"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Letting Go’

Learning How To Live All Over Again: Dealing With the Anger & Continual Backsliding Upon The Acceptance Of Meaninglessness & Overcoming The Schizophrenia Of Awakening.

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2014 at 8:34 pm

https://i1.wp.com/www.awakening-healing.com/images/Astrology/spiritualawakening.pngOldspeak: “There is only the dream. There is no me or we. There is simply infinity. Logically I know this. Logically I know that nothing we do ultimately matters. Logically I know that I am simply living one thread of awareness to the exclusion of all others. There will be others. There have always been others. It is simply a never ending ride down the stream of life; experiencing only what is the next adventure around the next bend in an ever winding, never ending stream of consciousness.

I find that concept to be wonderful; freeing. I yearn for the letting go. Holding on creates anger. This bend in the river – the western industrial capitalist complex – has created some amazingly difficult habits from which to break. The most formidable being the continual neurosis that one needs to “get” somewhere. The delusion that striving and building and achieving somehow are important in and of themselves. The duality I feel is that the conscious awake me knows it is all a hologram. I know that this “person” is an imaginary construct. I know this is the dream state playing itself out and I am simply riding in the canoe. But, the Calvinist mental illness that has been brow beaten into all western beings, is the default behavior that rises when the defenses are down. We fall back into the dream and go back to acting like striving matters. The anxiety ramps up, the inability to relax causes stress, personal interactions with those close to us in the dream become strained, and we hypnotically fall back into the unconscious world of striving and attachment. Fear rears its ugly head, and peace is lost.

My spiritual autolysis has nothing to do with waking up. I am awake. My spiritual autolysis has to do with breaking 50 plus years of habits; 50 years of reacting habitually because the outside world, and those children deemed to be in positions of authority said I was supposed to have because that is the way of “reality”. The ultimate hoax is having to be taught by those who have not awakened themselves. Habits get formed, neural pathways become strongly wired together, and then when awakening happens, those pathways create doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, and a wish to get back to what has always been considered “normal”. Normal is a lie. It is the paradigm created by fear, by children, by a ruse. This plane of existence is severely, and by every definition of the term, mentally ill.” Johnathan DeJong

Ooof. I really needed to read this right now. I’ve been meditating heavily on many of the ideas Johnathan has shared. Specifically, the idea of civilization as madness. Civilization is not the default setting of humans. It requires madness to participate well in. A couple other writers on the same excellent blog have written more extensively on the topic. Ray Jason in his excellent piece delineates a short list of the pathologies in human behaviour that civilization has spawned:

  • Slavery
  • Insanity
  • Torture
  • Human Sacrifice
  • Genocide
  • Plagues
  • Chronic Loneliness
  • Industrial War
  • Laws
  • Obesity
  • Homicidal Dictators
  • Asylums
  • Heart Attacks
  • Lawyers
  • Crusades
  • Atomic Bombs
  • Cancer
  • Poverty
  • Inquisitions
  • Diseases of Civilization
  • Witch-hunts
  • Drones
  • Suicide Bombers
  • Drug Addiction
  • Taxes
  • Robot Soldiers
  • Bankers
  • Missionaries
  • Junk Food
  • Overpopulation
  • Sweat Shops
  • Famine
  • Disparity of Wealth
  • Sexual Deviancy
  • Child Molesters
  • Serial Killers
  • Compulsive Consumption
  • Extinction of Species

It is hard to imagine any rational human being reading that list of atrocities and not saying to themselves, “Why have these consequences of Civilization never been brought to my attention?”  That sensible question brings us back to the title of this essay: “The Thick Facade of Civilization.”  Here is the standard dictionary definition for the word facade: “an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant reality.”  Civilization is so toxic to human and animal and planetary well-being, that its true nature must be hidden from people.”

Keith Farnish in his piece, talks about the anomalous and hyper-destructive effects of civilization on the ecology and all life on earth the short period of time (5 to 10,000 years)  it has existed among human beings. He asserted that “the natural reaction of even civilized people in crisis situations is to help each other and, in the longer term, build protective communities. We could call this “uncivilized” activity, but really it’s human activity. Collective behaviour is only curtailed where authority is enforced. Humans never evolved to be individuals. Humans never evolved to be civilized” He too lists pathological and suicidal requirements of civilization:

– The desire to accumulate

– The need for hiearchy

– Disconnection from the real world

– Individualism over collectivism

In this context, I’ve struggled to realize that as Mr. DeJong reminds us, the task of our time, this Earth’s 6th and fastest mass extinction, is to live in a state of mindfulness & radical acceptance of the meaninglessness of it all, to live in an awakened way, as Johanna Macy says, “fully present to what is happening in the world“. To let go of our programming and live as our full and authentic selves, not slaves to the whims and proclivities of our rapacious egos. To let go and understand that we are in control of nothing. To recognize and heal from the pathologies of striving and “being someone” social acceptable. To initiate “Spiritual Autolysis” and “Be deliberate in your actions. Be in control of your thoughts. Remove yourself from environments that pollute you and force you back into old unconscious habits, and dare to act differently than your programming when you are in familiar settings that you know don’t serve you. In order to live the knowing, to align yourself with that which you know logically to be true, you have to learn how to live- not all over again- but for the first time. Awareness is not enough. Habit breaking is the autolysis that will align you with the real. Question every thought you have ever had. Question why you do any physical action. Throw away that which hinders and keep what helps; but ultimately be mindful of everything, until being mindful becomes the habit.” All that’s left to realize that it’s all a hologram. A dream state that is one big play in which we all have parts. That structures and ideas and concepts  are to be let go, lest they become shackles. Meditate frequently and practice joining yourself with the source field of universal consciousness, free of fear, anger, doubt, anxiety and duality. Freedom awaits.” -OSJ

