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February 27, 2024


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“The delusion of individualism” and “We control nothing, but influence everything.” Both have a nice ring to them – and probably true. I recall sitting in a mini-bus and looking around at the strangers with me – a group of men, mostly ex-military, all signed up for a Countryside Ranger course. Only a year before I was happily married and in a secure job. Then divorce, job loss and the potential of no-where to live. Looking back at all the details that had brought me to that moment in the mini-bus were too numerous and complex to unravel, yet all undoubtedly contributed to me being in a mini-bus, in unfamiliar surroundings and with strangers – along with the sense that it had all come about without any conscience choice of my own.

Today, I’m sitting in a house with a sea view, a new wife and enjoying the surrounding countryside with its sheep farmlands, nearby mountains and clear streams. How did I get here? I certainly did not choose it. It emerged from a whole series of situations and events that were unplanned and unforeseen. Life could have turned out quite differently – and here I am!

Indeed, “We control nothing, but influence everything”

>>We control nothing, but influence everything.<<

TRUMP controlls nothing but influences everything.
PUTIN controlls nothing but influences everything.
MACRON controlls nothing but influences everything.
XI JINPING controlls nothing but influences everything.

BRIAN controlls nothing but influences everything.
I wonder if that are true statements

Is the problem maybe that ...

WE = a group, the masses
I = not WE

WE, the masses, controlls nothing but influences everything.

The AMERICAN POPULATION controlls nothing but influences everything.

Is that the meaning og the state ment??
We controll nothing but influence everything.

My own take on this is --- which I suppose directly answers (my view on) what you asked, um --- is that the words "influence" and "control" cover a wide range of effects.

A butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rainforest does influence the flavor of the coffee that sits on the side table beside my desk, and my appreciation of it. But that influence is so very little as to be negligible. On the other hand, the quality of the water that has gone into the making of it, and the quality of coffee itself, particularly should for some reason they happen to differ from the usual, will probably "influence" these to a much greater degree. (Yes, the butterfly will influence those causal factors themselves, I get that; but I'm sure it's obvious what I mean, without my having to add another paragraph to further qualify that qualification.)

What I'm getting at is, that the word "influence" probably covers a very wide range: with 'in practice of no perceptible consequence' at one end of the spectrum; and 'directly influences to a very great degree'. ...So that, in some cases, the word "influence" can actually end up meaning "control", for all practical purposes.

...So that, I have to say, that conclusion, "We control nothing, but influence everything", that sounds to me like a platitude, and something that's technically true but in practice not really.

(Sorry, Brian, about squarely disagreeing with this! This was a casual enough matter, but ...what I said just now.)

(But of course, there's this: Thanks to Brian's many discussions, we're already in tune with this kind of thinking. Which is why this may appear to us to be a meaningless platitude. But for someone who's never had occasion to think about any of this, and in general not familiar with chaos theory, I agree, this may come as a jolt, and make a meaningful difference to how they view themelves and the world and their place in the world. ...So that, I guess, it may not be fair to be so casually dismissive of this insight: because the insight itself is meaningful enough, it is just our familiarity with it --- thanks to no small degree to Brian --- that we end up dismissing it as a meaningless platitude.)

@ AR

There are so many expressions, statements, words, that are commonly, general, often used, all things that I can read and write, but i do hardly ever use them myself neither spontaneous nor purposeful.

Strange, that exactly those things are often discussed here. ..

What leaves me wit yet another unanswerable "WHY".

Even in riding a horse, I would not like to use the words, control and/or influence.
People might attache these meanings and values to what they see, but these concepts would never arise in my mind riding the horse ... no I do not ride horses .. hahaha

@ AR

What I wrote can best be summarized with a saying of the late MCS:
"If you had not brought it up, I would have had no knowledge of it"

After waking up in the cinema, I found out that much if not all what I had and have in mind and heart, would never have been there if it was not put before me by .. using the modern word ..INFLUENCERS

It is not that easy to declutter the mind and heart from all that was consumed by me over time ... it seems that it can not be done actively but by re-calibration so to say of the mind.

