Science Disolves Self

Read an article about horizontal gene transfer, where "DNA passes from one organism to another generally unrelated one, rather than moving ‘vertically’ from parent to child".
In fact, horizontal gene transfer has happened between all kinds of living things throughout the history of life on the planet – not just between species, but also between different kingdoms of life. Bacterial genes end up in plants; fungal genes wind up in animals; snake and frog genes find their way into cows and bats. It seems that the genome of just about every modern species is something of a mosaic constructed with genes borrowed from many different forms of life.
It seems that genes frequently "jump" from one organism to another for the purpose of perpetuating the genes themselves -- regardless of the opinion of the whole genome. The genomes seem more permeable and dynamic than I had thought, as a layperson to the biological sciences.


More China Impressions

This round in more depth.

1. Thanks to inspiration from friends, I held the intention of getting to know my grandparents on this trip, and record the "interviews" of their life stories. This is probably among the most meaningful things I have ever done in life. It filled me with awe and gratitude. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone to ask their grandparents about their life stories and their ancestors. It will surely be an unexpected journey of discovery, remembrance, and thanksgiving.

I am lucky to have all four grandparents still living healthily. They are in their late seventies and mid eighties. Every meeting with them could be the last time I see them. This very real urgency added to my curiosity about their life, their times, and by extension, who I am, and where I came from.


China Impressions

It's been two years since I last set foot on the homeland, so it was with eager and curious eyes that I observed the country on the recent 3-week trip. Here are some impressions that stood out.

1. Bad news first: the environmental crises, especially the air quality, are even worse than I expected. The APEC-blue did just a little to clear the skies. Driving from Inner Mongolia all the way to Shanghai, we were submerged in dense smog the whole way, except for a few rare relief in the mountains.

Talking to people in the government, business and the legal system provided some clue to the cause of the eco-crises. The systems (political, economic, and social) incentivize pollution, and provide no check-and-balance. The fragile moral fabric does not withstand the pounding force of state capitalism and greed. Many people are getting sick, and dying of cancer. It is heart-breaking. I used to think that I will bike across China in the next few years, but now it seems suicidal to do it to the lung.


Recent Thoughts

1. In the belly 

It is deeply fascinating to work inside the system. The experiential learning and visceral reactions of being in the industrial growth society -- the belly of the beast -- are priceless.

I can start to see how it is hard for those who have never worked inside the system to sympathize with those who are toiling in it. I start to experience the bodily reaction when my work inside of the system is being critiqued and criticized. 

There is confirmation bias on both sides: those who are in the capitalist system, and those who believe they are not. Being inside the system, one needs to rationalize and justify their work. One's ego, self-worth, greed and desires all bond him tighter with the system.


Toolkit for Life

So many of our tools these days are life-destructive. There are weapons of mass destruction, and there are massive, destructive weapons on all level and scales.

To dismantle these weapons, and to rebuild a life sustaining society, we need a new toolkit for life. Here are some tools I've come across in recent months that have given me hope and inspiration.

What these tools have in common, is a recognition that changes must happen at the mind/heart/soul/spirit level, which will then manifest through our actions and ways of being. These tools help facilitate the heart-shift, and enable us to tap into the deep interconnection to Life.

Will continue to explore and expand the toolkit for life, and dismantle the tools of death -- inside and outside.


Internet, Intelligence, Work, Awakening

Recently, a few themes start to intertwine in my head.
  • The Internet Age. It is all the rage in China, with "internet mindset" as the societal buzzword. National TV station came out with 10-episode series on the internet age. Everyone talks about how the web is revolutionizing the way of life, of business, and of living. All my aunts and uncles are glued to their smartphones, sharing stuff around the clock. Everyone is excited (and many are worried) about the disruptions from net.
  • Artificial intelligence. Increasing evidence that AI is inevitable, bringing a completely unforeseeable future, throwing into question morality, rights, and all the basic elements of human society and self-perception.
  • Technological unemployment. As a result of ongoing automation and AI evolution, more and more of the "secure jobs" are opened up for competition with robots. As the industrial society becomes ever more "productive" with the help of machines and algorithms, Marx's warning on "technological unemployment" (and the resulting over-production and under consumption) as an intrinsic aspects of capitalism seems ever more prescient. What are we going to do with ourselves, when the world doesn't "need" us anymore?
  • Inner awakening in an internet age. As the digital walls close in around us, what's psychological and neurological consequences? What new obstacles, and opportunities, for inner awakening lie ahead? As we ramp up the demand on our brains to keep up with the intelligence machines, where do we find space for the soul, and for seeking?
Innovation has always been an arms race with ourselves, a competition between intentions and unintended consequences. Is this time different?


Science and Fiction

Some recent tidbits of information from sciences and fictions seem to connect the dots.

On the science side:

  • Plant microbiomes. "Distinct microbial communities live inside roots, on leaves and within flowers, and all in all have an estimated three to six orders of magnitude greater genetic diversity than their plant hosts." These microbes hold a key to plant health and yield. The article noted that large agri-chemical companies, such as Monsanto, are investing heavily to develop "living crop aids."
  • Epigenetic inheritance. Evidence is mounting that environmental factors (such as exposure to pollution and stress) can be passed on through multiple generations through epigenetic markers -- not DNA, but affects how DNA manifests in future generations. That is to say, exposure to toxic chemicals -- that's everyone these days, as well as trauma and stress -- such as racism and fear, will be passed on to several generations. Many of the chemicals and stresses are produced by the same companies that we are counting on (in above bullet point) to save us.


Non-status-quo Economy

Our modern, industrial-growth civilization is sick. In both senses of the word: it is ill, and sickening. It is the cause, and the effect. There is no need to run through the list of deep problems in our economy, society, ecosystem, and spirituality -- our collective consciousness.

At the same time, the Earth's "immune response" is being activated. For example, it seems that, every other day, a new proper noun is born -- "this economy," "that capitalism" -- in a global struggle to give language to our new consciousness, and to find a way out of our economic, ecological and spiritual abyss. Here are some notable ones: Regenerative Economy, Sharing Economy, Collaborative Economy, Restorative Economy, Responsible Economy, Steady-state Economy, Circular Economy, Natural Capitalism, Sustainable Capitalism, Green Capitalism, Spiritual Capitalism ...