Chuck Feeney has recently been in the news for an accomplishment that very few people have done. Earlier in life, he became a billionaire. While it’s true that not very many people do that, his accomplishment is even rarer. Over the course of the past 40 years or so, he gave away almost all of his wealth, roughly $8,000,000,000, to various charities.
Some have come to be benefactors
Nowadays, when anyone travels internationally, they are likely to find a duty-free shop in the airport. The goods sold there are free from taxation, because they are going to be used or consumed in another country. It’s like a chance to purchase something at a lower cost because you have already purchased a plane ticket. I’m telling you this to tell you how Chuck Feeney became a billionaire. He and Robert Miller started a chain of duty-free stores in international airports around the world. This company became known as Duty Free Shoppers or DFS.
He did his best to give in secret
Some have come to be benefactors. Many philanthropists desire to be known for their giving. Chuck Feeney was not afflicted with this desire. His foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, didn’t have his name on it. Atlantic Philanthropies gave money to projects in education, science, health care, aging and civil rights. These projects are in the U.S., Australia, Vietnam, Bermuda, South Africa and Ireland.
Feeney was remarkably successful in keeping his giving hidden until 1996. Feeney sold his stake in DFS to luxury goods firm LVMH in 1996. There was a dispute with his partner Robert Miller over the sale. This led to Feeney’s once-secret philanthropy being exposed in the run-up to a court challenge. Because of his wide travels and unpublicized giving, he became known as the “James Bond of philanthropy.”
Does money make you wealthy?
Some have come to be benefactors. The New Message from God has a radical approach toward money and wealth. Wealth is knowing what to do with what you have. Wealth is giving to something you know to be self-evident, but needing all the love you can give. Consider this sentence from Step 160 of the 365 steps in Steps to Knowledge. Steps to Knowledge is the book of spiritual practice of the New Message from God. I have written a review of Steps to Knowledge here.
“Do not think that those who possess more objects than you are in any way wealthier than you are, for without Knowledge they are impoverished and will acquire things only to offset their misery and uncertainty. Thus, their impoverishment is compounded by their acquisition.”
“Look at the very wealthy with pity, for they have lost contact with the power of Knowledge in so many ways. And those that have rediscovered Knowledge will naturally become benefactors for humanity, for anyone who has great wealth must become a benefactor to humanity. Some people were sent into the world to do just this. Everyone must serve the well-being of humanity, but this well-being is now being challenged as never before.”
Who knows, maybe Chuck Feeney was sent into the world to do just this. I sincerely hope that other billionaires will follow in his footsteps.
This quote by Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) has been making the rounds in my world.
“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European or anything, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party of partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”
In the New Message from God, certain practices are identified as debilitating. Judgment is one of them, saying “this is good” or “that is bad.” Assumption is another one, saying “this is the case” or “this is not the case.” Yet another one is defining, saying “this is a that.” Suppose I look at something and say “this is a that.” My mind responds with “Ah, then that is likely to do the things that a that does.” But what if it doesn’t? Will I keep investigating, or surrender to the mental sloth of defining? A special case of defining is identifying, saying “I am an Indian, or a Muslim, or a Christian, or a European.”
But this isn’t where the mischief lies. Identifying is saying “This is my group. These are my people. This is my tribe.” In any group, people make efforts to be the leader of that group. People make efforts to get the largest share of the group’s resources. To identify means I want my group to be the leader over the other groups. It means I want my group to get the largest share of the world’s resources. I believe this is what Krishnamurti is getting at when he speaks of separation leading to violence.
Identity is tricky and sticky. So to be human is to be in a predicament. To be human is to use one’s capability to identify. This is going to lead to violence sooner or later. Step 290 of the 365 steps of Steps to Knowledge says the following:
“In the world you are a student—always. Every day, every hour and every minute you are learning and attempting to assimilate your learning. You are either a student of Knowledge or a student of confusion. You are either a student of certainty or a student of ambivalence. You are either a student of wholeness and integrity or you are a student of conflict and war. You can only learn from being in the world, and you can only demonstrate the result of your learning.”
While it is true there are things I identify as, I make great efforts to consider them as interim, contingent identities. The identity I feed and ratify and choose again is that of a student of Knowledge. I desire for no nation or religion to succeed at the expense of any other nation or religion. I will no harm to any other nation or religion. And when I do, I don’t want to.