Vaguely, what comes to mind is what happens in confrontation of novice with a Zen-Master, telling the novice to drink coffee, pepare a meal and wash dishes. ... hahaha

Nothing wrong with science and scientists, mysticism and mystics, politics and politicians etc et c etc ..but if one or more of these activities is NOT one's CALLING, do not dabble in it.

"I do not ride horses"

Nor do I, um.

Haha, these horses you've brought in serve as an excellent example of what I was saying earlier, about the term "influence" spanning a whole spectrum of values, from what is for all practical purposes complete insignificance, and on to such strong influence as to qualify, for all practical purposes, as de facto "control".

If you or I were to ride a horse today, with zero training to correct our lack of equestrian skills, then absolutely, whatever we'd be doing would only be influencing our steed (that is to say, influencing it incidentally and haphazardly and not very much). But if a skilled horseman were to mount our horse, and provided there were no catastrophic externals (like the horse being unwell, or a gun or a bomb going off right alongside the horse), then I'd say that this horseman would actually control the horse (that is to say, influence it very strongly, so very much that that influence would amount to de facto control).

Cool example, thanks!


Heh, sorry, I guess I riffed off of one incidental portion of your comment there, to further ride off in the direction I'd set myself on, rather than the rather different direction your own comment was headed at!

To briefly address what you were actually discussing here:

Agreed, why we do what we do is a complex question. Which, ironically, loops back on to chaos and free will and such other things that Brian brings up here. Very interesting subject, absolutely.

As far as Charan Singh's dictum, I both agree and disagree. Agree, because decoupling from non-essentials and decluttering our attention is excellent advice, generally speaking. Disagree, because, as we've discussed at length in the past, I don't think our "calling" is spontaneously arrived at, at least not (necessarily) optimally: our best bet at anything, including our "calling", is by choosing from as wide a menu as possible (while also, obviously, realizing that at some point you need to stop choosing and get down to actually getting on with what you've chosen, sure). To imagine that everything that at present is extraneous to one, is by definition unnecessary, is probably not a very wise thing to do, or to teach.

(Of course, I don't actually know the full context in which Charan Singh said this, so I'm not labeling him unwise basis this one short sentence of his. But still.)

@ Ar

There is nothing complex, deep or mysterious to it.

If there had not been a power flower movement, no hippies, many if not all to days interest in meditation, zen atc etc, had simple not existed.

That it it exists now, that it has become available on the market, advertised by influences etc, is not the point .. what matters are the reasons, the forces that makes us involved in these matters ...

Let me make a side step, maybe it might seem unrelated, but it is not...Musician that conducts master classes, has a small group of student, is not interested in that person, but in the love these students have for the same thing he has love, music. Such an master is not at all interested in adoration by anybody .. but in that commonly shared love for music, talents come to fruition.

What matters is the motive ....motives are not to be found in the lime light of the street but inside the house.

Everybody is well served in searching for these motives in ones own heart BEFORE even buying a book. If a person would do so and delves deep enough probably the motivation for buying a book will disappear..

The talk is about teachers and teachings but it would be better to turn home and search the motives for having interest in these teachings and teachers.

We are not born to eat,
nor are we corn to consume whatever there is available as "knowledge"
We eat and we consume knowledge to stay alive
and after a moment of silence he would add
an d if we eat and if we consume, we do it with pleasure

Again Nothing wrong with science, mysticism, politics or with whose CALLING its is.

The PULL, as often stated ...comes from WITHIN and if it is not there one better get not involved in these things, unless harm will follow a person.

Getting involved in things that brought happiness tp others for the sake of happiness will turn against one if one does not love the things.

To much words for a simple thing ... hahaha ..had not yet made my coffee.

@ And AR

On riding a horse ...OTHERS might conclude that I control and have influence on the horse
but in my mind...
the word control and influence would never have arisen
and to go a step further ...
if such words word come up in my mind and even worse would come out my mouth,
I would stop riding a horse.

In nature, young animals are not forced but given an example to grow.

We're back to that old discussion of ours, um, about your curious insistence of subjectivity to the exclusion of all else. Not to beat this to death all over again, but surely it's both? Say you've a genuine talent and calling for classical music. But had you only been exposed to light pop music, then you'd never even know. Unless you have a wide enough menu, your choices are likely to be sub-optimal. You do need to go check the marketplace. Resting content with what's already within seems sub-optimal.

