Thursday, December 8, 2016

Using the "Ring of Control" and Bodily Awareness to Control the Mind

If you've read Journey to the West one of the things you should remember is the way Xuanzang (the Monk) controls Sun Wukong (Monkey) is through the use of a golden band that Guanyin gives him. He gets tricked into placing the band over his head, where it shrinks, and, actually binds itself to his skull. Guanyin teaches Xuanzang a mantra that he can recite that makes the band shrink, squeezing Sun Wukong's skull and causing excruciating pain. This is the only way that Xuanzang can control his "chief disciple".

A Japanese painting of Sun Wukong 
Journey to the West is a collection of folk tales that people have been reciting as entertainment for a long time. But most people don't realize that that the most popular version of the text is considered by some to be a Daoist teaching story. It's taken me a lifetime of learning, but reading the W.J.F. Jenner translation for the third or fourth time, I can now see this is obviously true.

People sometimes get hung up on this interpretation because they believe that these sorts of teaching allegories have to be totally universal, or else they aren't real. They point at the characters of the Dragon horse and Sandy and ask what they are supposed to "represent". But the fact is that Journey to the West is primarily an piece of entertaining fiction, not a book of Daoist theory. It needn't be completely allegorical, all the time---it just needs to be so once in a while.

Another complaint is that since Xuanzang is a Buddhist monk and the journey is to the Western Buddhist heaven to get Buddhist scriptures, it "obviously" cannot have anything to do with Daoism. Well, this misses the constant refrain in the book that "all religions are one", the way Daoist teachers are often referenced, and, the many, many allusions to arcane aspects of Daoist teachings---all of which would be missed by the casual reader of a bad translation.

One of the ways to see this is to understand the group travelling to the Western heaven as one entity with each character representing one particular part of the human psyche. Pigsy represents the instinctual drives of the human beings. Xuanzang is the higher intellect that attempts to control the other elements of the human being. And Monkey is the "mind ape" that is the well-spring of mental activity that gives human beings their ability to think their way through the problems of life.

The part of human beings that Monkey represents is that bubbling well-spring of creativity that goes on in our mind and allows us to think of solutions to the endless problems that life throws our way. As such, it is essential to life. That is why Sun Wukong is the protector of Xuanzang in Journey to the West---because our "monkey mind" is what has allowed human beings to survive and prosper. But the problem with this bubbling well is that if we don't exert some control over it, it creates havoc in our lives. The well can create ungrounded fears that eat us alive. Or it can develop weird prejudices that alienate us from the community we need to survive. Or it can create strange obsessions that cause us to waste away our lives pursuing absurd delusions. All these problems are represented in the start of the book by the crazy havoc that Monkey creates in Heaven.

10th century Northern Chinese wooden Guanyin
The Buddha traps Sun Wukong under a mountain for five hundred years until Guanyin releases him to become Xuanzang's protector. But she realizes that without some way for the higher intellect to control the "monkey mind", there is no way that anyone can become realized or enlightened. So she tricks monkey into wearing her band and teaches the monk how to recite a mantra to control it. This is the important point.  The band is a literary device, but a mantra literally is a way of controlling our run-away creative thought process. It is like a "clamp" that blocks up the bubbling, crazily over-flowing ability to create ideas that can overwhelm our minds.

The problem is that most of us live our lives with a constant internal voice burning through out minds that says all sorts of destructive things like "you're too fat", "what's wrong with you?", "what if I run out of money?", "what if I lose my job?", "who the Hell do they think they are to tell me what to do?", etc. This voice can get louder and louder until they take over our life entirely. Repeating some phrase over and over again---which is what saying a mantra really is all about---literally drowns this voice out and allows our intellect to regain control of  our thought processes. Contrary to what some people may tell you, it doesn't really matter what the mantra is. You can repeat "om mani padme hum", "da do run run, da do run run", or, whatever. My first meditation teacher said if I wanted, I could repeat "cocksucker, cocksucker cocksucker" over and over again if it made sense to me. But the point is to be able to "clamp down" on that monkey mind and stop it from becoming so loud that it overwhelms your consciousness.

People often go into great detail about the various and sundry ways there are to meditate. But ultimately, meditation is a very simple process. It is looking at the way your mind operates, deciding what is the ideal way for it to be, and, finding out ways that you can learn to control it. In the case that I've mentioned from Journey to the West, I've identified one of the easiest---using a mantra. But there are other mechanisms too.

