Friday, June 21, 2019

REMEMBERING THE ROOTS OF NOW



I’ve been thinking about the past and its frequently unconscious influence on the present. Some years ago, I wrote a piece about how I was introduced to ecology by a 60’s dialogue on TV between Theologian Paul Tillich and Landscape architect Ian McHarg. At the time I was well read about Tillich but had never heard of McHarg or the concept of ecology and the integration of nature into towns and cities in a way that was sustainable and harmonious. I was deeply impressed. For a long time, I had been mourning the loss of so much beautiful countryside by badly planned and destructive real estate development. It was clearly a war on nature, as if we could live suspended in space.
This is an entry in Wikipedia about McHarg:

In 1971 McHarg delivered a speech at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Portland, Oregon, called "Man: Planetary Disease". In the speech he asserted that, due to the views of man and nature that have infiltrated all of western culture, people are not guaranteed survival. Of man, McHarg said, "He treats the world as a storehouse existing for his delectation; he plunders, rapes, poisons, and kills this living system, the biosphere, in ignorance of its workings and its fundamental value." To this end man is a "planetary disease", who has lived with no regard for nature. He discusses how in the Judeo-Christian traditions; the Bible says that man is to have dominion over the earth. McHarg says that for man to survive, this idea must be taken as an allegory only, and not as literally true. Lest this statement be construed as anti-religion, he cites Paul Tillich (Protestantism), Gustav Weigel (Catholicism), and Abram Heschel (Judaism) as noted religious scholars who are also in agreement with him on this point. Wikipedia
Paul Klee -Death for the Idea

I see this as Modern Man
killed by his invented environment.

Of course, dominion has come to mean psychopathic disregard and exploitation and not a loving protection and nurturance of the earth. Humanity has come to a state in which he (its more often he) no longer notices that he is a product of nature. Like a plant or animal that is infected by a virus or a genetic defect, humanity is turning on itself and literally consuming its own life support system more rapidly than it can be replaced. The rhythm is gone from the song, and chaotic noise replaces it.  

Emperors were once caretakers of their subjects and then became demigods but not gods in the sense of foundation, care, repair and oversight.  They began to consume their subjects and remove the less tasty morsels to places of misery and despair. Instead of being stewards they became exploiters.

The Capitalistic system in its present form is using and abusing everything.  Saying this in stark words terrifies the public who have been fed the propaganda for two centuries that Capitalism creates an environment that allows the natural selection of superior products and methods of social change. This  has resulted in what sometimes seems like economic anarchy. The clever and self-serving but myopic aggressors’ triumph over everyone else, but not for long because like all selfish and self-serving concepts, the product of such a regime is fatally toxic to life itself. False forms of socialism are even more exploitative. For short term gain there is long term devastation. Nineteenth century ideas of progress are literally destroying the world, and currently, nobody has a workable solution.  However, I think nature may overturn the regimes before we get the problem sorted. 

We may be cast back to the most basic survival mode and in fact the human species will again survive perhaps in the few members who have changed very little over the past 60,000 thousand years. I know that the esoteric teachings and spiritual warnings are considered pure fiction by the elite intellects and rulers of our sad planet who consider these stories to be pure hogwash, but such experts have been proven to be vainglorious and closed minded many, many times in the past.  Each generation of these ‘rulers’ of social philosophy are dis-proven by the upcoming generation but that never stops them from regarding their doctrines to be solid truth.  In fact, people outside a few select scholars and thinkers learn almost nothing from history and even less from prehistory. I suspect, that discoveries will be made that take our human origins further and further into the past. The so-called myth of Atlantis and even Lemuria may turn out to be factual. Archeology doesn’t like to question its theories and there will be resistance for a long time, but eventually evidence will surface about buried (no pun intended) and sunken societies of the past. However, even if it was an allegorical story, it will be true not only of the past but a warning about human hubris for the future. 

McHarg was a Scot, I’ve read a heavy drinker but a poetic soul with a love of beauty and the earth. Unfortunately, those who come from this personality type sometimes cope with this world by trying to deaden the pain with mind altering substances. Alan Watts was another such being and he is also significant in laying the track for journeys beyond the traditional governance of the state and church. It seems that this must be done on a regular basis and takes many runs before it penetrates the dense outer coating of the public mind. Nowadays, there is so much information floating on the airwaves that one must have some idea of what to search for. Trivia, commercials, thousands (maybe millions) of YouTube videos of everything imaginable and one must either be lucky or know what to look for to tie the current issues and trends to their source.