Today, August 10, 2020, is a happy day on the Calendar of the Uniting World. It marks 75 years of humanity going without using a nuclear weapon in warfare.
We could evolve instead of self-destruct
By “nuclear weapon” I mean either a fission weapon or a fusion weapon. America used fission weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Nations of the world have only tested fusion weapons, also called thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs. No nation has tested a fusion weapon since November 1, 1952 (No, I don’t believe North Korea). My people have refrained from using our most destructive weapon for almost 68 years. We have gone almost three years since the last nuclear test (September 3, 2017 by North Korea). I have written a number of posts about this happy day here, here and here.
What does the New Message from God say about nuclear weapons?
I have neglected to share what the New Message from God teaches regarding nuclear weapons. I am happy for an occasion to remedy this. The first book of New Message teachings is Wisdom from the Greater Community, Book One, published in the early 1990’s. One of the chapters in that book is a revelation titled “World Evolution.” Marshall Vian Summers received this revelation in November of 1987. The next two paragraphs are a quote from that revelation.
“Nuclear arms? I know that what I am about to say will get some of you going, but there will not be nuclear disarmament completely for a long time to come because people need something to hold themselves in check. People have given a greater authority to their creations than to themselves to keep themselves from attacking their neighbors.
So, nuclear arms will be with you for awhile, but they will decrease. It is part of the evolution of your world that humanity keep itself out of major warfare until its societies can unite. The world cannot afford another major war here. There cannot even be a local war anymore. This seems strange, but you see, it is established to allow things to come together. It is not good. It is not bad. It is foolish, but it is what humanity prescribes. There will be nuclear weapons in your life for a long time to come.”
This was spoken 33 years ago, and has proved to be true. I have wondered what is meant by “the evolution of your world.” I think it means “one of the scheduled stops on the world’s journey.” I consider the possibility that the world has figured out that it cannot afford another all-out war. We’re still working on renouncing local wars. We could evolve instead of self-destruct.
“It is necessary for people everywhere to understand that humanity is emerging into a Greater Community of intelligent life. Your world is being “visited” by several alien races and by several different organizations of races. This has been actively going on for some time. There have been visitations throughout human history, but nothing of this magnitude. The advent of nuclear weapons [emphasis mine] and the destruction of your natural world have brought these forces to your shores.”
In our world, any demonstration of strength by a nation draws the scrutiny of other nations. It is now common knowledge that the Soviet Union successfully infiltrated the Manhattan Project. But most people think from a purely human perspective. They haven’t yet considered the possibility of scrutiny and intervention from alien races or collectives.
A lot is said in not too many words
We could evolve instead of self-destruct. I find it remarkable that the New Message from God has said so little about something that concerns so many people. It has given me a frame for efforts at nuclear disarmament. Just because it seems difficult doesn’t make it a less worthy effort. If you are concerned about nuclear weapons, work on world unity.
People in my world are giving this article a great deal of scrutiny for multiple reasons.
First, the AATIP is now the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force. Maybe the very words “Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon” is an attempt to avoid the saying of “UFO.”
Second, Congress directs this task force to release at least some of its findings to the public. When? Six months after the passage of the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2021. We know this because of a report from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on this legislation. Don’t ask me how the New York Times obtained this report, or knew to look here. The Senate is considering this legislation. The House of Representatives hasn’t considered it yet. This provision, like many provisions, may not survive the legislative process.
Third, there are three paragraphs devoted to a recap of the 2017 AATIP article. The Department of Defense declared that the funding for the AATIP had lapsed in 2012. In the article, that statement was exposed as untrue. I take great curiosity that basic facts regarding this story are still in dispute. Particularly the role of Luis Elizondo, (pictured above) whom this article mentions. Elizondo and others claim that he ran the AATIP. The Pentagon claims Elizondo had “no assigned duties” in the Defense Intelligence Agency. Furthermore, he was not associated with the AATIP at all. Who should we believe? Elizondo was a source in the 2017 AATIP article. Therefore, I believe the New York Times believes him. Given that the report of the AATIP’s non-existence was a lie, maybe I should believe him. The case against Elizondo is made here. Day by day the evidence grows.
