I wrote the following as a reflection from a series of conversations people from around the world had to discuss the climate crisis. As I looked through the wondrous materials considered and assembled by the Conference Weaving Now What? Deep Dives, I was dazzled by the jewels in the Now What?! Consciousness Deep Dive Conversation Harvest. Immediately, I thought of Indra’s Net. Before telling you why, it is important to understand what this net is. And, to find out more about Now What, visit the beautiful new site: Now What?!The art of being fully human in a time of crisis
Śūnyatā (emptiness) – This is a Buddhist concept that has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. It is either an ontological feature of reality, a meditative state, or a phenomenological analysis of experience. [I believe for something new to emerge there must be space for it, thus this feature of reality both outer and inner is essential to all who seek to bring into the world a kinder, gentler, restorative reality.]
Pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) – This concept “is commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key principle in Buddhist teachings,[note 1] which states that all dharmas (“phenomena”) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. [I cannot think of a more essential concept to consider as we engage together in these sessions and others along with the weaving done afterwards. I always need to be reminded what dharma means. There is no single English translation for this word. Essentially it is the behaviors that make life in the universe possible. I think fits beautifully with us joining together in conversations that seek to understand and uplift behaviors that sustain life on our planet. If we don’t understand each other, we are indeed stuck.]
Interpenetration (coalescence) – This concept developed from the Huayan school. It holds all phenomena (dharmas) are deeply interconnected, mutually arising, and every phenomenon contains all other phenomena. Various metaphors and images are used to illustrate this idea. The first is known as Indra’s net. The net is set with jewels which have the extraordinary property that they reflect all of the other jewels, while the reflections also contain every other reflection, ad infinitum. The second image is that of the world text. This image portrays the world as consisting of an enormous text which is as large as the universe itself. The words of the text are composed of the phenomena that make up the world. However, every atom of the world contains the whole text within it. It is the work of a Buddha to let out the text so that beings can be liberated from suffering. [So, there you go. Perhaps this is why Indra’s Net popped into my mind as I read through the jewels, which is only a tiny piece of the harvest and this is even a tiny part of what is happening when we connect with each other and seek mutual understanding. We are indeed reflected in each other. We are the jewels in the Indra Net enveloping Earth.]
I imagine two wonderous Indra’s Net. One net holds our universe. It is woven by time and space that create the matrix holding everything we see in our universe. The second Indra’s Net is like the first, but this one wraps around our beautiful Earth. All life on Earth create the threads that are woven together to create this web. Humans have taken on an exaggerated importance in this web because of the level of consciousness we have attained. I am not going to delve into my thinking on this now…perhaps later… but suffice it to say we have changed the matrix from which we were born, and now we have a Herculean Task upon our shoulders to repair what has been damaged by us so life may continue to exist on this precious jewel in the larger Indra Net—Earth.
I think when we come together and listen to each other, we repair Earth’s net. Each of us has a special place and unique abilities that are needed to sustain Earth’s Indra’s Net. Each human being is informed by individual passions, interests, experiences, and failures. Some of us are really good at speaking, others are really good at organizing, still others are healers, and others bring visions. Each human being weaves part of this wondrous web enveloping Earth. To heal and repair our net, Earthneeds all our insights, energies, passions, and gifts.
So, this is the idea that struck me as I read the harvest material from the conferences, deep dives, and other conversations. It seems to me every human being is a jewel in Earth’s Indra’s Net. Through us the energy needed to repair, strengthen, and heal this netis made visible. We are essentially portalsof transformation, and it is going to take as many ofus pulling in the same direction as possible to change our collectivefate.
I have not had much time to read everything, nor did I have participate in the Deep Dives, but what I have seen is beautiful pieces of wisdom being pulled up from depths inside ourselves. Wisdom that has become submerged and lost due to current ways of thinking and living in our world. Let me stress the weaving being done through our collective action is utterly essential for the moment we are in now.
Given limits on my time at this moment, I am only able highlight a few of the jewels that caught my attention as I looked through the excellent excel chart being created to preserve some of the harvest from this collective work. There are also notes and videos of Deep Dives and from parts of the conferences taking place around the world. My selection of a few of the jewels in no way diminishes any of the other jewels.I am a simple and small portal of consciousness informed by my individual experiences, passions, dreams, and failures. All this naturally limits what I can see and how I see it. But, then thisis the beauty of Indra’s Net. Each jewel is unique and reflects every other jewel in the net. I suspect there are as many jewels in Earth’s Indra’s Net as there human beings alive on the planet, and the energy coursing through the webbing of this net is the wonderous life alive on Earth right now.
The first jewel I want to highlight is one that I saw reflected in several discussions. This is the jewel of sacred ceremony. We need to remember our thoughts are powerful. They are able to collapse the infinite sea of possibilities in which we all swim into a single thread of reality. We do this by thinking, choosing, and acting (or not acting). Moment by moment we contribute our strand of reality to all the other strands being created by every living being on the planet. As the strands interweave, this becomes our shared reality. Humans have become particularly powerful in sculpting our shared reality by using our minds gifted with consciousness (or cursed – as many world myths account this moment as man’s great fall). I write about this in other places, so I will not delve into my meaning here, but only say humans emerged from a more primordial state of consciousness into the state we understand it as today. This singular accomplishment allowed humans to not only perceive the world, but to apperceive it. I will talk more about this ability to apperceive our world later, but for now, I will simply provide you with a definition of it:
From Wiki: Meaning in psychology – In psychology, apperception is “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” In short, it is to perceive new experience in relation to past experience. The term is found in the early psychologies of Herbert Spencer, Hermann Lotze, and Wilhelm Wundt. It originally means passing the threshold into consciousness, i.e., to perceive. But the percept is changed when reaching consciousness due to the contextual presence of the other stuff already there, thus it is not perceived but apperceived.
Apperception is thus a general term for all mental processes in which a presentation is brought into connection with an already existent and systematized mental conception, and thereby is classified, explained or, in a word, understood; e.g. a new scientific phenomenon is explained in the light of phenomena already analyzedand classified. The whole intelligent life of man is, consciously or unconsciously, a process of apperception, in as much as every act of attention involves the appercipient process.
The next jewel is the significant of language in constructing our realities. Here again our ability of apperception is powerful for we have civilized and cultivated most of the world simply by seeing possibilities different from what nature originally provided for life to exist. And, so here we stand at the edge of every moment with this power to apperceive infinite possibilities, and language is the tool we use to share our visions of what is possible. So, yes, it is a commanding tool in constructing our shared realities because it allows us to cooperate in collective action.
It also comes with peril, as this group of jewels point out, for we can misunderstand each other if we do not take care in truly understanding how words are being used and what is truly being said. Our ability for language is an ability that we have perhaps grown too accustom to wielding. I really like the idea of reconnecting with other cultures and languages. This is a beautiful way to understand how utterly diverse our ability to communicate with each other is… and through communication, our ability to co-create. Human cultures and civilizations have unfolded in so many incredible and diverse ways across space and through time. So, getting stuck in our head with words that have become too small for our current reality is a trap, and it is good to learn how to get out of our self-created thought traps. Gaining perspective of different languages, different cultures, and even different ways of communication (e.g., dance, visual art, dreamtime, empathy), helps us re-appreciate our ability to communicate with each other in so many different ways. This I believe helps us to perceive nuances better for every word is really a universe. Here is one of my favorite shorts by Dr. Maya Angelou – Power Of Words.
The next jewel is learning to let go of the story. Here the question was asked: What are the actions I might take now that allow me to fully offer my gifts in service to what is needed in response to the possibility that everything is going to work our just fine or it is not going to work out? I think this is wonderful because it helps one to understand they can take an active role in telling the story unfolding right now about Earth and her fate (or a passive role). I think most of us began to believe (for me it was around the 6thgrade) that our voice does not matter, that our thinking will never be good enough, and that our internal knowledge is wrong and has no place in the world of educated men (I do use men here purposively).
To survive in our modern civilization, we learn how to bend ourselves and squeeze into the tiny boxes of perception and apperception that are allowed by the systems dictated to us by our modern, civilized world. Most of these systems come out of Western Civilization for this civilization has had a huge propensity to colonize the world with its particular brand of thinking and mindset. For humans living in modern Western systems, there are patterns for how to make money, where to live, how much free time to spend with friends, family, or anything else that is important, even how to think and use our minds. Since so many human beings are born into this system, we do not even realize how much control of our shared narrative we have given up by making ourselves fit into this story being told mostly by powerful ones inside of Western Civilization.
Most of us do not realize how shallow the conscious waters have become inside of this great narrative. But, we have been told we must swim only in these designated waters—conscious waters that are too shallow to sustain us much longer. I think other cultures and civilizations have not taught this out of their people. This is why we need our indigenous brothers and sisters, but we do not need to misuse their precious knowledge (as another Jewel cautions), rather this knowledge is inside every person trapped inside Western thinking, we need to marshal our courage and venture back into the deep end of our conscious capacities. This is where our indigenous brothers and sisters can be guides, but we must do the work. And, help each other to take a more active role in telling our personal story that becomes part of the collective story…this is so important. Active storytelling is a precious jewel—indeed, it is a super ability.
Another really critical element in this list of jewels is letting go of the ending of the story. When we let go of what we hope or want the ending to be, we put ourselves squarely in the present moment. This is where our power is. It is not in the past (we’ve already been there). It is not in the future (we are not there yetand thusour choicesare only future possibilities). It is NOW—this is where we choose our thread of shared reality. This is where our voice can help guide the flow of the collective story being told about Earth and its inhabitants. By letting go of our attachmentto what the ending needs to be or should be, suddenly all possibilities open up again.
In this moment of infinite possibilities, we can get about doing what we are so good at doing. In fact, we have evolved as human beings to not only perceive the beautiful world around us, but to appercept it. I am using apperception in the psychological meaning of this word, as defined earlier: “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” With this ability, we become transformers. It is what we do better than any other species on the planet, and that is to take our individualized toolbox (the mind) equipped with individualized knowledge, experience, and hopefully wisdom and create something new. Even when we don’t employ our wisdom, when we choose from the infinite number of possibilities swirling around us every momentof every dayand act on one, we collapse the infinite stream of possibilities into one possibility. This becomes our thread of reality.
So you see, we are more powerful than we think… and yet, just like the Buddhist concept of Pratītyasamutpāda, we are completely dependent on each other making the best choices possible to survive within our shared reality—the web we weave together. What a dilemma!
The world cannot be saved by one human being, not even by the most powerful and rich 1 percent of human beings. I don’t know how many it is going to take to save Earthfrom the looming climate crisiswe have woven into the story, but it is probably going to take asmany of us as possible who are awakening to our new role as narrators in this collective story. So, releasing the ending you want is essential because to be a powerful narrator, it is essential to see the present moment for what it is and tell this story as accurately as you can… how you avoided the rocks or boulders in the stream, how you saw and out smarted the poisonous snake laying wait in the rocks, how you navigate the stream of possibilities.
These are power stories. They have always been power stories from timeimmemorial. Now we must learn how to tell these powerful stories about ourselves again against the backdrop of our modern age with all its distractions, pain, and fear thatcreates chaos meant to keep us docile and frozen in non-action. Or at least trap us in polarized action. Such action simply gets cancelled out by its equal and opposite action by others trapped on the other side of a false divide. It is a trick of the powerful narrators of our time who currently control most of our collective narrative. Too many of ushave fallenintotheir trap, makingus desperately grasp at things beyond our reach. This especially happens whenwe lose the firm ground of our inner reality; then, we are especially at the mercy of nefarious forces trying to control the collective story through fearmongering and other dramatic techniques.
We must grow stronger consciously. This is how we strengthen Indra’s Net because each one of us is a jewel in this beautiful net. We can help each other by giving freely our time and attention to lift each other when we falter or fall. We don’t have to leave anyone behind. When we stand on the plain of our present moment and really see what is in front of us, we are powerful beings. This is a link to some of my early writing and visual storytelling about these ideas. This began to emerge inside of me more than two years ago: Consciousness Waves.
Another jewel is pain. Here another critical question is asked: How do we create a space for pain? So much of Western Civilization is focused on avoiding pain at all costs. I don’t know about you, but I grew up feeling it was not OK to admit to feeling pain. Physical pain was fine to admit. Everyone can clearly see if you have a scraped knee or broken arm. But, emotional or spiritual pain…this was scary. Often it is assumed you did not follow the prescribed rules you were taught, and thus you are the cause of your own pain and deserve to suffer. No one deserves to suffer. Hardly any of us has such control over all the things that impact us, it is ridiculous to blame a person in pain for their pain. But, so often this is what we do. I have been going through a year of pretty intense pain, I can tell you one thing: Pain focuses ones attention and time like no other stimuli. Pain tells us something is wrong, and it prods us to seek solutions. When we are in pain, trivial matters, mindless distractions, the things that use to fill our time fade away and the mind focuses on finding solutions. [I captured this idea in a fantastical little story about my trials in The Divine Dodo – Hanga Dyra Mingja.]
So, yes, make space for pain. Do not be afraid of the power pain offers. Perhaps this is what victim blamers are really afraid of… the person experiencing pain finding their power making them no longer so easy to control. Finding solutions to things causing pain is absolutely critical.
In this collection of jewels, there is also discussion about the power of music. I write about the power of music in another story I am writing, so I will not wax on about it here. I will simply say our ancestors understood the power of music and how it can inspire action in the minds of individuals and groups. We have forgotten the power that music and dance give us. We have let them become co-opted into the realm of entertainment and money-making. It is so much more than this. It is part of our internal guidance system. Find your song. Find your dance. This is how the universe moves and expresses itself through us. Our magical powers to transform reality rises from inside of us and through us… and it is through our collective action that what rises from inside our minds is made visible through our collective action in the world—this is our shared reality.
Another jewel closely connected to pain is grief. Indeed, grief as this group discusses, breaks open the heart. The group also shares a beautiful poem expressing grief exquisitely. Grief connects us to our empathy. Our empathic powers are needed now more than any other time in human history. To me empathy is not just understanding that someone else is in pain or is grieving, but it is the capacity to stand beside the person who is suffering, to bear witness to their pain knowing we cannot take their pain from them, but perhaps we can help them hold it for a time… maybe help the person endure it, however long it takes.
I think really powerful empaths can absorb into their own bodies other people’s pain, anger, grief, and the unbearable emotions. I think our ancestors and indigenous people understand how this works and know how to help transmute these powerful emotional states. But, this takes time and skill to understand and most of us in Western Civilization have lost this ability. However, Medicine men and women around the world still possess it, and known how not helping people navigate these difficult parts of the journey can impact the health not only of the individual suffering but of the entire group. In most modern cultures, we have lost the rituals of transformation that can transmute and balance these negative and destructive energies with their equal and opposite energies. It is here where we have our power as individuals and as groups in helping each other find and maintain balance so that wisdom can rise and shine brightly.
This is all I have time to reflect on right now. I wish I could do more, and I am sure my thinking and efforts to communicate are inadequate for the rich reservoir of ideas, thinking, collaborative efforts transpiring through this collective work (collective action of transformation) unfolding right here and right now. I can only encourage each person who has participated in the dialogues or who is just discovering these resources to use your own unique toolbox of thought, perception, experience, ideas to continue strengthening this net we are repairing together. We do this by providing our time and attention in whatever capacity we feel called to do and with whatever time we have available to do so. Time and attention are the most valuable resources in the universe. It really is all we need to be powerful narrators of our personal stories, which of course become a part of the collective story of Earth.