By  Johnathan DeJong @ Nature Bats Last:

There has always been a sense in the back of my mind that nothing really matters. How could it be that all of this “existence” really has some kind of end purpose? If you sit and think logically about it, if there is some endgame, some divine plan that is supposed to end up somewhere, then the end, it would seem, would be something to avoid. After all, the end result would be that nothing beyond that end goal matters. Once the goal is achieved, life is meaningless. So if that is the case, then the idea of an infinite ebb and flow of energy and consciousness makes a lot more sense. Life is still meaningless, but now it is an infinite field. It is not linear. It is an eternal playground. Nothing is important unless you give meaning and purpose to it. Being awakened from the role playing in the dream state, should free us. It should allow us all to simply spread our wings and throw off the shackles of this nightmare. And then, of course, I use the term “we”.

There is only the dream. There is no me or we. There is simply infinity. Logically I know this. Logically I know that nothing we do ultimately matters. Logically I know that I am simply living one thread of awareness to the exclusion of all others. There will be others. There have always been others. It is simply a never ending ride down the stream of life; experiencing only what is the next adventure around the next bend in an ever winding, never ending stream of consciousness.

I find that concept to be wonderful; freeing. I yearn for the letting go. Holding on creates anger. This bend in the river – the western industrial capitalist complex – has created some amazingly difficult habits from which to break. The most formidable being the continual neurosis that one needs to “get” somewhere. The delusion that striving and building and achieving somehow are important in and of themselves. The duality I feel is that the conscious awake me knows it is all a hologram. I know that this “person” is an imaginary construct. I know this is the dream state playing itself out and I am simply riding in the canoe. But, the Calvinist mental illness that has been brow beaten into all western beings, is the default behavior that rises when the defenses are down. We fall back into the dream and go back to acting like striving matters. The anxiety ramps up, the inability to relax causes stress, personal interactions with those close to us in the dream become strained, and we hypnotically fall back into the unconscious world of striving and attachment. Fear rears its ugly head, and peace is lost.

My spiritual autolysis has nothing to do with waking up. I am awake. My spiritual autolysis has to do with breaking 50 plus years of habits; 50 years of reacting habitually because the outside world, and those children deemed to be in positions of authority said I was supposed to have because that is the way of “reality”. The ultimate hoax is having to be taught by those who have not awakened themselves. Habits get formed, neural pathways become strongly wired together, and then when awakening happens, those pathways create doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, and a wish to get back to what has always been considered “normal”. Normal is a lie. It is the paradigm created by fear, by children, by a ruse. This plane of existence is severely, and by every definition of the term, mentally ill.

I have lived an entirely schizophrenic existence. It is the source of all of my pain. It is a mental split. There are two people involved. The first is the inner me. The awakened me. That being is awareness. It is the being that has always “known” reality. It is the wounded child that has never been able to live fully out in the open – The being who had never been allowed to truly and without resistance become completely me. Parents, society, financial issues, needing to “be” someone, always took precedence. After all, when the majority of the humanoid energy blips keep telling you that, and sometimes forcefully, a kid is going to repress him/herself. You come into this physical world utterly dependent upon others to raise you and educate you. Lost in the translation is that they don’t teach you to think for yourself. Because of this we internalize our sense of worthlessness, integrate into society, and the awakened being sits in a prison box in the recesses of one’s mind,an ever present murmur, but ignored, driven back, demonized, guilted into submission.

The second person in this schizophrenia is the ego. It is that being that the wider society in the dream state has become expert in cultivating. It is the source of all striving, all wars and corruption, all oppressive religions based on reward and punishment, and it is a brutal, fear amplifying, task master. It is intensely real, and for those asleep in the dream state, they are playing out their role in this delusion, with no questioning that there might be a very easy way to quell this cataclysmic existence. It is the face I put on when I meet with clients. It is the authoritative father figure I wear when dealing with my son. It is the dutiful, patriarchal husband armor donned when protecting one’s family. It is the constant and exhausting striving to make the farm work better than all of the other homesteads because “someone” is watching and that means failure isn’t an option. It is the worry what others think, or even the denial that one thinks that is important. If you are the animate ego with no connection to the imprisoned awareness within, your only motivation can be a striving after the physical and avoiding the negative scrutiny of others. Salvation is beyond you because you are of original sin and filth. Awakening and heaven must be given to you… because you are deemed worthless.

The ultimate war within is the ego relentlessly bludgeoning the awakened child so completely as to render the ego dominant. Thus, the external world we experience. The dream state is made manifest by the dreamer. Those who have fully let the child out; learned to live in the dream state yet fully aware, often flame out. Suicide, substance abuse, mental illness, or fleeing to anywhere so as to create an escape can all be a means to that end. The most profound struggle a human can go through is to dethrone the ego and put the inner aware being in control.

