Being Problematic

Over the last three weeks or so the UK news has been dominated by the search for a lost person. They have searched “everywhere” for a lost body and now one has been found. This means that, in time, there will be some media resolution on this issue. The family and friends will still suffer. The TikTok detectives will have had their five minutes of “fame”. It will pass and fade for most, not for others.

This is a metaphor for “problem solving” in society. People are often looking for a lost body, a skeleton in a closet or a scapegoat. Someone to blame. Once one of these has been found all the drama and the emotion can come to a crescendo and then start to fade. For some reason, people need something or someone to pin things to. It is a primitive dynamic rite of passage. Psychologically in days gone by, human sacrifice was perhaps used so as to appease the Gods. It was an act of futility, by the collectively powerless to give the illusion of making a difference. The catharsis was cathartic, but nothing changed materially. It was a bit of a con by the powerful priesthood, it helped them keep their power over. The dead person did not go into the waiting arms of the loving Gods.

Because I am a retired “old fart” living out in the middle of nowhere, I can write things like I just did, without someone, a “superior”, calling me in to have a discussion, a quiet word, about my on-line opinions. I have no contract concerning my on-line comments with my employers. I am bringing nobody else other than myself into “disrepute”. Thus, I am not strictly speaking problematic to anyone else. But this cover-all is not exact.

For example, when I applied for a Ph.D. studentship around ten years ago, I was being “problematic”. I satisfied the educational requirements but for some societal reasons an ex-academic with 50 science publications applying for a Ph.D. studentship was problematic. Why?

From my point of view, I would have been very good value for money. I would have hit the ground running and helped to advance the project. The money was more than I was making as a private tutor. But…

The project supervisor might have had ego problems, they might have been insecure, they might have imagined some kind of scandal and besides the science funding body, whose mission it is to get value for money from investment, forbade the funding of a second Ph.D. {doh}

I was / am problematic to the way people think, their expectations, and mental “rules” about what is and is not “acceptable”.

Snobbery plays a big part in what is perceived as being problematic.

Because I have no power, am not famous and am not associated to any body august or otherwise, I am relatively free to write what I wish. Were I a head of a university department, an Oxford college or a learned society I would have to watch my Ps and Qs. I would not be allowed to express freely and I would be subject to being censored and to censure should I stray. Although I have no positional power, I do have an enhanced apparent freedom of speech over those who do have power.

If Dishy Rishi or Keir Starmer wrote what I just did, it would erupt all over the media, like a pandemic.

What an eccentric old fart {This language maybe offensive to your reader} says is unlikely to cause any ripple whatsoever. Computer programmes however still want to admonish me.

From time to time I get the notion that the way I live remains problematic for some. Why?

What is so very wrong with a retired old fart, doing some gardening, some DIY, some photography and rambling away here on the internet?

There is no problem unless there are expectations, notions of should and notions of ought.

A lot of the things which appear problematic are only problematic in the minds of men, not it reality. When there is a divergence from the “accepted” socio-political construct the error checking software says “problem”, “problematic”.  It should not be like this, “we have a problem Huston!”

So, what does one do with a violent double rapist who has a penis and who is claiming to be she? Is this being a problematic one, or has the socio-political construct created a “problem” for itself. Whose fault is it?

Common sense suggests that putting a penis holder heterosexual rapist into confinement with beings with vaginas is not a smart idea. Whichever way you look at it, it does not smack of wisdom. Not a very good cunning plan. It is asking for problems down the line.

Why is this problematic?

Because some people claim it is discriminatory.

It is taboo to mention common sense, these days.

It is problematic if one prefers reality and common sense…

Self-Obsession – The New Pandemic

I think it accurate to say that the phenomenon of self-obsession is reaching dizzying new heights in this century. It is pandemic in that it can be found on all sides and in all nations. Never before in human history has there been so many terabytes of self-images recorded either with or without filters or photoshopping. People are obsessed by and with image. The imaginary illusion of image holds great power over the human psyche and causes untold self-induced mental angst and suffering. The obsession with self-promotion and having a blurb to sell to others about our wonderful “self” is a cul-de-sac, which leads nowhere other than our own lower posterior sphincters. It causes myopia and blindness, whereby we imagine that the entire universe rotates around our own wants, needs, desires and things that we imagine we deserve.

