El-Branden Brazil

Photographer, Writer & Mystic Traveller

Posts tagged ‘ideas’

Mutual Coexistence

I’m a Buddhist. I practice Zazen (Zen meditation) regularly, I read, I contemplate. I also acknowledge that I don’t yet know ultimate Truth. To pretend to do so would be arrogance in the extreme.

My faith connects with me and helps me find meaning through the mysteries of everyday life and beyond. I personally believe that Lord Buddha’s teachings offer a very practical path to finding peace.

…What I believe, doesn’t mean I am necessarily right. I can no more prove my beliefs to be true than anyone else of another faith. My beliefs alone make no difference to the world, other than give me a label. It is how I act in the world that matters.

I have Christian, Muslim, Pagan, Jewish, Hindu and many other friends of faiths, who are close friends. There is no question that they are very good people, trying to be a force for light, rather than darkness, in the world. We have mutual respect for each other, and share in a single goal for peace, understanding and love.

We all need to celebrate together our wide-eyed, shared appreciation for the mystery of the Universe. Together, we should hold hands and breathe in the brief moment that is allowed us to explore it. We should waste no time fighting each other.

A Burning Lamp & Lotus Leaves
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Make A Difference

Let’s all work for peace, and encourage an end to all suffering.
Let’s continue to campaign for those who need help and support.
Let’s change the world with positivity and love.
Let’s find friendship with those we thought could never be our friends.
Let’s be tolerant and appreciative of the diversity of lifestyles and faiths.
Let’s try to become informed about the things we don’t understand.
Let’s make bridges between all nations.
Let’s be resolute in finding inner peace and beauty.
Let’s be wise in every decision we make.
Let’s be generous in spirit and heart to those in need.

– El-Branden Brazil

Ashin Sopaka Arrives At The Dump
Ashin Sopaka, one of the leaders of Burma’s Saffron Revolution, has been supporting Burmese refugees and migrant workers, who live on a dump in Mae Sot, Thailand.
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Unbridled Capitalism

Capitalism right now is a rigged game, where only a few have the privilege to write and rewrite the rules in whatever way suits them. As their wealth increases, and they buy themselves into the politicians’ pockets, the rest of us see social benefits in health, education and welfare stripped down, salaries reduced, bills increasing, fears growing and many families unable to adequately feed themselves.

I have no problem with the idea that if you work hard, then you should be rewarded. However, I do have a problem with individuals driven merely by an unquenchable, psychotic thirst for money, who place higher value on greed than compassion for their fellow humans. I have a problem with those of limited talent, but due to birthright, are allowed unfettered privilege. I also have a problem with individuals who are paid millions and millions of dollars in pay-offs and bonuses, whilst smirking and sneering at the rest of us, as we are exploited, sold-out and perennially broke. I despise that those who almost destroyed the global economy, neither see jail cells nor are reprimanded, but instead see their wealth grow on the back of our misery; misery they helped to create. Worst of all, are the scum who find profit in wars.

All I wish to see are mechanisms that are fairer, compassionate and allow for a more even distribution of wealth. The sooner this unbridled capitalism becomes aware that, just like tooth fairies, there is no such thing as sustainable, infinite exponential growth, the sooner we can reel things back in, protect the planet, end poverty and raise sustainably the living standards to a level better for all.

It Shouldn't Have To Happen
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

When Swords Collide

When I was young, I had fanciful notions that perhaps, one day on earth, world peace could be achieved. Now that I am mature, I recognise the value of contrasting ideas. Indeed, contrasting ideas are the fuel of any civilisation. As Hegel was aware, it is in the conflict of a thesis versus an antithesis, the fruition of synthesis (new ideas) are born. Thankfully, most can have conflict of thoughts that go no further than just argumentative discourse. However, the most extreme expression of opinions is war.

The reality is that for civilisation to continue being vibrant, progressive and dynamic, in contrast to being sterile, stagnant and uniformed, expressions of rebuke and rebellion, including war, are an inevitable part of the human condition.  It doesn’t mean I like it, but rather I accept it.  The Universe is both a place of great beauty and great violence, and we are an inseparable part of this equation.  Like a river, there will always be times of calm and turbulence, varying in length and intensity.