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The traditional Daoist
map of the body
One that I use a lot lately involves bodily awareness. I suppose that to explain it in Daoist terms I could say that by practicing neidan (qigong---in this case taijiquan), I have learned to move my qi around the body from my lower Dantian up through the mysterious gateway, along my twelve-story pagoda up to the mud pill. At least that's the language that comes from traditional Daoist teaching, and what is used in Journey to the West.

Being a modern Westerner, I would much rather say that through a process of dissecting my body with my consciousness, I've learned to identify different elements of my bodily awareness. This allows me to loosen my lower abdomen and chest region. This has allowed me to dramatically improve my bodily posture. It also allows me to become aware of the subtle ways in which my visual, auditory, and, bodily awareness interact with my consciousness to influence my thought processes. Frankly, I find this sort of language a lot more useful than saying that "my qi moves" from one place to another. But I do think that I am describing the same thing as the old Daoists.

And the upshot is that I can control my "monkey mind" by focusing my consciousness on the subtle feelings in my body. One part of this is feeling my feet come into contact with the floor beneath my feet when I walk. The experience is somewhat like what I expect walking on my hands would feel like. The heel makes contact, I can feel my weight rippling through my (pitifully collapsed) arch, and then each of my individual toes engages with the floor and then rolls off. At the same time, I consciously "drop" my shoulders and chest, counter-acting my genetic predisposition to "hunch" my shoulders into a "scholar's hump". At the same time, I consciously try to look through both of my eyes, giving each equal weight of attention instead of allowing one or the other to dominate. Together with these and other conscious activities, I create a calm and peace of mind that results in a feeling of something coming up my spine and manifesting itself in between my brows and on the top of my head. (At the same time, I am acutely aware of the almost constant throbbing of my chronically infected sinus cavities and ear canals---I get a lot of virus infections at work, plus I am very allergic to dust.)

This "hyper awareness" has the same effect as repeating a mantra constantly. It overwhelms the chattering monkey mind and allows the intellect to assert control over the random creative impulses that the mind spews at us like a fire hose. As a side effect, for me the hyper awareness technique has added benefits lacking from the mantra method. For one thing, it helps improve my physical health. I suffer from many complaints:  arthritis, tendonitis, tennis elbow, chronic sinusitis, etc. (Most are the result of a hard life doing physical labour, inheriting some bad genes---such as very, very flat feet--- and being exposed to thousands of teenagers from all over the world every day at work. Without taijiquan and other neidan practices, I'd be a mess.)

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I was asked recently why it is that I write about this stuff and do all the things I do. After all, I walk a very narrow path. Traditional religious Daoists have sometimes attacked me very angrily for being a Western "innovator" who they feel "spits on the tradition". At the same time, I often meet Westerners who can barely hide their contempt for me because they think that I am an apologist for "New Age super-naturalism". But the point is that we all suffer greatly from the delusions that our monkey minds create for us. In fact, I don't think that there could be a greater gift that a man could give another than to help them tame the dumb notions that befog their minds.

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Zen Buddhism is the "first cousin" of Daoism and there is a story about a Japanese Zen hermit named Ryōkan.
One evening a thief visited Ryōkan's hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryōkan returned and caught him. "You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryōkan sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon." (From Wikipedia.)
The point is that Ryōkan had something that was absolutely priceless:  insight into how his mind operated and the ability to unify his consciousness. Ryōkan would have dearly loved to be able to give this insight to everyone, including the thief. Yet the thief not only didn't want it, he didn't even know the value of this gift or that Ryōkan could give it to him. That is the point of Ryōkan wishing he could give the thief the moon. That is the dilemma that anyone who has gained any realisation faces---almost no one knows enough to even want it.  Yet, we have to keep on trying.  That's because once in a while someone actually does want the moon---.

Sculpture of Ryōkan
by Dready at Wiki Commons

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Ebook Version of Digging Your Own Well is Out!

My new book, Digging Your Own Well:  Daoism as a Practical Philosophy, is now open for sale as an ebook. The price is five dollars at Smashwords, but other ebook resellers are offering it too, usually for a bit more. To get a copy, just go here.  Of course, if you want to hard copy, you can get it from Lulu books for fifteen dollars plus deliver.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mind-Fasting and Donald Trump

A lot of people have been freaking out about the election of Donald Trump. As near as I can tell, the consensus seems to be that the sky is falling and we all need to panic immediately. Let me offer an alternative viewpoint.

