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High > Low < Tech

2 weekly blog resisting the second law

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February 2015

Chapter 11 – Hakuna Matata

Kings of Leon – The Runner

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“What happened?”
The immigration officer gives me a stirn look and then mumbles something I can’t understand. Only later I realize that he was asking about my facemask. Well good that I didn’t understand. Starting a discusion about swineflue in Rajasthan would have stretched this longer than it already takes. He looks at my Visa that is another three days valid and starts counting.
“When did you arrive in India?”
Is this a test how good I know my own Visa? 4th of September as it says there in big, inkt blue letters.
“Where have you been?”
Well. A lot of places. I start listing them and stop when I get to Kerala as he is not listening.
“What have you done?”
Can somebody tell this guy that I am leaving India not entering it? For a moment I feel tempted to give him a list:
– I spend 2 weeks on a houseboat in the century floodings in kashmir
– I met the Dalai Lama face to face
– I melted plastic with sun rays
– I attended goverment meetings in Wayanad
– I attended an Indian wedding
– I learned Katak on the beach of the Bay of Bengal
– I drifted into the new year in a mud pool
– I did tripli (only indians know what that means)
– I learned about indian NGO history (and its not pretty)
– I met incredible people, saw incredible nature
– I sat on back of a truck with 19 indians, travelled endless hours on busses, trains and airplanes with crying babies
– and I learned the Art of life in Jaipur (or lets say refined, looks to me that I am already pretty good at it)
– but very, very recently I spend 7 hours on a train that came 6 hours late and the kid in my compartment vomitted on the floor halfway through the trip and nobody cleaned it up so can you please let me through so I can get some much needed rest.
Tempting, really. But I go with: “I travelled, talked to people, took some pictures. The usual stuff I guess.”
Another stirn look. Then he stamps my Visa once and my flight ticket thrice. Done.
When planning this trip out of India it was unclear what to do with the 9 hours between arriving by train and boarding the plane. Well thanks to North Western Indian Railways this problem got solved. I arrive at the gate 20 minutes before boarding.

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A couple of days later: My breath regular but fast, my heart is pounding, I’m sweating sunscreen. I am trying to keep up the pace but my calves are protesting. I am so out of shape.
– Mambo rafiki.
– Mambo.
– Habari aso buhi?
– Suri.
– Hakuna Matata.
My Swahili is getting better. Or better to say: My recognition of certain social patterns in the language. But thanks to those patterns you can get surprisingly far with 10-12 words.

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I reach my turning point and rest and stretch my legs for some minutes. Fishermen bringing their catch on the white, white beach. The reef behind them is in serious decline. Wading a couple of meters in the turkise waters and you’ll find sea urchins in vast numbers. An inbalance in the ecosystem due to overfishing. The last couple days I have been researching possibilities to implent a biorock project [1] grassroots style. It is interesting and fun but I am missing the key element so far. Contacting the grassroots (local community). But my work will provide possibilities for that.

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I can call myself a project manager now. Which means I have to take care of the finishing of a solar training center. Although I am a mechanical engineer and not an architect I have been appointed to this function with the argument that it is at this point a common sense job. Well so far they were right and I am definitely not complaining about spending six weeks in Zanzibar.

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The tide is low, it is almost noon and the sun is blazing. I start running back. India has cost me a lot of weight. It shows in my face, chest and bum. But I am determined to get it back. And I have a powerful ally. Mumini the cook. The prospect of plenty of nutrient rich food and fresh mango makes my steps lighter. My body barely contains fat. Loosing weight means loosing muscles. Same goes for gaining. Shut up calves we are doing this.

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[1] www.biorock.net

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Chapter 10 – The Art of Life

It is winter in Rajasthan. Temperatures fall well below 8 degrees celcius at night. And they only raise to moderate levels at noon when the sun is strong. Some Indians stare at me the pale, blonde guy thats shivering in the early morning train on the baggage rack. The outside air blowing in through open windows and doors makes it even colder. We should have been three people. But it is only me.

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When Lucie asked me if I want to join for 10 days vipassana course[1] I don’t make the connection. My roommate had recommended it to me. Plus it is frequently featured in popular media. Although in such cases it is generally referred to as the “10 days of not talking” which is like saying that football is a “game of 90 minutes of throw-in’s”. Off course it happens constantly but it the throw-in’s are a result of the rules and framework to keep the game focussed on the actual purpose. So is the noble silence which you vow to keep for 10 days when you join the course. But as I said I don’t make the connection. After reading the rules and program I sighn uponly half knowing what I am getting into.
When I arrive at the vipassana center[2] just outside Jaipur the sun is strong and warm and lunch is waiting.

