Coming Home to Sustainability

  • About the Author

    The Hunger Site
    Michael (MG) Harris is a writer, speaker and consultant in Connecticut, focusing on the emerging fields of sustainability and ecopsychology. He is a professional engineer with twenty years of experience, has a BS in Renewable Energy and a MBA in management. Michael is also a Certified Integrative Processing practitioner based on a program developed by John Ruskan in his book, Emotional Clearing. The purpose of this work is the forging of cultural approaches to the challenge of what some call The Great Turning, the brief 300 year period we currently find ourselves in of extreme geobiological upheaval and change, a period that reflects an unprecedented reduction in the diversity and intensity of the expression of life on our planet. In concert with this upheaval, a corresponding emergence of a new paradigm of consciousness is occurring. Together, these events call forth both great peril and great opportunity. The work of blogs and global communication in this regard represent the leading edge of the plant's conscious efforts to choose the character and substance of the future. The energy and deep drive manifesting in the work of sustainability and ecopsychology is one aspect of a the global efforts to realize our highest collective self.
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Posted by Michael George Daniel on November 8, 2007

Chapter 1 The Work

Currently, as the owner of a small consulting firm, I have been participating in the development of a business that is intended to support the ethic of sustainability. This means that our mission is first and foremost dedicated to promoting this concept of living in a manner in which future generations might also have the opportunity to flourish. In the process of doing this, many questions arise that go to the method, objectives, time-frames, markets, customer and products we will target and employ. There is no model that can be copied to create a business dedicated to something that is unprecedented. In fact, as we have come to understand, sustainability is not a concept very well understood because it represents a shift away from the way things have always been, to a new relationship among humans and non-humans on the earth, and even perhaps among all aspects of the universe.

The challenge of creating a business in an unprecedented field is a useful model for the kind of cultural evolution needed to address issues of global decline; pollution, overpopulation, food availability, water, species extinction, war, violence and injustice. Our cultural memory does not include to any useful degree knowledge or a vision of co-existing with each other and among all aspects of the living Earth in a peaceful, egalitarian, collaborative manner. The kind of cultural system needed to meet the needs of a sustainable planet is unimaginable. Thus, a creative process is required to move us forward into the unknown. It is exactly because of this unknown that we are hampered; held back by our dominant rationality that seeks to understand and know the outcome before being willing to act. We use the challenge of building a business around a similarly creative idea as a proxy for the broader, urgent, global challenges.

Abundance is a word to describe our entrance and experience in the new relationship with the universe needed to meet these challenges. It represents a focus on solution. In order to creatively manifest a solution to the current lack of sustainability, we do need to peel away layers of conditioning and denial. To do that, there is a certain amount of focusing on the problem that will be required. The energy to create anew is currently locked up inside of protective shells we have created as individuals, communities, nations and a species to protect us from the damage our progress has caused. To become oriented to the task, we have tried to go deep; to the root, the source of life and being in order to have some perspective on sustainability. This process takes us into a spiritual experience and at the same time, reveals quantum physics and the scientific inroads into spiritual questions as a corollary. From our perspective, we see the latter as representative of a continued rational approach to understanding the nature of being. We have learned that instinct and intuition also play a part in wisdom and knowledge, and have come to see the rational approach as only a tool of a greater totality of experience of the body, mind, spirit trinity.

In organizing an approach to the subject, different versions of traditional trinities offer differen organizational structures that can be informative. In addition to exploring them, we will consider some other organizing structures as well. The great human institutions of politics, economics, academia and religion offer another useful structure that will help us understand history and our current paradigm. This approach has been foundational to the work of Thomas Berry and Miriam McGillis.

In his book, The Great Work, Berry also summarizes an organization he attributes to the Gaia Hypothesis consisting of the components: Landsphere, Watersphere, Airsphere, Lifesphere and Mindsphere. This five-part, energetic arrangement supports an analysis across a continuum that we characterize as earth’s energy to heaven’s energy. In our efforts to bound the concept of sustainability, we propose the term of Total Sustainability that ultimately informs the broad focus of our work.

Our experience so far has been one of difficulty in articulating a focus that is accessible to more conventional thinking. I offer just a couple of observations about this now, with additional elaboration in subsequent chapters. As mentioned, the process of creation provides unique challenges, particularly to our current conditioning that relies so heavily on past knowledge for progress. When creating something that never was, we don’t have an experience of it to reference. The words are, obviously, difficult to identify. Creation is ultimately an iterative process, characterized with a letting go of the control and expectation of certain results. Results are certain, but what those results look like is not able to be predicted. With regard to the current expectations of a business, ours has not fit neatly into any existing categories or products. So when someone says, what do you do? The answer is difficult. Not only do we struggle with finding our own words, for in fact, we are finding them as we go and learn. We are developing the words, delving into the concepts and realizing the many ways these thoughts can be articulated and then struggling with finding the best choices of presentation. This is of course, all colored by our own conditioning which, while very much part of the main stream, is decidedly less and less main stream and perhaps it is equally apparent that whatever impetus led to our being here, is evidence of a keen shift from the main stream that must have occurred or been deep within us for sometime.

But just as importantly, even as we find words that work for us, they do not necessarily work for those with whom we entreat them. We see the faces, subtle shifts in expression that occur as we try to explain what it is we do. There first a look of puzzlement, then an effort is made to hide this. The result is a kind of dead pan, an emotionless that is immediately perceived as an energy drain. Momentum waivers, questions arise in our mind as we take in these subtle signals. It is only with a great deal of conscious effort have we been able to make progress against this inertia. Thus, our process informs us along the way. We experience these difficulties and they become real experiential data that can be used to understand the cultural inertia that will need to be overcome for a more sustainable way of life to take hold. This is very personal journey. As we experience the dazed looks on the faces of our friends and family, we are compelled to look at ourselves. Why is this happening? Why do I feel this way, so inadequate, so diffracted, unfocused and unclear? Part of my own make up seeks to explain this experience by finding inadequacies in myself. I’ve come to realize that this experience is partly driven by my earliest conditioning. I was taught that there is a certain way to be, a way to get along and be successful. It is only very recently that I’ve begun to allow myself to accept that somewhere, way deep down, part of me disagrees with what I was taught. In fact, I recognize that this part of me has been disagreeing for a very long time. Maybe forever. The more this process reveals, the more energized I am to continue. Thus there is, finally, a positive feedback loop for the kind of personal introspection needed to understand and describe some of the stuff written here. Moreover, literally as I write this, I am able to relate my own psychological make up with that of our broader culture. The rational knowledge that we have parroted for so long, that so our own psyches go, so goes the collective psyche, is coming home to roost, so to speak, through a deeper experience. The rationality is seeping into the rest of me. And this deeper understanding, I believe, is there to feed insight and ultimately guidance and solutions for a much broader slice of society.

This deep conditioning, whether on a personal level or extrapolated to the world society represents what we would call an inertia of the cultures mindset. Cultural conditioning: if people don’t here about the ideas we espouse on TV or in the newspaper, then the opening for them, the ideas, is quite narrow. We realize this – we experience it daily. Thus, on the one hand, is this book. By structuring our ideas, even our struggle with this, we hope to achieve two objectives: one to clarify in our mind what the range and structure of so-called sustainability is, so that is might be studied and elaborated upon going forward, and two, to bring into the public forum another venue for people to receive these ideas. We don’t fool ourselves into thinking that this will necessarily make a big difference in the world today, although there is no reason why it should not. Paul Hawken, in his book Blessed Unrest, is far more cogent than we could ever be about the history and the present ground swell of interest and activity in sustainability. Our problem, and probably our experience is not unique. But it is valid. Thus it represents additional value that can be brought to the conversation and the process.

Hawken quite aptly summarizes sustainability as just two things: ecology and justice; one can not exist without the other and together they define sustainability. As a beginning, then, we have a simple, additional frame to work with: we will seek to organize our foray into this business of sustainability into one of two overall categories, ecology or justice.

From a rational point of view, there are certain difficulties in proceeding with the creative process. It is hard to think our way into creating. But, we have learned that there are other sources of information to which we have not been very well conditioned to access. These include both instincts – information related to arch-types and ancient knowledge via what some call the collective unconscious – as well as intuition – inspiration gleaned from a more energetic connection with the universe itself. When employed in concert, the rational, instinctive and intuitional, a much greater power for creation becomes available. When these modalities are synchronized such that they represent a coherent effort, for example, our efforts to understand total sustainability as a business, as a book, as a field of study and life purpose, the power is greatly enhanced. If the power to create is greatly enhanced, then we begin realize abundance. As the Italians would say, abbondanza!

In the pages that follow, we will try to more clearly define this realm of sustainability within which it is our contention there exists an accessible abundance that is a result of our creative life force directed in a coherent fashion. Connecting with this abundance is a critical aspect of creating sustainability.

Before going further though, we need to take a moment to contemplate our objective of sustainability. What is the desired outcome? What is the definition of sustainability? It is not hard to agree that the Universe will continue with or without the human race, as we know it. The universe is sustainable already. Conservatives might dispute the geobiological trends of the Earth that more progressive thinkers find so alarming. But still, clearly our focus must come in a bit. While the universe will go regardless, what is the context of universal sustainability that we would be a part given our druthers? This is ultimately a spiritual question and in order to have spirituality become pertinent in this context, we might need to wrest it from the hands of organized religion. The terrain begins to get a bit foreboding.

But we are intrepid souls, literally, so we will forge ahead. The context that we are searching for is informed by cosmology, the history and the characteristics of the universe as we know it. Be studying the history, we can see trends that help answer questions about where all this might be going. We then get a sense of how our planet fits into this much larger scheme.

We also need to get clearer about our place in this universe as beings, human beings. The cultural conditioning discussed above is not limited to the current situation in the United States. Ultimately it is reflected in five thousand years of western civilization, and fundamental ideas of human separateness that inform all of our being; our thinking and our institutions. David Korten captured these ideas neatly in his book The Great Turning, From Empire to Earth Community, providing an epic description of the roots of our current empire paradigm, as well as a evidence of an early, different milieu that was much more influencd by maternal instincts and represented a collaborative approach to community and living in the natural world at a level and intensity that is unimaginable today. This expanded relationship with the non-human aspects of our existence represents the antithesis of the subsequent paternal, imperial period of history that is the exclusive realm of known history. We know very little about being in some manner different from our current state in which we hold ourselves separate and above the rest of the natural world, and see the Earth and all its systems and bounty solely as feedstock for human progress. The results of this approach is the broad geobiological decline in the planet.

If we can make the connection between cosmology and our human place in the universe as an integral expression of the evolution of the universe, the door opens to allowing ourselves to use our consciousness in coherence with this universal evolution. The first step in this is to realize that our current level of consciousness reflects a level of consciousness of the universe. Our ability to reflect upon ourself is an order of magnitude of consciousness beyond instinct and genetic programming. Further, the development, technologically, of an internet, to the extent that it suggests the concept of a noosphere as it was envisioned by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as a transhuman or integrated consciousness, and such that the emergence of this collective human cognition extends the transformative ability of our human cognition on the biosphere of the earth, is another example of the progress of consciousness. Who’s to say that this kind of evolution of consciousness has not happened elsewhere in the universe a thousand times over. Who knows that looks like when perhaps all of this emergent, ever more complex expression of universal energy returns to pure consciousness. But the point is, the connection needs to be made by those of us, the humans, at the leading edge of Earth consciousness, that we represent a new level of evolution for the planet and the universe in which choice is involved. So sustainability, in this context, becomes about our conscious choices leading to circumstances that allow for human consciousness to continue to evolve. To fully get to this point, we will need to spend much time and effort understanding that which keeps us from making forward progress in this regard.

Thus, this book seeks answers in the history of the universe and the world, attempts to unravel psychological barriers to the growth of human consciousness at both personal and collective levels, delves into spiritual and philosophical questions for guidance and context, and allows that technology and pragmatism have a role in view of the urgency inherent in the threats to Gaia.

Chapter 2 Clear Mind

In early 2007 I was introduced to Zen sitting. It was a three day retreat at the Providence Zen Center. There I was introduced to a simple Buddhist retreat format that included vegetarian food, sleeping on futons and practicing sitting for most of each day. Having practiced some meditation prior to this retreat, it seemed like a reasonable experience, one that would contribute to my burgeoning meditation capacity, as well as perhaps helping me with my life journey.

The idea for a retreat welled from my desire to participate in some sort of vision quest. Nearly two years into a significant shift in my life experience, it was clear that there was much more discovery to do. I was fortunate to be participating in this ongoing experiment with my life with the attitude that it was indeed a journey of exploration. At the age of forty-five, having woken up in some profound way, I had quit a corporate job based on the conviction that the most satisfying, purposeful life could only be achieved by understanding and acting on a deep knowledge of myself, my heart, passions, interests, capacities and dreams. Contrary to much conventional knowledge, included with this belief was the idea that ultimately my willingness to participate in this process would offer my family, my wife and six-year old, adopted daughter, the best life – by offering them the best husband and father that I could be. This idea did not necessarily go over that well with my nuclear family.

Interestingly, writing about beliefs, it is incumbent on me to acknowledge that from a spiritual perspective, one of the important things for me to do is to let go of my beliefs. At the very least, identify them, critique them, choose them. This is in fact a core component of participating in creative change – in the creation of something that does not yet exist. We must let go of our beliefs because they only represent that which has been, our past. If we try to create while holding on to old beliefs, we will only recreate our past. This then begins to open the door to an understanding of abundance; let go of beliefs that constrain us to our past so that an abundant, unlimited, creative future can manifest.

The retreat was a challenging, physical ordeal. I was about half an hour late on the first evening, a Wednesday during which an orientation was offered. I wandered around the main building for a while, trying to orient myself, but without much success. A young-ish man with a shaved head finally noticed my ambling. I told him why I was there and he directed me to the temple building beyond the main building, up a slight incline. He told me I was late.

The orientation was repeated for my benefit later on; I had a solo audience with Elizabeth to review the format for the upcoming days, meals, meditation and sleeping arrangements. Elizabeth, I later learned, was the Head Dharma Teacher (HDT) who would run the overall retreat. It was she that would officially signal the beginning and end of all the meditation sessions.

We sat zen for fifteen minutes periods. The day started at 5;30 AM, at which time we reported to the Dharma Room for chanting and bowing. Each day started with 108, at strenuous beginning. On the first day, I could not do it, could not keep up. On the second, I pushed through. My thighs ached from the previous day. These were full, prostrate bows, forehead to the mat.

Next we chanted for at least half an hour, perhaps more. I don’t remember. It went on for a long time and was very confusing. There were no words, only strings of syllables that did not mean anything. Everyone also ate together. All the meals were taken in the Dharma Room. There was a very specific technique and protocol for the meals that we learned during the orientation. Everyone received four bowls. They were arranged in a neat pattern. Chopsticks were placed in one of the bowls. Large containers of vegetarian food was passed around; we were to take only what we needed and to eat everything we took. The end of the meal consisted of cleaning the bowls of every crumb of food by rinsing with clear water and drinking the water. There was absolutely no waste.

After a brief break, we would return to sitting for thirty minute periods and then performing walking meditation for fifteen minutes. This process took up the morning, until lunch. Then there was a brief work period, more sitting, a break, dinner, sitting and finally chanting until nine PM. I was exhausted by the end of each day. Sitting Zen can be very painful for the uninitiated. There is no movement allowed, except that you may stand behind your cushion if the pain is too much. My back would ache. I would switch postures, standing first, and then switching to a kneeler, or adjusting the sitting pillow differently. Small adjustments would help the pain shift to a different part of my body, knees, thighs, groin. In the middle of the thirty minute sitting stretch, the HDT gets up and slowly walks around the room with a big, flat stick. You have the option to signal the HDT in silence and, leaning over or moving your head to the side, invite a gentle whack from the stick on the large muscles running down each side of your spine, or on top of your shoulders, to relieve the pain and stiffness. I often partook of this offering, and received very short-lived relief.

During meditation we sometimes had personal interviews. During this time, each student met with the Zen master. He is exactly as you would expect; calm, funny, inscrutable. We were taught about kong ans, Zen riddles to help understand Clear Mind and Don’t Know Mind – freedom from our thoughts and beliefs. I was taught that the Buddha nature of anything is simple to describe. Simply clap your hands together. The sharp report interrupts your thinking for just a moment. That is clear mind. That is the Buddha nature of any thing. My Zen master taught me that we can try to put our words to this feeling too. It is not accurate, but our rational minds always grasp for it, so it is ok. This is where the kong ans come in. Zen master asked me, “What is the Buddha nature of the sky?”

“Whack”, I replied.

“That all?” He asked in return.

“The sky is up”, I said.

“No”, he said. “Come back next time, try again”. That was on my last interview. I now live with this kong-an until my return and next interview with Zen master.

This is the Kwan Um school of Zen. This is how they do it there. It is so that we leave our opinions behind, we practice sitting to achieve clear mind. We chant together. We eat together. We leave all opinions behind. We drop beliefs. This is useful as we begin to see the entrenched attitudes our culture has imparted on us, as we begin to see how we carry this conditioning for the culture. Change begins with each of us, inside. Sustainability for humans will come from a shift, a gigantic metamorphosis of the culture off of rickety foundation stones of anthropocentrism – institutions built on the belief that man is the center of everything. The solutions to the great waste and devastation are in the wisdom that comes from our practicing sitting. When we feel oneness by achieving clear mind, and when we apply our intellect inside of this ethic of us as all-that-is, and all-that-is, us.

Chapter 3 Psychology

From our investigation into the roots of sustainability, we have dived deep into the very personal arenas of spirituality and philosophy. I’m not sure if this is necessarily a personal arena, or if we’ve only been taught that. The concept of faith has been promoted by organized religions as a necessary ingredient of a spiritual path. It may be so, but the objective of nurturing faith in these instances has often been to further the interests of an institution, rather than enhance a personal experience. It should be said that spiritual experience is important for humans to know their place in the Universe. This, though, is not so much personal, as individual. We each have our own experience that is perhaps as diverse as there are expressions of life on the planet. Maybe, more clearly, as there are expressions of manifested universe, matter and non-matter alike. This seems to be the deepest we can go, what some have called the Zero-Point Field, a quantum level of expression smaller than the constituents of atoms, a seething, pulsing distortion of a great, all encompassing field of energetic potential.

We can use this relationship of the individual to the simplest expression of the Universe at the quantum level to inform our relationship as individuals with something larger – our communities, cultures, species and planet. If we can see the expression of the whole in the parts as well as the parts in the whole, we can begin to comprehend our role as individuals in expanding sustainability. The word organic here is another way to describe this idea of sustainability. Organic has a variety of uses. A simple definition holds that organic means something that contains carbon. Carbon, being the basic building block of life on Earth, represents a common element among all living things. Thus organic reflects this connection. Organic, more generically, means a constituent part of a whole; an element that has a unique place and role inside of a larger whole.

We have agreed that sustainability means, on the one hand, a relationship with the living Earth that allows for the continuation of the diversity of life forms so that human existence can continue. There is an important distinction here that must be drawn out. Our survival as a species depends on the survival of a diverse mix of other life forms. But more importantly, the survival of all other life forms relies on the continued diversity and interdependence of life forms. Thomas Berry, in The Great Work, writes “The universe exists in highly differentiated forms of expression. So too the planet Earth exists as a highly differentiated complex of life systems. The only security of any life expression on Earth is in the diversity of the comprehensive community of life…[T]hese various forms of expression are so intimately related that nothing is itself without everything else.” [Page 147]

We begin our exploration into the journey of abundant sustainability by looking at our role as individuals. This look encompasses psychological aspects, as well as energetic influences. Intuitively, we have recognized the role of, for example, energetic practices as useful in the pursuit of an experience, and thus wisdom, leading to an organic relationship with all-that-is.

Deepening our understanding of our organic role in the universe in crucial. Energetically speaking, we will expand this understanding by participating in activities that offer an experience of an energetic way of being. Two examples that come to mind are eastern Practices of Tai Chi/Chi Gong, and Zen meditation.

Deepening our understanding of our organic role in the universe in crucial. Energetically speaking, we will expand this understanding by participating in activities that offer an experience of an energetic way of being. Two examples that come to mind are eastern Practices of Tai Chi/Chi Gong, and Zen meditation.

Chapter 4 Energetic Practices

Chi Kung and Tai Chi exercises provide an experience of connection that is different from our predominate mode of accessing information through the rational mind. This expanded experience is useful for enhancing our ability to recognize our connection with each other, other life forms, non-life forms and the universe. It is the essence of this perspective that ultimately needs to emerge as a foundational aspect of our relationship with the Earth, if human sustainability is to be achieved.

The nature of our human consciousness, at its present level of evolution, is one of separation. The reason for this is actually rather simple. Philosophically, and perhaps pragmatically speaking, we can not be aware of something with which we are completely one. Paraphrasing Neale Donald Walsch in his children’s book, The Little Soul and the Sun, we are The Light, but there is nothing but The Light. We can’t know ourselves, therefore, as The Light if we don’t have something to compare it to. Thus we manifest on the earthly, dualistic plane for the very purpose of experiencing ourselves inside of a dream – an illusion representing the absence of light – that provides the needed contrast to recognize the light for what it is. Thus in Walsch’s book, God surrounds the Little Soul with darkness so that he can know himself as the light.

Self-awareness, the higher level of our consciousness, is totally unique to humans on this planet. We are aware of the phenomenon of consciousness, but we can not know it without becoming separate for the sake of observing it. While we become aware of our awareness, our connection with a greater consciousness is hidden behind an illusion of separation. This we call Ego.

Ego is a stepping stone. In its current state, human intellect has achieved great accomplishments, but at great cost to the vast interconnected life system of earth known as Gaia. This breakdown in diversity and efficacy of life on Earth threatens the sustainability of the human race and represents an ironic effort in futility for the human ego. Futile to the extent that it has allowed us to develop a rational and technical cultural milieu that holds such complete sway over all other living systems on the planet that we threaten their existence and thus our own. It is the consciousness of the culture that is the greatest impediment to sustainability. The cultural consciousness is a reflection of the individual, human ego. When we expand our individual experience of connection with Gaia, we contribute to the cultural shift needed for human sustainability.

Self-awareness is, of course, an aspect of our higher rational mind. It is part of that middle band of consciousness between our sub-conscious and our super-conscious, both which represent information to which we are not consciously privy; the former being aspects of our instinct and the universal, collective unconscious that has been passed down from generation to generation for eons, and the latter being an energetic connection with universal energy. As we develop our own conscious piece, we deepen our self-knowledge and self-awareness and have the opportunity to bring to light aspects of our experience related to the sub- and super-consciousness that were previously hidden from view. As we develop other modes of experience, we expand our ability to connect with all that is. This is a crucial element in promulgating sustainability. It might also be called love.

The integrated, supportive interaction of Gaia is the context of being for humans. It is the purpose that flows from being and if we act in such a way as to eliminate this context and cease being, we have achieved a different purpose. A purpose that might be characterized as they came and did, did, did, strived, strived, strived, and left. It is not love. Without a sense of connection, we act from a place of separation and have no way of gauging our actions with regard to the living Earth or to deeper principles of the Universe. Principles that reflect a core purpose of evolution, of an always more complex expression of God. Human sustainability requires the essence of connection, love for all aspects of Gaia, be at the core of our relationship with Earth. Perceiving and knowing this interconnection happens through experience. It is ultimately contingent on our ability to understand more broadly the connection of all things, not just living things. Understanding sustainability is, then, related to our ability to experience the interconnectedness of all things. Sustainability is the expression of this oneness. The combination of this knowledge and experience provides wisdom that can be applied to creating a sustainable world.

Chi Kung and Tai Chi exercises offer a means of experiencing interconnectedness. They offer body-centered experiences that transcend the physiology of our bodies. Our feelings by themselves are nothing more than overgrown sensations. Our thoughts aren’t much more than filtered and pre-patterned energetic response within the physiological constraints of our brains. Our instincts are handed down in our DNA and our intuition is conditional to our spiritual openness. But in combination, all of these aspects of our selves offer a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Energetic martial arts exercises help create coherence among each of these aspects. They encourage our energetic lines to align and our vibrations to entrain and resonate with vibrations all around us. The powerful result of this resonance is a leveraging of essence of the universe down to the quantum level. We amplify the underlying bubbling of the Akashic field. We turn the volume up on our interconnection with the universe so that it can inform us as individuals and ultimately collectively as institutions and cultures, of our inter-relationship with the rest of the universe. Together, this experience with our rationality, can inform and provide the wisdom for creating human sustainability.

Chapter 5 Introspection

An epitome of the cultural shift needed to move toward an organic relationship between humans and the Earth is personal introspection. For it is only through this process that we can as individuals wake up to the relationship between the construct of the external world and the make-up of our internal world. This represents an expansion of our consciousness. There is a psychological basis for the effectiveness of the work, but there is more to it than that. Expanding our personal consciousness is also about getting in touch with the dream of a life integrated with all living systems and with the universe. It is our access to this dream that can feed the fire of our spirit. It is the dream that can lead us to an experience of the deepest joy for being alive. This joy can feed a passion that will help carry us through the difficult work of accepting change and applying our intellect to an ecologically sustainable approach to life.

If we can make sense of the fundamental misalignment in our efforts, institutions and cultural orientation, we can begin to create greater congruencies between human efforts at self-actualization, and a harmonious existence with Gaia. Accessing the dream of integration with the Earth, or an understanding of the power of coherence requires an opening up, a clearing of emotional interferences. In his book, Emotional Clearing, John Ruskan points out the premise of the book “that no real growth into higher consciousness can occur unless working with the emotions becomes a central part of inner work… working with emotion as well as feeling in general can become a most vital and even primary path to self-realization, enabling us to release the inner forces that keep us blocked and from our full potential.” In our context here, this full potential is directly related to the potential of our human-earth culture, and our ability as a species to live in a manner that is congruent and harmonious with the great complexity of life forms on Earth.

Personal dreams represent an extension of our consciousness and, therefore, offer important information for creating new perspectives. This is not a new concept, indigenous cultures in place like South America have used dreams to guide there daily living for thousands of years. As these indigenous cultures are lost and the great homogenizing of cultures around the world continues, we are at risk of losing important creative input to solving the enormous problems we are facing. As I cross over the threshold of mid-life, dreams inform more and more of my life. This increased access to dreams corresponds with important changes in lifestyle including abstinence from alcohol and an unrelenting effort at self reflection. Most recently, a very vivid dream offered such a mix of information, it is useful to describe it here.

The reason dreams provide useful information relates to their validity as a mode of our consciousness. It took me a awhile to understand this. For most of my life, I seldom remembered my dreams. If I did, I did not pay attention to them. Later in life, becoming interested in the influence of the subconscious, I began to pay more attention. This shift toward greater sensitivity facilitated my ability to gradually remember dreams more fully. Along with my interest in the influence of subconscious issues, I also had a desire to resolve those that were compelling me in some fashion. The influence of emotional issues outside of our conscious awareness has been used as a definition for karma. These issues remain in our subconscious as hidden beliefs upon which we build decisions and coping systems. The process of bringing issue to light, into conscious awareness, provides the opportunity to choose whether we will be influenced by the issue. Dreams are a tool for seeing our subconscious issues.