After writing this, I came upon readings and conversations about the importance of emptiness. I quite frankly did not understand how absolutely essential emptiness is when I wrote the above. I intend to write more about it when I have time, but for now I must devote most of my attention to finishing editing the story I began 7 years ago (almost to this day for I remember first finding the thread to the story I have been writing ever since late one September afternoon–this story is Sapience). And so I leave you only with a quote from Carl Jung whom I was reading and finally understood the power and importance of emptiness. He said:
“The archetype corresponding to the situation is activated, and as a result this explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall a prey too. “
“If 30 years ago anyone had dared to predict that our psychological development was tending towards a revival of the medieval persecutions of the Jews, that Europe would again tremble before the Roman fasces and the tramp of legions, that people would once more give the Roman salute, as two thousand years ago, and that instead of the Christian Cross an archaic swastika would lure onward millions of warriors ready for death–why, that man would have been hooted at as a mystical fool. And today? Surprising as it may seem, all this absurdity is a horrible reality. Private life, private aetiologies, and private neuroses have become almost a fiction in the world of today. The man of the past who lived in a world of archaic ‘representations collectives’ had risen again into very visible and painfully real life, and this not only in a few unbalanced individuals but in many millions of people”
“There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life. Endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic constitution, not in the form of images filled with content, but at first only as forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. When a situation occurs which corresponds to a given archetype, that archetype becomes activated and a compulsiveness appears, which, like an instinctual drive, gains its way against all reason and will, or else produces a conflict of pathological dimensions, that is to say, a neurosis.”
— The Portable Jung, The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, p. 66-67
I laid in bed meditating on the last few paintings I created (with assistance from my subconscious helpers) on the AMAZON and the FIRES. I asked for guidance what these paintings were about and what they were trying to communicate to myself and all of us. I heard the word very loudly in my minds eye, INTERCONNECTEDNESS. I thought of what the ravages of the fires meant in the Amazon with millions of acres burning, Siberia and all over the world currently. I knew since we exist on a living planet this effected us all because it is all energy and ripples to where ever we live on the planet. I felt so deeply that my heart was hurting, what is this doing to us psychologically? The death of so many species of life discovered and undiscovered, animals, bird life, Indigenous Peoples and the changing of their narratives, stories retold, insects, the dependency of interspecies. We are connected intrinsically. Do you feel the burning of the Mother in some way? How? Does it effect you? Do you feel hotter than usual? Is your anger or grief manifested in some level unexpressed? Do you notice the disconnectedness we feel around us to avoid talking about what really matters now, how we continue to live on a planet that is burning, flooding, getting hotter and hotter year after year? Do you feel the avoidance? Do you see it with more acting out and violence? And, meantime shallow discussions continue, and we don’t address the core of what really is happening as denial feels so safe or at least it offers an illusion of safety that these events are not taking place? I cannot and refuse to live in that place of complacency and denial.
First, I am an artist with every fiber of my being. I know the writers, artists, musicians, creators of gardens, novels, poetry, films, dance, storytelling can be a catalyst of change. I would like to think as we get our work in the public domains that we can change the narratives. We can write the truths, is it uncomfortable? Yes. Painful and even traumatic? Yes. But we no longer have the luxuries of denial. We depend on one another.
We are INTERCONNECTED. What happens to humanity through devastating events trickles into our fields of energy. We needed these plants, animals, people, villages, communities, stories to be a part of the Universal Narrative as they burn what does that mean to you and the place you live on the planet? Do not think the area you live in is not a possibility of future events? This home is a living organism and it will keep having it’s evolution. We absolutely cannot escape that. I think at this time on the planet we are dealing with what is true and what is not. Climate change at the most intense and dire levels are being recorded now. This is true. There is a chasm between honoring and offering sacred reciprocity to the planet and honoring ourselves and others in a good way. Do no harm. You ask how we can do that?
One small ripple of extending kindness is a start. A kind word. Reaching out to someone in need with no concern of how it will benefit you but how it will help your neighbor. Recycling, being conscious of your water intake, composting, zero waste, eating no meat, gardening your own organic foods with no pesticides we know of all these possibilities. Living in respect of one another and the planet is a act or prayer of gratitude. Having deep conversations with others about these issues helps. Reading literature and books that guide in changing the narrative helps. Creating a painting of contemplation helps. I know we are all so busy but what if we chose one thing to volunteer our time to weekly? One hour or two? Giving back to a cause or agency you strongly believe in? I love teaching art classes to high risk students or working on creating safe environments for others to gather and share conversations with. Painting is always my medicine. Listening to your dreams and intuition, it rarely steers you wrong.
AIRIA OF THE AMAZON, RAIN MEDICINE, ELLORA OF ECUADOR, and THE CHILDREN ON THE BORDER all came to me without premeditation. So many of my paintings do, I say this humbly as I do not know the magic that will enfold till I start the process. Our paper, our canvases, music sheets are bursting to translate messages. This will be the new planetary language. It is a new language we are learning through interconnectedness, one of co-existence. We have no other choice if we really want to make it. Our lives count on it. Our breath and all that lives and breathes on this planet counts on this. It’s beyond the stage of urgency which leads me to the next topic of being ECO GUARDIANS. I am still in the process of writing this entry.
Thank you for consideration of these words.
I must write them. I am asking you to please contribute your storytelling and narrative to this piece. I want to hear from you. I am counting on you. Till we meet again…
I have laid in bed thinking of all the paintings I have done since Blair died. My beloved. At first I thought the bulk of my work was about losing him so quickly and unexpectedly. I was devastated beyond all words and the only healing that worked for me was painting. I have been in my studio painting continuously since his passing 2 years ago. When I am not working, I paint; it is my healing medicine. What I realized was this was my ceremony for grief. Along with the grieving process, I grieved for the United States, the devastation of global climate changes at such a rapid rate and the pain of our leadership and where we were headed. I realized in the process I was painting about the Mother Earth and all the events that were happening at an exponential rate. I was grieving at such a deep level and my dreams became more and more prolific and vivid.
This is a painting that came to me in my dreams. I saw a Hopi woman going through the earth with a large yellow serpent as if she was a Guardian of what was to come. I asked where she came from and heard “Guatemala.” I had this dream before the insurgence of the refugees from Central America were heading this way at such a devastating rate. I saw her as a HOPI woman, and she was on a journey to Texas and New Mexico. This was before the detainment of what was to happen in Texas and on the border. I was told in the dream she was protecting the pathway of what was to become before us. Then, the detainment camps happened, and the pain of the suffering and deaths of all those trying to leave Central America escalated. It is not easy to be a visionary in these times but our roles are so important. I know the artists are needed with such urgency. I feel this deep in my art and dreams.
This Hopi woman speaks of the moment of catharsis. Please write your stories, poetry, paint and pay attention to your dreams. We are at the crossroads and the time is now with urgency on every level.
My next post will be on Eco Guardians and being a Warrior in these times.
Thank you so much for reading this and for your journey with me.
I was with him when he died. I was reading him the story I have been working on for the past 7 years. The previous night, I made a very difficult decision. He had been making phenomenal recovery from what should have been a fatal event 10 days earlier. But on the 9th day, he was sitting up in his hospital bed. He had a bible under one hand, and a pen and paper in the other. He immediately greeted me warmly when I walked in with a huge smile on his face, and I greeted him equally warmly. I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he had a lot of thank you letters to write but didn’t know where to begin. The nurse came in after a little while and fed him his medicine crushed up in pudding so he could swallow it. That was the problem. The day before, he had been more in a state of delirium than lucid consciousness. That day he worked his feed tube out of his stomach 4 times due to coughing or by using the back of his tongue. His entire critical care team was flummoxed by how quickly he was working it out, requiring it to be reinserted (not a pleasant experience… in fact, quite traumatic). The night nurse that night decided to leave it out. Dad rested peacefully. And, then I found him so happy to see me and wanting to write thank you cards. Everyone was so excited. Nurses who had cared for him earlier popped in to make sure I saw him. There was so much hope he would pull through this devastating event–where his heart had been stopped for more than 15 minutes as first responders worked so hard giving him CPR to get a shockable pulse.
So, here was the problem. To get him back to full health, he needed the feed tubing reinserted to get all the medicines he needed, and the doctors were not certain yet if his swallowing reflect had been damaged. How could we know after reinserting the feeding tube this final time that it would send him into a delirium he would never return from. That’s what happened. If I could do this over, I would have followed my gut and not allowed it. He would have died… I know this… but he would have died possibly more peacefully.
After almost 48 hours of non-stop movement of mind and body, my father was lost in space and time and utterly exhausted. The medicines were not calming him any more. Just before I was about to leave at midnight on the 10th night of him being in the ICU, his night nurse said, “If he was on Comfort Care, I could give him more medicine to help him calm down and rest.” The doctors had talked to us earlier that day about our options. I knew Comfort Care meant he was dying. And, so before I left, I gave instructions to move him to Comfort Care.
The next morning, he was sleeping. He nurse told me he had cleaned him and was doing everything to make him comfortable. He looked peaceful. He never woke, but I talked to him. I had a vision that morning about what I needed to do for him. So, after the nurse left, I told dad what I was going to do. Earlier that summer I promised to send him the latest part of my story. I hadn’t sent it yet. It is set in the time of the Vikings. My father was pure Norwegian. The girl in my story was on a glacier between Odda and Rosendal, Norway. My father’s family is from Odda. This girl in the story had just been in a terrible accident that left her companion unconscious and with broken ribs. My father’s ribs were broken from the CPR.
I told dad I was going to read him the story. It was going to be a sleigh made of sound to help him get across to the other side. In my story, my girl had just made a sleigh out of a bear hide to pull her injured companion across the glacier. So, my voice and this story they were going to serve as a sort of sleigh to help him cross. I told dad that his mother, his brother, brother-in-law, and all the people he knew and loved who had already passed were waiting for him. I told him he could leave any time during the story or wait until the end. Then, I started reading. The hospital Chaplin came after a while, and I told him all about dad. He said a prayer incorporating all the things I had told him. And, he recited Psalm 23.
I continued reading the story.
I read to him until 2:40 p.m. I held his hand as I read. I had just finished reading the part of the story where the priest meets a woman who mysteriously washes up on the shores of Dublin, Ireland. He helps her recover, find work, and get a home. They fall in love. They have to keep it hidden. They have a baby, but she dies during childbirth and the priest cannot admit he is the father, so he gives his daughter to the nuns who live in a nearby nunnery to be raised. I had read to him about this girl’s early childhood and a very scary nun she encounters. I was about to read him the part about Resurrection Sunday when I heard his breathing change–dramatically. I saw his pulse rate dropping–dramatically. I knew what was happening and rushed to him, my heart pounding. I told him mom and my brothers were 15 minutes away, he needed to wait. His breathing quicken and pulse went up, but only briefly. Then, it plummeted again. I knew the nurses could give him a drug through his IV to bring his pulse back up, but I also knew I had moved him to Comfort Care last night. Instead of running to get the nurse, I threw myself over him and hugged him fiercely. His nurse and doctor came in. They held my hand and hugged me. No one said anything. After some time I looked up and asked the doctor if he had gone. With the kindest face and deepest empathy, he nodded. Neither he nor the nurse left. They stayed with me and never once did I feel like they had anything more important to do–though I knew they were responsible for many people in very serious conditions. My mother and brothers arrived 10 minutes later. They had indeed been 15 minutes away, though when I told dad I had no way of knowing this. My brother thinks at the time of dad’s passing they were at the last rest stop, and mom was picking daisies. I had just been reading to dad about daises.
So, one year later, this is my telling of the journey I have been on since his death. It is told through music and art. The starting image I drew on the plane on July 27, 2018 as I flew out to be with my father one day after this heart attack. As I drew, I listened to Asura’s Life2 album. I listened to one song in particular over and over as the image took shape. This song was Celestial Tendencies. Each song from Asura’s album held special meaning and energy for me during this time. The music was a way to hold onto some divine and sublime at a time of great crisis and ultimate tragedy. The visual journey is an expansion of my original drawing in my notebook. Please forgive my indulgence as I spent a lot of time drawing the different layers. Ultimately, I decided to use each of the songs that helped me to be strong for dad and my family during this terrible time. I realize it is a video that probably only I will ever watch in its entirety.
The visual story of this journey can not be viewed. I have tried, but I believe algorithms used by most of the major social media platforms flagged this image possibly as a man on a cross and this has been tied to White Supremacy. I understand this concern. It is validate given our time. I would just say that this is how the vision of my father appeared to me as I flew out to be with him, and that during my 10 days with him, he indeed held his arms out this way many times for he was suffering. I think outstretched arms like this are also a symbol for the suffering of the world, and my father felt this deeply, our collective human suffering. It powered him and transformed him as a force of compassion in the world. As this image progresses, it transforms from an image of human suffering into one of transcendence. I am sorry I cannot share this work at this time, but that is our current reality and I accept the collective wisdom of our time.
You may be able to view the video if you can get to my Art Page on Facebook; here it is pinned to the top of the page.
I would like to end with two stories about my father that were given at his memorial service. One is by one of my brothers and the other by me. My father was one of the kindest, most caring, and compassionate human beings anyone could ever hope to encounter. His deep and unconditional love for everyone was felt by all who got to know him, even when they messed up, he held them in patience and love. What a lesson for the times we live in now.
This is my brother’s eulogy:
Monrad Kicks the Hell’s Angels Out of Yellowstone
As we go through life, our impressions and feelings toward our parents change. I’m going to share with you some impressions from my childhood, Around the age of eight or nine when we lived in South Dakota. At this age boys want a tough dad with street creds and unfortunately, I was convinced my father was a wimp. The previous sunday he had preached Yet another sermon on love. By my count the 4th sermon on love that summer .
But it didn’t matter because we were about to commence on a treasured family tradition ; the summer vacation. We’d take a popup camper and head out West for one or two weeks . On this trip, I believe we went to either Grand Teton or YellowStone, let’s just say it was Yellowstone.
We had the camping routine down pat. We’d set up camp, spend a few days hiking or fishing then move on to the next location. In these popular parks you needed to get to the next campsite early, well before 5 pm, or the campsites could fill up. On this particular day we had had a long drive and almost all the sites were taken but we finally found one and a nice secluded spot at that. After we had set up camp and were settling in, some loud motorcycles pulled up to a clearing just across the road from our camper. They wore leather jackets and skull caps. We kids immediately knew who they were because they had been covered in last week’s TV news. This was none other than the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. About this time Monrad notices what is going on and Yell’s across to the gang “that is not a campsite, you can’t camp there.” The reply came back to “Mind your own business” or something similar. Monrad responded even louder and more angry “That is not a campsite you can’t camp there “. We kids were terrified, we were sure our dad was going to get beat up … or worse. But to our surprise after a few more exchanges, maybe a few insulting gestures exchanged as well, the bikers revved up their engines and moved on.
That was the day I was proud of my father, he just kicked the Hell’s Angels out of Yellowstone.
This is my eulogy:
Born: April 16, 1935; Died: August 4, 2018; Age: 83
My father… Monrad Mandsager… He is why you are here today… Monty! And, do you know what he would have said?