The more evolved have learned that meditation is a way to help break the habits. Some lose themselves in the life of altruism. But for so many, they still cannot let go. Awakening means to realize that the suffering poor and the greedy rich are all constructs. There is nothing. Habit breaking means choosing what game you want to play in this stream while never losing sight of the fact that it is a game. To break the habits and replace the DVD that has programmed your mind, the awakened being needs to create triggers to help snap you back into lucidity when you find yourself acting unconsciously again.

True awakening cannot happen without anger. When the torment becomes a true mental illness, because the reality of meaninglessness can no longer be suppressed, a lifetime of repression to succeed in a dream becomes a rage, a rejection of the dream itself, a mental breakdown, and one’s previous life flames out like a strip of birchbark struck by a flint. You look back on all that you did in your life unconsciously, and shake your head in disbelief. You simply cannot believe what you did with yourself and to yourself over all of that time because you let a wider society… that doesn’t even exist… torture you for so long. Aggravating as it is, there is no one to blame; not even yourself. Because ultimately, it was a dream. It still is a dream but you now accept it without keeping the knowing being encased in that lead mental casing preventing you from accessing it and using it fully. The challenge, now that the inner person has slain the outer egoic and asleep being, is to quit falling back into the trap. Funny how Christians also call a falling away – backsliding. But in the awakened state, backsliding is simply falling back to sleep and allowing the lifetime of habits to retake the helm and once again begin trying to paddle up stream.

The trick is to do nothing unconsciously. The way to break habits is to act as though you have never really lived before. Deliberately slow down, watch what you are doing and be aware of what you are thinking. Are you rushing through a task to get somewhere else? Are you thinking that what you are doing isn’t important and that you wish you were doing something else? Why? If it is important and the task you are doing is boring… does it need to be done at all? If the other seems more important should you really stop what you are doing and go do that? Why?

Buddhists do something called walking meditation. They deliberately put their awareness on each step they take, not allowing their mind to wander. One step, the next step, the next step, etc. Being present in the activity to try to quell the monkey mind. My habit to break is the thinking that I am needing to get somewhere. There is no where to get TO! There is only what I want to do to play in the field while I am able to. After that, its simply conversation.

Do I want to garden? Yes. Then garden and quit thinking you need to go paint. Do you want to observe with your telescope? Yes. Then don’t do shit during the day that will make you too tired to observe. Do you want to resume archery for fun instead of competition? Yes. Then use the space you have on the farm to do that! Use it again as your zen sport! Do you want to be in shape and live the mostly-terian or Flexitarian life? Yes? Then quit sabotaging yourself and do it… quit worrying about what others may think… they don’t EXIST! And more to the point – don’t matter!

The issue of social acceptance is another layer that Maya uses to keep us imprisoned and is very powerful. The only way to quell the fear is to grab the thought, look at your intention, then consciously decide if that is in your best interest given the game you have decided to play. I suppose you can play the “I want to worry about what others think” game, but in most cases, considering the deep slumber and pre-programmed responses these movie-extras have memorized, it is certainly not helpful. Do you love to be a modern homesteader, using your physical ability to grow your food, increase your level of self-reliance, and detach yourself from a corrupt, polluted, and destructive wider paradigm? Yes? Then do it. Do it regardless of whether the golfers, mall crawlers, and general citiot population think it valuable or not. They are IRRELEVANT!

So my spiritual autolysis is no longer about extricating the demons in my head. It is the process of habit breaking. The anger of meaninglessness comes from the stark understanding that everything you were taught to believe and everything you have done up to this point was wrong. I think that had we been a product of the indigenous who had rights of passage around the age of puberty, that there would be far more awakened beings. Our child like society killed off the people who really were enlightened, who had a success rate of waking people up of probably 90 percent because it was built into their culture. From that point, we have run around for centuries wondering how to attain enlightenment; thinking we needed some Babahooha or Swami-Salami from the east to wake us up. We invaded the North American holy land and killed off the priestesses because “we knew not what we do”. So now, instead of a vision quest at 13, we go psychotic for 50 years wondering why the pain of the imprisoned child of awareness inside of us needs drugs, or worse, the pain of ending it all.

Be deliberate in your actions. Be in control of your thoughts. Remove yourself from environments that pollute you and force you back into old unconscious habits, and dare to act differently than your programming when you are in familiar settings that you know don’t serve you. In order to live the knowing, to align yourself with that which you know logically to be true, you have to learn how to live- not all over again- but for the first time. Awareness is not enough. Habit breaking is the autolysis that will align you with the real. Question every thought you have ever had. Question why you do any physical action. Throw away that which hinders and keep what helps; but ultimately be mindful of everything, until being mindful becomes the habit.

So what game do I choose to play consciously? Runaway Climate Change is a fact. It is unavoidable in this existence. It is the pinnacle achievement of the ego-driven mindset. Everything about it, including extinction, is the result of a world that is completely asleep. It is the crowning achievement of the industrial civilization stage upon which this self-proclaimed intelligent species has created. I choose to play in this existence by rejecting that civilization. I have rejected it ever since I woke up in High School. I looked upon our species with disgust, but because I was beholden to the role models and people “in charge” it was repressed and it ended me up in the church. I reject the intelligence of our species. I value how humans change for the better pretty dramatically when they are in small social tribes. I choose to work toward local food, local community, and people lending help to people. If I can find that or if I can play a part in creating it, I will. If not. I’ll do it some other way.