Heaven and earth are not humane,
They treat the ten thousand beings as straw dogs.
The sage is not humane,
He treats the hundred families as straw dogs.
Between heaven and earth, 
How like a bellows it is!
Empty and yet inexhaustible,
Moving and yet it pours out ever more.
By many words one's reckoning is exhausted.
It is better to abide by the center. 
(Chapter 5, Laozi, Ellen Chen trans.)

Most people who read this blog have probably never taken part in a religious Daoist ritual, so they don't understand the images expressed in this poem. "Straw Dogs" were something that is sacrificed in a ritual to placate or help spirit beings. But the sacrifice was a bit of a sham, dogs were too expensive to really sacrifice, so little dolls made of straw were created to sacrifice instead. This tradition still exists in Chinese culture and to this day, in many Chinese groceries, you will find "Hell money" for sale to use in these events. Just like "straw dogs", this money is fake because people are far to practical to burn real money in ceremonies.
Basic Hell Money---notice the denomination!
I can remember---many years ago---folding up ingots of "Hell gold" and "Hell silver" for burning in rituals. I also remember chanting the Jade Emperor "sutra" outside during the full moon and burning "sutras" for the enlightenment of the dead.

Burning Hell money
The one time I ever tried doing this on my own, I researched a ritual and performed it to send a message to the "Ghost King" asking for his help trying to protect three cemeteries from a big box mall that Walmart was building. In that one I burned a paper horse and sent letters plus "travelling money" to various deities. I was told that it was "great theater" by the non-Daoists who were watching, (which was what I was trying to achieve.) We were very successful in our legal battle, so perhaps the ritual even accomplished something.  (The smoke from the altar set off the smoke alarm in the Jesuit center where I had the ceremony. This is par for the course---I'm told my teacher once set his Temple in Toronto on fire doing one of these ceremonies.)

Now the thing to remember about all these sacrificial offerings is that they are basically worthless things that get destroyed in part of a greater ceremony. The Laozi is saying that we people are like pieces of paper that are worth so little that we can be burnt at ceremonies with little regard. 

The verse goes even further and makes a statement about where every single person exists in the universe. It talks about the gap "between Heaven and Earth" being like a "bellows". Who exists between Heaven and Earth?  People do! And what does a bellows do? It helps in burning things up. Human beings are the fuel in the forge of the Dao! We aren't even the iron that the blacksmith beats into implements, we are simply the fuel that gets burnt in order to get metal hot enough to forge. Human beings are dispensable, we act out our short lives and what gets forged is history and culture. 

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To understand and appreciate this point, think about the historical context of the Laozi. China has never been anything but an authoritarian society, Indeed, at the time that the Laozi was being created in an oral tradition by "the old ones", human sacrifice was still being practiced at the funerals of kings. From that time until today authoritarian rule has been pretty much always been the case, and life has still been cheap. And, want to know a secret?  it is just about everywhere else too. Society is cruel to people in prisons, people without jobs, people with psychiatric illnesses, people with drug addictions, people with disabilities, discriminated minorities---even ugly people. When I walk down to the pub in my city, in one of the absolutely grooviest places in the world---I still will see homeless people sleeping "in the rough". I suffer from watching the people I love suffer through life's torment. I know that sickness and death will eventually be my lot. All people's lives end badly.

So what is the Daoist response to all of this?

The Celestial Master and the authors of the Nei-Yeh  both suggest to people that they should "hold onto the One". By this, they mean that people shouldn't just take life as it appears to be, but should be constantly trying to figure out the hidden patterns and processes that reoccur. That is, "the One", is the Dao. And by "holding onto" it, human beings retain the ability to be conscious actors in their own life instead of mere objects that fate moves from square to square. The ability to act may be---and often is---profoundly limited by your environment. But the very least that we can always do is remind ourselves that we are on a chessboard and that we are not always responsible for the problems we face.

This can be a great consolation in hard times. I remember reading one of George Orwell's books, Down and Out in Paris and London, I believe, where he describes life as a tramp in Great Depression Britain. He mentions that the people who suffered the most from poverty were the ex-middle class. They had totally absorbed the idea that the poor were poor because of their own moral deficiencies. This meant that when fate drove them into destitution they blamed themselves for their situation. The people who had been poor all their lives had no such delusions about why they were poor, so at least that was one burden that they were free of.

