Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Pilgrimage at day's end

Prompted by Michał Karski's recent comments, quoting Annabel Streets' book 52 Ways to Walk: "So what makes a pilgrimage different from a walk? Firstly, a pilgrimage requires a destination with meaning. In the past this was typically a holy place, but today it might be an ancient tree, the house of an admired painter or architect, somewhere that holds special memories for us, or the site of a rare orchid. Secondly, a pilgrimage requires an intention. This can be as simple as plotting out our day's work, or emptying our mind before bed."

My destination today was to catch a magical scene, one that briefly flashed past my eyes from the Kraków-Warka train exactly a week ago. The sun setting over the Pilica river, a low mist settling over the water meadows to its south. Then, I was unable to catch the shot; the train was going too fast. My intention today? Get the photo I missed, and seek metaphysical experience. 

Today's weather was perfect for said pilgrimage (train from Chynów to Warka Miasto, the connection ideally timed to catch the sun going down.

Below: photo taken from the footway alongside the new rail bridge. I was lucky to catch a lone canoe making its way downstream.

Below: across the Pilica, on the south side, from the railway embankment a view of the river meadow in about a metre of mist, under a painted sky.

Below: from the same spot, change of lens (to super-wide 10-20mm), the rail bridge to the right.

Below: the sun is down, the magic hasn't yet passed... looking towards Hotel Sielanka nad Pilicą, which specialises in equestrian and other outdoor activities.

Below: change of lens again to telephoto... from the north side of the Pilica, the misty meadows look like this...

By the time I reached Warka Miasto, it was too dark to snap. With half an hour in hand before my train back to Chynów, I decided to walk from Warka Miasto to Warka station, just over 20 minutes on foot between the two stations. Total of 12,000 paces for this rail-assisted walk. Train tickets there and back cost 11.44 złotys (just over two quid). For all this gorgeousness. Gratitude!

This time last year:
First steps in cider-making
[Sadly no apples this year!]

This time seven years ago:
On conservatism

This time nine years ago:
Between equinox and equilux

This time 11 years ago:
Heritage or high-rise?

This time 12 years ago:
Shopping notes

This time 13 years ago:
My grandfather

This time 15 years ago:
Surreal twilight, ul.Karczunkowska

This time 16 years ago:
From Warsaw to Seville, via Munich and Madrid

Sunday, 24 September 2023

Travel, tourism and materialism

Have you seen those tourism bucket-list things doing the rounds on social media? The ones where you are supposed to say how many of these 30 destinations you've visited, so that your virtual friends can be impressed?

Well, I have absolutely no desire to visit Thailand, Venezuela, the Philippines, Nigeria, Dubai, Beijing, Vietnam or New York before I die. I don't fancy Egypt or Israel, nor do I wish to mingle with tourist crowds in summer in Venice, Rome or Paris. I don't like crowds. I don't like crowded beaches or crowded mountain trails.

Kraków I know well; often I will get to my business destination on foot from the station, passing through the old town. Electric carts full of tourists glide through the narrow streets, their heads looking left, then right, as their tour guide points out the 15th century basilica and the 16th century convent. No one is really interested. Most are only there because everyone says "you must do Kraków".  Leaflets advertising restaurants, bars or tours are thrust into your face. 'Auschwitz - Schindler's Factory - Salt Mines CHEAP!' It's all too much. 

Why are you going there?

Spirit of place is what draws me. There has to be a spiritual calling to visit - a subliminal desire to commune with a location, on my own, or else in the presence of someone else who gets it. Tourism for the sake of variety, for the sake of ticking off a box on a bucket list, is morally wrong on so many levels. There's tourism for the ego, and tourism for the soul. The latter is the only sort of interest to me.

[If you do harbour an intense, spiritual, longing to visit Kraków, do so in mid-January, the low-low season, before Polish ferie winter holidays begin. You should have the place pretty much to yourself and to the locals.]

I've often written that the travel destination of the future will be the past. Spiritual longings for places as they were are rarely rewarded with a repeat of the hoped-for experience. I remember my first trip to the US in 1978 (45 years ago right now!); already by then, America had changed from what I was seeking. Today, the America of the 1930s, '40s and '50s has vanished, replaced by identical strip-malls, SUVs and billboards advertising prescription medicines, peopled by the overweight. I have no ambition to return to the US, like, ever. 

Google Maps Street View (where available) gives a beautiful visual insight into spirit of place, of course without other sensory inputs, you're only getting a fifth of the experience. But it - plus access to myriad photos and films online offers glimpses of places that the pre-internet world couldn't match. My basic curiosity about places can easily be assuaged by diving online.