No one will escape the pain of climate change. Memento Mori, remember your death. Knowing that you are going to die and keeping that awareness about you, should, in itself, change the way you behave and act on this stage. I choose to embrace the miracle of growing things. It stands in stark contrast to the wider slumbering egoic culture that strives to kill and mine everything in its path. If this world implodes and the universe folds up on this little pebble in the great void, my energy will reverberate into the eternal fabric that at least one person in this blip of an existence valued life and the natural world. I choose to use my physical abilities to work with the field. I choose to reject what ego has wrought. In the end, it doesn’t matter; but the universe planted this seed of revulsion in me back in the years that the native americans would have sent me out on a vision quest. I went on one and didn’t know it. I found myself and I hear its message. Detach from that which pollutes you, embrace that which feels right, do nothing as though it has ultimate significance. Float down your river of homesteading, don’t attempt to fight. Do it until it is indicated that you should do something else, and let that raft take you there.

I also choose to let go of controlling my world. Everything is what it is. Its all going to happen anyway… or maybe it won’t. Nothing I do is going to change that. I choose to watch world events as though they are a comedy, not something of ultimate significance. Everything is a giant comedy and my sense of humor is perfectly suited for it.

I reject the religion and sciences that revolve around ego. I choose to work to join myself with the field of energy and consciousness. My alter is my telescope, my zen is my bow, my sacrament is my farm. My tribe are those who choose to orbit those fields. But they too, will be free to find themselves and either continue to orbit or move to another plane.

There are certain realities to these choices if you don’t want to increase pain. Physical needs need to be met. At some point, the pain of work – my only forced habit of attachment to the egoic industrial civilization construct – at some level needs to be endured. The only result that can happen from eliminating that is to become a street person. It doesn’t seem to be indicated, but it does seem to be indicated that it needs to not be taken so seriously. If the ego driven world is going to wreck the lives of millions again, there is nothing on earth that I can do to stop it. In the end, it is not my fault. It is the result of children acting as if they are adults. There is nothing so blatantly obvious than the fact that we live in a world of children. They have had no right of passage, no help in awakening, and every construct of that civilization is designed to keep them trapped.

So I have anger associated with the awakening to meaninglessness. Should I have had a choice I would have avoided this existence altogether. The fascinating piece in all of this is how much bigger my understanding of infinity has become. This isn’t the only me. There are infinite versions. All of them are dreams, none of them mean anything, and that, ultimately, is the most freeing thing I can imagine. Freedom to play, freedom to choose, no matter what the slumbering play actors do.

(Throughout this I have referred to a word “Autolysis” It is a word coined in a trilogy by Jed McKenna which means to “devour one’s self”. It is a process by which he asserts can free the mind to reality. I highly recommend the books, as I know several others in this community would)

 

Struggling To Be “Fully Alive”: Reports On Coping With Anguish For A World In Collapse

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Oldspeak: “We need to transcend systems rooted in human arrogance and greed that lead us to believe that any individual is more valuable than another, that any group of people should dominate another group, or that people have a right to exploit the living world without regard for the consequences for the ecosystem. Because each of us has within us the capacity for constructive and destructive actions — for good and evil — our collective task is to shape a society that helps us act with caution and compassion…This radical message of humility and solidarity comes from a deep conception of respect: Respect for oneself, for other people, for other living things, and for the earth as a living system. That message animates the best of our philosophy, theology, poetry, and politics. ” -Robert Jensen

“The message i take away from this post is simply this: we are never alone. When we feel like we’re the crazy ones for feeling profound and deep grief, sadness, anger, frustration, that no one else seems to be experiencing, it’s not true. There are others bearing witness, struggling with their anguish.  To be as Joanna Macy says “fully present to what is happening in the world“. Be mindful, be vigilant in your practice of radical acceptance. Recognize that “All differences in this world are of a degree not a kind, because Oneness is the secret of everything.” Being in the present moment is all we can do. Professor Jensen’s original essay is definitely worth a read. “ -OSJ

By Robert Jensen @ Common Dreams:

“I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said many times over the centuries.”

That may have been the most insightful response to my essay asking people to report on how they cope with the anguish of living in a world in collapse.

That simple statement is a reminder that (1) the social and ecological crises we face have been building for a long time and (2) the best of our traditions have, for a long time, offered wisdom useful in facing those crises. The unjust social systems and unsustainable ecological practices of contemporary society started with the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, when humans began dominating each other and the planet in evermore destructive fashion, and intensified dramatically over the 250 years of the industrial revolution. (For a historical perspective, see “The delusional revolution”.)

And for nearly that long, some people have resisted the power of elites and tried to protect the land. (For a contemporary example, see “Where agriculture meets empire.”)

So, we struggle in the moment with complex problems that defy simple solutions — problems that may be beyond our capacity to solve in any meaningful way. But describing the basics needed for a better world is not difficult if we draw on that wisdom. Here’s my condensed version:

We need to transcend systems rooted in human arrogance and greed that lead us to believe that any individual is more valuable than another, that any group of people should dominate another group, or that people have a right to exploit the living world without regard for the consequences for the ecosystem. Because each of us has within us the capacity for constructive and destructive actions — for good and evil — our collective task is to shape a society that helps us act with caution and compassion.