The recent dream was interesting for the symbolism it contained, and the message that I took from it. While highly subjective, and personal, the meanings of dreams, I believe, have the potential to convey information about the collective unconscious; issues that have been conditioned into based on our families, prior generations and potentially, to some degree, everyone that has come before us. In my dream, I was with my family walking our pets: a dog and, amusingly, a baby chicken. Without spoiling the surprise, I’d like to point out that often my dreams include a small object that I’ve come to interpret as representative of the hidden meaning contained in the dream. In this case, upon reflection, I decided that the baby chick was indeed representative of the gift of information contained in the dream that was available to me if I were to choose to avail my self of it.

As a family, we walked together. The dog ran ahead to investigate some other people and another dog. The chick ran after the dog and tried to keep up. My wife, Janice, became increasingly concerned for the safety of the tiny chick. We arrived at a large flat area where other people and animals were playing. Alongside it, a busy roadway ran with speeding cars. Some people were gathered around a woman with a child and we had the impression she had just rescued the child from nearly being hit by a car. Janice became upset about the safety of the animals and scooped them up, along with our daughter, got into a yellow utility truck, and drove away.

The other reason I found this dream to be important was that I had a sense of it being a lucid dream, one in which I had a measure of conscious control. Watching the yellow truck speed away, I had the thought that it would have a minor accident that would represent the irony of my wife’s over reactiveness. Sure enough, the truck, which had been heading into on-coming traffic because of the haste in which it was commandeered, swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle and began to fish tail. Gently, the truck slide sideways into an even bigger, red truck. I approached the scene feeling angry and yelling for them to get out of the truck. They had in the time it took me to arrive, climbed up into the larger, red truck, which contained a handful of utility workers. I yelled for them to get down from this truck that loomed well over my head. Even though I was angry, I had the sense of wanting to send positive energy to the situation. One of the utility workers yelled back at me, “Why don’t you listen?” He said. My anger wanted to say, “Why don’t you listen!”, right back to him. Instead, I found that same positive energy and repeated, “Why don’t I listen?” The positive energy worked and everyone got out of the truck and went across the street to play in the park area. We noticed, once we were back there, that our perception of the danger had changed. The traffic was calm, there was a sense of safety. The woman with the child, as if reading our minds, said, “Oh no, this is my baby. She loves it here.”

When I retold this dream to our spiritual school staff recently, I had he sense that people were looking at me funny. Like, ‘why did he tell that story?’ You, the reader may be thinking the same thing, but I hope the example of symbolism and the deeper meaning to the dream, at least my interpretation and perhaps your own as well, is useful. This dream left me with a powerful feeling about my ability to change my perceptions, and thus my reality, by recognizing the extent to which my inner make up is reflected in perceptions of the outer world. This can be a difficult lesson. Many of us are open to it rationally, but over time, with openness and willingness to access dream information and subconscious feelings and emotions, an experience of the phenomena can occur. It is the experience that can be transformational.

The example is very personal and individual in nature. It is, however, our contention, that this example is highly instructive with regard to the culture and world society. The dream of how we might be in the future, in order to work through the challenges, including psychological barriers of grief, regret, anger and sorrow, of getting to a future, energizes us. It is access to this fire – the fire of spirit and joy ultimately, that we each have a certain responsibility to cultivate in order to move the whole web of life forward into that preferred outcome of sustainability.

Chapter 6 Mental Images

On October 11, I was standing in karate class and realized again that it is all about studying war and fighting and that this is not consistent with my deepest beliefs of aligning energetically with spirit and promoting the evolution of consciousness. This includes recognizing that the study of tradition, while noble in one sense, is also a limiting practice because it keeps us from moving forward. Our past conditioning is in control when we honor traditions without sufficient reflection. If we acknowledge the potential to grow and evolve, we have to allow for some of these traditions to change or fall away. When a tradition promotes images of violence, imagining being attacked for the purpose of practicing defense, it is reasonable to consider if the practice is serving a higher purpose. Or, maybe to be more specific, we can consider if the practice is serving the highest purpose we can image for ourselves.

On this particular night, we stood at attention for nearly forty-five minutes while Sensei spoke to us about blocking techniques. It had not been that many days prior in which I stood in a similar posture and listened to descriptions of breaking bones and tearing limbs. This was the second episode where I realized my wish to choose differently with regard to how I spend time and energy. I realized that my beliefs are strong around the ability of people to orient to the ‘good’ side of themselves and others. That studying fighting just, ultimately, promotes fighting, and that is not what I want to do. It is true that we have the capacity to reflect both peace and violence. But it is equally true that we have the capacity to allow ourselves to be influenced by violent images, as well as the fear that accompanies them, without actually being aware of the violent influence. So, standing in class, it was important for me to first recognize that I was at least becoming conscious of what seems to be an insidious influence in my life; holding violent images for the purpose of conditioning myself. This realization opens the door to choosing differently.

There have been other issues surrounding the study of karate, something I have done for nine years, two nights per week. It has been very good for me, providing a valuable measure of discipline, vigorous exercise and community. It has been a very steadying influence. Over the last nine years there have been significant shifts in my life, but throughout, I kept going to practice, earning stripes on belts, earning belts. I am now a third degree brown belt.

Many nights I did not want to go. By the end of the day, I feel tired. Getting the energy to go to practice was often difficult. But the discipline of the group was helpful to me. We are expected to show up. If we are not going to make it to class, we are expected to call. If we do not call, or if we miss many classes, there is a conversation. You are not welcome as a student of Shorin Ryu if you are not willing to commit to its study. These are not unreasonable demands to me. They have been helpful. I am in excellent physical shape. Our one and a half hour practice sessions include forty-five minutes of calisthenics. This work is vigorous and particularly aimed at building strength in the shoulders, abdomen and thighs. Over time, and since aligning other parts of my life to be more consistent with who I am at the deepest level, I have shed an additional five pounds and am now relatively slim. I maintain a virtually ideal weight for my size, currently, without trying, eating plenty of cookies and ice cream whenever I want. The subject of this weight issue is worth exploring further, but let me say that I believe it is largely a result of living more congruently; I need less weight to hide behind.

The significance of the karate session on October 11 became apparent to me this morning as I read reminder notices put up by my MS Outlook program. Recently, I have decided that there may be important information available to me through astrology. I came to this conclusion after realizing that there are arch-type beliefs and behaviors that have been handed down through the ages to us as part of the great, collective unconscious. These beliefs and behaviors have been influenced by the stars and planets and patterns they make. Our rhythms of life are affected by the rhythms of the heavens. Even though this may be subtle beyond perception, the effects can be carried forward, passed along, and even distilled and concentrated over time, by virtue of our conditioning by our parents and their parents. The reminder note from Outlook was from last month. I had read that important information related to the solar eclipse on September 11, if it wasn’t apparent at the time of the eclipse, might become apparent a month later. Apparently it is not uncommon for this to happen exactly one month to the day after an eclipse. So I put a reminder in Outlook: ‘watch for important information related to the September 11 eclipse.’ Eclipses can represent times when changes occur or want to occur in our life. The note popped up on the morning after October 11, exactly one month after the September eclipse. I realized that the insight I had had the previous night might have been related to this eclipse information.

Since that day, the idea that I will not study karate any longer has been taking root in me. This is not an easy decision, but I’ve come to realize it is one that comes from a very deep, important place. I do expect to substitute the study of Tai Chi for karate. I understand Tai Chi to offer an experience of connection with the energetic universe. This is consistent with who I choose to be today; what I choose to study, and how I choose to spend my life. It is just another example of many, of adding congruence to my life, of an increasing coherence among my thoughts, words and deeds. Investigating the phenomenon of significantly increased personal power in relation to this coherence is a crucial aspect of the study of sustainability and our concern with developing an understanding of what it will take to shift the cultural collective toward organic living.

Chapter 7 Premise

Right now, the world is changing rapidly. The Great Turning is a name that has been suggested for this period. It was originally coined by Joanna Macy, PhD. to reflect the shifting of human consciousness that is part of this rapid change. There are three aspects of this turning. The first represents what might be considered a negative aspect. It has to do with the current disintegration of the living earth happening during an extremely compressed period of about 300 years -from the beginning of the industrial age, through the end of the fossil fuel era. In the context of a fourteen billion year history of the universe, enormous changes to the Earth’s geobiological systems are occurring during an incredibly slim sliver of time – literally a faction of a blink of an eye.

Concurrent with this alarming event, there is another, more positive aspect of the great turning, the one that inspired Macy. Her Great Turning represents the shifting of human awareness, a giant leap forward in our collective awareness. Macy calls this a cognitive revolution and spiritual awakening. This shift is occurring on a number of fronts and represents the focus of several different kinds of workshops taking place around the world. I’m developing and offering a workshop that builds upon the concept of a modern mystic as written about by Hank Wesselman in his book Visionseeker. The shift in consciousness that characterizes modern mystic is fundamental to achieving a new perception of reality that will support an alternative way of being in community with the Earth.

This new way of being is the second aspect of the great turning, a positive corollary to the negative turning. The last aspect of the turning relates to a transcendent interpretation. It represents the unique juxtaposition of the negative aspect of these changes, perhaps best summarized by the concept of an extinction event happening on the same scale as the one that occurred 65 million years ago that signaled the end of the dinosaur era, with the corresponding emerging global, human consciousness. The combination of these two aspects, together, at this time, represents a third, transcendent interpretation of the great turning that heralds a leap forward in the global consciousness.

The transcendent interpretation is in some ways conditional. It reflects the new era of human consciousness available during an event that never previously had such a participant. Moreover, by virtue of our conscious awareness of this event, we are in a position to affect it. It is the potential to affect these events from which springs the third aspect of the great turning. The outcome is uncertain – humans may not survive the coming calamities. However, regardless of the outcome for the beings of Earth, the deepest memory of the universe will retain the expression of the ever increasing complexity of life and consciousness that will have manifested. Should we somehow navigate the challenges and continue to exist as a life form without interruption, the result will be a culture that has found a way to exist within the great, creative web of life on Earth while retaining the self-reflective qualities that make us human and have allowed us to develop impressive technologies.

The combined effect of all three of these aspects of the great turning represent the beauty and grandeur of the evolving universe. It represents our literal ability to influence the unfolding of the universe, a reflection of humans, like everything else that is, as an aspect of God. There is no imagining of how these three aspects will interact, combine and manifest. However, it is clear that the result will be, as ever, unprecedented and of an order of magnitude of complexity greater anything we can conceive.

Chapter 8 Tools

For millennium, humanity has been discovering means for accessing the connection and creativity needed to live in harmony with the Earth. Prior to our current disconnected, patriarchal cultural state, ancient people developed tools to enhance their mode of being among the creatures of their immediate surroundings. They understood intuitively that this was necessary to provide for future generations in a continuous manner.

For us today, tools developed for fostering an experience of deeper connection are instructive for achieving a level of communion to the emergence of solutions to our current un-sustainable situation. Tools like Yoga, Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Reiki are energetic experiences that provide an experience of connection. These energetic modalities are designed to help the energy aspects of our bodies align with other energetic patterns in the external world. For example, the Earth’s atmosphere contains the vibrations of wind and weather that are transmitted everywhere. Likewise, vibration in the ocean waters travel widely, mixing and morphing. These two examples are illustrative of a way of thinking about the Akashic or zero point field. The theory of this underlying energetic make up of everything in the universe is grounded in quantum physics, and opens the door to a deeper understanding of what it means of ‘Oneness’.

Meditation offers aspects of both information and experience. Our investigation into the idea of ‘clear mind’ reveals an approach to experiencing a connection to Oneness by quieting the mind. When we do this, unconscious material also has the opportunity to penetrate our consciousness. Issues that are often held down, suppressed or repressed because of their inherent uncomfortable nature, or because of personal beliefs or conditionings, come forward, no longer kept hidden and offering a fuller experience of life. Tools like psycho-therapy, emotional clearing, and dream work address psychological aspects of ourselves and provide other means of becoming informed by unconscious material.

Studying indigenous cultures offers insight into the methods and tools develop during a period of time long forgotten, before the rise of imperial hierarchies and patriarchal organization. Using the ancient knowledge available from these cultures can lead us to an experience of a different way of being. When viewed in concert with our evolved rational/intellectual capacity, we begin to build a key to creating a sustainable world going forward.

We have worked to identify, select and develop tools for community workshops to try to make this experience real at a very local level. Joanna Macy’s work, and information provided by here website is very usual for providing specific information, and also for seeing examples of how this work can be offered. From the many examples on this website, we have gone on to develop exercises including an approach to developing an attitude for acting as if the God in all things mattered, a take-off on MacHaelle S. Wright ‘s book, Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered.

Chapter 9 Spiral Dynamics

My first impression of the term Spiral Dynamics was reminiscent of some new age marketing gizmo like Supernatural Touch or ReConstitution or Unemotional Upheaval. I made those names up, but maybe you get the idea. I don’t want to offend anybody, but there are so many modalities out there, how do you reconcile them? How do you know which ones to learn about, practice, embrace, if any? Which ones should you give you money to (if any)? We can have another discussion about money – maybe you wouldn’t be giving anything away. But I digress, sort of. I don’t digress to this point: that the Spiral Dynamics article generated deep, profound insights for me that have been incredibly energizing this morning.

Given my first impression with Spiral Dynamics, it took awhile to get through the article. I was starting to get kind of interested, but then would get sleepy, having saved it to read before going to sleep at night. Last night I felt tired and a little depressed about my inability to write any thing that seemed to have the slightest bit of consequence. There’s probably a lot to learn just in that statement, but let’s keep moving forward. Despite sleeping pretty well, I felt tired this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee and decided to finish reading the article before going to work.

The remainder of the article pulled the earlier pieces together, a pulled a lot of pieces together for me. First, I really like that Jessica interspersed the article and interview with personal anecdotes. These were quite appropriate and congruent with my own belief and desire to write using my own life and journey as a source of correlating information to the primary material.

Spiral Dynamics is a system of concepts or ‘memes’ that can be used with regard to both individuals and cultures and that comprises worldviews, beliefs identities and values. Roemischer writes, “Sprial dynamics is giving rise to a profound clarity of insight into the sweeping patterns of human psychologies, beleifs, and values (including my own) that are, often unconsciously, guiding our choices and shaping our very identities”. So that’s great and it is not anything new as for my views or stuff you can read about here or in the book Abundance. Our paths clearly must incorporate the willingness and experience of pulling unconscious motivators into the light of consciousness where we can then make cognitive choices. The key is context, and that is what I ultimately got from this article, a view of where it is all going that helped my complete a personal understanding of the context of the problems, philosophy of the solution, the various tools and the incredible cultural resistence and internal personal tension that is accompanying this part of the journey.

I was going to leave the model of Spiral Dyamics and try to use more of my own words and understanding of more general concepts to try to summarize and convey this information. But the elegant color system that uses is so informative, the more I wrote, the harder is was to let go of this useful model called Spiral Dynamics. One of the reasons for this is its use of colors and their ability to illustrate the combination and progressive nature of emerging memes or levels of human consciouness.

You can read about the use of a spiral as the model (a la’ DNA molecules) in the article here (http://www.wie.org/j22/beck.asp) and find out about the color system, which is truly enlightening). For example, our current green movement is put into a new perspective by recognizing its deficiencies in addressing the current state of the world, in addition to its benefits. Green is an evolutionary combination of the blue meme, organized religion, structure, toeing the line, and the coming yellow meme representing living fully, being flexible, growing organically, experiencing the magnificence of being alive. The key here is to recognize that green is incomplete; all of the memes are incomplete, they represent steps on a never ending, spiraling cycle. Additionally, the green meme comes after an orange meme, a meme that represents an achievist mentality using nature and resources to create progress. It is the very success of the orange meme that creates the problems addressed by the green. Yet if we are immersed in our greenness without knowing where it is going, we suffer from the same lack of context all the other memes suffer. It is our current ability to appreciate the whole spiral that becomes informative in a evolutionary way, maybe even revolutionary. Roemischer writes, “It must sense the big picture and the interconnection of everything. So YELLOW will have an enhanced vertical perspective with the ability to transcend and include and value what came before, and also to anticipate what will be next.”

I relate the concept of memes to chakras and the various levels of consciousness including survival, power, sensation, nurturing, significance, heart, voice, intuition, creation and spirit. (adapted from John Ruskan, Emotional Clearing) In addition to its innovative use of colors, the concept of the spiral draws in a simple rudiment of evolution of a dual mode of change based on individuation/differentiation and reintegration. For example, spiral Dynamics outlines an initial human level of consciousness based on survival that is associated with the color beige. This is the original ‘everyman for himself, the original individual state. Humans could barely relate to each at this stage of development of consciousness. Avoiding the perils of the world was the only consideration, and it was done at any cost.

The beige meme is followed by a highly contrasting state associated with the color purple in which humans did begin to relate with each other. In this case, the individual became subsumed to a group by virtue of a recognition of our place in the world of spirits; all that was unexplainable was attributed to powerful forces beyond. The key was to keep the spirits happy, and that meant banding together into tribes for safety. So our survival consciousness, the root chakra, morphed into a tribal consciousness that relates also to an increase in power and a sense of groundedness in physical sensation.

Before going on, realize that all of these memes or consciousness still exist and are expressed throughout the identities of all individuals and cultures. Hence, the plight of those starving and trying to avoid being killed at the hands of terrorists; the deeply ingrained allegiance of religious fanaticism. Think for a moment, even about the use of the color purple in the Christian religions. Allow yourself to sense the deep connection of our current expression of religion in this manner with this ancient level of consciousness that, according to Roemischer’s article and Spiral Dynamics, originated 50,000 years ago. That is a powerful association; a deep tradition. I touched on this concept of tradition in a previous blog called Karate and about how are attachment to tradition holds us back from moving into other levels of consciousness. This is often for the benefit of an institution. Our current attachment to tradition and the maintenance of institutions that use the basis of original modes of consciousness as justification for their existence tap into powerful, innate aspects of ourselves. The opportunity is to understand the power and energy available in these associations, and consciously turn them toward real evolutionary progress. The power in the group that we found as wild individuals is an awesome aspect of the collective unconscious that everyone carries forward with them. It is crucial to understand, deeply, the sway that this knowledge, that emerged 50,000 years ago, holds over our current psyches. This is a power that can be directed to progress, or toward stagnation and status quo in service of those groups or institutions currently in seeming control.

Out of the purple consciousness arises impulsive red. Representing a new level of individuation, red is not a combination of two previous colors. It is primary. Yet purple, which came first, is derivative of it and presages subsequent modes. This red consciousness represents an extension of the burgeoning power recognized in banding together, only this time individuated. Our powerful nature as individuals, thus, begins to perceive the world as a jungle and emerges to deal with the competitive aspects of the world and life. Darwin wasn’t wrong, only perceiving the world through this meme. Red represents both the power consciousness and the egocentric significance consciousness. It represents a primary root of individuation that sprang from the power of purple.

Another primary constituent of the purple power/sensation/mystical consciousness emerged next and is characterized in Spiral Dynamics as blue. This is the directly related consciousness of our current religious institutions and represents the reintegration of the individual into a group dedicated to sacrifice in the name of truth, cause or some other righteous pathway. This blue memes speaks to our heart as the integration of lower individual consciousness and a broader, spiritual group consciousness. This, too, is extremely powerful. We feel fulfilled when we are provided with an experience of integration between higher order spirituality and our grounded, animal nature. The success of this period, as with all of the memes described, leads to the emergence of yet another meme.

The ambivalent, intense industrial/technical age emerges as a subsequent, orange expression of individuation. This is the age of striving for knowledge, technical advances, material possessions and comfort. It is the beginning of a rift between the blue meme and subsequent evolution. In our time, it is reflected in the antagonistic relationship of religion and science. It relates to expression, as individuals and as a species, and creativity. The color orange reflects the combination of the less evolved, individualized red meme, and a future, integrative yellow meme.

The current green meme represents a similar, though reintegration-based meme combining the less evolved blue meme with the future yellow. Understand that the grain of sand that creates the pearl of a new meme is actually the success of a previous meme. It was the success of the survival meme that allowed for tribes to form. It was the success of tribes that allowed for the self-assertion of the ancient leaders and dominators. It was the success of the religious institutions from which emerged our scientific age. It is the success of the industrial/technical age that spawns the unprecedented nature of the next stage.

According to Spiral Dynamics, the first six memes represent a tier that is characterized by survival. That, despite the apparent progress, survival is still a core challenge for this tier. That is apparent as we consider the challenges for survival facing the world today, as we come to realize our connection with the diversity of life forms. As these life forms fail as a result of our modern success, our chances at long term survival are diminishing rapidly. If these challenges serve to bring forth new memes that allow us to transcend the looming extinction of the planet, we will have transcended the first, survival tier, and entered into a second tier with the potential for a long period of healthy, collaborative, information-rich existence that will bear unimaginable, increasingly developed and complex, memes and states of being.

The green meme following the orange industrial/technical meme is the doorway to this next tier. It is also about expression and creativity, but draws on higher order memes while being grounded in a the re-integrated basis of the blue, conformist meme. Some of us with a strong ‘green’ sense have been confused by associations of ‘fundamentalism’ in the green movement, the need to conform in order to save the world. Spiral Dynamics helps understand this ambiguity. The precursors of green, red, blue and orange, have such a strong influence at this time. Because green is heralding such a shift in consciousness – from a time in which humans acted as animals in survival mode, to one in which we have emerged with the ability to act as Gods, and specifically affect the destiny of the planet – its limitations must be recognized. The pragmatic reason for this seems to be the urgency inherent in the situation. In her interview with Dr. Beck, Roemischer quotes him. “So we said, let’s invent the man Green Meme. Let’s shame it a bit. Let’s hold up a mirror and show it what it’s doing, with the hope that it will separate the Man Green meme from legitimate healthy GREEN…It is a drastic measure, a rhetorical strategy to crate a symbol that will hopefully give people an understanding that what they are doing is actually destroying the very thing they want to accomplish.” The point is, all of the memes have positive and negative aspects. The success of each (positive) is accompanied by negative correlations that become the seeds for new, more capable, complex memes to evolve. Thus the green meme offers both poles also. And it is the urgency of the situation, our transcendence from animal reactiveness to god-like proactiveness that is driving the need to recognize the negative aspect of green so that its problems serve to facilitate the evolution of a meme that is securely on the other side of the possible destruction of the planet. This is heavy, so it bears repeating (and refining).

Understanding the vision of two subsequent memes, yellow and turquoise, helps to understand the constraints of the green phase and provides important context for our actions today. The Spiral Dynamics model projects a future yellow meme that recognizes an organic, chaotic state of flux. It is related to our intuitive consciousness. Many of us already sense the emergence of this meme. It is related to our increased sensitivity to holistic arts and universal energies. It is reflective of our introspective journeys into emotions and feelings, beyond that part that was initiated in our green meme, to delve in to the deepest mysteries of the universe and spirituality. It is about the struggle to reconcile a spiritual existence with the pressing need to slow down destruction and foster deep, structural changes in the institutions of the world. According to Beck, in the article, yellow represents the first level of the second tier and a ‘left brain’ aspect of a dual emergence of consciousness. The eight meme proposed is turquoise and it represents a ‘right brain’ orientation to the universal life force itself. Again intuitive. Both are years in the future. Both represent adaptive intelligences in people, and thus will not for a long time be manifested in people simultaneously.

Thus the emergence of these memes together is representative of the beginning of a spiritual consciousness characterized by the collaboration of all beings to first give expression to both the organic, feeling-based intuition of the yellow meme, and the intellectual, data-based spiritual orientation of the turquoise meme. For those of us blogging or writing books, leading workshops, or searching for a means of orienting our lives inside of these sweeping trends, it is the proposition of these future memes that lends valuable perspective. Beyond these two future modes of consciousness, there are only unlimited, unimaginable states, the potential which informs us in our current spirituality.

Chapter 10 Modern Mystic

About a year ago, I started developing a workshop meant to be offered to the community. The workshop was called Wake Up! Lifenergy Workshop. The name simply came to me and I used it. I didn’t think too much about what it meant until sometime later. Thinking about it, and reflecting on the impetus for my own personal journey, helped me to perhaps understand what it was that my intuition and instinct were telling me. Having had a rather profound experience of waking up myself, I came to belief that in general, people in our American culture are asleep. This is certainly true for other cultures, to some extent or another, for the tribal instinct goes deep, but my experience is American. The nature of this sleep that I experienced personally and therefore projected on to everyone else has to do with our deep consumeristic conditioning. At the age of forty-five, the natural questions about ‘is this all there is’ and ‘what is the meaning of my life’ appeared with a vengeance. I feel fortunate to have been reading folks like Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsch. I discovered Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Moreover, there was some books quite specific to the changes that I was innately feeling. One was The Seasons of a Man’s Life by Daniel J. Levinson, the other a classic, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scot Peck, M.D., and finally, Peter Block’s book The Answer to How is Yes.

If it was Levinson, Peck and Dyer that helped me see the conditionings driving me, it was Block that helped me do something about it. His book taught me a very simple lesson. It undid something that had been with me for as long as I tried to make a living in the so-called business world. In corporate America, I had been called ‘idealistic’. At the time, being young and naive, I had thought this a liability. Beneath this initial reaction lived generations of conditioning about how one is supposed to get along, what one needs to do to make a living, to have security, to be successful. In the corporate business world, idealism did not belong, pragmatism did. But Block suggested something different, that idealism was an asset. This was an amazing shift for me. As I learned about intention from Dyer and aligning my values with my life from Csikszentmihalyi, I started to see my idealism as something that couldn’t be ignored if I wanted to improve the congruence of my life. If I wanted my energetic output to have coherence; working for things that had deep meaning and value for me as an individual and not what the rest of the world, my family or my peers told me. And Block went a step further. He points out our rational basis for all that we do, the need to understand how something is going to work, before we act on it. His point, that if it is important, we have to act. We can’t wait to see the whole process laid out before, we can’t expect guarantees, we can’t assume we will know how we are going to get from A to B. We must simply begin. And so I did. That was two years ago, when this consulting firm was formed, and more importantly, when I myself began to form. It is not about the corporate entity, I have only too recently begun to realize, it is about who I am, and what I choose to do with my life energy.

So Wake Up! Lifenergy workshops start out as a realization about the degree to which many of us are asleep to deeper values. These values, come to find out, at least for me, relate to what is going on in the world like war, violence, hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and injustice. I began to tap vast reservoirs of energy. It is this sense that helped me intuitively coin the phrase ‘Lifenergy’.

But these workshops, given for free for several months at the local bookstore, changed over time. I was soon introduced to Hank Wesselman’s books, SpiritWalker, Visionseeker and Medicinemaker. These books chronicle Wesselman’s journey into shamanism, from the persona of an academic anthropologist to someone he termed, a Modern Mystic. In Medicinemaker, Wesselman describes his awareness of a growing segment of the population concerned with justice and ecology. His lengthy description of the characteristics of a Modern Mystic are summaraized here:

· Not affiliated with organized religions, nor are they associated with cultlike groups.