As that may be, I find it worthwhile to try to contribute in whatever way, towards encouraging positions of peace, calm and non-violence, in an attempt to quell unnecessary suffering and conflict. There is always an alternative to violence, and those heated by passion and anger, must be reminded so. No blood need be drawn for any ideological posture we uphold. We must ALL hold paramount the sanctity and quality of ALL life, even with those we disagree with.

Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Photography by El-Branden Brazil

An Epiphany

A random moment allowed me to be conceived. I gestated in the womb of my mother for nine months, unaware of the life that awaited me outside. On the day I was born, I breathed my first breath. As time passed, the world slowly came into focus, as I gained the awareness that comes with growing pains.

In my teens, my place in the vast universe became apparent. I would sit out in my parent’s garden, on cool British summer evenings, staring at the seemingly endless starry sky above. Sometimes, I felt a cold loneliness. Whilst at other times, a sense of oneness.

As I continued to mature, I began to sense and question deeply the social restrictions enforced upon me by individuals I did not know, but who seemed to think they were empowered to control my destiny; my brief, fleeting moment at existing. I looked around, and saw so many of my colleagues and friends accepting this status-quo, as if it had been written in the very fabric of space and time. That life should be routine, rigid and monotonous. That it was okay and expected that during our brief moment to live, we should commit our precious time to endless commuting to workplaces, embrace soul-crushing conformity and the conditions laid out by companies, whose only interest are profits and how best to enslave us, without us noticing. Their trick, to just barely reward our efforts adequately with nothing more than pieces of paper, we are told to be of some worth.

In this twisted vision, so devoid of any connection to true reality and the long-forgotten cyclical rhythms of the precious planet, we wallow in the madness of greed, dependency and apathy, whilst the elite continues to grow ever more powerful, gorging itself sickeningly upon the spoils of its victories.

And let us not forget, how easily young men and women are sent to their deaths upon a distant battlefield, that those manipulating reality will never see with their own eyes, or be prepared to spill their own blood upon. They will just sit comfortably, monitoring and collecting data about the legions that we make, imprisoning and questioning anyone whose eyes have been opened.

The present world order is a rigged game, created by a few. It doesn’t have to be this way. This is OUR world! We have a birth given right to do what we wish with her, and that should be to do nothing, other than to realign ourselves with her rhythms again. To respect her. To share her fairly, so that no one need starve again or live in horrendous poverty.

As Machiavelli pointed out in The Prince, a king can only be a king if the people allow him to be. Of course, the king will try to coax and manipulate the loyalties of his subjects, through either rewards or punishment. But, the people will always have the power. They just need awakening.

Photography  by El-Branden Brazil

Sunrise On The Nile – Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Problem With Nationalism

Nationalism is a choice to live in a fantasy land, where colours on a piece of fabric are considered worthy of loyalty. That the myth is even worth dying for.

Such dedication to tribalism is paramount to all that is wrong in the world. Once we move beyond concepts of separation, the sooner we will be unified to take action to save the world that supports us to thrive.

I have no problem with national identity. Indeed, the world is a far more an interesting place for the myriad of cultural flavours that abound across the globe. However, in this festival of cultures, we must be careful not to forget what unifies us as a species, in our celebration of difference. We simply should not get carried away by the mythology of anthems, flags and other constructs of fantasy, to the point where we start to forget what we have in common with those who do not share our anthems, flags and other constructs of fantasy.

To clarify, I am also not naive enough to ignore the cries of those under siege from nationalistic fervour, for which there are many around the world, whose traditions seem desperately under threat. I understand that when nationalism rubs against nationalism, just like when religion rubs against religion, friction occurs.

I am an unashamed idealist that believes we can move beyond base celebrations of tribe.  My blood is no different than yours.

– El-Branden Brazil

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Myth Weavers

Our world is not what it appears to be. There are those who spin the myths. There are those who promulgate the myths. There are those who don’t question the myths and follow abidingly.

Then, there are those who see the myths for what they are, step away from the myths and do everything they can to awaken those intoxicated by the myths.

Revolutions are the shattering of previously held paradigms. They are both an awakening and the beginning of a new myth-weaving cycle.

Most certainly, our current myth paradigm is well overdue for modification, replaced by one that will benefit ALL and protect our planet responsibly.