Fourth, there is a great deal of interest in the testimony of Dr. Eric Davis. In this article, Davis asserts regarding certain materials, “We couldn’t make it ourselves.” Davis said he gave a classified briefing to a Defense Department agency. This briefing was about retrievals from “off-world vehicles not made on this earth.” These words have been rocketing around the internet over the past four days. Should I believe them? Do I have a good reason not to? I know very little about Eric Davis. I know he has a Ph.D in physics. You can find out more about him here, here and here. Day by day the evidence grows.
Day by day the evidence grows. The New Message from God teaches what is currently a minority viewpoint on the subject of extraterrestrials.
“Day by day the evidence grows. Day by day more people are becoming aware. But there is still tremendous ignorance and denial. There is still tremendous manipulation of the evidence. It is very hard for people to gain any reliable information now.
The governments of the world will not tell you what they know. The religious institutions of the world cannot help you. People are filled with superstition. They are filled with hope. They are filled with wild expectancy. But who can see clearly? Whose thoughts are clear and unaffected by the prevailing attitudes and beliefs of society?”
It takes a certain intellectual and emotional preparation to see clearly. I do not claim to think clearly. I claim to be working on seeing clearly.
David Jacobs recently retired as a professor of American history at Temple University in Philadelphia. But he is much more well-known as a researcher in the field of UFOs and alien abduction experiences. He has written three books and edited a book on the subject. His most recent book, “Walking Among Us,” was published in 2015. I recently read this book. I am sharing my Amazon review with additional commentary in brackets.
Humanity faces a challenge to its freedom
I consider David Jacobs to be a remarkable individual. He has made greater efforts in the unrecognized field of UFO research than most people. He has penetrated the human evaluation of impossibility and improbability. He has not been overcome by the terror of what he has discovered. It is as if he is a planetary Paul Revere, sounding an alarm that I hope and believe will be heard.
[There are many people who sincerely believe humanity is alone in the universe, or this corner of the universe. There are some people who consider extraterrestrial life from a purely human point of view. Paul Revere is known for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia in April 1775 to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord.]
The extraterrestrials described by Jacobs (insectalins, reptilians and grays) have superior technology. They have superior abilities at mental influence and control. They have no concept of privacy, individuality or freedom. And yet, they don’t seem to be able to live in our physical environment. As if H. G. Wells was right in The War of the Worlds. And yet, they don’t seem to be interested in direct conquest. As if Marshall Vian Summers was right in the Allies of Humanity books.
Many different UFO writers have written of alien-human interbreeding programs, child presentations, and so forth. What is the purpose of all these hybrids? Jacobs writes that the purpose is inserting these hybrids (he uses the term hubrids) into human society. But for all their cleverness at genetic manipulation, they lack understanding of human culture. For example, they don’t know what time of day one should eat an orange. And somehow the internet is useless to them, as it doesn’t speak in their telepathic language. Therefore, they acquire data about human culture through abductees. This is something that I hadn’t considered until reading this book.
[ A witness speaks of secret plans in play. Budd Hopkins (1931-2011) and John Mack (1929-2004) are two authors on this subject. Secrecy is a crucial component of the project Jacobs describes. Therefore cultural mistakes must be eliminated. Hubrids must seem completely ordinary in their appearance and behavior.]
Jacobs suggests that there are many more abductions (instances of aliens controlling a human mind and body) than are recorded. I imagined that the first abduction of an individual is an “audition” of sorts, to see if that individual is neurologically compatible to be of use on many future occasions. During these abductions, abductees show hubrids of various ages things about human culture (dressing, eating, making conversation, watching television, and many other subjects). This is done through telepathic “question cascades.” Some of this is done on UFOs, and some of this is done on Earth. About two-thirds of the book is devoted to the various stages of this program.
[ A witness speaks of secret plans in play. Jacobs has conducted nearly 900 hypnotic regressions with over 140 abductees. He addresses the subject of the validity of this technique in the book. John Mack used a similar technique in his book Abduction. Many abductees experience “missing time,” time where they can’t remember where they were or what they were doing. The aliens seem to have a way of blocking the memory of abductees. But these memories are being recovered.]