He would have said, “Goodness sakes… you’ve come all this way… for me! You shouldn’t have… thank you… thank you so much… thank you for coming!”
SHOWING UP & PAYING ATTENTION = LOVE
His whole life dad never felt worthy. In his mind, he was a poor, simple farm boy from Iowa who could never quite do all the things exactly the way his dad wanted them done, and he grew up without his mother’s kind and loving warmth and support. These early beginnings always left him questioning his worth. But my dad would always show up and give any task (big or small) his best! For him, what was most important was making time, paying attention, and creating a space to understand the needs of others because dad knew this is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other… for it is the most basic way we show our love to each other. Dad’s capacity to create and hold a sacred space for others was one of his superpowers! He would listen with empathy, kindness, and unwavering attention to someone’s life story, latest frustration, or good news. And, he would remember what you told him and ask you about it the next time he saw you.
SUPERPOWERS OF ATTENTION + LISTENING + UNDERSTANDING
Dad’s ability to pay attention and listen combined with his humbleness allowed him to be there for people at their greatest time of need. I remember one tragedy where dad demonstrated his tremendous capacity to empathize and be there for a grieving family after their 16-year-old son was killed in a hunting accident. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember my parents explaining to me how this family had lost several children before this tragedy and this was their last son. I remember going with mom and dad many times to visit the family after dad broke the terrible news to them. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness and sadness. But, I also remember knowing being there with my parents was important. I was no older than first grade, but I remember this experience vividly, and I’ll come back to this later for as I was reading through dad’s writings to figure out what I would say today, I found his reflections on this same tragedy for it had profoundly impacted him too. Grief it turns out is not bounded to one day or one week or one year… it is a deeply personal journey and dad understood this. He understood a time of grief is not a time to give people “pat answers” about why death or a tragedy occurred… neither is it a time to tell the person how and when to recover from it. He knew he didn’t know, but what he did know was he needed to be there for however long it took and at whatever capacity the family or individual needed, even if it meant just sitting in silence with them. I’m going to share with you several of dad’s amazing traits (I call them his superpowers), and now that he’s gone, I realize they were precious gifts given freely and in love to me and I suspect he gave them to many of you!
One of his wonderful superpowers was his adventuresome, wandering spirit. Little more than 6 weeks after being ordained at Luther Seminary and marrying mom, they took off to Brazil where dad was to serve as a missionary in Sao Paulo and the surrounding area. Mom and dad had to learn Portuguese and spent almost a year studying and learning it before dad began his mission work. He was one of the first missionaries to give all of his sermons in Portuguese, and of course, this is where I and my brother Craig were born. We learned Portuguese too and spoke it to everyone outside of our immediate family. I am told when we returned to the states, and I met my grandparents for the first time, I sat on their knees chattering happily away in Portuguese as they smiled and enjoyed meeting their granddaughter and grandson for the first time. I was pretty young in Brazil, but I have snap shot memories of life with my parents such as galloping on my father’s shoulders through the jungle with monkeys shrieking at us from high in the trees (that was magnificent)! Watching a steel drum band at a gathering and marveling at the beautiful music coming from the steel cans the musicians had turned into their drums dad had explained all this to me for he loved the steel drums! I also remember traveling with dad in our jeep over muddy, rutted, red roads and being surrounded by hundreds of sheep on their way home, leaving dad and I to revel in the wonder of the moment.
From Brazil, we flew back to the Midwest, this is where my brother Phillip was born. From there, dad helped his brother-in-law Bob start a new church in Southern CA – so, we moved to Sunnymead where my brother Peter was born – and, then our family was complete! I won’t go into all the places we moved or family vacations we took, but dad loved to travel, and he wanted us to experience and see the vast, beautiful, wondrous places of this land, and we saw many thanks to him!
THE DREAMER & LEARNER
My father was also a dreamer and lifelong learner! He loved geology, astronomy, anthropology, paleontology, and even astrophysics; he transferred his love of learning to me and my brothers! Dad would tell you that his love of learning and interests in science was sometimes disturbing to his faith, and he often navigated between the waters of faith and doubt. But, this made dad stronger, not weaker for he was able to transform his doubt into a deeper, vaster faith in God.
In his own words, he says, “Since I am often between faith and doubt, my stockpile of “pat answers” has diminished considerable. Life is discovery, growth, affirmation of faith in God in the midst of doubt. Life is affirmation of the creation of oneself, of others, of the goodness and love of God. Christ is our best light of this, pointing us to a loving Father God through the goodness and light His life has given for us in loving service through suffering even onto death.”
And, so here again you glimpse dad’s superpowers of kindness, compassion, and deep empathy for people and all living beings, and this guided him through his journey between the waters of faith and doubt; and it greatly informed his ministry for he saw himself as a humble servant who would stop to help anyone in need—and this is a gift he gave freely and frequently!
TRANSFORMATION OF FAITH
As I was reading dad’s writings, I found one piece he titled an Account of My Life to Age 43 where he describes honestly and elegantly his life journey, especially about the transformation of his faith. Here he accounts the same story I remembered about the 16-year-old boy. (I’ve changed the names for it seems even after all these years, the family is entitled to their privacy) Dad writes: “…the summer of ’72, we moved to Redway to serve Grace Lutheran Church. At that time, the KindFamily was a family of four: Joe, the father, a Roman Catholic and lumberjack; Corothy, the mother, a member of Grace; David (16) had been confirmed that Spring; and Lucy (13). Previous to our acquaintance, they had been a family of 7—two boys had been born with progressive muscular dystrophy and died in their young teens and a baby girl died of lung cancer at age 3. … About two months after our arrival Corothy talked about going to stay with her husband for a week in the woods – something she had never done before. She was apprehensive about leaving the kids. They ended up taking Lucy, while David was to stay with the next-door neighbors who were trusted friends. They left Sunday. Late Tuesday afternoon, council member, Karl came running up our steps, out of breath, a strained expression on this face. “Pastor, Pastor, something awful has happened, they found David dead beside his motorcycle and rifle along a trail. He’s been shot! This is awful. I can’t believe it… David’sthe only boy they had left! They were so proud of him. He was such a good kid. What are we going to do?”
Dad writes he was equally shocked as he attempted to reassure Karl that with God’s help they’d find a way to help the Kinds. Karl asked if dad would be there when the family arrived home to tell them what happened. Dad said yes, and he’d like Karl to be there too since he was a supporting friend of the family.” This event solidified for dad at a moment of great tragedy and grief, it is not a time to theologize or to tell a person not to protest to God as they grapple with the question why… why… why… Dad describes how he simply sat in the ditch with the father as he wept, and when he asked questions dad answered them simply with the information he knew. Then, they wept together, talked a little more, and wept again. Dad was there for days and weeks later walking with the family one small step at a time. He came to understand, as he tried to answer the agonizing question why, that we live in a world where accidents and disease happen, death is a mystery, and we don’t know all the answers. He came to believe it is not God who appoints the hour and manner of death, but more evil and death have come into our world through the backdoor (as it were). However, God is on the side of goodness and life; nevertheless, since evil, accidents, disease, and death have come among us, God Himself in Jesus, went through suffering, sorrow, and death… because he loves us and wants to show us he understands, cares, and shares our burdens and carries them with us during our greatest times of grief, pain, sorrow, and need. And, so the gift of faith was given to me—a gift dad demonstrated vividly throughout his life!
The Gift of Courage
The last gift I’ll mention today is courage. It was a heart attack that took him down the evening of July 25, and it was the heroic efforts of first responders and hospital staff in Albert Lea and the Mayo Clinic that brought him back along with our good neighbors who brought Mom to both hospitals that night to be with Dad. One nurse who had also been an EMT told me about 4% of patients flown in after such an event survive, so dad was a miracle—even if it was just one week. Each day on the ICU was a battle, but dad made amazing progress regaining consciousness and recognition surpassing the tempered hopes that the excellent doctors and nurses held for him and worked tirelessly to achieve. The best the team could work out is dad probably went without oxygen to his brain for 15 to 20 minutes—most agree after 9; severe brain damage can begin. Despite tremendous gains coming back consciously, his body continued to reel from catastrophic system failures. The doctors figured out one problem was a blockage in an artery in the heart, which they fixed this with a stint, but the other required a pace maker. This was a challenge because dad had several broken ribs since CPR is really only effective when ribs are broken. But, pneumonia set in creating a vicious cycle of needing to cough, which caused pain that sent him into cycles of delirium. It was a delicate balance the medical team at St. Mary’s walked, moment by moment to figure out what dad needed.
Two days before his death—I call it his Lazarus day. I arrived in the morning. He was sitting upright in bed with wonderful color to his face and a sparkle in his eyes. He was holding a pen, paper, and bible and exclaimed happily as I walked in: “Debbie!” I returned: “Dad!” I sat down beside him and asked him what he was doing. He told me he had a lot of thank yous to write but was having a hard time getting started.
The day before had been pretty rough for he had worked his feed tube out 3 times, earning him the title of the Hundi of Feeding Tubes. He still did not have it reinserted, and so his nurse fed him pudding with his pills crushed in it. It was slow, and dad was having a hard time swallowing. But, this day, everyone was so hopeful he could recover at least to this point; however, to do so, he would need the feed tube reinserted. This sent him into a delirium he would not come out of, and this is where the courage comes in… I had to have the courage to see the totality of his reality – I needed to reconcile the hope of his recovery with the despair of cascading system failures in his body. After 36 hours of continuous delirium, I made the tough decision to move him to comfort care, allowing the nurses and doctors to give him stronger medications to keep him comfortable and out of pain. The Mayo team was magnificent in providing me and our family with all the options ranging from further invasive interventions to comfort care, and it was his night nurse, Luis, who said something about being able to give dad stronger medicines that night, which finally made me understand the reality of dad’s situation. We had never made it out of the Sea of Delirium, and dad was suffering and needed me to make a courageous choice. So, I did.
When I returned the next morning, he was sleeping—the delirium was over. His day nurse told me he had cleaned him, and they were making him comfortable. He looked at peace. I could hear the gurgle of the pneumonia in his lungs, but he was not struggling for air. I sat down next to him and began to read part of the book I have written for I had promised to send him the manuscript but had not yet sent it. The Chaplin came in after a couple of hours. I told him all about dad and the past week. He recited the 23rdPsalm, and then he said a prayer incorporating everything I had told him. I resumed reading. His nurse came back to turn him. I continued reading holding his hand, comforted by his warmth. Less than 45 minutes later, his breathing suddenly changed. I looked at his monitor and saw his heart rate dropping just as it had been doing over the past week (this is why he needed a pace maker). I felt panic and pleaded with dad to wait for mom to arrive (for I felt she was 15 minutes away). Dad breathed, and his heart rate went up, but for less than a minute; then it plunged again. I wanted to run and get the nurse to give him a drug to increase his heart rate, but I didn’t… I knew he was going and I needed to let him go… this took tremendous courage… how could I let my father go? I couldn’t, so I threw myself on him, hugged him and cried. His nurse came in and put his arm around my shoulders as I held onto dad, and his doctor came in and held my hand. After a while, I looked up and asked, “Is he gone?” His doctor simply and compassionately confirmed dad had gone. My brothers and mom arrived 10 minutes later. His nurse and doctor stayed with us for a long time. I did not feel for one minute they had anything more important to do than to be a witness to dad’s passing and our grief—a tremendous gift.
The Gift of Love
So, thank you all for being here to remember dad and to celebrate his life and the many gifts he gave to so many of us.
I know dad never felt he deserved this sort of attention, but dad, if you are listening, you deserve it, every last bit of it for your gifts have healed so many people in our broken world, which desperately needs the compassion you shared and your capacity to listen and be with others during their greatest hour of need and to do so in kindness and with empathy, all of which came so natural to you.
In my previous blog, I explored ideas about wholeness, consciousness, division, thought traps, and the dangers of dragons and vortexes we create through personal and collective bits of unconsciousness that accumulate in our psyches over time. My ideas were inspired by a piece my friend Jürgen Hornschuh wrote as part of his Yurugu Series, specifically #2: How to identify imperialistic thought. As I wrestled with my divergent ideas, I blended the thinking of Carl Jung, Dalai Lama, David Bohm, J.M. Berger, Aqua Man, and others who are speaking to the challenges of our time. To be honest, I had not read any of Jürgen’s other pieces in his series until after completing the Yurugu Mirror. One exception is I read Fingerprints on water, which is an elegant and deeply enduring piece. Now, I am reading all Jürgen’s posts in his Yurugu Series as well as two other writings that two other friends recommended I read after they read my Yurugu Mirror piece.
As I read and digest new ideas, my thinking-word consciousness is taking a break. However, my art-vision consciousness remains busy. Below are two short videos created from art emerging from dreams and visions from my work on the Yurugu Mirror piece.
The image for this piece, Flying, comes from a fragment of a dream that is obviously speaking to the section on vortexes in the Yurugu Mirror. Putting words to what I have drawn immediately diminishes it, as Western thinking usually does. Thus, it is best to refer you to the vortex section in A Yurugu Mirror and the Role of Consciousness Warriors and watch the video, then draw your own conclusions. I will simply say I believe it broadly speaks to our unconsciousness and how we might impact and affect each other with unexamined (or unintegrated) personal and collective pieces of unconsciousness that glob together in our psyches over time. At least in my experience, it can create a dead weight that can keep a person stuck in the lower realms of conscious existence. But, remaining here becomes toxic over time, and especially so when we compete for psychic recognition and space in our shared reality. The evolution of the images in the video hints at the possibility that what we see and can measure with our physical senses is limited, and there is something far vaster and more beautiful beyond what we can see, hear, touch, and smell. This something is a divine mystery–that is the final image of the video, which I find deeply comforting.
This piece, It Came From Inside, explores the lost inner landscapes existing inside every human being. In the Yurugu Mirror, I write throughout how our inner landscapes are disappearing. The originating image for this drawing was a crumpled skyscraper in a devastated city. I was not up to drawing an entire city, so I settled on a partly destroyed skyscraper in a dried up, barren landscape. On a ridge stands the beautiful being inside who witnesses this devastation in sadness. This is how the drawing begins, but then something miraculous unfolds as a new landscape appears in parallel with the first. This one is whole and beautiful and alive. The video documents the journey between the two evolving inner landscapes as they mature through time. Again, to describe the images with words diminishes them. It is best to simply watch the story told through art and music and draw your own conclusions based on your own journey through time and awareness of (or lack of awareness of) your inner landscape.
From the very beginning of drawing this series, I knew the title was It Came From Inside, which hints at the possibility we may be destroying our shared reality (Earth) by destroying our inner landscapes first. We destroy them by forgetting they are there, forgetting how to get there, forgetting how these spaces nourish and guide us throughout our lives. As more and more of us lose access to our inner worlds, our outer world reflects this lost reality. The song came to my mind just before I started working on the video. I knew I could condense 40 minutes of video to fit the length of the song They Move of Tracks of Never-ending Light (and this 40 minutes condenses hours and hours of drawing time). I had not listened to this song in over a year, but I knew it was the right one to tell the story of this journey. The name of the group This Will Destroy You is also perfect in every way for when we become aware of things inside ourselves or about the pain and struggle of others, we inherit a responsibility that is measured by what we do or do not do with what we know. This burden of knowledge might be a huge reason why so many of us choose to live unconscious lives—it is easier if we do not see the pain inside ourselves or in others, and if we don’t see it, then we don’t have to do anything to comfort ourselves or those around us. To heal is painful, so most of us just live with a wound inside that never heals. One may wonder where the medicine men and women, shamans, and seers have gone. They are the ones who have always been there to help us heal from these deep internal wounds. They have guided people and tribes going through crisis, change, and transformation from the very beginning of our emergence into conscious beings. Today, they exist as musicians and artists—and of course indigenous people all over the world who never lost this capacity. These are the people of our time who voyage into the deepest realms inside the human psyche (and collective soul). They are the ones who bring back glimpses of the treasures and dangers residing deep inside every human being. They are the ones who can get to the bedrock of human consciousness, which is the primeval place where we first emerged from the deep and restless Sea of Unconsciousness. This is where we are barely standing Now, or maybe we are crawling on our bellies too weak to even venture beyond this point of emergence in our unstable, fragile consciousness of today.
