Adventures with Ideas: Truth, Beauty, and the Paradoxes of Life.


The pain of remaining tight

"The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" —Anais Nin Throughout my yoga class on Wednesday my teacher repeated the quote: "The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom"... Yoga is not about stretching and fitness, although these are nice side effects. Yoga is about opening the body, the mind and the spirit—but most of all it is about connection. The Sanskrit word yoga Read more [...]

Thinking about Compassion, and signing the Charter

Call it procrastination or maybe even research, I've been spending a bit of time over the past week catching up on YouTube, RSA, TED Talks and general online initiatives connecting with my interests in peace, justice, environmental sustainability, technology and holistic worldviews. Today I stumbled across the Charter for Compassion: I remember author and scholar Karen Armstrong's TED Talk, which won the 2008 TED Prize. Armstrong talks about how the Abrahamic religions -- Islam, Read more [...]

2013 Sydney Peace Prize: Dr Cynthia Maung

Let me introduce Dr Cynthia Maung, recipient of the 2013 Sydney Peace Prize, who is consuming my life right now as (as Executive Officer of the Sydney Peace Foundation) I am organising Dr Cynthia's visit to Sydney and two HUGE events that follow. Since the announcement in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend (“Fragile Sanctuary”), on 17 August, we have been on a mission to sell tickets, stimulate media interest and organise the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the Sydney Town Read more [...]

Why write?

I tend not to write when everything is going well. There's little need. Such peace, in a sense, is boring. At least when it comes to content for a blog. I also tend not to write when I'm "too busy". When all my energy is being directed elsewhere: into work, relationships, exercise or otherwise. For a lover of writing this tension can be sickening to their being. But, there are times in life when time must be diverted in this way. The shorter the period of such a diversion the better. A blog Read more [...]

Boundaries between Self and World

"Your skin doesn't separate you from the world; it's a bridge through which the external world flows into you, and you flow into it." More Alan Watts? Yes, it's always a good time for more Alan Watts. Over and over and over, repeat. "The whole world is moving through you, all the cosmic rays, all the food you're eating, the stream of steaks and milk and eggs and everything is just flowing right through you." Have you ever thought about your self in this way? In goes oxygen, water, sunshine Read more [...]

A Call to Philosophical Literacy

Philosophy, ideas, culture, intellectual development in the Arts, have been ridiculed by the right-wing "Liberal" political party in Australia. A Coalition Press Release yesterday read: 'The Coalition would look to targeting those ridiculous research grants that leave taxpayers scratching their heads wondering just what the Government was thinking. Taxpayer dollars have been wasted on projects that do little, if anything, to advance Australians research needs. For example: The quest for Read more [...]

Blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

On Tuesday 18 June, I shook hands and looked into the eyes of the man who seems to be the happiest man in the world—His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. More than meeting him, at the end of our event I received a blessing from him. It was very real but also surreal. As one might imagine, it takes a lot of work and preparation, and a bit of stress. Ok, a lot of stress. Every detail must be taken care of. Every person must have a seat, but no seat should be empty. This Read more [...]

You are the Big Bang, if it weren’t for your “Discontinuous Mind”

It is a common misinterpretation of the Theory of Evolution to think that there is a clear line between species—this is what Richard Dawkins calls “The Tyranny of the Discontinuous Mind.” If we are connected in time to all species, then are we not also connected to the big bang? In fact, within such a continuity, can we not define our selves as the Big Bang, expressing itself in different forms? Let's explore Dawkins' tyranny along with my all time favourite, Alan Watts. In The Ancestor’s Read more [...]

“What if God doesn’t DO things? What if God is IN things?”

In his TED Talk, the Canon Pastor of Exeter Cathedral in the UK, Tom Honey, explained some of the dilemmas involved in challenging images and ideas attached to the traditional notion of God within his congregation. He explains the way that ‘most people, both within and outside the organized church, still have a picture of a celestial controller, a rule maker, a policeman in the sky who orders everything, and causes everything to happen,’ and how in time he had become ‘more and more uncomfortable Read more [...]

Honouring Outrage: Celebrating Courage in Paris

On 2 May 2013, in Paris, my colleagues and I represented the Sydney Peace Foundation at the Australian Ambassador's Residence in Paris, where we awarded a posthumous Gold Medal for Human Rights to Stéphane Hessel for his life-long contribution to building a more peaceful and just society. Stéphane Hessel was a German born Jew whose family fled to France who became a fighter in the French Resistance where he was captured, tortured and escaped execution by the Nazis. On returning to Paris Read more [...]

Women and Peace in the Middle East

I've been a bit slack with my blogging the last few years, which is a shame given the great work that I'm involved in with the Sydney Peace Foundation, and the research I'm doing at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Unfortunately there's only so much time in the day. Unless you've worked in hospitality you don't know the work that goes into waitressing, cooking and the respect deserved for it. Everyone should work in hospitality, at least once life. Same goes for organising events. Read more [...]

Making sense of suffering

How does one make sense of large scale suffering, like that of global disasters, Auschwitz, or even cyclical poverty? Is that God's not-so-fine handiwork? This TED Talk by Rev. Tom Honey, introduces a different idea about God that is well-known in intellectual theological circles, but not so well known outside of this. Rev. Honey challenges the traditional conception of God as a "male boss"... a "celestial controller, a rule maker, a policeman in the sky who orders everything, and causes everything Read more [...]