Our habits of learning are being channeled into diverse and separate groups by the internet. Although it is an amazing source of unending viewpoints, it doesn’t invite comparative thinking. Thus, most people look for those videos and Facebook friends that support and augment their predefined point of view. Other sources might as well be hidden in arcane secret societies or concealed by ignorance. Too much information is virtually the same as very little. My source of hope is that the presently invisible but available revelations that light the way to social progress are typically unseen and unheard until the familiar social traditions break down. Change seldom comes until survival requires it.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Autumn and The Kali Yuga?

The Yugas, Great Ages


The Kali Yuga is the last of the four yugas in the cycle of Kosmic seasons as represented in the Mahabharata of ancient India.

In the background, as I write, the TV news people are chewing and re-chewing the issues surrounding Bret Cavanaugh’s appointment to Supreme Court Judge. I am no longer emotionally engaged in stopping the trend of current politics. This is because I believe that certain processes must ripen before their destructive nature is revealed. Frantically resisting the power of a rushing stream leads to injury and defeat.  Actions must be timed in accord with the in and out motion of the cosmic breath.

We must hold to our truth but not in an arrogant manner.  Trump may seem incompetent as the president of our country, but he isn’t isolated. He is not an accident he is a symptom. America is still in many ways an immature narcissistic country.  As much as we may not like to admit it, he does represent a large part of our national state of mind. Narcissists are unaware of their dissonances. When they look in the mirror, they see what they wish to see. On the other hand, they see their own welts, wrinkles and intolerant expression when they look at others.  Love, respect and dignity are not the same as xenophobia.  Narcissists can’t admit wrongdoing, assume winning is more important than truth, see self-examination as a weakness, see life in extreme terms of black verses white and assume that their own position is white.  Of course, because this stance is untenable they must be re-energized frequently. This extreme division does not mean that we must just choose whom we believe to be correct, it means we all must look carefully in the mirror, notice all the blemishes and send unconditional love to those parts we don’t like without judgement.  

 The swings of history are the human creation story in process.  It is inevitable that following one’s concept of truth becomes the best way to discover it’s limits and flaws—and yet, awaiting the ripening and eventual decay of a failed belief is a painful process for those who already see beyond it.  Humans, with our short lives and shorter memories seldom notice the repetitive nature of mass consciousness. I am asked, and have myself asked why if I regard reincarnation as a reality, since we do not remember the events of past lives (with some exceptions). Truthfully, I believe we seldom   remember past events of this life if they don’t fit within our preferred narrative.

 Fear and intolerance rule the present age resulting in the opposing forces in our world moving dangerously further apart. Crisis looms around each corner. However, I’m also aware that crisis is as old as life.  At a time not long ago by the vast cosmic clock, our country divided into opposing forces and went to war. The wounds are still oozing.  In fact, it seems that wars are never won, and the combatants suffer their scars as festering wounds until they recognize that there could never have been a definitive victory just as there is never a victory in domestic fights. There are wounds, fear, distrust and alienation but not victory.

Perhaps nature itself is mirroring the state of our world. Tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and volcanoes express the upheaval and disharmony in the world we live in. Yet, it is all part of the creation process. We tend to think of creation as something that happened in an incalculable past, and yet, the process of creation is beyond measure, and always mysterious to a finite mind. Our earth and Cosmos breathe in and out over infinite expanses of time.  Creation, destruction and re-creation are the only constants in  this universe and in universes beyond imagining. We can live the best that we know at any given time and yet it is certain that it will seem barbaric and narrow-minded a few generations in the future.

 Completely, independent nations, tribes and individuals no longer make up this world if they ever did.  Energetically, everything relates to everything else and the unchecked expansive drive to prosper at the expense of the environment and all other beings that depend on that environment is ultimately suicidal. Ironically, only a very constricted identity could countenance such myopia.  

 Each body has a short season before falling from this dimension the way a leaf drops from its tree when the growing season comes to an end and the lowering temperature of autumn portends the coming of winter.  It happens gradually. Autumn is a beautiful interlude. In this third act, the year presents intense colors and a snapshot of perfection just before life goes underground.  We don’t count the underground time as life and yet it is very important for a successful spring.

At my age, I think of winter and especially the following spring. That dormant time is very necessary for a successful renewal. Last winter was dangerously dry.  There were perhaps two good snowstorms throughout the entire season and even the grass needed extra help to reestablish itself.  A while back, I was concerned about the human energy dip in Taos. It has become more’ mainstream’, less of an organic community, financially stagnant and worst of all most of its people keep to themselves the way city people do. Now I realize that it is all about rhythm.  Taos is breathing in. The great snake beneath the earth wiggles this way and that on its hidden journey around the planet. Each in breath is a time to go inward and process what we have taken in. The seeds of the next spring are now germinating for the coming year.
  
