/Wirtanen from the point of view of an observer slightly above the plane of the orbit of the planets, and at a distance beyond the orbit of the planet Mars (the path of Mars is indicated by the red oval in the animation):

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

From the above diagram we can readily observe several important aspects of the orbit of Comet 46P/Wirtanen. First, the orbit of the comet, which is indicated in bright magenta, comes very close at its farthest point to the orbit of the planet Jupiter (Jupiter's orbit is indicated in gold on the animation). This means that Comet 46P/Wirtanen is a short-period comet: one whose orbit takes fewer than 100 years (and indeed, Comet 46P/Wirtanen's orbital period is now less than 6 years per orbit).

Second, we can see that Comet 46P/Wirtanen is orbiting in the same orbital direction that the other planets shown are orbiting our sun. In the computer animation, the sun is indicated in yellow (of course: it is the circle in the center of the orbiting planets). The planet Mercury is shown in green, with a green orbit, closest to the sun. Next out from Mercury is the planet Venus, shown in turquoise with a turquoise orbit. Next of course we find our earth, shown in blue with a blue orbit, and then Mars in red with a red orbit. Just outside of the magenta path of Wirtanen we see the orbit of Jupiter, shown in gold.

You can see that Comet 46P/Wirtanen is orbiting in the same direction as the planets are in their own orbits around the sun. This means that the comet is "prograde" as opposed to retrograde in its orbit.

Finally, you can see that although the orbital plane of the comet differs slightly from the plane upon which the planets are orbiting, the orbital plane of the comet is not tilted very much relative to the plane of the ecliptic upon which the planets generally orbit. The animated model shows a series of lines above or below the magenta arc of the comet's orbit in order to indicate when the comet is below the plane of the other planets (lines going above the comet's magenta path) or above the plane of the other planets (lines going down below the comet's magenta path).

All of these features are highly characteristic of short-period comets, as Dr. Walt Brown explains on this page of the comet chapter of his book, In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood. Fully 97% of the 737 known short-period comets are prograde in their orbital direction, with only 3% of them orbiting in a retrograde direction. This weighting is in marked contrast to the 298 known long-period comets, which are nearly half-and-half prograde versus retrograde in number.

Additionally, as the discussion in the linked page by Dr. Brown reveals, the great majority of short-period comets have a low angle of orbital inclination versus the plane of the orbits of the planets, whereas the long-period comets come in towards the sun from all kinds of different orbital planes, some of them very steeply inclined versus the plane of the orbit of the other planets.

And, it is notable that Comet 46P/Wirtanen's aphelion is very close to the orbital distance of the planet Jupiter. This fact indicates that Comet 46P/Wirtanen is a member of the group of short-period comets known as "Jupiter's Family" whose aphelions bring them out to a range of four to six astronomical units from the sun (an astronomical unit or AU is a unit of measurement derived from the average orbital distance of our earth from the sun on the long axis of our orbital path, equivalent to about 93 million miles). Jupiter orbits at an average of 5.2 AU from the sun, or about 5.2 times the average distance of earth's orbit.

As Dr. Brown explains on the webpage linked above, these characteristics of the known short-period comets orbiting our sun (their low inclination relative to the orbits of the planets, their overwhelmingly prograde orbital direction, and their tendency to have aphelions which take them out to a distance close to the orbital distance of Jupiter) all argue that these comets did not originate from some hypothetical "Oort Cloud" far beyond the farthest planets in our solar system, where they were supposedly perturbed and hurtled all the way into our solar system, only to become trapped in an elliptical orbit around the sun.

Instead, these characteristics argue that comets probably originated from some catastrophic event which launched debris outwards from some point in the inner solar system. Dr. Brown argues that they were violently ejected from our own earth itself. Other researchers, including Thomas Van Flandern (1940 - 2009), former Chief of Celestial Mechanics at the US Naval Observatory, have argued that they may have originated from an exploding planet orbiting between the orbital paths of Mars and Jupiter. For more discussion on this topic, see previous posts from very early in this blog's history, such as this one and this one.

Note that early in this blog's history, I was interpreting the Bible literally, but as I began to discover more and more evidence that the figures and events described in the Bible (in common with virtually all the world's other ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories) can be shown to be based on celestial metaphor, I slowly came to the conclusion that I could no longer believe that the stories in those scriptures were ever intended to be understood as describing literal and terrestrial historical events.

In any case, over the next few nights I hope that you (and I) will have success in seeing Comet 46P/Wirtanen on its 2018 visit to the inner solar system -- and that as we observe this mysterious visitor, it further excites our curiosity to learn more about the ancient history of our planet and solar system, which may very well contradict the conventional narratives we have been told over and over, and which continue to be repeated as though they have already been proven (when in fact they do not seem to be supported by the evidence). 

note from a little after 10pm on night of 12/14:
The comet is now easily visible right where it should be, as suggested by the line imagined between the tips of the arrows in the diagrams. It appears as a hazy blue-green glow when viewed through binoculars (I used 10x50 WA).

