Posts Tagged With: spirituality

A Few More Words on Climate Change

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I’m a reasonable person, fairly discerning, observant and not overly skeptical…though I am learning to question much of what I hear these days.  I’m not a “climate denier”, but I am nervous about how the world is dealing with the issue.  I see and hear a lot of concern about global warming, even the national budget statement uses alarming language like “street flooding as oceans rise”, “longer, more intense fire seasons”, “more radical weather”, “droughts”, etc.  I also see and read a lot about people who dare to question the “general consensus on climate change” being ground into dirt by media, corporations and even our government for asking reasonable questions.  Even more alarming is reading comments about killing “climate deniers”, imprisoning them or, at the very least, not allowing them to hold public office.  What happened to the First Amendment?  Why is debate on this issue being not only discouraged, but aggressively suppressed?  Why have “gag orders” been placed on many of our weather experts?   If this is such a critical issue to all of us, shouldn’t EVERYONE be in on the discussion and every viewpoint heard? Shouldn’t we be able to hear all sides…especially since this is a situation that no one alive has ever experienced?  I read and see the same “data” and reports that all of you do.  It’s clear things are changing, but then we’ve always known we live in a dynamic universe where there are very few constants.  I wonder why the huge push just now.  As George Carlin stated in his monologue, “Save the planet”, the earth has existed for millions of years;  the industrial age began less than 200 years ago;  do we REALLY think we have tipped the scales permanently in that little bit of time?  WE might be on the way out (via nuclear war or killing each other off with biological warfare, etc), but the earth has survived a lot worse than us and will probably shake us off like a bad case of fleas and continue on just fine without us.

Ok…George wasn’t a scientist, or even a great statesman;  he did, however, have some common sense….and the ability to point out very clearly when we were straying away from it!  Yes…things are changing; we DO need to prepare ourselves…for anything;  it’s simply practical to make some changes in the way we live and operate…and view the world and it’s resources.  Fossil fuel use pollutes our air and water and affects all of us and all other species on the planet;  there ARE better alternatives.  Chemical dependence IS also polluting our water, air and food as well as messing up most of our natural systems.  We DO generate WAY too much garbage and waste way too many resources in unnecessary packaging, etc.  We (at least in the west) DO live largely at levels beyond which our own environments can support and our demands DO have direct effects on those in poorer countries where labor (and life) is apparently cheaper.  But is alarming our children in schools by teaching them that we are destroying the earth just as many of us were terrified by having to go thru pointless drills in event of a possible nuclear attack during the cold war REALLY the way to change our direction?   Wouldn’t it be better to simply teach them respect…for themselves and everyone and everything around them…and how every choice we make has an impact on the world around us?  Is our government funneling huge amounts of our tax dollars (well over 20 billion/year and rising) into “climate change activities” REALLY the way to help mitigate the damage and prepare us for a more radical future that is predicted to come?  Is trying to force ANYTHING ever effective for long….especially when it comes to citizen participation?

I think we are all being played.  I think there are a select few pockets being lined as a result of the “war on global warming” just as there are in keeping us in a perpetual state of war on foreign soils.  This is a huge, self-perpetuating system that collects our tax dollars and directs them to the same few over and over and over, with just enough trickling down,and enough fear being continually created to keep the system going.  Despite promises of corrupt politicians, the poor keep getting poorer, the streets fill with more and more homeless, the news is filled with more and more atrocities committed by desperate people all over the world, it is getting harder and harder for everyone except for a relatively small group of elitists to exist and we keep buying into the story.

I think the way to REALLY change things begins with me…and you.  First of all, we need to realize we are being played….and refuse to join in….refuse to be manipulated through fear.  Then we need to realize that little changes in our collective daily choices and methods will be much more effective in terms of affecting the climate than any government-sponsored program that will eventually fizzle with the monies in a few chosen pockets.  I’m talking about simple things here!  I was researching on energy use just prior to the issuance of Bush’s last stimulus package and found out that if every house in the country were to replace just one incandescent light bulb with an energy-efficient one, it would amount to the same carbon reduction as removing something like 200,000 cars from the road.