Great effort is made to make these hubrids as inconspicuous as possible. A seemingly seamless plan is in place, and is being executed. What is the purpose? Jacobs suggests that it is a clandestine subjugation of Earth. Access to and control over Earth’s biological and mineral resources, rare and precious in this region of space. Jacobs confesses to not having an answer for this alien program, besides describing what he knows.
[ A witness speaks of secret plans in play. It is as if humanity is an adolescent race, squandering its great inheritance of the earth. Some promising adolescents fail to reach adulthood as free adults. Unscrupulous parties sometimes separate adolescents from great inheritances. The New Message from God calls this the Intervention. This is from the revelation “The Greater Community Presence in the World.” Marshall Vian Summers received this revelation in 1997.
“There are several allied races who are in the world today who are attempting to biologically and genetically bond with humanity in order to gain the adaptive ability to live and to function in this world. If they are able to do this effectively, then they will become the rulers of mankind.”
What are we to do about this? Secrecy is a crucial part of the enterprise. I therefore join with David Jacobs in his crying out to expose.]
Some of you might not be familiar with American abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). He was born into slavery in the state of Maryland. He escaped to freedom in Philadelphia in 1838. He became a leader of the movement to abolish slavery in the United States. American poet Langston Hughes wrote this about him in the poem “Freedom’s Plow:“
Then a man said: BETTER TO DIE FREE THAN TO LIVE SLAVES He was a colored man who had been a slave But had run away to freedom. And the slaves knew What Frederick Douglass said was true.
He took hope in the relative youth of the nation (76 years). He took hope that reformers like him and his audience had a chance to make a change in a young nation’s ways.
He pointed out that back in 1776, people with the audacity to say that England treated its colonies badly were considered “mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men.” The way abolitionists were treated in his day.
I consider Frederick Douglass to be an American prophet, as he encouraged Americans to embrace their founding principles. “I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”
The poem with the line “Trust no future, howe’er pleasant” is “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow wrote it in 1838. I believe it was well-known to the audience. The final verse says “Let us then, be up and doing/With a heart for any fate;/Still achieving, still pursuing,/Learn to labor and to wait.” We have work to do.
He says in prose what Langston Hughes later said in poetry “America was never America to me.” He speaks of the great lack of empathy, the great blindness, the great disappointment, the great hypocrisy. He referenced Psalm 137, the psalm of Hebrew captivity, multiple times in this speech.
This might be a good section to quote:
“Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America!”
He provides ample evidence to the proposition that anyone who contends that a slave is not a human being is engaged in self-deception.
These two paragraphs say “Haven’t we been over this countless times? That a slave is a human being? That slavery is wrong?”
“What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is past.
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”
“The LORDS of Buffalo, the SPRINGS of New York, the LATHROPS of Auburn, the COXES and SPENCERS of Brooklyn, the GANNETS and SHARPS of Boston, the DEWEYS of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land, have, in utter denial of the authority of Him, by whom they professed to he called to the ministry, deliberately taught us, against the example or the Hebrews and against the remonstrance of the Apostles, they teach ‘that we ought to obey man’s law before the law of God.'”
Abraham Lincoln would later say something in his Second Inaugural Address, that echoed Frederick Douglass’ bewilderment regarding the church. “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces but let us judge not that we be not judged.” The Bible speaks of “the mystery of iniquity” or “the secret power of lawlessness.” People can claim to be good, and not see evil practices in which they engage.
God speed the year of jubilee. After having provided ample evidence for the greatness of the hypocrisy, he reiterates the indictment:
“Fellow-citizens! I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a by word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union.”
God speed the year of jubilee. The exclamation point of the speech is a poem written by William Lloyd Garrison. I will do my part for freedom.
God speed the year of jubilee The wide world o’er! When from their galling chains set free, Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee, And wear the yoke of tyranny Like brutes no more. That year will come, and freedom’s reign, To man his plundered rights again Restore.
God speed the day when human blood Shall cease to flow! In every clime be understood, The claims of human brotherhood, And each return for evil, good, Not blow for blow; That day will come all feuds to end, And change into a faithful friend Each foe.
God speed the hour, the glorious hour, When none on earth Shall exercise a lordly power, Nor in a tyrant’s presence cower; But to all manhood’s stature tower, By equal birth! That hour will come, to each, to all, And from his Prison-house, to thrall Go forth.