When our inner landscapes crumble, disappear, and sink back into our unconsciousness, they become lost to us, leaving us weak, indecisive, confused, and trapped. Compounding this, the more we forget who we really are, the more we cast these forgotten parts of ourselves onto our family, friends, neighbors, and world. These cast-off parts become the “other” who we then give ourselves permission to demonize for whatever it is inside ourselves we lost. This is dangerous… really dangerous… and we have been here before 100 and 75 years ago. We are here again, except this time, in addition to rising waves of war, hunger, and hate, we teeter on the edge of climate catastrophe. I don’t know, but I feel unless we find a way to heal inside….what we see rising today is our future. If we can find a way back to our lost inner places, we can get back to the lost wisdom and knowledge needed to make different choices. This is where the strength can be found needed to be Consciousness Warriors. It is here where we find nourishment that feeds our appetite for life. It is here we are empowered to be a force for good in the world. There is no collective way inside to our inner spaces. This is an individual journey. Each person must find their own way based on their own challenges, circumstances, and pain. I don’t see one great transformation on the horizon that happens in one fell swoop of conscious light that suddenly can be seen by billions. I see it as a courageous journey that must be taken individually. But perhaps it is one that can be encouraged, supported, and helped like comrades who are on a great and perilous journey who support, comfort, and aide each other so they can all make it eventually. If we can do this, then we might have a chance.
I love what Jürgen writes in Fingerprints on water:
“Owning less goes straight against the paradigm of separation; consuming less is incompatible with the locust culture currently ruling the whole planet; and doing less, to me, is the confession that the complexity of the world is way beyond my understanding. I just don’t know what is good for everybody. I hardly know what is good for me. I’ve got an intuition, and I follow it. I don’t know where this ends, but it feels good to trust that feeling, and I do not suffer from less stuff. There is no sacrifice, no loss, no self-denial. It’s rather the opposite – every gadget, every insurance, every untruthful relationship, every idea, every activity that fell away provided space and time for something much more valuable: the essence of it all, the unadulterated sensation of living, the meaning of being alive. Not that I got that to the fullest; as already shared, I still own things, thoughts, personae. Life is becoming more and more interesting though.”
This movement away from everything we have been told to value feels right to me. It feels like moving away from the thinking that has taken us to the great chasm of our time—the chasm that exists inside each of us.
Three things I read within 24 hours of finishing the above suggests a precedence for achieving this elusive inner transformation. They are:
My former philosophy professor John Visvader wrote a piece entitled Reflections on a Chinese Garden where he talks about the differences between Chinese/Eastern thinking and the philosophy of the West. He uses the story of the Garden of Eden to highlight differences in Chinese and Western thinking saying:
“From a Chinese point of view, Adam and Eve turned a garden into a wilderness or wild place by imagining themselves to be superior to the garden, by trying to be equal to the creator of the garden. The moral knowledge they gained told them that gods and humans were qualitatively different from and superior to the world of nature. Thus, they narrowed the realm of obligatory behavior and chose to be associated with gods rather than gardens…”
John Visvader, Reflections on a Chinese Garden
This he suggests created a division in the wholeness that governs our natural world, which we are apart (we really never left… only our thinking did). This is what created the disharmony and incoherence we see today. He ends saying:
“…and our search for our own broken wholeness has made us search out paths long forgotten and lead us to believe that something like the Chinese view of human nature must be true. We have also learned in stark pragmatic terms that we are living in a smaller and more interconnected world than we might have imagined. The idea of wilderness has become a metaphor for that other metaphor of the self-so, the garden. Many of us find that we need to have a place where nature can be itself so that on some fundamental level we can also be ourselves. (…) If we find important healing in wilderness and its preservation we must recommend it to others, but the “correct behavior” which we sense and may try and spell out in terms of ethical or moral principles cannot easily convert those whose sense of self is constituted differently.”
In a lecture to his peers (Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice), Carl Jung describes the deeper levels of knowing needed to understand the workings of the unconsciousness and to diagnosis the troubles it can cause when critical parts inside of our psyche fail to be integrated or transformed by consciousness (the engine that strives to achieve inner wholeness). He talks about the learning and understanding developed in the far East saying:
“… We Europeans are not the only people on the earth. We are a peninsula of Asia, and on that continent there areold civilizationswhere people have trained their minds inintrospective psychology for thousands of years,whereas we began with our psychology not even yesterday but only this morning. These people have an insight that is simply fabulous, and I had to study Eastern things to understand certain facts of the unconscious. I had to go back to understand Oriental symbolism.”
Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice (p. 74)
A little later, he describes the concept of Tao to his peers saying:
“… Tao can be anything. (…) I call it synchronicity. The Eastern mind, when it looks at an ensemble of facts, accepts that ensemble as it is, but the Western mind divides it into entities, small quantitates. (…) The Eastern mind is not at all interested in that. The Chinese mind asks: ‘What does it mean that these things [these people] are together?’ The Chinese mind experiments with that being together and coming together at the right moment. (…) It has a method of forecasting possibilities, and it is still used by the Japanese Government about political situations; it was used in the Great War. This method was formulated in 1143 B.C.”
Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice (p.76-77) [Note: This method is the I Ching or Book of Changes]
In a book about the I Ching (i.e., The Philosophy of the I Ching), Carol K. Anthony writes:
“What we learn through the I Ching is a substratum of universal truth that underlies all major religions and philosophies of life. As these universal truths emerge in our learning, we understand the relationships that these truths have to philosophies and religions. By contrast to them, however, the I Ching way is to live in an unstructured manner, free of precepts and rules. Just as we constantly interact with the changing environment as we canoe down a river, so we learn, through the I Ching, to interact with our continuously changing lives. With the I Ching as guide, we learn our natural limitations; as we apply our knowledge, we gain experience; we avoid rocks and underwater objects; we find the channel; we learn when to paddle hard and when to rest, when to get out of the water and portage around dangerous falls. We start with the stream when it is small, at a time when our errors are less serious; then, down river, we are able to face the larger challenges. We are never totally secure; we can never plot what we are going to do more than a few feet ahead. This means we continuously adapt to the conditions as they show themselves. In finding that our abilities are up to the challenges, we develop the courage to take the risks that are always involved in a continuous learning process. Although we have a master guide in the Sage who speaks through the I Ching, who knows what lies ahead, throughout the trip we are only helped to develop our skills. It is we who make the trip, who do the paddling, who take the risks, and who, in the end, become our own masters.”
Carol K. Anthony,The Philosophy of the I Ching (Introduction, p. x)
I have written much about the Fayu tribe who live in New Guinea and remained mostly unknown to the modern world until the early 70s. What was known about them was they were fierce and did not like intruders. In this series, I explored some of their noble qualities as a people untouched by Western Civilization until recently as well as some of their not so noble ones as remembered by Sabine Kuegler in a memoir about her experience growing up as a child among this tribe. Specifically, I explored the idea of how their warrior spirit became lopsided, overpowering and submerging their kinder, more compassionate spirit.
As I wrote this series, my friend Jürgen Hornschuh was writing the Yurugu Series. In his series, he explains Yurugu is an African-centered critique of European culture’s thought and behavior. I found his series compelling for just as the Fayu could not see their lopsidedness until the family from Germany came to live with them, so too we who live immersed in Western culture are mostly blind to the thinking, patterns, and cultural narratives that define our cultural realities. Thus, it is helpful to have tools (such as a Yurugu Mirror) to help us see ourselves and our situation more clearly.
As there is precious little time to prance around whether Climate Change is a thing or not… it is a thing… a big thing happening faster and more devastating than scientists have been predicating for more than 30 years (see Bill McKibben’s book below). It is caused by us—by our burning fossil fuels, engaging in massive agricultural practices, and polluting water systems and the land, not to mention how we claim more and more livable habitat for ourselves, denying other creatures the space they need to live. We have become in a very short period of time an extremely narcissistic lopsided creature.
Given the moment we are in now, I’m just diving into what I hope to accomplish in this piece, which is to highlight the struggle we face today (consciousness), how we might get out of it (balance), and the role of Consciousness Warriors (coaches*). Playing off parts in Jürgen’s piece, I have organized this blog into the following sections: What is a Consciousness Warrior, The Weapon, The Vortex, The Struggle, and The End. Jürgen’s article stands on its own and is worth your time and attention for he succinctly and clearly lays out a compelling idea. I am deeply grateful for his work. My thoughts and ideas are simply mine, which Jürgen may or may not agree. Here is Jürgen’s piece in its entirety: Mach was!? (Do something!?)
* As I wrote this section and searched for a word to help ground the reader in what I mean by a Consciousness Warrior, the 20thAnniversary of the Columbine school shooting took place. In remembering the beautiful souls lost and all the survivors who continue to struggle from this terrible moment, I heard the story about coach Dave Sanders. He coached the girls basketball team, was a husband and a father, and beloved by his whole community. By his daughter’s account, he was an ordinary, gentle man, but his heart was extraordinary for when the shots rang out, he raced towards the gun fire telling students to leave. He cleared much of the cafeteria and was racing to the library when he encountered the boys. One of the students he coached said his style was “quiet thunder.” This is what a Consciousness Warrior is…an ordinary person doing ordinary things to help others, but someone who will run into the vortex of a crisis because that’s what they do help others.
What is a Consciousness Warrior?
A Consciousness Warrior can be anybody for all of us hold a tiny patch of consciousness inside our bodies and minds. The trick is taming it and training it. For gardeners, it is like cultivating a beautiful, nourishing garden. So, how do we go about taming or cultivating our patch of consciousness?
The most important tools that Consciousness Warriors have is time and attention. Where we place our attention, our time flows. Where we spend our time, our reality grows. Time and attention build the landscapes of our inner world. These are the places where our private thoughts, dreams, visions, and nightmares trickle, run, and roar like quite streams or raging rivers. From these place grow our thoughts, which weave the stories we tell about ourselves and the world (e.g., “when I do this, this happens…”). From our stories rise our choices and actions. And this my friend is how our inner worlds are woven into the world we share together—both actions and non-actions that mix, blend, and collide with all the other beings making choices and taking actions to create our Sea of Reality. To change our shared reality, we must begin by transforming our inner landscape and this means working our personal plot of consciousness (i.e., taming or cultivating it). The trouble is, most of us get lost or blown off course by great gusts of wind or tsunamis size waves that come from the unconsciousness, which also resides inside of us.
Consciousness Warriors pay attention to their inner and outer worlds, and they do the work to tame their minds (or tend them like gardens). They have learned how to navigate and prepare for the storms blowing up from the unconsciousness. And, they know every person is infinitely more powerful than we think we are or have been led to believe we are. This is because all of us has emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness. There are many routes out of this sea as evidenced by the beautiful diversity of people and cultures on Earth. However, today most of us have been assimilated into the monolithic culture we call Western Civilization. Supposedly this is our shining achievement as human beings—but something has clearly gone wrong.
For one thing, Western Civilization places a god-like reverence for what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch (an extrovert’s delight!). Out of this has grown our civilization’s great love for classifying, dividing, and measuring things, especially things that can be turned into money. This is really fun! However, our intense focus on dividing, measuring, and making money comes at price, and that is our inner worlds. They are drying up, becoming terribly shallow, even turning into vast deserts due to lack of time and attention directed inward. To lead a good life requires a delicate balance between these two realms of reality. But this is where we have taken a wrong turn by directing all of our time and attention to the external world and all the fun things we can do, if only we have enough money. The more time and attention we put into doing things in the world, the more we become attached to these things and our doings. This makes us psychologically dependent on our external reality, leaving our inner reality to wilt away.
I talk a great deal about this predicament in previous blogs (e.g., The Collective Unconsciousness and the Oversoul), so I will not do so here, except to resurrect an excerpt to provide footing for this strange terrain. It comes from Carl Jung in his book The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Here he describes the collective unconsciousness and how it impacts us. His ideas were considered strange during his life, and mostly remain strange today. This is because we have continued to forget and lose words to describe our inner realities—like a person being overcome with Alzheimer’s Disease. Beginning on page 21, Jung writes:
“The necessary and needful reaction from the collective unconscious expresses itself in archetypally formed ideas. The meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s shadow. The shadow is a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well. But one must learn to know oneself in order to know who one is. For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad. It is the world of water, where all life floats in suspension; where the realm of the sympathetic system, the soul of everything living, begins; where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me.
No, the collective unconscious is anything but an incapsulated personal system; it is sheer objectivity, as wide as the world and open to all the world. There I am the object of every subject, in complete reversal of my ordinary consciousness, where I am always the subject that has an object. There I am utterly one with the world, so much a part of it that I forget all too easily who I really am. ‘Lost in oneself’ is a good way of describing this state. But this self is the world, if only a consciousness could see it. That is why we must know who we are.
The unconscious no sooner touches us than we are it—we become unconscious of ourselves. That is the age-old danger, instinctively known and feared by primitive man, who himself stands so very close to this pleroma. His consciousness is still uncertain, wobbling on its feet. It is still childish, having just emerged from the primal waters. A wave of the unconscious may easily roll over it, and then he forgets who he was and does thing that are strange to him. Hence primitives are afraid of uncontrolled emotions, because consciousness breaks down under them and gives way to possession. All man’s strivings have therefore been directed towards the consolidation of consciousness. This was the purpose of rite and dogma; they were dams and walls to keep back the dangers of the unconscious, the ‘perils of the soul.’ Primitive rites consist accordingly in the exorcizing of spirits, the lifting of spells, the averting of the evil omen, propitiation, purification, and the production by sympathetic magic of helpful occurrences.”
— C.G. Jung
Jung goes on to explain how psychological barriers were erected in primitive times to keep us safe from the unpredictable and sometimes destructive forces rising from the unconsciousness—much like storms that pass over the land or earthquake that strikes out of nowhere. Our ancestors knew about these events. They knew by coming together they could strengthened the barriers they had created. They performed collective rites and rituals using music, dance, and elaborate enactments that harmonized and united them as a people–a tribe. Later, many of these rites and rituals were incorporated into many religions. The one I am following here is the Christian Church and how many ancient, pagan rites and rituals morphed into its religious doctrines and dogma, which were incorporated into basic tenets of Western Civilization. It is my deep feeling during one of these transfers, a separation from our unconsciousness occurred that was too rapid and too violent—leaving us wounded like a Motherless Child. Despite this wound, the barriers held for centuries (though often brutally) keeping Western Civilization mostly safe from incursions from the unconsciousness. However, as Western Civilization has grown, the barriers have weaken considerably and are sinking back into the unconsciousness, crumbling as they succumb to the tremendous weight of our monolith civilization.