It is obvious that while our individual efforts may seem meaningless, multiply them by 100, a 1,000 or many thousands and you begin to see the power in individual choice.  Here is just a tiny list of things we can all do that will add up to REAL carbon reduction:

1) LED bulbs have come down in price and are much safer than the cfls that were being pushed a few years ago….start replacing some bulbs if you haven’t done so!  And while you’re saving on electricity, turn off your computers, phones, TVs and other electronic devices for an extra hour or so/day to begin with.  There’s a whole world outside to rediscover!

2) Drive less and bicycle more! It’s good for the planet AND you in so many ways!  Some simple planning/organizing can eliminate a lot of those quick trips to town.  If you have mass transit available, use it while it’s still an option…before the traffic in your city becomes completely gridlocked as it often does in some cities around the world.

3) Start now growing at least some of your own food! Anyone, anywhere can do this!…even if it’s only sprouting or small-container gardening.  This is addictive since home-grown food is so much better-tasting than commercially-produced goods and the process of growing it is great for the soul!  Soon you will be amazed at how much you can produce on your own…even in a small space like a windowsill or patio.

4) When you do buy, try to buy locally. This not only promotes local businesses and enhances community relationships, but saves on huge amounts of transportation and fuel costs and generally will land you better quality food picked when it should be rather than when it needs to be to survive weeks of shipping time.  If you don’t have a local farmer to buy from, a farmer’s market, start a community farm/garden!

5)  Buy less processed/packaged foods. Not only does this save on transportation costs, natural resources and landfill space, NOT choosing these types of foods (many of which contain GMO products) will, collectively help eliminate the need for GMO labeling, discourage the use of pesticides and herbicides and lead to higher-quality foods for all of us.

6)  If you are building, be conservative with the size. You will not only save money at every stage of construction and future maintenance, but also cut down on transportation of materials AND give yourself many, many more hours of freedom from maintenance, etc.

7)  If you are in a community, consider sharing costs of purchase and maintenance on lawn mowers and other power tools. It can be a little convenient, but will help you get to know your neighbors, greatly reduce (collectively) transportation costs, landfill needs, etc.

8)  As permaculturists know, our dumping carbon into the atmosphere for years has been an investment in our future to a very real degree. Planting the right plants and trees in the right combinations and in the right places can provide us with almost everything we need to survive….materials for shelter, fuel, clothing, food and clean water…all produced from carbon removed from the air around us.  This is one of the most practical and sustainable (if the two can be separated!) ways of living there is.  If you’ve not heard of Permaculture, there are many great resources on the subject online and in your libraries.  Get going!…this is the way of the future!

This list could go on much longer but I don’t want to spoil your fun in finding the many more ways you can become independent, make life easier and more enjoyable for yourself AND help save the planet at the same time.  Some really amazing things about all of these suggestions that we often forget is that they are all very legal, they are all good for you in terms of health and finances, they are all good for the health of your community, they are all beneficial in terms reducing our carbon output and the negative effects of our wants and needs on poorer countries, they ALL encourage local jobs, they ALL encourage involvement with your community and they ALL increase our independence and our resiliency!   This will in turn decrease our dependence on government and make us better able to handle any kind of emergency that may arise whether it is the result of global warming, war or some other catastrophe.  As a side benefit, it could also decrease our need to work and increase our playful, creative time!  What are we waiting for?!!!  I’ve never been a boy scout, but I admire their motto:  “Be prepared!”   If we all start now becoming as independent as possible, we will soon be well-prepared to meet any kind of emergency that might come up and will greatly-reduce our stress levels in the meantime.  To quote another motto;  “Just do it!”