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Freedom from the prison of the mind

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In his excellent Afterword to his translation of Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way, based on the Ma-Wang-Tui manuscripts, Professor Victor H. Mair discusses the concept of wu-wei. He writes:
If Tao and te are the most significant static or nounal concepts in the Tao Te Ching, wu-wei is certainly the most important dynamic or verbal notion set forth in the classic. Of all the Old Master's ideas, it is also the most difficult to grasp. Wu-wei does not imply absence of action. Rather, it indicates spontaneity and noninterference; that is, letting things follow their own natural course. For the ruler, this implies reliance on capable officials and the avoidance of an authoritarian posture. For the individual, it means accomplishing what is necessary without ulterior motive. Some commentators have explained wu-wei as connoting "non purposive" or "nonassertive" action. 138.
Later, in the same Afterword, Professor Mair links this concept of wu-wei to one of the central messages of the Bhagavad Gita, in which just prior to the Battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna becomes filled with doubt regarding the proper course of action, and the Lord Krishna, who is acting as Arjuna's divine charioteer, gives counsel to the semi-divine hero. Professor Mair explains:
The chief lesson Krishna has to offer Arjuna is that altruistic or disinterested action (niskama karma) leads to realization of Brahma. That is to say, one should act without regard or desire for the fruits (phala) of one's action. This idea is repeated over and over again in countless different formulations. These passages are of great importance for understanding the enigmatic concept of "nonaction" that is so prominent in the Tao Te Ching. "The person of superior integrity takes no action," says the Old Master, "nor has he a purpose for acting." We are told straightaway to "act through nonaction" and that "through nonaction, no action is left undone." In spite of the fact that this idea appears a dozen times and is obviously central to the Old Master's teachings, we can only vaguely surmise from the Tao Te Ching the specific implications of wu-wei (nonaction). 
However, when we read the Bhagavad Gita, we discover an exceedingly elaborate analysis of the nature and purpose of nonaction. The ideal of action without attachment is conveyed in many guises throughout the Bhagavad Gita, for example, akrta (nonaction), akarma (inaction), naiskarmya (freedom from action or actionlessness), karmanam anarambhan (noncommencement of action), and so forth. Krishna refers to himself as the "eternal nondoer" and states that the Yogin should think, "I do not do anything." He declares that he "sits indifferently unattached by these actions." Elsewhere he  condemns sitting and remembering. All of this reminds us of the "sitting and forgetting" advocated by the Taoists that later developed into a type of meditative practice. 141 - 142.
This concept can be seen to have to do with overcoming the traps and stumbling-blocks created for us by the thoughts and desires of our "doubting mind," which Arjuna is exhibiting at the start of the Gita, and which come directly from Arjuna's simultaneous clinging to the past and his trepidation regarding the future. The advice of the Lord Krishna, embodied in the verses of the Bhagavad Gita, point Arjuna towards the concept of taking action as if not taking action, which entails remaining focused upon the present without attachment to the actions, to the past, or to the future.

Only by achieving this state of "I do not do anything" -- which Professor Mair insightfully perceives to be that same concept which the Tao Te Ching calls wu-wei -- can Arjuna escape the trap of his mind's entanglement with past and future (leading to his debilitating doubt, which prevents him from being able to function at all).

The parallels between the Bhagavad Gita of ancient India and the Tao Te Ching of ancient China are remarkable, and Professor Mair develops them still further in the Afterword and Appendix to his translation of the Ma-Wang-Tui texts, while noting that prevailing conventional historical frameworks claim "that China and India did not have any significant cultural intercourse until after the first century A.D." -- well after the existence of texts containing the Tao Te Ching and the Gita, both of which themselves are believed to have been transmitted in oral form for some centuries before being committed to writing (see page 147 for this quotation and discussion in the Afterword of Professor Mair). 

He also notes the possibility that, given the likelihood that the Bhagavad Gita and other ancient scriptures of India seem to predate the Tao Te Ching, "if Indian Yoga did not exert a shaping force on Chinese Taoism, the only other logical explanation is that both were molded by a third source" (146). I actually believe that this explanation is likely the correct one, due to the fact that these ancient traditions (like virtually all the other ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories from around the globe) appear to be using a common system of celestial metaphor to convey their profound teachings -- and this system appears to predate the earliest texts of ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia, and thus to be inherited from some far earlier culture, now unknown to our conventional paradigm of human history.

Given the obvious centrality of the concept of wu-wei identified by Professor Mair in the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita, we might suspect that we will find this concept being taught in some of the other ancient myths from other cultures which can also be shown to be using the same system of celestial metaphor. Or, put another way, having identified this teaching that attachment to thoughts about the past and the future clouds our ability to act effectively, and having perceived that both the Tao Te Ching and the Gita advise us to overcome these entanglements by learning to "act through nonaction," then we might examine other myths and scriptures to see if this same message might help us to interpret the events they describe.

