On Grabbing A Bargain?

Boxing Day SalesNearly everyone I know has been rushing out to the Boxing Day sales today, determined to grab that ‘must have’ bargain.

But is it a ‘must have’, is it even a ‘bargain’, is it, really?

All over Christmas, at every commercial break, we get bombarded with ‘Bargain Offers’ for buy now, pay later ‘Must Haves’ … Rubbish.

Happiness stems from who you are, and not from what you own. That nice new iPad Mini 3 or iPhone 6 that you have been showing off, will very soon be yesterdays toy, and the next big ‘must have’ thing will come along to take its place.

Look around you, see how much you really have, family, friends and all manner of comforts in life. You don’t need that ‘must have’ gizmo, and if it really were such a ‘bargain’, why would the company be selling it at that price? Because they are just ripping you off by a little less than before.

Retail therapy is only therapy for the companies selling the goods. Tell me, honestly, that you have never been out, bought a ‘bargain’, and regretted it, maybe even before you got home. Think before you spend that hard earned cash, think even harder before you pay with your credit card or take a loan. Do you really need it?

If The Cap Fits …

Nichiren DaishoninWith an increasing feeling of dismay, I see the gap between the have’s and have not’s of this world continually growing.

The very concept of fairness in our societies seems to have been completely forgotten.

With that in mind, I can think of a whole bunch of people who would do well to listen to the following advice …

If you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banner of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra.

Worldly fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are ties that will fetter you in a next one.

~ Nichiren Daishonin

Get ‘Em Out By Friday – Nothing Changes

Get Em Out By Friday - hear it hereThere is nothing better to perk up a dull and boring morning at work than listening to some rocking music. My taste in music is pretty eclectic, but this morning I have been listening to some classic Genesis tracks.

Now I can listen to Genesis till the cows come home and I have loved them since they formed back in 1967. I wore out copies of Trespass, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot on a tinny Dansette record player in the psychedelic bedroom of my teenage years, and today I was listening to Foxtrot once again.

I know the lyrics to all the old classic Genesis tracks, those of the Steve Hackett, Peter Gabrielle era, but one track really stood out today, Get ’em out by Friday. It’s the story of unscrupulous property developers and investment scams, of people being evicted and ripped off by crooked landlords.

The lyrics and music were recorded back in August 1972, 42 years ago, but the dialogue performed shows that nothing has really changed in all that time …

John Pebble of Styx Enterprises:
“Get ’em out by Friday!
You don’t get paid till the last one’s well on his way.
Get ’em out by Friday!
It’s important that we keep to schedule, there must be no delay.”

Mark Hall of Styx Enterprises: (otherwise known as “The Winkler”)
“I represent a firm of gentlemen who recently purchased this
House and all the others in the road,
In the interest of humanity we’ve found a better place for you
To go, go-woh, go-woh”

Mrs. Barrow: (a tenant)
“Oh no, this I can’t believe,
Oh Mary, they’re asking us to leave.”

Mr. Pebble:
“Get ’em out by Friday!
I’ve told you before, ‘s good many gone if we let them stay.
And if it isn’t easy,
You can squeeze a little grease and our troubles will soon run away.”

Mrs. Barrow:
“After all this time, they ask us to leave,
And I told them we could pay double the rent.
I don’t know why it seemed so funny,
Seeing as how they’d take more money.
The winkler called again, he came here this morning,
With four hundred pounds and a photograph of the place he has found.
A block of flats with central heating.
I think we’re going to find it hard.”

Mr. Pebble:
“Now we’ve got them!
I’ve always said that cash cash cash can do anything well.
Work can be rewarding
When a flash of intuition is a gift that helps you excel-sell-sell-sell.”

Mr. Hall:
“Here we are in Harlow New Town,
Did you recognise your block across the square, over there,
Sadly since last time we spoke,
We’ve found we’ve had to raise the rent again,
Just a bit.”

Mrs. Barrow:
“Oh no, this I can’t believe
Oh Mary, and we agreed to leave.”

(a passage of time)

18/9/2012 T.V. Flash on all Dial-A-Program Services:
This is an announcement from Genetic Control:
“It is my sad duty to inform you of a four foot restriction on
Humanoid height.”

Extract from conversation of Joe Ordinary in Local Puborama:
“I hear the directors of Genetic Control have been buying all the
Properties that have recently been sold, taking risks oh so bold.
It’s said now that people will be shorter in height,
They can fit twice as many in the same building site.
(they say it’s alright),
Beginning with the tenants of the town of Harlow,
In the interest of humanity, they’ve been told they must go,
Told they must go-go-go-go.”