If we do not engage in this pictorial and presentational folly, we are to an extent excluded from the lunacy of the herd.

People can go to extraordinary lengths to protect this “image” without acknowledging the specificity of language implied. They can even imagine that their image is real!! They defend an illusion and feel thoroughly justified is so doing.

They do not suspect that they are blinkered or blinded. They cannot see the blinkers of obsession which prevent them from having a wider view with a more comprehensive perspective. They are unaware of their own selective and limited world view.


Are you blinded by your obsession with your own self-image?

Is your world view almost entirely self-centred?

Are you an important being?

Does the universe revolve around you?

Susceptibility to Temptation

The dark jewel Temptation has the number 25 which means in effect minus seven or unwillingness to take any guidance. This is a seven year. If the planet offers us guidance in terms of ecological disaster we could listen, pay attention and try to find a solution. Or we could be tempted to do bugger all and carry on with our excessive luxury and consumption.

As a boomer I can say with a fair degree of likelihood that I will be dead by 2050. No male in my family has made it past 80 and I used to smoke like a chimney. I won’t be here to see the failed climate targets but I will experience the deterioration before I pop my clogs.

I believe the word “hack” is common parlance for finding a shortcut to at least temporarily “solve” a problem. They are good clickbait. Unfortunately, there is no hack, no shortcut for liberation and reduction in attachment.

In terms of life difficulties I am very sceptical about short cuts, am not interested in having advantage over others nor do I seek the lazy man’s way out. Very often the Elastoplast or sticking plaster “solution” whilst apparently expedient causes larger problems in the long term. Quick fix is an oxymoron.

There are some people who like, if possible, to find a low effort path. As a younger person I helped a number of people write their Ph.D. theses more than was perhaps appropriate. I was not in fact doing them a favour. They saw it as a quick fix and it was easier for me to help than to go thorough endless rewrites with them. Once you have written one thesis it is pretty easy to do others, especially in physical sciences.

There are others who instead of taking responsibility for their actions succumb to many excuses, the blame game and finger pointing. They imagine the world is against them and have a truly massive victim chip on their shoulders. “It is not fair mummy…”

Whilst is might seem expedient to succumb to the temptation of blaming others it rarely solves the character deficit such blame is meant to conceal.

Many people are very tempted by money, promised kudos and being all Kool and the Gang. If you look carefully, just like in cartoons, you can actually see $ signs rolling in their eyes in some cases.

The mutual backscratching, nod, nod, wink, wink, culture is seen as good business but it can mean yielding to temptation and evil.

“Go on old chap. You know that we are the best people to fulfil the PPE contract. After all we went to the same school as each other. I’ll return the favour in due course.”

The moral compass shatters when wanting to do a “favour” for a pal.

Temptation starts as the thin end of the wedge and in time it becomes normal practice. People can forget and grow ever more accustomed to doing dodgy stuff. People can become inured and tolerant of borderline illegal behaviours. They can find a whole host of reasons and justifications as to why it is kosher. The culture can become “infected” much quicker than many imagine. Academic bullying has been in the press. Is one supposed to take on the chin like a good little pleb? Cultural norms can be very unethical, tax evasion is OK provided that when you get caught you pay your fine, apparently.

Sleaze can become the “acceptable” norm.

I’ll make a postulate.

Anyone who is interested in power and power over is susceptible to temptation.

The type of mentality which seeks shortcuts and cuts corners can be easily tempted and swayed.

Those who are willing to put in a full and impeccable shift are less susceptible to temptation.


Are you susceptible to temptation?

Are You a Petty Tyrant?

If someone has less apparent mundane positional power than you how do you treat them?