So where would I go? Rural - deeply rural - Europe. Villages in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France - right off the tourist trail, scarcely known of, still abiding in traditional rural ways. How would I get there? Train, bus, bicycle. I'd want to stay for several days, get an understanding of the place. Scandinavia? Maybe. And there's still vast swathes of Poland and its immediate neighbours to visit.

Left: a consciousness moving across the face of the Earth. I am entirely happy wandering around on foot for lengthy strolls in my immediate neighbourhood; I require little more than a sunny day (any time of year!) to be moved into sublime spheres. 

I have foresworn air travel (Jet Zero). We haven't got 'until 2050' - what's needed is immediate action, bottom up, by the two billion richest individuals on this planet; we must change our behaviour and dramatically curtail our CO2 emissions.

 I'm doing my bit - I hope you're doing yours. 

"Do not go unless your heart tells you so."

UPDATE: In the comments, Michał Karski rightly mentions pilgrimage. Yes! A crucial idea (entering the word pilgrimage into my blog's search box yields many posts). We all need our own pilgrimage destinations, even it's just down the road and round the corner to catch the sun setting over Wola Pieczyska or Sułkowice. Some thoughts about places spiritual here.

This time last year:
To Rzeszów and back by rail, part II

This time six years ago:

This time eight years ago:
What's the biggest threat - Putin or ISIS?

This time nine years ago:
Scenarios for change in Russia

This time ten years ago:
A new bus for Jeziorki - the 809 to Bobrowiec

This time 12 years ago:
Bunker in Powiśle

This time 13 years ago:
Sunshine brings out the best in everything

This time 15 years ago:
There must be a better way (3)

Saturday, 23 September 2023

It's a competitive world

As mammals, we are born to compete for status within our social hierarchies. Materialism offers a neat way to display one's position in that hierarchy without any longer having to a) beat into submission hundreds or thousands of other men or b) gather a harem of dozens or hundreds of women. 

No - all that's needed today is ownership of a private jet, one's own island, a mass-media outlet to control what people think, and a collection of something collectable - artwork, fine wines, classic cars or rare books. "Look at me! I'm a success!" [The corollary is that everyone else not on this level is a loser.]

Because the communist system was so inefficient at generating wealth, value and innovation, even those at or near the top of the status hierarchy were not actually that well-off when compared to rich folk in the free-market West. And when the Iron Curtain fell, and the baubles of consumerist culture became available in countries like Poland, there was a sudden and largely mindless rush to consume, possess and display one's new-found social status.

I suspect that this is why the car-ownership rate in Poland in the highest in the EU. "Amongst the EU Member States with the highest motorisation rates, i.e. passenger cars per thousand inhabitants, Poland (687 passenger cars per thousand inhabitants) heads the list. In second place follows Luxembourg with 681 cars per thousand inhabitants" - Eurostat, March 2022

It's not just cars. Society around me seems to be in a mad rush to earn, consume and display status. Yet once detached from the metaphysical nature of life, all that remains is matter and materialism. The handbrakes are off; self-reflection fades, and what counts is solely What Others Think Of Me.

In mediaeval times, one's place in the pecking order was ordained to a greater extent than today by birth - there were far fewer escape routes from the rural poverty into which most folk were born into. One, of course, was the Church; bright boys could choose the monastic life or enter the priesthood, and there they could study, and advance up this particular hierarchy, with the brightest and best reaching high rank as abbotts or bishops or cardinals. The whole point of celibacy within the Church was to prevent the cumulation of personal wealth for intergenerational transfer; it had to be retained by the Church.

But whatever the system, mankind's inexorable need to display status through the accumulation of goods considered to be luxurious; gold, gems, ermine and works of art. Even the spiritual hierarchy, that takes vows of holy poverty, would still claim "these luxury goods are not mine, they belong to the Church", while enjoying a lifestyle of luxury known only to kings and feudal lords.

I hold that a middle way must be found; for our own personal sanity, for a healthier, better functioning society, and for our planet that is being steadily warmed by two billion rich people as they consume.

