The UK and Billy-no-mates

Take a look at the clip from the film “Gandhi” I posted up yesterday. That “British” entitlement mind-set has yet to fade. It just doesn’t get it. It doesn’t get that it no longer has an empire. It doesn’t get that people are not as interested in negotiating with the UK as we might like. It doesn’t get that the haughty attitude pisses people off. And it doesn’t get that if you piss your allies and trading partners off, you are weakening alliances and losing friends. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

Divide and rule can leave you on your own.

So where are we now? We are indulging in a fascination with intrigue instead of getting on with extracting ourselves from the EU, the business at hand. And we are demanding that the world supports us. We are issuing unrealistic ultimatums to a world power. An MI6 agent has had an attempt on his life. Someone has attempted the murder of a spy, wow that is a real curve ball, straight out of left field, not. If we try to ramp it up, we shall find out soon enough who our friends are. It may turn out that we are fast becoming Billy-no-mates.

“How terribly shocking old boy. One of our MI6 agents has had an assassination attempt in a cathedral city, carried out by those bloody Russians. Let’s really show them who is boss…”

It is a bit like me, a man in his fifties, walking into a gang of fit young men and saying; “come on if you think you are hard enough.”

When, oh when, will it sink in….


Does Intrigue Liberate?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Sadly, many workplaces are hotbeds of politics, gossip and intrigue. It seems to be a part of “normal” everyday life. And to some extent or other we all engage in it. We want to know who are the “movers and shakers”, who is shagging who and who has made an arse of themselves at the Christmas do. Rumours get spread, people get spied upon and each tit-bit is assessed for the amount of potential leverage it may confer. And now we have electronic intrigue in which snippets are available on this lovely thing called the internet. We can monitor people we know, our exes, people we hold a grudge against, and that monitoring can quite quickly turn over into an obsessive stalking. I’ll make a statement here:

When we gather together to gossip about another being, that is bullying.

Of course, the degree of bullying depends upon motives. As a rule of thumb, the more secretive we are about something the dodgier the motive. We know when we are being “naughty” and are up to no good. We may say a whole bunch of shit about someone behind their back which we would never say to their face. This is duplicity. It is also intrigue. Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that what is done under cover, in the shadows, is not light. It is pretty fucking simple, anything done in the darkness is a dark thing. Yet we all stray into this darkness and justify it to ourselves, maybe because there is some weird salacious pleasure in it.

It the darkness shadows grow.

This word secret is a big turn on for many. Victoria knew this when she made a lingerie line. Secrets entice and arouse, they draw people into the forbidden fruit. Some drool about secrets and secret knowledge, whether that be carnal or otherwise. How fascinated we are by secrets may vary, but words like cunning, although glamorous, are not uplifting. Look around you, who do you know is secretive, furtive and paranoid about having their secrets revealed. Maybe one of your male colleagues is wearing some of Victoria’s produce under his suit? We all have some secrets. But how many secrets we have relates to our degree of openness. Some have entire Swiss-bank-vaults-full-of-secrets. They are perennially afraid of being found out, ergo paranoid. To have secrets is to live in fear.

Duplicity and spying is a national fascination in the UK. Why else would we have James Bond as a kind of national hero? And now we have the putative poisoning of a former agent hitting the headlines. If you play intrigue games, you are going to get intrigue results.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

To set up a hypothetical example. In writing a blog, I have become “fair game”. Anyone can in principle read this blog, monitor it and otherwise stalk me, should they so wish. Only they would know their motives for so doing. Some sane people read this blog and act as grown-ups, in that from time to time they may “like” a post or follow me. This is harmless. And I do have a quick look at the blog of everyone who leaves a calling card, so to speak. There is no intrigue, people read some stuff, and should the whim take them, they press a button, simple. Others however may be visiting the blog for motives far less benign and for reasons of intrigue which may then give rise to gossip. There is very simple problem. On the off chance that they may wish to interact with me, how are they going to broach the subject of their intrigue? What might my response be? Will I be flattered? But when the immediacy of intrigue calls longer term thinking never enters in.