This radical message of humility and solidarity comes from a deep conception of respect: Respect for oneself, for other people, for other living things, and for the earth as a living system. That message animates the best of our philosophy, theology, poetry, and politics, and it was at the heart of nearly all the 300 responses to my essay. This notion of respect wasn’t defined as “being nice” or “not being judgmental.” Respect takes work — to understand the other, make judgments, and engage constructively when there are disagreements or conflicting needs.

Along with those calls for love, there was a lot of anger in the responses, much of it directed at elites — the politicians, business executives, and media propagandists who so often not only promote arrogant and greedy behavior over humility and solidarity, but also rationalize and prop up the political/economic/social systems in which the destructive behavior is fostered.

And many wrote that the while the anger we may feel toward elites is justified, we have to start with self-critique and examine our own place in these systems. For example, the anger toward BP officials over the “hole in the world” at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico co-exists with the recognition that we all live somewhere in the system that demands that oil:

“I speak of the oil spill going on and I acknowledge how implicated I am in it. My lifestyle — despite efforts to eat wild foods, look at waste streams as resources, and live frugally — depends heavily on oil. It’s like there are these [oil] stains on my hands, all over my hands, my body and the ground around me.”

In such a world, it is easy for those of us who live in affluent societies to be drained by an awareness of all this:

“My personal ambition seems to decrease in proportion to the increase in world suffering. I think that’s part of my emotional reaction to crisis. I don’t think I am fully alive. I’m not depressed, just weirdly diminished.”

Why would someone feel diminished today? For almost all of the people who responded, the heart of their struggle was in the realization that the human species, locked into industrial societies dependent on high-energy/high-technology systems to produce food and fuel, is on a path leading to the edge of a cliff. No one offered predictions for an end time, but:

“[W]hat I see as the reality of our situation — ecologically, politically, economically, and culturally — is that we are in the last days of our species, and I just don’t know what to do with that. The emotions are much too powerful, the grief, the sense of doom — how does one deal with the real possibility of the extinction of not just millions of species, but of one’s own species?”

Feeling isolated but resolved to act

Where does that reality leave us emotionally? My essay inquired specifically about the feelings that accompany the intellectual understanding that we live in a world in collapse. That question led not only to descriptions of those emotions, but strategies for dealing with them. No single comment could sum up so many different people’s responses, but this one comes close:

“So I feel hopeless. I feel sad. I feel amused at the absurdity of it all. I feel depressed. I feel enraged. I feel guilty and I feel trapped. Basically the only reason why I’m still alive is because there are enough amazing people and things in my life to keep me going, to keep me fighting for what matters. I’m not even sure how to fight yet, but I know that I want to.”

One common response was gratitude for having a place to communicate these thoughts without worrying about being ridiculed. Many wrote about how isolated they felt, even from friends and family who don’t want to talk about these matters and either deny there are reasons to be concerned or ignore the evidence:

“I’m a drug addict with over 20 years clean, and I know all about using up my future and farting out lame excuses. I promised myself an honest life to stay clean, and the double-edged sword is that I started seeing just how much our culture swims in denial.”

Pressing these importance questions about systemic failure and collapse leads to resistance from others, who then assert that the real problem is anyone who wants to talk about collapse:

“I have been writing for a year and a half on a lot of things as it pertains to humanity’s lack of awareness and the potential to reconnect before we destroy the earth and each other.  People get angry at me for it and call me ‘dark’ and ‘negative’ and ‘sinful’ telling me to instead move to the ‘light,’ ‘positive’ and ‘love.’  Whatever.”

Some see a general “desensitization to the destruction of our planet [that] is nothing short of heart breaking” and worry about what the loss of the capacity for empathy means:

“It is considered feminine and naive to care about trees or animals. … In addition, it is also considered weak and feminine to empathize or display a proper emotion. We are becoming a nihilistic culture which is creating citizens who are numb to their emotions. This is doing us all a disservice. We are missing out on our bodily wisdom and becoming less and less in tune with our earth.”

Though people have different views on the role of high-technology responses to ecological collapse, everyone who wrote recognized that more gadgets aren’t going to save us:

“I have thought for a long time that the human species, notwithstanding its endless self-flattery, really is not very intelligent. One of the signs of its stupidity is, in fact, the very way that it equates intelligence with technological prowess.”

One of the most compelling comments on advanced technology came from a doctoral student in engineering at a prestigious university:

“I have come to this firm conclusion that any more technological development is purely unnecessary and technological progress is hyper-glorified by the developed countries just as a tool to continue their agenda of robbing the resources of our planet from the third world (and perhaps soon from neighboring astronomical bodies, too). And what is glorified as the rational, intellectual research that folks like me are doing over here is just a means towards facilitating this robbing activity; this implicit imperialism; this invisible killing of our planet earth.”

People also recognize the inadequacy of technological solutions to the end of cheap, plentiful energy. While endorsing more research on alternatives to coal, oil, and natural gas, those who wrote to me were wary of claims that alternatives can magically replace the concentrated energy of fossil fuels and allow us to motor on in our affluence:

“[T]he only way that the terrible catastrophes on the way could have been softened would have been for everyone on the planet to have dropped business as usual 10 or 20 years ago, and to have started retooling all of society while there was still a reasonable surplus of high EROEI (energy return on energy investment) fossil fuel left to power the *energetically* costly conversion process of re-engineering energy production, housing, cities, suburbs, farming, fishing, and transport. That didn’t happen. And having lived through the period, it would have been completely impossible to motivate in the first or third world. But just as important, it is *even more* unlikely that this will begin to happen now.  This is because growing energy scarcity will cut into our flexibility as people scramble to prop up floundering systems.”