"Gentleness generally implies that you no longer have a strong ego-inspired desire to dominate or control others, which allows you to move into a rhythm with the universe. You cooperate with it, much like a surfer who rides with the waves instead of trying to overpower them. Gentleness means accepting life and people as they are, rather than insisting that they be as you are. As you practice living this way, blame disappears and you enjoy a peaceful world.” – Wayne Dyer


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Beauty All Around Us


As I feel the gentle crispness and stunning brilliance of sky and foliage in another late September Northern New Mexico afternoon, layers of memory compete for my attention.

In September Twenty-eight years ago, I attended an astrology workshop in Ojo Caliente. I often think of our teacher and wonder if she still lives there. It was one of my earliest visits to New Mexico.  Although there were only three of us in attendance, I will always remember it as a rich and true New Mexico experience of the best kind.  Our teacher was a Brit who had studied with the best and her husband was a massage therapist at Ojo Caliente mineral springs. How many places can one find ancient rural, verging on primitive blended with European esoteric tradition and sophistication?  That turned out to be one of my strongest draws to New Mexico.

 In those days, any excuse to visit New Mexico was a special treat. On my way back to Denver, I remember seeing a turnoff to the right onto a narrow gravel road. It had the word Taos on the sign and I impulsively turned off. I couldn’t help but give myself an extra treat and visit Taos before heading home.  I drove through the clear early autumn air and opened the windows so that the smell of sagebrush could waft in. I felt ecstatic.  I hadn’t visited this area on previous visits, but love new experiences with old friends. As I drove, the newly whitened tops of the Sangre de Christos grew larger and my heart beat faster in anticipation. Here and there, I passed old Hippy dugouts, and a few abandoned busses sitting far back from the road, now almost buried in the foliage.  Suddenly my heart stopped as large boulders lining a breathtaking drop appeared.  Was this the end of the road? Was there even room on this narrow road to turn around?  I stopped the car and then moved forward cautiously to confirm that my senses were not being tricked by the leftover work of a local Bruja.

I was shaken, and then thrilled to see a narrow dirt road winding far down to the base of the steep canyon wall. It had never occurred to me that I was driving toward the Rio Grande Gorge even though I had crossed over the spectacular bridge several miles to the north on previous visits. For one thing, it was completely invisible until one was directly on the rim. My vision adjusted and I saw a few tiny fishermen at the river far below. Best of all there was a wooden bridge to another narrow dirt road climbing like a snake up the opposite rim of the gorge.

Arriving in Taos, I felt proud to have been appropriately welcomed with a surprise test. I found a restaurant on the plaza and imagined what it would be like to live here.  Shortly after moving to Taos, there was a landslide that destroyed that same road that climbed the eastern side of the gorge. I was somewhat pleased by the veracity that it turned out to be as dangerous as it looked.  The county closed it off permanently and you can now hike over the great mound of collapsed earth that was once that road.  They decided repairing it would be too expensive and it would still be dangerous.
Rancho de Chimayo Double Selfy

Beauty and danger would seem unlikely partners, but this is the superficial view.  It seems that opposites do more than attract each other. They define each other.  When life and its environments run too smooth on the surface , it can be very challenging to perceive the opposites. Good seems boring and bad seems too much like good.  This is not a recommendation for bad. However, it’s unavoidable and better if we can tell the difference.  Nature, even if it’s human nature will make sure that these opposites are well defined.

There is a sweet bitterness about autumn, like dark chocolate. At its best it is full to the brim with nostalgia and the desire to take as much of its beauty as possible into ones sensual memory before the still intense colors fade away, as we know they will.  PQ and I celebrated our seven-year anniversary yesterday.  It was a perfect autumn day, as was the day we were married.  It doesn’t seem like seven years have gone by and yet so much has changed in our life and the lives of those who shared it with us. I can still feel the soft air and cool shade, hear our footsteps on the gravel path of our friend’s property and enjoy the company of so many precious friends.  

This anniversary had the same beautiful light and air. We had lunch in the outside patio at Ranchos de Chimayo. The local bees came to take back some of their honey just as they did at this restaurant on my first visit to New Mexico in 1989. Many other things have changed utterly. Even the restaurant itself was gutted with fire a few years ago but was restored in the same image with a few refinements. The third tier patio was one of those refinements. I like to think that reincarnation works the same way, if we hold that intention.

PQ and I are in the autumn phase of life now. The beauty is all around us though sometimes trivia and unawareness distract us. We left the restaurant and took the beautiful backroads to Santa Fe. It was again, an experience of past overlaid with present. It looked as it did on my first visit those many years ago. We visited the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe after lunch and wondered why it had taken us so many years to visit. The guard took a picture of us standing by an Alan Houser sculpture and then we went to the Santa Fe plaza, sat on a park bench in the rich afternoon gold and enjoyed an ice cream smoothy.  The beauty was the same even if a few things have changed including the name of the ice cream store, but that adds the present to an already layered experience.