Until that year, day, hour, arrive, With head, and heart, and hand I’ll strive, To break the rod, and rend the gyve, The spoiler of his prey deprive — So witness Heaven! And never from my chosen post, Whate’er the peril or the cost, Be driven.
Even after fully demonstrating its rottenness, Frederick Douglass had hope for the United States in 1852. I am well-aware of the world’s difficulties. But I have hope for the world in 2020. Knowledge, the deeper spiritual intelligence that God has placed into every person, will not permit me to fall into despair. Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still persuing, Learn to labor and to wait.
Something happened on Monday, April 27, 2020 that received less attention than it deserved. The US Department of Defense confirmed that three videos that have been public since 2017 are both genuine and complete. Who took these videos? Pilots for the US Navy, while in flight training missions. What is in these videos? Flying objects moving at remarkable speeds and accelerations. Flying objects which could be neither identified nor intercepted. When did the pilots take these videos? In 2004 and 2015. Where did the pilots take these videos? The 2004 video is from off the coast of San Diego, California, USA. The 2015 video is from off the east coast of the United States. (I have written about this here.) Why did the pilots take these videos? The pilots took these videos because the pilots weren’t expecting to see these objects.
This may be all the disclosure we get
The Department of Defense confirmed that the flying objects in the videos remain unidentified to this day. No natural phenomenon has demonstrated this speed and acceleration. They are not known to be the military assets of any nation on Earth. They answered one question, only to leave a much larger question unanswered. Many people have contended that the videos were fake or edited. Between 2017 and the present, these videos have undergone intense scrutiny by interested parties. Many hoped to find evidence of fakery or inauthenticity. I imagine the April 27 confirmation disappointed them.
An admission against interest?
This may be all the disclosure we get. I wish to explore another aspect of this event. Can you imagine that the Department of Defense wishes to say that the flying objects in the videos remain unidentified? Would any military on Earth say “We do not know what this is” without significant motivation? I make no claim to know what this motivation might be. However, I consider the very existence of this confirmation to be evidence of its truth. This is known in legal proceedings as an “admission against interest.” The Department of Defense has a lack of incentive to make an embarrassing or damaging statement about itself. This is an indication of the statement’s reliability.
What consequences follow?
This may be all the disclosure we get. I realize some people will be greatly disappointed in this. I believe historians will note that in 2019 and 2020, unidentified flying objects (UFOs) took a great step forward in credibility. The United States government has admitted that these objects exist. They have confirmed they are something other than instrument errors or pilot hallucinations. What does this say about the 6,000 UFO reports in the United States in 2019? Are those camera errors or mass insanity? What does this say about the testimonies of people being taken against their will? Are they some kind of cultural delusion? Perhaps we need to reconsider some things we previously rejected.
Have your thoughts and feelings changed?
This may be all the disclosure we get. The New Message from God teaches what is currently a minority viewpoint on the subject of extraterrestrials.
I realize some people consider this not only false, but impossible. But many things once thought to be impossible have turned out to be so. Therefore a belief in the impossibility of something carries little weight with me. Could the April 27 confirmation make this a little less impossible for you?
Cherries are on sale at my local grocer. In my mind, cherries are connected with one of the tales in the book Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah. I have mentioned on numerous occasions that there is a great sympathetic vibration between these dervish tales and the teachings of the New Message from God. It is occurring to me to demonstrate this by commenting on this dervish tale as it proceeds.
There is a wise perception of the present
This tale is attributed to Sufi Abdul-Hamid Khan of Qandahar, who died in 1962. He was the Master of the Afghan Mint, a man with one foot in the dervish world and the other in the world of modern technology. This tale is called “Valuable – and Worthless.” I will put my commentary in brackets.
A certain king one day called a counselor to him and said “The strength of real thinking depends upon the examination of alternatives. Tell me which alternative is better: to increase the knowledge of my people or give them more to eat. In either case they will benefit.”