As for not *wanting* to control another living being --- as opposed to exploring the nuance of influence vis-a-vis control --- while I applaud the sentiment, and agree wholeheartedly with it; but surely that's a completely separate discussion?

@ AR
BEFORE .. doing anything, there is the motive

BEFOE bying a book is the MOTIVE to go out the house, walk in the city, open the door of the bookshop, look around, decide to stand still, grasp a book, read the back etc etc etc.

It is about these motives and these motioves are rarely faced and put under the microscope.

BEFORE becomming a practioner, student follower, there was the MOTIVE

And I repeat it again ..if research deep enough, to motivation might disappear..

Nothing wrong with going to the market .. but what matters is the motive and not who and what, is why on the market. n...YOU .. are resprosible for what you consume, the way you keep yourself alive as a body as a mind ..not the market place not the sellers.


In my dealings with peole, certainly those near and dear, I never had the intention to control and or influence them.

And .. if somebody has come to experience the interaction that way in his aor her good right, I will not argue but tend to get up and turn my back upon them.and walk away.

I do not want to be the cause of anybody's misery ...again upon hearing it, I will go. It ius up to them how they happen to see me. It is up to me, not wanting to be around people that attribute meaning and value to me that is not in correspondence with my intentions.

Very simple.

um, I don't see how motivation can possibly precede information about some object. Take my example of the talented classical musician who has discovered a genuine calling in classical music. Prior to his discovery of that art form, what would you say was his motivation, that eventually led him to embracing his calling and becoming an accomplished and fulfilled classical musician? Had he spent his life without ever encountering this thing, his motivations (or at any rate, his proximate motivations) would never even have materialized.

It is the interaction of the subjective with the objective that makes us who we are. Agreed, focusing exclusively on the objective and ignoring the subjective is dysfunctional. But to go the other extreme, and to focus only on the subjective to the exclusion of the objective, which is what you seem to be talking about, that seems dysfunctional as well.

In the final analysis, there can be no subjective without the objective! Pull back your layers of BEFORE long enough, and all you'll be left with is an unthinking unaware mass of nothing at all. The literal answer to the koan "What was your face like before you were born?", is simply a cool factual "I had none.". Like much of Zen, that is faux-profundity. It's coffee with tantalizing aroma but zero taste and none of the adenosine-blocking magic.


But I think I understand you when you say that if you take your analysis if motivations and desires and ambitions and plans far enough, then the whole house of cards collapses into nothingness. At a personal level I empathize with that observation.


Not sure how this other theme you brought up relates to any of this, but, like I said, I concur and empathize with your abhorrence of wanting to control others, be they horses or humans. As far as that, I agree fully.

@ AR

That is correct ....

Many come to the market.
Many will hear the snake oil seller
Many will hold on and listen
Many will decide to buy
They all do it for their own reasons

But not all will hold on and listen let alone decide to buy

You are right without the market, without the snake oil seller, nobody would have been tempted to buy snake oil.

The question remains how did the temptation arise .. did the snake oil seller create it or was it the creation of the buyer?


Maybe this helps to make you understand what I wrote:

When the late MCR said:
"If you had not brought it up, I would have had no knowledge of it"
I initially heard it solely as being said to that lady he was addressing telling her directly and indirectly how he wanted to deal with the topic.

Only later many, many years later, it dawned on me that he said something about himself in relation to the topic.

Again later, after I woke up in the cinema, what he said gor apart from the topic and a kind of general statement appeared before me ..... about things being brought before me.

When I delft into it the vastness of it started to get hold of me and I started to realize what and how much I consumed during my life, I certainly would not have done, if left alone and not having had that deep urge to be a common person, normal like all others.

Then I started to look around and listening to conversations of others, their activities etc how others must have done the same ... and how their conditioning into the meanings and value of society and culture has imprisoned them ...and how they in vain are looking outside for the key of their cell to free themselves.

Look at the faces of the people when traveling by train or other public means of transport .....

The use of words as motivation etc was just an stick to point at something hoping that you would not be distracted by the stick ... there are so many things that are important to humanity for which we do have words but which cannot be made visible and maybe are not accessible to logic ..like poems that move the heart

Anyway ..seeing how humans get lost and immersed in socio cultural conditioning scares the hell out of me ...that is all .. very simple

That makes sense, um. (I’m referring now to the first of your two comments to me.)