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11 days later I am standing at the same gate. I could have gotten a charter bus ride directly from here to the train station but I feel like walking. It is roughly a one hour walk to the outskirts from where I can catch a city bus. It is dawn, the sun has yet to rise above the mountain ridge. For my choice of walking I get in return cold feet, fresh morning air, an incredible view of a temple bathed in the first sun rays, a taste of what it would be like to be a wayfaring stranger with just the most essential stuff in a bundle on his back and the chance to sing as loud and of tune as I want. I make plenty of use of the last one. When I encounter an old shivering man walking in the same direction I tune it down … a bit. At that moment a motorcyclist stops next to me and offers me a ride. Tempting but I decline. So instead of me the old man gets the ride. Ha, see how that worked out. A little while later I get invited to tag along on horse car and this time I can’t resist. Galopping we enter Jaipur. He asks me for 100 rupees. I give 12 or 14 of whatever change I have left. Buy some beedies old man.

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Later in the train I start reflecting on the course.
The meditation technique is called Vipassana and it is the key element of the original, pure teachings of Buddha called Dhamma[3]. Now there are many things out there that call themselves “pure” or “original”. Where Dhamma differs from other teachings and religions with that claim is the definition of the “pureness”. The teaching is pure when it is universal and secular. Meanining: No rites, no rituals, no symbols, no saints. You don’t become a buddhist by practising dhamma, you do not need to convert, you don’t worship buddha nor anybody claiming to speak in his name. All you do is meditating to see things as they are and not as you would like them to be and this will lead you to a sharper mind, a composed self and be a free, happier person – or at least that is what I experienced. Dhamma consists of three parts: Sheila, Samadi and Panya. Sheila is morality. Do not kill, steal, lie, do sexual missconduct or take intoxicants. Samadi is mastery of mind and panya wisdom, the inner thruth. The later two are to achieved by vipassana.

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Off course for the ten days following that course you have to submit the rules but after that you are free to decide to do or not to do whatever you want with the things you have learned. Don’t accept it because someone wrote it or said it. Accept it because you experienced it. Or not. For ten days you follow the strict discipline resulting in 10 hours of meditation per day. It is hard. But the reward is worth it. After three days my mind calmed down, then first powerfull experiences of body awareness excited me and subsequently set me back as you can only achieve them by not wanting them. Day 6 and 7 are hard work rewarded occasionally. Day 9 first anticipation of returning to “normal” society makes meditation really difficult. Day 10: In order to make transition to daylie life easier talking is permitted again. For the first time you get to know your co-meditators. And then before you know it it is over leaving you wondering if you will be able to implement what you learned day to day. I am certainly going to try.

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But there is something else. In therms of my research. I kinda knew (and wrote it) that the technology is there but not the mindset. I wanted to get to the root of the problem and dug into the policies and organisational background. But policies are made by humans more or less based on the needs/requests of humans. Dhamma teaches that we crave objects not for the objects but for the sensation they give us. And we get addicted to those sensations. Which for example explains why people keep buying cloth although their wardropes are full (and thriftshopes nower days receive clothing donations where the price tags are still on). Not because they need clothing but for the sensation of buying something new or making a good deal. When the sensation is gone the process is repeated. A bottomless pig.
Dhamma teaches that this addiction to sensations comes from the craving for something that is not there or the aversion something that is, the not accepting of the situation as it is on a subconscious level. And this creates misery, which in turn amplifies the addiction to sensation. The goal of vipassana is not to submit to craving or aversion for or against sensations and break that negative cycle of wanting, needing more and more, faster and faster. This gave me a breakthrough on a problem I have been chewing on for quite some time now. I have been residing in an rural indian community for a couple of month now. Food security is one of the major problems that have to be addressed. Influence in the community is based on the size of your family, more precise on the number of sons you have. By works of Barefoot in improving health, work and food conditions Tilonia has been constantly expanding as the population grew. The growth was possible because of the foodsecurity. The growth was driven by the strive for more influence and enriching the family name. Ergo: If we supply food secrurity to a society without changing their attitude of more, more, more, of how status is defined, soon the growth will render the solutions useless. It will go on like that till the system (available resources of a community, land, the world) will reach its limits and break.
Russel Brand said: “More than a political revolution we need a spiritual revolution.”
I would like to add: “More than a technological revolution we need a spiritual revolution.” A shift in consciousness.
In my search for the root of unsustainability I have finally reached it: Human Nature – in its current state.

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[1] http://www.dhamma.org/en/index
[2] https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=WkxSyv5R1sg
[3] https://www.dhamma.org/en/about/art

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