And indeed that is exactly what we do find.

For example, in the story of "Doubting Thomas," we find a clear parallel to the story of "doubting Arjuna" in the Bhagavad Gita. Thomas is restored by Christ in much the same way that Arjuna is freed by Krishna, and I would argue that the truth being revealed is very much the same. There are several previous posts which discuss some of the celestial and esoteric aspects of the story of Doubting Thomas, such as this one, this one, and this one. The episode is also explored in depth in my 2016 book Star Myths of the Bible.

The pattern of a hero withdrawing before a critical battle in which he is needed before being in some way "restored" or "renewed" is also seen in the behavior of Achilles during the Trojan War as described in the Iliad. I discuss the celestial aspects of the story of Achilles, and some of the possible esoteric truths it conveys to us, in my book Star Myths of the World, Volume Two (Greek Mythology), also published in 2016.

We can see another example of this teaching, regarding the overcoming of entangling doubts and the knots into which our mind can tie us (to our great peril) in the episode in the Odyssey when the poem describes the hero Odysseus catching sight of an island after days in the open sea, during his escape from Ogygia (after Poseidon smashes his raft to smithereens). The poem tells us the jagged rocks make landing impossible, and Odysseus almost goes into a panic. The text describes his thoughts, running away with him into all kinds of bitter regrets about the past and fears about the future -- until the goddess Athena helps still his mind so he can focus his attention on the flow of the water around him, and perceive that there is a river not far away which creates a place where he can safely swim to shore. 

The ways in which the Odyssey seem to teach this lesson (which has important parallels to the central message of wu-wei described above) has been discussed in previous posts such as this one and this one. There are also numerous other parallels between the Odyssey and the New Testament gospels (both of which, as can be shown with hundreds of examples, employ the ancient system of celestial metaphor to convey their profound truths to us), some of which are discussed here.

The debilitating entanglements of doubt and false assumptions (as opposed to the wu-wei detachment in which we can "act through nonaction") are also conveyed to our understanding through the brilliant and highly entertaining story of Thor's trip to the realm of Utgarda-Loki, one of my favorite Norse myths. The celestial aspects of this memorable episode, as well as some of its possible esoteric teachings, are discussed in my most-recent book, Star Myths of the World, Volume Four: Norse Mythology

Once we understand the centrality of the concept of wu-wei in this ancient worldwide myth system, then we can see how that concept applies to the story of Thor's visit to Utgarda-Loki, which we might otherwise fail to perceive. In that story, Thor and his friends are defeated by their own mental preconceptions (which are fed to them by the cunning giant Utgarda-Loki, a master of deception and illusion). Recall Professor Mair's discussion above, regarding Lord Krishna's condemnation of "sitting and remembering" (the trap of the past, keeping us from giving full attention to the present). 

This idea of "acting as though not-acting," and remaining "without attachment" to the expected results (good or bad) may seem at first like a vague and impractical concept, appropriate perhaps for the contemplative life of an ascetic or a monk, but not of much interest to those living in "the real world" -- but nothing could be further from the truth. 

We can perhaps best grasp what is being taught by thinking about examples from sports or martial arts. Think about an athlete preparing to take a shot at the basket in the final seconds of a basketball game, in which the outcome hinges on whether that shot is a bucket or a miss. 

Would it be advantageous for that athlete to have a mind filled with thoughts about what has happened during the previous quarters? 

Would it be advantageous to be obsessed with thoughts about how making the shot could lead to victory and being seen as the hero of the game, or defeat and being seen as the scapegoat, and to be concentrating more on those possibilities than on the present moment? 

Would it be advantageous to be guessing about the direction that the defender on the opposite team might take, and predicting in one's mind what that opponent's next move might be, rather than having an open and aware mind, uncluttered by preconceived ideas and remaining in the flow of the moment?

The answers should be obvious. 

Or, consider a surfer preparing to take the drop onto a powerful ocean wave that has just started to catch the surfboard and pick it up: would it be advantageous for that surfer to become entangled with  all the possible scenarios, good or bad, that might take place over the next few seconds, and to obsess over the possible outcome of a wipe-out, or would such thoughts tend to guarantee a negative outcome? Would it not be better to "act through nonaction," remaining detached and aware of the flow of the present -- just as the ancient myths, and the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita can be seen to be teaching.

The same "noninterference" and flow, obviously, can be carried into other areas of our lives -- and the centrality of this teaching of wu-wei to the message of profound ancient texts such as the Tao and the Gita implies that it has application in every moment of our lives, and not just when we are facing an opponent in sport or combat, or when we are skiing, surfing or skydiving.

The ancient myths are here to offer us freedom: freedom from the prison of the doubts and entanglements of the interfering mind, freedom to act through nonaction -- wu-wei.