I have come across people who if you give them the merest hint of positional power become right and utter jobsworths.  “Brünnhilde” the highly efficient departmental administrator in Bern, had many of my Swiss colleagues quaking in their boots. For some reason because I developed some banter with her, we got along well. She was not a jobsworth, she was a highly skilled and facilitating individual. People made shit up about her in their heads. She could have worked at servicing board level in a multi-national.

Here we are considered, at first pass, generic Brits, which means that we don’t understand the sophisticated French ways and are unable to communicate in French beyond a few grunts. When we were trying to get into the system, French administrators approached things in erroneous ways. There was not a blind dog’s chance that they would listen to us. We knew they were wrong. So, we had to let it play out and wait until the system said error. Then start all over.

Some people cannot help but enjoy lording it up over others, they like to inflict their temporal power wherever possible. Little people can feel bigger if they make someone else’s life miserable. They like to assert the rule book, chapter and verse.

There is a subspecies of petty tyrant, the petty tyrant gatekeeper. Unless you are of high rank, they will stop you having any access to their Lord and Master, or Lady Mistress. Because I have no power by association, I am unwelcome and repelled by such as these on many occasion. The gate is closed to the likes of me.

A petty tyrant likes to stick by the “rules” and use them as a stick to beat others with.

Now I have no mundane positional power so I get to see how poorly the “great and the good” treat the plebian outcasts.

I can put on my expensive leather jacket, my pointy hard healed leather shoes and don my Ray Bans.

I could thus suited and booted walk into somewhere with the air of “owning” the place. I know how to make people feel very uncomfortable. Luckily, I am an old fart now and not an adolescent dick head.


Do you inflict yourself on others?

Do you get off on applying what little “power over” you have?

Are you petty?

Are you something of a tyrant whenever the opportunity arises?

Matter or Spirit, Evil or Good, Light or Dark?

The contest, the battle, the rivalry between good and evil lies aback many books, films, and cartoons.

In so many of these cases the protagonists are brothers, erstwhile friends, or other kinds of siblings. Usually, they both start out OK and then one gets jealous of the other and has the hump with them. One is light, the other exposed to power becomes corrupted by it and evil. One turns to the dark side of the force, the other remains a true Jedi patient in the light. Vengeance and domination are common motifs for the ensuing drama.

In times gone by a wayward prince would have been dealt with in a final manner via sharp implements. Now they get to make Netflix documentaries and whinge about family. The royal soap opera continues to unfold. Who is dark and who is light here? Who has gone for the lucre? Who has someone whispering in his ears?

The struggle between tyranny and freedom is another major theme in history. Those in power, have for example, slaves. Today’s terrorist becomes the historical freedom fighter. The status quo always tries to suppress and oppress any upstarts who arrive. It is a kind of Groundhog Day in which they, sometimes brutally, cling to power. The status quo always imagines itself just and right when the 20:20 hindsight of history shows it to be barbaric, coercive, mean, and oppressive.

“We are not a foreign power Mr Ghandi, India is British”, shows the level of delusion to which some are prone.

I know several people who have been pissed off with me because I did not materialise for them the money which they anticipated I might. I walked away.

A lot of people who deem themselves just are anything but. In their sense of entitlement, they deem themselves owed usually in a material and often in a pecuniary sense. They might deem themselves Optimus Prime when they are in effect Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. People can so easily deceive themselves that the sun shines out of their arse and that butter does not melt in their mouth, whilst they sit in white armour aback their steed, the trusty white stallion.

People can mistake coercive and threat based interaction, backed up by quasi-quantitative personal development planning for effective “management”, when it can easily stray into bullying and manipulation. It need not, but there are some nasty folk out there. Give an insecure person with a grievance a stick and they will use it.


I guess I have one question and an ancillary.

Are you imbued with the light side of the force, or have you turned to the dark side?

Do you have goodwill?


