Bare Bones Biology 340 – “Happiness”

            “I love to do a good job more than anything else I can think of.”

161109-seniordance-asc_7959rlsbss(Archie Goodwin in The League of Frightened Men, by Rex Stout).


Me too.


And yet our modern corposystem tells us that the way to be happy is to have what you want; that “everyone wants to be happy;” and that we can buy our “happiness” from the corposystem, our modern American socio/political environment.


I once had a mini-debate about this with a Tibetan Lama I was tutoring. When he said the word “happy,” I could tell that he was NOT thinking about what that word means in modern American English. So I did some research.*


Happiness is a 20th century British mis-translation of a Tibetan word referring to that for which all sentient beings strive.


Of course it is true that sentient beings strive to survive. It is one of the four foundational facts of creation and is instinctual, or physiologically automatic, in all species of living organisms. Life strives to stay alive; that’s why it does stay alive.  But that is not at all the same concept as the American “happiness” myth that teaches us to suck at the teat of the corposystem (buy more stuff, grow the economy) in hopes of our eventual reward. And if you aren’t happy, it’s your own fault – suck harder


Like Archie Goodwin, I was taught that: “A good honest job is its own reward.” And the reward is NOT happiness, but a sort of pride in doing a good job of being alive – a certain miracle of Life.


But pride is not the right word either.


It may be that we no longer have a word, in American English, for the pride that we take in our own well-lived lives. The job done, and done well, to benefit the community of our roots rather than the “happiness” of our selves – regardless of the environmental accidents and realities of our birth. Not a fulfillment of self, but a fulfillment of responsibility to the future of the whole of Life.

A good job of living life.


Buddhism – that is, American Buddhism, tells us that we want to be happy. Buddhism provides us with an eightfold path which could could lead to a sustainable human future, within a sustainable Biosystem environment.   But of course the word happy is then defined by the corposystem and applied to its

own toxic propaganda.   Growth by domination for profit. Which is very non-Buddhistic. And to survive in this corposystem culture, Buddhism must be profitable. Or we never hear about it.


What my Lama seemed to mean, when he used the word happiness, was much closer to eudamonia, a term favored by one of my contacts on the web — an obviously well-educated Brit. I looked it up:

“In more general terms, Eudaimonism can be thought of as any theory that puts personal happiness and the complete life of the individual at the center of ethical concern.”


No, no, no. That is just another variation of the corposystem con.

I remember my first trip to Japan, sitting in front of a television that I could not understand the words that were clearly explaining to me different ways that Japanese people take pride in the nature of their lives and work, and the excellent job they do of it (or did, in the 90’s). I was fascinated, and from time to time I still am, as I rerun lifestyle stories that I taped. Japan was telling me something very important that I already knew in my bones, but could not find in my own failed corposystem culture that glorifies growth by domination for profit, a three-fold path that can only lead toward collapse and increased suffering, because it eats up the source of its own life.

Life is based upon and depends upon the perpetual balanced recycling of all the basic materials of Life – clean air, clean water, clean fertile earth, using energy from the sun. Growth cannot continue forever, and no technology can change that law of Life.


Unless we are willing to take pride in our job well done FOR THE FUTURE, there won’t be a future for humans on this earth.


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Archie Goodwin in The League of Frightened Men, by Rex Stout


“According to Aristotle, eudaimonia is constituted, not by honour, wealth or power, but by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life, what might be described today as productive self-actualization. This rational activity, Aristotle judged, should manifest as honesty, pride, friendliness, wittiness, rationality in judgment; mutually beneficial friendships and scientific knowledge.

Immanuel Kant was an important opponent of Eudaimonism. He rejected the view that happiness is the highest good, and insisted that happiness can be an ingredient of the highest good, but only if it is deserved.”

Bare Bones Biology 339 – Life is Confusing



LYNN! She shrieked. It’s Jessica! And planted a bright red kiss on my right cheek

Blessings on all people who do NOT say: “Do you remember who I am?” Of course I remember who Jessica is, but on this day I am trying to deal with about five categories of my history of culture shocks, beginning with The Canyon, where there are no bright red kisses — and driving down the mountainside through a couple hours of memories, and arriving behind the view finder of my camera at the solidarity demonstration –which is the deepest focus of my attention. And here is Jessica – in the wrong place from where I remember her.


It’s a bit of a culture shock. It rearranges the building blocks of my world view.


And so – today – this blog is dedicated to Jessica — with love, in the right place at the right time. And to the culture shock we humans need if we are to survive on this living earth.


Is all that confusing? It should be. My life is confusing, especially when five different threads of my reality – five different truths — come together in one environment. I am confused.

People confuse me, and there are several hundred people here in front of the Bank of America trying to make several points about reality, all at the same

time. All symbolized, for the most part, around the issue of water. I have come to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to photograph the New Energy Economy as it stands with Standing Rock.


Water is Life.


That’s one truth, and I suppose my five truths can be folded in there.