How you’d worded your earlier comments to me made me think we were back to retreading that old disagreement of ours, of subjectivity vis-à-vis objectivity. It’s clear in your last comment that you do recognize the necessity of the objective, aka the “marketplace”; but you’re simply emphasizing the role of the subjective, aka “oneself”. And rightly so, because the role of subjectivity so often does get overlooked, and people do get lost in the marketplace, lured by all of that is on offer, without considering whether and how much one actually might need any of it. Agreed both with that sentiment, and also with the emphasis you put on it.


“The question remains how did the temptation arise .. did the snake oil seller create it or was it the creation of the buyer?”

Since we’re now agreed on what I’ve just said in the section above, then it would be internally inconsistent now to not agree on how I myself would answer that question. My short answer to that question would be, “Both”. (And my just-a-wee-bit-longer to the question would be: “At one level, oneself; at another level, the snake oil seller; but ultimately and philosophically, it’s always oneself.”)

And my full-on and detailed answer would be this: When you buy snake oil from the snake oil peddler, then at one level I am responsible, in as much as it is my own set of desire and aversion and impulses and gullibility and all of that that has led me to buy it.

But equally, the snake oil seller is to blame, in as much as he may have misrepresented his product. That is crucial. If he has misrepresented what he is selling, then certainly the blame lies with the snake oil seller. If he has claimed that his snake oil will cure some illnesses, and if the product does not actually do that; and if you have based your purchase by trusting the snake oil seller’s sales pitch: then without a shadow of doubt the snake oil seller is responsible, without a shadow of doubt the snake oil seller is culpable.


This above distinction is crucially important, um, for one important reason, as it relates to how you see all of this. Heh, that I remember was how your long-protracted discussion of this had started, all those months back.

When the shenanigans and misrepresentations of GSD are discussed here, you tend to immediately question people about their own motivations. Now that is a perfectly valid thing to do, wise even, absolutely; however, in the past you’ve tended to completely discount the objective and focus solely on the subjective: which is what I had disagreed with then, and which is what I disagreed with now (except now we seem to be in agreement finally, so it’s all good).

When the dishonesty of GSD is being discussed, then to ask people to examine their own inner motives, while that is certainly wise, but it is essentially changing the subject. Because the subject of GSD’s dishonesty is in and of itself a very important one. If GSD has claimed, either overtly or through implication, to offer spiritual succor that is not equipped to supply: then without a shadow of doubt this seller of spurious snake oil is culpable. Had he been fully honest about his complete lack of any kind of special power; and further had he not tried to sell the whole fantastic RSSB mythology; then, sure, he’d not be to blame. But that is not the case here.

It is precisely because GSD is a crook who has grown rich by conning his disciples (particularly his nephews); it is precisely because GSD is a snake oil seller who misrepresents his own status and his own knowledge and “sells” spurious solutions to people’s problems in his Q&A sessions (when the honest thing would have been to simply admit to complete ignorance about these matters); it is precisely because of those reasons that he is culpable. So that examining those things becomes equally important.

To sum up in brief—this section has ended up a bit long-winded, sorry!—the answer to the question, “How did the temptation arise?” is twofold: First, the subjective, rooted in the inner motivations and desires and aversions of the buyer; but equally, the objective, and rooted in the spurious claims made (or implied) by the snake oil seller. Both are responsible, the gullible buyer, as well as the dishonest. Not just the gullible buyer. The dishonest seller as well.

And I’ll go further and emphasize this: Gullibility is not a crime. In fact, gullibility can speak to the trusting nature of the buyer, and might actually be a good thing, in a way. In any case, there are times when the buyer has made the best judgment possible given his level of knowledge and intellect and all of that, and chosen to trust the seller. …What I’m saying is, while both the buyer and the seller are responsible, but in as much as the snake oil seller is the one who has misrepresented his product, *culpability* vests with the snake oil seller alone. Not with the gullible buyer.

It’s great what you do, which is to push people to examine their own selves. I agree with that completely. But to do that is not to absolve the snake oil seller of his culpability, not for one single moment. We must keep our eye open for both!