That is the problem with intrigue. It can become default behaviour. And if we visit intrigue upon others then by the law of reciprocity, a.k.a. Karma, so shall it be visited upon us.

One can make a case for state intrigue but as individuals we are not state. The only thing we can control is our own behaviours and orientations. We can choose not to play that game. And the more of us who do this, the less intrigue there will be. We can say; “no not me, I am not going to do that dodgy shit! I am not a perv.. I am not a salacious voyeur.”

It is up to each of us as to how we wish to live our lives.

So, I ask this question again:

Does intrigue ever bring liberation for us an individual cognate being?

If we stopped might we feel a whole lot better about ourselves?

Herein lies the rub

If because of your ambition, your anger, your lust for power, your love of intrigue, and your petty vengeances you have succumbed to dark thoughts and dark ways, it can be difficult to extract yourself therefrom. Should their hooks be deep in your flesh, your mind and they have whispered sweet justifications to you, then you are under their spell. They have bound you, however tightly or otherwise. And should you wake up to this you are now in a bit of a pickle.

In all likelihood, because of their Wormtongues ever seeking out your ear, you may have gotten rid of the very thing, the very persons who might help you. Moreover, they will have you believe that any such person is the reincarnation of the devil and it is they, the knight in shining armour. Slowly insidiously they have “won you over”. With their praise, all those reasons, they have convinced you.

If their hooks are deep, the extraction will be long and painful. If their darkness has your mind, hard it is to dispel. And you cannot turn to the person whom you once considered sensible and balanced, because now they are your mortal enemy. The worms have told you this and it must be true.

How then will you ever be rid, exorcised?

Herein lies the rub…..

Best not to go there in the first place, methinks…

The Jealousy of Devadatta

WHEN Devadatta, the son of Suprabuddha and a brother of Yasodhara, became a disciple, he cherished the hope of attaining the same distinctions and honors as Gotama Siddhattha. Being disappointed in his ambitions, he conceived in his heart a jealous hatred, and, attempting to excel the Perfect One in virtue, he found fault with his regulations and reproved them as too lenient.

Devadatta went to Rajagaha and gained the ear of Ajatasattu, the son of King Bimbisara. And Ajatasattu built a new vihara for Devadatta, and founded a sect whose disciples were pledged to severe rules and self-mortification.

Soon afterwards the Blessed One himself came to Rajagaha and stayed at the Veluvana vihara. Devadatta called on the Blessed One, requesting him to sanction his rules of greater stringency, by which a greater holiness might be procured. “The body,” he said, consists of its thirty-two parts and has no divine attributes. It is conceived in sin and born in corruption. Its attributes are liability to pain and dissolution, for it is impermanent. It is the receptacle of karma which is the curse of our former existences; it is the dwelling place of sin and diseases and its organs constantly discharge disgusting secretions. Its end is death and its goal the charnel house. Such being the condition of the body it behooves us to treat it as a carcass full of abomination and to clothe it in such rags only as have been gathered in cemeteries or upon dung-hills.”

The Blessed One said: “Truly, the body is full of impurity and its end is the charnel house, for it is impermanent and destined to be dissolved into its elements. But being the receptacle of karma, it lies in our power to make it a vessel of truth and not of evil. It is not good to indulge in the pleasures of the body, but neither is it good to neglect our bodily needs and to heap filth upon impurities. The lamp that is not cleansed and not filled with oil will be extinguished, and a body that is unkempt, unwashed, and weakened by penance will not be a fit receptacle for the light of truth. Attend to your body and its needs as you would treat a wound which you care for without loving it. Severe rules will not lead the disciples on the middle path which I have taught. Certainly, no one can be prevented from keeping more stringent rules, if he sees fit to do so but they should not be imposed upon any one, for they are unnecessary.”