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Finding Bliss

boardwalk If you read my earlier post, or even the header and tag line on this site, and already have a set of beliefs you are living by, you might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you…that you already have it all figured out and that you are reading this just to see what this crazy loon is going to come up with next!  Don’t let me scare you away, but if you are reading this, there could be a chance that something you’ve seen or read here resonates with something inside you…or in other words is something that you already know at some level.  It shouldn’t be frightening to us, but it is sometimes a shock when we first start to wake up from the dream most us exist in and remember we are more than just a mind trapped in a physical body.  Please don’t be alarmed….there is nothing new here.  There is no intent here to plant strange ideas in your mind and somehow lead you away from whatever path you are on. The only purpose for this writing is to help us (myself included!) remember where that path leads, and to help us focus not on the pointing finger, but on that to which the finger is pointing…to our natural state, and bliss

How do we know we are more than simply minds trapped in bodies?  Ask yourself this;  How do you know that everything you can experience with your senses is temporary?…that all this around us, including these bodies, will soon pass?  What is the basis from which you judge these things to be temporary?  One of my favorite authors/teachers suggests that if the entire world were blue, we would not recognize the color blue.  We perceive the universe as being a universe of contrast where there is an opposite for everything…at least everything that can be named—darkness/light, hot/cold, dry/wet, misery/bliss, etc.  If we haven’t experienced cold, we can’t recognize warmth; if we haven’t experienced darkness, we can’t see light; if we haven’t suffered, we can’t experience bliss;  and if something in us isn’t eternal, we would have no understanding of temporal.  The idea that some part of us is “not of this world” is the basis of every religion and/or spiritual path that exists and the “common ground” from which these words are coming.

We humans are of many different shapes, colors, backgrounds and beliefs, but one thing we have in common (with a few exceptions) is that we all have minds with which we are strongly identified.  One of life’s greatest ironies is that we are joined by (among other things) the existence of our minds and at the same time separated by our identification with our minds.  That separation, from each other, from nature and from our true selves, is the source of every “problem” that we perceive.  On the flip side, the solutions to our problems (personal and global) lay in the dissolving of that sense of separateness and realizing our unity…our oneness.  How do we accomplish this?  Since the same “force” (which is referred to using many names) animates everything and everyone on earth, we should be able to sense and connect with it anywhere, in anyone at any time, but because the active mind and our identification with it is a very effective screen obscuring our perception of this force, we are challenged with the task of going beyond the mind; a task which can only be accomplished through quieting the mind…finding the off switch.

The discussion of where this is all leading may appear to be very philosophical and complicated, but the means of getting there are very simple; so simple in fact, they are often overlooked or laughed off.  If they aren’t laughed at, they are sometimes shunned out of fear.  We are all familiar with the adage, “An idle mind is the playground of the devil” which comes up often when the subject of quieting the mind is broached.  However, an idle mind is an unfocused mind that could latch onto any thought that might drift through whereas a quiet mind is totally focused and (ideally) free of thought altogether.  The good news is that everything stated here is immediately verifiable, and you don’t have to even “google it!”  Finding the off switch to your mind can be accomplished by simply swinging your focus to something the mind can’t wrap itself around…like your own breath.   The breath is no thing…it simply is.  How can you describe it?  We can talk about the rate of it, the depth of it, the force of it, we can hold it for a short time and otherwise exercise some minimal control over it, but we can’t really describe it…yet it gives us life.  One conscious breath is all that is needed to begin opening the hole in the flute that you represent—“conscious” suggesting that your awareness is focused on whatever the subject is.  Test it now!

If you are not presently engaged in some activity that requires sight, close your eyes.  It is helpful to sit, but you can try this in any position at any time.  Take a deep breath through your nose and focus on the flow of the air passing in through your nostrils.  Note how it feels as the air passes through the hairs in your nostrils, how your chest and abdomen rise as the lungs fill, how it flows out effortlessly, passing back through your nostrils as the chest relaxes and then notice the slight pause at the end of the exhale before the cycle is repeated.  Go ahead…try it now!  If you’re so inclined, try focusing on several breaths…. I’ll wait.

 Well?  Did the world grind to a halt while you were away?  Did you lose your mind?  Did evil thoughts come flooding into your mind like dirt into a vacuum?  My guess is that it wasn’t a bad experience at all for you…in fact it might have been a fairly pleasant one!  If you were comfortable with this, start now doing it whenever you think about it…whenever you become aware that your mind is running wild again and desire even a moment of stillness.  It is an incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating exercise.  Don’t worry about or be watching for something to happen, simply enjoy the stillness.  When the mind drifts away, which it will very quickly at first, gently swing your focus back to your breath…again and again.  If you do this regularly through out the day…while sitting in traffic going to work, sitting at your desk, while walking, etc….you will gradually become more and more aware of what is going on in your mind most of the time, and you may notice that you are feeling less stressed and anxious.  Congratulations!  You have located the off switch to your mind and survived its activation!  Doesn’t it feel great?!!  The peace you seek has begun with you!

