ATTENTION

7 07 2016

This is the 21st chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” You can read or buy the whole book here. Please consider supporting Charles’ work.  Thank you!

What most needs attention is the part of us that we seek to avoid feeling. When we have tended to that, we are changed, and the world changes with us.

—Dan Emmons

Let me offer you an example from my own inner monologue that illustrates nondoing as an active principle. I dropped off my car one morning for state inspection and, rather than ask my then-pregnant wife Stella to wake up early to pick me up, walked the five or six miles home. Now let me be clear that this was no hardship at all—I love walking, I was wearing comfortable shoes, and the weather was cold but clear. But as I walked, I started thinking, “Gee, this is taking a long time. I wonder how I can milk this. I know, when I get home I’ll make a little show of being more tired and hungry than I am so that Stella thinks I underwent a hardship for her sake. Then she’ll be extra nice to me.”

That seemed a bit obvious, so I came up with a better idea. “I can put on a brave face and say I’m not tired or hungry, but subtly signal that I am. Then I will get credit not only for having made a sacrifice for her, but also for valiantly trying to keep it secret.”

….

What would have happened if, instead, I had noticed my secret plan to milk some benefits out of my trek, and then resolved to stop myself at all costs? What would have happened if I’d threatened myself with punishment (guilt, shame, self-castigation, verbal abuse by my inner voice [“What’s wrong with you!”]) and motivated myself with rewards (self-approval, telling myself I was mature, better than Uncle Bob, etc.)? I can tell you what would have happened. I would have withheld from Plan A or B in the obvious ways, but I would have done it nonetheless in a way that gave my own conscious mind plausible deniability. Because if my goal is simply to pass the muster of my own inner judge, then that judge and other parts of me will conspire to arrange a verdict of innocent. I need not elaborate on we humans’ capacity for self-deception. If the motive is self-approval, then self-approval we will get, even if it comes at the expense of everything beautiful.

That sounds alarming, doesn’t it? My purpose here is not to scare you into making a change. Maybe I would if I could, but this is not the kind of change one can be scared into making. I could scare you into trying, perhaps, but the result would be the same as in my scheme of reward and threat above. No, this is the kind of change that happens when it is time for it to happen.

music: Sheila Chandra, “Quiet #9

….Not that there is anything wrong with work. Work and play, work and leisure … it is time to question these polarities. That doesn’t mean indolence. When I worked in construction the labor was sometimes very strenuous, but it was rarely an ordeal. I didn’t have the feeling of fighting myself or forcing myself. There is a time to make great efforts, a time to push one’s capacities to the limit. We have after all been given those capacities for a reason. But struggle is not supposed to be the default state of life.

The same applies to spiritual practice. You may have also noticed that my recipe for releasing the habits of separation corresponds quite closely with Buddhist teachings and practices of mindfulness. Ah, finally, something to do! Now we can all embark on a heroic effort at mindfulness. We can admire those (especially ourselves, who if not as mindful as, say, Thich Nhat Hanh are at least more mindful than most people, right?) who are more mindful and look with disdain or patronizing indulgence at those who are less. We can use all the same psychological apparati toward a new goal: mindfulness.

I hope after having read this far you are a bit suspicious of this plan. Could it be that mindfulness too comes as a gift, when circumstances make us newly mindful of what had been beneath the threshold of our awareness? I urge you to see mindfulness as a gift and to cherish it as such. Fully accept that gift, indulge in it. Perhaps the path to mindfulness is not one of a fierce mustering of the will. We cannot will the exercise of will—volition too comes as a gift.

Music: Santana, “Flor de Canela>Promise of a Fisherman>Borboleta

 

 





DILEMMA 2016

5 06 2016

Things are reaching a pitch in the American political arena. Trumpenstein will be the Republican nominee, and, while the last chapters have yet to be written, it is now almost certain, as it really has been all along, that Ms. Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. The next phase of the contest, the Big Face Off Between The Democrat And  The Republican, is about to begin.

In social media, however, the contest between Bernie and Hillary seems far from over. Clinton supporters are upset by the expressed concerns of Sanders supporters and Greens like me, who feel that there is good reason to be wary of a Clinton Presidency. We are told that we are helping Trump get elected, that we are misogynists, that we need to deal with the world-as-it-is and not cling to “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” to steal a phrase from Charles Eisenstein. That’s all well and good, Clinton supporters say, but you must support Hillary or all hell will break loose. A la Margaret Thatcher, There Is No Alternative.tina

In an effort to respond to the many people I know who are telling me to get with the Clinton program, as well as those who seem to think Bernie would have won if only I’d supported him, and those who think I’m crazy, stupid, or sentimental not to back Trumpenstein, I want to examine all three of these candidates, as well as The Green Party’s Jill Stein, (cause, hey, this is a Green Party show/blog!) and talk about how they look from the ol’ Deep Green Perspective.

