Monthly Archives: November 2014

Trade Routes, Religion and The Way

The Way continued…

I ended my last post with the thought that the basic precepts of Eastern and Western religions and philosophies are the products of social evolution and trade between diverse peoples. As this line of reasoning continues, the term ‘The Way’ is used in a generic sense to represent positive social and personal behavioural attributes, not in reference to any specific religion or philosophy.

Ancient trade routes are present by the 3rd Millennium BCE. Trade routes between the civilizations in Asia, Asia Minor, Africa, India, the Mediterranean civilizations and major trading centers in each, are all very well established by the 1st Millennium BCE, thus providing ample opportunity for proponents of different Eastern belief systems to share ideas. This time frame neatly encompasses the period when the world’s great Eastern religions and philosophies took form; namely Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism and Taoism.

The Vedas of Hinduism are pegged at about 1200 BCE. The origin of Judaism is reputed to begin with the migration of Abraham and his family from the city of Ur to Canaan in about the beginning of the 2nd Millennium BCE, but the Pentateuch (Five books of Moses) only took shape between the 9th and 5th Centuries BCE. The origins of Buddhism and Taoism are traced to somewhere in the 6th Century BCE. All of these peoples were involved in the exchange of goods and materials through trade. At the same time traders must also have exchanged ideas including codes of behaviour. Social organization beginning with primitive hunter-gatherer groups, continuing with the formation of permanent settlements, transitioning to city-states, the great empires of antiquity and extending to modern society, all depend on workable codes of behaviour.

All animal life must satisfy basic needs for food, protection from the elements, the opportunity to procreate and protection from harm. Stone Age man provided for those needs by forming small groups of cooperative hunter gatherers. Positive social evolution is driven by forces; basic human needs, the natural world, human emotion and interaction between and among people. With the discovery of edible plants and grain types that could be purposely cultivated, human communities began the transition from nomadic hunter gatherers to settlement dwellers about ten millennia ago. The socio-behavioural characteristics of altruism, respect for the property and person of other, nurturing and protecting the young and cooperating in all manner of ways, were prerequisite for the success of even the most primitive of human social organization.

Thus, The Way, becomes a path to survival and success for humanity. Difficulties and conflicts arise between peoples become an issue when one form of The Way is held to be superior to any another, or one or more precepts are subverted or ignored. Corruption, bribery, aggression, greed and whichever other of mankind’s negative behaviours are all the consequence of deviation from acceptable codes of behaviour. Unfortunately, such behaviours have not been extinguished from human society despite the best efforts of well-meaning people.

Until next time, as always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss –Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness – Release date TBA

Please visit me at my author website at

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This past Saturday, my wife and I turned to Netflix for some movie entertainment and came up with a movie called The Way starring Martin Sheen, based on a screenplay written by his son Emilio Estevez. I’ll leave it to the reader to investigate the details of the story line. At its heart, It is a ‘journey’ or ‘quest’’ story about a man that follows the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, which is called The Way. Coincidentally, the previous morning, I was discussing the possibility that ‘The Way’ adopted by the Nazarene sect, the early followers of Jesus, might have arisen from much earlier influences.

Many centuries Before the Christian Era (BCE), there are two significant groups that are dedicated to following The Way; namely the Buddha Way and the Tao. Research related to the content of my soon to be released book, Through a Lens of Emptiness, delved deeply into Eastern religions and philosophies, including Buddhism and Taoism. Even the Hindu caste system specifies a way of behavior that defines each caste.

Buddhism is grounded in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to enlightenment, and Taoism is defined by precepts, the most important of them are ten in number. The Nazarenes, initially a sect of Judaism was based on the Ten Commandments and the practices of Judaism. It was the ideas of Saul of Tarsus (Paul) that influenced the evolution of the Nazarenes into a group whose beliefs resemble Christianity today. When the foundational precepts of Buddhism and Taoism are examined and compared to the Ten Commandments and the purported teachings of Jesus, one is struck by the similarity in theme and prescription. Judaism is also essentially an Eastern belief system since it originated in the Near East.