· Tend to gather in temporary local meetings and workshops in which they network with each other an acquire information and experience about such esoteric and practically useful subjects as chi kung, Reiki, psychic healing, hypnotherapy, an shamanism, to name a few.

· Disperse back into the wider society, where they utilize what they have learned to benefit themselves, their families, and their communities.

· Of vital importance to the well-being of Western society.

· Possess a strong sense of social justice and are deeply concerned about the quality of human life at all levels, both nationally and internationally.

· Strong support for women’s issues

· Concerned with the safety and well-being of children and the elderly

· See human relationships as clearly more important than material gain.

· Social tolerance, personal individualism, and spiritual freedom are highly valued ideals

· Rebuilding of neighborhoods, communities and families are major areas of concern.

· Clear understanding of the importance of physical, mental, and spiritual balance and harmony.

· Value simple, natural living as a high ideal

· Well-informed and environmentally savvy.

· Active, almost ritual respect for nature.

· Express a deep concern for the survival of the environment and, by association, ourselves.

· View shamanism as a potential means for increasing awareness of our intimate relationships with nature and reversing the progressively devastating trends of industrialized humanity.

· All are seriously concerned with stopping corporate polluters, with reversing greenhouse warming, and with discovering the limits to short-term growth so that we can achieve the ling-term ecological sustainability upon which the future of humanity depends.

· Understand that everything and everyone is part of a pattern and thus interconnected.

· Deeply committed to achieving the direct, personal transformative experience of the sacred: it is really this that defines them as mystics.

· Believe in the existence of more than one level of reality.

· Believe in non-ordinary realities, the subjective dream world or spirit works, where the laws of physics and cause and effect may not work in the same way.

· That some individual have the ability to enter or journey into these alternate realities to accomplish certain things and gain help, direction, and knowledge from the inner sources of wisdom and/or spiritual entities that reside there-a belief that reveals why shamanism is a major area of interest.

· Shaman’s time-tested methods for achieving altered states of consciousness can be learned and practiced, even by nontribal Westerners in contrast to the years of rigorous training often required in many of the contemplative disciplines.

· Belief in the existence of spirit helpers and spirit teachers, who, in turn, are thought to provide the seeker with power and knowledge, protection and support, that one cannot access on one’s own.

· Profess belief in some form of universal, godlike consciousness, and Jesus of Nazareth is seen as an important teacher, whether or not the seeker is actively Christian.

· Spiritual or mystical power, is an invisible essence of force that pervades everything in the universe and that can be highly concentrated in certain places, objects, and living beings: is analogous to the mana of Polynesians, the chi of the Asiatic peoples, the num of the !Kung San, and the Force of Obi Wan Kenobi.

· Understand that everyone can learn how to access, accumulate, and focus this power, and that one’s health, well-being, and success in life are all dependent on being able to increase and maintain one’s personal supply of it.

· Belief in a personal energy body – the aspect of the self that carries this power as life force and which provides the etheric pattern around which the physical body is formed.

· Some psychics and traditional healers can manipulate the energy body, seen as crucial in accomplishing healing, a skill that many in the modern mystical movement have personally experienced.

· It is believed that this personal energetic aspect can be perceived by some as an aura, and that it can be enhanced through the energy centers that Eastern thought calls the chakras, or meridians.

· Feel a genuine distance from and disaffection for Western allopathic medicine.

· Express strong interest in alternative health care strategies, including meditation as well as shamanic, holistic, Ayurvedic, and herbalist healing techniques, to name only a few. Most see these strategies as adjunct to, rather than as replacements for, Western medicine.

This list also parallels a concept called Cultural Creatives from a book by the same name written by Paul Ray and Sherrie Ruth Anderson. The description of a Modern Mystic spoke deeply to me. The Modern Mystic Workshop was born. We have been developing them since. From the earliest days, I also discovered Andrew Cohen’s work as it is available through the website, What is Enlightenment? Many of the articles have provided important guidance and learning in terms of how to frame these ideals of mine. It was never enough to look at energy, efficiency or renewable sources, by themselves. It was never enough to see the broader social and economic frames the energy issues resides in. It was never enough to study spirituality, get religion or learn meditation. So the lens through which I viewed this journey of mine kept pulling back. I felt like I was getting somewhere when I read, on Cohen’s website, articles about evolutionary spirituality and authored by people like Tom Huston or featuring interviews with or the ideas of Brian Swimme. In addition to pulling far enough back to view the entire universe, these ideas encompass the whole history of it, as well as give us a platform for projecting forward. Where is it all going? The result is a grounding in a purpose, an essence of the universe. One man’s definition of spirituality. It is only with the perspective that we can begin to tackle the more earthly issues.

From the beginning of Lifenergy Workshops, this history of the universe perspective was deemed necessary. I did several readings from articles on What is Enlightenment. One of the themes that emerges in some of these articles is a personal perspective offered by the author in context with the subject of the article. This resonated with my own efforts to write more about this inspiration, the energy driving me forward. To write to sort out the jumble of thoughts in my head, the mixture of energetic enlightenments gleaned from so many wonderful contemporary authors. In one important instance, Maura R. O’Connor wrote in introduction to a piece called Awakening to Total Revolution that I thought would be good to read. Of course I was drawn to the awakening reference during these early days; indeed I was researching examples of the meaning of ‘Lifenergy’. But it was the introduction that offered a brief, moving passage that I have used in workshops since.

“What does having the right to the pursuit of happiness mean when genocide, starvation, and environmental breakdown are facts of life all over the planet?…where, I asked myself, is the lasting evidence of this idealistic revolution in the world today? These were the questions that plagued me on April 27, 2001. There I at behind an over sized desk at the Bank of Scotland, a sleeping computer and silent telephone in front of me. It was casual Friday, the day of the week when everyone returned from lunch slightly intoxicated, and from somewhere within the humid, airless room I could hear the sound of a bee trapped inside and beating against a window. I wanted to scream Luckily…I had..a copy of WIE [What is Enlightenment]…and I now eagerly opened it in an attempt to escape my surrounding. Randomly, I began to red an article called “Awakening to Total Revolution: Enlightenment and the World Crisis” by the social activist and spiritual teacher Vimala Thakar…It would be difficult to overestimate the effect reading this article had o nme that one spring day. This woman’s incredible conviction and the truth of her words seemed to bypass my mind completely and resonate in an infinitely deeper place; once there, they stirred something in me that I hadn’t even knows was asleep. The experience felt alchemical, earth-shattering, impossibly inspiring. Whereas hours before I had doubted that solutions or answers to my questions even existed, I now had proof that there was a purpose in life greater than I could have imagined. Hiding my face behind the computer, I began to cry with something like profound relief.”

At one time, on several occasions, during my own metamorphosis, I had literally dropped to my knees and wailed from a great, deep place. I do not know why, but O’Connors last line gives me a clue. Part of me was able to be detached during these times; I observed this strange, intense display of emotion and pondered it. There was no rational explanation. Nothing was being accomplished, nothing was changed, nothing was solved. Yet, there was feeling, an awakening, that somehow I knew represented important progress. I am always moved by O’Connors passage and ability to put this moment of catharsis into words. We need more moments like this happening around the world.

I haven’t yet accomplished such a feat with a Modern Mystic workshop, and don’t know if that would be a good idea. But we do bring people together to hear about such experiences, and share stories about them. Another example that we use to close workshops comes from an article The Never-Ending Upward Quest by Jessica Roemischer, an article about Spiral Dynamics and written about in my post of the same name. In this article, Roemischer describes an episode in her life where she finds herself in the bucolic setting of a farmhouse overlooking an organic Vermont farm. Pieces of her life have fallen into place. But as she looks out over the landscape, she realizes something is undone.

“So I raked, I mowed, I weeded, I t ried to find ultimate meaning with my partner, but nothing seemed to appease this inner restlessness. One afternoon, I drove to Boston to hear spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen speak. The haunted, restless part of myself rejoice at what was revealed: a higher purpose and untold possibility. And back at the farm, I became even more unsettled. One morning, I was standing in the kitchen next to the maple syrup cans and had a vision: a funnel of pure energy was pulling me headlong into it. I looked out at the trees. Nothing could be more beautiful than our new farm. But no matter how pristine was my own small corner of paradise, no matter how wonderful were the personal Life Conditions I created for myself, the world was in desperate shape, and those larger Life Conditions seemed to be generating an undeniable calling, a higher purpose that was coming from way beyond all my Green ideals, from way beyond my relationship, from way beyond the maple trees, and from way beyond the mountains. No matter how beautiful this place was – and it sure was beautiful – it simply wasn’t enough. Having turned forty, my midlife crisis took the form of an inner imperative: I had to follow this calling, for the sake of life itself.”

Chapter 11 Evolving Me, Evolving You

The patriarchal views the relationship of the two gender poles, and all they represent, as oppositional, in contest. One must be in control, on top. Conversely, the matriarchal view is not about female dominance, it is about collaboration and unity. It is egalitarian; cooperative. In neolithic times, this was the common view. It emerged from the influence of the natural world in which complementariness is essential to survival. It allowed for thousands of years of sustainable existence among humans. It was the success of this model that actually allowed for the emergence of the dominance-oriented, command and control, imperial view.

If we study evolution, we see that change is wrought through the emergence of individuation. Some aspect of ourself driving to express itself uniquely. This is an aspect of our creative energy. It is reflected in our own ego makeup. It is not the only aspect of ourselves, but currently it is all we can remember – it is, for example, the basis of capitalism.

The expression of the individual is at the expense of the greater community. The balance needed for life to continue, though, is held in the community, in the interactiveness of everything – of all life forms, of our geobiological environment, of the universe itself. The expression of the individual can only progress so far, before problems with the greater whole are revealed. It is the very success of the differentiation process that holds the seeds of destruction. Seeds that become the stimulus for a creative collective response to address the manifesting challenges. Evolution reveals its corollary response, re-integration. The problems are solved and transcended by a reuniting and reinvigorating of the whole; now a different whole, a more complex whole. This is the path of the evolving universe. This is the story the universe tells us, a story that we can now see for the first time because of the success of our scientific minds. It is by virtue of this unprecedented conscious ability to know the story of the universe that we can project the possibilities of the future.

We find ourselves in unique times. Read the blogs, get a sense of the profound nature of the challenges facing the world. Then contemplate the path of that information, how it got to you. Observe the links in the blogs to other blogs, that provide still more links. See the pattern emerging. Take hope from it, for this is the work of re-integration. It is the response of the Earth to the threat that is present. We host workshops in my hometown and try to entice friends and neighbors to come and participate. We try to create a workshop that elicits a feeling response, an experience of something outside of the everyday reality of our largely suburban lives. We hope to wake up as individuals and small groups. But we are informed in the process how the nation and the world might wake up. Tonight on CNN, Lou Dobbs was interviewed about his latest book, Independent’s Day about the emergence of a swath of unaffiliated voters that he believes have lost faith in the two national political parties. Lou Dobbs for crissake! But still, even in the midst of the corporate sponsored sound bites that CNN calls news, there are clues that waking up is occurring. Better yet, I was tuned in to see Deepak Chopra talk about the power of prayer (no it’s not going to fill the reservoirs in Atlanta). It was a refreshingly in-depth treatment of the topic.

The success of this most recent cycle of individuation is unprecedented. The fact is, we are at the nexus of more than one cycle, more than one turning from differentiation to integration. 65 million years ago, an extinction cycle that wiped out the dinosaurs initiated a period of biological differentiation that resulted in a magnificent, diverse world bearing millions of species of plants and animals. This vast plethora is about to collapse. An emergency integration is on the horizon. Inside of this deep cycle, there have been others. Some 5,000 years ago we left the neolithic period and entered into these common times. A shift occurred from an integrated, matriarchal human existence to a patriarchal period of hierarchal empire that represents a broader cycle of differentiation largely characterized by our emerging ego consciousness. Still, inside of this cycle we see the rise of organized religion (integration), the success of the scientific mind (differentiation) , corporate dominance and the green movement (integration). These cycles too are coming to a close.

Our industrial-scientific phase reflects a fantastic emergence of an individuated consciousness, inside of which we can say the green movement exists. Both are collapsing as spirituality and religion converge to inform new possibilities, out of which may arise the makings of the human consciousness that will be able to creatively generate a means to perpetuate the human species. This we call a Modern Mystic. This new consciousness will differentiate itself by transcending the current collective consciousness to express a new integration of science and spirituality. Correspondingly, our great institutions will expire. In their place, Modern Mystics will recognize the imperative of coming together, of building on the emerging global human consciousness to create the great collective brain that will give us the best hope for lasting success. Chopra writes about this brain in a series called A Cat Scan of the Global Brain at his blog site. It is worth reading.

Chapter 12 Energetic Coherence

Why is it, when we often look at digital clocks, the time is something like 12:12 or 4:44? Is there really some bigger picture of which we are barely aware? Do we somehow sense the innate congruence of these times and become suddenly impelled to look at the clock then? Well, maybe. At the very least, we can use these moments to remind ourselves of the possibility of some larger pattern that we are a part. We can remind ourself of the opportunity to align with this pattern to enhance our life force.

One of my preferred ways of thinking about this is as energetic vibrations. Many energetic modalities such as Reiki, chi gong, yoga, massage, that we have access to today, seem to connect with energetic patterns and vibrations. The frequency of vibration also has an emotional correlation. Intuitively, this makes sense, but is there any more tangible explanation for it? We have perceptions of vibrations that become the basis for direct experience. For example, I practice tai chi or do some chi gong exercises and I feel a rush of well-being. Is there a way of thinking about these experiences that would be useful?

Internally, our body systems consist of and create vibrations. The cycle of our breathing and the beating of our hearts, both have an order of magnitude frequency of about once per second, or sixty cycles per second (Hz). Our brain waves have a vibrational range of some four to twelve Hz. Our eyes blink and our muscles twitch. Our digestive track cycles hourly and we sleep diurnally. Our cells are born and die, and each of our organs vibrate at unique frequencies. The question is, is there any relationship between these various cycles and vibrations? How do they correlate and is there any way to optimize this myriad of frequencies?

Moreover, we are influenced by external vibrations as well. Lightening strikes the Earth some one hundred times per minute. That’s slightly faster than our hearts are beating. The influence of the lightening and the thunder is carried throughout the atmosphere. It is alive with vibration. Objects vibrate. We create electric current when blood is pumped through tissue. The electro-magnetic interaction goes on and on. We recognize an internal component and an external component. Other aspects of the energy mix include the energy and vibration of our thoughts.

Our brains create vibrations based on our thoughts. Our evolved consciousness allows us to direct our thoughts; we are capable of intention. We are also affected by the energetic content of those that have gone before. Likewise, we are affected and connected with all that ever was, but the human component, the part that Jung called the Collective Unconscious, is particularly powerful. Wikepedia has this to say about the Collective Uncouscious, later called the objective psyche by Jung: “The objective psyche is common to everyone; and it has a better sense of the self’s ideal than the ego or conscious self does. It thus directs the self, via archetypes, dreams, and intuition, and drives the person to make mistakes on purpose. In this way, it moves the psyche toward individuation, or self-actualization.”

Jung recognized an inherent energy or driver of evolution. This energy is stored and passed down from generation to generation. It ultimately is common and available to everyone because of our common fore bearers. For our current purposes, we view this as another energy characterized by vibrations. We have enumerated several kinds of vibration to which we are all subject or composed. The issue of interest in this chapter is the relationship of these vibrations and the opportunity to align them, or to achieve a measure of congruence. Accomplishing this leads to a level of coherence in our living system. More energy is available for life due to this coherence.

When two disparate frequencies intersect, using wave theory as a model, we can visualize the effect of the peak of one wave form colliding with the valley of another. The net effect is to cancel each other out. The important image with dissonant energy or vibrations is this tendency toward canceling out. This canceling out then becomes consistent with increased entropy; the quality of the energy is reduced and less is available to support life. The essence of life and life energy is that which counteracts or balances entropy. From the point of view of our universe, it is this delicate balance between expansion into more dilute energy and contraction into dense matter that holds the secret of life. All living systems have created elegant mechanisms of collecting and converting energy, to organize it and make it available to offset the normal tendency of the universe’s energy to dissipate.

If we are able to align the vibrations in and around us, through intention that is consistent with the deepest knowledge of our ideal self provided through the collective unconscious of humankind, we begin to achieve a resonance that contains power. Again falling back on our wave theory, simply put, the power available in a wave increases by the square of the amplitude. When vibrations align in this way, a surge of power results. There are other examples we might consider, such as the idea of a standing wave created by the interference of two moving waves, but for the purpose of this blog, the point is to consider the increase in life power available when we create coherence in our vibrational circumstance.

Chapter 13 The Twelve Steps of Enlightened Sustainability

Twelve step programs endorse the use of prayer and mediation. They use the Serenity Prayer, ‘God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference’, to help us open the door to understanding our place in the universe.

Their Third Step prayer offers a foundation of humility, from which all learning emerges: ‘God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power,Thy Love, and They Way of life. May I do Thy will always!’ And their seventh step prayer, introduced with the gentle admonishment, “When ready, we say something like this: ‘My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen’”

These are powerful prayers. For the men and women that engage them, they are a lifeline to freedom from addictions and compulsions. They are also a gateway to a higher consciousness. These prayers and the communities that love them provide a transforming experience. Any one that has gone through this glimpses awesome power, power with the capacity to catalyze curiosity and stimulate hunger for more.

The new consciousness, though, is not a destination. It is not a room into which we enter, sit down with a cup of coffee and stay. We may stay for a long time. Some stay for many years in this room of new consciousness; some die in that room. But, for most, it is more a long, pleasant hallway that leads to other rooms, other aspects of the journey. In prayer we often beseech a higher power. I can’t do this alone, help me. In prayer we often offer an intention, even if it is the intention to be open to a higher purpose that comes from outside of ourselves. Most often, it is a prayer of gratitude, ‘thank you’. Thank you for this inspiration, for this glimpse into this deep mystery. Thank you for exposing me to the power of this mystery, for the ability to feel the stirrings that it creates. Though I can not surf, I know the pleasure of it from being swept along so beautifully by the rush of this sea change.

We also learn, in offering ourselves selflessly, to the extent we are capable, that this is a journey within. As we approach these new rooms of consciousness, old habits, beliefs and conditionings surface. They call us back to that which seems so much more comfortable, even when it involves much pain. We find, first, that we have a choice. Do we choose to go on? If the answer is yes, we discover other choices. We have the choice to go in. What will we find there? We have the choice to release that which would keep us from moving forward. But we do not know what will take the place of these things. We have a sense that something must, even though this very belief deserves scrutiny. There can be fear about the future manifestation of our persona, our symbols of success, even our worthiness.

The word meditation begins to appear in conjunction with the idea of prayer. We hear the phrase ‘prayer and meditation’ in a new way. We wonder about this other aspect of this dual action.

No matter where you are, perhaps the twelve steps offer a process to consider if we have a desire to move into a new consciousness, one that serves our highest purpose. This highest purpose ultimately serves everyone else. What does this mean? Every other human. We can become an example. We can send out ripples of energy into the human consciousness that will begin to create a shift. Moreover, these ripples do not disappear in time. They are forever. Our highest purpose begins to impinge on future, human generations. If we orient to the broader biosphere, our highest purpose affects them too. To do so, we must be willing to let this new consciousness be aware of the web of life, of the connectedness and interactiveness of all being, here and everywhere. We learn how our differentiation, in the context of an integrated whole, serves the process. How this process reflects on our developing consciousness as individuals, as communities, as a living Earth; as Gaia. We come to understand this in the context of an emerging and evolving universe.

Perhaps the twelve steps offer a useful framework through which we might study and approach this intention of change. With grateful acknowledgment to Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step, written for our broader purpose, might go something like this:

We admitted we were powerless over Maya, that we were born into unmanageable lives.

The word ‘Maya’ is carefully chosen here. Maya as it means the veil of duality that we experience as physical forms. We must have this dual experience in order to know the essence, for what is the essence if it is not all of everything, everywhere, for all time? We are born into Maya to experience ourselves, and Maya is a paradox. It is real and illusion at the same time. It is a piece of the ear of the elephant. See it, touch its rough, leathery texture. It most certainly is real. We touch the ear in Maya, and know it as real, but we can not see the elephant. This paradox is unmanageable; it can not be resolved, only transcended. As a first step, we can use this acceptance of our irresolvable existence inside of Maya as a touchstone for forward progress. And where would it take us?

To the second step:

Came to believe that we would be restored to the power of the universe.

Just as we move from step one to step two, Maya is not permanent. We orient to destiny. When we use our emerging consciousness, no matter where we are, to understand where we have been, we thus know the possibility of the future. We can see the future. We can project possibilities. We can have vision, shape intention, and know that we will be delivered from the bounds of our dual experience. While we are here, we gather the energy of our experience. This we contribute to the energetic whole, projecting it into infinity and influencing the ever increasing complexity of the emerging universe. Writing and reading these words is a rational beginning to the shift in belief that characterizes step two. Over time, these concepts will sink in. Over time, we will realize these ideas in our experience. We will know them to be true with our mind, that greater entity comprising our brain and our body, our thoughts and our feelings, our emotions and our spirit. Step two is about shifting perspective, recognizing the deep truths to be pertinent even now, in the state of Maya. It is but a way station to step three:

Made a decision to turn inward, aligning our will and our lives with the deepest truths and the highest good we could imagine.

With awe and amazement, we touch upon an energizing presence at our core, handy indeed. It is not in Nepal, nor in the stars, nor in a religious text, and icon or a ceremony. It is within. We are given a gift of results. Perhaps, as an alcoholic might know, this epiphany is facilitated in those whose lives have taken a turn for the worst before discovering the appropriate doorway. The contrast between their state of despair and the changes that are wrought through a twelve step process is significant. One might call it enlightenment. This phenomena of hitting the bottom is another expression of our dual experience; we can not know peace until we have had the experience of its absence.

As individuals we recognize results. In our loneliness we also see that profound growth comes with the help of an intentional community. There is additional wisdom here that we should ponder. Our first experiences are given to us out of compassion, empathy and love. This is the model of the universe to which we long to return.

In our recognition, a great, ancient stirring is awakened. This is our memory of the egalitarian societies of the neolithic age. This is our knowledge of connection with the birth of the universe, our sense of its long unfolding. The birth of the stones. The emergence of human consciousness. We recognize that the two share the same universal life energy. But it is in their emergent differences, the result of continuous differentiation and integration, that we are able to reflect on the beauty of this interaction, on the majesty of its projection. Projection that is inward toward a truer expression of our self. This process of individuation is actually the key to the healthy integration we know to be so necessary for life and for navigating the great turning. It is the secret to human destiny.

So step four can only serve the ideal of being reborn to our self inside of the context of the unprecedented coming together that is our distinct possibility.

Made a fearless search for all of our attachments.

Like a thousand veils, we peel back all of the layers of our attachments that constitute our persona, our experiences, our beliefs and our perceptions. It is enough just to know they are there. Many of them reside in our unconscious, pushing us forward each day with a thousand different strivings. It is okay to release strivings, but not a requirement. We simply ask for the choice here. Our search is about learning ourselves. It is about lifting into the higher realms of our consciousness all of the aspects of self. This includes the energy of our ancestors as well as our dreams and spirit influences. This is delicate work, because there are just as many conditionings that would cut us off from the wisdom to be gained here. Not out of evil, or spite, but out of love, our love of the dual physical plane. We are so grateful to be here, having this experience, why wouldn’t we protect ourselves? We are participating in ever emerging consciousness. For this to happen, we have had to go through a period of separation – being cut off from universal consciousness for the very purpose of being able to discern it. But this requires integration, and integration requires the removal of all of the veils that separate us from that protective, deep love of live.

Admitted to ourselves our exact nature.This is a process of remembering. It is not about finding shame in our humanness. Admitting our nature is really a celebration that stems from the gratitude we feel for being alive. This gratitude is ultimately tied to our innate knowledge that we are here to experience ourselves as an expression and aspect of something that is infinitely capable – reflective of all possibilities, and timeless – existing outside of our linear concept of time. This admission then is an acknowledgment. It is using our current level of rational development to acknowledge the wisdom we carry in our entire being that tells us it is our nature as a spiritual entity in a physical body to celebrate the limitations of this physical plane because it provides the needed contrast to know ourselves as infinite.

We have the answers whether we want to admit it or not. Our nature has been unfolding over a period of some 14 billion years, for as long as the universe has existed. We can, of course, speculate about what else there might be beyond, before or after this universe. There are theories that our universe is but one possibility of many. In the final analysis, this possibility simply supports our concept of true nature. We remember this nature by drilling down to the quantum level and realizing the relationship of all things as part of an Akashic, zero point energy field (the A-field). This A-field offers evidence of a pervading consciousness among all aspects of the universe, a non-local phenomenon that implies that ability to learn that is in all things. It implies other, previous universes that learned enough for our own universe to have established the delicate balance of forces, a mathematical coherence essential for life to exist. This essential essence involves and explains the ability of our own living, organic body to instantly communicate within itself. It relates to the ability of eco-systems to do the same. It explains communication between beings regardless of their spatial or even time relationship. It explains time travel. It is part of every piece of every cell in our body. We know this, it is our nature. When we admit to our nature, we throw the covers off of this construct we have made to explain everything. This construct is Maya – the illusion that the physical manifestation of the underlying essence is the essence itself. This equates to holding the elephant’s ear and concluding that there is only an ear.

There is no explaining the heart of the explanation.

There is only is-ness, being. A website dedicated to the book Science and the Akashic Field by Ervin Lazlo offers this: “We are, or can be, literally ‘in touch’ with almost any part of the world, whether here on Earth or beyond in the cosmos. When we do not repress the corresponding intuitions, we can be informed by things as small as a particle or as large as a galaxy”. Our work here is ultimately about the understanding that we can be informed by things as small as a particle or as large as a galaxy. Our true nature is an inherent part of us that extends from the smallest particle to the grandest sweep of the universe. Though our brain may struggle to understand it, if we repress the impulse to know it through rationality, we can be informed by the deeper essence. This essence is connected and informed by everything that is. While this may be difficult to understand, it is the objective that begins with step five.

Transpersonal consciousness is open to more of the information that reaches the brain than the dominant consciousness of today.

The website continues discussing Lazlo’s work: “Regarding the future evolution of human consciousness he mentions numerous theories, “but they have a common thrust. Consciousness evolution is from the ego-bound to the transpersonal form. If this is so, it is a source of great hope. Transpersonal consciousness is open to more of the information that reaches the brain than the dominant consciousness of today. This could have momentous consequences. It could produce greater empathy among people, and greater sensitivity to animals, plants, and the entire biosphere. It could create subtle contact with other parts of the cosmos. It could change our world. A society hallmarked by transpersonal consciousness is not likely to be materialistic and self-centered; it would be more deeply and widely informed.” This then offers an objective to carry on our work with step six.

Were entirely ready to move into union with our nature.