God, this has become one humongously long comment, hasn’t it?! If I had time I’d go back and edit it and make it shorter, but I’m afraid I don’t, so I’ll just press Submit as it is. But before that, it’s important to make one more all-important observation, in full agreement with what you’re saying. Which is this:

Despite establishing responsibility and culpability and all of that, but at the end of the day it is we ourselves who will have to live with our decisions. So that, at the very end, it all boils down to our own selves. At this final level, it is we, and we ourselves, who are ultimately responsible.

So, we’re in full agreement as far as that final conclusion, um!

Except for one nuance: In considering our responsibility, certainly we need to study our own motivations. But it is equally important to study our gullibility as well. Gullibility is not a crime, like I said; but in this final level of reckoning, where the buck necessarily rests with us and us only, given it is our life after all: at that final level, we need to look both our motivations as well as our gullibility. Certainly we could have avoided being conned had we not desired the outcomes being hawked. But equally we could have avoided being conned had we been less gullible.


So yeah, while we’d started out disagreeing over this, but now I’m gratified to see we’re in agreement.

Even so, when we see the fully nuanced picture, then perhaps there might still remain points of disagreement. Unless you can see your way to agreeing with these nuances as well.

One way to gauge whether we agree about the nuances is to simply ask, Is the snake oil seller responsible and culpable for fraud? Is GSD responsible and culpable? Are the snake oil sellers that sell to the half-witted Jesus-worshippers responsible and culpable? Are the snake oil sellers that sell to the imbecile Yahweh-worshippers and Allah-worshippers and Vishnu-worhippers culpable?

If you find yourself answering that with a “Yes”, then we’re in full agreement.

But if you find yourself equivocating, then, despite our agreeing as far as the broad picture, but still, we continue to disagree over the nuances. And my disagreement remains equally strenuous. While it is necessary to look inwards, and study our own motivations, absolutely; but that cannot be used as excuse to gloss over the culpability of the snake oil sellers.

“Anyway ..seeing how humans get lost and immersed in socio cultural conditioning scares the hell out of me ...that is all .. very simple”

I’ll comment separately on your second comment, to keep it apart from the crazy-long comment just preceding:

As far as this, I agree fully, um! Both with the content of what you’ve said, as well as in terms of empathizing with that sentiment. Yes, it fascinates me as well, that aspect of it that I’ve quoted above from your comment; and yes, it does scare me as well, in a sense, when I consider my own life choices past and present. It is indeed scary how most of what occupies most of us is nothing but dross, that we'd be far better off without: and yet we devote most of our life over that dross. That's ...yep, "scary" indeed!

(Love how these abstractions tend to inform the concrete things in our lives. Obviously the 'right' thing to do would be to get rid of the dross. But that would mean emptying our lives of most of what fills it. That would be a ...very different life indeed. Do we have the courage to embrace that different life? Do *I* have the conviction and the courage to go ahead and do that?)

@ AR

I was a pleasure reading your reactions. This time the length was not a problem.

As far as the responsibility of other human beings goes .. the answer is quite simple ... they have their responsibility but it is not my job to sit in judgement.

I am solely and to the complete exclusion of everything else responsible for my own thoughts, feelings and actions and I cannot outsource it on something or somebody outside myself.

Against that mental stand, it is a waste of time to find out, describe and judge what others are doing.

The point for me is not whether a teacher is perfect or not but was I a perfect student
Finding out the answer to that question is more helpful than focusing on a teacher.

The final question is why got I interested in teachings and teachers.

Spending time in discussing the "truth" of teachers and teachings is an obstacle and an ugly one, as it takes much of my precious time, energy and welfare.

With great pleasure I do leave those things to judges, historians and all others that are interested.

So ...whatever the outcome of any judgement on the teachings and the teachers of Sant Mat is of no importance to me .. I will satisfy myself with finding out what motivates me.

Some might think I am defending something out side myself in the form of Sant Mat etc. To them I would say .. I you had my beloved father as your father, you would do as I do..... Dad wanted us to listen to him and left it to us as what we wanted to do with it ...he left us ..FREE

Mental freedom is a precious gift.

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