Another Daoist response is to practice something called "mind fasting". As I was taught this, it is simply the practice of removing distractions from your consciousness in order to learn how your mind operates. We weren't given any theoretical talk about this, we were just told to sit. But the process of "just sitting" for long periods of time on a regular basis forced us to pay attention to how our minds operate. It was, in effect, a process of "holding onto the One" with regard to our internal world as well as the external one.

Learning how your mind operates is a very difficult process. Once you get into it, you find that you have enough work to do until the end of your life. For example, the last two nights I have awoken from sleep due to nightmares. In one I saw a group of women who had been sentenced to death by the state. The were executed by being hurled while still alive into a deep gorge, the floor of which was so filled with rotting corpses of previous victims that they landed soft and smothered in the filth. In the second one, I woke after a disturbing dream where I was with my sister-in-law listening to my wife who was tying up someone who sounded like a scared child who was begging and pleading with her to let him go. When I woke up I realized that the scared child was myself.

The process of mind fasting teaches the person who pursues it valuable insights into who they are by peeling away the "noise" that distracts us from our true nature. In the case of my disturbing dreams, I would suggest that what we call a "human being" is actually a complex mixture of different competing idea complexes that are at war for dominance. Through meditation and contemplation you learn to identify these different bits and pieces, and learn to control them to a certain extent. The women being executed in filth were people I love who are living in poverty because the world around them is indifferent to their medical problems. That scared child blubbering away in my dreams was the part of me that is afraid of taking on obligations towards the other people in my life. Another part of me tried to get me to fall asleep during the formal sitting part of my training. It is also what causes wild emotional freak outs and hallucinations among people who are doing serious meditation. These "beings" exist in all of us, and mind fasting is about learning that they exist and gaining some semblance of control over them so we can live lives of clarity and value.

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So what has this got to do with Donald Trump?

The bellows of the Dao has been burning a lot of people lately in order to forge a new world. Not in the sense of there being a huge uptick in the material suffering of people. But the political process has whipped a lot of people into a frenzy of fear about what the new president will bring. They are afraid that Latinos, blacks, gays, Muslims, women, etc, are about to be horribly abused by a Republican party triumphant. To some extent, this may happen. But to a large extent I think that this is just a chimera that was created by the Democrats in order to win their election. (After all, in a lot of ways these people's lives were pretty crappy under the Democrats too.) They lost, but unfortunately the fear that they were counting on to fuel victory lives on after November 8th.

There are lot of Daos, some of which are dark and awful. One of them is the Dao of torture. People who have studied it realize that the worst part of torture is often not the torture itself, but rather people's fear of it. In medieval "jurisprudence" prisoners were usually "shown the implements of torture" before they were tortured, and offered an opportunity to confess first. This was done because the judges knew that if you whipped up people's anticipation, you could get a lot more confessions than if you just started out with the torture from the get go. Similarly, the military and secret services torture their own people in order to prepare them in case of capture by an enemy. This dramatically increases their ability to resist.

Unfortunately, the Clinton election campaign did such an effective job of raising voter's fears of a Trump presidency that a huge fraction of the public is now in a state of tremendous panic. Not only is this damaging to individual people's psyche, it is also tremendously counter-productive from a political point of view. The net result of all this "Chicken Little-ism" is going to be that the bar will have been lowered so far for Trump that people will think he is a success if he doesn't round people up in concentration camps, cancel all future elections, or, totally trash the economy.

The solutions to this problem are the same that the Daoists learned thousands of years ago when they had to deal with supreme autocrats who held ordinary people's lives in the palms of their hands. Hold onto the One---try to understand the subtle processes that govern the world around us. And practice mind fasting---learn how your mind operates so you can exert some control over it. In both cases, use the knowledge you have gained to find a little bit of personal peace---even if it is nothing more than realizing that we are nothing more than leaves floating down a stream.




    





Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The New Book is Almost Here

My new book, Digging Your Own Well:  Daoism as a Practical Philosophy, is finished. It is scheduled for publication as an ebook at the beginning of December. And the hard-copy version will be available as soon as I get my proof copy and work through any changes that might need doing.