Let’s go for Trumpenstein first. I’m calling him that not just to make fun of him, but because he, like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, was, in  a sense, brought to life by people who had their own motives for creating him, and who did not realize that he would get away from them and chart his own course. Trump was born (in the public mind) as a commercial, comedic figure, a Falstaffian man of bluff and bluster who was not afraid to say what he thought and exercise power, a man who drew viewers and made money for the network. When he chose to enter the political arena, he cut a sharp contrast with conventional politicians, who carefully shape what they say in a formal language that is intended to offend no one who might vote for them, but has begun to offend a lot of people for its vacuousness. Read the rest of this entry »





LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

8 05 2016

The first thing I want to tell you is that The Green Party of Tennessee will be holding itslugo for senate annual meeting/convention in Knoxville on June 4th. We will meet to select new state party officers, new representatives to the national party, and to consider nominations for offices that will be on the November ballot here in Tennessee and whom to endorse for President. You can find details about this on our  Facebook page.

Here in Nashville, Council member Fabian Bedne’s resolution, which is intended to make it gascompressormuch more difficult for gas pipeline compressor stations to locate in Davidson County, was accepted at Tuesday’s council meeting and will be discussed at the June 7th Council. There are two such stations proposed, one north and one south of town. This gives all of us who are Nashville residents a month to contact our council members and ask them to support Bedne’s resolution. This local situation is our piece of the great struggle going on in this world about whether or not it’s OK to dawdle along and make just a little more money selling fossil fuels before we quit. If it sounds like an addiction, that’s because it is. “Jush one more drink, and then I’ll quit!”

And lastly, so far Nashville has not–recently–been blemished with the police murder of an unarmed African-American, but we’ve had some close brushes with that kind of infamy. A recent Nashville Scene article detailed a near-tragedy at Cayce Homes in East Nashville, and pointed out that only eight years ago, the Scene had satirically announced that the

bigbrothercayce

Big Brother Is Watching You

 

police department was installing security cameras at Cayce–and lo, it has come to pass.

I had some suggestions that I think are much more constructive. I sent them to my council member, and I’ll share them with you.

The first would be to identify appropriate members of the community, of both genders and a variety of ages, give them training in conflict de-escalation and resolution, and then pay them to walk around their community on a regular basis and interact with people as they see fit, and let them be the ones to call in the police if they think things are getting out of hand.

Another couple of things that might create more stability and community there would be to allow residents to buy, rather than rent, their homes, and to turn as much of the management as possible over to a residents’ council. Both these moves would empower residents and increase their sense of ownership and responsibility.

Beyond that, we have to find ways to make up for all the blue-collar jobs that have been shipped to China and elsewhere, as I think the loss of stable, decent-paying employment opportunities has had a very destructive impact on working-class people in general.

That’s what I suggested. If it makes sense to you, tell your council member and pass it around. The federal and state governments may be lost causes, but here at the local level, we average citizens still have some leverage. Let’s use it.
music: Jackson Browne, “Lawless Avenues




NONDOING

8 05 2016

This is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” You can read the whole chapter here, and buy the book here. Please help support Charles’ work!

The problems we experience in our lives and in the world (whether relationship issues or world hunger) stem from energetic weakness and disconnection, from our lack of capacity to feel ourselves, each other, the earth, and how life seeks to move and evolve through us. The issue is not whether or not to act and “do something,” but what actually prompts us to act.

—Dan Emmons

Before they are able to enter a new story, most people—and probably most societies as well—must first navigate the passage out of the old. In between the old and the new there is an empty space. It is a time when the lessons and learnings of the old story are integrated. Only when that work has been done is the old story really complete. Then, there is nothing, the pregnant emptiness from which all being arises. Returning to essence, we regain the ability to act from essence. Returning to the space between stories, we can choose from freedom and not from habit……

….