The destruction of the edifices constructed long ago to keep us safe from our unconscious origins is putting us in terrible peril. Just like the Fayu, Western Civilization has become lopsided as it warps under its own weight. When a culture, tribe, or civilization becomes lopsided, dangerous perversions of consciousness can occur that place all individuals living in a lopsided culture at much greater risk for incursions from the unconsciousness—perils of the soul. Our ancestors understood this, but we have forgotten it. Our inability to take collective action on Climate Change is just one symptom of this malady… other symptoms are resurgences of all sorts of crueler ways of thinking and being creeping back into our collective psyche.
Listen or read the interview with E.B. Berger on Fresh Air who says the New Zealand Massacre Points To A Global Resurgence Of ‘Extremism’. Berger has studied the online activity of extremists, and he notes the New Zealand shooter praised President Trump as “as a symbol of renewed white identity” in his 74-page document published before the massacre. Berger says it aligns with a trend he has found studying the hashtags and language used by alt-right Twitter users.
This is where Consciousness Warriors come in as protectors of the people. Consciousness Warriors are ordinary people who have been driven deeper into themselves as they attempted to avoid the inevitable wounding inflicted by people blinded by our systems and their own unconsciousness.
My own awareness of Consciousness Warriors rose due to such a situation when I was fired for being with father when he died. Just before this happened, I had a vision of a girl trapped in the jaws of a dragon. It made me laugh, so I drew it and shared it on Facebook. I wrote a simple story to go with it I called Girl With Dragon. It turned into 20 episodes. I didn’t think much of it, neither did most of my friend who joked about it and some scoffed. I took it all in stride for I was amused by it too until my world was turned upside down and inside out. Then, I understood what the image and story was telling me. The girl was caught in the dragon’s jaws. The dragon was the girl’s unconscious choices mixed together with the unconsciousness of those around her, creating the dragon. We create dragons every day. Some are easy to tame, while others turn into desperate problems with no apparent escape. The girl was the first Consciousness Warrior to emerge in my psychology. As I continued the story with The Divine Dodo, more Consciousness Warriors emerged.
I called them this not knowing other people were writing about and talking about them. I thought I was the only one talking about Consciousness Warriors until I watch a video where Margaret Wheatley was speaking to a group about her book and work WARRIORS FOR THE HUMAN SPIRIT: Training to be the Presence of Insight and Compassion. Then, I read Jürgen’s piece where he writes about even more people who are writing and talking about Consciousness Warriors. So, this is how I have come to know and understand Consciousness Warriors. I am still learning, but I am pretty certain Western Civilization is in desperate need of them Now. Using Jürgen’s Yurugu Series as a mirror, I intend to describe a part of our collective predicament for it is multifaceted problem. Perhaps by figuring out how to make one scale on the dragon disappear, we can figure out how to make the whole dragon disappear. As I go, I will blend the thinking of Carl Jung, Dalai Lama, David Bohm, J.M. Berger, Aqua Man, and others to attempt to see this scale clearly and the role of Consciousness Warriors in making it disappear.
Are you ready?
Ready, Set, Go
The Weapon: Jürgen writes: The answer could be something like this: look out for the imperialist mindset.
This insight is extremely important for it is mindsets and thinking styles like the Imperialist Mindset that have been used to divide and define our reality into its many parts. I suppose our world is less fearsome when it is neatly divided into categories that can be counted, organized, and neatly stored into many different professions and areas of expertise—essentially turning Earth into a museum. Meanwhile the things we cannot physically see, hear, touch, smell, and taste (such as our inner realities) steadily disappear. In doing this, we literally reduce reality.
But, why should we be concerned about the invisible world disappearing? Because these places are essential to transform of ourselves. They are needed to grow as individuals, to grow consciously, and to become what we are truly meant to be. Without them, we get stuck in a stage of arrested development. As awareness of our inner spaces slip back over the edge into the unconscious, it becomes invisible and unavailable to us. We lose abilities needed to be fully conscious beings. The bigger Western Civilization grows, the more lopsided its thinking has become and the deeper the blade this type of thinking cuts away at our inner spaces, creating deep wounds that never heal. Slavery, domination of indigenous people worldwide, the Holocaust/ethnic cleansing, racism…and Now the rise of White Supremacy 75 years after it almost tore the world apart are some of the terrible impacts this thinking has inflicted on our shared reality. There are internal wounds as well. Climate Change is like a fever caused by the raging infection that has settled into these wounds.
To understand the Imperialist Mindset, we must get closer to the unconsciousness for this is where this tool was forged. Let’s start with Aqua Man:
Aqua Man is a modern myth. A myth’s primary function (other than telling a good story) is to convey how archetypal energies affect us. In his origin story, a tool is forged long ago by a ruler of an ancient, advanced civilization. The ruler attempts to use the tool to harness the powers of Earth, but something goes wrong, and the tool unleashes devastation causing the city (Atlantis) to sink.
To begin to grasp the archetypal meaning and energy of this story, replace the sea with the unconsciousness. Thus, the people of this ancient civilization sink back into the primordial Sea of Unconsciousness where the survivors learn how to breath underwater and see in the dark. Some evolve into the advanced beings, of which Aqua Man is one. Others devolved becoming half-fish half-man beings, crustacean beings, and the feared trench beings who live in the deepest trenches of this underworld. It is into the trench Aqua Man’s mother is thrown for breaking the laws of her people by falling in love with a human and giving birth to a half-breed—Aqua Man. Of course, the two worlds become tangled in a deadly conflict that forces Aqua Man to go fetch this lost and mighty tool that destroyed Atlantis. In the wrong hands the trident (the tool) will destroy both worlds (the weapon). In the right hands, it will unite the worlds.
— Bébé’s interpretation of Aqua Man
David Bohm (quantum physicists) expresses a similar idea in a video entitled Wholeness and Fragmentation when he speaks about our dominate way of thinking. He says:
“All thought is broken up into bits like this nation, this country, this industry, this profession, and so on.” (00:43 of video) “Therefore, people cannot see they are creating a problem, and then apparently trying to solve it. Let’s take a problem like pollution or the ecology—the ecology is not in by itself [the problem], it is due to us, right? It’s a problem because we are thinking in certain way by breaking everything up [and] in each person’s doing his own thing now.” (1:03 of video) “The ecological problem is due to thought [because] thought thinks [there] is a problem out there, and I must solve it. Now that doesn’t make sense because simultaneously thought is doing all the activities [that] make the problem, and then there’s another set of activities trying to overcome [the problem]. You see, it doesn’t stop doing the things [that] are making the ecological problem or the national problem or whatever [problem we have created].”
To me, the most important part of his comments are when he says:
“I don’t think there is such thing as original sin. I think it developed more and more with the growth of our society [for] there is no evidence people in the hunter-gatherer society were all that competitive. [However,] the more you made society big and had organization, [the more people] had to get to the top [and thus there would be] people on the bottom [who] would suffer. [Because of this] there was a drive to compete, naturally. And, do you think that perhaps the desire to compete is a weakness? [No, it is] not a weakness that was a mistake!”
This idea of a Thought Mistake is critical to understand for as humans immersed in Western Civilization, we do not think our thinking has caused any problems. We think instead it is our savior, but what if it is not?
Jung thought a great deal about how man has come to reckon with his consciousness. He says:
“…for in certain respects the animal is superior to man. It has not yet blundered into consciousness nor pitted a self-willed ego against the power from which it lives; on the contrary, it fulfils the will that actuates it in a well-nigh perfect manner. Were it conscious, it would be morally better than man. There is deep doctrine in the legend of the fall: it is the expression of a dim presentiment that the emancipation of ego-consciousness was a Luciferian deed. Man’s whole history consists from the very beginning in conflict between his feeling of inferiority and his arrogance. Wisdom seeks the middle path and pays for audacity by a dubious affinity with daemon and beast, and so is open to moral misinterpretation.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 230
What David Bohm says begs us to consider exactly what is thought. This is another idea Jung explored throughout his career—the acquisition of thought. He says something extraordinary here:
“Thoughts were objects of inner perception, not thought at all, but sensed as external phenomena—seen or heard, so to speak. Thought was essentially revelation, not invented but forced upon us… bringing conviction through its immediacy and actuality. Thinking of this kind precedes the primitive ego-consciousness, and the latter is more its object than its subject. But, we ourselves have not yet climbed the last peak of consciousness, so we also have a pre-existent thinking, of which we are not aware so long as we are supported by traditional symbols—or, to put it in the language of dreams, so long as the father or the king is not dead.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 33
Thus, the timeless phrase—I think therefore I am—may not have been as easy for us to achieve as we think it was. Clearly our ability to think inside our head is a supreme achievement. It is an ability that was hard fought and a struggle to maintain. It was so precious that humans all over the world created elaborate rituals and rites to protect it, this power, this tool that has allowed us to create and do incredible things (e.g., science, technology, art, architecture). But, it is one capable of terrible destruction as well. Every civilization understood this. They knew there is good and bad in everything and everyone. They understood the essential act is balance. Our ancestors understood this, we have forgotten it.
Jung writes: “The unity of our psychic nature lies in the middle, just as the living unity of the waterfall appears in the dynamic connection between above and below. Thus, the living effect of the myth is experienced when a higher consciousness, rejoicing in its freedom and independence, is confronted by the autonomy of a mythological figure and yet cannot flee from its fascination, but must pay tribute to the overwhelming impression. The figure works, because secretly it participates in the observer’s psyche and appears as its reflection, though it is not recognized as such. It is split off from his consciousness and consequently behaves like an autonomous personality (i.e., the trickster).”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 269
The Imperialist Mindset does not care about balance; it thrives on imbalance. It does not care about justice, fairness, or truth for it grows stronger in the midst of chaos and confusion. Over time, this mindset has placed an obsessive focus on dividing things into smaller and smaller pieces, going a bit wild, even rogue. It is this focus that has placed us squarely in the jaws of a dangerous dragon. One created by our thinking, and one that has become so rigid and lopsided for the moment we are in Now, there seems no escape.
For a spectacular description of how the Imperialist Mindset and similar thinking was used to put us squarely in the jaws of the Climate Change dragon, listen to the Fresh Air interview with Nathaniel Rich who talks about his book Losing Earth: A recent interview on FreshAir. In it he documents how thinking like this was used like a weapon by the fossil fuel industry to sow divisions in the Climate Change debate. By doing this, they successfully turned scientific debate and processes into polarizing Thought Wars (i.e., on one side people believe we are causing the 6th Mass Extinction; on the other side people play upon uncertainty, “We’re not really sure how bad it might be, so we might as well keep the status quo as long as possible… no reason to wreck the economy over something that might or might not happen…”).
No matter what we think using this type of thought and similar mindsets, we will not get out of the dragon’s jaws. We need a different, deeper way of thinking—one that supersedes where we are Now. This is something the Dalia Lama speaks to when he says: “For a long time, science and spirituality were considered to be opposing views, creating this polarization of both subjects. You were either a “Man of God” or a “Man of Science,” with no middle ground. However, we’re now observing a merging of both science and spirituality through quantum physics and the study of consciousness, shattering old thought patterns and putting an end to the previous “tug of war” between the two subjects.”
“I think science has begun to replace religion as the major source of the worldview and therefore if science takes a fragmentary worldview it will have a profound effect on consciousness, but science has always seen as measurement is that no longer true. Science [is] whatever people make of it. You see science has changed over the ages, and it’s different now from a few hundred years ago. It could be different again [in a hundred years]. Now there’s no intrinsic reason why science must necessarily be measurement. This is another historical development, which has come about over the past few centuries.”
By continuing not to access our deeper nature, we lack the ability to understand the true nature of reality. Since Western Civilization is so good at producing men and women who deny their inner realities, we remain stuck. Jung writes about this modern quandary saying:
“The disastrous idea that everything comes to the human psyche from outside and that it (the human being) is born a tabula rasa is responsible for the erroneous belief that under normal circumstances the individual is in perfect order. He then looks to the State for salvation, and makes society pay for his inefficiency. He thinks the meaning of existence would be discovered if food and clothing were delivered to him gratis on his own doorstep, or if everybody possessed an automobile. Such are the puerilities that rise up in place of an unconscious shadow and keep it unconscious. As a result of these prejudices, the individual feels totally dependent on his environment and loses all capacity for introspection. In this way, his code of ethics is replaced by a knowledge of what is permitted or forbidden or ordered. How, under these circumstances, can one expect a soldier to subject an order received from a superior to ethical scrutiny? He has not yet made the discovery that he might be capable of spontaneous ethical impulses, and of performing them—even when on one is looking.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 267
Jürgen also speaks to what is keeping us stuck when he says:
“European rationalistic ideology has “created” a particular kind of person who can be expected to behave in certain characteristic ways. If the uniqueness to the culture is not understood, the positive possibilities of other cultures will get lost, and, whether consciously or not, this is a thoroughly Eurocentric objective. For this reason, we assume the particularity of the European form and therefore the need to explain its development, not as the result of some “universal” process, but by understanding its asili [cultural core] – a unique combination of factors that in circular relationship generate the personalities and ideological commitments that form the influencing matrix.
This explanation is all the more compelling since Europeans represent an extreme minority culture. It is the realization that Europe is in fact a culture in which imperial domination of others does indeed become a “comprehensive world-view” that is important. This is unique in the world and the characteristics (themes) of European culture – its “rationalism,” violence, and lack of spirituality – are not merely isolated pathologies; rather these characteristics are linked to each other in a developmental matrix (asili) that is itself “pathological” in the context of human societies. (Marimba Ani: Yurugu. An African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior, 1994, p392).”
This asili is what keeps us trapped in the jaws of the dragon. It is the point we spin around as a civilization. A point created long ago in plain sight, but it has sunk below our conscious awareness, making it invisible and dangerous. Jürgen is right to say the asili is enforced by an extreme minority of people—that being European culture. I propose it is even smaller than European culture today. I believe using European culture with its royalty and dynasties as a template it has shrunk even more to what we call the 1%, which has pulled us into an even smaller orbit. These people are the royal ones of our time and culture. They have amassed much money and power. They are the ones our civilization has been carefully designed to keep in power. They guard it vigilantly—not as highly evolved, benevolent beings, but rather like rabid bull dogs. Most see their job as making sure the rest of us don’t escape the pull of the asili. They worry if enough of us escape, we might raise the orbit of the greater whole, making their world disappear, and it would.
Most modern elites are stricken with a hunger that can never be filled and a thirst that can never be quenched. This makes them capable of doing anything to keep their power such as whipping up chaos to make us feel like drowning fish when in reality we are fish swimming in waters too shallow. This is because they have been busy damning, redirecting, and draining the conscious streams we need to be human. They know united we are powerful. So, they prefer to narratives full of hate, division, and chaos to create confusion and fear. This is how the bull dogs keep us here (I have just used Imperialist thinking to divide rich from poor, thus myself falling back into the asili).
Since we no longer see the asili and do not believe it is there, we go about our days feeling completely in control of our thoughts and lives. Never noticing the pull it exerts constantly on our thoughts, our choices, our reality. It is always there. It is the Thought Trap of a most cunning design operating on quantum levels like a psychological-spiritual black hole that generates a gravity so fierce not even consciousness can escape it. Around its event horizon, chaotic forces polarize the pieces of consciousness so neatly divided by Imperialist thinking, making them slip ever faster into the center of this vortex.
