I came across this PDF titled Jesus’ Third Way and in it a text quoted from a similary titled book by Walter Wink. Despite the apparent religious setting I enjoyed reading it – interesting and practical (at their time) explanations of otherwise lamely interpreted religious teachings on non-violence.
Since I have become attentive to “caring about the earth” I have encountered numerous conspiracy theories that explain what is by describing a secretive elite that is manipulating the workings...
Since I have become attentive to “caring about the earth” I have encountered numerous conspiracy theories that explain what is by describing a secretive elite that is manipulating the workings of the planet. I meet them with a mix of curiosity, anxiety and doubt. They have an appeal and, at the same time, they feel not quite right.
Today, as I was chopping wood, it occurred to me that conspiracy theories (regardless of their truthfulness) are a manifestation of an us-and-them mentality. They exemplify the story of separation (that we are separate individual beings) which has been dominant and insinuating itself deep into human consciousness for a few thousand years.
To me the story of separation has lots relevancy. It is an obsolete view to me … I tried living by it … and the results were disappointing.
So here is my conspiracy theory on conspiracy theories. The story of separation we have been telling ourselves isn’t working out. However a big part of that story is control … me as a separate being and how I control the other beings around me. In that story, when something doesn’t work out more pressure is applied to assert more control. It is this pressure to understand separation, from within separation that creates these extreme images of separation – conspiracy theories. It is a delusional sollution for a real problem.
The funny thing is that in the larger scheme of things I can see an overall improvement. It seems to me that civilizations are, for the most part, morphing away from centralistic power (think devoutly religious kings) towards … other things. Even in the “us and them” of conspiracy theories a core truth is emerging … the “us” part is growing … and will continue to grow until we rid ourselves of the notion of “them”.
Modes of Practice
I was taught that there are three modes of Yoga practice: recovery, preservation and intensification. The mode in which you practice depends on where you are, or to be more precise (and within the spirit of this post) where your energy is. When a proper mode of practice is applied Yoga can be highly beneficial, when an improper mode of practice is applied Yoga (no matter how much you practice) can be useless or even (if you practice too much or incorrectly enough) unhealthy.
Most people like the idea of intensification (doing and achieving noticeably more) and choose intensifying practices. However most people do not live lives that are geared for Yogic intensification. Yoga is usually an add-on – and a small one at that. People generally live busy and hectic lives – a lifestyle that agitates energy which leads to an experience of depletion. Some people come to Yoga to find peace, calm and rejuvenation – if the Yoga “works” then they may actually experience something of this nature (though shortly after go back to their cycle of depletion). Some people come to Yoga and simply continue to intensify their agitation by taking on intensifying practices … which do intensify … their agitation.
Many (I am tempted to say most) people practice in an incorrect mode, an error that is usually due to an improper understanding of where they are. They choose to believe a story that naturally fits their world view. In doing so, they inadvertently choose to ignore where they actually are which may challenge their existing world view (which, actually, is the point of Yoga).
Modes of Life
As I was reading and writing about an article this morning it seemed to me that there are parallels that can be drawn between the Yoga model of modes of practice to a broader view of human life. The general consensus is that we, as a human species, currently live in an unhealthy existence. This mode is generally described as a quantative issue … we are consuming more then our eco-system can provide. We are depleting our energy resources, emptying our soils of fertiltity, etc. It’s a pretty fatal view that can be ominous and I find to be rather poisonous to my own consciousness (ie, depressing).
I was wondering what it would be like to transpose the underlying information of this world view onto the Yogic energy-view:
The world is currently in a mode of survival (if you have an urge to argue this point then please stop reading and go away). In a qualitative view our energy crisis is not a shortage of energy but rather inefficient use of energy. I can give an example from our life. At Bhudeva we experience freezing cold -20c winter. We live in an old, by modern standards inefficient, house that we heat with firewood (which we expend quite a bit of energy to attain – we purchase the wood, cut and store it, carry it inside and burn it…). Then, inside this house which we have worked to keep warm, we have a refrigerator in which we keep things cold (when on the other side of the wall, outside the house, it is freezing) by expending more energy (this time using electricity). What if we could find a better way to live with energy?
We have. I would say that the greatest transformative technology that we have put to use so far is our rocket stoves (one, two). We built them ourselves from relatively cheap and available materials, they are extremely efficient at burning wood. I estimate that we use a quarter of the wood that is typically used to heat a village house like ours. We also get more out of the wood since the rocket stoves store warmth for a longer time which means we wake to a warmer room in the morning without burning wood throughout the night. That means that we buy, process and burn much less wood.
Rocket stoves carried us from a cycle of depletion into a more sustainable cycle. We need less trees to be cut down and transported to us, we have less work cutting up, carrying and burning those trees and we produce less pollution that depletes the atmosphere we all share. My energetic body is more calm and less strained – I don’t worry about our wood supply, I work less (and don’t need to work in the freezing cold) and I am warm. I am less occupied with my basic sustenance and have more space in my life. More importantly I have contributed to a similar change in the world itself: I need less, I have more and I pollute less. There is a direct relationship and alignment between my personal energetic body (healthier) and that of the world around me.
When I was in survival mode, sustainability looked like an end game. However once I moved towards/into sustainability I began to sense and even taste that there is more to be had. Sustainability starts to look like a better way of living. From sustainability I could glimpse and start to move into abundance: if I don’t have apples I aspire to plant an apple tree, when an apple tree matures and fruits I realize I have more apples then I could possible consume = abundance.
Lets go back to our story of warmth. Though we haven’t yet built it we have theoretical (to us, practical to others) knowledge that would make it possible, in our climate, to design and build a house that would stay comfortable (a steady 21c) all year long (cool in summer, warm in winter) using freely available solar energy (and no additional energy input!). That same theoretical knowledge makes it possible to build, inside the now-comfortable-all-year-long-house, a “room” that could be used for refrigeration using the freely available winter coolth (and no additional energy input!) for the entire winter and then some (spring, maybe until summer).