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I Am Bliss!

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I lived at an ashram/yoga retreat in the Bahamas for a few months recently and we (staff and some guests) would all rise every morning at 5:30 and be sitting in the temple by 6:00 meditating.  At about 6:30 we would begin a half hour of daily chants…a long series of mantras put to music.  One of those mantras went like this

 “I am bliss, I am bliss, bliss absolute, bliss I am!”

 Even in the Bahamas we had a number of cool nights and mornings, and of course not everyone was always wide awake or happy about being up before the chickens and sitting in satsung.  I remember looking around the temple and laughing at the apparent irony in all the people bundled up in winter clothing, sitting there appearing grumpy and half asleep, staring at the floor singing, “I am bliss!”  At the same time I sensed the truth in the words—that bliss is our natural state and often felt it as I sang!  I am there now!

 Yes…I am in one of my favorite places in Florida and I love the warmth of the gentle spring sun, the happy sound of palm fronds frolicking in a light sea breeze, the songs of Cardinals and Mockingbirds and the joyful cries of gulls and Osprey sounding all around me, the soft scattered clouds highlighting a brilliant blue sky, but that is all surface stuff!  Other surface stuff should be causing me depression and anxiety!  I am jobless, my funds are dwindling, I am alone, I have no idea where I am going or what I will be doing next week, let alone 5 years from now, and I have nothing except an old truck, a few tools, some clothes and a bit of kitchenware with no real home to leave it in.  Now that I’ve listed all those reasons, I AM feeling a bit nervous! LOL!

 What I really want to do though is dance…after I share the bliss with you!  Why?  Because I have finally realized that the ultimate purpose of absolutely everything we engage in (even if we don’t realize it) is to find the bliss…to find our way back to our natural state!…and when we do, there is nothing else we really need.  How do we find bliss?…by quieting the mind.  Yes…as long as we’re in the physical world, our forms require food, water, shelter, and in some climates, some kind of covering.  These needs seem to require constant thought, but they come fairly easily to most non-human life forms…why not to us?  Jesus said, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  Most of our bodily processes…healing, constant reconstruction, etc. take place without us even being conscious of them;  why do we think the external world is any different?  Where do we get the idea that the whole world will fall apart without constant effort on our part, endless input from our minds…and lots of stress?  Have you observed lately the kind of stuff that occupies your mind most of your waking hours?  I heard a speaker recently suggest that 80 to 90% of the thoughts we have today are the same ones we had yesterday, and the day before that and the day before that….endless repetition of mostly nonsense!  Don’t take my word for it!  Observe your own mind…for even a few minutes!  Really!  Start now……….

Ok…did anything useful come through?  Did you notice anything new and exciting?  Did any solutions to your problems reveal themselves?…solutions to our collective problems?  If my mind is any kind of example….and I think it’s safe to say it is!…while thought is sometimes enjoyable and it can be fun to relive some of the best moments of our lives or to look ahead and dream of things being better than they are at this moment, and while it is sometimes necessary to focus for short periods on situations that require our attention, most of the really useful material that comes through does so without any effort on our part!  If you read the biographies of great writers, artists, composers, mathematicians and others who have produced works of lasting value, I think you will find that most of them would say much the same thing…that their best work was produced without any real effort on their part…that it seemed to just flow out of them!  Einstein didn’t sit around for hours and hours thinking hard to come up with solutions;  he took long, quiet walks in natural surroundings.  Do you think Handel could have produced the Messiah in 21 days if he had sweated over all the technical details, questioning himself at every turn?  My understanding, and now my personal experience, tells me that the most important thing we can learn is how to get out of our own way!…how to live every moment of our lives as an open channel, a hole in a flute that the beautiful music of the universe can flow through!  What do we gain from learning this?  Everything we could possibly need…and BLISS!

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