Perhaps AA would have me shanghaied for what I do to their twelve steps. But know this, we can use any framework; this is creative work. One hallmark of creativity is the ability to use patterns, examples, even archetypes in the world as the basis for enumerating details of that which we wish to create. In our work with strategic planning, this is the essence of the process, finding a means to entice out characteristics of our vision so that we can analyze and organize them. I believe my reworking of the steps here is entirely congruent in the intent and purpose of the twelve steps of AA. There are differences that reflect unique approaches to understanding our place in the world and the cosmos, but despite the differences in the words, we might also see the potential for great agreement. A simple example is in the definition of God. Given the cultural loading of this word, it is not preferred for our work here. Yet it must be said, where the word God has been removed and ‘essence’ or ‘nature’ or ‘universe’ has been substituted, they can, with willingness, be seen as complementary and, in fact, deeply informative in each word’s ability to create new perspectives. Such perspectives yield additional details, new characteristics, wrinkles on our image of the face of God. This, then, is to know God more deeply. It is a process of elucidating, growing and developing our understanding.

In step six, we are ready for this process of adding wrinkles to the face of God. We are open to it. We are open to recognizing it come through a Transpersonal consciousness that augments and complement our individual consciousness.

At the risk of circular logic, recognize that any devotee of AA would have to recognize the imperative of this perspective if he or she was to truly exercise their step six. For in inside of the two versions is the same openness that reflects the nature of all possibilities carried in the A-field from which we arise. We move into union with this nature to initiate our own great turning, so needed in the midst of the larger turning carrying on in the world today. This union includes the creative problem solving of the heavens, including all of humanity from the distant past and even into the future. This is the creative power that can be brought to bear to our work of the great turning.

Humbly asked to be subsumed by the whole.

Step seven leads into the transpersonal. We have offered an intention and method for bringing into consciousness aspects of ourselves that can lead to an understanding of our very nature. We have asked to look at this, asked to see it. We have learned that the process of seeing leads to change. At this point, there is a leap of imagination required. Some of this nature, we have been taught or somehow formed the opinion, is not all that appealing. There is an element of faith needed now to recognize the great benefit of integrating all of our parts in order to reach for the deeper nature. This is done through the wisdom of the context that has arisen from our earlier work. Through an appreciation for the A-field, and the role this basic component of all things in the evolution of the universe, we can develop a useful perspective for integrating our new understanding of our nature. This will entail a great question of whether or not there is good and evil, right and wrong, in the world, in the universe. Can we release our attachment to these dualistic definitions in order to move into a transcendent understanding? Once we do, we form the basis of conscious choice. This is the aspect of evolution that we serve, to bring to consciousness all of our nature, to accept that nature rather than suppress it for the explicit reason of having a conscious choice about how we will be in the world. This opens the door to our reuniting with the all-that-is, with the life systems of Gaia, with our communities, families and friends. This is a process of joining with a greater consciousness. It involves the paradoxical elements of knowing ourselves most deeply as individuals so that we can become open to uniting with an integral whole universe.

We subsume this individual nature into the broader, overall context. It is the energy of our individual nature that allows this to happen, impels it forward in congruence with the great unfolding taking place all around. While our existence in Maya is unequivocally constrained by our senses, we integrate these senses into our much broader wisdom. As a result, we transcend the dualistic plane and receive the peace of eternity while living with our yet fullest capacity.

Made a list of all life unconsciously harmed by protecting ourselves from our own nature.

The action that is needed is most immediately in the context of our living Earth. As our nature is revealed to us, an emerging understanding of our relationship with the rest of life shows us the great pain we have caused, and deep sorrow and grief in our own being for these results. Through our conscious action, we become willing to look at the specific effects of our existence on the web of life. This can be traumatic. It can be difficult to understand that we are involved. We are tempted to see it as the work of others.

When we take the action of enumerating how we impact of life forms, we remove the last layers of denial of our place in the cosmos.

Our enlightenment begins to lead to transformation. In step nine, we put this willingness and knowledge into direct action.

Made direct amends to all life forms.

The twelve steps offer a pivotal point as a framework that serves our need to make this deeply philosophical work pragmatic. We use step nine as that pivot point. Here is where we can build upon a spiritual foundation to begin making changes to life practices and life styles that are incongruent with the fundamental thrust of the emerging life on Earth. This work is made more difficult by the fact that this process of emergence is now different. The tapestry of species represented on the Earth is undergoing unprecedented changes. Never before has such a diverse range of species been arrayed throughout the world, and simultaneously exposed to extermination. As we open to making amends to these life forms by joining with this web of life, we also must learn how to do it in a new context. A context wherein many of the species that serve the health of our biosphere will no longer offer their delicate balancing influences. In addition to this shift, structural changes to the geosphere in the form of pollution, climate change, ocean rise, weather changes and even morphing of the land masses, is changing the context for all life. Our amends and adaption is made doubly difficult by the nature of this moving target.

Continued forward despite great uncertainty.

Our nature insists that our sensations reflect the totality of reality. Our progress as human reflections of consciousness has allowed sufficient rationality to emerge to begin to grasp the illusion of our beliefs with our brains. But the experience of this through our minds requires additional modes of information. In the process of opening up to these other modes, we are beset with doubts that arise from the ego based rationality. This step helps us to use our new found wisdom of our nature to realize this subtle fact; that we will experience resistance in the form of want and doubt. There is little misunderstanding when we see this about the need to conjure the emotions of having realized our selves as a means for moving through this resistance.

Sought to realize prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the universe, praying only for the willingness to allow a new reality to emerge.

Bringing the experience that we have tried to describe here back, full circle, to our conscious knowing, is all important. This step represents the crucial growth and evolution of the consciousness that reflects the next stage of enlightenment from which all things flow. Our tools are opening ourselves up to the totality of experience though meditation, and using the intention through prayer to generate the results that will be the feedback our consciousness requires.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we expanded into the knowledge that our transformation echoed everywhere and in everyone.

There is a great reward for this work. It is heaven on earth. When we align our personal energy and spirit with the deepest, greatest energy of the universe, congruent with the pull of evolution, we will experience an expansion beyond the realm previously experienced through our physical senses, our intellectual rationality and our beliefs. This involves a falling away of the attachment to the physical illusion that we typically hold as reality. The peeling away of these veils to experience the Akashic reality of the zero point field, from which everything manifests, is the experience of nirvana or heaven. This might sound like the exclusive territory of the spiritual field, far from the pragmatic orientation believed to be at the core of any solution to greater sustainability. It might seem to be leading us away from the technological capability in which so many of us have so much faith. It might sound distressingly idealistic, unattainable, unrealistic and out of this world.

It is not. The penultimate message in this work is that resolution of all of the problems that we believe face the world today. Whether you recognize the aspects of the great turning, the extinction event currently unfolding, the devastation of the forests, water, air and climate, or the violence and injustice that is rampant under the disguise of spreading democracy and flattening the world, or simply orient to the binds of government regulation, environmental laws, loose immigration and widespread diversity of ethnicity, sexual orientation and Polly Anna new age spiritualism, we will all come to see none of this as the issue. The real key to a fundamental, pervasive solution is simply in the shifting of consciousness, a change of perception and perspective in which the energy that keeps the current system going simply slips away and a new reality takes its place.

We see, then, that those problems, as real as the seem now, are all Maya. They are real constructs of our limited perspective. They are gnats on the elephant’s ear. There is a spiritual solution to every problem, in the words of Wayne Dyer, and there is no reason to limit the scope of this truth to our personal, mundane lives. This is a universal law that comprises all that ever was, and all that will ever be.

When we reach the tipping point of this shift in consciousness, this is what will happen. We will eat less. We will eat vegetables. We will grow much of what we eat, and trade the rest. We will not have obesity and diabetes, heart disease or cancer. We will produce everyday products used in our households from the byproducts of local plant material. When we build our homes and community buildings, we will use technical materials made from renewable energy and made of component compounds derived from nature and designed to be regenerative both over their life and after their useful life spans are complete. Roofing materials will leach nutrients into the soil and be designed to wear away until they are recovered and then continue to dissipate as a beneficial compound. Siding will wear down to a durable sheen able to last for hundreds of years.

Transportation will consist of an ever flowing, reliable network of various sized, renewable fueled vehicles to which one will be able to avail oneself at any time, in any direction. Fossil fuels will not exist. Community problem solving and creative progress will stem from group meditation in which the answers are provided through collaborative brainstorming and planning.

In this not to distant future, military will not exist. Global travel will mainly consist of information based, virtual reality experiences that will have developed to a quality that so fully substitutes for physical travel it will be indistinguishable. Compulsions for alcohol, drugs, sex and violence will fade away. The meaning of love will expand beyond our current comprehension as people fall in love with others frequently and constantly. Sexual coupling and pleasure will be an open and meaningful aspect of life. Each will have as many partners as best suits them. Many will continue to find monogamous relationships to be the most satisfying. In fact, many of the people in these relationships, based on the genuine improvement of their lives together, will represent the leading edge of spiritual thought and consciousness evolution. They will lead us forward into unpredictable new periods.

Work as we know it will not exist. Largely people will pursue their own ideas of their highest aspirations. As a result, sickness and disease will disappear and life spans will increase substantially. People will ultimately choose the timing of their transition into the next realm, which will be well understood through the vastly greater intuitive information available. There will be little use for a medical profession, however spiritual medicine will be understood to be essential, and will be a feature of all societies.

Diverse societies will reign over most of the land mass of the Earth. National boundaries will no longer exist as locales become self supporting. Communities will form around groups of several hundred. In more densely populated areas, there will be many such communities clustered tightly. In rural areas, gradual shifts to villages surrounded by food and energy farms will emerge. Waste products will no longer be allowed. All materials will be constantly used and reused. Some will find deep callings in developing these materials and the methods of their reuse, restructuring and remanufacturing.

Politics will no longer exist. Information and entertainment will converge in the form of participatory events designed for both fun and accessing channels of divine inspiration, an experience that will eventually engender tremendous physical sensations and actual changes to the physiology of humans. Our knowledge and experience of peace will no longer need the contrast of war and violence. Rather we will experience our peace as a fledgling imitation of the real and total peace of the universe. We will know the pull of universal evolution and see a convergence of the developing peace consciousness of our world with that of the universe. We will understand that at that far distant future time there will another great flash in which our universe is instantly transformed into to yet another unimaginable realm.

As always, this begs the question, in the midst of the absence of any genuine access to this new consciousness, can we as individuals, truly open ourselves up this shift? If we are able to make this change, would we be able to hold on to it? How would we know? Will we be given glimpses? Is it a process? How long does it take?

These are all good questions. The answer is simple because there is no process to the removal of veils. All of our questions arise from our sense of time that is dictated by our overwrought mortality. The answers to these questions represent a complex system in that, once the shift begins, a ripple effect goes out into our lives and the world. Health returns. Longevity increases. A love response is engender that attracts a completely different experience. When this happens, it is not at the expense of the time and events that have gone before, but rather as a result of them. This grateful rolling up of our energetic life experiences in to a culmination of transcendent catharsis informs us about the nature of time. As we remember who and what we are, we realize we were never anything other than this essence and our ability to know time evaporates. So all of the rational questions get answered, but they get answered by being turned on their ear. In fact, our whole view must be turned on its ear – maybe that is the purpose of the ear of the elephant.

Chapter 14 Ego Perforations

In M. Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled, Doctor Peck describes the need to give up parts of our self in order to move forward in life. He describes this as an aspect of discipline that entails balancing between conflicting needs, goals and desires. In order to achieve balance, we constantly need to give up something in exchange for something else. Giving up parts of ourself is painful. Yet when we do not give up what is needed, we can not achieve the balance needed to move forward in life and the result is likewise painful, sometimes more painful than the alternative.

This example brings up a couple of related issues that, taken together, help draw the picture of the relationship between our psychological make up and broader sustainability in the world. If we can appreciate this relationship, then the work we can do as individuals will become more meaningful, and we can be energized the the higher purpose it generates. As we will see, this higher purpose provides a self-reinforcing loop in that it represents a life theme. Orienting to a life theme is at the heart of our personal work, so the two go hand in hand; work introspectively to reveal the emotional content of our lives keeping us from achieving a more authentic life purpose, recognize how this helps the entire world, be inspired by this good work, recognize it as part of the life theme we were seeking in the first place.

The giving up aspect of growth also provides important glimpses into a relationship with the world that is not ego dependent. These are perforations in the ego that begin to allow an experience of existing in relationship with all that is outside of ourself. It also allows for growth of the self by letting in new experience, information and knowledge. This is the dropping of our beliefs, conditionings, expectations and current state of mind to experience people, places and things with a clear mind. The same clear mind that is spoken of in the Zen tradition.

But there is a paradox here, among several, worth discussing. The first is the need to have something to give up before it can be given up. In the case of our ego, we have to go through the process of developing strong self images before we can break them. As for the world, this too is the case with our scientific consciousness, or any other period in history you might choose. It is the sheer success of these personas, whether personal, national or global in nature, that creates the struggle for releasing them so that something new can arise. We find ourselves particularly challenged currently because of both the strength and entrenchment of the existing paradigm, by virtue of its very success, and because of the urgency of the need to change toward a sustainable existence on the Earth.

At the heart of Peck’s book is an even more powerful idea. It is that love is not the sensation that we all know (and love) of falling in love, or engaging in sexual acts, or romance. Rather it is an expansive inspiring connection with all of mankind, and even beyond. An ecstatic experience accompanies this love. It is the experience of oneness so often spoken of, even in this book. Ultimately, we have argued, it is a feeling for the essence of all things as we understand it today as the A-field. And through which we have a connection of consciousness that can actually provide us with an ability to know and be in any place at any time as anything through the so-called akashic records. Ironically, this experience is not achieved by extending our self out in a continuous process of individuation. Instead it occurs during periods of ego collapse – those times when we become willing to shed that which makes us what we are as individuals today so that we may allow some new aspect in and integrate it. We do this in school, we do this in therapy, during spiritual growth, for our children, and when we fall in love.

Peck writes, “Falling in love is not an extension of one’s limits or boundaries’ it is a partial and temporary collapse of them.” A little later, he points out the irony of the preceding statement: “Having proclaimed that the experience of “falling in love” is a sort of illusion which in no way constitutes real love, let me conclude by shifting into reverse and pointing our that falling in love is in fact very, very close to real love.” The reason for the contrast has to do with the nature of real love that involves the psychological incorporation of the object of our love. This incorporation involves a penetration of the ego and a shift into a selflessness that acknowledges the characteristics of that which we love. When we fall in love, our ego shell falls away, allowing an image of the one we love to merge with our own self image. This incorporation, as Peck puts it, enlarges the self and extends the bounds of the ego. The self evolves as a result of this integration with the object of love. “

Throughout our lives, we incorporate objects of love over and over. As we do this, our ego boundaries stretch and thin. And as our ego boundaries become blurred and thinned, we become more open to ‘falling in love with the rest of the world’. We begin more and more to experience the same sort of feeling or ecstasy that we have when our ego boundaries partially collapse and we “fall in love”.

An easily accessible example of this is the experience of sexual activity when our present sense of our self falls away momentarily during orgasm. This is also the experience of mystical union that we have been studying. It is a result of allowing our ego-based beliefs to fall away so that we may fall in love with the rest of the universe, in addition to ourselves, and in doing so, experience ecstasy such that we recognize our place among the cosmos and our role in maintaining this connection.

Yet we return to the need to include evolution in this process. As infants, we may be endowed with the clear mind to achieve a mystical union with the universe, but our survival depends on developing a strong enough sense of self to navigate the world. Yet it is the process of releasing these developed personas without giving up the skills need to survive and thrive that results in our moving toward greater communion. One begets the other. We constantly crucify ourselves so that we might incorporate some greater aspect of the universe. As this integration spreads outward through the individuation/integration cycle, we get closer to offering other the life systems our own love that they and we need to survive over the coming years.

Chapter 15 Review

We have been developing a conversation about the nature of individual optimal experience in the context of creating a sustainable world. This assumes that our current course is not sustainable. The discussion builds on a view of the universe and its origins that accepts a continuous, unfolding evolution as the norm – as its purpose. This unfolding represents progress from a pure state of homogeneity, before the Big Bang, if you will. It can be thought of as a condition of pure light or pure darkness. If it was darkness, then the profound question orients to the introduction of light, for surely that is what happened. This light went out and darkness knew itself, had an experience of itself due to its relationship with the light. Thus this simple differentiation created the first experience of itself that hitherto did not exist. From this light, pockets of energy aggregated in places; a trend of integration, of coming together in which like attracted like. Over time, as the density of the energy increased, these pockets grew unstable until they could no longer hold together. They disintegrated, but the new pieces represented a more complex packet of energy than just the pure light or the pure darkness. Over time, these new, more complex energy forms re-integrated to form, eventually, matter. This process of differentiation and integration repeated itself over and over, and it still does, over the eons. The universe began to organize as a result of the increasing complexity of each of the constituent parts. Our ability to understand this history of the universe, as it reflects the growth from energy to matter to life forms, to awareness to consciousness to rationality to intuition and inspiration, allows us to envision the possibilities of the future. We learn from the simple notion that we are in a place of conscious awareness that is unprecedented, yet is not the final resting place. Thus we have the opportunity to recognize the trend. We might then use the idea of aligning with this trend as informative to our conscious choices.

So from the broad perspective of humanity, willingness to act on this knowledge of future possibilities as it relates to our cultural wisdom and the effect on the living Earth is crucial. In order to get to a place of acting, we must become willing, collectively, to choose a sustainable vision of the future, allow that which does not serve this vision to fall away, and open to the creative response that moves in to take the place of that which has fallen away. This is not necessarily a process that needs to be controlled. It is my belief that the combination of articulating a congruent vision and allowing the old pieces to fall away is sufficient for the right solutions to manifest. This is the process of emergence that governs the behavior and success of all groups throughout the living world. Yet, in delving deeper, we see that this process of turning the cultural inertia starts at the individuated level of each person. We reflect on our contribution to the whole that is projected out from our interior. Creating the shift requires the work of individuals to look with in, through introspection, to see the roots of the external paradigm. These roots spring from the seeds of our ancestors, of the previous cycles of individuation and integration. As such, they are not bad, they are not something to be ashamed of. Rather, they are part of us and must remain so in order to progress.

So we must welcome all of our makeup in order to let go of the parts that do not currently serve and move into something new, creative and better aligned with the destiny we choose. We try to accept that our level of consciousness and the exquisite rationality that has sprung forth with it, is what allows us, indeed requires us to recognize our now, responsibility for choosing destiny. This is a symptom of our success and is not to be taken lightly. For only in fully accepting this capacity to make or destroy the living world, do we really put our selves in the place of making better decisions. Recognize those arguments that say, ‘it is not our doing that is causing global warming or deep changes to the geobiosphere, these have always happened over the history of the Earth. Recognize this argument for what it is, a denial of our evolved being and our emerging role in the universe.

We identified some of the psychological issues that contribute to the inability to accept the opportunity before us. These issues hold the roots of the above mentioned argument against our role as humans. These issues are a natural outgrowth of our ego development. They were born in our evolved brain, and took a leap forward at the time of conversion from the Neolithic age to the common era, a time in which the balance of an established matriarchy was destroyed by the individuating energy of male patriarchy. It has been some 5,000 years of this cycle of individuation during which time the incredible advances in our rational, scientific capabilities has arisen. But this success is also the source of the problems we face. The opportunity is to learn that we must again let go of aspects of ourselves that have lead to this success so that something new and creative can take its place.

We have said that the answers lie in a creative process that recognizes the challenge of moving forward into the unknown. We recognize traditions of indigenous cultures that can inform us about how to more readily do this. We can apply these traditions to energy practices and learn to move away from pure rationality into new modes of knowing. The discussion of the spiritual becomes pertinent as we recognize the influence of all time and all living creatures that have both come before us, and are yet to come, on our current state of being. It is our job at this time to open ourselves up to these various wisdoms and experiences, to take energy away from the entrenched cultures and institutions, and reinvent ourselves at the individual level, so the collective, global culture can reinvent itself.

I can hear the response from the world at large now: what a bunch of horseshit. First, let me take a moment to be open to understanding that thought came from my brain. In Deepak Chopra’s fictional account of the life of Buddha, called Buddha, Chopra describes Buddha’s thinking as he was plagued by the same sort of defeating thoughts. It was interesting for me to read this account of someone ignoring these thoughts, and being motivated by something different. That felt familiar. Despite the rising of rational thoughts, fears and concerns, like how will I pay the bills?; there is not enough scientific evidence in this book; I don’t cite enough (barely any) references in this book; it won’t be taken seriously because it does not propose fact built upon accepted, peer-tested fact – despite these thoughts, something impels me just as something impelled Chopra’s fictional Buddha. Buddha, according to Chopra, thought about the life he had left; a heartbroken wife; a devastated father; a kingdom for which he had been taught he was responsible as the future king. Still he pressed on. Buddha was quite purposeful in ignoring the pleading of his thoughts. Despite my own doubts, I too press on. Press forward toward some unknown calling. I write what feels like truth. There is thought – creative thought that looks for connections, interactions, relationships. These aspects of the writing are tested in my body, with regard to their pertinence and veracity.

Let it be known that this imagined criticism comes from all sides. Yes, the academics won’t think for a second about this book. The scientists either. Members of the green movement may find it too spiritual in nature; not enough environmental science, biology, geology. I pick up Greg Palast’s book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and find my self quickly outraged, grief stricken and angry by reading just a couple of his vignettes. My book will have none of this emotive, fact-based, outrageous reporting. His is interesting stuff, but it makes me feel awful. Isn’t there another way? Is there any chance that the orientation to nirvana that I’d like to think is expressed in these pages will have any effect? Ahh, those rational thoughts again. My brain tells me that there is nothing to be gained with this book, with these ideas. It tells me that they are poorly organized (teetering on gibberish), un-researched and, yes, Polly-Anna-ish.

Now I can add a new item to my list of greatest faults turned into greatest strengths: Polly-Anna-ish turned into a strength. That would be a trick. I’d like to see the headline. They won’t run it, probably in the US, but maybe Greg Palast would write about it for a liberal British newspaper: “American Turns Polly Anna Ideas Into Strength! Dateline Connecticut: Readership of the blog and soon to be published book by the amazingly naive title of Abundance, is reaching remarkable heights as the one-hundredth reader has logged on to the website at which author MG Harris is putting the finishing touches on his Polly-Anna-ish non-fiction account of how to save the world. Harris could not be reached for comment, however sources close to him report that he spends his days alternately typing and writhing on the floor in either agony or ecstasy – no one seems to be sure which.” That is the nature of following this unknown, deepest calling, the one that brings out my Polly Anna. It is alternately agony and ecstasy. It is neither my savior nor my bane. It simply is a deep calling to which I am currently willing and able to follow. What lies ahead remains to be seen. Yet it is possible to follow this calling into the abyss of unknown and still hold a vision. I am using my capacity to write, finally, for something that feels pure and right. I am expanding my experience beyond my rational thought, something I was schooled and conditioned for half my life to think of as all I’d ever need. A new way of being is a new realm. New realms are exciting if you can get past the fear of leaving the old realm. One doesn’t do this just once, but over and over. Everyday, every minute is an opportunity for the conditioned thoughts to arise. Sometimes they suck the energy right out of me. But even that experience, I’ve come to discover, just feeds another cycle of inspiration. I only need to be patient. I open Wayne Dyer’s book, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem and this is what I read: He quotes A Course in Miracles, “Infinite patience produces immediate results”. I seem to remember reading these words myself. But I never could understand that book. It was a constant battle between my rational mind to let go of needing to understand and just absorb the words. I remember the experience when prompted, but as yet have not been able to conjure it up at will.
Secretly, I have already added this apparent weakness of Polly-Anna-ness as a subcategory of a broader category of weaknesses I have known about for some time: Idealism. At one time, during my earlier career, I worked as an engineer in the marketing department of a public utility. Automatically, one is impelled toward the thought of a lost soul simply by trying to imagine an engineer in a marketing department; it rings of oxymoron. I was rather naive going into the job and not a little confused about who I was. Yet, there were aspects of my nature that would seep out around the weird and twisted garments I clutched tightly around my persona. At one point a boss commented that I was idealistic. I immediately took this to be a bad thing. In business, one is pragmatic, results oriented. The bottomline is the bottomline. I spent the next several years trying to accommodate this idealism inside of my striving, fear-ridden, over-desiring, under-achieving lifestyle wondering why things seemed so difficult.

My next job put me in contact with a brilliant intellect, a writer and businessman with a amazing technical capacity and sufficient people skill and political cunning to negotiate the halls of a large, corporate energy entity. He is now the President of that group. For a while, he mentored me and during that time told me my writing was characterized by the ability to turn a phrase. But this was business writing, it wasn’t about turning a phrase. It was about organization, facts, research; bottomline. I wondered why it seemed so difficult. Now, as I attempt to create from the depths of my being, there is only one route. To turn phrase after phrase in an attempt to allow that which is trapped, to escape. More than that, might we allow these words to evoke feelings and emotion in addition to logical connections? Could it be that there is value delivered by simply providing the former, regardless of the strength, quality and quantity of the latter? I studied logic in college. It was great. I loved it, and was good at it. It is not very useful when it comes to spirituality or politics. For those that have escaped both of these, you may find it more valuable than I.

So now I write through my weaknesses: I turn idealistic phrases. I link them together into Polly Anna-ish arguments. And I’m lovin’ it baby! Is there anything to learn here? Is it realistic and even possible to think that we can turn our life purpose toward something that springs from deep within, and still house and feed ourselves and our loved ones? Let me tell you a quick story. On Saturday our elderly neighbor called and hesitatingly told me that her dryer had stopped working. Barbara’s husband is elderly and sick. She confessed that his laundry needs are greater than we probably realized. She asked if she could use our dryer for a short time on Sunday until she was able to devise a solution the following week. Of course I said yes. These are good friends for whom money has become a challenge as they get on in years and try to manage the life in their older Federal style home to which they have become so accustomed. The following day, I had an appointment at ten o’clock in the morning. While there, the owner of the home pointed out a washer and dryer sitting in front of the garage and told me that the washer had stopped working. So they replaced both washer and dryer. The old dryer was working fine. Did I know anyone that needed a dryer? The contractor I was with had a pick up truck. The homeowner knew my neighbor and was delighted to help. The contractor delivered the dryer on his way out of town.

If it is our intention to live from the deepest place in ourself that we possibly can, then it can be done. Synchronistic events will arise to tell us so. If we are open to the experience of choosing our intention, and thus our direction, we will be rewarded with experience and thus, wisdom. If we apply this wisdom to our journey and maintain or adjust our intention as needed, a thread of life will emerge that reflects our deepest intention along every segment. It will hold the essence of the whole in every fiber and every centimeter. This thread is our life theme and it is there waiting for us to discover it. It has been there from the beginning. It waits. From the moment we were born, until the day we die, it waits. If remains after we are gone and is embodied anew until realized. And even then, it simply becomes the cornerstone for some new great work.

Chapter 16 Oceans Of Decline

Recently I watched an awful television show on CNN called something like ‘World in Peril’ with intrepid, helicopter hopping reports and doctors-turned-reporter jetting around the world and helicoptering into remote islands and frozen, ice-cap topped islands to investigate the state of decline of the natural world. These wonderful people told us they were doing it for us. They were burning all of this diesel and jet fuel on our behalf: to bring us the facts and to answer the hard questions. To be fair, they also acknowledged that ‘we don’t really know’, after of course traveling to these far flung places, making some video tape, talking with a few representative ‘peoples’ and applying their own superior deductive skills. They kept telling us they would get to the answer, and then kept falling short.