Quantum physicist suggest vortices create the very structure of our universe literally holding galaxies together with their super massive gravity. The Dalia Lama adds:
“Quantum physicists discovered that physical atoms are made up of vortices of energy that are constantly spinning and vibrating, each one radiating its own unique energy signature. Therefore, if we really want to observe ourselves and find out what we are, we must recognize we are really beings of energy and vibration, radiating our own unique energy signature.”
Thus, vortexes may indeed be the glue holding reality together. The question to ask is the vortex around which Western Civilization spins viable? Or is it fated to destroy us all? It may sound counter intuitive, but to escape this cultural asili, we may need to disappear in inside the vortexes that exist inside us. They might just be worm holes that help us get to our deeper inner spaces faster. We need to get these places so we can rekindle our inner light of consciousness and resurrect the beautiful being waiting there to help us find our wholeness, really to remember it. This is where the energy waits that is needed to transform reality. This is work that must be done one person at a time, but if it starts, it can happen rapidly like fire. It may be the only way out of the dragon’s jaws.
David Bohm speaks about the importance of wholeness in getting out of the thought trap saying:
“It’s not a place you can get [to] the wholeness. I say [it] is a kind of attitude or an approach to the whole of life. It’s a way [that] if we can have a coherent approach to reality, then reality will respond [in a] coherent way to us. [N]ature has been tremendously affected by our way of thinking on the earth. (9:33) Nature is now being destroyed. There’s very little left on the earth [that hasn’t been] affected by how we were thinking. If we have coherence, in what way will our behavior seem to be different? [For one thing,] we won’t be produc[ing] the results we intend rather than the results we don’t intend. That’s the first big change, and then we will be more [capable of living in a] orderly harmonious [way]. You know, we will be happier. I think we could put all that in there man but the first. … (10:03) [Our] major source of unhappiness is we are incoherent and therefore produce results we don’t really want. [And then we try] to overcome them, [but] we keep on producing them. The question is what is the real origin of consciousness exactly in case where did it come from (10:20) was there a time when there was no (10:22) consciousness? Well [if so]. I don’t think it originates in time.”
Bohm is asking the same questions Jung asks about human consciousness. Perhaps Bohm is right about coherence. Perhaps our current way of thinking is incoherent, but we are so attached to it we do not see the incoherence. This is why we cannot get underneath the thinking used to create the dragon. This is what keeps us stuck. But, Stephen Hawking may have a way out. He said black holes can evaporate. I think thought traps can too.
The Struggle: Jürgen writes: Who do we help to make the world a better place?
– To Beat The Devil — T Bone Burnett · The Invisible Light ·“I’ll tell you what you want to hear… I’ll play upon your darkest fear… then I’ll take what I want from you… to beat the devil you must go deep as he stays shallow…to beat the devil you must not be part of the dissonance…nothing that he does will last…”
Time is a limited resource, especially in our super-fast paced Western culture for to live here is to live always running out of time. This is because in Western culture, it is common practice to exchange time for money. To make it even more interesting, there are different levels of compensation for different kinds of workers. This is a code embedded deeply in the fabric of Western culture that benefits the super-rich for it is basically true to make money, one has to have money to buy the best education, to get pass the gatekeepers, and to land high paying, high power jobs (case in point, the recent college admission scandal). To not follow this well-established pattern (the cultural code), it takes tremendous collective social will and effort. And this takes time for it is a moral struggle and moral struggles require the collaborative effort of many people.
My friend Cynthia told me about the struggle in the Philippines to extricate themselves from Colonial Spanish rule that reigned in the Philippines for 333 years. During this time, the Spaniards ravaged their land and did terrible things to the indigenousness people. This is the Imperialist Mindset in its purest and cruelest form, and it has done such things all over the world. In the Philippines after so many years of colonial rule, the people felt powerless and at the mercy of the invading force. But, among them rose a soft-spoken man (José Protasio Rizal) who used his words to awaken his people’s heart. He showed them how to reclaim their dreams through love and compassion. The Spanish killed him. Nevertheless, his words and ideas grew and blossomed, helping his people rediscovered their heart power, which helped them reclaim their passion to resist the Imperialist Force. They overcame the Spanish but were invaded again by the Japanese and the United States who also mistreated them. Still the people preserved, maintaining their identity through it all by keeping their hearts nourished and alive.
So, moral struggles are possible. They just take time because many, many people need to come together and unify to create a center of gravity rooted in compassion, love, and courage—perhaps creating a psychological-spiritual counterweight. If this happens, individuals involved in the moral struggle can tap into energy that comes from inside. This energy is most crucial at the beginning of a moral struggle when it is trying to coalesce for this is when every individual is trying to find their internal center of gravity and power. They also need to figure out where they are needed in the emerging effort. To do this, each individual needs to sink deep into themselves, which means confronting their shadow (i.e., the vortex inside themselves) for this might be the only way to find their personal power and understand how their unique gifts and abilities can help hold the sacred space for the emerging moral effort. This is a very fragile phase of development in a moral struggle because everyone’s energy is so easily dispersed, which can cause the entire effort to evaporate.
People in power know this, and they’ll do anything to stir confusion and create division. Thus, to resist dispersion, it is essential to find ways for individuals to feel empowered and connected. We can do this by seeing, hearing, and understanding each other—think the infinity sign, a never-ending flow of reciprocal relationships, a sharing of energy renewed each time it is passed back and forth between people working for a greater good.
It’s not simple at all because human relationships fall so easily back into old ways, old patterns, old thinking. In short, they return to the Pit of Peril because it is our home. It is what we know. It is how we understand reality. And, it is the Jaws of the Dragon. All human systems are susceptible to this falling into the pit for they rest upon the fragile flow of consciousness passing back and forth between the individual plots of consciousness each of us is attempting to cultivate or tame. In short, the quality of our shared reality rests upon the health of our individual plot of consciousness and our relationships with other–how healthy or unhealthy they are. If we are not watchful, incursions from our unconsciousness and other’s unconsciousness will rise and trip us up in the most dreadful ways. When this happens, it can cause a person to lose their passion and purpose, making them give up. This is devastating not only for the individual, but for the emerging moral struggle because every person is essential in its formation, especially in the beginning when our fragile human relationships tend to self-destruct the most due in large part to the pull of the asili back into the old system, old ways, and familiar patterns of thinking designed to keep us in line, really to prevent people from sinking into their full, authentic selves where their power lies because these types of people are a threat to the system.
Thus, Jürgen nails when he says:With all the many groups of people and their many ideas on what it means to live a good life, it has become increasingly harder to tell who are the ones we would like to identify with, help along, and promote in their efforts to make this world a better place. With so many people lying through closed teeth, so many others pretending to be someone they are not, and with yet so many others not understanding the implications of their own words, how can we tell the real deal from fake and delusion?
Jürgen outlines 3 types of people or personalities to avoid, and I added a fourth. They appear in all cultures, but it is in Western culture where they have truly found a place to thrive because Western systems reward people who exhibit and excel in these traits, behaviors, and qualities. They are:
1. Lying: Those who are lying through closed teeth (They do so to manipulate and divert the good fortune and luck of others unto themselves — See The Divine Dodo: The Corruption).
“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal. And, it all comes from lying—lying to others and to yourself.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky (Thank you Colin Kilburn for posting)
2. Masquerading: Those who are pretending to be someone or something they are not—the scammer, the conman or woman, the beguiler, cheater, trickster, or slicker. I will get back to this later…it is important.
Resisting the pull back into unconscious ways of thinking and being takes great inner strength and wisdom. We all have this strength and wisdom, but like Aqua Man, we need to be orientated to our inner realities (e.g., know where our unconscious Pit of Peril is), learn how our abilities work, and train in using our abilities. Consciousness Warriors are deep divers in the Sea of Unconsciousness. They can see in the dark, and they have compassion for those still trapped in old ways, but they don’t take phony, counterfeit, deceptive pretension, or pandering. They draw clear boundaries to protect their inner spaces, guarding their time and attention.
3. Blind:Those who do not understand the implications of their own words and actions.
Being blind to our inner reality is like a sleeping sickness for we have all emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness, but our systems and ways of thinking pull most of us back under. A person who has been pulled back into the Unconsciousness or put back to sleep tends to use words carelessly because they do not understand their inner spaces; therefore, they say things that are crueler than they need to be and do things that are meaner than they need to be. Neither do they understand how their words carry gravity that can create a hole inside them that can turn into the Pit of Peril. Some think such a pit is handy because it provides a place to toss all their uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. But, this is a mistake because in the Pit of Peril this submerged content is free to morph and twist into all sorts of cruel and destructive impulses that can easily overpower our best intentions to constrain them. Primitive cultures understood this believing evil spirits could possess people. This makes sense if you understand how suppressed, unconscious content can break through into our lives and cause us to act in ways we might not act if we had better balance inside.
Jung wrote a lot about this kind of blindness and how it finds ways to re-emerge and steer us wrong. He recounts walking with a native guide on Mount Elgon in East Africa when they come upon a beautifully constructed little hut near a cave where he lived with his family. Jung knew these huts were built as a ghost trap to protect the family from evil forces. When Jung asked the man if he made it, he denied it with signs of extreme agitation, asserting that only children would make such a ju-ju…whereupon he kicked the hut and it all falls down. On page 269, he writes: “This is exactly the reaction we can observe in Europe today. Outwardly people are more or less civilized, but inwardly they are still primitives. Something in man is profoundly disinclined to give up his beginnings, and something else believes it has long since got beyond all that. (…) The conflict between the two dimensions of consciousness is simply an expression of the polaristic structure of the psyche, which like any other energic system is dependent on the tension of opposites. (…)”
Jürgen says: “…there are quite a few signs by which the Imperialist Mindset can be identified in somebody’s speech or behavior, one of which is againstness, which results in kind of a war mentality.” The 1% know this and use this mindset as a weapon to enflame this mind war by turning our thinking and beliefs against us. Jürgen further describes how the drive for power permeates all of European-based thought, philosophy, and religion, its presence, in most people, goes unnoticed by its carriers. This is our unconsciousness at work, and it is the same forces that make us blind. We are all carriers of it, but it is most virulent in the 1%. This is because of the consolidation of money, resources, influence, and power.
The 1% speak in a coded language. They don’t use many words (often 3-word simple sentences). And, their words come in short bursts that are repetitive, almost musical, and tinged with strong emotions. They tend to say absolutely nothing, but rather fill the soundscape with their voice so others cannot think or hear their own voice or thoughts. They are like hypnotizers who spin fantastic stories about the land of plenty, but these stories are like mirages for they always fade away the closer we get to them. The 1% are more like magical demagogues. They are Master Manipulators who perpetuate narratives of not enough money, not enough attention, not enough recognition, not enough of everything needed to live a “Good Life” creating fear and confusion because we are easier to herd where they want us in these states. They love it! Like Typhoid Mary, they do not appear to suffer from the disease of unconsciousness, but they readily infect others with their unconsciousness.
For more on the language of the super-rich, see:
Inside The Minds Of The Mega-Rich (1A) – Chances are, if you got ten million dollars right now, it would change your life. But would you change for the better? What if it was a hundred million dollars? Or a billion? How would you change, and how would it change you? What impact does wealth have on one’s mind and morals? And what’s the role of the wealthy in easing inequality?
What’s It Like To Be Rich? Ask The People Who Manage Billionaires’ Money (Hidden Brain) – What are the lives of the planet’s wealthiest people really like? Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to find out. What she learned talking to the people who managed their money shocked her: “The lives of the richest people in the world are so different from those of the rest of us, it’s almost literally unimaginable. National borders are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. The laws are nothing to them. They might as well not exist.”
Consciousness Warriors understand the dangers of the Pit of Peril and guard against it and the dangers of attachment by practicing awareness and non-attachment (an old Buddhist practice). Consciousness Warriors employ their super powers of intuition, empathy, and love to help others find their inner spring where love, joy, and compassion rise eternal. They seek words that inspire insights to help others transform their inner spaces that are drying up form lack of use. Consciousness Warriors know they cannot do this for another person, just like a personal trainer cannot exercise for someone else. This is work that can only be done by the person seeking wholeness. Consciousness Warriors can walk with, support, and encourage someone who is seeking the power inside themselves that is needed to transform their inner wasted, barren landscapes. Consciousness Warriors are good listeners, but they also understand how a person blinded by their unconsciousness can hurt others, and so guard their inner spaces and time.
4. Narcissism: Western Civilization is an extrovert’s delight, and people with these abilities are rewarded handsomely, but are we drowning in Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic people have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They feel entitled to everything and require constant, excessive admiration. They expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it. They exaggerate achievements and talents and are preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate. They believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people. They monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior. They expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations. They take advantage of others to get what they want, and they have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others. They are often envious of others and believe others envy them. They behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious—and they are! They insist on having the best of everything—the best car, the best vacation, the best education, the best house, the best office. Have you ever encountered one of these people?
The magic narcissist weld is the ability to split reality. They do this by creating two bubbles of the moment they find themselves in that might be nuanced with good and bad. In one bubble, they put all the negative attributes of that situation, and then project it like vomit on anyone standing too near them. In the other bubble, they imbue all the good and noble things about that situation, and then like Glenda the Good Witch, they step into this bubble and float away, leaving behind a fractured and smaller reality.
In Western European-based systems, narcissists have found a special place where they can flourish because they love to take control. Since most systems in Western society are structured with one person is in control of everyone else, this is a natural habitat for a narcissist. A conscious narcissist might actually do a pretty darn good job at the top, but an unconscious narcissist tends to fall prey to their very worst impulses.
This is so important to understand because here again we come to the edge of the split between consciousness and unconsciousness. So, let’s try to understand this divide a bit better. To do so, it is helpful to understand how human consciousness falls along several spectrums as charted by C.G. Jung. One of these spectrums is the range between extroversion and introversion. To quickly orientate you to this spectrum—an extreme introvert has a vivid internal world. One so deep and vibrant, the edge between the internal and external can disappear. When this happens, the person is most often diagnosed as having schizophrenia because they lost the line between their inner and outer realities and are no longer able to discern what is rising from within them and what exits outside of them.
On the other side of the spectrum is extreme extroversion. Extroverts have a keen ability to read a room full of people and instantly grasp the energy of the room. They might even grasp the mood and energy of every individual in the room, understanding in that moment how to make all the energy flow together to create an unforgettable experience for all working it like a conductor of an orchestra. It is electrifying to be in a room with extrovert because they can dazzle, entertain, and mesmerize everyone in it. People are drawn to them, and they are drawn to others because being with other people energies them. It’s simply how their consciousness renews itself. But, if an extreme extrovert lacks awareness of their abilities and how their mind re-energizes, it can become debilitating for when the crowds leave, extroverts can descend into states of exhaustion, emptiness, and depression. Thus, it is not hard to understand an extrovert has an intense desire to be surrounded by people 24/7.
Now, I am no expert, but I can imagine how it is possible for an extrovert to lose the line between their internal reality and the external world too. If this occurs and a little unconscious narcissism is added to the mix, it wouldn’t be hard for this sort of person to believe the outer world is also their inner world. Lacking the balance that having a more defined inner world provides, such a person could perceive everything outside of them as part of them and thus belonging to them. They could think they can do whatever they want to someone outside of their own bodies and minds because there is no division. When this occurs, we have crossed over into a pretty bad case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
So, what does this mean that these four types of people or personalities flourish inside Western Civilization?