Sir John De Pebble of United Blacksprings International:
“I think I’ve fixed a new deal
A dozen properties – we’ll buy at five and sell at thirty four,
Some are still inhabited,
It’s time to send the winkler to see them,
He’ll have to work some more.”

Memo from Satin Peter of Rock Development Ltd:
With land in your hand, you’ll be happy on earth
Then invest in the Church for your heaven.

So nothing changes, the have’s still have and the have-not’s still pay for the privilege. At the risk of being labelled an anarchist, I think we need a revolution. I’m already involved in trying to change the way money works in this country, maybe part of that should take the form of a more fair levelling of incomes.

In so many parts of the country, the children of current home owners have no chance to buy property in the towns in which they were born. It might almost be seen as a form of social engineering by the people who control the money supply.

Time for big changes me thinks.

The Great Money Delusion

The Great Money DelusionThe capitalist system in western society has caused many of us to become addicted to wealth and be dominated by the pursuit of money and power.

This is at the expense of fairness, sharing and compassion. We are all constantly being measured, to all intents and purposes, by what we own or what we earn, rather than who we really are as a person.

A society that has sacrificed so much to material wealth that it has forgotten the human heart and the best of human aspirations, degenerates into something compassionless, doctrinaire, ignorant and ultra-conservative. When this happens, fundamental solutions to the issues of that society become impossible. If we protect the truth and are resolute, we are capable of creating peace and prosperity, and the truth that we should be protecting has to be high and great.

The great truth of Nichiren Buddhism, the thing that we must do our utmost to protect, involves ethics and the very best of human nature. At the very heart of this lies our duty to protect the truth of life, the truth that we are all one with the universe, and that every single human thought contains the entirety of universal life.

The sooner we realise that this addiction is destroying our human nature, the sooner we can start to right the injustices in society. Failure to take steps to redress the balance of wealth will result in more of the kind of riots and protests we saw across the country in the last few years. We all knock the bankers for their greed and avarice, but we are all to blame to a greater or lesser extent for letting the system continue, and we must do better.

If you would like to help change the way money is controlled and how it dictates the structure of society, you might like to join Positive Money and find out how money really circulates. We need to change the money mechanism in order to make the world a fairer place. The sooner that process begins, the better for all (but the richest) of us.

Ironic Or What?

The Barn Of FollyIt’s a fairly well known fact that 90% of the wealth of the UK is in the hands of 10% of the population, which is a shocking state of affairs in my opinion.

Of course it’s fairly easy to be shocked when you aren’t one of the 10%, but it got me wondering whether I would be any more benevolent if I were.

You may remember the fable about the rich farmer who, having grown his crops, decided that he needed to store it somewhere safe, so that the peasants of the area couldn’t get their thieving hands on any of it. So he set about building a huge barn, and made it secure so it kept out the riff-raff.

It must have taken him quite a while to build it, but finally it was finished, and he was happy that his crops would now be safe. Of course, there was far more than he would ever need himself, but he locked it all away and hoarded it for his old age. Ironically, the night the barn was finished, he died in his sleep.

So the adage that ‘you can’t take it with you’ is anything but new. So I suppose the lesson from the story is, if you have enough of anything, money, food, whatever, you are fortunate. If you have more than enough, you are more than fortunate, and you might consider sharing some of it with others less fortunate, particularly in these austere times.

Money Or Happiness?

Money Or Happiness?Given the choice, would you rather have money, or the happiness that love brings? Many people seem to think that money and happiness go hand in hand, but under so many circumstances, money creates a situation where having the one precludes us from having the other.

As the Beatles song from the Sixties said, ‘I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love. Sadly, in our capitalist western society, too many are driven and judged by the money they own, but at what cost?

Sensei was speaking of exactly this issue when he said …

Even if you are born into the most affluent of circumstances or enjoy a spectacular marriage that is the envy of others, there is no guarantee that you will be happy.

Happiness does not depend on wealth or personal appearance, nor does it hinge on fame or recognition. If your heart is empty, you cannot build genuine happiness.

There is an expansive life-state of profound, secure happiness that transcends any material or social advantage. It is called faith; it is called the life-state of Buddhahood.

Of course, money may allow a greater degree of choice in the decisions we take in life, but be assured, it cannot guarantee the happiness that loving relationships provide.

Good News, But When Will They Listen?

Good News, But When Will They Listen?The breaking news this morning, that half the people diagnosed with cancer will live at least another decade is good news indeed. But we are still missing the point when it comes to cancer.

It is great that treatment therapy for cancer is improving and is welcome news, but surely we should be ploughing money into finding a way to stop cancer forming in the first place, that way the treatments would not be needed.

Hang on a minute, isn’t that why we aren’t doing it? If all the cancers stop, the whole cancer industry stops, hundreds, thousands of people would have to find another way to earn their living. Do you think that might be why?