For example, a tiny south Pacific island that is suffering from rising waters. Where could this water be coming from? Sure, we just came from Greenland where the ice is all but, but that couldn’t explain all this water. We don’t really know for sure. We do know that that water, when it warms up, expands. So that could be part of it. The water has warmed up a couple of degrees over the last few decades. GONE

At the island, our intrepid reporter-turned-doctor, I mean doctor-turned-reporter showed us that he also has diving skills. This was very impressive, as he and a local native donned tanks and fins and dove on the reef surrounding the island. What they found? They found the coral reef dying. “It is a bleached out color”, they reported. -Break to commerical – “We’re here to answer the question, why is the island sinking? Why are the coral reefs dying? – Back after this.” Cut to divers returning from the ocean. This reef looks like it is dying. This could explain why the water is rising. Coral reefs function to buffer the island from storm surges and rough weather. With out a healthy coral reef, it is possible that the water level could rise on the island.

But we don’t really know why the reef is dying.

Recently, at this website, the UK publication, The Independent reported: “Scientists have found that the seas have already absorbed about half of all the carbon dioxide emitted by humanity since the start of the industrial revolution, a staggering 500 billion tons of it. This has so far helped slow global warming – which would have accelerated even faster if all this pollution had stayed in the atmosphere, already causing catastrophe – but at an increasingly severe cost. The gas dissolves in the oceans to make dilute carbonic acid, which is increasingly souring the naturally alkali seawater. This, in turn, mops up calcium carbonate, a substance normally plentiful in the seas, which corals use to build their reefs, and marine creatures use to make the protective shells they need to survive. These include many of the plankton that form the base of the food chain on which all fish and other marine animals depend. As the waters are growing more acid this process is decreasing, with incalculable consequences for the life of the seas, and for the fisheries on which a billion of the world’s people depend for protein. Every single species that uses calcium in this way, that has so far been studied, has been found to be affected. And the seas are most acid near the surface, where most of their life is concentrated.”

This main stream news show went out of its way to acknowledge that they really didn’t know. The key is the fact that they are experts. They have the technology – helicopters and camera men, doctors turned reporters. They are on the job and are going to get the answers. For us. But then, they are forced to admit, “we just don’t know, for sure”. We can relax. It may not be what we thought it was. These people are on the case, and when they know, we will know. They told us they went to get the answers. So maybe this is just a sinking island. Maybe that ice on Greenland was about to give way. Maybe the polar bears have chosen a difficult way of life and their struggle isn’t related to anything that you or I do. I know it has been suggested, but they just don’t know for sure. That’s what CNN said.

Ocean acidification is occurring. The data reflecting the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is incontrovertible. It is not difficult to model what happens to sea water when exposed to higher concentrations of CO2. It is not difficult to understand that the surface water is affected first. The reefs, like the one visited by CNN, surrounding these shallow, south Pacific islands, are near the surface. It is not hard to understand why they might be struggling.

I know this is cynical and sarcastic, and equally undocumented, cited, researched or properly organized. Logically. But the implications of the vast carbon absorption of the oceans waters, and the impact on all life if the marine environments fail, is staggering. More than even this direct threat, pay attention to our inability to really understand the meaning about what is going on. The thing that is particularly interesting to pay attention to, besides all the data and facts, is the list of possible negative effects from something like ocean acidification. Inevitably, the list will include the impact on our economy. I find this fascinating when we are discussing phenomena that are wiping out a third to half or more of all species on the Earth, we are focused on what that will do to the economy. Is there not a moral story in side of these trends? Are the newspapers and writers not allowed to discuss the moral imperative of mass extinction? Is it forbidden to include this as a consideration? It is the overriding consideration, yet strangely absent from most accounts of global warming, ocean acidification and other environmental disasters. The Independent article concludes thus: “”The UN Secretary-General, agreed. The effects of climate change have become “so severe and so sweeping” he said “that only urgent, global action will do. There is no time to waste.” Mr Steiner called the report “the most essential reading for every person on the planet who cares about the future”. He added: “The hard science has been distilled along with evidence of the social and economic consequences of global warming…”. I’m not immune to the hardship these changes will cause to people everywhere, especially people that are economically disadvantaged. But even in recognizing this distinction, it just doesn’t matter. Our definition of economically disadvantaged will be turned on its head as a result of the loss of species diversity. When the world economy falls apart, the currently economically disadvantaged people, to the extent that they are able to feed and house themselves outside of the current paradigm, will have the advantage. It is the rest of us, the ones doing fairly well, that won’t have a clue as to how to survive.

Maybe, if we could just invent a smaller car with a little better mileage, that pollutes less, then everything would be ok. Just get everyone to switch and we can relax and go on about our business as usual. Better yet, let’s go find some more of those scientists that will swear on a stack of bibles that climate change has nothing to do with human activity. That’ll make every one feel better.

Chapter 17 Operating from Weakness

I can hear the response from the world at large now: what a bunch of horseshit. First, let me take a moment to be open to understanding that thought came from my brain. In Deepak Chopra’s fictional account of the life of Buddha, called Buddha, Chopra describes Buddha’s thinking as he was plagued by the same sort of defeating thoughts. It was interesting for me to read this account of someone ignoring these thoughts, and being motivated by something different. That felt familiar. Despite the rising of rational thoughts, fears and concerns, like how will I pay the bills? There is not enough scientific evidence in this book. I don’t cite enough (barely any) references in this book. It won’t be taken seriously because it does not propose fact built upon accepted, peer-tested fact. These are some of the thoughts that can go through my mind. Buddha, according to Chopra, thought about the life he had left;l a heartbroken wife. A devastated father. A kingdom for which he had been taught he was responsible as the future king. Maybe you don’t see it, but I do, the similarity of thinking. Things we were taught to think. Yet for me (and the fictional Buddha), despite these thoughts we are teaching ourselves to press forward regardless. Press forward toward some unknown calling. I write what feels like truth. There is thought – creative thought that looks for connections, interactions, relationships. These aspects of the writing are tested in my body, with regard to their pertinence and veracity.

Let it be known that this imagined criticism comes from all sides. Yes, the academics won’t think for a second about this book. The scientists either. Members of the green movement may find it too spiritual in nature; not enough environmental science, biology, geology. I pick up Grak Palast’s book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and find my self quickly outraged, grief stricken and angry by reading just a couple of his vignettes. My book will have none of this very true sounding, outrageous reporting. His is interesting stuff, but it makes me feel awful. Isn’t there another way? Is there any chance that the orientation to nirvana that I’d like to think is expressed in these pages will have any effect? Ahh, those rational thoughts again. My brain tells me that there is nothing to be gained with this book, with these ideas. It tells me that they are poorly organized (teetering on gibberish), un-researched and, yes, Polly-Anna-ish.

Now I can add a new item to my list of greatest faults turned into into greatest strengths: well maybe not yet, but it would be a coup – Polly-Anna-ish turned into a strength. That would be a trick. I’d like to see the headline. They won’t run it, probably in the US, but maybe Greg Palast would write about it for a liberal British newspaper: America Turns Polly Anna Ideas Into Strength! Dateline Connecticut: “Readership of the blog and soon to be published book by the amazingly naive title of Abundance, is reaching remarkable heights as the one-hundredth reader has logged on to the website at which author MG Harris is putting the finishing touches on his Polly-Anna-ish non-fiction account of how to save the world. Harris could not be reached for comment, however sources close to him report that he spends his days alternately typing and writhing on the floor in either agony or ecstasy – no one seems to be sure which.”

Secretly, I have already added this apparent weakness as a subcategory of a broader category of weakness I have known about for some time: Idealism. At one time, during my earlier career, I worked as an engineer in the marketing department of a public utility. Automatically, one is impelled toward the thougt of a lost soul simply be trying to imagine an engineer in a marketing department; it rings of oxymoron. I was rather naive going into the job and not a little confused about who I was. Yet, there were aspects of my nature that would seep out around the weird and twisted garments I clutched tightly around my persona. At one point a boss commented that I was idealistic. I immediately took this to be a bad thing. In business, one is pragmatic, results oriented. The bottomline is the bottomline. I spent the next several years trying to accommodate this idealism inside of my striving, fear-ridden, over-desiring, under-achieving lifestyle wondering why things seemed so difficult. My next job put me in contact with a brilliant intellect, a writer and businessman with a amazing technical capacity and sufficient people skill and political cunning to negotiate the halls of a large, corporate energy entity. For a while, he mentored me and told me my writing was okay, that I was able to turn a phrase. But this was business writing, it wasn’t about turning a phrase. It was about organization, facts, research; bottomline. I wondered why it seemed so difficult.

In the current analysis, I am choosing to be in a place that is firmly in touch with my Polly-Anna-ishness, my idealism, and my ability to turn a phrase. It is the energy of these three aspects of myself, that which for a long time was thought to be my greatest weaknesses, that I operate from today. This is an amazing story, if I may say so myself. It is not about whether of not the combination of these aspects yields anything of great fruitfulness. It is about the synergy and the resonance created in my being, of my spirit, when I recognize the power of these three aspects, really just facets of one aspect, my true essence. I believe this essence exists for everyone. I also believe that we are caught up in a culture and in times when it is exceedingly difficult to know our own nature. For me, this operating from my best understanding of my nature is not an end. I may not be operating very successfully, I may not be very well in touch with my nature. Yet there is a profound shift in the manner in which I am operating. It is clear that my journey is now oriented to better knowing and acting on my nature. In addition to the deep inspiration this give birth too, there is profound gratitude, which is a powerful energy itself.

Chapter 18 Landsphere

The question of sustainability can be approached from many different directions. Jim Merkel, in his book Radical Simplicity references Ecological Overshoot of the Human Economy and states that there are 28.2 billion acres of bioproductive land on the surface of the Earth. He divides by 6 billion people to calculate the average acre per share. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s World POPClock, as of today, November 21, 2007, the world population is estimated to be 6,632,619,724. Merkel calculates a 4.7 acre share, but using the latest estimates of population, it is 4.25 acres per share. This doesn’t leave anything though for other species. That’s a mistake. This is still an illuminating approach to understanding our relationship with the capacity of the Earth to sustain us. Merkel develops an intricate method for calculating an equivalent land area needed to support different lifestyles. It is not surprising that the America lifestyle requires by far the most land area to sustain itself. The average American footprint is twenty-four acres.

Merkel points out related data that considers the total carrying capacity of the Earth. He states that in 1978 the Earth exceeded its capacity to regenerate that which it needs to support human beings. Since then, some of what we consume has been literally taken from future generations. If we look at our energy consumption, we recognize the vast amounts of stored energy being consumed currently. While the solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface far exceeds all of our current needs, there is a technical issue with capturing and making this energy useful for our various needs. However, the big picture is encouraging. But what is a reasonable human population that we can expect that Earth to support? How might we move toward agreement on his number and if so, then what?

We have been searching for a philosophical/moral/spiritual angle to the issue of sustainability. Recognize that it requires a reasonable consensus that first there is a problem, and second, on an approach to alleviating the problem. It may very well be that we are too late, that the devastation is irreversible and the significant shift in the geobiological make up of the Earth is unfolding. What then? There is no way to predict the outcome, but there are some general conclusions one might draw. First, that the diversity of species will be greatly reduced. As a result, the outlook for human survival will be greatly diminished. A large-scale reduction in the human population can be expected. Moreover, regardless of who is able to survive, those currently with control of the resources, or those that have a living knowledge of how to survive in partnership with the natural world, the result will be far less human diversity as well.

The 1972 book Limits to Growth, by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III, focuses on the issue of the limits to Earth’s ability to sustain itself. This work focuses on political aspects of our current state of exceeding the carrying limits of the planet. I have taken a different view of the situation. I do not believe the answers will be forthcoming from the current state of thinking or institutions around the world today. To study the politics of the situation is to assume that politics has the ability to promulgate a solution. It does not. The solutions will come, as we have discussed, from a significant shift in human thinking. This shift will accommodate a much different method of living that will depend on a dropping away of fear in the culture of the world. Everyone person has a role to play in helping this happen. To the extent that we free ourselves from fear-based activities, we heal the world and move it toward sustainability.

These fear-based activities include our striving for money and all of the many reasons why we do it. We strive for money for security. Security will come from abundant interdependence. We strive for money for emergencies. Emergency care will come from abundant community. We strive for money to support our defense system. Our defense will not be needed when peace is the basis of our culture. We strive for money to retire. We will not need to retire when we reach our human potential as individuals. We strive for money to buy things that produce sensations we enjoy. We will not need to hide from the experience of being alive by seeking sensations when we drop our fears and protections from our emotion, including shielding ourself from the grief, sorrow and anger we hold for past and present transgressions. These transgression include what we have done to the continent of North America, including its indigenous peoples. They include our wars for oil including the present situation in Iraq and the build up toward Iran. They include our own complicity in the erosion of democracy including the 2004 election fiasco, the passing of the Military Commissions act, and on and on.

Chapter 19 Justice

Perhaps one of the most disturbing examples of injustice in the world, related to environmental issues, related to social and economic justice, is the straight-jacket financing of developing countries by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the attendant privatization of indigenous resources. Not only is the unscrupulousness at play here, the practices are directly related to an acceleration of the conditions that are leading to catastrophic environmental decline. The usurping of local resources by multi-national companies that have attained access and contractual rights to these resources directly support the continuation of consumerism in the developed countries while exploiting the lack of influence over their own destiny of the local people because of the international monetary context. The continuation of this skewing of power in the name of the system that is causing the devastation in the first place, namely the globalization of resources for the benefit of a very small segment of the world population, is highly immoral and sickening.

We might consider two possible avenues for the future, neither of which is appealing, but whose study might be useful and illuminating. The first scenario recognizes that the economically deprived in the world are the most vulnerable to environmental destruction. However, despite this, this scenario does not argue for equalizing the economic disadvantage, in my opinion. The reason for this, obviously, is that economic equalization assumes that the economic system is worth redeeming. This approach does not recognize the role that the consumer system plays in our continuing unsustainability. Unfortunately, the alternative for these economically deprived people is collapse and extinction, a fate that is morally unacceptable. The second scenario offers a slightly different take. This scenario suggests that the retribution of the Earth will be swift and the economically entrenched classes will quickly become the disadvantaged because their power and means for survival are so heavily tied to the status quo. When the status quo is unequivocally overturned, it will be people that have developed systems outside of the status quo for survival that will do will.

Both of these scenarios assume a wait-and-see approach that is also morally unacceptable. The justice question, if we were to look at is closely, expands to include all life systems, not just the rights of humans. Complete justice recognizes the essence of all things and treats all things with sanctity. The chance of turning the human institutions toward this view is slim to say the least. However, as ancient indigenous cultures knew, we can align with this view of complete justice in other ways. Consistent with the ongoing theme of this book, it starts with individuals. Cultivating a mindset and experience of appreciating all things as sacred is a true beginning. From there, organizing groups and communities to develop this skill, and to promote this outlook on a local basis, is a way to expand the energy of this deep, spiritual love that can literally save the world.

There seems to be little likelihood to change the institutions. The universities will continue to teach about laws and science based on the foundation of human rights only. Inside of the broader political and even religious institutions, it is unlikely that academia will adapt the radical view of rights-for-all-things. The approach of developing justice at the local level removes the energy of support from the institutions. It recognizes that there is no time to make these changes on a large scale. It is too late. However, people that are smart enough to recognize the accelerating pace of catastrophe can begin to prepare themselves outside of the current system.

This is not revolution, only a recognition of our responsibility to the human race by being responsible to ourselves. The principles on which this argument is based are grounded in an appreciation for the evolution of the universe. It recognizes that inter-relationship of all things, and the power, grandeur and essentialness of the rich diversity that we are so quickly losing. We will need to accept devastating weather, killing plagues, rampant insects, lousy food sources and scare water in the near future. We will need to maintain our spirit –fire – and joy in the midst of awful conditions. It will quickly become apparent that this is a spiritual quest. However, those that fall back on the old religious interpretations of God will not do well. It will be those that remain open, that embrace all of the feelings that will accompany this terrible time, that will be able to generate the creative solutions to thrive. This will change the nature of the people that ultimately survive. Those that remain will represent the emergence of a much different consciousness. This population will be small – even smaller than it is represented currently, but it will represent the vast majority of the remaining population –much different that current situation. For now, those of us that seem to recognize the trends and the ingredients needed in the future must be willing to know the importance of our perspective. We must nurture this among ourselves and pass it along to our children so they may pass it along to theirs. This won’t all unfold in our life time. We will be breathing our last breathes in the face of extremely frightening issues. What will we tell our children before we die? How will we deal with the sense of guilt of leaving them this legacy? Will we be able to impart to them a spiritual basis for dealing with the fear? An ability to access their unique, collective creative genius in the face of horrific conditions?

I believe we will be able to do those things. This is our purpose for living now. We might embrace sooner rather than later. There is an important message to tell the world, and it is not couched in our intelligent rationality that is killing itself researching the data and arguing the conclusiveness of the arguments while continue to build nuclear submarines and manipulate whole societies with our journalistic filters, strategic red herrings and Trojan Horse promotion of so-called democracy.

Ultimately it very well may be democracy that emerges as the best system for holding together a form of civilization. But it will be a very different democracy. First and foremost, underlying assumptions and truths that have been held to be self evident for so long, will fall hard. One of these assumptions is the idea that capitalism is the ultimate decider of the affairs of men and that the marketplace has a right to usurp moral decisions. The systems we have devised to counter the nature of men to lie and cheat do something that most will never realize: they promote those very traits they were created to neutralize. Worse than that, the offer their own Trojan Horse for the elite to hide their deceptions inside. Examples of this are the rampant accounting fraud, the manipulation of the stock and credit markets, the invasion of sovereign countries to promote democracy and the falsifying of facts to create untrue arguments for pre-emptive military strikes halfway around the world.

These broader systems simply feed systems closer to home that help keep the germs of their premise alive in our minds. And once there, these lies continue to manifest in our experience. We turn to organized religion to cope with the sordid nature of ourselves and fellow man, we practice karate to defend against those forces of the lower aspects of human nature that will attack us. We think private thoughts about trustworthiness of people we don’t even know, and allow these thoughts to come and go without even noticing what they are doing to us. We turn a blind eye to pornography. We have no clue as to the emotional drivers of sex and drugs to create sensations that are used to help us hide from the feelings of truly being alive.

More and more, as I write this, I struggle with my rational mind telling me this book needs to have more facts, more research. It needs to cite the history and talk about examples out in the world of the explanations and solutions that I’m inspired to write about. But from somewhere – and I don’t really know where that place is – I am compelled to simply put it out there, to say it like it is – that all the facts and data and explanation don’t amount to a hill of beans. They simply serve the same prison we have found ourselves in for five thousand years. To cater to those thoughts would be giving my energy back to the very system that is at the root of our impending doom. I do not need to know if my ideas, or our collective action upon them would have any effect whatsoever. I simply need to know, and I do, that the old way doesn’t work, that it won’t be changed, not ever before it simply crumbles, and the best use of our collective life energy is to create a different way of being.

This new way of being will have minimal laws and minimal commerce. We will live, eat, work, play, teach and learn locally. We will be part of a vast network of human consciousness, but our lives will play out as integral parts of the natural environment – different as it is from one corner of the globe to another. We will be absorbed by these environments, finding ways to live that are congruent with the other living systems around us. We will thrive by bending with these systems, by needing and wanting less, and by expressing our selves through song and word and dance, prayer and mediation. And when we die, we will simply fade into these glorious webs of life firm in our knowledge that we are returning home only to determine the how, when, where and what of our next incarnation, secure and comfortable in each iteration of the universe’s expression of itself.

Chapter 20 Ecology

Paul Hawken said sustainability can be boiled down to two things, justice and ecology. Just what is ecology? How does it inform us in the quest for understanding a vision of sustainability, how far we are from that vision, and to what difference in quality, and how do we get there? Ecology takes a narrower view of the concept of interconnection than the more spiritual and/or quantum level approach. However, when we study the science of ecology, it does not take long before the quantum aspects emerge and, thus, we begin to see aspects of the spiritual as surely as the dawn comes up. But our trip down ecology lane does not take long to reach places of intense controversy. Murray Bookchin, the outspoken Vermont-based anarchist turned communalist wrote bitterly of the shortcomings of the ideas of deep ecology and offers his own version of ecology rooted in the social fabric of the world called Social Ecology. From the website Anarchy Archives, Bookchin’s article “Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement” offers a severe critique of the shortcomings of the concept of deep ecology promulgated by Arne Naess and instead offers Bookchin’s own concept of Social Ecology as a more acceptable substitute. In the process of developing his argument, Bookchin is not afraid to use highly charged words, “Deep ecology is so much of a black hole of half-digested, ill-formed, and half-baked ideas…”, as well as similarly charged concepts and associations: “It was out of this kind of crude eco-brutalism that Hitler, in the name of “population control,” with a racial orientation, fashioned theories of blood and soil that led to the transport of millions of people to murder camps like Auschwitz. The same eco-brutalism…”. Yet, despite this antagonistic approach, which we might ascribe to the lateness in life in which Bookchin wrote this, and thus sense his desire to cut to the bottom line quickly and effectively because of a looming sense of his own mortality, he offers a clear picture of the limits to seeking solutions to the global environmental problems inside of our existing social structure.

It is unfortunate for Bookchin’s ideas to be clouded by this cynical approach because his ideas are so good, and so well developed over a life time of thought, writing and work to address that nature of the world as he knew it. Note that Bookchin, late in his life, and after a lifetime of promoting an anarchist viewpoint, rejected anarchism in favor of a new concept he called ‘communalism’. The difference delineated the individualistic approach of the anarchist from a recognition of the need for a community oriented approach to solving the problems of sustainability. With communalism, Bookchin correctly identifies the role of the evolution of consciousness in the form of our collective mind as it might be expressed at the local level in direct response to the needs for human survival and quality of life, art and expressiveness. It is unfortunate that Bookchin must bolster his argument by rejecting, sometimes in a most unfair and flamboyant manner, the related issues of mysticism and super consciousness that I believe are integral to the evolution of human consciousness particularly to the extent that this be consistent with the continued, emerging complexity of the universe.

There is no doubt that ecology has a role in our efforts to move into sustainability. The academic world, of which Bookchin was ultimately firmly entrenched, relies to an outrageous degree on the need to couch all thought inside of the context of the concepts, catch phrases, jargon and disciplines that came before. There is little room for new thought on its own unless it can be related to preceding thought, and also labeled in some efficient manner. Hence Bookchin’s incredible talent and energy is largely diverted to support and describe his self created labels such as social ecology largely by attacking the similar pigeon holing of other schools of thought. What seems to be missing is a constructive approach of appreciating the common elements that reflect deeper truths, or deeper alignment with Bookchin’s admitted orientation toward the concept of ever-emerging complexity. The fact is, there are broad areas of synergy, overlap and commonality that provide a creative bolster to human thought. Having to associate, even implying a relationship between the eco-philosophy of deep ecology and Nazism is a crude and destructive way to promote one’s ideas. But it is also emblematic of the psychological relationships we have attempted to draw out in the work here. Bookchin provides a clue to some of this even in his examples of societiess and cultures from which we have emerged that are void of any acknowledgement of egalitarian societies that preceded ancient Egyptian culture.

Appreciating that there are aspects of our collective history that provide important clues to how we might operate better in the context of the natural world does not mean we promote primordial-ism, nor do we reject that technical and increasing capabilities of the human mind. It does, however, acknowledge the deep conditioning of the last five thousand years from which springs even the urge to identify schools of thought with which we disagree with history’s greatest abominations. This is a fear based reaction that has its roots in the crude integration strategies of our earlier cultural evolution. We can get beyond this approach. Regretfully, Bookchin died in 1996. He boldly put forth his ideas and lived from a place of deeply creative thinking. I am thankful he is not around to critique this work.

It would be easy to get lost in an internet search of Bookchin and related thinkers. But then I would not be writing. Of course, to put forth new, creative thinking that emerges somehow, either consciously and rationally from the well of previous thought, or intuitively if you believe in that possibility, is all that anyone can do. It is perhaps as good a model of ecology as any we might consider. For the little I have read and even less that I understand of these extremely complex thinkers, there is one simplicity that jumps out over and over. That is simply that we must express individually and uniquely in the context of the whole for progress to be made. This goes back to our discussion of individuation and integration. I salute the bold cynicism of today’s bloggers, of the articulate anarchists and overwrought academics. For they bring the power of creative individual thought to its greatest expression. Too often this is at the expense of our ability to be willing and see the opportunity to incorporate this emerging thought into an integral whole. It is the integral whole that has ultimate meaning. It is the unique expression of this whole that leads to its never ending growth and evolution. No discussion of evolution would be complete without acknowledging the mystery of the creative emergence of ecological systems. No amount of critique or logical association is going to develop a picture of that-which-never was. So maybe it is a cop out, or maybe it is simply the reality that we don’t need to spend our time and energy – indeed, our love – on the rational, academic arguments that go before us and threaten to keep us in a loop of marginally constructive debate.

Might we suggest that there is a spiritual dimension to this opportunity that provides the substitute for that which used to be called faith? It is now, more effectively, called creative emergence, something that fits neatly with a long line of well-developed anarchist thinkers. They and I seem to agree on a starting point, which is local in nature. We agree on the deep roots of our current challenges in the structures and culture of hegemonic institutions. We do not espouse the possibility of these structures participating in creative change for they exist for their own survival. And even though this survival must necessarily address the longer term decline of the very ground upon which they and we survive, it would require an evolution of institutional thinking to occur before this can be addressed. Long before this happens, individual thought will evolve and the result will be the decline of these institutions and their replacement by communalistic entities that thrive on a local, though consciously interconnected basis.

The interconnection is key to understanding the difference between this limited view of the future (how can I profess that this creative emergence can’t be known, and then proceed to describe it?), and a reversion to ancient forms of civilization. Even if we have a catastrophic decline in humanity, the technical and rational evolution of the human species as it represents the leading edge of evolution of the universe here on Earth will remain as an energy and spirit. This spirit, as all spirit, never disappears, but rather remains for all time in all places to seed the continued forward movement of evolution. This interconnection builds on technical innovations that facilitate the emergence of a collective consciousness. This alone will not do. For it is the combination of this collective consciousness and the collective unconscious that together represent a bridging of the old with the new, the traditional with the creative. Despite Bookchin’s rationality, which he proclaims himself, “Social ecology is neither deep, tall, fat, nor thick. It is social. It does not fall back on incantations, sutras, flow diagrams, or spiritual vagaries. It is avowedly rational. It does not try to regale metaphorical forms of spiritual mechanism and crude biologism with Taoist, Buddhist, Christian, or shamanistic Eco-la-la. It is a coherent form of naturalism that looks to evolution and the biosphere, not to deities in the sky or under the earth for quasi-religious and supernaturalistic explanations of natural and social phenomena.”[1], Bookchin and his social ecology correctly recognize that the only way forward is through the continued cultivation of a collective human ingenuity that accepts and celebrates our emerging ‘second nature’ the one that continues to increasingly share responsibility with that which we once called God.