In addition to these critiques of life in the affluent world, many wrote of the grotesque disparities in wealth in the world today. As we struggle with fears of the future, billions of people cope with severe limitations in the present:

“[W]e in the U.S. are essentially living behind a military barricade. I heard a quote recently that ‘collapse means having the same lifestyle as the people who grow your coffee.’ I really, really liked that.”

And in many of the critiques of the affluent First World, there was an understanding that the heart of the problem is the United States:

“Americans today are living with a profound and apparently irreconcilable disparity between what we say we are, and what we actually are. Between the promise of democracy and the reality of a crumbling empire. The result of this schism, I believe, is the national equivalent of a disassociated personality. And it’s not just our shared history of betrayal and abuse that has caused it. It’s the myth of freedom as well. In the mythology of freedom, democracy was supposed to empower us all to make a change for the better.”

Although some wrote with certainty about their conclusions, more people expressed confusion and weariness over the effort needed to understand such a complex world:

“I spend a lot of time in my own head going back and forth over theories, philosophies, etc. Pretty much going through a process once a month of discarding everything I thought I knew and re-learning it. While this may be a good thing in the future, it does not feel good now. Sometimes it makes me feel like I am alone and lost and that I can’t find any truth in anything because I have so many different voices telling me what is right and wrong. Yet, I can never stop going back and looking at what’s happening to this real, physical, lovely and loving planet and feel outrage, sorrow, and confusion and why this culture is so insane.”

Even with all this talk of their own struggles, the people who wrote were not asking others to feel sorry for them. Instead, the focus was outward, on how this affects others. That was clear in the comments not only of parents and grandparents, but also of people who chose not to have children — what is the fate of future generations?

“Being the parent of a young child right now is a mixed blessing: He’s my reason for waking up every morning and doing whatever it takes to keep up some semblance of normalcy, but it also frightens and worries me deeply when I think about his future.”

In the face of challenges that feel overwhelming — in the face of problems that may have no solutions — what should we do? Very few of the people who wrote suggested we should give up; most are committed to action:

“I guess the best thing we can do … point out problems, suggest solutions, work for radical system changes and not just reforms that too often are more cosmetic than substantial, and above all: keep the faith … and we need to project to others that we have the faith, or get the hell out of the work and retire or just wait for Armageddon.”

Many responses focused on the need not only to act collectively but also to reduce our consumption individually:

“I read a statement in the book Hard Times by Studs Terkel that I really liked: ‘Security is knowing what I can do without.’ Every day, I find something new that I can do without. My fiancé and I now grow much of the food we eat, we purchase necessities only, we shop at the Goodwill.”

and learn skills that have atrophied all too quickly in an affluent, high-energy culture:

“I’m not an old hippie that wants to return to sex, drugs and rock and roll on the commune. … I believe in hierarchy, rules and skills, but we must start something new, difficult and dangerous. We must also learn to not trust power and create small, subsistence communities. Instead of trying to mend the empire we should be teaching ourselves skills of our rural grandparents.”

Tipping points and panic

But still the question haunts us: What if the unsustainable systems in which we live are beyond the point of no return? There certainly are rational reasons to assume that we are past a tipping point.

For example, the March 2005 report of the United Nations’ Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, based on the work of 1,300 researchers from 95 countries who spent four years examining 24 ecosystems worldwide, offered this “stark warning”:

“Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted. … Nearly two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are found to be in decline worldwide. In effect, the benefits reaped from our engineering of the planet have been achieved by running down natural capital assets.” http://www.millenniumassessment.org/documents/document.429.aspx.pdf

This kind of knowledge can be so overwhelming that people feel it’s not safe to open up emotionally:

“I would like to mourn but have not been able to let my guard down.  I could understand 9/11, but now I am witnessing the destruction of the planet and I don’t understand the magnitude of what that means. I feel on edge. I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

How to live in that world and remain fully engaged, intellectually and emotionally? This comment sums up the task and a path:

“Recently several of our visionary thinkers have moved from the illusion that ‘we have 10 years to turn this around.’ They now say clearly that ‘we cannot stop this momentum.’ It takes courage and faith to speak so plainly. What can we do in the face of this truth? We can sit face to face and find the ways, often beyond words, to explore the reality that we are all refugees, swimming into a future that looks so different from the present. We can find pockets of community where we can whisper our deepest fears about the world. We can remain committed to describing the present with exceptional truth. We can cultivate a practice that enables us to witness suffering with hearts and minds open and with our faces turned toward one another.”

It would be easy to close on that note, blunt but positive. But for many, that kind of approach is difficult. I sent my essay to a political activist who is one of the most well-informed people I know in matters concerning politics and ecology. His response:

“I guess my emotional reaction is actually to suppress the emotional reaction. … [P]anic, which would probably be the emotional reaction, is something to be deferred until the situation is relatively safe. So I try to think about what is to be done and can be done, and promise myself that if we do get past these crises, I will enjoy the moment to panic about how dangerous a situation we were in.”

My response:

“I understand what you say, but it seems to me that an appreciation of the nature of the crises is necessary for sensible strategy, and I don’t know how to engage that intellectually without having emotional reactions. … My fear is that if we don’t discuss it, those of us struggling with these emotions will fade away from collective action. So, instead of this kind of discussion necessarily leading to political paralysis, I think it can prevent paralysis in some people.”

