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Telling Your Story with Sam Keen

We are pleased to bring you this trascription from best selling author Sam Keen.  You can also listen to a free audio of this transcription below.

It used to be that we said the thing that separated. Remember "2001" and the monkey comes in, you know, and you realize that you're witnessing the birth of humanity. And the birth of humanity comes the monkey grabs the, whatever it is, bone, you know, and you realize. . . He looks like this, and you realize, "Oh this is it," you know, "This is the birthplace of humanity." The oppositional thumb, and now we have tools. The second step is tool becomes weapon, and now we've really got a human being, somebody who can use a tool and can turn it into a weapon and kill somebody else, and the whole history. That's the way we, in the 20th century, have told the story of what it means to be human.

The reason that we are more human than those other people who don't wear deodorant and don't have lights is because we have better technology. Essentially, our thumbs work better. Then Jane Goodall came and found out that it's too bad because apes use tools too. They put a little straw and stuck it down in ants and they used that as a tool, hmm, sort of barbequed ants.

So it turns out that it isn't making tools that separates us from other animals. What really separates us from other animals is that we tell stories. We tell stories about who we are. Not only do we tell stories about who we are, we cannot not tell stories about who we are.

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The Yoga of Ordinary Living with Robert Thurman

We are pleased to offer another great excerpt from Robert Thurman as he takes us on a spiritual journey of discipline.  He explores responsibility, relationships and how it all ties in to Buddhism thoughts and beliefs. 

Spiritual disciplines often seen remote from the realities of our daily lives. Yet there is a Mahayana Scripture which presents a model of enlightened practice in the midst of urban living, the Vimalakirti Sutra. This teaches a nondualistic wisdom and reconciliation of dichotomies. It challenges ordinariness and reveals systematic and effective ways of tapping higher potentials while upholding one's usual responsibilities and enriching long-term relationships.

Robert Thurman examines one of the most sacred texts of Mahayana Buddhism, The Vimalakirti-nirdesha Sutra. To any Buddhist practitioner, particularly those of Vajrayana Buddhism and Zen, this sutra is of the utmost importance. Unlike most sutras, its central figure is not a Buddha, but an ordinary man, who, in his mastery of the doctrine and religious practice, personifies the ideal lay believer, assuring commoners that they can reach levels of spiritual attainment comparable to those accessible to monks. The sutra teaches, among other subjects, the meaning of non-duality Thurman discusses the background of the sutra, its place in the development of Buddhist thought, and the profundities of its principal doctrine: emptiness.

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Program or Be Programmed with Douglas Rushkoff (Excerpt 2)

We are delighted to offer another transcribed excerpt from Douglas Rushkoff's mind-expanding book Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. In this book -- and this excerpt -- Rushkoff challenges us to take control of we interact with the ever evolving world of digital technology.

The way people approach me about this problem is they will say, “Well look, I know how to drive a car but I’m not an auto mechanic and I’m fine with that. When my car breaks, I’ll take it to the auto mechanic. I’ll take it to the garage.” Or the dealer at this point because people don’t trust the garage anymore. That’s another story. Take it back to the branded dealer and let them fix it. But I’m not talking about the difference between an auto mechanic and an automobile driver. I’m talking about the difference between an automobile driver and an automobile passenger.



The computer… the way to use a computer is not just to be taken around by it. The way to use a computer is to express what you want through the computer. I’m not asking you to take it apart and fix the power supply and fix the screen and make the processors function better or do heat dissipation on the processor which is too big for the case. That’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m asking you to know how to use the keyboard to make programs so that you look at the computer as this anything machine.
 
It’s like… think of the computer as if it were a robot. You could be just, you know, Dr. Smith on Lost in Space, and listen to what the robot does. Or you could be Will Robinson and get in there and make the robot do the things you want. So if you have a robot and you think, “Well shoot, wouldn’t it be cool if this robot could plant my grass this year or start a fire in the fireplace?” The way you get it to do that is by telling the robot to do that. That’s what your computer is capable of. Your computer can do the things that you want. Your smart phone can do the things you want.
 
On the other hand, if you are content to be a passenger, think about what that would mean in a car. I mean, sure for Miss Daisy, she’s too old to drive. Her glasses don’t work. She never learned. Fine. She’ll be driven around by her driver. But for you -- do you want that to be your relationship to roads, to place, to map? That you have a driver? And what if the driver is not somebody you hire but some corporation who you don’t know? If you say “I want to go to a nice inexpensive restaurant” and it just takes you to McDonald’s all the time, how do you know another restaurant exists if your driver is depending on that company? You could look out the window, sure, but what if they are taking you on a route where you don’t even get to see the alternatives?

 

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Program or Be Programmed with Douglas Rushkoff

Program Or Be Programmed With it being Audio Book month, we are delighted to offer the Audio Book version of Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age by Douglas Rushkoff on BetterListen!  Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, says that we should “Read this book [Program or Be Programmed] before and after you Tweet, Facebook, email, or YouTube.”  We agree.  Following is a transcribed excerpt from this fascinating book, read by Rushkoff himself.

When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak.  When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. As we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them. In the emerging highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software. It’s really that simple. Program or be programmed. Choose the former and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter and it could be the last real choice you get to make.

For while digital technologies are in many ways a natural outgrowth of what went before, they are also markedly different. Computers and networks are more than mere tools. They are like living things themselves. Unlike a rake, a pen, or even a jackhammer, a digital technology is programmed. This means it comes with instructions not just for its use but also for itself. As such technologies come to characterize the future of the way we live and work, the people programming them take on an increasingly important role in shaping our world and how it works. After that, it’s the digital technologies themselves that will be shaping our world both with and without our explicit cooperation.
 
That’s why this moment matters. We are creating a blueprint together. A design for our collective future. The possibilities for social, economic, practical, artistic, and even spiritual progress are tremendous. Just as words gave people the ability to pass on knowledge for what we now call civilization, networked activity could soon offer us access to shared thinking, an extension of consciousness still inconceivable to most of us today. The operating principals of commerce and culture from supply and demand to command and control could conceivably give way to an entirely more engaged, connected and collaborative mode of participation. But so far anyway, too many of us are finding our digital networks responding unpredictably or even opposed to our intentions.

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