Thus the Tathagata refused Devadatta’s proposal; and Devadatta left the Buddha and went into the vihara speaking evil of the Lord’s path of salvation as too lenient and altogether insufficient. When the Blessed One heard of Devadatta’s intrigues, he said: “Among men there is no one who is not blamed. People blame him who sits silent and him who speaks, they also blame the man who preaches the middle path.”

Devadatta instigated Ajatasattu to plot against his father Bimbisara, the king, so that the prince would no longer be subject to him. Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son in a tower, where he died, leaving the kingdom of Magadha to his son Ajatasattu.

The new king listened to the evil advice of Devadatta, and he gave orders to take the life of the Tathagata. However, the murderers sent out to kill the Lord could not perform their wicked deed, and became converted as soon as they saw him and listened to his preaching. The rock hurled down from a precipice upon the great Master split in twain, and the two pieces passed by on either side without doing any harm. Nalagiri, the wild elephant let loose to destroy the Lord, became gentle in his presence; and Ajatasattu, suffering greatly from the pangs of his conscience, went to the Blessed One and sought peace in his distress.

The Blessed One received Ajatasattu kindly and taught him the way of salvation; but Devadatta still tried to become the founder of a religious school of his own. Devadatta did not succeed in his plans and having been abandoned by many of his disciples, he fell sick, and then repented. He entreated those who had remained with him to carry his litter to the Buddha, saying: “Take me, children, take me to him; though I have done evil to him, I am his brother-in-law. For the sake of our relationship the Buddha will save me.” And they obeyed, although reluctantly.

And Devadatta in his impatience to see the Blessed One rose from his litter while his carriers were washing their hands. But his feet burned under him; he sank to the ground; and, having chanted a hymn on the Buddha, died.


By Paul Carus
Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,

Sourced and excerpted at Sacred Texts

Keeping Secrets

Cold here this morning and I have just put a kettle of boiling water on the bird bath / miniature pond to break through the ice so that the birds can have a drink with their breakfast. It is a bit of a metaphor. We all present ourselves in an air-brushed or photo-shopped way to the outside word. No CV tells the whole truth, it is after all a sales document and edited highlights. No on-line profile is a “warts and all” rendition. And many harbour secrets. Some of these big others tiny. I was joking about spliffgate yesterday. The press makes a big thing if they find an image of say a sanctimonious politician with a joint or a few lines of coke, even if that goes way back. It is not unusual for people, whilst at university, to experiment a little with drugs. On the basis of normality, it is normal. Yet some might be mortified if I did a spliffgate. I guess it all comes down to hypocrisy, the more hypocritical you are the more threatening a revelation might be. Others are embarrassed by their past and their deeds therein.

This word secret, is enticing, sometimes salacious and intriguing. People can be manipulated by it, we could offer you our secret so that you will be “in the know” and in our elite group. In this context there is even a notion of short-cut. There is no surer way to bind yourself to another being than to share a secret with them, in the pact of secrecy you are forever conjoined. Organisations have secrets, some of which leak. And then not only the act held secret is frowned upon but also the cover-up. We may have many secrets, from our “friends”, our partners, our children, and the neighbours. But where does this desire to keep secrets stem from? Is it about trying to look like a suave successful superhero, a saintly angel, rich and sane? Is it really all about appearances? Are we so busy doing our own PR that we forget what truth and reality are?

Secrets pertain to control and controlling. We want to control a situation by limiting that which is known and presented. We seek to control others by keeping things secret from them. The problem is that our secrets in turn exert a kind of control on us, we must be ever watchful for their revelation. The more secrets you have the more you fear exposure. This kind of secrecy trip can give some a boner, or make them damp, because secrets are a bit “naughty”. There is a waft of forbidden fruit to secrets. Our individual penchant for secrecy varies. Some like secrets because they perceive that it offers an advantage. It is a fucking weird game this “secret squirrels” stuff. There are family secrets, there are business secrets, there are technical secrets, there are hidden teachings and maybe under the spot marked X there is a secret buried treasure.