We must be aware of our behaviour and motivation as consumers; we must buy less, make do with what we have, and be conscious of our spending decisions. "Aim to live in comfort, not in luxury", remains a motto of mine; knowing when to get out of the rat-race is crucial. This is when maturity kicks in, overcoming the social creature within us all that's unwittingly guided by the mammalian imperative to show off. Maturity blossoms into enlightenment, which can reach the state of transcendence; but much water must flow first under the bridge. "If you're not married by 30 and made by 40, you're an all-round fool", my mother used to tell me. But external pressure to compete is not a wise counsel. Knowing when to take the foot off the materialist accelerator is a sign of wisdom, a sign that you know that there's more to self than ego. 

The quest for knowledge, understanding and ultimately, serenity, is for me a far greater driver than any material ambition. Yes, I'd like to buy the wood next door someday, but my motivation to enlarge the amount of land I own knowing that under my stewardship, plants and wildlife will come to no harm. No felling, no clearing, no mowing, no pesticides, no herbicides; allowing nature to take its own course as far as possible. 

If I'd wish to engage in competition, it would indeed be a competition to know and to understand - not to display material goods for the admiration of others.

This time last year:
To Rzeszów and back by rail, Pt. I

This time last year:
To Rzeszów and back by rail, Pt  I

This time two years ago:
Science, Religion, Magic and Consciousness

This time five years ago:
The house on the działka, coming on

This time six years ago:
Autumn comes early

This time seven years ago:
Kriegslok passes through Jeziorki

This time 11 years ago:
A little way west of Jeziorki

This time 12 years ago:
The Old Sailor's Tale - part II 

This time 13 years ago:

This time 14 years ago:
The passing of Lt. Cmdr. Tadeusz Lesisz 

This time 16 years ago:
Summer ends, autumn begins

Friday, 22 September 2023

Góra Kalwaria, by train

Today, 22 September, is World Car-Free Day. Koleje Mazowieckie, as in past years, made today a ticket-free day, and so it behoves me to make the most of it. I chose to go by train from Chynów to Góra Kalwaria and back, changing at Ustanówek both ways.

I wrote in May about the work carried out at Góra Kalwaria and Czachówek Wschodni, raising the platforms at both stations to allow modern rolling stock to serve them. Having photographed Czachówek Wschodni, I thought I'd take the opportunity to snap Góra Kalwaria too. Trains from Warsaw to Góra Kalwaria swing off the main Radom line south of Ustanówek, then slow down to 40km/h for the seven kilometres to Góra Kalwaria. The contrast between the fully modernised Radom line and the Łuków-Skierniewice line is quite a shock. Now, the latter line is almost entirely goods-only with only the short stretch between Czachówek and Góra Kalwaria carrying passenger services.

Below: the platform at Góra Kalwaria has always been too short for a full-length train; here's a two-unit set of Flirts (ten carriages in total). To ensure no one steps off onto the tracks, the conductor passes through the rear unit of five carriages as the train approaches Ustanówek, asking passengers for Czachówek Południowy and Góra Kalwaria to move into the front five carriages.

Below: signal box at Góra Kalwaria. East of the station, five tracks merge down into one.

Below: looking at the station from ulica Pijarska. The right-hand track is for loading/unloading aggregate trains, the two left-hand tracks are for passenger trains; through freight traffic passes on the two tracks in the middle.

Below: the line leads down to the Vistula, crossing over it a single-track bridge. Passenger services over the bridge were terminated in 2003, briefly reinstalled in 2009, the terminated again. There is hope that when the entire line is modernised, passenger trains will return to the whole Łuków-Skierniewice line. Having said that, the line has seen a massive fall in container trains from China to Western Europe, according to Rynek Kolejowy, from 50 trains to 20 trains a day.

Below: Góra Kalwaria has changed since the DK79 bypass took the bulk of through traffic out of the centre. This stretch of road was clogged solid for much of the day. A huge improvement.

Below: my return train to Ustanówek is a five-car, one-unit set, which fits in the platform nicely. Leaving Góra Kalwaria just before five pm, it is already well frequented by young folk heading into Warsaw (or maybe even Piaseczno) to party on down.

Two stops on, I alight at Ustanówek, change platforms, and shortly my train to Chynów arrives. All four trains on time, again.

This time two years ago
Into darkness

This time five years ago:
Summer's end

This time six years ago:
In which I lose a lot of data from my old laptop

This time seven years ago:
Konin - town of aluminium, electricity and coal

This time ten years ago:
Car-free day falls on a Sunday

This time 11 years ago:
Vistula at record low level

This time 14 years ago:
Car-free day? Warsaw's roads busier than ever

This time 15 years ago:
The shape of equinox

This time 16 years ago:
Potato harvest time in Jeziorki

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Warka station, dawn and dusk

Poland's rail renaissance is an ongoing work in progress. According to my old 1999 railway timetable, it would take 31 minutes to get to Chynów to Jeziorki then. Today, it's down to 23 minutes. Fast, modern, comfortable trains running along modernised track make local journeys a pleasure. Major delays can still happen, but they're less frequent; there's less stress, and apps make ticket buying easy.