In the final analysis, our deepest gratitude will go out to Bookchin, not because of his cynicism, though it is this spirit that he rightly argues keeps us from a destructive denial, but for his outline of how we might proceed into a new, radical democracy that substitutes local responsibility for the continually growing governmental/corporate institutionalization.

Last week, in front of the house a opossum was hit and killed by a car. I had not known it was living in or around the house. The previous night, we had held a Modern Mystic Workshop during which we did an exercise dubbed, Acting As If The God In All Things Mattered. The purpose of this exercise is to encourage a frame of mind that is sensitive to the life connections of all beings. Perhaps some of this objective was achieved when I felt the deep pangs of regret and sadness for the opossum. There was nothing more to do except honor the feeling that I was given in response to a dead being. I buried the animal. I tried to be mindful of what and why, and how I felt. I imagined myself as a shaman offering the spirit of the opossum to the future, to our land and our home. I invited this spirit to stay with us, teach us, love and be loved by us.

Perhaps this may seem silly, but it serves a purpose for me. It serves my intention to open up my experience to other living creatures. I believe this approach differs from Bookchin’s rationality. I believe both approaches have merit and value. Indeed, our times are desperate. I appreciate understanding what there is to lose by not acting, or by acting in a manner that fosters denial, let alone cynicism and hurtfulness. Maybe my subtle, counter-intuitive strategy for achieving my own fifteen minutes of fame is through my unique Polly-Anna-ish, idealistic turnings of phrases, just as Bookchin offers flamboyance as a reaction to perhaps a perception that his valuable ideas would otherwise go unnoticed.

I have seen this same approach elsewhere. In response to the successful film and book, The Secret, an article in Spirituality and Health magazine offered the same sort of sharp critique to the softer ideas offered by the movie. I took exception then, as I do now, to this sort of criticism (see sidebar). The important issue lies within our conscious approach and intention for the work we do. Whether we intend results through creative visualization, or through disciplined service, it is the nature of the intention and its results that has moral and ethical pertinence. Creative visualization does not stop there. It responds to the chaotic churnings of the universe, selectively. It is a filter for manifesting our intent and purpose with the raw material of the energetic substance of the universe. Sure, we can discipline our selves to act in ways immediately consistent with our moral, ethical and intended outcomes. But those outcomes will still surely depend on the synergistic generosity of the universe, of that I have no doubt.

Today is Thanksgiving Day, 2007. Our house cat killed a cardinal and left it on the back stoop. My wife cleaned the three season porch for our guests and found a beautiful dragon fly that I had left there after discovering it near death sometime earlier in the Fall. I have two more burials to accomplish. These two creatures have the synergistic good fortune of meeting their next way station to eternity together. I think I’ll bring a rattle to add a sound dimension to the meditation and prayer I intend to offer over their grave.

Chapter 21 Death of Mainstream Politics

The difficulty with trying to paint a picture of a new future is that no one can see or understand it. It is a fact that if we do not have a frame of reference in which an observed object can fit, then it is not possible to even see the object. This is the case for trying to describe a future that is unattached to the current striving for satisfaction that characterizes most of western culture and the world. In order to begin to visualize a different future, a new frame is required. The frame for our current culture consists of a fear orientation that is fed by the avoidance of our shadow selves – the aspects of humanity that are not deemed worthwhile and, therefore, are disciplined against, repressed, denied and subject to constant cures. It is the repression of this aspect of ourselves that ultimately limits us from moving out of the stronghold of conditioned paradigms. There are perhaps two strong examples we could examine to try to understand this issue better, and begin to choose differently.

One example of our diverted and suppressed approach to our nature is the current state of politics. In the United States, our political system of representation has lead to a situation in which the broadest aggregation of citizens has been diverted from participation in decision-making and action-taking. Instead, consumerism, materialism and constant striving for satisfaction have replaced a deeper human need for interaction, resolution and common achievement. We can look back to our anarchist turned communalist friend, Murray Bookchin for valuable insight into both the deficiencies in the current situation and a possible theme for improvement.

Later in life, Bookchin started the Green Program Project from his home in Burlington, Vermont. In his letter of January, 1986, The Greening of Politics, Bookchin address politics: “…politics as a fairly exclusive, generally professional ized system of power interactions in which specialist whom we call “politicians” formulate decisions that affect our lives and administer these decisions through governmental agencies and bureaucrats.” Unfortunately, the development of this system of politics, with its hierarchical underpinnings, serves to remove our participation in the creative process of crafting our collective lives. Bookchin argues that our environmental problems are a result of our social hierarchies gone wild. I agree. Bookchin argues that movements that have sprung up that have the tendency to remove our focus from practical solutions, which is the restructuring of our hierarchical institutions such as politics, do not serve the higher good of moving us positively forward. As discussed previously, I disagree with this stance, particularly with the vehemence with which Bookchin attacks these movements, specifically referring to the Deep Ecology movement.

While we will return to the argument regarding the value of a more spiritual orientation to solving the world’s problems, let us draw a connection with the emotional content of Bookchin’s objections so that we can be informed by the very concept of a repressed shadow aspect of ourselves and how this aspect manifests itself in everyone no matter how articulate and intelligent they may be. While, it is my opinion that the perceived intelligence of someone is highly correlated with their emotional capacity to access deep knowledge and insight that is ultimately provided by a grand, collective unconscious, and is available to anyone that is willing and capable of connecting with it, there is nonetheless a very real manifestation of our emotional content in all we say and do.

This emotional content is a form of energy that resides in us, or alongside of our physical form. It is held energy that is passed down from generation to generation either directly, by instruction and story telling, or less directly in the form of attitudes, behaviors, fears and life objectives. I believe Bookchin’s vehemence is characteristic of his emotional energy based on his life experiences, and those of his ancestors. You might notice my own emotional energy within the words, ideas, organization and themes of this book.

Our current political system has arisen over the course of the last few centuries. In the process, our conscious memory of another political system, one in which people are constant and joyful participants, has faded from memory. Erasing this memory actually serves the current institutions. So, in the place of the highly satisfying connection and interaction that results from a locally-based political system, a different set of strivings have been substituted in the form, ultimately, of material and pleasure seeking. Unfortunately, these strivings emerge from our emotional patterns as cultures and societies and unless we can increase our conscious connection with these patterns, they are destined to continue repeating. What our current intellectual development is able to tell us, is the urgency of breaking these patterns. If this is not accomplished, they will hold us in a self-destructive pattern such that the manifestation of future evolution is in the form of a different species. Either way, a new man will emerge, whether its lineage is directly traceable to our species, or is represented by a break and the emergence, over great periods of time, of another, related-but-different species.

In my own experience I have witnessed the confusion that arises among people in the community that find themselves in lives arranged by the broader cultural influences while continuing to experience a disquieting longing for more community. Recently this was revealed by a consensus among people in my own community here in Connecticut for the need to build a community center to address this longing. My clear perception of this imagined solution is that it springs from the inability to understand the fundamental aspects of our society that have developed to keep us from greater community. In place of this understanding, we revert to our commonly understood solution of building a physical structure from which we expect increased community to flow.

The fundamental aspects that are not addressed by the construction of a community center include our continued suburbanization of the countryside in which we need automobiles to survive. James Howard Kunstler has written extensively about this issue. Our community is overshadowed by our constant presence inside of automobiles – glass and metal boxes – through which windows we perceive our neighbors. Suburbanization includes homes with attached garages, automatic door openers and rear decks to which we retire in the evening after a long commute home from a distant town in which we work. After driving long distances, perhaps cursing those that would delay us, we open the garage door without even getting out of the car, in which case we might spy our neighbor and be forced to say hello, drive into the garage and close the door behind us. We partake lunch in our foreign work towns, perhaps do some banking, all the while recognizing that we have nothing else in common with it except for the knowledge that the products at its McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts will be identical to that which we could obtain in our own towns. As a result, we seek economic development in our town by brining in outside business, in effect trying to ‘hijack’ them from competing areas to bolster our own prosperity at the cost of another’s. This serves our lack of feelings of community in two ways. First, we look outside of ourselves and our neighbors for a source of ‘prosperity’. Second, we disengage from neighboring towns because we feel we need to compete with them to be prosperous.

In Bookchin’s description of an alternative, he correctly addresses a different scenario in which we take control of our local destiny as small, engaged groups, seeking to localize economies and the sourcing of necessities closer to home. Politically, we move toward organic politics in Bookchin’s words, “a rich political culture, daily public discussion in squares, parks, street-corners, educational institutions, open lectures, clubs and the like.. People discussed politics wherever they came together, as though the were preparing themselves for the citizens’ assemblies…Such politics, in effect, was organic and ecological rather than “structural” in the top-down sense of the word. It was a continual process, not a fixed and limited “event” such as we encounter on “election days.””

This description harkens to a long ago past of which we all share dim, but real memory. That too, might be a source of criticism because surely we moved past this past in order to grow and evolve. With any traditional thinking, we need to grow out from the best aspects of it. Our development away from a local political system began a long time ago. Our memory of a previous system is severely limited because of this and because of the pervasiveness of the current system, including the power of the self-interest of the current power structure. In this analysis, it becomes clear that we need to examine laws and policy that afford the same rights to power-concentrating entities, such as governments and corporations, as are afforded to individuals. In the process, we must look to the rights inherent in other forms of life and local bio-regions as well.

The difference between a local view of the future and the distant memory of the past is in our ability to consciously connect with other localities. Bookchin puts it this way: “It remains to emphasize that such free communities did not always or necessarily dissolve into self-contained, mutually exclusive, and parochial units. They often networked with each other to coordinate their decisions in a cooperative way. They confederated…”

The meaning of ‘confederated’ is changing and in this process is reflected the evolution of human consciousness, as well as the evolution of the universe and its consciousness. It is the emerging aspect of Chardin’s ‘noospshere’ that we can begin to appreciate the opportunity to refine the meaning of politics and society in general, taking the best of our modern age and reintegrating with the best of ancient practices to yield an organic, ecological way of being.

Chapter 22 Sex

Perhaps the clearest and maybe even most appealing, entertaining aspect of our so-called institutions that we could examine in relation to the state of the world is our perception of sex. The independent film network IFC runs a series called the Indie Sex Tapes, a series aimed at looking at the role of sex in film. Among the interesting and often graphic examples featured on the show, there is a theme they return to often which is the need for our culture to become less afraid of sex by being willing to look at it, examine it and accept the wide range of tastes and behaviors that exist within it. Embedded in this theme is the question of the psychological basis for various sex practices, whether one labels them deviant or simply different from one’s own. The question might be summed up to ask if we would have this range and depth of sexual proclivities absent other cultural influences, such as the influences that keep us striving for satisfaction in all the wrong places. Secondly, we might include in our discussion the question of whether sex and love are correctly and naturally the ideal for which we should strive, or simply to aspects of our self that conveniently and for the highest social good have been lumped together (or not). Any examination of the subject quickly gets us to the subject and relationship between sex and violence.

In all cases, our initial reaction has a repressive nature because of our conditioning that these subjects do not belong in the mainstream. But kept out of the mainstream, discussion of sex, love and violence then remain more a part of our subconscious than a part of our consciousness. When relegated to this status we lose our ability to choose. The nature of our evolving consciousness is the ability to choose our circumstances and thus, ultimately, our destiny. Continued repression on an individual basis of a violent interpretation of sex will continue to manifest itself in unconscious expression in the greater world.

If we ask the question, would sexual deviancy exist if our societies were better oriented to deep human satisfaction, then a couple of other questions follow. What is deep human satisfaction? What is the purpose of asking the question about whether there is a rightful place for different sex practices?

In the first place, we have presented elsewhere in this text ideas about human satisfaction that are related to living in a more sustainable fashion in the world. The ability to move into such an organic relationship with the world stems in part from letting go of the fears that support our need to dominate nature and each other. This domination has risen out of these fears as a means of eliminating threatening circumstances in the mistaken believe that if we remove these threatening circumstances, we will find satisfaction in safety. However this is not the case. Instead of satisfaction, we find ourselves missing a key element of living in the moment. This approach to living includes the influence of synchronous events – time-related events out of the random happenings of the universe from which we consciously filter those aspects related to our intention. In so-doing, we become part creator of our life. A deep satisfaction is the result. When we are shielded from participating in life in this manner, we substitute controlling behaviors as a proxy for actual creation. These proxies are sometimes in the form of sex and violence. To the extent that our creative energies find outlet in creating our lives in the context of a random but loving, supporting universe, we will have less of an urge to release this energy in controlling behavior. In many ways this argument boils down to our feeling ability, an aspect of our selves that is repressed in current culture due to the future orientation of our strivings.

Future orientation is inherent in our fear-based dominance patterns and our consumerist and materialistic strivings. These orientations remove from us our knowledge that everything we need is available in each moment. This is a double edged sword, for if we were to truly receive and know we are receiving everything we need in each and every moment, we would have far less energy available to progress as beings. Yet, at the same time, we would be far less compulsive and far less prone to seeking satisfaction through activities that ultimately serve to cut us off from the experience of being in community with all-else. The purpose of a variety of sexual practices, as well as all creative endeavors is to experiment and experience as an aspect of individuation that can then be re-integrated with the whole, forming a more complex entity. The unifying theme of this process relates to its deeper intention. There is, at its core, a striving to evolve. We use our emerging knowledge and consciousness about the growth of the universe to help us orient to what might be an ultimate purpose. To the extent that we are able to open to this ultimate purpose, our misplaced strivings will fall away. To reiterate, this does not happen through repression of these misplaced strivings. Rather, it happens through an open acceptance of them in the context of a higher purpose.

The trends of sex and politics reflect the use of repression and control in our efforts to contain our deepest urges and find a system of governance that provides for everyone. Both systems, as they currently exist, are failing on both counts. Repressed sexuality, sex as violence, centralized political power and distracting substitutions of materialism all serve to cut us off as a collection of individuals from deep energetic experiences as spiritual beings having physical experiences. The development of our isolated egos has lead to incredible progress in our rational intelligence at the expense of other aspects of our ability to know and experience. This process has served the great benefit of our technical progress. The limitations and threats of this progress must now be acknowledged and acted upon to avoid the affiliated catastrophe unfolding in parallel. Our individuation as a species now must be reintegrated with the whole if there is to be an opportunity for further, future individuation. The symptoms of the shadow side of our progress are exemplified in our public politics and our private sexuality. At the core of each is a purpose that aligns with love, but love that is defined by its orientation to the human species and the universe as a whole. So yes, there is a reason why sex and love align. It is the very reason that we must orient all of our energy of individuation with the deepest purpose anyone of us can imagine: so that we can continue to evolve as ever-more complex reflections of the universe’s or God’s experience of itself.

If it is difficult to make this connection between spirituality and our individual right or desire to express our selves sexually, or politically, the consider for a moment that consequences of not. Spiritual by definition aligns with the deepest purpose imaginable. Absent this orientation, we find ourselves in a loop of seeking satisfaction that can never be resolved. This drives wild and crazy creative impulses that can violate that parameters of safety, love as we know, and devolve into violence, isolationism, and political power-wielding at the expense of the living Earth. Love and sex together is a choice that is driven by an intention to serve our highest purpose. It is only through our conscious choosing of how we channel the energy of sex that it can be steered toward serving sustainability. To do this, we must open to our shadow selves completely and with the purposeful orientation of evolving as spiritual beings.

Chapter 23 Anger

Much of our current motivation as people and cultures seems to flow out of the energy of anger. This begs the questions: what are we angry with? Where did it come from? What would we do differently with it? I have the same question for myself as I do for my eight year old daughter. Is there a source, a root of this anger that we can access in order to bring to light information that might help us transform or transcend it? Perhaps the energy of anger is always with us as a compliment to other, more pleasant emotions. I believe that in the United States, there is much repressed anger. This energy seeks resolution even when repressed. As evolving consciousness, we can recognize the opportunity to elucidate this anger and bring to it a measure of choice as to its resolution. This can only be done by accessing the root of the anger.

In John Ruskan’s book, Emotional Clearing, the author works with a method of feelings work intended to allow the experience of emotions through feeling. This process of allowing and feeling is thought to promote the resolution of held emotional energy. If not otherwise released, this energy continues to seek release in two ways. First, in the form of karma, this energy continuously creates circumstances in which it calls itself forth so that it can be experienced. In the case of anger, if not released in some manner, this energy will ‘attract’ or lead to circumstances over and over that call forth an angry response. Depending on the resolution of that secondary experience, the angry energy to be may returned to a suppressed or repressed state, or it may be temporarily dissipated. If the origin of the anger is never addressed, this pattern can repeat for a life time. The second way this energy influences is us as a filter through which we experience. This filter prevents other-than-angry information to reach us. It is a process connected with our brains seeking evidence to justify our beliefs.

The pain of these two scenarios can be overwhelming. To have repeated anger-creating circumstances arise, or to simply be subjected to perceptions of angry circumstances continuously is lopsided and exhausting. Our response is to protect our self from these feelings. Congruent with this reaction is the cultural conditioning requiring us to channel angry in a socially acceptable manner. If not given the opportunity to get to the origin of the emotion, or choose the response to it, we find ourselves in a state that is incapable of resolution and, thus, satisfaction. Our strivings fill in to replace deeper satisfaction.

I recently sat down with our daughter Cassandra to discuss her angry reaction to simple requests like ‘pick up your room’ or ‘do you homework’. Cassandra is adopted. She came to our home as a three year old foster child. She was adopted at age six. Despite our best efforts to provide a loving home, with a balanced mix of control that she can exercise, while still maintaining reasonable efforts at growth and organization, Cassandra is often the victim of unconscious anger. When we sat down most recently, I asked her to try to get to the root of the issue. One can’t be sure if a genuine effort by an eight year old fits with our own definition of a genuine effort as a fully conscious adult. However, she did come up with some very interesting information.

The information that Cassandra accessed in this particular session is related to my work in sustainability and our activity as a family with a local Earth Charter community. We often attend the monthly meetings where films and discussion about the state of the Earth are encountered. Cassandra related to me her deep concern about the fate of the Earth as the reason, the root, of her anger. I was momentarily stunned. Of course the material presented at an Earth Charter meeting would be difficult for a child. There is much talk about an Earth in decline. Children are just starting their lives. Hearing scenarios of doom and gloom elicits fear. Things that make us fearful also typically anger us. Fear is not a pleasant feeling. That which causes it can, therefore, become the target of anger.

If we do not understand the source of this anger, it is available in unforeseen ways. Many people can move through life with out ever recognizing the sources of deep emotional feelings. This is true for all Americans. We have been taught a sanitized history of the development of our society in North America, but we also know to some extent that it was not accomplished without the destruction of Indian cultures and much of the vast natural environment that was present and lived upon in a sustainable manner when we arrived. This anger has been repressed in us. Moreover, our current national stance is one of aggression in the world. This, in response to the fear engendered by a declared war-on-terror in response to the gruesome event of September 11, 2001 around which there is much controversy as to the fore-knowledge and response or lack thereof to this potentiality.

There is deep confusion, concern and fear in everyone on Earth as a result of these issues and other similar ones. There is anger generated in response to these feelings. If we do not open up to these feelings on a pure, fundamental level, they will continue to haunt us in various incarnations. This unresolved energy manifests in the need to dominate nature and each other. It manifests in the form of pleasure seeking, materialism and consumerism. It is characterized by denial and a future orientation of salvation promoted be organized religions. People are susceptible to this message of faith in an all-powerful being, and some future epiphany particularly if they feel despair and hopelessness in the face of subconscious feelings.

By bringing these issues to the surface, to light and consciousness, we can empower ourselves and our families. My daughter has been coached for a long time to be willing to examine her feelings and try to understand where they come from. On the day we had the conversation about her feelings of fear and anger for the Earth, she did incredible work, of which I couldn’t be prouder. We talked about the energy of anger. We talked about using this energy in constructive ways and the need to know from whence the anger stems in order to direct the energy effectively. For Cassandra, she felt immediate relief from the anger she mistakenly thought her parents were creating in her because she began to understand it as simply a reflection of her own deep concern for the animals and plants of the world. We talked about how this energy can be transformed to effective action.

Moreover, we talked about the need to allow this anger. To come to know it and experience it because of the dangers of repression. Repression not only prevents the angry energy from resolving, it also keeps us from all feelings including the corollary to anger, joy. I presented Cassandra with an old AA coin and offered her this idea to work with: anger and joy are two sides of the same coin. Whenever she felt anger, I suggested she could have gratitude for it; see it as the energy of life. I encouraged her to see anger as one side of a coin. Neither side can exist without the other. When we open with gratitude to the whole coin, and not just one side of the coin, we transcend our feeling selves without unintended repression. We move into a place of fire – of spirit and life energy congruent with our deepest passions, and we improve our ability to do good work.

This book is an example of this process. But more importantly, this discussion again brings us around to the nature of the work here. It is not about specific fixes. These are unknown to me. Yet the truth that speaks to me is the process. That as we reveal our true selves and a coherent expression of our life energy, we will move into solutions by definition. I mean by definition because coherent thought and action are aligned with more than our personal desires that are so colored by our energetic, emotional filters. To transcend them, and indeed, in transcending them, we access deeper, universal patterns with which to cohere. If we are truly doing this, our actions will support nature, support life on Earth; support universal evolution.

Chapter 24 Simplicity

It is as simple as this. We are seeking to evolve to a new level, a level to which we have not risen ever before. This is nothing new in the way of the world, in the way of the universe. It is perfectly aligned with the way things go. We do not need to make a big deal out of it, yet it is to this that we must turn our minds fully. Our ability to know history informs our perception of the future. But this is an illusion of projection. We study the habits of denial to strip away remnants of the past that would keep us from seeing the present clearly. Clear experience of the present can lead us into the creative response of the future. It is the way to unprecedented being. This way of being is needed now to proceed into the future.

Our key to this future is in becoming fully present to the present. In this stop hiding from truth and truth comes to us. There is no practical side to this. There is only the simple truth; an ideal that is the same for everyone everywhere, yet unique to every element of the universe. It is unique too, in that it is constantly changing. It is this supple energy from which emerges everything that bends with the truth. If we choose to bend with it, then we shall move in the flow of the universe toward another destiny, one that can not be understood, but one that will survive for the next incarnated realm. There is no need to further articulate the alternative.

Many are adept at analyzing and articulating the looming alternative to our fuller embodiment of the universe. Many great rational and intelligent minds have spent their days chronicling the history of our abuse, the facts and causes of our past and the insidious influence of this unfoldment. The justification for an undesirable outcome is manifold. Yet the characteristics of opening into the unknown of a desirable outcome are considered unworthy of our fullest psychic attention.

What would each of us do tomorrow to move into a different reality that would allow a more congruent path for the human race and for the remaining species of the world? In the idealistic sense, what and how would we change to move toward this new reality rather than resist it? Here are some suggestions:

1. Meditate – Meditation is helpful for releasing our attachment to our perceptions and the constant influence of our thinking mind on our interaction with the broader manifested world. Whether these influences show up as emotional held-energy, behavior patterns, strong beliefs or simply filters that prevent a whole experience, we shape our reality constantly. Meditating is practice for releasing these influences. We are capable of receiving billions of bits of information through our senses in any given moment. Our brain is only capable of accessing the smallest fraction of this information. That which becomes useful to us through our brain is highly filtered. There is no amount of training, therapy, or unlearning that we can do, that would alleviate this. In fact, it is a core aspect of the duality of existence. We must influence the experience of the present moment, which is all there is, with a perception of time. From the application of this perception of time stems all other conditioned thought. In meditation, we go deeper into the present moment, dropping the influences of the imagined past and projections of the imagined future. In the process, we become available to a literal quantum leap in our experience of being alive. This occurs as we drop the filters driven by our past conditionings while, at the same time, releasing the hold on experience that our minds has. In the place of this conditioned mind, arises a fuller, more capable, nimble mind that comprises our body and its feelings and sensory data, our spirit and its life force energy, and our mental capacity and its emotions, thoughts and sensory interpretations.

2. Remove Shields – The shields we use to protect our selves are legion. They include physical shields such as shoes and clothes, durable shelters and metal and glass boxes with wheels, to psychic shields that include all of our mental gymnastics to cope with living. Both types of shields are coping mechanisms that we have been taught we need. We have lost sight of the dual aspect of these mechanisms in that they isolate us from being in concert with universe while protecting us. To know protection, we must know vulnerability. If we perceive the tools and progress of our minds as one-sided, all beneficent constructs, then we deny the dual aspect of these elements of living. By recognizing the constraining nature of these protective devices, we can become mindful, conscious, of how they are deployed. We can choose the when and where of them. We can use them to protect ourselves and shed them to remember our vulnerable yet life giving connection with everything. So go barefoot, get naked. Sleep under the stars. Walk and seek out human-scale activities. Bicycle. Look for behavior patterns and then ask, does this serve in this moment? Look for emotional patterns and be willing to simply know them. Let the rest take care of itself, for by simply seeing, things will change. Check your thoughts frequently, asking if each is based on a strongly held belief. Ask if that belief can be released so as to more fully experience life.
3. Orient to the Essence of Your Being – While this may sound frightfully new age, it actually recognizes the opportunity we each have to bring authentic energy to our daily lives. Each of us has a unique experience of being physical manifestations of energy. Each of us recognizes this for what it is with a unique awareness. Each of us replies to this experience with a unique creative impetus. When we align our experience and our response, we bring great power to bear. We have all seen this in the accomplishments of great men. We recognize the greatness is achieved through an effective focus that is not at the expense of everything else, but because of it., Creating congruence in our lives yields coherent being-ness. This is not simply a state of non-action, as the word being might imply, but an active state of being-ness in which our creative response is able to be released as creative action. Our action increases with effectiveness to the extent that we allow it to align with deep motivations and purpose. Releasing belief and expectation while still taking forward action allows real progress. Otherwise we will find ourselves caught between to opposing forces; the pull of our desires and the pull of our beliefs. If we release desire into intention and purpose, and cut away from past beliefs, we can move creatively into the future.

4. Allow for Sex and Love – Our sexual energy springs from a deep past. It is the energy of the earth giving way to a human expression. It comes from the splitting of cells and the pull of reproduction in support of a great unfolding. It is not love and love is not it. We are taught love, but it is never a complete lesson. Our minds desire full knowledge of love and sex, but we can have neither. In this desire we strive for experiences of both to fill the gap.

From our earliest times as humans, we are taught love be the examples around us, by the behavior of our parents and our friends. We are told that the attitude of brothers or sisters is love even though it may seem very different from what we would have thought loved looked like. We must look at our experiences as cumulative lessons in love. Our earth energy expressed as sexual drive springs from an ancient connection to as of the life that has gone before us on Earth. Meanwhile, our understanding of love comes from above. It is heaven’s energy that can not be fully known by our physical experience, only progressed toward.