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Aside from soccer and Ukraine, there seems to be a lot about corruption in the news of late. French rugby boss, South African cash in the sofa, lordly PPE and EU. There are certain types of people who don’t think it wrong to award contracts to their mates even if they are paid for with public money. There are no laws concerning inviting speakers to lecture at your university. This is a favour asked and often results in a favour returned. It is perfectly legal. No itchy backs there. CVs are built up nicely for promotion and assessment exercises.

In some cultures, a bung is considered a part of the deal.

Ron the gangster gave me a job breaking car batteries as a sweetener {said with a London accent} for my dad who bought his lead. I did not get any special favours I sweated just like everyone else. It was a favour, in time Ron might have asked my dad to take his lorries off site… perhaps with some additional silver cached.

This is how corruption begins. It is a thin end of the edge, something innocuous which builds to a multimillion pound deal to be the face of a tournament. FIFA has a long tradition of corruption. Innocuous favours can quickly blur edges into corruption. We don’t know how much David Beckham other nations got to see. I guess his exposure to the UK was carefully reduced.

“I will pay for the wallpaper in your flat old chap.”

This is borderline to illegal, certainly not ethical in public office.

Usually after several sweeteners there is an ask. Then the whole thing starts to escalate.

In Zambia we were close to a number of Indian merchant families, playing badminton with them on a regular basis. I learned about the partition of India from them. When stock arrived in store, we would get a call. If dad had any foreign exchange allowance left, there would be a favourable Kwacha for Sterling exchange. Not illegal but again no itchy backs.

I suspect that the Sussexes are in so deep now, it probably cannot be stopped. To my eyes it will end in tears in due course. There is something iffy going on there.

What I don’t get is that people who already have a lot of money, want more and bend rules so as to get more. Is it the risk taking or simple gluttony?

Toltecs according to Théun consider money to be crystallized power. Here power can mean knowledge, positional power, power by association, personal power as in vitality. There is no denying that money is an enabler. People can “bought”. One can build spaceships or buy blue birds if you have enough dosh.

A long time ago I was able to “materialise” a considerable amount of money. I materialised a job offering shed loads of cash, but then got out of the contract.

Right now, I am powerless in the material plane sense and by pecuniary amount. I have no power over anyone else. I am nobodies’ boss or supervisor. Neither am I an underling.

I can no longer materialise money. I am virtually unemployable. {I have tried.}

Power is the third natural enemy and many yield to the temptation of pecuniary gain, whether legal or not. Some argue the toss that they deserve huge salaries. Premier league football is a ridiculous example. Do they really think they deserve or need a million quid a week?

My theory is that I did not yield to that third natural enemy and passed the test at a relatively young age.

There is another side to money or silver, argent, as they call it here. It is a human invention and pertains to the material plane, to materiality and materialism. Although technically not inherently evil, basically neutral, it has evil undertones and effects. Wherever evil is, so is money. This cannot be said to be the case for good.

Everyone has heard about the famous thirty pieces of silver. 30 is the number of the dark jewel manipulation! Silver is the dreaming symbol for the Tonal or the materialised world.

Worldly goods and money do not loosen the ties to the wheel of rebirth and there are material karmic effects from the greed for and misuse of money. Trump is embroiled it numerous lawsuits, it is his karma.

If you cling to materialism, you will, like Arnie, be back. If you are corrupt there is evil karma to face. Often a fair portion of those engaged in corruption get some kind of comeuppance in the same lifetime.

I am wondering if this corruption discovery theme is going to evolve and increase as this age draws to a close. Things need a cleansing…

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Convenience or Handing Your Power Over?

Marketing advises us that many things are convenient and time saving. An example in case is on board satellite navigation systems as are parking cameras. I suspect that is very difficult to buy a new car these days without these fitted. There are pieces of software that help with diaries and contacts. For me there is wretched thing in which emails are stacked as conversations. I once gave over partial control of my outlook diary allowing secretaries and others to schedule meeting for me. Not fun. There are lot of things that seem convenient but which impinge a great deal into life. Outlook assistant pops things moving into the bottom right hand corner of my screen and it very distracting.