Under certain circumstances such as a covert military operation or in times of religious persecution secrecy is important for staying alive. Most of us do not face such circumstances on a daily basis, yet secrecy is a way of life for some. “Ssshh, don’t tell anyone about this, it is just between you and I.” 😉

Having cued this up:

Do I find secrets somehow salacious and enticing?

Do I keep secrets?

If so, about what and from whom do I keep them?

Am I bound to others with whom I share secrets?

If I am honest am I controlled and limited by the very secrets I keep?

What Does Intrigue Solve?

The answer can be found HERE.

Now imagine that you have a problem and that problem is me. You could discuss endlessly what do about me or with me. You would be doing this behind my back. That would be akin to conspiracy and plotting. It may never occur to you that in having secret conversations about me, you would be indulging in intrigue. You could declare me “Fair Game”. But would that actually solve anything?

Assuming this was not to your taste, what would you do next?

You could hire a hit man, find a way to sue me, or attempt to reconcile the situation somehow. But how would you step out of intrigue and into some kind of inclusive dialogue? You could pretend that you had not been having conspiring dialogues about what to do with me, how to handle “the situation”. However, I would not be convinced. Where do you think things might go?

Intrigue rarely solves anything and the only thing it creates is more intrigue. There is an endless cycling of it, ad infinitum.

Having cued this up:

What do you think, can intrigue solve problems?

If so, in what ways?

Does intrigue, as I have suggested, merely generate yet more intrigue?

How does intrigue flavour the world, what does it taste like?

An angle, a pretext

If you are a keen watcher of espionage films, as I am, you might note a recurring theme. This is that when people want to do something “dodgy” they try to create an angle, a pretext, a cover story. This enables them an entrance, a semi-plausible way in; an excuse, a rationalisation. They may spend ages trying to manufacture one of these. And we might do this for a crush we have. Somehow, we engineer a “chance” meeting in the corridor. Quite why people feel the need to go to such lengths is strange, but I guess we have all done something similar, to a greater or lesser extent. The thing is that these angles, these pretexts are subject to things going wrong and the basic motive is one of deceit.

Now most of us are not taking part in a le Carré novel in our daily lives, yet we do engage in this kind of intrigue. Maybe by playing games we keep hold of our “power”. I don’t know. But that tendency to manufacture rather than being straightforward is not uncommon. In so doing we set a tone. Of course, this could be part of the fun and games of courtship, with some frisson. But game playing is game playing, and it can go wrong. Too much game playing, and we feel unable to say what it is we feel for fear of handing over “the advantage”. We may miss, by our games, that which we want or need.

We are such a clever bunch, but that is not always wise. Being so caught up in this, what we fear most is being authentic and real.  Always trying to be foxy and cunning, we may fail in our covert missions. To think and behave like the SAS behind enemy lines, in our day to day interactions, does not breed goodwill. There is an unusual tactic that may work, and that is simply saying what you want or need and asking the other person what it is they are thinking. Call me a revolutionary if you want, but maybe you might need an angle or a pretext before you could broach the subject.

Do you get my drift here?

The more “sophisticated” you are the more you will search for an angle or a pretext so that you might have plausible deniability. The sand runs fast in the hourglass. Why is this plausible deniability so important? Well it is simple, we would not want to lose face or “power”.

And so, situations go foul because of this need for an angle, a pretext.

This fear of being vulnerable wounds us more than vulnerability itself ever can. Humans are fond of self-harm. And so, time after time, we seek an angle, a pretext, a cover story.

It is a bit sad.

Having cued this up:

Have I ever lost out by seeking an angle, a pretext?

If I had been simple and straightforward, might things have worked out differently?

Is it possible that I am a slow learner?