“With a calm mind we gain a broader perspective, a perspective on our environment. We seek not only our own happiness; instead, calmly looking at the circumstances surrounding us, we regard our environment as our companion and we are able to maintain a calm and peaceful state”
In an intense and sometimes crazy world that is seemingly tipping increasingly into chaos, Zen practice offers a pathway to stilling the mind and learning to maintain that mental stillness in the world.
Zen Master Taigen Shodo Harada Roshi offers a clear, simple 20minute introduction to the basics of Zazen sitting meditation. Bringing the mind to order, by connecting it to the simple order of the body and the breath.
[Note for viewers who don’t understand Japanese! – you may need to turn subtitles on: click the little cog on bottom right menu bar to get the option up.]
“We live in a different now than has ever been known. Now is not the now of your grandma’s careful attention to detail and rhythm. Today, the world pours in through our beeping mobile device’s calendar, emails, text messages, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. The frantic attempt to respond to all this everything creates what Douglas Rushkoff has dubbed “present shock,” a condition in which we’re assaulted by a present that we ceaselessly grasp to obtain and never quite live in. Not entirely opposed to our technologies, Rushkoff questions how they can better complement our basic rhythms of presence.”
Keenly-contemplated meditation on time, technology and consciousness by Douglass Rushkoff: click play to watch the vid. (just under 8mins)
As in most areas of history, the contribution of female activists and revolutionaries has often been ignored; it is mostly men who have become famous as the leaders of resistance and revolutionary movements. This article by Kathleen pays tribute to ten women “who you probably won’t ever see plastered across a student’s college T-shirt.” Read the article here >>
Fear… perhaps the dominant force shaping and manipulating global change in our times…
Can we navigate beyond fear and find other ways to make collective decisions about how we want our world to be?
Steve Rushton reviews the ongoing struggle between participatory politics and neoliberalism, taking the Scottish referendum as an example of the polarisation between hope and fear. and then expanding to the wider situation in Great Britain and other global democracy movements.
It’s a sign that the sands are shifting when the Daily Mail picks up a cause, as it recently did in joining the sudden media chorus on the long-standing story of Shaker Aamer. A British citizen, Shakur has been in Guantánamo Bay for 12 years after being arrested in Afghanistan. He has never been charged by the US with any crime, and has never been brought to trial. He was cleared to leave Guantánamo in 2007 by the Bush administration and again in 2009 by the Obama administration, yet still he remains detained in the prison.
Despite minimal infrastructure, a lack of stable employment and a chaotic economy built on international aid and corruption, Kabul is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. With a massive conflict-fueled influx of new inhabitants from Afghanistan and beyond, the city’s population of 1.5million inhabitants in 2001 has exploded to 6million now. How can the Afghan capital integrate and hold itself together?
“I (we) don’t have children, at least partly for ecological reasons. That decision is something I reflect upon a lot. I know I’ll feel sad about it in the future, yet news about the state of the world often makes me feel powerfully relieved that I’m not contributing in that way to the overall consumptive mess.”
In the aftermath of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, Astra Taylor was part of a group of activists that set up Strike Debt. Intending to raise $50,000 to buy up what they considered unjust and unnecessary medical & educational debt, they ended up with $700,000 which they used to abolish millions of dollars of debt. Heather Smith interviews Astra about the campaign. The two discuss democracy, anarchism and the challenges of building coherent momentum for enduring change out of the highly diverse eruptions of Occupy and similar anti-capitalist movements. Read the full interview here >>> .
When the political purse-holders gradually eliminate financial support for universal education, a number of responses are possible. Protest is one way to respond. Resignation – either through opting out of education, or through studying but only by accruing massive debts – is another. Creating a new, parallel system is another… Cue the emerging model of Free Art Schools…
Two artistic voices from two major cities make the same call: to keep their creative soul alive, cities need affordable housing and diversity – or else they become evermore just “pleasuredomes for the rich”. Read more:
It took months for a group of journalists and experts to go through nearly 28,000 pages of secret Luxembourg tax deals that were revealed in early 2014. The head-crackingly complicated documents revealed crucial information about how accounting firms like PriceWaterhouseCoopers had helped hundreds of multinational corporations obtain secret deals from Luxembourg that allowed many of them to drastically cut their tax bills. The investigation involved up to 80 journalists from different countries and organisations, all working together by using an ICIJ secure online networking platform where reporters could search, download files and share information. Inspiring and courageous example of collaboration in service of truth and integrity… Read the full story here >>
Image via The Guardian : see here for more of these “rough guides to Babylon”…
Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations have made it clear that American citizens, not to mention those of all Western democracies, are under blanket surveillance. This report by Thomas Gorton outlines one rather surreal mechanism of this 21st-century Orwellianism: Cessna light planes imitating mobile phone towers in order to intercept conversations and data. Read more >>
A company which started as a bookseller now runs a cloud system running over 2 million servers; essentially amounting to the biggest computer in the world.
A man called Jack Clark gives us the mind-bending numbers >>
Beijing is one of the most polluted cities in the world and is regularly plagued by heavy smog. However… “During the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here, something remarkable happened, as it does every time the world’s news cameras train their sites on the Chinese capital: The toxic gray air turned blue. The state-run press even gave it a name: ‘APEC blue’. Magic ? Not exactly…” reports @jameswest2010 in this article. Read the full story >>>
Images by Zou Li, who lives opposite the Beijing Television Station. He photographs the view from his apartment every day, adding the air quality index readings to the image and posting it to his Weibo social media page in his digital-postcard campaign for clean air.
Frustrated by the government’s lack of action to keep illegal loggers out of the Alto Turiacu Indian territory, local warriors from several tribes have taken it upon themselves to find logging camps, destroy equipment, and drive out the unwelcome intruders.
Reuters photographer Lunae Parracho reports on this indigenous search and destroy mission in the Amazon with Brazil’s Ka’apor Indians.
Photo-journal following Mustafa Nayem, the 33-year-old Afghan-born Ukrainian whose Facebook post in November 2013 is credited with kicking off the protests in Kyiv that led to the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovych three months later.
“If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?”
Prisoners have a unique perspective on the nature – and relativity – of freedom… The photographic project Windows from Prison seeks to offer moments of relative liberation to people incarcerated in the U.S. federal prison system by bringing them a photograph of a view of their choice. Read ->>
Postcard: image & text based missive sent to friends by travelers. Babylon: (1) capital of Babylonia in 2nd century B.C, often considered the first city. (2) Rastafarian term for capitalist civilisation. Liberation:the process of seeking and embodying freedom for, and by, all peoples
Postcards from Babylon
- the Soundtrack is complete!
Special Preview: 5th June @ the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, London Click here to book
Years in the making, an Original Soundtrack to PfB by Alex Forster and Christian de Sousa. Drawing on and remixing the book's narrative, this is an immersive audio dream journey, moving through the synthetic landscapes of the modern world and the lucid rhythms of nature. Closely inter-weaving music and spoken word this is a unique piece of 21st-century storytelling.