My friend didn’t contest my analysis: “I don’t advocate for my emotional response, but it is what it is.”

Though he didn’t argue with me, I didn’t feel as if I had won an argument. Emotions are what they are, and we don’t “win” by telling people what they should feel. It’s enough of a struggle to understand what I feel and why I feel it; I don’t think I’m qualified to dictate to others what they should feel. In dealing with multiple crises on all fronts — economic, political, cultural, and ecological failures that pose a significant threat to human life as we understand it — it’s folly for any one of us to imagine we figured out the right approach, or that there is a single right approach, or that there is any right approach at all.

The only thing I’m sure of is that, to quote singer/songwriter John Gorka, “the old future’s gone.” The future of endless bounty for all, which some once imagined would be the product of the application of human reason to problems of the world, is not the future we face. How can we open a conversation about what’s coming when so much is unknown and so many resist? Rather than pontificate, I will end with the reflections of an elder:

“I’m about to celebrate my 70th birthday. I live in a rural intentional community, close to land that feeds us and supports us. I’ve lived long enough now to be very aware of how different the world has become, how the cycles of nature are off kilter, how the seasons and the climate have shifted. My garden tells me that food doesn’t grow in quite the same patterns, and we either get weeks of rain or weeks of heat and drought. This is the second year in a row that our apple trees do not have apples on them. But most people get their food in grocery stores where the apples still appear, and food still arrives, in season and out, from all over the world. This will soon end, and people won’t understand why. They don’t see the trouble in the land as I and my friends do. I grieve daily as I look on this altered world. My grandchildren are young adults who think their lives will continue as they have been. Who will tell them? They can’t hear me. They, and many others, will have to see the changes for themselves, as I have. I can’t imagine that anything else will convince them. My grief for the world, and for them, is compounded by this feeling of helplessness because there is no way we can have the collective action you speak of when the ‘collective’ is still in denial. Thank you for listening.”

—————————————————————————————————————————-

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue (City Lights, 2013); All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, (Soft Skull Press, 2009); Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity;  The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege; Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity; and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film “Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing” (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist.  An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is available here.

He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online here.

Fukushima, Climate Change, Near-Term Extinction: Resignation Vs. Surrender

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm

RadiationOldspeak: “At this moment we are confronted with a horrendous reality. Not only is climate change decimating the planet, but added to that catastrophe is one that, unlike climate change, we cannot measure because the facts pertaining to it are concealed. Fortunately, we have a plethora of data regarding climate change, but foolish and frightened humans have been concealing the realities of Fukushima from the world for more than two years. Our sense of powerlessness grows exponentially by the hour. Fukushima is out of control, and so are we….

The human ego has reached the end of the line, and our struggle with the difference between giving up and surrendering is to be celebrated as its last death gasp. It has taken us to the jaws of death where we must choose to die to at least the old paradigm, and yes, perhaps, choose to die literally. Thus, it is now time to stop investing 90 percent of our energy in logistical preparation and 10 percent in emotional and spiritual preparation—if we have time and if we feel like it. In fact, these proportions should be reversed. For so many reasons—go ahead and count them, we are marching in our own funeral procession. There is enormous work to be done emotionally and spiritually in preparing for what appears to be our certain demise….

The termination of the three-dimensional, Enlightenment-engendered, patriarchal, soul-murdering, planet-annihilating paradigm of industrial civilization is upon us, and we should not be railing and raging against it if we are not willing to do the emotional and spiritual work to buy out of it and transform consciousness as we surrender to the inevitable. What we all need now is not another permaculture course or another bucket of barley but rather, the soft touch and locked eye contact of each other. We need our hearts to be broken open and our tears to water and soak the earth and wash away the encrusted filth of civilization that pollutes and paralyzes our souls.” –Carolyn Baker

“Stop sometimes. Be present. Meditate. Do Less. Smile more. Love unconditionally. Be selfless. Explore. Read. Write. Feel Emotions. Be Creative. Communicate honestly. Seek truth. Accept Reality. Spend meaningful time with friends and family. Surrender and enjoy.” –OSJ

By Carolyn Baker @ Speaking Truth To Power:

All things die and all things live forever;

But our task is to die,

To die making roads,

Roads over the sea.

~Antonio Machado~

Recently a reader of my website asked me to clarify the difference between resignation and surrender. When faced with catastrophic climate change, near-term extinction, and the worst emission of radiation in the history of the world from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, how should we respond? The reader found himself swimming in deep despair and feeling very much like giving up—perhaps even ceasing the breast strokes of vigorous swimming, plunging further into the despair, and intentionally inhaling as deeply as possible. Well, that would be suicide, and he didn’t feel ready for that—at least not in that moment, and the word “surrender” kept coming to mind, but isn’t that the same as giving up?

This morning’s Guardian headline reads “Fukushima Warning: Danger Level At Nuclear Plant Jumps To ‘Serious’,” and the Wall St. Journal states unequivocally that ‘TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) Has Lost Control.’ Just a few days ago I posted on my site Guy McPherson’s latest piece “19 Ways Climate Change Is Feeding On Itself,” and Washington’s Blog screams, “West Coast Of North America To Be Hit Hard By Fukushima Radiation,” complete with a detailed map of the ocean current called the North Pacific Gyre which is bringing Japanese radiation to the West Coast of North America. Why would I not want to give up? Why would I not want to ingest a large dosage of ‘Fuckidall’ or go eat 700 pounds of chocolate? Go to the gym today? Are you freakin’ kidding me?