In fact, we already know how to stop cancer developing, science has isolated, and proven, that the ingestion of animal protein is the cause. The message is slowly getting out there, and whilst I am pleased that cancer sufferers can look forward to extended lives, these ‘good news’ messages only serve to prolong the error of our ways.

Social Values

ShameEvery day, online, in the press, on radio and TV, we hear reports of people in positions of power or authority, abusing those positions in order to gain yet more wealth or power. It is said that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It seems, with the ever growing gap between rich and poor, that responsibility and being held to account, are fast fading traits from a bygone age.

As Daisaku Ikeda says, “We must establish the correct standard of value upon the foundation of the dignity of life. Leaders of society, including politicians and schoolteachers, should teach children the distinction between good and evil and lead society in the direction of goodness. Today, however, the higher the status that people achieve, the more wrongdoings they tend to commit. Those in high status think only of their selfish interests while exploiting ordinary people. The “me first” attitude prevails. Looking at those adults, children cannot possibly grow upright. Such social trends, in a sense, are destroying our children. Adults must first reflect on their own way of life. Without self-reflection, adults are not qualified to scold children.”

History shows us, that given sufficient provocation, citizens who feel a total lack of power or hope for their future, will take matters into their own hands, often with catastrophic consequences. Remember the French and Russian revolutions, bloody events where the citizens of the country took back control.

How long will it be before we begin to see, that our leaders, and those with wealth and power, have started to heed the lessons of history, and are using wisdom, courage and compassion to reverse the ugly trend towards increasing greed, selfishness and elitism?

Are They Effin’ Serious?

Barclays BankThe UK banks, and Barclays in particular, seem to live on another planet. On the day they announce that between 10,000 and 12,000 jobs are to be cut, 7,000 of which are in the UK, they also trumpet the fact that they have increased their investment bank’s bonus pool by 10%.

Chief executive, Antony Jenkins, who to his credit has waived his own annual bonus, said that the bank “Had to be competitive on pay and had to pay for performance”. All this coming in the light of a 37% slump in pre-tax profits from the investment banking division. It begs the question, “What exactly are they paying bonuses for?”

Whilst we are all still holding our breath and hoping that the apparent ‘green shoots of recovery’ in the economy in general continue, it beggars belief to hear that the already obscenely overpaid investment bankers are going to get yet more in the way of undeserved bonuses. If they can’t ‘make do’ with the crazy amounts they get paid already, let them go, and get someone who will earn their bonus step in and take over the role.

Credit to Robert Peston, the BBC business editor, who seems to have summed up the gobsmacking incredulity felt by the general public, saying “There is blank incomprehension from those not in the industry that the going rate remains so high for people widely seen as being more than walk-ons in the epic near-destruction of global financial capitalism just a short while ago”

I think it is high time we as citizens, demanded a higher moral code from all the public bodies with whom we have to deal. Whether it is the banks, the utility companies, the government agencies, such as environment at this time, or the police and judiciary, we must demand to be treated fairly.

Those who have seen their salaries frozen or cut and those who have lost their jobs because of the cut-backs have made the greatest sacrifices. The government keeps telling us that we are all in this economic downturn together, but it most certainly doesn’t feel like it from where I stand.

Tax cuts for the rich, increased bonuses for the very people who got us into all this mess, coupled to further draconian cuts in social welfare for the poorest, weakest and most needy, where is the togetherness in all that?

The Cinderella Disease

Sir Terry PratchettIn a high profile G8 summit this week, the leaders are pledging to increase funding for research into dementia in order to ‘develop a cure or treatment by 2025’. With the ever growing current figure of 44 million dementia sufferers set to reach 135 million world wide by 2050, it is a situation which will only become a greater problem for governments.

Sir Terry Pratchett, in a recent interview described Alzheimer’s as The Cinderella Disease. ‘It’s is because it isn’t sexy’ said Pratchett, ‘they’re old people, they’re going to die anyway’. He also said that there was no clear pathway to help and advice.

Whilst I applaud the G8 leaders for finally giving dementia the recognition it deserves, far more help needs to be given to those affected and further education as to the causes of the various diseases that comprise the illness. I know I keep harping on about animal fats and proteins, and how or diets are responsible for many of the ‘western’ diseases, but links to Alzheimer’s are quite clear from research.

My concern is that the pharmaceutical companies and the research institutions rely of these illnesses for their funding and profits. If society were to suddenly to be made aware of the precautions that can be taken, not only would our meat and dairy industries collapse, but huge losses and closures would also ensure in the pharmaceutical sector.

Prevention is better than cure, always, so if you value the health of those you love, get a copy of the China Study, read about all the misinformation we have, and continue to be fed and make you own mind up about what you wish to consume in the future.

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