As we increase the complexity of our understanding of love, we incorporate other aspects of our being into it. The sexual aspect is but one of these opportunities. We allow for sex and love together in order to move into a higher order of our self. This higher order represents our continuation on the path of evolution consistent with the ever increasing experience of the universe of itself in greater and greater complexity. We allow for one to incorporate the other while recognizing that neither must abide the other. They can stand alone, but they can not achieve greater expression until the are able to exist together. So this is the opportunity we have to move our selves as individuals along a path consistent with sustainability. As we move our selves, so moves the human race, the living Earth and the universe.

5. Study Sustainability – The subject of sustainability is unprecedented. At one time, it was inherent in our existence when we were but minor players in a wild world. But that has changed and in our success as a species, we have risen to a level of God-like capabilities. From this, we must begin to think as God. Thinking as God is not the same as thinking as people. We can open to the idea that our minds are not fully constituted by our brains. Our minds includes all aspects of our being including consciousness that comes from places unknown. We wonder at our dreams and ponder the source of our imagination. For some, such as writer’s we might sit at a keyboard and simply ask our fingers to begin moving. That which flows is difficult to describe. It represents the workings of our brains, yet the process seems to involve removing our brains, or large parts of them, from the process. So let our musing about sustainability have the same open, creative quality; allow that there is a higher purpose that is quite specific to our present time on Earth. It is the chance to ponder with our entire being and being-ness – our static experience and our active response – that which sustainability is, that which it will be in the eons to come.

The web site, www.SustainableTable.com, offers this definition of sustainability: “The ability to provide for the needs of the world’s current population without damaging the ability of future generations to provide for themselves.” They go on to define “sustainable” as a process that can be repeated, but in which the resources required are available into the indefinite future “without generating negative environmental effects, without causing waste products to accumulate as pollution, and without compromising the wellbeing of workers or communities.”

Studying sustainability means raising awareness. Fran Korten, the publisher of YES! Magazine, in the summer 2007 edition, says, “Global warming is not the only topic on which the public is moving beyond denial. This is a great time for ideas big enough to match the scale of the problems.” She is talking about increased activism around issues related to environmental health, war and violence, corporate roles in policy and health care challenges. These issues frame the opportunity to shift to sustainability. There is an inseparable bond between each individual’s inner state and global challenges. Our progress toward sustainability relies on change across the entire range from our own inner worlds to their manifestation outside of ourselves.

The term “sustainability” does not offer a clear, universally accepted definition but rather suggests a philosophy, a way of life. To that end, we work toward defining sustainability in pertinent and meaningful ways that can lead to action. This might include developing a vision, as presented elsewhere in this text, to help clarify characteristics of desired future states in the context of fundamental principles of the continuation of our species and universal evolution. This work might then yield strategic themes that would offer a meaningful roadmap for action.

Chapter 25 Key Elements of Sustainability

5 key elements sum up the essence of sustainability. These elements represent the characteristics of a system of relationships that reflect earthly bounty and a satisfying quality of life. They inform us as we sponsor creative action toward that future.

· Love – We are all connected at the deepest level, which in turn is a reflection of the cosmic inter-relationship of all things. Through quantum physics, even religion, spirituality and science are coming together. This understanding helps us transcend the ego-centricity – the sense of separation – that arises from our evolved consciousness. Ego-centricity is a result of our ability to be conscious of our own consciousness. Experiencing love at this most fundamental level opens a channel for creative solutions to emerge that can lead us to an organic relationship with other living things. In turn, we are rewarded with an experience of love that is deeper than that which is provided by our ego-centric selves. The two become mutually reinforcing.

· Intention – Moving toward greater sustainability includes recognizing our ability to orient our efforts to an intended outcome. Being sustainable, correspondingly, means recognizing the power of our intentions and choosing to align them with the deeper truths of the interconnected living world, and the broadest comprehension of the universe and its history. Intention is the basis of design. Sustainable design, then, becomes the stepping stone for applying technology in a new way that leads to regeneration rather than degradation. When we incorporate a sustaining relationship in our design efforts, we will have brought the power of our intellect to bear on the problem of the current absence of a sustainable intention.

· Diversity – Healthy eco-systems require a robust variety of components to fill niches, minimize waste and fully use the energy of the system. Differentiation is the expression of ever new possibilities coming into physical existence to do this. Our current systems of monoculture are incongruent with natural diversity. The reality of the current extinction event is reduced diversity. Such a reduction reduces the life energy available to the planet. Considered as a living entity itself, Earth or Gaia is thus dying. Enhanced diversity representative of an evolving system, and is thus a hallmark of a sustainable system.

· Inter-Connection – Connections minimize entropy and allow the life energy embodied in diversity to be most effective at offsetting the natural tendency toward entropy. In this paradigm, waste equals food, a concept offered by William McDonough and Michael Braumgart in their book Cradle to Cradle. This idea represents a significant shift in our current approach to resource use that results in useless waste output inaccessible to other living systems. The current approach is ultimately rooted in our disconnection with the broader living systems. We do understand how the natural world embodies the recycling of waste. We just haven’t realized we are subject to this pattern, ultimately. Our perception that we must dominate nature to satisfy our needs is largely a result of this disconnection and why we have reached an unsustainable point in evolution. Restoring inter-connections with the rest of the living world by evolving beyond our current level of consciousness will open us greater sustainability.

· Abundance – Inside of the perceived constraints of our earthly resources, there is a natural state of limitless, productive connections. This is a paradoxical opportunity. It requires that we release aspects of our disconnection – dominant thinking, scarcity, fear, tribalism, nationalism, rationalism – in order to develop the Zen concept of ‘clear mind’. Such a clear state then becomes the fertile ground for true abundance. We become grounded in the unlimited possibility of abundance, and we act from a being-ness that recognizes unlimited creativity as the leading edge of true abundance.

These key elements, when integrated into our schemes and plans, desires and efforts, and minds and hearts, open another world of possibility yet to be fully tapped. This new view represents continuing evolution of consciousness as a deeply philosophical underpinning for practical steps toward sustainability. By doing this, seemly intractable global problems will begin to resolve. We will be rewarded by an increase in the vibrancy of our communities and the quality of our living.

Chapter 26 Times of Transition

Men often have mid-life crises during which time they try to sort out the role of women in their lives. Some will encounter a woman who seems to embody the three female archetypes, our anima, that we carry around with us. They are the role of mother, lover and female wisdom. When encountered in the form of one person, this can be a powerful combination because it speaks to us on all levels. Women have corollary experiences, but in recent history these have not been as pronounced as the representative male mid-life crisis because of the cultural role of women, and because women are more oriented to the world within. Nonetheless, most people of either gender can relate in some way to the idea of a mid-life crisis during which time we begin to ask questions and seek answers to the deeper meaning of our lives. This is a time in which we subconsciously seek to reconcile our counter-gender identity.

These periods can be disruptive and uncomfortable. They can lead to riskier behavior, out of the box thinking, profound changes and damage to existing relationships. Yet these cathartic periods also offer beautiful, uplifting stories of discovery, coming of age and self-actualization.

Much the same can be said of our current time on Earth. Just as a mid-life crisis can represent a story of resurrection and new life, so can the story of our current great turning. Collectively we can revisit the story of Easter and begin to see new, pertinent information in it with regard to the awakening needed to ensure the survival of human life on the planet. The archetype of crucifixion, resurrection and new life informs our lives as individuals and as a species.

While in the past we have joked about male mid-life crises, and found them to be reasons for resentments, anger, jealousy and concern, we can also begin to recognize the seeds of change in a mid-life crisis. These experiences are emblematic of the change needed among the cultures and institutions of the Earth if we are going to create an evolved society that can survive. We can, thus, learn from our personal stories.

For some that experience mid-life crises, there will not be growth. These people may be too protected or too repressed. Others perhaps are evolved beyond the need for such an experience. For the vast majority, there are leaps of growth that occur during our lifetime, and the mid-life event can be a doozie. This process has been described in Daniel Levison’s book, Seasons of a Man’s Life where he attempts to look at our transitional phases in a larger life-frame. Levison points out, there is a long history of observation of these phenomena. Primitive societies used rituals and masks to emphasize the significance of our developed personas and their transformation at various, key points in life. African and Greco-Roman civilizations used similar masks extensively in rituals of passage.

In our culture, the experience of a mid-life event most often is treated as a comical, sometimes sad event where someone, typically a man, has suddenly changed, gone off the deep end, and made major, often harsh changes in their life. There is another version of this story though, one in which we find the breaking of the old persona to be an opportunity of growth rather than a reason to act out unconscious patterns. Unfortunately the stronger the persona, the more likely the person is to succumb to repression and reliance on old patterns rather than opening to new. The strength of the persona is related to success; the more successful a pattern is, the more ingrained it is. Cultural definitions of success are highly influential. These implied definitions determine our work patterns and strivings, and also become responsible for keeping us from moving into creative, positive change. Creative positive change is repressed, but the energy generated by the mid-life event is not. Eventually this energy manifests as negative or unplanned behavior with the person in question falling back on ingrained habits of denial and rationalization to justify unconsciously motivated action.

My own experience with these mid-life changes has been a combination of acting out and positive growth. Fortunately the net result has been an opportunity for new life that is oriented to deeper purpose and personal values. The changes that occurred, and the resulting experiences, have led to a more satisfying life where various roles and responsibilities have moved into greater congruence. This is still an unfinished story – it continues to unfold in uncertainty. Yet, simply becoming willing to live with less certainty has opened my life up to synchronicities that otherwise would not have been available. This in turn has led to my own version of fulfillment of the pull toward greater complexity.

Chapter 27 Reflection

In reflecting on the pattern of life changes, I imagined what it might be like to look back with the perspective of someone passing over into spirit. How would I integrate the lessons learned? What did I take from my mid-life experience? How did the process of writing a book that sought to reconcile individual spiritual challenges with the global challenge of sustainability affect me?

As I lay dying, clarity overtook me not unlike moments of clearness that had been granted from time to time during my life. Moments of grace that, with age and experience, I was gradually able to appreciate while they were occurring. This time it was different. It lingered and did not flit away as in the past, like a butterfly on a summer day. Instead this clarity made itself known as the source of my life, as the deeper consciousness that would carry on as my body made its way out of this incarnation and into the next. I saw my birth into a family, a line of generations with many branches, each with their own characteristics, energetic patterns, conditionings and beliefs. These patterns had lasted because they helped my ancestors survive. I inherited them for better or worse. Some are still applicable; others no long pertinent.

I inherited this energetic footprint of my ancestors and went into the world with it. For what purpose? Of course, for the purpose I gave it, but more so, to satisfy the pull of eternity that is the Creator expressing himself. I was an artist and my inherited energy patterns were my tools. My life was the canvas. What a masterpiece I had created!

For the first half of life, almost unbelievably, I had worked with these patterns and created a painting of unquantifiable beauty. Unknowingly had I created this, simply dancing with the patterns given to me and allowing them to unfold into being. Perhaps when I was one year old, I had felt some abandonment and even jealousy with the birth of my first sister. I certainly must have had feelings that included warmth and gratitude for the companionship of a sibling, someone to travel with. But I had been doted on by my mother as a first born. There was a sense of loss as her attention suddenly was split from me to encompass my new sibling.

At my young age, mixed feelings were not yet something I understood and the confusion stayed with me for a long time (writing about them now is the beginning of dealing with them). My sense of companionship with my sister was to be short-lived. At the age of three, another sister was born. Shortly thereafter I manifested a physical ailment: an intestinal obstruction, a constriction in the digestive tract. Perhaps I wanted attention?

I was forever cognizant of my flawed body after that. This must have challenged my sense of The Almighty. There was grief, sadness and anger in response to the burden of my imperfection. This is the mind of a child. I may have experienced some guilt. The medical condition was stressful, for me and for my parents. There was cost associated with it, many doctor visits, the hospital stay, the surgery. I was unaware of any of this consciously, but, years later, I wondered about how it made me feel in relation to how it made them feel. People or things that make a person feel guilty usually are resented as well. This, then, is a source of anger that bubbled beneath my consciousness for a long time.

My father I do not remember filling any of this void, not for lack of love, but for his obligations that kept him from me due to his need to work, his belief about this in addition to the necessity of it, and also his own ingrained pattern of emotional isolation that I know came from his father and before.

It seems I have been offered multiple opportunities over the course of my life to deal with the mixed feelings of love, companionship, loss, attention and guilt. As I now transcend the duality of life during this transition from body to spirit, I can only smile at the irony.So as I grew from a baby to a child, there emerged patterns that would dominate for much of my life; patterns that included fear of disapproval and frustration with communication issues. I don’t know where these came from. The need for positive support fits the definition of narcissism. William O. Roberts, Jr. writes in Crossing the Soul’s River, “Narcissists spend their lives trying to get people to mirror back approval. [They] have thousands of tentacles, thousands of sensors. And all these sensors are constantly working to pick up signs of approval”

From where did this need for approval come? I have worked at trying to understand the dynamics of this need. Did I not receive approving messages in childhood? Was there a lot of judging or criticism? Was I embarrassed or humiliated during formative years? Trauma can take many forms and even the most ‘normal’ childhoods can be loaded with it. I do not remember my childhood as especially difficult.

In experiencing such a profound mid-life experience, I have tried to find an explanation. As with many things, there is no clear answer, only degrees. And for the most part, the reasons are not all that important. Yes, it helps to understand, but what shall I do with it today? Forward we go, into the great unknown of personal growth. Guide me, oh Creator, spirit guides, universal energies. Rather than hide in my early patterns, help me might twist every good drop out of this life.

In kindergarten I fell in love with a beautiful girl named Yvonne. She moved away at some point, that year or the next. I remember feeling disappointment, but this was a childhood crush. What does a five year old know about falling in love? Yet even today there remains a feeling of longing for the affection of that girl. It is not something I acted on at that age, only thought about in my mind. Thus in my quest for approval an attachment to fantasy over reality was spawned.

Everyday in fourth grade, one boy would play America the Beautiful or the national anthem on the piano. It was always the same boy because apparently no one else could play or play as well. Often the teacher would ask, “Does anyone else want to play?” One day I raised my hand. “I’d like to play.”

“Ok, you can play tomorrow.” He said. I went home and reported to my mother that I was to play America the Beautiful the next day on the piano.

“How will you do that, you don’t know how to play the piano?” She said.

“We have an organ and you know how to play. Can’t you teach me?” I replied with unfettered confidence.

“I can’t teach you in one evening”, was my mother’s solemn reply.

I said, “I have to do this, I can’t back out. It would be too embarrassing.” My mother tried to teach me. We made a chart that could be opened above the keyboard to show me where the notes are located. I had a piece of music that somehow I was supposed to use to let me know where and when to put my fingers. Like the Monty Python skit, “How to do it”, the idea was, if I just put my fingers on the keyboard in the right place at the right time, according to the music that was translated by the fold out chart, I would play America the Beautiful and all would be well.

When I concluded that not honoring my commitment would be embarrassing, I failed to appreciate the fact that humiliation was actually quite a bit further along the scale of emotional intensity. So instead of realizing my mistake, I attempted to play the song, but could not. I had the mind of a child. It was deeply and forever impressed by this experience.

Even though I feel like weeping while writing this, I realize how many times in my life the exact same feelings of failing in front of the class have come up. I am fortunate to be staring at the abyss at this moment and so am able to see the bigger picture. It is indeed a beautiful piece of art that has been created with these energetic experiences

Yvonne Johnson in her moving book, Stolen Life tells about deep, intense childhood wounding. In her story, told to writer Rudy Wiebe, Johnson eventually finds resurrection in telling her story. She finds gratitude for these formative experiences and for the voice that it ultimately gives her. In this same spirit, I can reflect on my own childhood

‘Thank you Creator. Hiaye, hiaye hiaye. Thank you for allowing me to manifest as an aspect of you. To be constrained by this physical body and these emotions that I might know the experience of something other than my essence as pure spirit – as an extension of you. Thank for allowing me the honor of helping you to know yourself through this human experience. Were it not for the darkness you have created for us here, we but would not know our selves as pure light. Were it not for death, we would not know life. Were it not for birth, we would not know the glory of the eternal nature of our consciousness.

I remember the fifth and sixth grades as a mixture of wanting to be noticed, wanting good things to come my way, but feeling small and unnoticed. I became aware of my escapes into fantasy when I entered junior high school. Here I began experiencing a broader world, older students, kids from other towns and socio-economic backgrounds. Our elementary school was in a rather affluent part of town. I had been sheltered among the sons and daughters of doctors, lawyers and dentists. In junior high school, there were kids of much different backgrounds.

It was about this time that I began thinking about what other people thought of me, and about girls. I remember feeling quite inadequate. I didn’t have the right jeans or the right sneakers. I made new friends and remember spending a lot of time fantasizing about which girls could be my girlfriend. I had a list of them, perhaps a favorite and then some back-ups. But I was never, ever able to act on any of these feelings. For a long time I was paralyzed with fear.

I do not remember home life at this time, cannot remember interactions with my parents or sisters. Recently I reviewed my school records and saw that my mother was quite involved in my school progress during the early years through fourth or fifth grade. In first and second grade, there were notes on the back of report cards from the teacher to my mother and back again saying, “I know Michael can do better”, and “I know he can too”. After the sixth grade there were far fewer notes and my impression was that my mother was less vigilant.

At some point during high school I had an English teacher that taught us about dependent and independent clauses. Suddenly my stunted writing opened up as I learned to create sentences of varying length. Of all my teachers, this is what I remember most. I feel a sense of gratitude to this particular teacher for this simple lesson

As the oldest child, there was the initial bond with my mother that was then diluted, at least in my mind, by the arrival of my sisters. My mother’s mother also lived with us as we grew up, dying when I was a senior in high school. While my father worked a lot, consistent with his upbringing, values, fears and conditionings, I was growing up as the only male amidst four women, my maternal grandmother, mother, and two sisters.

For a long time I tried to understand how my relationship with my mother influenced me, particularly with regard to my fears and fantasy. I realized there was a great deal of controlling and judgment, not to mention the sense of love removed. Yet it never seemed to add up to the whole picture. Another piece was the realization that my sisters influenced me as well. I remember they often complained that I, as the oldest, was favored. This resulted in a sort of back lash of diminished support and positive messages that seems to relate to my fear of disapproval from women growing up. This dysfunction would overflow into all areas of my life.

There were other girlfriends after that, both in high school, college and beyond. The common theme was one of arrogant, self reliance. I was most comfortable proving I could leave them at any time. There were hundreds of odysseys to bars to drink for the physical pleasure and to look for the perfect woman, or at least one-night stand. The successes were few and far between and the great lasting impression of this too-long phase of my life as one of frustration and overindulgence.

My marriage came late, at about thirty-five. I met my wife in a bar on St. Patrick’s day. I had tapped into a rescue syndrome with women, reducing the possibility of rejection, judgment or disapproval. The trouble with this approach is once rescued, the need is relieved. The emotional foundation of the relationship erodes.

During the rescue we were both satisfied. I gave Janice the attention she desired, she gave me the feelings of approval I desired. As our mutual life progressed and we experienced a measure of success, far less rescuing was needed. In fact, we didn’t always agree. This recreated situations of disapproval. Eventually, having not addressed this core issue for so long, I was catapulted me into a mid-life experience of immense intensity.

As a result, I questioned my personas, my mask. I saw that despite the modest successes, I had lost a sense of integrity. In order to achieve the definition of success to which I ascribed, I worked in a career and job that did not inspire me. I could not look myself in the eyes for they were covered by the masks I had created in pursuit of satisfaction and a definition of success that I had not created. I was disconnected from my core. Somehow I learned that the masks needed to be removed.

We have to see these masks for what they cover – our shadow self, the wounds of our early lives or even previous lives that we carry with us as energetic patterns. “At midlife we men are invited to stop the charade. Visit our wounds, not only the physical ones but also the psychological and spiritual ones. Learn from them…. Our wounds are the places were the self is open to the world.” So writes Bill Roberts in Crossing the Soul’s River

So this is where we live for a time, at the edge of our wounds. What happens next remains to be seen. We can learn from our personal process. We can use this information to help humanity. This requires a certain willingness to live with uncertainty. It is not known how long we will live here. Whether we will run out of money or inspiration. It may be that the conditions here are unsustainable and we will have to abandon this wild edge for the safety of retreat into a less ambitious place. For the moment, let us resist these thoughts. Better yet, perhaps we can simply work through them. Observing, acknowledging, but not reacting to them. What comes next? That part of the story is not written yet.

Chapter 28 Energy and Natural Resources

The true energy and natural resources picture is obscured by the growth underpinnings of our current economic system and the institutional will to maintain the status quo. In the absence of answers to looming, intractable problems, those that can influences information, events and beliefs in order to strengthen their situations, will. All of the challenges to the planet’s carrying capacity ultimately can be traced back to a set of assumptions made as the foundation of a global capitalist system including a lack of acknowledgement of limits to the Earths’ carrying capacity. We have chose to disregard the finite nature of population, resource depletion and pollution. As William Catton so profoundly illustrates, this situation is analogous to yeast in a vat of grape juice. We are in the middle of a human population bloom, an irruption event. In wine making, this is a normal course of events in which the yeast exuberantly multiplies and feeds on the sugar in the grape juice. Ultimately, the byproducts of the yeast’s digestion and the depletion of food cause it to completely die off.

The economic assumptions underlying our way of life were brought about largely in good faith by the people and institutions of the last few hundred years as they strived for safety, prosperity and a secure destiny. They were first demonstrated by humans when we developed tools to extend the capability of our limbs. Catton’s effective term for this is Prosthetic Man. Prosthetic Man developed capabilities far in excess of his humbler ancestor, Homo Sapien. Catton uses the term Homo Colossus to describe the species of human that exists today in the developed world. This term addresses the unique ability of this species to access and devour resources. Note that, from an empirical point, there is a finite limit to the stored resources of the Earth. Despite our technological prowess, Homo Colossus is capable of using resources at an unprecedented rate. Its success is ultimately its demise. Many have long argued the inevitability of natural resources to support infinite economic and population growth. Despite contrary arguments of substitution and technical innovation, the bottom line still exists in which our tendency toward entropy will prevail with regard to the stored resources on the Earth. Sustainability means living within the constraints of the flow of solar energy available to us. Reversing entropy is as likely as the invention of a perpetual motion machine.

As we ponder the point sustainability, it is worth noting that the sun has about 5 billion years of life left in it before it expands into a red giant and raises the temperature of the Earth beyond that in which humans can exist. Given this ultimatum, we might return to the deeper philosophical purpose of debating human die-off version a ‘soft’ landing. To what end to we struggle with these issues? Is there anything we can truly do that will affect the outcome? A soft landing is not only preferable, but it might mean the difference between some from of survival and none. It might also just suck us deeper into an irreversible course of extinction. There is little to assume we have a choice between the two. However, as we have discussed, there are tools and process to which we can turn. These include learning from history to project a future, holding an intention and orienting our global psychic energy around a theme that recognizes the immediate need to regenerate the inter-connected diversity of the living world. There is only one belief that will work. That is, that we can all have the life and the world we want and that nothing will get in the way of this desire if we simply open up to it fully and authentically.

A deep bitter debate rages around the world about energy and resource depletion. Many Americans have concern, but understand it to be their right to ensure that the distinctly America way of life is first secured before spending energy and money on pressing situations around the world. Unfortunately, there is a very real threat to this way of life. The approach of securing our own lifestyle at the expense of others around the world will come back fiercely in an economic collapse of the service-oriented, shell economy that has grown up around loose credit practices here in the US. While we may temporarily stave off the peak oil situation in order to keep the cars running, elsewhere weather related events continue to wreck havoc on developing countries. Soon the connection between the goods produced in these countries with the flow of consumption in America will become apparent. We will begin to be drawn into the swirling chaos of resource depletion-related economic stress.

Meanwhile, the morality of our actions have been cleverly disguised in the form of spreading democracy and toppling despots. The enormous death toll in Iraq is an abomination. If we for a moment shift our contemplation of individual karma to the karma of a nation, it is scary indeed. We realize that the national emotional issues deep below the surface have been rising into our reality for over a century with imperial activities around the world in the form of both military and economic dominance. It is not hard to see the deep seated fear that supports these tactics and allows us to rationalize abhorrent moral actions.

The questions always returns to what shall we do? We are a minority in the world. There are far more people globally, in far worse shape. For many of them, their fates are even more short-lived than our own. Yet it is still immoral to pretend that spreading democracy is an acceptable address of the global economic and environmental problems. If the rich people of the world continue to enjoy a happy, abundant life style, does that justify the misery visited on the remaining 90% of the world population? In the context of 5 billion years of remaining sunlight, how would we have this story go if we were able to fashion a moral global vision? How do we draw the line between survival of the fittest and a reverence for the sacredness of all life?

We can use the five elements of sustainability for guidance. Love can orient thinking in this matter. When in doubt, we can evaluate situations with regard to love. This of course will not be sufficient to sway fear-based systems. Scientifically, we can prove, however, the correlation of diversity and inter-connection on the viability of the biosphere. From there, we can also rely on our scientific capacity to illustrate the importance of a vibrant biosphere and its direct impact on the well-being of even the rich. It will prove more difficult but infinitely more effective to outlaw waste and mandate the manufacture of only products that have a full cradle to cradle life cycle, one in which the used products feed another cycle in a regenerative process. Viewing Earth resources as immediately finite, in which our only feed stocks are the use of existing products, would go a long way to stemming the resource depletion tide.

Renewable energy needs also to be mandated. Here the tip of the iceberg of the role of capitalistic assumptions begins to emerge. We do not have time to let ‘the market decide’. Despite what we may wish to think about the unbiased nature of the market, it does not have a conscience and is incapable of making moral choices if the only criteria is money.

We know that full deployment of renewable energy will not cover much of the current energy use of the world. The world economy is going to change one way or the other. It is going to shift from a growth based system, to one that is contracting. This shift will limit the energy consumption of the world, but it will cause social chaos.

Politically none of this will fly, but that problem will be taking care of itself shortly. With the elimination of cheap oil, there will be the development of local governments in the place of the federal government. There will not be a role for a national president, or a need for him or her to push forward these mandates. They will come from the ground up, from grass roots communities that are in a position to recognize the truth of the situation and wrest the decision making from the big institutions. Institutions will be in decline. In their place, we will develop new, smaller, local institutions that will serve directly, and be influenced directly by their constituents.

William Catton’s Overshoot gives us an ecologic model to frame our cultural situation. We have filled the available niches for people to overflowing. The population of homo colossus is speeding the decline of the planet while we encourage homo sapiens to evolve in our likeness. The truth is that the undeveloped countries will never be developed. If we expand the fallacious perception of the Earth’s carry capacity by getting still better at borrowing from the future to fuel increased consumption, our demise will come that much quicker. In the process, global competition for resources, when it becomes a matter or perception of survival, will impinge on our ability to make even the limited moral judgments we are currently capable. It will be acceptable, as we see now under the guise of freeing the people of other countries from despot rulers, to kill huge segments of foreign societies.

In our consideration of the various trinities of inspiration – mind, body, spirit; father, son and Holy Ghost, mother, father, child, we also must consider a great trinity of our time, peak oil, global warming and ocean acidification. Each of these bring forth attendant ecological issues that in concert are grave indeed. The decline in oil will engender global economic collapse. Global warming drives climate change, weather-related catastrophes and rising oceans. Ocean acidification leads to the extinction of marine life and thus ultimately all other forms of life on the Earth.