It means we are sick… Western Civilization is sick… it is making everyone inside sick.
The sickness stems from our wildly out of balance inner states that are disappearing ever more rapidly due to the type of thinking and mindsets so prominent in Western Civilization. These imbalances have caused an extreme state of lopsidedness that is hastening the crumbling of the barriers erected long ago to hold back our most destructive impulses rising from the deepest places inside us all—our unconsciousness—something that gets amplified in groups.
It is pointless to beat ourselves up for being unconscious for it is our most natural state of being. We all do our best to navigate our unconsciousness, which is most frequently expressed through human relationships and exacerbated by the cultural asili that keeps us trapped in thinking too small for the moment we are inNow. To escape, we must sink deep into ourselves, and to do this we need the help and support of others.
One antidote is cultivating trust. But to do this, we need to relearn how to truly make contact with each other. Ian MacKenzie talks about this in his blog titled: The Wild Edge of Emergence. I heard him speak recently where he described 4 essential elements for emergence that are:
Contact – What does it mean to truly make contact with another human being…another living creature?
Trust – Can the other person receive you (e.g., will I be judged? Can I be myself with you?). To work in a state of trust means letting go of the masks and personas necessary to navigate in our current systems.
Transparency – What is actually going on with us? Are there hidden agendas that will make the collaborative effort become stillborn? If the seed of new beginnings is not planted deep, it will not grow.
Coherence – Every individual begins to self-assemble knowing that every other individual plays an essential part to the whole (e.g., you got that piece, I don’t have to worry about that). We learn to share our gifts, and probably more importantly, to receive the gifts that others bring. A natural order begins to form like tribal and ancient communities where every individual has essential roles even the elders… they kept the memories and listen deeply.
He spoke about how making contact with another human being takes a long time because there are many levels that must to be navigated to reach deep contact. This is especially true for individual immersed in Western cultural for they have to wear masks and occupy personas to navigate and survive in the systems they depend on to survive—systems filled with the Imperialist Mindset and other sharp styles of thinking and being that are always eager to cut people down who threaten the system and the preferred ways of thinking in it.
Of these 4 stages, making contact is probably the most difficult. Our ancestors knew the importance of our inner spaces, and they understood how the flow of energy between people affect and impact our inner spaces. If our relationships contribute to us spiraling down as individuals, then our thoughts and actions spiral down and the reality we share descends as well. If we can help each other spiral up, then our thoughts and actions spiral up and our shared reality can spiral up too. Our ancestors knew how to mitigate incursions from the unconsciousness that can cause people and groups to spiral down. All of this knowledge is being lost due to thinking like the Imperialist Mindset and other sharp-edged Western thinking styles. We have almost completely destroyed our inner spaces, and we wonder why our planet is dying Now.
These are the only spaces from where transformational change can emerge. If we do not heal our current state of lopsided consciousness and reclaim our lost inner spaces—we will go over the Climate Cliff for it is where our Western thinking has lead us. We need to move away from the danger zone. We can only do this together. We must begin by healing the deep wounds inside ourselves and helping others do the same. This can only happen when deep contact is made, and truly reciprocal relationships occur. From here, anything can happen, even making the dragon’s jaws disappear.
The End – Concluding Thoughts
As I struggled to tie the lose strands of the thoughts in this blog together, I watched Notre Dame burned. I thought of the ancient oak turning into smoke and blowing away as I listened to reports about the sacred, precious relics and art inside. Everyone was wondering if all was lost. It sure looked like it from the powerful flames. When the brave, courageous fire fighters could finally be seen spraying tiny streams of water onto the fire beast, it all seemed too little too late, leaving the only thing people could do was watch and witness, unable to look away.
Notre Dame means Our Lady… Our Mother. She was built as a place for people to gathered—for this is what church means—a place to gather and remember there is a touch of the divine inside of us. Chris Cuomo dedicated his hour that night to Notre Dame saying she was a place where people gathered to embraced by her divine beauty and remember this beauty is inside ourselves and in others too. There is tremendous strength in gathering together in community. We may have forgotten how gathering together in places and ways that elevate and celebrate our highest and best potentials that nourishes us and strength us, even at the worst of times. It was Notre Dame where people gathered after the devasting terrorist attacks in France. It has been a place for people to gather and remember we are more than just flesh and blood for centuries. She reminded us we are beings imbued with spirit, light, and beauty.
As I watched, a thought occurred that what if this is a foreshadowing of what is to come? What if we do nothing to mitigate Climate Change and the monster we have created using our thinking grows so big that our tiny streams of consciousness are just too puny and almost useless leaving the only thing we to do is watch and witness horror and terror of knowing we are losing our home, our mother, the place we have gathered for millenniums, a place so precious, so sacred we will only realize what we are losing as we watch is being destroyed.
After the fire was quelled, we learned about the brave fire fighters and the Chaplin at Norte Dame who ran inside the burning church as fire rained down on them from the inferno above them to save the precious relics and paintings. They saved them, and the organ survived the fire, and the cross still hung on front wall. Even the bees living on top of the roof survived. I don’t know if we dare hope that we can somehow do the same for Our Mother—Earth. That the people who show up and run into the center of the coming disaster can save enough of the precious beauty that has evolved on Earth so that Our Mother can survive and recover. I can only foolishly hope that we can like the fire fighters, the Chaplin, and the bees escape the jaws of the dragon at the last possible moment.
Today, many people realize we are in a moment demanding deep wisdom combined with meaningful action and sacrifice so our children and grandchildren might inherit a world capable of sustaining life. At times, it feels like facing a massive tidal wave of indifference, denial, and unawareness of the growing signs that if we do not stop what we are doing to the climate (and very soon…perhaps less than 12 years!), then we won’t even be able to mitigate the worst effects of the ever increasing and more destructive climate catastrophes. Even worst, there are people in this world who do not want to change the status quo because they are profiting from the systems pushing us all over the climate cliff. These are powerful forces. They are unconscious in nature and surround us night and day as revealed by the confusion and division keeping us from working together to make positive and sustainable change. Soon Earth’s delicate ecological balances will be pushed too far.
As a ray of hope, I am dedicating this post to highlighting some of the people and groups around the world who are pushing back against these destructive forces… people who embody the changes Earth needs Now.
One courageous person is Cynthia Addawan who lives in a mountainous region of the Philippines where her people continue to live in tribes and protect their land from intruders. She told me how most of the young men in her tribe are still trained to go to war using spears and bolos and how the Spanish colonized her country for almost 333 years but were not able to conquer the mountain tribes (her people). Then, the Americans and Japanese came, but her tribe managed to retain their originality and culture (not easy in the face of the steady swept of Western Civilization bent on creating one gigantic monolith civilization). Over time, she described how her people adopted more peaceful ways of settling disagreements. Since the 1980s, there have been few tribal issues leading to war, and recently they celebrated indigenous month, which includes commemorations of ancient war dances. This festival is not meant to encourage young people to go to war, but rather to realize the richness of their tribal traditions and how the mountainous tribes have come to understand and practice more peaceful ways of dealing with differences and conflict today. Thus, the commemorative war dances celebrate their shared heritage and help the youth understand and value the journey the mountainous tribes have taken to avoid conflict and sustain peace. She read my blog about Mr. Rogers and is now reading some of his wonderful work to her classes for she is a teacher and understands how important it is to teach the children and youth about handling strong emotions. She is also working to establish a Climate School in the Philippines and collaborating with people around the world to do this. She says beautifully, “I am so concern about all the children—the little angels of this earth. We owe them a planet and a future. We have the power and responsibility to give them a better place to live, and one way to do this is to conserve the environment. This is one legacy we can leave them. Another is to help them control their mad emotions and to channel these energies into something that is beneficial both to them and to other human beings.”
Another person working to help save our civilization is Hans Jørgen Rasmussen. He sees helping children and youth in their activism worldwide as one way to help. With more than 30 years of practice as a psychologist behind him, he understands the dynamic forces confronting young people today. One of his approaches is listening to and being open to standing by a person who is facing a challenge or a personal crisis by availing himself to be supportive as a dialogue partner—you might call it a coach—whereby he gently helps people experiencing a difficult part of their journey by listening. He understands he cannot solve another person’s problems, but he can walk beside them in empathy and compassion. By doing this, he offers support as the person figures out a solution for themselves and finds a way forward, and while dealing with their challenge, they often find unknown resources in themselves resulting in an empowering process with personal growth a by-product of this process. Other ways he is helping to address the threat our civilization faces is by applying his skills in psychology, coaching, and teaching to: 1) start a Climate School in his home town & create a Climate website: Saving Our Planet; 2) build a collection of climate change related videos: The Climate Cinema; 3) co-found a NGO named Saving Our Planet that offers awareness raising concepts such as The Climate School free of charge to organizations, institutions, and groups; and 4) start a climate awareness project in collaboration with a large private school and a university in Turkey, where he spends the winter… and he’s just getting started.
My friend Lucy Rist is founder and runs Girls in Sports—which is a Swedish-based charity that empowers girls through sports and outdoor adventure. Recently, Girls in Sports was selected as one of 5 international organizations that will work together through this international initiative called Girls in the Lead, helping girls become leaders. Through this initiative, Girls in Sports is collaborating with four other organizations based in South Africa, India, Germany, and U.S. to build capacity to empower girls around the world.
My friend Alöna Litovinskaia is designing an innovative educational curriculum for children and youth that will help connect them to the enduring value of nature and working together. Part of the curriculum involves play where children and youth explore and engage together in a natural setting called Kid’s Land. In this space there are many challenges that require them to use their creativity and work together to solve problems in a playful, fast-paced world they are creating as a group. With the help of facilitators versed in art and architectural, management and psychological, as well as educational backgrounds, kids design, plan, build, and settle upon rules and laws to govern their country. She says, “It’s going to be a great and fun practical and social experience for growing minds!” To see more exciting elements of this new space and vision, visit Newa.
My friend Hannelie Sensemaker WorldPainter Venucia is on a journey to explore and embody Whole Person (Embodied Wholeness) Living, Relating, Creativity and Innovation. She is sharing her life’s work through the JOY Generation, which is an embodied wisdom and adventure portal helping to transform the world through JOY. The JOY Generation Portal is the playground where our younger generations can take part in self-discovery adventures and have access to wisdom, inspiration, and guidance as they engage with peers around the world. The portal offers access to 3 interactive web nests; namely JOY Planet, JOY Rides, and JOY Festival (JOY Generators believe good things come in 3’s!). Without a JOY Planet, we cannot thrive, and thus, this is the home of JOY Casts that talks with individuals across the globe who share wisdom, insights, and other possibilities in her series: Your World or Mine? The second aspect of the JOY Planet is the Joy Panorama Interactive Multimedia Multi-Sensory experiences that provides opportunity to explore phenomena and concepts impacting the ability of humanity to thrive. As humanity fails to find solutions to so many dilemmas, in JOYSense, Hannelie and the JOY Generation team share a variety of Collective Sensemaking downloadable, online, and physical experiences. Hannelie is a seasoned author, public speaker, facilitator, and radio host.
Fyodor Ovchinnikov is a facilitator for the Just, Sustainable, and Flourishing Future seminar, which is part of the Young Professionals for Sustainable Development Program. This program provides professional development for young professionals seeking opportunities to align their careers with the UN Agenda 2030 or to make a career transition to a different sector or industry while focusing on some or all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many participants report making useful professional contacts with mentors and panelists, building long-term peer support relationships, learning about relevant networks and opportunities, and feeling supported, inspired, and more confident integrating UN SDGs into their work as hallmarks of the program that they found genuinely helpful. If you are interested in mentoring our participants, apply here: https://www.una-sf.org/mentors. More information about the program: https://www.una-sf.org/ypsdg
These are just some of the compassionate and passionate people around the world working to make a difference to secure a sustainable future. We have a longs ways to go to ensure our children, their grandchildren, and 7 generations forward have a livable planet. This is our legacy. We begin by taking the first step together. No other time in human history have we been as deeply dependent on each other as we are Now. We need to hear every voice for today we stand as one global human tribe where every member’s choice is a vote for a sustainable and livable planet, or not. We have never depended on each other as we do Now.
Now is the time for wisdom and for working together.
Other Voices and Places Helping to Change the Tide:
In Seattle, a youth driven group has established Zero Hour. They have also taken the bold action of suing the state of Washington for not taking enough action for a sustainable future (WA State Children’s Trust Lawsuit), and they are doing so much more (visit their site)!
Chris Cuomo said on Valentine’s Day: “The opposite of love is not hate—the opposite of love is indifference.” When someone plainly sees an injustice or wrong occurring and does nothing about it, this person is choosing to let the fabric of our shared reality rip and become ruin. Cuomo made a direct link to the role indifference played in the rise of the three brutal Dictators of World War II. After the chaos of WWI and global economic depression, great numbers of people were left without means of meeting their basic needs. Many looked to strong men with bold visions who said things like: “I can fix this! I, and I alone, can make our country great again!” These strong men possessed an uncanny magnetism that attracted people to them—people being crushed by their circumstances. These men were of course Adolf Hitler of Germany, Benito Mussolini of Italy, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.
At the beginning of WWII, the United States refused to enter it, fed up after the extraordinary loss of life, resources, and money poured into Europe during the first Great War. This combined with the Great Depression left Americans sunk deep inside a well of isolationist thinking. Many believed Europe needed to work out its own problems, which they felt were rooted in ancient tribal differences and racists tendencies played out over centuries. This thinking prevented Roosevelt from sending U.S. ships to help Churchill get his army out of Dunkirk where they were penned in by Hitler’s army, which was sweeping across Europe in a frightening and virtually unstoppable power grab. I believe Roosevelt sent some airplanes, but they had to be pushed over the Canadian border, not driven or flown, so they could take off from Canada allowing Roosevelt to claim he was not helping Britain, Canada was. Churchill was left in an impossible position for he did not have enough naval ships to evacuate his men. Without a British army, Hitler would invade the island nation forcing Churchill to surrender. Imagine the world if this had happened. Fortunately, Churchill prevailed by using every private water vessel available to cross the English Channel to get his men out.
After Pearl Harbor, America could no longer remain uninvolved in the second Great War now erupting just as brutally in the Far East. To help change public opinion and prepare men for battle, the United States government commissioned a series of movies to explain and justify involvement in yet another war. One of these movies was Prelude to War made by Frank Capra depicting the Nazi propaganda machine and disinformation being put out by the 3 dictatorial regimes. Inspired by Leni Riefenstahl‘s Germany propaganda filmTriumph of the Will, Capra sought to create a movie that would counter hers, but to do so, he knew he needed a powerful idea. From Wikipedia:
“Capra made his primary focus the creation of “one basic, powerful idea” that would spread and evolve into other related ideas. Capra considered one important idea that had always been in his thoughts: ‘I thought of the Bible. There was one sentence in it that always gave me goose pimples’: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
As a result, his goal became to “let the enemy prove to our soldiers the enormity of his cause—and the justness of ours”. He would compile enemy speeches, films, newsreels, newspaper articles, with a list of the enemy’s hostile actions. He presented his ideas to other officers now assigned to help him: ‘I told them of my hunch: Use the enemy’s own films to expose their enslaving ends. Let our boys hear the Nazis and the Japs shout their own claims of master-race crud—and our fighting men will know why they are in uniform.’