Travel between cities is shifting away from the car and short-hop flights as people start to understand the environmental consequences of their choices, plus the convenience and comfort that trains offer. You can work on a train, and (assuming modern units) enjoy a freshly cooked meal on a china plate with steel cutlery and a craft beer or espresso doppio as the landscape zooms by.

All in all, passengers are returning to rail travel, not only after Covid, but as a long-term trend. In 2022, rail passenger numbers in Poland exceeded those in 2019, and were indeed higher than in any year this century (342 million, up from a nadir of 257 million in 2005). 

But this is a work in progress. It is patchy; some lines are better than others. Warsaw to Kraków can take 2hrs 13mins via Idzikowice (the fully-upgraded CMK route, 293km) or 3hrs 51 mins via Radom and Kielce (322km).

Now, for me, a trip to Kraków from Chynów either means taking a local train into Warsaw, changing at Warsaw West Platform 9 and taking a 20-minute walk to Warsaw West Platforms 1-8 to catch the fast InterCity train, or taking a local train down to Warka and catching the slower InterCity service via Radom. The former arrives at Kraków Główny at 08:58, the latter at 09:16, just 18 minutes later. The latter journey is easier and with a less stressful interchange, although it means an 05:31 departure from Chynów (the former leaves at 05:37). Again, hardly anything in it.

And so I wake at 04:30, eat, shower, dress, leave at 05:15, catch the 05:31 Koleje Mazowieckie train from Chynów to Warka (on time); I catch the 06:11 InterCity train from Warka to Kraków (on time), head straight to the restaurant car where I order a large black coffee, scrambled eggs with ham, chives, tomatoes, rye bread and butter and an orange juice. And watch the sun rise over the Pilica river.

Below: my train arrives on time at Warka station on the right-hand platform; to the left is a Warsaw-bound service that starts in Warka, getting ready to depart.

Below: with over 20 minutes before my InterCity train arrives, I have time to take a look at the west side of the tracks - a new footpath/cyclepath has been built, where once a muddy track through long grass was the only way between the station and ulica Grójecka.

At five past six, another Warsaw-bound local service, this one from Radom, passes Warka; I watch it disappear northward towards the next stop, the rural halt at Gośniewice. As it does so, the lights of the Kraków-bound Karłowicz express come into view round the bend. My train reaches Warka on time.

Below: I rush to the restaurant car - but there are no crowds. The chef is in the galley, preparing my excellent breakfast (45zł - £8.50) By the time the train arrives in Radom, the restaurant begins to gather clientele. 

Whereas the line has been fully modernised as far as Radom, beyond - and this is the main part of the journey - the tracks are not in the best of shape. The display in the carriage shows the average speed to be around 60km/h (after blasting along at up to 160km/h to Radom). Things will improve - the stretch from Radom to Skarżysko-Kamienna is currently being modernised. Anyway, slowly but surely, the train reaches Kraków, again, on time. 

In Kraków, it's raining - heavily. Fortunately, the event I'm moderating is just across the road from the shopping mall which straddles Kraków Główny station. The event finishes - it's still raining heavily. So despite having an hour and half free time, there's no possibility for a walk, other than a stroll around the mall. The usual parade of vacuous vanity. Anyway, at 15:39 the Orłowicz InterCity express to Warsaw (via Kielce, Radom and Warka) leaves, on time.

Below: I reach Warka five minutes behind schedule - not bad, given that the train crawled stop-start into Radom, managing to claw back 15 minutes by racing along the modernised stretch of track north of Radom.

Below: looking at Warka station after sunset. The nearest track has no platform, it allows express trains and goods trains to pass through.

Below: "Pociąg kończy bieg." ("Train terminates here.") Once empty, this Koleje Mazowieckie train pulls out of the 'up' platform to be stabled in a siding north of the station. 

My train to Chynów is also on time (19:17), 13 minutes later I'm there, and at quarter to eight I'm home. All has gone to plan. Abandon your cars, motorists! Let the train take the strain/this is the age of the train.