I have never used a satellite navigation system. Once when traveling with someone else in the car they used one on their iPhone to avoid a traffic jam. When we hired a car in Brussels central train station, the guy there tried to rent us a satellite navigation system as an extra. He did not understand when I did not take him up on his offer. As a consequence of not using satellite navigation, I rarely get lost. I tend to plan journeys and sometimes do a walk through of complicated parts of a journey on Google Maps Streetview. This way I remember routes and do not have to rely on technology. I have not handed my power over to a microprocessor. I also navigate loosely by sun and sometimes by intuition. I use my brain, my mind and my memory. I do not rely on shortcuts…

I do not think that semiconductors in cars have had the same radiation hardness tests as those used in satellites and space telescopes. If there is a sudden burst of radiation many of the chips could be toast. We have one old car, a shed, it would probably still work whereas a top of the range 4X4 with computer controlled traction control might be useless. People might have to learn to read an archaic thing called a map.

Younger humans have an appendage called a smart ‘phone and in many cases their entire life is on that ‘phone; contacts, banking, apps to synchronise with their toothbrushes and look at their baby monitor video camera. There are even apps to aid going to sleep and dreaming. The telephone company here offered us an extra X gigabytes a month for a couple of Euros in an email. The online process to opt out of this generous offer was obscure and difficult.

The question is do you have power over the apparently “convenient” technology or does it have power over you?

Could you go cold turkey from technology?

Are you free or hooked?  

The Four Natural Enemies Simplified

The four natural enemies are fear, sobriety, power, and old age.

I think it fair to say that most people have fears, some of these are crippling. In our times we have a new fear, the fear of missing out.

In the context of evolution fear of the unknown and fear of changing from the way you were socially programmed by family and peers are big, as is fear of getting rid of your internal dialogue. If you have no inner critic, what are you going to do without all those circling thoughts? Fear of silence and being alone in one’s own company is also common.

Sobriety as an enemy means that you think you know more than you do and are sufficiently detached to have no pangs of conscience if you are mean to someone. If you are sufficiently detached and uncaring you can then exert power over other beings. This kind of power is addictive to some.

You could say we have, insecure scaredy cat, clever Trevor or Jeremy and Donald the bequiffed prince of orange, the very stable genius, as archetypes of people who have succumbed to these enemies.

The fourth natural enemy is old age, it means that you are exhausted and worn out by struggle, so you just want to pack it all in, get your slippers and a mug of cocoa, nanna and gramps.

One encounters stories of a lot of people who have succumbed to power in alternative circles. It often involves copious shagging by the “guru” of people who have handed their power and wealth over to said guru, so that he can have orgies and Rolls Royces. How many people in Westminster sexually interfere with their junior staff? Power is an aphrodisiac to those who are power hungry. It is a vicious circle.

If you work in higher education, you will have encountered the young smart Alec type, who thinks that they get all the material you have been torturing them with. Thinking they know a lot, they are fond of showing off, whilst still an undergraduate. They are usually a tad more circumspect when it comes to Ph.D. viva having been disabused of their illusion.

The Toltec teachings are the only ones, that I know of, which tackle power as a subject. It is, to my eyes, implicit in Vajrayana tantra. To my opinion a discussion on temptation and on evil in a sane way, is absent in much “spiritual” material. Treating evil as a taboo subject, enables it. In the darkness strange things fester. If you can’t talk about evil in an adult rational way, you are handing your power over to evil by means of fear. Taboos are primitive and superstitious.

I’ll speculate that it is transcending the natural enemy power which is the gateway to the third initiation and thereby inevitable ultimate liberation or if you succumb becoming ever more deeply embroiled with the dark adepts and thereby not achieving liberation, not in this kalpa. Overcome the natural enemy power and in the fullness of time there is no hasta la vista baby, no au revoir.

To overcome power is tiring. If you do this, you feel knackered. Then you have to start all over and with a newfound sense of trying hard not to be a complete arrogant dickhead, rather a harmless and humble being trying their best, and with little or no drama.