All measures of progress always begin with looking back at what it is we are trying to improve upon. The American Revolution was set against a back drop of a previous system of organized civilization that wasn’t working for a lot of folks so a few thoughtful and well organized people overthrew the system that wasn’t working, the British monarchy in this case.

Or on a personal level one might seek to get into better physical shape because the performance of their human body isn’t what they’d like it to be so they do something about it. There are endless examples. In order to improve we must be aware of what it is we are improving upon. I think we can all agree on that.

In our lives there are thousands of choices we make in order to optimize the human experience ranging from the mundane to the extreme. These are usually well intentioned and valuable however, in the course of our self determination we may sometimes loose site of the global connections that we all have a stake in. For instance, in the midst of my striving to be a better father to one’s children, the father may loose site that the food he is buying to please his children’s taste buds in the short term but has a negative effect on the planet in the long term. That’s a very pedestrian example but we all share in this sort of behavior. Most of can’t claim that we are in 100% of the solution all the time. There are endless necessary evils that we participate in simply because the way our options are presented in society can’t be escaped without great difficulty or inconvenience. Unless there’s a massive shift in the collective conscious we are very slow to make any huge changes at once.

Occasionally we do simply because enough is enough. Take civiil rights for instance – the insanity went on long enough so a forceful change came about in a very short period of time. This happened because a collective spark was ignited that resulted in most people realizing that they had enough bullshit and hypocrisy. Of course, many people even today still can’t accept this and choose hatred over love. Still, some progress was made.

This is the insanity quotient. Ask yourself how much collective insanity must we continually engage in that is comfortable for you? Since the beginning of recorded history there has always been an accepted level of insanity that we as a society can seemingly accept. War, poverty, religious crusades, racism, environmental neglect – choose your poison. Most of us just proclaim “that’s just the way things are.”

Ok. Fair enough. I just drive a hybrid car that still uses gasoline and a toxic battery, it’s slightly better for the planet that a conventional car but still not ideal. Why? Because that’s just the way things are. I can’t (or am not willing) to give up my car entirely to put my money where my mouth is. I simply do the best I can even though it’s not good enough. Or, when I dine out I eat institutional food and meats that are in no way GMO free or cruelty free. Why? Because I’m not willing to not be social and source 100% of my food responsibly. I do the best I can even though it’s still not good enough. This, again, is the insanity quotient. I engage in some mundane levels of insanity simply because I can’t be bothered to completely disengage from these common behaviors.

These are personal day to day life decisions. What about the BIG collective species decisions? Take climate change or war in the middle east.

Why is there a certain group of people so intent on denying there is a problem with the human impact humans are having on the environment? Best I can make out is that changing our behavior is simply to expensive and problematic. To have a course correction at this point would change the way we conduct business and government in a way that simply can’t be tolerated by some people who control a great sum.

Or why are some people rationalizing an excuse to go to war with Iran in order to defend Israel rather than taking a road of negotiation? I won’t even attempt to answer that one, but it’s happening and anyone can read about it on any given day.

This post is one of observation, not of answers per se. Yes, I believe that changing our consciousness is the first big step. But there’s still a problem – even when we do that we’re still not doing enough. How much insanity are we willing to live with before it’s too late?

Friends. I’ll be playing substitute teacher for Govindas on Monday night Feb 2. I’ll be leading the regularly scheduled Monday night kirtan at Bhakti Yoga Shala at 2nd and Arizona in Santa Monica.

Start time 6:30

Donation based.

Band details to follow soon!

ram ram. 10887074_10204587592443445_2044911846044252129_o





Recent Kirtan Videos

November 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

Here are four videos from a recent kirtan I led in Maui. They are the “closest thing to professional” videos that I own so I thought it would be good to share them with my friends.

All four chants are from the kirtan that was part of the Ram Dass public satsang on Maui.

Recorded live at the Makawao Union Church on August 25, 2013

Zach Leary – vocals and harmonium
Dana Huffman – guitar
Kit Thomas – bass
Vidu – percussion

Even more interesting than the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 7, is how we as a collective are responding to it. In the past the common lens in which we viewed change in our society came in the form of fashion, music, politics, tolerance and industrial advancement. This is still true to some extent but what we’ve now done is added a new layer to how we are experiencing change – cyberspace.

Every time there is a new “major” update to the digital eco systems we spend most of our time in there is always an endless stream of of both public and professional pundit outrage over the changes. Anyone who has been on Facebook for more than three years can certainly attest to it. Go ahead and think about the last time Facebook made a major update to it’s product; chances are you can’t even remember what they were and all that you recall is that you were pretty upset about it. All of the Facebook posts about missing the old Facebook and that Facebook isn’t listening to it’s users were common and nearly everyone came across them in their newsfeed. Fast forward three years and Facebook’s stock is at an all time high, it’s user base is massive and once again no one can recall what those changes were.

Enter iOS 7. Apple, more than any other company, has the feverish rabid zeal of a dedicated user base that’s akin to a blood thirsty dog getting a bone. Every single move the company makes is up for tremendous scrutiny while products continue to fly off the shelf. It’s as if the dog loves to bark at the person feeding him.

If I was CEO of Apple I for one would constantly be laughing while resting assured on Steve’s philosophical blueprint he laid out for the company. I’d also go back time and again to the answer Henry Ford gave when asked about why he never asked his customers what they wanted; “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

In the world of technology of course it’s important to pay attention to what people do and don’t like about certain trends but it’s also paramount to remember we are at the dawn of the movement and no one knows what’s around the corner. Things mutate almost organically and without logic.

The most fascinating aspect of peoples reaction to iOS 7 is not the dismissal of the new color scheme, or the “swhooshes” and “blips”, it is the admission that such protest of these changes completely changes their day to day world. We live in the operating systems of today. iOS 7, OS X, Windows, Android, Facebook, etc have all become inextricably linked with our practical behavior. It’s not the sending of the email that’s important anymore, it’s the how we send the email that is important. Finally after nearly two decades of mass adoption how the interface for cyberspace looks has become just as important as the function itself.

Steve Jobs knew this long before most. He preached that design, both hard and soft, WAS the product and that they could not be separated. Apple always had in it’s DNA a belief that what you’re experiencing while you are “doing” is just as important as the “doing” itself.

Arguably, the traces of this product philosophy can go back to the counter culture movement of the 1960’s. Anyone who has taken any psychedelic or practiced any type of meditation knows that how the human mind interfaces with consciousness is at the core of happiness. Are we approaching life through a hyper kinetic disorganized system that is laden with fear and distrust? Or are we floating through life with peace, compassion and focus of mind and body?

The same can be said to our digital lives – are we spending time debugging our broken computer and navigating through endless windows of dialog boxes? Or are we accomplishing our digital tasks with grace and ease?

This, without really saying it, is why people get so worked up about the changes in their favorite operating systems? It’s so vital that they are easy to use and require a hassle free relationship. Whether or not you believe this to be true, one thing is for certain – you won’t even remember what iOS 6 looked like a month from now.