This time last year:
The Monarchy - my arguments for

This time two years ago:
Seaside, Sopot

This time last three years ago:
Repeatable moments of joy

This time four years ago:
Spectacularly glorious day, Ealing

This time seven years ago:
Evolution, the future and us

This time nine years ago:
Relief as Scots vote to remain in UK

This time ten years ago:
The S2 opens all the way to Puławska

This time 11 years ago:
Thundering ghost from out of the mist

This time 12 years ago:
Push-pull for Mazowsze

This time 13 years ago:
Okęcie runway repairs are complete

This time 15 years ago:
I know that painting from somewhere...

Sunday, 17 September 2023

Plenitude at the year's fruition

Nature's bounty manifests itself across the local landscape; tipping from mid-September towards late-September, and the sun still prevails, keeping clouds and rain away. Meteorological autumn began on 1 September; astronomical autumn begins next Saturday, but the weather has remained that of high summer, with top temperatures reaching toward 30C.

Below: orchards, full of apples. And indeed, here and there, the occasional orchard of pear trees. The plums have already been picked.

Below: meadow, field, forest, orchard - all under perfect, cloudless skies. Looking north.

Around here, I can go for a 90-minute walk and not see any other human being. Spirit of Place.

I am experiencing sublime elation as I walk through this forest in this particular weather - the peak joy of being alive, (tempered by the knowledge that the forest has been heavily logged this year and last, thinning it out significantly).

At the forest's edge, homeward bound. Back to the aroma of mature apple in the air.

Weatherwise, 2023 has been a optimal spring and summer here in Jakubowizna - may the autumn stay clement as long as possible. 

This time two years ago
The force-field of fate

This time three years ago:
Hot in the city

This time four years ago:
Resting with the heroes

This time six years ago:
Polish employers' demographic challenge
[Since then, it's got worse. And it will be worse still.]

This time 11 years ago:
The rich, the poor, the entrepreneur

This time 11 years ago:
Food: where's the best place to shop in Poland? 

This time 12 years ago:

This time 13 years ago:
Commuting made easy

This time 14 years ago:
Work starts on the S79/S2 'Elka'

This time 15 years ago:
Warsaw's accident-filled streets

Friday, 15 September 2023

Clinging on and letting go

For Marek

Yesterday I was travelling from Łódź Fabryczna to Łódź Widzew on my way home. Boarding a crowded local train, I found myself sitting next to an elderly woman in a headscarf  and woolly cardigan - the stereotypical baba w chuście that has all but disappeared from the Polish landscape, replaced by elderly women in leggings and sweatshirts. Anyway, the headscarfed woman was clutching rosary beads and was deep in spiritual contemplation. Staring down at her fingers, her lips moving silently, she was not present with the other commuters as they scrolled down their social-media feeds on their omnipresent smartphones. She seemed more focused and calmer than everyone else - sublimely transcendent, indeed.

I could see a greater commonality between her and an orthodox Jew, head bobbing up and down in prayer, or a whirling Dervish in a trance, or a Hindu chanting a mantra, than between her and her fellow Poles in the train. 

But was she clinging on to a learned behaviour, or was her faith an integral part of her identity? 

Since the James Webb Space Telescope began transmitting data, astronomers and cosmologists have taken to question the nostrum that our Universe is 13.8 billion years old. Some are starting to suggest that it might be twice as old - others are trying to get more a more precise number, whittling down the hundreds of millions plus-minus to a smaller number. Most scientists feel comfortable with that 13.8 billion age - but are they clinging to it? Will this accepted figure end up being completely overturned? In five years' time, will our textbooks teach pupils that the Universe is 27.6 billion or 13,787,150,000 years old? Don't know.

I am entirely agnostic, watching videos on YouTube I see the majority of mainstream cosmologists sticking with the accepted figure. I wonder what it will take to shift that consensus. If it does shift, will there still be die-hards clinging on to the figure of 13.8 billion? 

It is, I posit, much easier for a rationalist, scientific mind to accept a changed consensus on the age of the Universe based on analysis of observed data, new hypotheses put to peer review, and multiple experiments all pointing to the same outcome, than it is for such a mind to accept a genuine paradigm shift regarding consciousness. From an emergent phenomenon, the by product of biological evolution, to a fundamental property of the Cosmos. Indeed, the fundamental property of the Cosmos

I believe in the power of intuition, a power that is metaphysical in origin, a manifestation of non-local consciousness. My belief in intuition is an intuitive belief, not something taught or learnt. It is something I have observed over time, and in my own n=1 world, it holds true.