– El-Branden Brazil

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Reflections On Our Turbulent World

ISIS is behaving like the Khmer Rouge, but on a much larger global stage. Their brutality needs to be stopped quickly.

More than the acts of terrorism, it is the aims of ISIS that scares me. There is a very strong chance that if nothing is done, this savage caliphate will take root and spread its tendrils throughout the Middle-East and perhaps beyond. What kind of society do these beasts wish to achieve, after their caliphate is established upon the blood and bones of so many innocents, killed horrifically? I do not use words like “evil” lightly, but as with the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge before, ISIS absolutely is a manifestation of evil, demonstrating the most depraved and perverted aspects of humanity.

I am extremely concerned about the global ramifications ISIS will bring. Unfortunately, it is just one component of a rapidly deteriorating global arena, where crises of great magnitude are springing up, all symptomatic of a general malaise that can be felt across the world. I wish to be optimistic, but I find it harder and harder, as the environment continues to be damaged with little genuine efforts to abate it. It feels like we are fatalistically slipping back into the Dark Ages, lead by leaders more concerned with the fantasies promulgated by corporations and economics, rather than driven by true vision to propel and improve humanity.

Currently, no one in power is brave enough to implement bold ideas to lead humanity towards a brighter future, that are both socially and most importantly, ecologically beneficial.

We can all feel the rot in the current system, desperately fantasising about what could be. In the meantime, whilst we both hold onto the memory of past glories, as well as fumble without vision towards the future, violent radicalism, such as ISIS, is manifesting their extremist beliefs in the ideological vacuum we have left. It seems for the time being, however bloody, they are succeeding in ways that we are not. I find it truly perplexing and tragic that young Europeans, particularly Brits, are being drawn to the front lines in Syria and Iraq, to fight for an ideology of extreme barbarism. That they should find beheadings and the slaughter of children more appealing than what is offered at home.

We need to find a way to share values that can be universally embraced, and that will neutralise the appeal that the current spate of extremism seems to have for some. We must be better than bombs and guns. We must lead by example and show that compassion and love for all trumps violence always, whilst never forgetting the finiteness of our time on this precious planet that we share.

This Is What I Believe

I believe in compassion as a universal truth.
I accept that my spiritual beliefs are no more provable than anyone elses.
I have no interest in trying to convert others.
I believe that there are great unknowables worth enquiring about.
I understand that nothing is knowable without enquiry.
I seek peace for all.
I view love a better partner than hate.
I support same-sex marriage, because love is to be celebrated.
I believe in elevating women to positions of power. The world would be better.
I accept that differences of opinion will always exist, and thank goodness.
I celebrate differences, because this is what drives creativity.
I will not allow differences to be used as a tool for hate.
I celebrate our shared humanity.
I despise nationalistic mythology of tribal identity.
I hail those that can think outside the box.
I support those who sit outside society.
I believe in freedom.
I seek freedom for those with none.
I support government that represents the people.
I disdain government that represents corporations.
I fight for justice.
I cry for where there is none.
I believe in fairness.
I support the hungry and needy.
I will never turn my eye away from cruelty.
I believe in human rights for all.

– El-Branden Brazil –

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The Universe

For as long as I can remember, the universe has intrigued me. When I was a child, I would sit out in the garden and stare endlessly at the night sky, marvelling at the seeming infinity before me. Sometimes, I would feel lonely and insignificant. Whilst at other times, I would feel honoured and integral to the scene above.

I enjoy chasing ideas about perception and mind in relation to space. I believe that the universe, while it may seem expansive beyond imagination, is much closer than our senses dictate to us: That the sense of physical reality is only an illusion, manifested by sensory-selected stimuli required for our survival. Our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and fingers allow us to peer into a universe contrived for our prime needs. However, there is so much more that is out of range of our sense organs.

The dimensions of space, I believe, are deceptive. We can perceive its vastness through our eyes. We can perceive its separateness from ourselves through touch. But, intuitively, I am certain that our place within the universe is far more convoluted and involved. In many ways, the Aborigines may well be correct in their assertion that the universe is being dreamt into existence. As Edgar Allen Poe noted,‘All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.’

The Night Sky by El-Branden Brazil

 

Words & Image by El-Branden Brazil