But the real truth is much more basic, and unless we can find a path toward that fact, the demonstrations will be more fun, sad and humane than they will be useful in our efforts to save ourselves from ourselves. It’s not just water; Life is not only about water. Life is about, all at the same time, earth, air, fire and water, as the anciens have always known, and even deeper than that, Life is about the BALANCE among these – the balance of earth, air, fire and water.


Life is not about winning, it’s about living, and living is not about who wins what or who can dominate whom. Life — and I am not talking about human life. Human life is inconsequential in the context of all of Life because all of Life is essential to the survival of human life.


Unless we can use these demonstrations as educational tools to rearrange the building blocks of our communal Western world view so that we understand the most basic fact that Life is about balance, we humans cannot survive in the real world.


Balance is the root of all Life the elk, the canyon, Santa Fe, the Bank of America — and even earth, air. fire and even water, cannot maintain life unless they and we all are balanced in the cycles of environmental reality and environmental need.


But we have decided it should all be about us. We the bad guys and also we the good guys – we have forgotten that Life is not about us. Life is about Life. Earth, air, fire and water – all balanced in an interconnected system that cannot stay alive if it is not balanced – cannot stay alive if it is not connected up – cannot stay alive if it is connected up wrong – cannot stay alive if one part if it decides to change all the other parts around.


Unless we can use these demonstrations as educational tools rather than wars to be won – education to spread the concept of the reality of, and the requirement for, interconnectedness BEYOND human omnipotence — we will lose even the water in the end.


It’s not a game we are playing, nor a TV drama, nor a career to build, and nor a photo op. It’s a responsibility to our truths, the basic facts of Life, and to the human children of yesterday, today and tomorrow.


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Bare Bones Biology 187 – Wisdom Repost

140120-MLK-ASC_7712RLSRLS wethepeopleBitsy and I like to participate every year in the parade, walking up Martin Luther King Street, behind the big, green garbage truck, around the corner in front of the African-American Museum on Pruitt Street, and then on through downtown to the school. Bitsy loves a parade, and walking that way, with the community, brings to my mind a very simple, very important event in my life that had nothing to do with Martin Luther King, Jr. He was in college at the time. Unknown. I was in high school.

It happened during our family cross-country road trip to – I forget where, but it was someplace in the south where we stopped at the fairgrounds and climbed up high in the old wooden outdoor grandstand to watch a horse show. Special treat for me. I was one of those horse-crazy girls, very blond, very white, very shy, raised up mostly in small-town California, really not very much concerned, not even very much aware of the various colors of human complexions.   That must have been – good grief — in the mid-forties, about 65 years ago, more or less.


So there I was watching the horse show in this strange place when nature called and would not be denied. So I climbed down from my perch, wandered around for quite a while and finally, unawares, ended up in the “colored” ladies’ restroom. And that’s pretty much the story. I don’t remember the details, only today the visual is photographically clear, as though those ladies have been standing still there in my head through all this time. I see a fairly long line of smiling, chattering black ladies who stopped stock still, maybe I should say shocked still, staring at me, as I went in, used the facility, and then left.


I cowered under their glare. What? I thought. What did I do wrong? Some years later I understood — those ladies – that image in my head – represents the first important realignment of my world view.


Yesterday morning I read another individual story on the web. The author claims that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., did not change white people’s lives, but only black people’s lives. That same afternoon, two of us white “girls” were brought nearly to tears talking about how Martin Luther King, Jr. changed our individual lives. Indeed he did; he changed the whole culture and we all are part of the culture.


But, you know, he didn’t do all that changing by himself. In fact I doubt he did any of it by himself. And every person, white or black or other, then or now, who spends time and effort trying to understand the wisdom of Martin Luther King’s world view, was and is a part of his legacy – changed by his wisdom, changing our own world views to be more like his, continuing to change our world.


MLK Jr was a wise young man. Sometimes we forget the wisdom; sometimes we forget his message and focus on his charisma, his courage, and character. But the measure of his legacy will be the changes we make in our own lives, not because of his charisma and courage, but because of the wisdom that he tried to leave with us.


Nobody by himself, not me, not you, not Martin Luther King Jr., nobody can save a culture. But nobody can stop us each, as individual helpers, from studying, trying to understand and talking about what he was talking about (not what we want, but his own vision), trying to live by the wisdom, and so bringing his legacy into our culture. Martin Luther King was, most importantly, a wise elder to our entire culture. He explained the vision; it’s us, his helpers on both sides of the tracks, who bring the vision to life.

Or not.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS Radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas.


The podcast of this program can be downloaded at:

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Where do we go from here?”   Open the Newsletter. Scroll down to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “To-Do List,” by Rev. John Dear


Tags: Martin_Luther_King, Jr., legacy, Brazos_Valley_African-American Museum, wise compassion, wise power


Bare Bones Biology 187 – Wisdom

This is my statement on this tenth day of November, 2016.


140120-MLK-ASC_7709RLSBitsy and I like to participate every year in the parade, walking up Martin Luther King Street, behind the big, green garbage truck, around the corner in front of the African-American Museum on Pruitt Street, and then on through downtown to the school. Bitsy loves a parade, and walking that way, with the community, brings to my mind a very simple, very important event in my life that had nothing to do with Martin Luther King, Jr. He was in college at the time. Unknown. I was in high school.