Imagine that?! Needing very little wood (that could probably be, for the most part, scavanged) which requires very little work and creates very little pollution. Imagine the personal comfort and freedom (as someone who for most of my life did not cut firewood, I realize this task may be difficult if you haven’t lived with it yourself). Imagine the negligible ecological foot-print of such a house. Imagine similar improvements in other aspects of life. I say “imagine” because I am, it will take a few more years until I can write another post and personally attest to such changes. But already I can see and grasp them, something I could not do two years ago.
I see a relationship between personal modes of Yoga practice and modes of existence:
- Internal disturbance tells an external story of survival.
- Internal health tells an external story of sustainability.
- Internal growth tells an external story of abundance.
And yes, I do mean stories. There doesn’t and likely won’t be a drastic change in our physical world (global warming is a drastic change for us not for the planet!). The same world we now experience as survival can support an experience of abundance – it doesn’t and probably won’t change very much. What can change is something inside.
Live You Now
I wonder if there is a subtle lesson (I hadn’t thought about until writing this post) about a life process … how to live correctly.
I’ve heard Charles Eisenstein say that we are incapable of changing our beliefs – I agree. I believe(!) our beliefs are a kind of residue of life experiences – a kind of accumulated side-effect of life. Beliefs change when life experiences change them. Beliefs change as we encounter things that confirm to or challenge them. If you want to change your beliefs change your life experiences.
There is an example of what I believe (and have argued about) is an incorrect life practice that may illustrate what is in my mind. “Positive thinking” is a broad name that, to me, exemplifies a false attempt to change beliefs. It takes many shapes and forms and finds many expressions in modern-day spirituality. To me it has always felt like a practice of denial – a spiritual trap at best.
If my current experience is of survival then:
- sustainability is either no an option or a heavy burden … literally unsustainable.
- abudance feels like ridiculous utopic thinking.
- acknowledging survival and seeking a way to improve on it may … improve on it. Gradual improvement may eventually open a door to alternatives … sustainable alternatives that make life better.
If my current experience is of sustainability then:
- survival is uninteresting. If I end up there again, I will surely look for a way out, and hopefully find one quickly.
- sustainability … sustains me. Less (but correct) effort carries me through life. Gradual improvement may eventually open a door to an attractive alternative … abundance.
If my current experience is of abundance … mine isn’t so I can’t really say much about this yet. I am getting estabished in sustainable living and I am beginning to glimpse what I can only describe as a magical life of abundance. This, for me, is a radical shift of consciousness.
Live where you and your life are now. False pretenses will entrench you in what is familiar to you, honest living will carry you forward.
This article is a pretty good (though not excellent) read about where we are. I definitely agree with the conclusion – hence the title of this post. The following excerpts were selected accordingly:
“Economic growth as we have known it is over and done with …
If we are very lucky, the global economic expansion forces will be forced into an orderly retreat before they overshoot the resource base. If not, humans everywhere are likely to face an abrupt economic collapse in which the decline is a lot steeper than the preceding economic expansion …
We like to tell ourselves that continual progress in science and technology will keep paying off by creating the new energy sources and the improved technology that we need to maintain ourselves and solve our problems, especially when we take care to grow in a smart way with sensible restraints …
In reality it is found that technology tends to harvest the low hanging fruit in terms of available resources first and then moves on. While there was an abundance of cheap energy available, this exhaustion of resources and a simultaneous increase in unwelcome consequences could be concealed for a time …
Given the choice, it seems better to face economic crisis sooner rather than later, both in terms of the lesser total damage done and the better chances for eventual recovery …
Nobody can accurately predict how long the current situation can be maintained but, given the facts of the matter, we can see that there is certainly going to be a global economic crisis. Only the timing, which is based on investor psychology and the Federal Reserve’s ability to keep the game going, is uncertain …
To sum up the situation we face, the scientists are warning us that even at best, a well-managed global economy can only avoid a severe environmental crisis for perhaps three more decades, because of the fundamental limits of nature. However, the chances of our poorly managed system of global capitalism lasting even that long are slight. Given the time typically needed to recover from a severe economic crisis like the Great Depression, this suggests that a severe global economic crisis or collapse must put an end to capitalism as we know it in the not very distant future …
Local economies centered around local agriculture and local production of the goods needed for survival are likely to be an important part of our future. We cannot start planning soon enough.”
At Bhudeva we are contributing to this transformation with Cutia Taranului … and my mind seems to be continuously moving towards more concrete (=things we need as we progress in creating an alternative life style) things that can be done in this direction in the unique ecological/cultural/financial settings of Romania.
I think I got this nice meditation story from the first book about meditation I ever read. I’m sure that book was given to me by Shira, though I’m not sure it was where I got this story:
A meditation practitioner comes to his teacher after a meditation practice and excitedly tells the teacher “this time I saw the light” to which the teacher replies “keep practicing and it will go away”.
I’ve been (much to my surprise) doing quite a bit (much more then I’ve ever done before) of digging … and its quite muddy outside (transitioning to from winter to spring). Fortunately I have a pair of rubber boots which protect me from the mud itself. Yet sometimes, when I am done working the boots are covered with mud with quite a bit clinging to the soles. For that we have an inverted-U-shaped metal bar stuck in the ground which is used to get the chunky parts of the mud off.
Yet I am never quite happy with the way the boots are left … that is … muddy. So I’ve been thinking if there is an easy way to get the mud off. There are a few ways … but I found that the easiest way comes in the spirit of the meditation teaching. If you keep wearing and working with the boots eventually the mud will come off on its own!