I have white hair now and more wrinkles but I would not go backwards. Those old layers are still there. Some I remember with longing and some are tests that I hope I passed because I wouldn’t want to take them again. We saw many apple trees with ripe apples as we drove through country villages. I hope we too are ripening without rotten holes or worms. After all, as much as we are hard sold the idea that we should be a green apple forever, the point of being is the attainment of fully flavored highly nourishing ripeness.  Having let go of unnecessary goals, and having learned that this present stage of life is adorned with jewels I would never have anticipated when I was younger, I’m able to enjoy the landscape just beyond my front door as if visiting an exotic land--maybe I am and just noticed.

Monday, June 18, 2018

SEEING WITH THE HEART


The smell of damp earth is healing to the soul. I spent the morning turning over soil and pulling weeds. The previous two nights of soft rain broke a drought that almost killed the plants I’ve loved and nurtured for many years. A week ago, I decided to water the brown grass and give a soft soaking to bushes, and trees. At first, I felt guilty because water is sacred in this semi-arid land and everyone else in the neighborhood is living a water conserving life with dry earth and yellow grass. Then I remembered something I’d experienced in the past. When I water the plants, clouds appear. Perhaps it is because like attracts like, or perhaps the coming clouds speak to my instincts before consciousness receives the message. The important point, is that I couldn’t stand the drought anymore, acted on it and the rains came. Nature is a great teacher.
A week ago the green was brown.

“Energy flows where attention goes.” This is a popular saying but despite its simplicity, we seldom know how to apply it. Our attempts to be rational law abiding and factual according to common wisdom sometimes goes against natural laws. I’m still working on the application of this cosmic principle.

It isn’t unusual to feel depressed or sad in the month preceding one’s Birthday.  However, this year I had quite a dip. It seemed like my whole life had been a useless struggle to climb a hill covered in wet slippery clay and now I was still at the base tired and much older but without visible progress.  Then it occurred to me that I held hopes and expectations for many years that I would eventually achieve certain goals.  Then it occurred to me that the important question was; were these goals based on inner truth, or on assumptions about what success should resemble. 

 Still, that earlier feeling of powerlessness and insignificance required more than improving the garden.  I haven’t improved the world by holding consciousness raising workshops, running campaigns for saving nature, interviewing important people,  starting a charity, or being a top artist but the warm mud, little insects I turned up with my shovel and the intimacy of physical contact with Mother Earth literally brought me back to real life. 

I regret that it’s unlikely that I will ever travel to Europe or Asia, and even a trip out of state isn’t practical right now. However, I acknowledge that nothing in my current life seemed possible a decade ago.  Life isn’t predictable so no use responding emotionally to a possible outcome before its real. 

However, reality itself is a pretty tricky shapeshifter. The best and the worst of humanity seem to be in constant moral combat over reality. Yet opposition never wins the wars since each side sees itself as the right side. Lacking final resolution defeat and victory are temporary. It reminds me of a saying my grandmother often used: “He who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  

While walking in and out of the house during the day, I caught bits of TV news, political interviews and opinions that PQ was watching. It reminded me that hate is another kind of attraction and its magnetic grip is currently holding the media hostage. They expect to put their world back the way it was by analyzing and criticizing. I don’t like the way things are unfolding in the government either, but I feel uneasy with this obsessive attraction. It reminds me of the way moths can’t resist flying into electric lights even if it kills them. Too often while fighting an enemy; we succumb to taking on their ways. If it goes unchecked, we become just a mirror of what we find horrific. 

Again, this is all very tricky. We can’t ignore moral issues in good faith. Today’s news focused on the inhumane practice of separating the children of refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. from their parents. This practice is horrible and it will likely create emotional scars for life.  It reveals that our nation has serious heart trouble, and this involves lack of empathy and a lack of courage. No amount of rational efficiency can compensate for a frozen heart.

The heart is the locus of intention. It mediates between the lower chakras based on instinct and the upper chakras connecting us to higher mind and offering a perspective beyond the individual. A sick or undeveloped heart doesn’t properly deliver life force throughout the body on the physical level and throughout the emotional body connecting us to the rest of the world. 

Although chakra is an ancient Sanskrit word, it is often mistaken for a New Age term. It describes the circular nature of the life force. When the circle is broken or has a weak link, dysfunction is a likely result. Obviously, this is true on many levels from the atomic to the cosmic.  If one chakra is weak or out of balance, the entire system is affected. 

“Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings
but contemplate their return.

If you don't realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.

When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.

Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
And when death comes, you are ready.” 

― 
Zhuangzi