The Sufi said “Majesty, there is no point in giving knowledge to those who cannot receive it, any more than there is point to giving food to those who cannot understand your motives. Therefore it is not correct to assume that ‘in either case they will benefit.’ If they cannot digest the food, or if they think you give it to them as a bribe, or that they can get more – you have failed. If they cannot see that they are being given knowledge, or whether it is knowledge or not, or even why you are giving it to them, they will not benefit. Therefore the question must be taken by degrees. The first degree is the consideration: ‘The most valuable person is worthless and the most worthless person is valuable.'”
[We have now learned that the counselor is a Sufi, a dervish. I consider the knowledge being spoken of here to be knowledge in the ordinary sense; data, information, education. But the Knowledge spoken of by the New Message from God also requires skill and desire to be attained. The deeper spiritual intelligence that God has placed in every person is indifferent to satisfying idle curiosity.]
“Demonstrate this truth to me, for I cannot understand it,” said the king.
The Sufi then called the chief dervish of Afghanistan, and he came to the court. “If you had your way, what would you have someone in Kabul do?” he asked.
[We now know this tale is set in Kabul, Afghanistan. I believe that the Sufi is responding to a royal command for a demonstration. I believe that the Sufi is responding to a sincere request to learn. As there are monastic orders, there are dervish orders. As monastic orders have leaders, dervish orders have leaders.]
“It so happens that there is a man near such-and-such a place who, if he knew it, could by giving a pound of cherries to a certain necessitous man, gain a fortune for himself and also great advancement for the whole country and progress for the Path,” said the chief dervish, who knew of the inner correspondence of things.
[I imagine the king thought to himself, “This is the very thing I was asking about in the first place, the benefit of my people!” I consider “the Path” to refer to the dervish path and its participants. I make no claim regarding the inner correspondence of things. But one of the outward manifestations of the Knowledge I seek to reclaim is wise perception in the present and in the future.]
The king was excited, for Sufis generally do not discourse upon such things. “Call him here and we will have it done!” he cried. The others silenced him with a gesture. “No,” said the first Sufi, “this cannot work unless it is done voluntarily.”
In disguise, in order not to influence the man’s choice, the three of them went straight to the Kabul bazaar. Divested of his turban and robe, the chief Sufi looked very much like any ordinary man. “I will take the part of the exciting cause,” he whispered, as the group stood looking at the fruit. He approached the greengrocer and wished him good day. Then he said “I know a poor man. Will you give him a pound of cherries, as a charity?” The greengrocer bellowed with laughter. “Well, I have heard some tricks, but this is the first time that someone who wanted cherries has stooped to ask me as if it were for charity!”
[So now we know that the man who could have given the cherries was a greengrocer, and the cherries were part of his inventory. I imagine the king being crushed on the inside as a golden opportunity was lost forever.]
“You see what I mean?” the first Sufi asked the king. “The most valuable man we have has just made the most valuable suggestion, and the event has proved that he is worthless to the man to whom he speaks.”
“But what about ‘the most worthless person’ being valuable?” asked the king.
The two dervishes beckoned him to follow them.
As they were about to cross the Kabul River, the two dervishes suddenly seized the king and threw him into the water. He could not swim.
As he felt himself about to drown, Kaka Divana, whose name means Insane Uncle – a well-known pauper and lunatic who roamed the streets, jumped in and brought him safely to the bank. Various other, more solid, citizens had seen him in the water, but none moved.
When the king was somewhat restored, the two dervishes intoned together: “The most worthless person is valuable!”
[There is a wise perception of the present. Don’t ask me how the dervishes knew that Kaka Divana would save the king. Don’t ask me why the king didn’t honor and enrich Kaka Divana for saving his life. Don’t ask me why the king didn’t have the dervishes executed. I think the answer to these things is “Elaborating on this would disrupt the arc of the story.”]
So the king went back to his old, traditional method of giving whatever he could – whether education or help of any kind – to those to whom it was decided from time to time were the most worthy recipients of such aid.
Some of you may not be familiar with George Gallup (1901-1984). In 1935, he created the American Institute of Public Opinion, which would later be known as the Gallup Poll. Gallup was a pioneer in the art and science of public opinion surveys. His polling organization continues to this day.
In June, Gallup asked 489 American adults around the country the following question: “Do you think there are people somewhat like ourselves living on other planets in the universe or not?” (Question 1) The result was 49% Yes, 48% No, and 1% No Opinion, with a 6 percentage points margin of error. I consider the wording of the question to give the respondents some “wiggle room.”