It happened during our family cross-country road trip to – I forget where, but it was someplace in the south where we stopped at the fairgrounds and climbed up high in the old wooden outdoor grandstand to watch a horse show. Special treat for me. I was one of those horse-crazy girls, very blond, very white, very shy, raised up…

View original post 584 more words

Bare Bones Biology 338 – Creation Song

e=mc2. Energy (e) = mass (matter, m) multiplied by the multi-dimensional speed of light (c2) .161018-reservation-asc_7321rlss

In the beginning of our universe was the “big bang,” when a universe of matter was released as a universe of energy in an explosion that echoes today in the “noise” of an old-time television set.

In that instant the exploding universe consisted of the most basic of its natural phenomena: energy, information and the ability to evolve. At that instant, our initial complex adaptive system, our universe, was born from the infinity of released energy and the basic “Laws of Nature” that permit it to respond to changes within itself.


That is, the big bang generated a naturally evolving “complex adaptive system,” our universe, and from that time to this it has continued to give rise, out of those raw materials of energy/matter/information/entropy to naturally evolved complex adaptive sub-systems of increasing complexity that include the universe itself, our milky way, our sun-star and the life that generates our blue skies and fertile earth Biosystem.

The characteristics of the resulting multi-millions of naturally evolved complex adaptive sub-systems thus result from the laws of nature; that is, the nature of phenomena as they interact, and the factual reality of their history. Thus our creation song consists of two sorts of “Facts of Life” that humans cannot change, no matter the power of our current human war to generate profits at the expense of our environment. Facts that humans cannot change: 1) historical fact; 2) the universal natural laws that determine the nature of gravity, energy and entropy and their interactions.


Historical Fact


Historically, systems have arisen from other systems, resulting in our universe that is composed of “nested systems” and parallel systems that are able to communicate (share information) among themselves. The natural tendency of evolved complex adaptive systems is clearly observable, for example, in biological evolution.


More specifically, we see examples in the work of Dr. Lynn Margulis and others who study the evolution of eukaryotic cells that contain membrane bound subcellular structures, and apparently arose from commensal relationships among prokaryotic cells that do not containor membrane-bound ganelles. The resulting increase in complexity of the eukaryotic cells permitted their further evolution, that is, diversification as naturally evolving complex adaptive systems and subsystems, into millions of biological niches, ultimately generating the living earth.


Naturally evolved systems are complex adaptive systems. Unlike artificially created complex adaptive systems, the naturally evolved systems are co-adapted – all the evolved systems co-adapted to survive (or not) together – co-adapted by billions of years of their common history during which the systems exchanged information (communicated) among themselves..


Natural Law


The Laws of Nature – most basically — that characterize our naturally evolving nested set of systems are: 1) the relationship between matter and energy, entropy and information;   2) gravity; 3) the natural capacity for self-assembly; and 4) natural selection of each complex adaptive system and subsystem and parallel system in response to the other naturally evolved systems that form its environment. More about these in future blogs


The primary difference between human complex adaptive systems and naturally evolved systems appears to be the deep time – the 14 billion years of history that gave rise to the latter.


Creation Song


This blog is not meant to be a presentation of the whole creation story in 600 words or less, and in fact it is not meant to be specifically a creation story, because that is not what we need to save our place in this universe. Neither is this blog meant to be a scientifically documented hypothesis, because what we do need, if we should decide to choose human survival over corposystem profit-by-growth, is to use all resources at our disposal, social biological and physical, to stop our attack upon our environment and try to re-establish a viable relationship between our naturally evolved human species and our naturally evolved environment. None of our major current human problems can be solved until and unless we attend to the imbalance between and among our systemic relationships.


We already know enough about how the universe works, how it functions to maintain itself so that we could align our behaviors with the reality rather than continue the desperate effort to attain further growth for profit. We know clearly that those two endpoints are incompatible and only the cessation of growth can lead to any possibility of human survival within the environment that we require for life.


When the facts are available – when we do understand the reality of our universe as sets and subsets of complex adaptive systems and we study how these systems function – not separately but together as a naturally evolved complex adaptive whole universe that contains a whole living earth – when we understand how it works, even in a general way – then it is up to us to choose how we will behave within the whole so as to align our behaviors with the immense power of The Creation in which we live, rather than continuing to take arms against it.


If we choose to continue our destruction of the environmental system in which we live – and if we fail to hold our leaders to account for their betrayal of power and responsibility within the democracy we have evolved — then, yes, the destruction is caused by our own rejection of reason and common sense. It is our own fault and our responsibility and the consequences are pre-ordained by natural law. Because we do know how to behave in this world we have created. We are informed not only by our good basic science, but also by all the religions at their best; and that knowledge is the foundation of our evolved democratic ideals.


We cannot have everything we want, no matter how powerful we may be. If we are to survive, we must want to do a really good job with what we can have.


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