In the interim, I need to start marketing. To that end, I'm looking for anyone who is interested in receiving a free review copy of the ebook in order to write a review for a blog, magazine, podcast, Goodreads, or whatever---or even just to put up on whatever ebook sales site they use.   If you are interested, just email me at:  thecloudwalkingowl@gmail.com and I will send you a copy in the format of your choice.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Where have I gone?

I haven't published anything on this blog in quite a while so I thought I owed readers an explanation.

The local daily newspaper folded in my city, leaving a huge hole in local news coverage. I have "stepped into the breach" by starting a local, on-line magazine called "the Guelph Back-Grounder". It's become a fair amount of work, and it certainly deals with different issues and appeals to a totally different set of readers, so it has effectively robbed this blog of all the time and energy I used to devote to it.

This isn't to say that I have given up writing on issues Daoist related, however. I have finished a book on how to live a modern life as a Daoist, which I've titled Digging Your Own Well:  Daoism as a Practical Philosophy. It's already "in the can" and now I just have to go through the work of formatting it for publishing through Smashwords and Lulu Books. I will announce when that happens.

For the future, I've already started another book, on taijiquan, which I have tentatively titled Theoretical Taijiquan.

Looking at the statistics on my blog, I see that I get a lot of folks looking at posts that I have written years ago, so I see no reason to take it down.  It's become a resource for people interested in Daoism and I am still interested in intelligent comments, so I will keep an eye out for those too.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Cutting Through Delusion by Holding onto the One

I had high hopes for my summer vacation this year. I was going to head off to St. Louis to meet up with my dear, sweet, lovely wife;  stay for a while;  and then we were going to drive back to Guelph. She wanted to stay for several months. But when I arrived in St. Lou it was obvious that she was going into a psychotic episode. After a week of seeing her deteriorate, I bought tickets and went back to Guelph. When she gets like this, all I can do is leave her alone and wait the six weeks or so for her to come back to her rational mind.

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When I got back to Guelph I still had several weeks of vacation booked. A friend invited me to stay a week with him and his wife in another city. I did and had a pretty good time. At one point, however, we were sitting in wonderful restaurant, eating a delicious meal, and it occurred to me that my dear wife would have loved to be there with me. At that point, I felt a tinge of sadness. A normal event, but I thought I'd share it with readers because several times people have asked me to go into some detail about my meditation practice.

When I felt that sadness, it occurred to me that I should be unhappy---that there was something wrong with me feeling good. In fact, I noticed that part of me was actually trying to feel sad. That I was obligated to feel sad, that if I didn't feel sad I was letting my wife down.

This is a textbook case of delusional thinking.

Looking deeper within, however, I noticed that one part of my mind was fighting with another. It had put forward this delusion and wanted to use it to dominate and control me. But this was a feeble attempt. After years and years of careful introspection from sitting and forgetting, I was able to recognize what was happening. And because of this self-awareness, I was able to recognize how the Dao was operating in my life at that exact moment.

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"Sitting and Forgetting" (Zuowang) is something that I was taught by Daoists. It was nothing special at all, and wasn't even called "Sitting and Forgetting", and was actually called just "Sitting". And that's all they taught us how to do, sit. Why would we anyone do that? Well, because it is profoundly boring. And if you get bored enough, you start paying attention to what your mind is doing. And that, is a very useful exercise. Most people wander through their lives with only the barest of self-awareness. Ask them why they pursue some sort of behaviour and they will usually say "I dunno". Most will get angry with you if you try to get them to introspect and think about why it is that they do what they do. This anger isn't really with you, it's a way of changing the conversation. This is because there are different parts of a person's mind, and one part of it actively fights against you becoming self aware.

But if you are one of those "odd ducks" who sticks with sitting, you have a good chance of becoming more and more aware of the complexity of your consciousness. And the more aware you become of how your mind operates, the harder it becomes for that part of the mind that sabotages self-awareness to remain in control. Because I have many years sitting and forgetting, first formally through sitting and then later through every moment of my life (what Buddhists call "mindfulness"), I instinctively started analyzing my thoughts the moment the idea entered my head about the necessity of feeling sad.

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And once a person has developed the ability to be increasingly aware of how their mind operates at any given moment, they begin to have the clarity to see processes at work both within themselves and the world around them. This is what Daoists call "holding onto the One". (The "One" is the Dao.) It was because of the sitting that I could see how a part of my mind was trying to create a sense of guilt in order to regain control over my consciousness. And because I had held onto the One for a long time, I recognized a process that has been at work in my mind for a very long time---and which used to almost completely control how my mind operates.