Justice: the Bread of the People

"Justice is the bread of the people", wrote the poet Bertolt Brecht. In the first week of November, I had more than my fair share of peace, justice and conflict... A small team at the Sydney Peace Foundation comprising of myself, our media and events coordinator Melissa, my intern Bonnie, some volunteers, lead by our Chair Stuart Rees, pulled off the 2012 Sydney Peace Prize events: flying Senator Sekai Holland and her husband Jim from Zimbabwe to Sydney to face an onslaught of media including Read more [...]

Life is a Conversation

Life is '“a conversation that has gone on for centuries,” that one comes in and one tries to hear others both dead and living, and eventually may add to the conversation. “But there comes a time to leave the conversation and the conversation will go on.”'[1] Paul Ricoeur saw his life as a conversation, and his was a conversation I can only dream to join... Ricoeur was a French philosopher (aren’t they all?) who wrote over 50 books and is one of the top five most important philosophers Read more [...]

Peace Portal

The Sydney Peace Foundation has posted a Peace with Justice Links page (complied by yours truly) bringing together links to resources for those interested in knowing more about peace, conflict, justice, human rights, environmental ethics and more. Visit the full page here: Peace with Justice Links. Here are some highlights and personal favourites: Why is peace with justice important? "Peace with justice is a way of thinking and acting which promotes nonviolent solutions to everyday problems and Read more [...]

Pussy Riots and a Government of Pussies

Governments bullying citizens, governments bullying governments, and pussy governments (like my own) abandoning their citizens to the hands of others. For all our so-called "development", our institutions and some people's mental states are appallingly archaic, fascist and cowardice. Doesn't give me much faith in any of our political leaders or "democracy"... It seems a terrible combination of power and fear has the leaders of our society acting worse than children in a playground. Are the school Read more [...]

COURSERA: Technology + Education = Peaceful Revolution

On the hunt for a TED Talk for our next "Three Fork" session I came across Stanford Professor Daphne Koller sharing an online education platform set to change the world... You must visit the page: - so impressive! A massive network of FREE education from 16 of the world's best universities.   Courses go for 6-10 weeks, include weekly videos to watch, homework, assignments and sometimes exams - but tailored to your needs, and all developed by 16 of the world's Read more [...]

Left, Right, and Identity

During the Three Fork discussions (see this morning's post, which I didn't want to be longer than it already was) I began to relate the tension between left and right to the tension between the two parts of our “self” in time, that Paul Ricoeur refers to as the ipse and the idem. The ipse is the “selfhood” – the you that was living in a moment sitting at school listening (or not) to a teacher talk, the you that is living in the moment right now reading these words, and the you that Read more [...]

“Three Fork”: conversation beyond the norm

Last Wednesday was the pilot launch of "Three Fork", a cafe/bar that aims to stimulate "Free Thought", conversation beyond the norm. The plan: Three D’s Drinks 730pm Dinner 8pm (& TED Talk) Discussion 830pm The night couldn't have been more successful. Over Drinks the nine people who were selectively and spontaneously invited about an hour before the event, informal introduced themselves standing/sitting around the bar. Next everyone was encouraged to help themselves to the Read more [...]

Flux, Fluidity and Turning Thirty

What does it mean to have existed on a planet for thirty rotations around a sun? A sense of temporality set in. A week ago, as I went for my first morning walk as a thirty-year-old, I felt a sense of relief, a sense of excitement and a sense of fulfillment. After what feels like four years of growing anticipation (weighted by the 2012 Mayan Prophecies, the "4-years go" campaign, and an interrelated growing eco-social conscience), I had arrived. I wrote in my diary: "My twenties were great - Read more [...]

“White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy”

The truth can hurt. It's a harsh world, and a harsh critique: “White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy”. Unfortunately those four words capture a certain truth about our history and prevailing political and economical hierarchy of power. These words come from American author, feminist, and social activist, Bell Hooks. Hooks uses the term "white supremacy" above “racism” as white supremacy ‘evokes a political world that we all frame ourselves in relation to.’ They say life Read more [...]

Does religion affect population growth?

What is the connection between religion and population growth? The answer might surprise you: absolutely nothing. Well, according to Hans Rosling. In his April 2012 TED-Talk, Rosling graphs the relationship between religion, income and children between zero and fifteen years olds. He shows that there is no connection between religion and babies, and that there is a much closer connection between: 1 - mortality rates and babies born ie the more likely a baby is to die, the more babies a mother Read more [...]

The War Prayer – Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on..." The War Prayer, is a short story by Mark Twain about blind patriotic war and the God who is on both sides. Written around 1904, published after his death in 1923. Part 1   Part 2   It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the Read more [...]

The Earth Charter

"We must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals." During my time in Costa Rica, I saw the construction of an institute dedicated to research and implementation of The Earth Charter, which is being built next to the University for Peace. The Earth Charter was developed over the last decade by an independent Earth Charter Commission, following the 1992 Earth Summit. The objective was "to produce a global Read more [...]