Those with a mind like a cloudless sky reflect brilliantly, but also cast the darkest shadows. Undoubtedly, Noam Chomsky is a brilliant intellectual. Politically leftwing, Chomsky, like many of his elk, is self-righteous and shines with pride of his do-gooder ideas. Yet, unwittingly revealing his darker nature, as a cheerleader for Covid vaccines he proposed the unvaccinated should be completely isolated from the general population. Asked how the unvaccinated would get groceries, Chomsky said: “How can we get food to them? Well, that’s actually their problem." As Chomsky is of Jewish Polish ancestry, it's funny to envision Chomsky apparently oblivious his recipe to treat the unvaccinated is not unlike the Nazi's Warsaw Ghetto, a very dark shadow cast by those with idealistic myths of some people being superior to others. We often get blinded by someone's brilliance to the point we don't see their shadow which is darker than that of the less brilliant....

Countries that are inexpensive to visit are expensive to live in. Visitors with money from expensive countries find everything is inexpensive in inexpensive countries. People living in inexpensive countries find everything is expensive based on local wages....

Dear Subscribers, A rose is a rose is a rose and what we choose to call a it doesn't change what it is. Yet, to organize the world about us and facilitate communication, we have created words as symbols for things and actions. Some words are names which identify individual people. Those words often have other symbolic meanings which may reflect the nature of the person identified by the name. My name, given me at birth, is Avigdor. It is an Israeli name. It means "by father, the tall and courageous." Jewish tradition has it that newborns are named after deceased relatives. I was named after my great grandfather, Wigdor. Wigdor, by some accounts, means "logical thinker." My name was revelatory as my early years were somewhat defined by my father who was taller and more courageous than me and as such ruled over me in ways that made little logical sense to me. For example, metaphorically, at times he got angry and cried over milk I spilled and punished me accordingly, while it seemed to me that we should simply mop up the milk and go buy some more to replace it. At 13, bar mitzvah time, when Jewish boys graduate to become men, I changed my name to "Victor." Victor suited me as I aimed to be victorious in the matters that held meaning to me, commercial matters and romantic relationships. In the play of life, "Terrific," in Act 1 we are born and socialized. In Act 2 we have our Earth experience of career, family and pursuing various other personal and social interests. Act 3  is The Transition. The Transition is the path or way from our alive bodily state to our bodily death. Successfully done, we realize our potential of divine consciousness as we transition from being a finite person on Earth to being one with everything. In Act 3, my name in Act 2, Victor, no longer suits me. As The Transition is the way from our life as a finite self to the eternal soul which is what we are before we arrive on Earth, my name should reflect my role in the play of life which is to follow and show others the way. A vector is a course or compass direction. Thus, henceforth, my new name is Vector. Always and all ways, Vector Teicher...

In the early 1980s, I worked at Oppenheimer & Co, a medium-size stock brokerage firm. At year-end, employees were evaluated and given bonuses. However, for some, the news was otherwise; they were fired. John, with whom I was friends, was fired. This came quite unexpectedly to John who had envisioned a lifelong career at the firm. John, distraught, took to tears. John's empathetic friends were quick to console him. I didn't. I saw him as selfish, focusing on a small disappointment instead of being grateful for his good fortune relative to 99% of others living on this planet. I eventually came by and congratulated John at now having all sorts of opportunities he hadn't considered before his firing. As well, I thought we could figure a way John might wrangle some termination payments from Oppenheimer. But John would have none of this talk of making the best out of current circumstances. He wanted to continue wallowing in self-pity. He wanted empathy, not compassion. From my perspective, John was not in any immediate financial difficulties. He was a talented guy who could easily find another Wall Street job. As he didn't have a cancer protruding out of his ass, he had much about which to be grateful and happy. His sadness was about being fired, an event that seemed real as the self is obsessed with the past; not letting John accept it as passed. John was a prisoner of his self. That was sad. Empathy is harmful, compassion is helpful. When someone is distraught, it is their self that has upset them. Empathy acknowledges the self's thoughts and feelings which encourages us to take the self seriously, allowing the self to continue wreaking havoc upon us. Alternatively, compassion dismisses the self and efforts to helping others make the best of their circumstances. Simply, empathy is consoling someone who's upset about having lost their job which keeps them from finding a new job and compassion is helping them find a new job....

Our sole purpose in life is to recognize the sole universe as the manifestation of the soul, our sole connection to everything. While the sole of our feet connects us to Earth, the soul in our heart connects us to heaven....

Heaven is above and hell is below. Our lives are a journey in hell or heaven; depending on who we are, the temporary self or the eternal soul. Our self engages us with never-ending needs (food, shelter, security and health) and desires (that which we think we need but otherwise don't) for which we can realize but temporary satisfactions and happiness. This is the endless cycle of hell; where happiness is but temporary, leading us to search for more temporary happiness. We search here, there and everywhere. The more we look, the less we see. Eventually, we come upon a rabbit hole into which we and and others like us descend. It is a lightless place where our eyes cannot see. What we think we see are individual and collective illusions of our self's creation; stories, descriptions and generalizations to which we react as if they are real. As the illusions are not real, we keep searching; searching for the duration of our lives. This is the journey in hell. Those of us who have no needs or desires are grateful. Gratitude brings us sustained happiness; a calm state devoid of the self's distractions and illusions. We are in the pre-sent, the time before time begins and before everything is what it is whatever it is in the now. Happy, we don't search the Earth for temporary satisfactions. Then, we can look up and see the sun revealing our world and trillions of stars revealing trillions upon trillions of other worlds; the endless, infinite universe. We realize how infinitesimally small, meaningless and insignificant we are in the scheme of things; that taking our illusions, our selves, seriously is silly and laughable. We realize we are not independent entities in the universe; we are the soul, the universe before it expresses itself. As the light of the sun and stars enter our eyes, we realize we are the light; that what we see is who we are; that I am who I am and the universe is what it is whatever it is. This is enlightenment. This is the journey in heaven....

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life. A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child. This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin. In great anger the parent went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say. After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else he needed. A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back. Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”   The foregoing Zen koan or parable, "is that so?, is meant for us, as the beautiful Japanese girl's parents did not, to question any thoughts, associations, generalizations and meanings we create as they affect our perceptions and in turn affect how we act which can be hurtful to others or ourselves. Moreover, it instructs us, as Hakuin did, to accept whatever comes our way and make the best of it. The acronym for "Is it so" is "its." "Its" refers to a characteristic or description of something. "Is it so?' questions the associations (characteristics or descriptions) we make or assume. The acronym reminds us that when we characterize or describe something, its, we need question, is it so?, our characterizing. Ultimately, nothing can be characterized or described beyond that it is what it is whatever it is. That is, accept things as they are without thought as thought transforms one thing into something else.   When we meet someone unhappy about one thing or another, we can console them by engaging them (is that so?) to elaborate on what's the matter that's distracting them from happiness. With the refrain, is it so?, they repeat their story again and again; until what's the matter is not as much of an issue as it was initially. They may ultimately wonder whether their story can be viewed or made otherwise; in a more favorable light or that there are so many other ways of understanding the underlying matter of their woe that all explanations and their related stories are meaningless. It is then that they can be grateful for their otherwise good fortune. Gratitude leads us to happiness.  ...