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Advice to the New Born

The problem of life is the fly in the bottleness of it all.”
—Homage to Wittgenstein

“Wit is, in fact, the eloquence of indifference.”
—William Hazlitt

Hey Kid! Excuse me. Sorry to bother you. I know you’ve just had a real good time—silence, peace, rorulent warmth and rest—yes, quiet rest and sleep for nine months. Wow. That must have felt good. But, you’re no longer the mystic traveler. You’re here now—at last. Get used to it. We’ve been waiting for you.

So welcome to the world, planet Earth. Yes, that’s what we call it. But don’t ask the fish. They’d tell you it’s planet water. Never mind, they don’t really count. In fact we hunt fish, catch them and eat them. By the way, get used to it—eating from now on. No more automatic nutrition. Well, not exactly eating yet for you. You didn’t have to bother with eating where you just came from. But here, for now, here’s a bottle of milk and that’s a nipple, a rubber nipple, not a real one—your mom will get with you later on for the real thing. She was enrolled in Lamaze. But, yes. Eating pretty soon. It’s okay. And we’ve invented plumbing too. 

Let’s get started. You’re starting school already. School you ask? What’s that? Well, really, school is not what we’re going to do right now. Real school—you’ll get there later in about 5 or 6 years from now. School is another story, more complicated, but don’t worry. Once you start real school, you’ll probably get the answers, at least a lot of the official story, until you start to doubt and look for your own answers. At first they set you up with all the dos and don’ts. And at first you’ll take it—but then you’ll rebel and hopefully think for yourself. But I’m jumping ahead here.

For now I just want to slowly bring you up to speed with some really unavoidable human stuff. So, relax. Pay attention though, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

So here’s the world. Hold on. And let me know if I’m going too fast.

First thing you’re going to have to face is all this agony and war going on all over the world, and centuries going all the way back to the beginning. You know, I read that James Joyce said, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” One of our worst nightmares is the atomic bomb. A guy named Yogananda said that dropping the “A Bomb” was an example of “mass karma.” The horror hit everybody, the bombed and the bombers, without regard to guilt. This is a bit complex, too complex to explain right now. 

War you ask? What’s war? That’s when people start beating up on each other and blowing up buildings, and streets, and the electric systems and even reservoirs and plumbing, and the forests. War doesn’t respect anybody. Perhaps it is the case that man is a useless passion, as observed by Jean-Paul Sartre. Back to Yogananda for a minute. He reminds me that there have been some really cool people back in the old days: Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius, and he honored them all.

Then there are groups, for example, the Ku Klux Klan, and while we’re on the topic, there’s slavery. Roshi Bernie Glassman, a Zen teacher, says groups are “clubs,” and he says club membership works, and sometimes it doesn’t, even to the extreme point of one club killing members of another club. Bernie’s solution is to start out understanding that whatever the bonding basis of club membership is, that basis is just an opinion or belief. Pity is that people take their opinions very, very seriously and this creates fanaticism, fundamentalism and ethnocentrism. 

Is this getting complicated, Kid? Sorry. You know this fundamentalism stuff gets really scary. But it’s a scary world, Kid. Ah well, there will be Christmas and birthdays and trips to the seashore, waffles, butter, honey and lots of fun stuff, too.

Questions? No. No questions now. Remember you are of an age when you just have to take it the way it is given. I know it’s a lot to handle. It’ll all be explained later officially, mostly in the school that we talked about.

So, next, here’s the Right Wing and related people who go by the name Neoconservatives. On the other side, there’s the Left Wing. Remember, clubs, like I said. And both wings live by the golden rule: (S)he who has the gold makes the rules. 

The big picture goes by names like socialism, communism, democracy (undone by the oligarchy and the plutocrats). There’s imperialism and colonialism. There are people like, for instance, Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney and Donald J. . There was Julius Caesar and the weird guy named Hitler who is in the same class of people as Genghis Khan. There once was a powerful political woman by the name of Cleopatra. Today a powerful woman is Angela Merkel.

There’s such a thing (we use this word thing for lots of ‘things,’ even for “things” like concepts that aren’t ‘things’)—there are such things as the sexual revolution that come along off and on, and there’s AIDS. There’s this strange thing going around in Africa, the ebola virus, and Ye Gods, what the heck are viruses in general?

Oh I just mentioned God. Now there’s a real big topic, and God is so big that we don’t usually call God by the general term ‘thing.’

Last but not least, there is this woman and man thing, which is a really, really, really big thing that you’ll learn about as you get older. Not to mention the current stuff about man and man and woman and woman.

For now, I think that’s enough. Have a good life, Kid! And get some sleep. You’ll need it.

“Man bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.” —Darwin, Descent of Man, 1871

“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.” —King Lear, Act IV, Scene V



Originally published September 10, 2014 at:

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