Weeks later, after major efforts and disappointments, Capra located hard-to-reach archives within government facilities, and by avoiding normal channels was able to gain access: Peterson and I walked away on air. We had found the great cache of enemy films—and it was ours!”
If interested in these historical strands of fate and destiny, watch Capra’s Prelude to War and the Darkest Hour (an interpretation of Churchill and Dunkirk). After watching or reading about this time, I believe it is possible to grasp just how precarious human time and attention was during this moment as strong men worked day and night to divert and misdirect human attention to obscure their evil deeds. It is a timeless story repeated over and over in the human world. However, Now, here we stand again, this time closer to the edge than ever before, and yet so many people seem blissfully unaware, or worst, indifferent to the danger.
Or, perhaps it is not an edge at all.
Perhaps we face a collision of two different consolidations of human consciousness. What if every moment of our lives and every other human being’s life leaves a trace upon the warp and woof of space and time? What if these traces create a substrate from which our shared conscious reality rises and is expressed? One of the most fundamental expressions of this consciousness is through relationships (i.e., family, friends, community, country, world). Sometimes these relationships are strong, balanced and healthy, and they put good into the world. Sometimes these relationships are broken and unhealthy, and they pour bad into the world. These bonds and the traces they leave behind are immeasurably subtle and elusive for they are of an emotional-psychic-spiritual nature, thus escape our eyes, and even our minds, but not our hearts.
What if these traces of consciousness, this subtle energy, bump into each other and form bonds just like electrons and protons do in the visible universe? What if these bonds glob together and create landscapes, even planets or consolidated bodies of consciousness? Of course, these places would be invisible to the eye for they are spaces created from psychological-emotional-spiritual expressions or memories of our collective co-existence as human beings up to this point in time. There would be beautiful and safe places in this realm as well as dangerous ones. There would be ancient places charted long ago by our ancestors but Now forgotten. And, there would-be dried-up places, submerged places, verdant places, and crowded places. One would need to learn how to navigate these terrains just as one learns how to navigate the physical world, and these places would create the bedrock for our collective conscious co-existence. In short, they form the fertile invisible ground from which new conscious life sprouts and is expressed through time.
Now consider two different consolidations of conscious terrain have formed over the expanse of human conscious co-existence and share the same orbit around the sun of humanity’s awaken consciousness—just as Earth shared the same orbit around our sun with Theia , which is believed to have been a Mars-sized planet orbiting the sun in the same Goldie Locks trajectory as Earth. Scientist believe Theia struck Earth about 4.5 billion years ago in a collision so massive it knocked Earth off its axis, sending it spinning so fast that one day was completed in 5 hours. The colossal amount of debris thrown into space created our moon, which eventually slowed Earth’s spin from 5-hours to 24 hours and created Earth’s tides once water returned. As life emerged, Earth’s crooked axis was transformed into our seasons, and from this destruction and chaos, a new equilibrium rose—one where life could thrive.
Further imagine the destruction and tragic loss of human life that happened 100 years ago and again 75 years ago were near misses of this other consolidation of human consciousness—merely pass-byes, not collisions, but nevertheless capable of generating tremendous gravitational forces within both consolidations of consciousness, which would widen and deepen natural riffs existing within these spheres of consciousness. This fracturing would prevent either sphere from seeing or taking necessary action to avoid a collision with the other. The question becomes can we absorb a direct impact, heal from it, and return to a new dynamic balance—one that supports life—all life.
After writing these strange thoughts, a friend posted one of Rumi’s timeless poems. I believe Rumi felt the possibility of such other realities existing beyond our visible one. Born September 30, 1207, he says so beautifully:
“I have abolished duality from myself.
I have seen the two worlds as One!
One I seek, One I know,
One I see, and One I call.”
~ By RUMI
Returning back to Western Civilization’s definition of reality, Cuomo went onto connect what happened 75 years ago to what Republicans are doing now by protecting a person proving himself to be a pathological liar and holding the most powerful office in the country. Barely two weeks later, Michael Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress where the gentle Republican men and women came at him hard, employing virtually the same tactic, which was to call him a liar, attack his integrity, and suggest he is simply seeking to profit by his lies. Many gave passionate 5-minute speeches to their base using emotion like super weapons to inflame them (e.g., “I told my wife don’t listen to this, please don’t listen and she said to me don’t worry honey, I won’t listen.”)—all to protect a man shown to have made 6,420 false or misleading claims since he took office (Washington Post, 11/2/18). Of course they were angry, Cohen was no longer lying to protect their man—the President. Many wouldn’t even let Cohen answer their questions saying things like: “This is my time. Don’t interrupt me!” Halfway through his testimony, Cohen admonishes Congress for by now even the gentle Democratic men and women are using their time not to question Cohen but to make counter statements to combat the highly charged mini emotional speeches made by the other side. The result was a shredding of any truth to be found and trampling on the remnants. One of the most profound statements Cohen made was that what people surrounding Trump are doing Now is what he did for him for 10 years, and they will end up where he is Now. He also said when Trump took office he became the very worst version of himself (I’ll get back to this). Don Lemon added later that people protect their own,which is tribal behavior (e.g., BBC interview of U.S. 2020 voters 3/7/19, “Do I vote for character? No, I don’t vote for character… character doesn’t put money in my pocket.).
This idea of social reality as tribal is critical to understand and get underneath in order to grapple with the realities facing us Now. Tribal co-existence is one of the most natural states for human beings to exist. Throughout human civilization, tribes have been the building blocks for how to live together. Tribes protect and nurture their members, and when threatened, fiercely defend them. With the rise and dominance of Western Civilization, the physical embodiment of many tribes around the world has been greatly diminished—which is a tremendous loss of the magnificent diversity and vibrancy of human civilizations as it has evolved on Earth. A question to consider Now is this (Western Civilization) the most stable consolidation of human co-existence we can create? Are there perhaps other more stable and life sustaining consolidations of human conscious co-existence that are more balanced and capable of recognizing and nurturing the realities of inner and outer space.
Despite the dwindling number of so many of the world’s native tribes, tribal ways of thinking have not disappeared. Indeed, with the rise of social media, they are resurging in ways never previously imagined possible. And, why wouldn’t this be so for humans have always found tremendous comfort in groups of other liked minded humans. Tribes, as previously stated, protect and sustain their members from harsh realities of life, and this is true of virtual tribes as it is for real tribes. In essence, they create an external model of reality that reflects and protects the internal world experienced by most of its members. They also serve as effective mechanisms to teach young members about beliefs, traditions, rituals, and knowledge deemed essential for survival in an uncertain world. A tribe is not inherently good or bad—be it ancient or modern—rather it is as good as the human beings making it up and their thinking. However, if a tribe becomes off balanced, its members tend to become off balanced too.
Veering sharply from present to past, I want to contrast current political tribalism with the challenges faced by a real, living tribe. I’ve selected two stories from the book my friend M. sent me to help me cope with my father’s death, child of the jungle, which is about the Fayu tribe in New Guinea. This tribe was facing a serious crisis after having become deeply knocked off balanced by vicious revenge killings. These imbalances permeated into every aspect of their lives, including how they treated their own members and families. As this more aggressive and cruel side of the Fayu’s collective psychic-spiritual landscape grew bigger, it submerged their more loving and nurturing side. Failing to recognize their lopsidedness, they became locked in a tangled web of cruelty.
I am very aware how Western colonization often took place first through missionary work; however, through this story, I have come to understand it is how this work is done that makes the critical difference. In this real-life story, the father felt deeply called to be with the Fayu people, and he did so with a compassionate heart. He did not enforce his way of doing things, nor impose his beliefs, but rather sought to learn their language, engage in conversation, and demonstrate through his own life kinder, gentler ways of being and living together. This was not a one-way street either for he and his family learned from the Fayu people as well. In fact, the family’s very existence in the jungle was only possible because of the Fayu’s help and knowledge, which they shared freely and frequently to help the family live and survive in the jungle—a place of daily wonders and danger. Most importantly, it was only by the invitation of one of the chiefs who expressed how tired he was by all the killings that the family came to live with the Fayu.
Two key moments that vividly demonstrate to me just how far off balanced the Fayu had become are as follows:
Chapter: Nakire — The Woman and the arrow
“It happened while I was playing outside. Several women were heading into the jungle. The husband of one of the women called her back, but she did not immediately respond. When she finally did step out of the trees, he took his bow, notched an arrow, and shot her in the breast.
The Fayu are excellent marksmen. The husband knew exactly how much pressure to exert on the bowstring so that the arrow would wound but not kill his wife. The woman collapsed, groaning, onto the ground. I felt sick. I wanted to scream, to run away, to kill that man. Everyone could see that this woman was pregnant.
Mama heard the cries and came running out of the house. When she saw the scene, she lost it. I have never seen Mama roar as she did on that day. Mama ran over to the woman, extracted the arrow, and helped her to the house. The man was standing there, laughing at our reaction. I threw him a look of contempt as I followed Mama and the woman into our house. Papa was also very upset, but when he confronted the Fayu about it, they just laughed at him as well.
Today it is different. Over the years, the Fayu watched the relationship between my parents, and what they saw – their respect and love for each other – began to change the way they treated their own wives. It was a new concept for the Fayu that a man and a woman could work together, be happy at it and be able to incorporate humor into their relationship. With my parents, they could see how important love was and the argument didn’t have to be settled by arrows or death.”
Chapter: My Brother Ohri — Boy who ate the wrong part of the crocodile
“But this time our concern was justified. When I saw Ohri step out of the brush, I shouted for Mama and hurried to him. He collapsed to the ground, weak and with a high fever. I wanted to help him up but didn’t know where I could touch him. His entire chest was a huge, infected wound covered by a thick layer of green-grey fungus. The Fayu had shot him with an arrow and left him for dead in the middle of the jungle.
Mama came running and helped Ohri into our house, Papa asked the Fayu what had happened and was told that Ohri had eaten a forbidden piece of a crocodile. This was his punishment. They completely ignored him and acted as though he didn’t exist anymore.
I started to cry when I saw his pain-streaked face. He smelled like rotting meat. The wound was obviously gangrenous. I sat next to him and held his hand. Mama brought bandages and medication and rolled Ohir on to this side. She mixed potassium permanganate with water and poured it over his chest. An inch-thick fungal growth slowly loosened itself and fell off him onto the leaves we had placed underneath him.
Ohir was in great pain. His entire chest was an open wound filled with maggots. Mama cut a bedsheet into large strips, covered them in antibiotic cream, and bound his torso with them. She changed the bandages every day. Papa took the leaves and dressings out behind the house and burned them.”
Ohir would survive his ordeal, and he would be accepted back into his tribe. The author does not tell us if the Fayu changed their ways after this event, but you see love and compassion demonstrated by the family as the Fayu watched, and most importantly, paid attention. The author does say later: “Words alone are empty. You have to live out what you hold to be true. The Fayu needed to decide for themselves whether they wanted to change, for true change comes only from the heart.” Thus, it was the compassionate, tender, and loving side of the Fayu people re-emerging simply by watching and paying attention to how these strange, white people did things differently. This simple act empowered the Fayu to remember the submerged parts still existed inside of them (like an energy being activated through the mere act of observation). The change was slow, one person at a time, one choice at a time, but little by little they began to bring this side of themselves back into their shared psycho-social-spiritual conscious sphere. Thus, this is how a gentle transformation occurred.
When we strive to become the best version of ourselves, we pay attention to our inner life as well as our outer life. We learn how to channel our most destructive human emotions and nature in less destructive ways. We help others learn how to do this too. This is love. Love is simply paying attention to ourselves and helping each other do this too. It is doing what we can with what we have to make the world a little bit better. It is helping each other heal wounds (those inside of us or inflicted on us by outside forces or fate) for we are all human beings making a wondrous and perilous journey to become more conscious, and hopefully kinder and more loving beings as well, but this is a personal choice. The journey begins by looking inside and seeing and validating our inner truth and reality. This can feel risky and even dangerous because most of us are taught that our inner realities are nothing more than crazy mutterings, insane ramblings, or unhinged thoughts. Correcting this imbalance in our collective vision (i.e., verifying and validating the truth of each person’s inner reality in balance with every other person alive) may be the only way to move forward together. This can only happen by paying attention to what is happening inside and helping each other do the same—one person at a time. It’s not too late to change our shared reality. As long as we have life, we have choice, and until our dying day, we leave traces upon the warp and woof of space and time.
* * *
One More Story about the Cost of Indifference: In this story, the price of indifference is human life. 48 Hours In Syria is a powerful story told by Kassem Eid about spending two years living in a city under siege. It began after he and his neighbors took part in the protests during the Arab Spring in 2011, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad began to punish towns like Kassem’s. His forces bombed them, surrounded them, and starved them. That’s when Kassem decided to fight back.
The Dalai Lama Talks About How to Tackle the Indifferent Mind: How to Train Our Mind: His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains how to train the mind to tackle destructive emotions during his meeting with a group from India at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 11, 2019.
Stories About Weaving Strong (Even Destructive) Emotions into Making Legal Decisions: RadioLab: Null and Void – These stories tell about jury nullification with a particular passionate interview and story beginning at 40 minutes into the show.
1A: Male Masculinity in the 21stCentury: How to Raise Boys – How do we teach men how to acknowledge that “I feel pain, I feel fear?” This is an in-depth discussion about the messages and confusing narratives that swirl around men and boys today and how it shapes their understanding of what it means to be a man and how they should act.
One Way a Different Consolidation of Consciousness Might Split Off from the Whole and Grow: Conflict and strong emotions have always been hard for humans to navigate, especially in groups—be it a group of 3 or a country of millions—but navigating them together may be our only evolutionary option. Some groups favor acting on strong emotions and openly engaging in conflict (tic for tac approach), but this can escalate or lock a conflict into a static pattern. Some groups prefer ignoring conflict and strong emotions, pretending it’s business as usual, while the intense emotional energy is submerged into the unconscious realms where it tends to grow and morph out of sight of conscious awareness, typically transforming into something much worst (to play the unconsciousness game, see the animation-graphic above).
Some groups don’t believe they have any responsibility to guide the emotional energy of its members at all, rather believing this is the job of family and friends to soothe disaffected individuals. But we’ve seen this play out with middle income and middle of the country Americans, many who are white and feel the systems that once supported and elevated them left them behind. They face uncertain futures where they cannot care for themselves and their families. They feel pain and fear that can surge very strongly at times and need to be sorted and channelled. But with broken systems, their voices go unheard, and so they do talk to their friends and family, and they are angry too. The result is a splitting from the whole and formation of a consolidation of individuals who weld enough will and power to elect Donald Trump.
Whenever a whole is divided and becomes polarized due to lack of effective strategies to channel strong emotions that can flow from time to time within groups, the polarized sides can begin to fracture, allowing even more powerful, destructive potentials (forces) to fill the cracks. Repairs might be attempted on both sides (i.e., the stained glass), but without dealing with the originating causes of the fracture, these repairs are often too little, too late, and too weak to hold the whole, causing everything to break apart—a story as old as time. See The Divine Dodo — In Maidjan (The Corruption) for the story for which the gif below was created to tell.