In addition to the similarity in theme, I believe there is a similarity in purpose. Each of these systems of basic precepts represents the end product of millennia of social and behavioural evolution. They are all fundamentally moral codes of and prescribed behaviours that foster stability in human society. Even the description of the characteristics of a true pilgrim following The Way to Santiago de Compostela resemble aspects of the basic moral and behavioural characteristics of Eastern belief systems.

That’s enough deep thinking for tonight. In my next post, I plan to examine the role of trade routes in the interchange of religious and philosophical ideas.

What would Jesus think about this post? Please comment…..

As always, your faithful blogger . . .L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

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Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and in the Western world in one form or another. It is a day that  marks the Armistice, the end of World War I.  It was a particularly special day for those of us fortunate enough to live in a nation of the British Commonwealth, for it marked the 100th anniversary of Great Brittan’s entry into the war. It is a day to remember, a day of quietude and thankfulness, not a day for retail sales, commercialism or big shows.

Perhaps those who know me as a life long pacifist will find a blog post about memorializing war unusual, even out of character; an expat American who is profoundly Canadian to his core. The True North Strong and Free has been my home since 1968, more than twice as long as I lived in the US. I, like many others, emigrated from the United States to other places because of  opposition to a profoundly unjustified conflict and government’s policies based in hegemony not humanity.

As I sat in my car today listening to the ceremonies from the cenotaph in Ottawa, I was profoundly moved, and as always cast into an abyss of thought and introspection. My first thoughts always go to my American brothers and sisters that fought and died in the Viet Nam conflict, and equally to those who came back physically and mentally damaged. You see, I am a pacifist, but I am not anti-military, just anti-militerist.

Viet Nam, and the conflicts in Iraq and to some extent Afghanistan, were political, economic and vengeful wars. The two World Wars were a different ilk of war. They were much more about preventing certain countries from dominating other countries. World War II and the battle for freedom in opposition to the horrors of Hitler’s Germany strikes particularly close to home, since my father and uncles all fought in one or another of the areas of conflict, in the Army, Navy or Marines.

The Cold War era, and all that flowed from the geopolitical tensions it brought to bear on governments and people, is the war of my youth. The philosophy of mutual assured destruction, the arms race, the Bay of Pigs, spies and spying and the Cuban Missile crisis were ever present from the post WW II era until the fall of the USSR. Although I was always a pacifist and a “peacenik,” it is easy to appreciate the dynamics of the times.

Canada became my chosen refuge in 1968 because its government and military were committed to peacekeeping and peace building. It was also a country that achieved its independence from Brittan by earning it, and by negotiating for it gradually, without the need for revolution or civil war.  I believe I was intrinsically Canadian from birth and just had to wait for the right time in life to discover my true homeland.

This year, two men in Canadian uniforms were taken in two acts of violence by individuals provoked by a twisted sense for right and wrong. These two events happened in the same week less than month ago. One of the men was run down by a mad man behind the wheel of a car, and the other was shot in the back as he was standing as an unarmed honour guard at the same monument that was the focus of today’s ceremonies. The same individual who committed the horrific and cowardly act of assassinating a young unarmed reservist, then went into our parliament buildings with the intent to commit further mayhem and destruction. Fortunately he was prevented from doing so. The events of that fateful week evoked a deep emotional response to this year’s Remembrance Day events in all Canadians.

My thoughts then wondered to my father, and his role as a medic in the 308th Tank Destroyer Battalion. This year those thoughts and feelings were substantially enhanced by this summer’s experiences. Travel to Western Europe brought me into close contact with the consequences of war. Visits to the battlefields of Normandy, Ypres, the Ardennes and Waterloo, and the museums, monuments and cemeteries related to those battlegrounds were intensely moving. In the Ardennes, the memorial to the American forces involved in the Battle of the Bulge, was particularly meaningful, since my father was involved in that theater of battle.