If you intuitively hold that something is right, then its validity runs deep. It's as right to you as any extraneously derived theory. Deep intuitive conviction, emotional, visceral and abiding, honed over decades, elevated to higher levels of understanding. The honing process is a mixture of absorbed knowledge and intuition - science and spirituality together, blended, in balance. Fine-tuning of an idea, rather than rejection or clinging to dogma. Like a statue coming to life from a block of stone, rough hewn at first, but taking on shape and definition with the judicial honing.

This time three years ago:
Out in the mid-September heat

This time four years ago:
Poland's ugliest building?

This time nine years ago:
Weekend cookery - prawns in couscous

This time 11 years ago:
Draining Jeziorki

This time 12 years ago:
Early autumn moods

This time 13 years ago:
The Battle of Britain, 70 years on

This time 14 years ago:
Thoughts about TV, Polish and British

This time 15 years ago:
Time to abandon driving to work!

This time 16 years ago:
Crappy roads take their toll

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

The Ephemeral Pleasures of Materialism

Nothing survives death. Let me rephrase that - no thing survives death. The human organism is a thing. It serves as a container for the soul - which is not a thing. By 'thing', I mean something that can be weighed and measured and empirically defined. The soul, or to use preferred terminology - consciousness - is immaterial.

If you don't believe in the soul, you are all container, all thing, all matter, and therefore death stands as a finality. If you don't believe in the soul, the process of ageing beyond your physical best-by date must be terrifying. "It's all downhill from here."

But if you feel the presence of consciousness as something above and beyond the corporeal construct of proteins and cells and double helixes, then the ageing process is something you don't need to rage at. Indeed, I embrace it for the additional spiritual wisdom that lifelong learning brings.

Entropy is balanced by growing complexity, driven by biological evolution. But there's also spiritual evolution, something we cannot measure, only intuit. And so, while entropy is trying to drag all matter down to a random mess of atoms randomly bumping around, I would posit that a cosmos filled with source consciousness is the purpose that drives the evolving complexity of the unfolding of the universe.

God, the Purpose, the Reason, the Destination, the Goal, God the Infinitely Long Road from Zero to One - I see God as a journey as well as an end-state, not as the God whom we humans have historically tended to anthropomorphise. That God has become a straw man, one that rationalism found it easy to knock over.

Since the Enlightenment, religions which once had total monopoly over our human spirituality have been pushed back by the materialist-reductionist steamroller. We have been seduced by matter, the instant gratification offered by technology. So we have come to abandon the spiritual, we have come to reject notions of the metaphysical as mere woo-woo. Meanwhile, religions' controlling behaviour has made them easy to reject in favour of convenience and pleasure. But out went the baby (our conscious experience, our spiritual existence), along with the bathwater (dogma, commandments, ritual etc).

Attempts to empirically prove that the supernatural or paranormal co-exists with the material are dismissed as pseudoscience, and yet we kind of intuit that there's also a metaphysical reality. We have come to expect evidence, hard evidence, before we'll buy into an idea to weave into our worldview. I feel no need to seek scientific confirmation of my consciousness via machines trying to detect extra-sensory perception.

{ Flashback: Leamington Spa railway station, 1979/80. Just thought I'd drop that qualia memory event into this post as it happened. } 

But back to the topic. In the absence of that hard evidence, we have bought into the materialist paradigm and the materialist values with which it has replaced spirituality. 

"There's nothing spiritual in our lives - so just focus on making money and buying things." This nicely meshes with our innate status hierarchy - the more money you have, the more things you have, the more you can prove to all and sundry that you are better than them - higher up the ladder. "It's a competitive world/Everything counts in large amounts." 

Materialism makes us do more - but as I wrote the other day, not necessarily things that need doing. Stepping out of the hamster wheel allows us to see beyond the false pleasures that materialism brings. We can now catch sight of the true values that the spiritual approach brings. Better mental health and a less despoiled environment to name but two tangible benefits.

"All things must pass, all things must pass away"

Things, yes - consciousness, no. Your consciousness was, is, and will be. As long as you are aware of it!

This time last year:
W-wa Zachodnia modernisation - a long way to go
(Passing through today: still a long way to go)

This time two years ago:

This time three years ago:
Back in Aviation Valley

This time four years ago:
My flight to Rzeszów - delayed

This time seven years ago:
English as she is used in Europe

This time eight years ago:
Where asphalt is needed - Nowy Podolszyn to Zgorzala

This time 13 years ago:
I cycle to work along the cyclepath along ul. Rosoła

This time 15 years ago:
First apple