Archive for June, 2018

Brexit – a typical British mess

There is something radically ramshackle about the politics of England whenever an existential threat arises. The government of the day appears to be both unprepared for the threat and in need of outside help to avert disaster.

On a recent Question Time Gina Miller called the government’s actions on Brexit ‘shambolic’. This word I believe applies to every existential crisis that this country has lived through in the past 100 years. For example, look at the preparations for WW1 and WW2. When war started in 1914, the War Office had only 4 months supply of Acetone, which was essential for coating the heads of missiles. They used to buy it from Germany and for some reason that source was no longer available. Now there was none to be had. Unless something could be done, the war would be lost in 6 months.

The government asked a senior lecturer in biochemistry at the University of Manchester named Dr. Chaim Weizmann to try to develop a synthesised version of Acetone. He soon invented a fermentation process that came to be called “the Weizmann Process.” This enabled Britain to fight the war, which was eventually decided by the US adding their men and materiel to the fight.

WW 2 had a different but similar situation. The government of the day was so anxious to avoid a war that it both appeased Hitler and made no preparation for a possible conflict, leaving the country without planes, tanks, guns and bombs to fight against a Germany that had been re-arming itself for 6 years. Churchill spent his wilderness years trying to convince the government that Hitler was a real threat and that appeasement would not work. In the end the US again had to step into the conflict to give the Allies a decisive victory. Both of these potential disasters were averted by the US stepping in, something which will not happen this time. .

The current existential crisis, which at least is not a war, is the question of Brexit. Once again, the government is totally unprepared for the event, and doesn’t seem to understand the nature of the threat. In this crisis the USA will not step in to help, because it has actually increased the threat by starting a new trade war as the aggressor.

This trade war should make it very obvious where the country is heading via Brexit. It is obvious that Trump only respects power, and what we are doing with Brexit is voluntarily reducing our power. The hard-line Brexiteers may believe that going it alone in the world will increase our power and prosperity, but this looks increasingly like an illusion. Leaving the EU will make us weaker economically and in the eyes of the world, including Donald Trump’s. This means we are deliberately making ourselves weaker and poorer. Hard to believe that a country would do this to itself, but then why didn’t anyone stockpile acetone and who thought you could appease Hitler? There is a terrible pattern repeating itself here. Mrs May rushed to Washington when Trump was elected to solidify the special relationship and lay the ground for a great trade deal with the US. We now see how much that is worth. He said America First not the special relationship first.

Let’s do a ‘what if’ moment. What if the US trade war started before the referendum was called. Who, other than hard-line Tory and Ukip Eurosceptics, would have seen the sense of breaking away from our largest trading partners in the midst of economic turmoil. It’s time to wake up. It’s not too late. The country needs to vote again, now that it is becoming clear what an unholy mess Brexit is going to be.

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June 30, 2018 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

Spiritual Teachings of Yoga

 

After the success of The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius, Hodder and Stoughton  commissioned me to write 4 more books on philosophy and spirituality. After writing a book on Seneca, my then partner Jo Manuel suggested I write a book on Yoga philosophy. This was a subject that I had never found easy to penetrate, partly because of so many Sanskrit terms, and partly because of the alien (to the western mind) nature of the philosophy’s expression and ideas. . But Jo, a yoga therapist,  said she would work with me on the book. So we plowed ahead and the book was published in 2003.  It has been in constant publication since then, and is especially popular with yoga student teachers, who often need to study yoga philosophy but find it as difficult to understand as I did. The book is a readable, accessible and sometimes surprising account of yoga philosophy, touching on practice as well as some history. The book also includes the Yoga Sutras, some Upanishads and a section of the Bhagavad Gita.

Looking recently at the book’s listing on Amazon.com I was heartened by a number of reviews of the book. Here are a few:

First of all, I did not need to be practicing physical yoga in order to find this book enlightening. (I have had yoga classes but mainly focus on one position each day that relieves a cranky back.) The focus is on living the spiritual life. I am currently reading the selections from the Upanishads that are a part of this book. They touch my heart and my soul and teach me what living and loving are truly about, and the unimportance of material things. While reading and meditating on Yoga Masters, “earth’s vain shadows flee”, and I am reminded of the oneness of all things. Starting each morning with this book has truly added richness and meaning to my daily life.

This book ROCKS! I totally agree with the reviewer before me. This is a great book for someone who has done some yoga and loves it and is ready to move into the spiritual side of yoga. Truly amazing and has completely changed my life. The writers have written this book with perfect simplicity and grace. A very easy read, yet encompasses everything quickly and neatly.

My favorite yoga instructor loaned me this and one other (Heart of Yoga) when I expressed an interest in learning more about the “whole picture” vs. just asanas. Am purchasing my own copy after spending time letting the various texts sink in. If you are looking for a deeper, readable resource try this one.

I can’t believe no one else has reviewed this yet! Despite the cheesy title, this is a bona fide invaluable resource, especially for those who do postures, but are unfamiliar with Hindu philosophy. The first half of the book is a basic introduction to yoga philosophy. The second half, believe it or not, consists of ample selections from the Upanishads, as well as the entire texts of the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, all translated into contemporary English with no complicated sanskrit terms—all in this tight little compact paperback. For such a small price, don’t pass up this bargain!

 

It’s a lovely feeling to know that a book we created 15 years ago has touched and helped so many readers.

 

 

 

June 1, 2018 at 9:23 am Leave a comment


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