Perhaps Gallup realized this and offered an alternate version of the question to 529 American adults around the country: “Do you think there is life of some form on other planets in the universe or not?” (Question 2) The result was 75% Yes, 22% No, and 3% No Opinion, with a 5 percentage points margin of error. I am not surprised at this result. Life is known to exist on earth in remarkably harsh environments. I would be interested in exploring the opinions of the No respondents.
In August, Gallup asked 1,521 American adults around the country the following question: “We have a question about Unidentified Flying Objects, also known as UFOs. Which comes closer to your view – [ROTATED: some UFOs have been alien spacecraft visiting Earth from other planets or galaxies, (or) all UFO sightings can be explained by human activity on Earth or natural phenomenon]?” (Question 3)
I consider the “ROTATED” to mean that half the time they offered one possible answer first, and the other half they offered the other possible answer first. The results was 33% “some UFOs have been alien spacecraft visiting Earth from other planets or galaxies,” 60% “all UFO sightings can be explained by human activity on Earth of natural phenomenon,” and 7% No opinion, with a 3 percentage points margin of error.
Both polls showed the responses of different subgroups, sorted by gender, region, education level and political affiliation. There were subgroup responses higher and lower than the total response. But all of the subgroup responses were close to the total response. There is no one subgroup that is driving the total response.
How many people are changing their minds?
What do we think about our visitors? Quite a few people are changing their minds, as it turns out. In 1999, 41% answered Yes to Question 1. An 8% increase works out to 19.2 million American adults changing their minds. In 1999, 61% answered Yes to Question 2. A 14% increase works out to 33.2 million American adults changing their minds. Question 3 has only been asked by Gallup in August of 2019.
The Marist Poll shows a more dramatic change than the Gallup Poll. But both polls show that many Americans are changing their minds on the subject of the existence of intelligent life on other planets.
Why are we changing our minds?
What do we think about our visitors? Part of the reason people are changing their minds might be the explosion in exoplanet discovery. Exoplanets are planets orbiting a star other than our sun.
Some people are changing their minds in response to certain news items.
The Chinese poet Du Fu (杜甫) (712-770) is well-known and well-loved among Chinese-speakers around the world. He aspired to be a civil servant, but his poetry made a much greater impact.
I have mentioned that it took about six hundred years for the poetry of Rumi to reach the west. It took a much longer time for the poetry of Du Fu to arrive on western shores. British diplomat Herbert Giles (1845-1935) was the first English translator of Du Fu in 1898. Since then, the importance of Du Fu has been recognized by western scholars. Stephen Owen translated the complete works of Du Fu in 2016.
Facing my fears and griefs
The Du Fu poem I am sharing with you is from a troubled season of Chinese history known as the An Lushan Rebellion. I’m told that Du Fu is hiding in a Buddhist monastery to avoid being conscripted by rebel forces. Here is the poem in Chinese:
Du Fu wrote four poems in this setting. This is the third of them. Earlier translators rendered the title as “In Abbot Zan’s Room at Dayun Temple.” I am sharing a translation by David Young.
In the Abbot’s Cell
I lie awake and watch the flicker of the lamp
delicate odor of incense helps to clear my thoughts
mostly filled with darkness the central hall looms large
sound of a wind chime tinkling below the eaves
The flowers just outside are all invisible
but I can smell their fragrance here in the quiet dark
one of the constellations is setting behind the roof
passing the iron phoenix fixed at the temple’s peak
Pretty soon the monks will start to chant their sutras
the bell calls them to prayer I stay in bed
before very long I’ll have to rise and walk across plowed fields
facing the dust and wind facing my fears and griefs.
I take pleasure in Du Fu’s enjoyment of the environment and the present moment. To me, it is as if he takes strength to face the coming trials from these things. This poem can be found in the book “Du Fu: A Life in Poetry” translated by David Young.
The world is facing a pandemic. Strategies have proven ineffective. Du Fu enjoyed the odor of the incense and the movement of the constellations. I am enjoying offering a poem of Du Fu in the hope of giving strength to face difficulties. I lift up the hands of the helpers. In my own way, I am facing the dust and wind, facing my fears and griefs.