On the occasion of this visit to the Ardennes, we were stayed in Luxembourg where my father sustained a wound in the line of duty. Fortunately for me it was a minor wound to the earlobe, but a bit further to the left and I might not have been, and a few inches to the right he wouldn’t have received a Purple Heart. What really got to me was seeing the streets of Luxembourg today and thinking back to the old black and white photographs of that war torn city when he was there. I was able to imagine myself in the same local were he went into harms way to help wounded men and were he received his own wound.

I am a pacifist and a “peacenik” but I have only pride and admiration for those Canadians, and indeed those Americans, who voluntarily chose a military lifestyle. There commitment to duty in the defence of freedom and democracy (as long as that is their credo) is to be admired, respected and supported. They are the reason I am free to be the unrepentant pacifist and “peacenik”. The military carries on the act of warring, but it is the government that must be judged based on the battles they choose to fight, and the reasons the choose to send men and women into harms war.

Yes, this has been a very moving Remembrance Day, even for a pacifist like myself. I wish for an era of peace where war is just a matter for the history books. I will speak of peace, and push for peace and argue for peace, until a world is at peace making such actions unnecessary.

As. always, you faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

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In production – AT LAST

Today was indeed a special day. When I logged into my file on the publisher web site, and looked at the tag ‘book status’, I saw the words ‘in production.’ Those words mark the beginning of the end of a pathway I entered on the 29th day of May in 2012, when I purchased my publishing package. Writing a book is truly a long and winding road.

This is a short post to inform whom ever follows these posts, that Through a Lens of Emptiness will soon be a reality. The next step toward completion and publishing my project will be cover design approval. I’m leaving that up to the designers at the publisher, but I am certainly excited to see how it looks.

I have not revealed who I am working with yet, but will make that information public after the book goes live and is available in print. There is more to write about at that time regarding costs and the services provided.

Until next time . . .as always,  you faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

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finally . . the submission

The final stages of the approval process have been completed, including the marketing text for the cover.  All the edits have been approved and the marketing text has passed muster. The only stages of the process remaining include a properly structure final submission, approval of a cover design, the scrutiny of a proof reader, professional indexing and final approval of the finished book.  In order to submit the manuscript for layout in book form (eBook and print format), it must be packaged properly.

A manuscript is composed on pages that are 8.5 x 11 inches, but a book is published in various formats. The print version of my book will be 6 x 9 inches. To complicate matters further, the margins of a manuscript are not the margin dimensions of a finished book. The individual charged with formatting a book for publication requires some freedom to prepare the book layout. My submission will consist of  two folders; one folder contains a single clean copy of the manuscript and a second folder which contains a separate file for each graphic or photograph to be included in the text.  All photographs and graphics, should their be any, are cut from the manuscript and a place holder is inserted to indicate where each belongs.

My manuscript also includes some tables and text boxes. I was given the option of formatting them myself or having it done by the layout pro. I have opted to have them formatted for placement by the layout pro because I am certain to make a hash of it. After all the work and expense of getting to this point,  a highly professional looking finished product is the only possible outcome for the author.

The cover design is another matter which I have turned over to the pros. They will do their best to come up with a cover design that is attractive and appealing, and I simply have to approve it. Throughout this process I have taken my lead from the experts. I am a writer, not a layout expert. When you choose to self publish and pay for a package deal, the expertise of the publisher is what you paid for so you should exploit it to the max. Tomorrow, when I click the send button on an email that has my files attached in submission format, I do so with confidence and certainly a degree of excitement.

The next phase of the process is up to me. There are lots of books for people to chose from in this world and no book sells itself. Unless you already have a public profile of some note, the first time author is an unknown entity in a very crowded and competitive space.  I have written for a target audience and I need to reach out to them. My next post will discuss marketing planning and structuring an Author platform.

Until the next post I remain your faithful blogger . . .

L Alan Weiss (Larry) 

Soon to be published author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

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