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I occasionally hear people saying things like, “Well, we’re not going to be here after 2030 by which time near-term extinction is ‘guaranteed’ so what I eat or drink or smoke or do or don’t do doesn’t matter.”

That’s called resignation or giving up, and from my perspective, indulging in it, even if I feel compelled to do so, is a cowardly, delusional kind of devil’s bargain that essentially affirms that I have no purpose here except breathing air and ingesting food and water. Resignatio in Latin connotes submission, acquiescence, and compliance. Is this not the same as surrender? Actually, it’s not.

Hopefully, everyone reading these words, like me, is not willing to go gently, quietly, or complacently into the abyss that our species has created. If we do—if at this unprecedented time in the history of our planet we resign ourselves to defining our existence only in terms of the physical plane, as if we have absolutely no connection with anything eternal or constant, then we are inexorably as foolish as the purveyors of industrial civilization who are engaged in rendering this planet uninhabitable.

Surrender is fundamentally different from resignation because unlike the latter, it is not a passive act. Surrender is always a choice, and in our “dead man walking” status on planet Earth, we may be able to change nothing in the external milieu, but we have agency in how we meet our fate. Certainly we have the option and the right to muddle our way into oblivion like comatose inebriates, and countless millions will choose and are choosing that path.

Mentally, I keep returning to Nazi death camp survivors and the unspoken, seemingly feckless choices they made on a daily basis that allowed them to prevail. Perhaps a drawing made in the mud or jokes they furtively told to one another or a decision that every day they would find meaning somewhere, somehow in the hellish drudgery and brutality of their lives.

Giving up is easy. Surrender takes enormous courage and self-regard—an abiding conviction that one’s human dignity is worth it, even if one is bereft of family and friends. Surrender acknowledges that in the last half of 2013, the human species is marching obliviously in its own funeral procession and that perhaps one can choose instead to march consciously, all the while asking questions that matter. Questions like: What is left for me to do here? How do I most wisely use the time I have left? What is my work in these remaining years? What gifts do I have that I must give? What brings meaning to the lives of people around me? What brings meaning to me?

As people approach their own demise, life review is crucial. How did I live? How did I love? What were the very best moments? What were the worst? And most importantly: What did I learn? Who did I become as a result of the wise choices I made and the ones that weren’t so wise? Invariably, there will be grief, and impending funerals are the exact venues where it must erupt. But as William Blake said, “The deeper the sorrow, the greater the joy,” and if we allow and follow the grief, joy will inevitably emerge from its depths.

At this moment we are confronted with a horrendous reality. Not only is climate change decimating the planet, but added to that catastrophe is one that, unlike climate change, we cannot measure because the facts pertaining to it are concealed. Fortunately, we have a plethora of data regarding climate change, but foolish and frightened humans have been concealing the realities of Fukushima from the world for more than two years. Our sense of powerlessness grows exponentially by the hour. Fukushima is out of control, and so are we.

In World As Lover, World As Self, Joanna Macy refers to the work of Polish psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski who speaks of “positive disintegration” or the cracking of outgrown shells which he argues “permits the emergence of higher psychic structures and awareness.” What disintegrates in times of catastrophe is not the essence of who we are, the deeper self, but rather, our defenses, our notions about who we are, that is to say, the ego. I say, bring it on. No, not psychosis or madness but an authentic decomposition of ego.

While the human ego gets a lot of bad press, the reality is that we need one. I would ask anyone who tells me that they have lost their ego how it is that they can find their car keys or the door to the restroom. We cannot live without an ego, but unbeknownst to the fathers of industrial civilization, the ego is only one small aspect of who we are. Near-term extinction and Fukushima are the best and the worst that the ego can produce, and left to its own devices, the ego will always replicate such horrors.

The human ego has reached the end of the line, and our struggle with the difference between giving up and surrendering is to be celebrated as its last death gasp. It has taken us to the jaws of death where we must choose to die to at least the old paradigm, and yes, perhaps, choose to die literally. Thus, it is now time to stop investing 90 percent of our energy in logistical preparation and 10 percent in emotional and spiritual preparation—if we have time and if we feel like it. In fact, these proportions should be reversed. For so many reasons—go ahead and count them, we are marching in our own funeral procession. There is enormous work to be done emotionally and spiritually in preparing for what appears to be our certain demise. If anyone feels uncertain about what I’m referring to, please contact me.

The termination of the three-dimensional, Enlightenment-engendered, patriarchal, soul-murdering, planet-annihilating paradigm of industrial civilization is upon us, and we should not be railing and raging against it if we are not willing to do the emotional and spiritual work to buy out of it and transform consciousness as we surrender to the inevitable. What we all need now is not another permaculture course or another bucket of barley but rather, the soft touch and locked eye contact of each other. We need our hearts to be broken open and our tears to water and soak the earth and wash away the encrusted filth of civilization that pollutes and paralyzes our souls. That, dear reader, is not about giving up, but choosing to rise to the unprecedented, Herculean challenge of healing and transformation that the current catastrophes have thrown in our faces.

It may be time to die, but let us, as the poet Machado says, die making roads over the sea.