In this I draw inspiration from a beautiful verse from the Tao Te Ching. This verse is extremely dense, with multiple meanings and layers of meaning, and I haven’t found a translation that highlights what I’m drawing from here. Therefore, the following is my own translation. It is the last half of verse 16—if you compare existing translations you will be astonished at how much they differ.

tao-te-ching16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

music: Material, “Devotional Dub





SPIRIT

13 09 2015

This is the 14th chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.”  You can read the whole chapter here and buy the book here.  Please buy it.  Charles Eisenstein is worth supporting!

There is another world, but it is in this one.

―W. B. Yeats

The cynical reader might suppose that I will unveil “spirituality”as an escape from the bleak, dispiriting universe of the Story of Separation. I won’t, because unfortunately, spirituality as we typically conceive it is itself a key component of Separation. It concedes that the desolate materialism offered by science is essentially correct: that sacredness, purpose, and sentience cannot inhere in matter itself, cannot be found among the generic subatomic building blocks of the material world. These things, says spirituality, reside instead in another, nonmaterial realm, the realm of spirit.

Given that premise, the goal of spirituality becomes to transcend the material realm and ascend into the spiritual. A kind of antimaterialism infuses such teachings as “You are not your body” as well as aspirations to “raise one’s vibrations.” Given that our environmental collapse comes from antimaterialism as well (a devaluing and desacralization of the material world), we might want to reconsider these teachings. What is so special about “high” vibrations? Is a bassoon less beautiful than a flute? Is a rock less sacred than a cloud? Is Earth less sacred than Heaven? Is superior better than inferior? Is high better than low? Is abstract better than concrete? Is reason better than feeling? Is pure better than messy? Is man better than woman?…..

….That doesn’t mean that every person “should” address every level. We each have unique gifts that draw us toward the work for which those gifts are best suited. Although a healthy, well-rounded person will generally engage the world on multiple levels, being as she is an individual, a friend, a member of a family, a member of a community and a place, an inhabitant of a bioregion, a citizen of a nation, and a member of the tribe of all life on Earth, even a cosmic citizen, it is also true that we go through phases of relative inward and outward focus, action, and quiet, expression and retreat.

When we no longer hold a rigid self/other distinction, then we recognize that the world mirrors the self; that to work on the self it is necessary to work in the world, and to work effectively in the world, it is necessary to work on the self. Of course, there have always been spiritual practitioners who are politically active and political activists who are deeply spiritual, but now the attraction of each realm to the other is becoming irrepressible. More and more social and environmental activists are rejecting mainstream beliefs in ways that are more personal. The Occupy supporter is also likely to support attachment parenting, practice meditation, use alternative medicine. The hippies and the ’60s radicals are converging.

music: Indigo Girls, “Get Together





GREEN PARTY ANNUAL MEETING!

11 04 2015

field-of-sunflowers-gptn

Are you looking for an alternative to corporate “Earth Day celebrations” and corporate political parties?  Then come to The Green Party of Tennessee’s annual meeting this coming Saturday, April 18th, from 11AM to 3PM at Long Hunter State Park near Nashville, and help create a new vision for Tennessee politics!  Details at greenpartyoftennessee.org





DESPAIR

7 03 2015

This is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.  Please purchase this book!  You can buy it here, and you can read the chapter on line here. While many people understand that the solution to climate change involves more than a disembedded choice of alternative technologies, few would say that those dedicating their lives to marriage equality for gay people, compassion to the homeless, or care for the autistic are doing something essential for the survival of our species. But that is only because our understanding of interbeing is still shallow. I would like to suggest that anything that violates or disrupts the Story of Separation will heal any and all of the consequences of that story. This includes even the tiny, invisible actions that our rational mind, steeped in the logic of Separation, says cannot possibly make a difference. It includes the kind of actions that get squeezed out by the big crusades to save the world…..

….Readers of my earlier books will forgive me for requoting this passage from “A Free Man’s Worship” by Bertrand Russell, one of the great minds of the modern era:

That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

As I have hinted, the story on which Russell bases his conclusions is no longer so certain. A philosophy that rejects them can indeed hope to stand—on the foundation of the quantum interconnectedness and indeterminacy, the tendency of nonlinear systems toward spontaneous organization and autopoiesis; the capacity of organisms and environments to purposely restructure DNA; and the proliferation of scientific anomalies that promise further paradigm shifts to come. Without attempting to make a rigorous philosophical case for it, I will observe that all these scientific revolutions lend themselves, at least metaphorically, to a very different Story of the World.

music:  Jane Siberry, “Gospel of Darkness

Tabla Beat Science, “Sacred Channel

Jane Siberry  “Then We Heard a Shout” (first link is album version, second is live performance w/ commentary)








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