 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Constricted Viewpoint

In the Liezi there are a couple stories about how people suffer from constricted viewpoints that generate delusional behaviour.
Liezi
In one a fellow misses his axe and develops the idea that the neighbour boy stole it. He notes that when he looks and talks to the boy, the boy looks guilty. After a while, though, the fellow finds the axe on his property where he had been using it last. Later on, he sees the neighbour's boy and decides that he doesn't look guilty at all.

In the other, a fellow walking through the market sees a display by a jeweler who has an ingot of gold sitting on his table. The fellow impulsively snatches the ingot and runs away. The jeweler yells "thief" and he is quickly caught by the crowd and handed over to the police who take him to the magistrate. The judge asks him why he would try to steal something so brazenly in the middle of crowded market. Didn't he see all the people around him who would grab him if he took the gold? The response by the thief is that all he could see was the gold.

This is a problem that happens to us all the time. We look at a situation and refuse to see what is right in front of us. Instead, we start off with a narrative and selectively seek out information that reinforces that original story and ignore anything that that doesn't fit.  The boy looks guilty, the gold will make my life better---.

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Yesterday I watched a press conference by Hillary Clinton and saw a side of her that impressed me. She seemed to me to be a politician who are seriously concerned about how to make America a better place. What I found quite interesting was towards the end of the event. A reporter asked her to relate a specifically formative conversation that she had had with a black person. She fumbled greatly to come up with an anecdote and instead spent her time listing off all the great black friends she has and has had in her life. Eventually, she said that she just couldn't think of any incident that she'd like to share with the press. Another reporter then asked her to reassure people that she just wouldn't take Latino voters for granted. How would she make sure that she actually did some of the things that she promised to do? Hillary fumbled a bit to show the steps she'd take.  This is a difficult question for a presidential candidate to answer, as it is very hard to do much if Congress refuses to help any initiative---but I think she did a good job.



But at the end, she kinda answered the previous question. She mentioned that when she was twelve years old she volunteered in her church to do baby sitting for migrant farm workers. That's an interesting story that answers something that I want to know about a politician. I want to know that someone comes from a background that included doing this sort of "hands on" stuff for the greater good. I don't need Hillary to be a gushing bag of emotions---in fact I'd like her to be a hard-nosed politician who is also a policy wonk. But underneath all of that, I want a genuine human being who genuinely seems to care. And, to be honest, it seems more genuine to me if someone finds it hard to expose that part of themselves in a public setting. Really deep emotions are privately held.

I made a comment on the original news site to the effect that Clinton had totally "nailed" this news conference. I expected some negative comments, but I was saddened to see what really amounted to a "pile on" of Hillary haters. I just don't understand where this is coming from. Of course, she did a bit of prevaricating, that's what politicians do when reporters ask "gotcha questions" and they know that the viewing audience adamantly refuses to understand how hard it is to shepherd real change through the American maze of checks and balances. But all politicians do this sort of dance, and, usually a lot more glibly. I can't help but wonder if she really is being held to a much higher standard than other politicians. Maybe this is because she was the wife of another President, or, maybe it's because she's a woman. I suspect a bit of both mixed together.

She often gets tarred with the brush of having supported her husbands social policies that led to things like the dramatic reduction in welfare support. She's also attacked for supporting "tough on crime" legislation from her husband. She's also attacked for initially supporting the TPP treaty. But the thing to remember about these is that she never actually initiated these programs, instead, she was supporting someone else's ideas. And I know enough couples to realize that just because people are married, or, work as Secretary of State for another, doesn't mean that they hold exactly the same values and world view. Could it be possible that Hillary has different ideas from Bill on things like welfare reform and criminal justice?  Could it be that her understanding of these complex issues has evolved since she was the First Lady? As for the TPP, she is a lawyer and lawyers are trained to not state their own beliefs, but rather to advocate for the worldview of their client. As Secretary of State for Barack Obama---who most certainly does support the TPP---it was her job to promote his policy, not hers.

I have to ask, why are people so angry with her about things like this? What do people think, that every woman has her independent will sucked out of her whenever they get married or take a job? Or do they believe that anyone who makes a compromise in order to make a relationship or job work is some sort of vile "sell out"? If you can believe that, I would suggest that you spend a long time looking at the mirror, because you are far more deluded than the folks in Liezi's stories.