I can see the changes happening to the world through my eyes. The clouds look different. Scientifically, the albedo of the Earth is currently increasing. This after a period of decline in which more solar energy reached the surface of the planet. Now less solar gain is reaching the surface because of the increasing reflectance of the Earth. Clouds are changing by becoming more reflective. You can see the difference in the evening sky. The balance of low level and high level clouds is changing. With more reflectance, less solar energy reaches the surface, but more long wave infrared radiation is reflected back. While these two virtually cancel each other out, the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to increase the heat retention of the planet.

In 1992 the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Sciences issued a joint statement entitled “Population Growth, Resource Consumption and a Sustainable World”. In this statement, the two agencies jointly expressed their deepest concern for global sustainability. “If current predictions of population growth prove accurate and patterns of human activity on the planet remain unchanged, science and technology may not be able to prevent either irreversible degradation of the environment or continued poverty for much of the world….greater attention in the developed countries to conservation, recycling, substitution and efficient use of energy, and a concerted program to start mitigating further buildup of green house gases will help to ease the threat to the global environment…The future of our planet is in the balance. Sustainable development can be achieved, but only if irreversible degradation of the environment can be halted in time.”

Chapter 29 Dark Places

We have visited a deep, dark place in parts of this book. It is a tunnel of painful feelings associated with truths about the state of the world today. For most of us, this place feels very foreign. It is intimidating to enter into the cosmos, travel back in time, and project ourselves forward into a white abyss of uncertainty. We should take some comfort that this is important work. We can meditate on the feelings that come with our travels into these mysterious places. It is our job to get comfortable with this process so we can teach others. It is only by becoming willing to visit these places will we prevail over the inertia that is in place and moving insidiously toward a barren world of simply the most basic, resilient life forms like cockroaches and rats. If we otherwise do not act effectively, the future may hold a world overrun with insects, and not much else. They will feed on each other because there will be little plant life left. We are powerless to stop this unfolding except in one way: we must reach for a deep spirituality to sustain us through a long period of adjustment. Our ability to thrive will come from a common love.

We can move through it though. First and foremost, we must arrange living systems of humans to withstand the coming violence, disease and calamity. We will do this by turning inward, gathering our families around us and building self sufficient communities. We will nurture ourselves with spirit. Our connections with the heaven’s will become palpable in the new world where there are far fewer sensible distractions. Interestingly, our average life span will increase enormously. While sickness and disease will prevail, medicine will not stop advancing. It will shift into the preservation and use of natural plants. Therein will be great value and prestige for those that have the plant knowledge.

Doctors will also help with food production as viable crop species fall away and there is difficulty cultivating sufficient produce for consumption. Animals will not be kept captive for consumption. The world will naturally turn to vegetarianism.

This is a strange and scary scenario to contemplate. How will we or our children feel during these times? There will be tremendous fear. Yet inside of that fear, after a time and if some kind of balance can be eventually struck, what will the average person’s day look like? I believe there will be far less striving in the world. For many, this will come reluctantly. The collapse of the conventional world and cultures will be blamed for the lack of so-called ambition. People will have strong compulsions to do and accomplish. There will be frustration because of an inability to achieve in the conventional, conditioned manner. For some, this will be too much to handle and they will rail against it. Others will fall into depression. Overtime, if the wars can be stopped and if the rich and powerful can fall quickly enough, the world will settle into a different pace. It will be a slower pace. There will be much death that will evoke a strong spiritual release. The experience of life will become cherished. Art and music on a local, personal level will begin to thrive again. Ceremony will be relied upon to bring comfort and stability, to help explain and interpret the unfolding events that will bring up strong feelings of being out of control. The rhythm of life will merge with the natural world. While there will be much grief surrounding the loss of species, animals and plants, an orientation to the emergence of life, including eventually, new species, will restore confidence in the expression of life.

In the place of the lost world that we currently know, a new and much different world will spring up. It will be a world of great diversity. It will be characterized by a unique relationship among humans and all life forms that will flow both up from the Earth and in from a spiritual sense of the cosmos. Dream states will be as common place as waking states. The information from both states will be considered equally. There will be long periods of leisurely travel, interspersed with introspective periods at home, experiments with alternative energy systems and general homestead activities.

The political life of the village will be at the center of community affairs and provide a substantial portion of the entertainment and meaning in adult life.

Chapter 30 Irruption

Irruption is defined as a natural event that takes place in the ecological populations as a result of environmental success and prevalence of a species. As a result of competitive success over their environment, the species thrives, over populates and over pollutes its environment to the point where it poisons itself. The size of the population then, in ecology as we understand it, undergoes a rapid and steep decline in numbers. This process can be represented by a swinging pendulum in which the population numbers and success swing rather widely. As mentioned, the phenomena of yeast production is one model we can look to in the ecological world. Other simple examples include populations of rabbits and chipmunks that routinely undergo wide swings of population success and failure.

If we take some of William Catton’s realism to heart, then what are some of the key questions we ought to be asking at this point, and what policies must we implement to bring the greatest measure of morality and compassion to the reality of overshoot and dieoff?

For example, from the website Dieoff.org, an article by Dr. Gretchen Daily explores the issue of an optimal population limit for the Earth. If we can agree that the Earth’s carrying limits have been exceeded, what kind of policy might we target for an optimal human population and how would we achieve it? Here is a list of policy initiatives that are enormously idealistic, yet oriented to the realism of global overshoot.

1. Moratorium on births until population declines to acceptable levels.

2. Moratorium on new construction projects.

3. Mandated reduction in per capita fossil fuel use from the current worldwide average, 10% per year for ten years; elimination of liquid fuel automobiles.

4. Outlawing of all waste products; mandated reuse of all manufactured materials and products.

5. Elimination of global hunger and starvation.

6. Stabilization of global socioeconomic disparities.

The issue of global socioeconomic equity is at the heart of any discussion of initiatives to bring Earth back to a sustainable balance. The imperative of achieving worldwide consensus will rely on the participation of everyone in the world. This participation will require that socioeconomic equity be achieved; the poor countries will have little incentive to support rich lifestyles elsewhere while they are required to reduce birth rates and per capita energy consumption. To be sure, the energy consumption patterns of the world make it clear that the equity picture involves large reductions in per capita energy consumption of the developed world, while allowing for increases in areas with the lowest energy use. The United States, as the undisputed leader in energy use, must step up to a leadership role in this regard.

To date, the United States has not accepted this role. Instead we have insisted on denying the reality of the trajectory of world environmental conditions. There are significant moral issues at the heart of these behaviors that we, as Americans, need to be willing to face. In the short term analysis, we may be tempted to ‘save ourselves’, however, the question of morality ultimately plays out on the field of long term repercussions. There is no ignoring the moral imperatives of eliminating the disparity between our society’s riches and other countries. Nor can we pretent the militaristic aggression we have been demonstrating around the world is justifiable to any degree. The transcendent shift needed around the globe starts with the leadership of the world. The United States has that responsibility. People of conscience in this country, of which there are millions, will need to step up to this challenge. The fact is, the grassroots representation as outlined by Paul Hawken if Blessed Unrest makes it abundantly clear that there is a significant, if not majority, of the general population that recognize this moral imperative.

So the question becomes, why is it not apparent that most people wish to establish a new and different direction in the policies and behaviors of the strongest country in the world? The answer, unfortunately, lies with the institutional dysfunction that is prevalent in support of the structures of our culture. The tenets that hold this culture up go deep into our psyche. Each and every individual in the US and around the world needs to look at these deep-seated beliefs and challenge them. When we see that morality, justice and the web of life cradled by the biosphere trumps our beliefs of prosperity based on GDP and economic growth, we will begin to open up to solutions to these problems. This will entail true economic development – development of a new economy that serves people in profound and profoundly different ways. This development is contrasted with economic growth.

It is not economic growth that will solve these problems. The growth orientation is simply a repeat of solutions that have been applied for hundreds of years and have yielded the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. The development of a new economy will include a severe contraction; a catharsis if you will. But this catharsis will reveal new aspects of a new economy. Aspects that will offer an abundance of interconnected, supportive roles for people in natural technologies, spiritual and psychological support roles, basic needs and service, personal transportation and public transportation and alternative energies, to name a few. The irony of the shift will be the general well-being that emerges from these difficult changes.

Irruption is defined as a natural event that takes place in the ecological populations as a result of environmental success and prevalence of a species. As a result of competitive success over their environment, the species thrives, over populates and over pollutes its environment to the point where it poisons itself. The size of the population then, in ecology as we understand it, undergoes a rapid and steep decline in numbers. This process can be represented by a swinging pendulum in which the population numbers and success swing rather widely. As mentioned, the phenomena of yeast production is one model we can look to in the ecological world. Other simple examples include populations of rabbits and chipmunks that routinely undergo wide swings of population success and failure.

If we take some of William Catton’s realism to heart, then what are some of the key questions we ought to be asking at this point, and what policies must we implement to bring the greatest measure of morality and compassion to the reality of overshoot and dieoff?

For example, from the website Dieoff.org, an article by Dr. Gretchen Daily explores the issue of an optimal population limit for the Earth. If we can agree that the Earth’s carrying limits have been exceeded, what kind of policy might we target for an optimal human population and how would we achieve it? Here is a list of policy initiatives that are enormously idealistic, yet oriented to the realism of global overshoot.

1. Moratorium on births until population declines to acceptable levels.

2. Moratorium on new construction projects.

3. Mandated reduction in per capita fossil fuel use from the current worldwide average, 10% per year for ten years; elimination of liquid fuel automobiles.

4. Outlawing of all waste products; mandated reuse of all manufactured materials and products.

5. Elimination of global hunger and starvation.

6. Stabilization of global socioeconomic disparities.

The issue of global socioeconomic equity is at the heart of any discussion of initiatives to bring Earth back to a sustainable balance. The imperative of achieving worldwide consensus will rely on the participation of everyone in the world. This participation will require that socioeconomic equity be achieved; the poor countries will have little incentive to support rich lifestyles elsewhere while they are required to reduce birth rates and per capita energy consumption. To be sure, the energy consumption patterns of the world make it clear that the equity picture involves large reductions in per capita energy consumption of the developed world, while allowing for increases in areas with the lowest energy use. The United States, as the undisputed leader in energy use, must step up to a leadership role in this regard.

To date, the United States has not accepted this role. Instead we have insisted on denying the reality of the trajectory of world environmental conditions. There are significant moral issues at the heart of these behaviors that we, as Americans, need to be willing to face. In the short term analysis, we may be tempted to ‘save ourselves’, however, the question of morality ultimately plays out on the field of long term repercussions. There is no ignoring the moral imperatives of eliminating the disparity between our society’s riches and other countries. Nor can we pretend the militaristic aggression we have been demonstrating around the world is justifiable to any degree. The transcendent shift needed around the globe starts with the leadership of the world. The United States has that responsibility. People of conscience in this country, of which there are millions, will need to step up to this challenge. The fact is, the grassroots representation as outlined by Paul Hawken if Blessed Unrest makes it abundantly clear that there is a significant, if not majority, of the general population that recognize this moral imperative.

So the question becomes, why is it not apparent that most people wish to establish a new and different direction in the policies and behaviors of the strongest country in the world? The answer, unfortunately, lies with the institutional dysfunction that is prevalent in support of the structures of our culture. The tenets that hold this culture up go deep into our psyche. Each and every individual in the US and around the world needs to look at these deep-seated beliefs and challenge them. When we see that morality, justice and the web of life cradled by the biosphere trumps our beliefs of prosperity based on GDP and economic growth, we will begin to open up to solutions to these problems. This will entail true economic development – development of a new economy that serves people in profound and profoundly different ways. This development is contrasted with economic growth.

It is not economic growth that will solve these problems. The growth orientation is simply a repeat of solutions that have been applied for hundreds of years and have yielded the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. The development of a new economy will include a severe contraction; a catharsis if you will. But this catharsis will reveal new aspects of a new economy. Aspects that will offer an abundance of interconnected, supportive roles for people in natural technologies, spiritual and psychological support roles, basic needs and service, personal transportation and public transportation and alternative energies, to name a few. The irony of the shift will be the general well-being that emerges from these difficult changes.

Chapter 31 Crossroads

We are at a cross roads in many respects. The Great Turning has been offered as an allegory for this crossroads, a time of great upheaval and a corresponding opportunity for a leap in consciousness. There is another crossroads, one of philosophy with regard to how we respond to the situation. There are two paths, the more pragmatic and the more spiritual. Both are needed and necessary. Time is short. Pragmatically, the essence of our environmental and spiritual crisis relates directly to the human population and the carrying limits of the planet. This is a topic that is buried deep beneath layers of obfuscation and denial. The press seldom reports the relationship of population and environmental stress. The Catholic Church deems it a forbidden subject. Yet, as we have described, the human race is like a batch of yeast in a wine barrel. We are quickly irrupting into oblivion. The power and influence of our institutions is keeping most people in the dark about the cause of this grave situation, and therefore about effective solutions. Ultimately, we need to look to the corporate and governmental influences for the lack of clear reporting about this issue.

The more we understand about the issues of sustainability, the more difficult the problem appears, and the more disheartened we can become. Understanding the corporate influence worldwide offers a jumping off point for our creative energy. Moreover, given the clear energy consumption dominance of the United States, using some twenty-five percent of the world’s energy to serve five percent of its population, we are drawn to a fine point of the issue: focus on the America corporation to yield highly leveraged results.

We haven’t far to look for an opportunity. Corporations have overtime accumulated enormous influence through the aggregation of rights that currently usurp the rights of individuals. If you think about the absurdity of this situation, in which the institutions have accumulated this influence and used it to ensure their continued dominance, it is clear that there is a dangerous imbalance. Given corporate influence on the democratic process in this country, we have entered into a period that is a mockery of true democracy. Working effectively within the system can be achieved by repealing the laws that support the excessive rights of corporations and restoring democracy. Given the evidence of a plethora of people and communities that are aligned with moving in the right environmental direction, a repeal of these laws would open the flood gates of active change. It was the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision according to Ward Morehouse in his article Greening the Corporation that initiated this process of accumulated rights for corporations. More to the point, Morehouse has clear advice: “While the agenda for action in arenas we the people define is long, complicated and still unfolding, a good place to begin is to take away corporate personhood. That means working toward the reversal of Santa Clara…”

The fact that we can drill down through the competing issues and identify a specific target toward which we might focus our collective energy is uplifting indeed. It is important that we allow this inspiration to take hold in each of us, and move us to action. But it is not all there is to do.

Focusing on the problem and the underlying institutional inertia supporting this aspect of the problem brings energy to it. Given the incredible power of these institutions, a strategy of removing energy from them can also be considered as effective and appealing. We might think of Santa Clara as an Achilles heel of sorts. Shooting an arrow there would indeed do a lot to restore democracy to America. But the institution of our federal government is also tremendously entrenched in the conventional paradigm. Here we face additional power against which it may not be advisable to rail. We might, instead, focus on removing our energy from the systems that are so integral to the paradigm. Changing lifestyles, leaving jobs with automatic withholding, minimizing income and income tax can create some pressure. Building stronger local governments, getting involved in local self-governance will also help. Demonstrating for peace and making it clear that moral choices hold sway over pragmatic, militaristic, fear-based defense and aggression is also needed. Creatively, we might move into the intention of removing our energy from system the promotes the atrocities we currently endure. In doing so, solutions and methods will emerge.

Given the uncertain responses to our strategic inquiries, we are once again brought with certainty back to the heart of the matter, our spiritual response to a, perhaps, insurmountable problem. There is no rational response to our current situation. Our role in this time is to open to this experience. In A Course In Miracles, it is said that when we defend, we simply attack ourselves. When we plan for the future, we simply repeat the conditionings of the past. We fool ourselves into thinking our perceptions are the reality and our dreams the illusion. But in the final analysis, from a spiritual point of view, this is backwards. Our perceptions, our fears, our plans, our defenses are simply means of keeping us from moving into the reality of a common conscious among humans, among life forms, and among all aspects of the universe. From a spiritual point of view, there is only one approach to working miracles. And as A Course In Miracle tells us, there is no order of magnitude for miracles. It is a matter of knowing that the solution is there. That we already have it, that is already deployed and all we need to do is open to it. This is why we have spent some time in this discussion expressing a vision of the future. Why we have elucidated characteristics of this vision, and why we have stated them with confidence.

In this book, I have spent a great deal of time learning to speak from a position of authority about that which I have to offer. After all, all I have to offer is all that I have to offer. I have tried to leave some of these expressions of doubt in the text; not all have been purged during editing. It is important that we move through doubt into a place of knowing. I know that the expression of doubts and denials, shells and hubris, self depreciation and universal truths can eventually result in the interjection of truth into the world in the form of words on a page. I know that this injection of energy can change the world. It will affect people and it will move things along. All I have to offer is all I have to offer. That is what is here and it will go out into the world in the form of energy that is never lost. Regardless of what happens over the next five, ten, fifty or one hundred years, our collective consciousness holds the energy offered here.

I offer this to my eight year old daughter who only the other day told me she was mad at what was happening to the Earth. Unbeknownst to me, my fixation on this subject was apparent on many levels. Cassandra is her name. She has a message for the world. She attends Earth Charter meetings and, sadly, is exposed to the confusion, fear, sadness and anger that are part of a community coming to grips with our mutual destiny. As a child, all she wants is an intact world to grow up into. It is my role to know that she will have that. That all of the attributes delineated in this text are elements of the ultimate truth we will reach. And despite the inability of my rational mind to comprehend how this will happen, it will happen.

In 2008 there is a presidential election. I am confused about the role of this event in our broader lives. Does it matter who gets elected, what they say and what they do? Is there a role for a federal government other than to maintain the arsenal that will surely be deployed to obtain the energy and resources we need when the collapse comes? No, there is no role if it includes wars of aggression. What, collectively, is our vision of the awesome destructiveness that is deployed in the world today? How might the ultimate use of this force be detoured? When we defend we simply attack ourselves. I have stopped studying karate because intuitively it became clear that I could not evolve if I continued to entertain images of being attacked. I was in effect attacking myself. Collectively, as a nation, and as a world population, it is time to realize this very fact; that to defend ourselves simply keeps our collective consciousness from knowing itself.

It is time for that consciousness to know itself; from that mighty event, all things spring. This has been true forever, and will be so forever more. What does it look like for our collective consciousness to know itself? Sit quietly and listen for this answer. Do not rise for the phone. Move into being, and stay there. And when the creative urge of your life force springs forth, abide it. Do not allow the chatter of your mind to direct you away from this truth and back to the corporate/government conditionings of needs, wants and desires.

Understand that it is now your role to join this super consciousness. There are many ways to access it. The internet is only a proxy, but it is closer yet. Write. Blog. Talk with your neighbors. Be an example. Quit your job. Install renewable energy, grow food, invest in your community, in the necessities of life. Intend that you will do this, as the future unfolds and you will do it.

We are here to serve entropy. The vast accumulation of fossil fuels over hundreds of millions of years was an accumulation of potential energy waiting for a mechanism to be released. Such is the universal law of entropy. Humankind’s role is the agent of release. That is a clear truth. It also implies, clearly, our destiny, to simply burn out with the exhaustion of this accumulated energy. In the meantime, what will be the nature of the world? What will be our nature? We have yet to escape from the fears of our ancestors. Now, we have a chance to see how this escape serves our destiny inexplicably for the better. When there is no other choice but to become extinct, then perhaps moral laws will have meaning. When our rationality is proved misdirected and useless, perhaps then we will orient to all that is left, a moral code of human super-conscious in touch with all of the remaining life on Earth. We will be spoken to through the spirit of the universe.

And what then? If it were so, what might happen? Is there a miracle inside of this scenario? This is a scenario of crucifixion. We know the story well. The story of Christ is but one version. We each live out our own crucifixion during mid-life crises and at other times during our lives. As alcoholics and addicts, we actually are given a gift of resurrection in the face of impossibility. Just go to an AA meeting sometime and listen to the speakers tell their stories. You will hear people tell of the most extreme despair and hopelessness, from which the have returned. What can we learn from this experience? This is not learning with just our head. If you have ever had such a bottoming out experience in your life, you are lucky. You have a much deeper knowledge of resurrection. This is knowledge is valuable. Do not lose that sense. We will need it to guide us through a necessary period of hopelessness.

In this case, the hopelessness that will grip the global culture will be the stepping stone to a new consciousness. We can only hope and pray for the soul’s that will sacrifice their physical forms for this to happen. We can only honor this sacrifice but accepting it as the gift it is and transcending the false reality our senses tells us, and moving into the universal truth.

On my desk, at this moment, is a tiny toy snake. This creature has been with me the last few days. I decided it was an expression of muse. This has been the year of the snake. We had one in the shed. There have been numerous black snakes in the yard. One day, while tripping through the narrow path behind the office, we encountered a snake on the little path on our way over to town hall. At a Modern Mystic Workshop, in the garden behind the bookstore, we sat on wooden chairs near a fine white pine tree. In the branches, not more than three feet from my head, and some three feet above ground level, a large black racer sat and watched our tiny gather. We were talking about spirit, about sustainability, about aligning our energy with the universe. My intuition about all of these snakes did not fail me. They told me each time that it was okay, that I was on the path of wisdom that is handed down from the universe. It was okay, they told me, that there is not a lot of reference support in this work, that I am relying on my feeling for the truth. The message will still have impact, they tell me.

Now, on my desk, this toy snake has somehow positioned itself directly in front of the keyboard, looking right at my. I don’t know how this exactly happened. I am winding down the message here. What else needs to be said, I ask my snake friend.

“Tell them about love again”, it says. “Tell them that all of the things they are so afraid to lose, all the reasons why the message of this book is difficult to accept will wash away with love. Turn to love and those other problems will fall away. They will move into the solution that can’t be explained, the future that can’t be seen, the love that can’t be felt.” What else, I telepathically ask. “Remember the Zen master. ‘What is the Buddha nature of the sky’, he asks. Remember the answer. You clap. Whack. ‘That all?’, says the Zen master. And you say ‘the sky is blue’ and Zen master will smile. ‘Come back next time for new kong-an!’ He will say.”

Thank you snake muse.

I started this book seeking to write about abundance. I recognized the need to open to the problem, not for the purpose of focusing solely on the injustice and frustration of it. More simply, opening to the problem allows us to move through the interferences that would keep us from fully living now in the moment. Anger and grief have a role to play. They are but one side of a two side coin, a dual experience that we can not escape as physical manifestations of spirit. We are here to experience our selves through the limitations of this dual system; hot/cold, good/bad, life/death. I recognize elements of the psychology that blocks us from moving into a fuller acceptance of our dual experience. This ultimately blocks the fire that would come from anger and grief to fuel our creativity and purest joy.

I have seen countless examples and models in life around me from which we might draw wisdom and confidence as we delve into the most unsolvable of all problems. The question kept emerging, how will we solve the unsolvable? I still do not know the rational answer.

Instead, we have had to orient to process; to a willingness to look at the past and history to understand our present circumstances and psychology. From this we can project into the future. From this we can see the pattern of projecting the past, in the form of beliefs and conditionings, into the future such that we are trapped. We learned to become un-trapped we must cultivate clear minds, unattached to the illusion of Maya.

Even as a path of enlightenment unfolded before us, and we were encouraged, a deepening understanding of the problems brought us correspondingly to greater despair. I suppose this is as it should be. We recognized that it is possible to get to the root of the issue; the Earth’s carrying capacity and human population. Of course, these topics are off limits in the main stream. We could sense the fruitlessness of the endeavor, yet were spurred on anyway. By what, from whence did this energy to keep going come? That was a clue.

We played detective. We read, researched, but we also wrote. Even when we did not know what to write, we wrote. We asked for guidance, perhaps not in so many words, but still that was the effect. We used rising emotions as springboards to ask questions and listen for answers. All around were examples of the process: a small business struggling to define itself and get off the ground, learning about psychotherapy and alternate modalities, emotional work; researching the internet, discovering the anarchist viewpoint and dieoff.org’s amazing array of intelligent articles; drilling down to core issues, summarizing the details in easier to understand frames, recognizing the immenseness of the problem. This is a process and this book is a step. It contains truths that are pertinent for me, my family, my community, my country and my world. As did Buddha, so must I try to disengage from results; there is nothing to accomplish here. It has all been set in motion and I am only playing my part. Yet, in the realm of all possibilities, there is exactly that, all possibilities.

In the Winter 2008 issue of Yes! Magazine, Parke Burgess seemed to read my mind, taking an excerpt from his own forthcoming book with the working title, The Nonviolent Mind and Society, by writing about the juxtaposition of Zen and anarchy. “Most people think of anarchy as ‘all hell breaking loose’. But what anarchy really means is ‘a society without hierarchies of power.’…in fact, power hierarchies themselves have proven to be exceptionally violent over the long course of history. The state is simply the institutionalization of ‘all hell breaking loose’ around a particular arrangement of power.” He goes on to finish off the point, “the promise of anarchism is that we might rise to the challenge of being transparent about our uses of power, intentional about sharing power in a more just way, and thoughtful about the corresponding organization of systems and structures”. Zen is the practice of cultivating clearness, a “freedom and openness of mind” that is honest and compassionate. “Thus, what we normally call Zen may be described as an anarchism of the mind; and what we normally call anarchism maybe understood as a Zen of social relations.”

We are all lead to truth in its different forms, if only we allow ourselves to listen. For me, it is a matter of sitting at a keyboard and allowing that which might come through my fingertips. This is energy that comes from above, heaven’s energy in the words of Feng Shui speaker and writer William Spear. It is inspired energy that is able to synthesize all of my experience, my energy body, with creative thought – the spark of life energy that is able to reverse the law of entropy and organize energy into a more complex form through the mechanism of my living being. That energy body rises from Earth’s energy. It is the sum of all my experiences, my ancestor’s experiences, the experiences of all that have come before me, human and non-human. There is no order of magnitude of miracles. There is no order of magnitude of the energetic experience my mind and body is capable of receiving, understanding and acting upon. I have been truly fortunate in these last several weeks, and last few years, to have been blessed with an adventurous heart that has taken me to far places. It has lead me away from all that I was told was true, but could feel was not true for me. Lead me on dreams and projections through books, meetings with so many coaches, therapists, counselors, friends, relatives and associates. I have found inspiration at every turn: the Yes! Magazine that arrived today, a new age mailer in a pile of junk mail, video tapes of Frances Moore Lappe’ teaching that our economic assumption of return on investment to existing capital is not a universal law, but rather a law fashioned by men, men with the existing capital! Or Matthew Fox speaking so eloquently about moving through grief into fire in our belly – the fire of anger and joy that can see us through this terrible place of isolation to which we have been lead. Inspiration in the tension of my emotions – a diminishing bank account, the looks of confusion on people’s faces as I try to explain what I’m trying to do; the feelings that come up in response like being back in the fourth grade trying unsuccessfully to play the piano. Yet maybe, just maybe, that wasn’t such a failure after all.


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