“Let’s say that when every one of us is born we bring with us a little ring of power. That little ring is almost immediately put to use. So every one of us is already hooked from birth and our rings of power are joined to everyone else’s. In other words, our rings of power are hooked to the doing of the world in order to make the world.”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Greece and Changing the Rules

n

It seems that the standoff between Greece and its creditors is reaching yet another critical point. What shimmered for me in this article is:

“At issue is just a €2bn financing gap between what the Greeks are prepared to offer and what the creditors are demanding, but the problem goes deeper into questions of power and rules.”

I think / hope / feel that everyone involved knows that the rules need to change but that very few can contain the extent of this (relatively simple) truth – that it is getting more and more difficult to hide the fact that debt, no matter how you shuffle it around, cannot be repaid. If the creditors do see this (in their private circles) it would mean a devastation of the world as they know it … making it reasonable for them to prefer the devastation of (just) Greece.

I have a feeling that the Greek government do see the problem. They have a unique, first hand perspective on the future outcomes of the currently dominant policies – they are speaking to the rest of the EU (and the rest of the world) from a future that potentially awaits us all. They also seem to realize that the rules can only be gradually changed for those changes to be embraced within the existing socio-political landscape. This is apparent in this post by the Greek finance-minister.

Interestingly it seems that the realities of (European, if not beyond) inter-being are acting as the cohesive and balancing elements in this situation. Greece is already on the edge of the cliff … leaning over the edge, holding on to a rope held by its creditors. Its creditors may think they are on safe ground and can let Greece fall with no harm to them. But the story of the EU may be tying a rope that binds their feet with falling Greece.

I can’t and am not interested in understanding all the financial minutae, however I noticed that the Greek minister is opting for transparency and doing so on a WordPress website (hosted on WordPress.com) and it reached me via Falco Valkenburg on Twitter. The other players seem to think they can hide within the privacy of their power trappings. That, to me is, a valuable indicator of who is siding with the future and who is siding with the past.

Most amazing to me is that this debate isn’t about changing reality itself (the reality of people living their lives) but about how we view that reality. It is a story that is changing … and that story changing is an inevitability. That is why I am more interested in who is clinging and who is changing. For me Greece, BECAUSE it is economically devastated, is a tired scout returning with valuable information about our shared future.

 

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside, Wordpress | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Ambitions and Exhales

n

The Hebrew word for Inhale (she-ifa) also means ambition … and so it is that after ambition comes exhale.

 

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Why Efi?

n

Efi, the oldest chicken at Bhudeva, died. I found her unmoving but breathing yesterday and carried her outside to some soft green grass and sunshine, placed her back inside in the evening and found her dead this morning. She had a mixture of grey (her name came from the Hebrew word for gray) and white feathers.

If I remember correctly she was a Bhudeva native … she was first an egg here and then hatched in the first generation of chicks that were born here (though she may be from the initial batch of chicks that Andreea’s aunt gifted us when we moved to Bhudeva). Andreea was still here and she used to spend time with the chickens (more then I did/do). Efi was the chicken that most clearly responded to Andreea’s affections. As a result she, unlike the rest of the chickens, actually came up to people asking for attentions. When I went to give the chickens food in the morning she would come up to me so close that I would have be careful not to step on her. She let me caress her neck (and would lower her head for better access), massage her chest, she would lift her wings for some under-wing touching. More like a dog then a chicken.

Over the last two years I thought about culling her (it wasn’t personal, just flock management) … but didn’t. She hasn’t been productive for a long time. She had to be separated from the main flock because the males would be too hard on her. She had patches of missing feathers and sometimes and raw skin from the males mounting her. She spent the lat couple of months together with an old(ish) male – they became very intimate … like a couple of pensioners. I left the two of them in the barn when I moved the rest of the chickens to pasture. Sometimes I let them out for some sun and grass … but only when I was around to supervise so that they didn’t damage garden plants. He was more active. She would find a comfortable spot to sit … and just sit there. When I was around she sometimes stayed close to me.

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P1070271

Yesterday I felt she was nearing her end. This morning she was gone. I asked myself what to do with her – compost or bury? An answer came: “bury”. I asked myself where? An answer came “next to the experimental swale”. I asked myself now (I had just come out of my morning practice, I wanted to make breakfast and it was raining) or later? An answer came: “now”. So off I went …

I carried her up the hill to the swale and started digging a hole. It then came to me to plant a tree on top of her. I asked myself which tree? An answer came “the acacia tree on the path next to the house”. I started walking in that direction to dig up the tree … on the way I passed the prune orchard and asked myself “how about a prune tree?” An answer came “no”. I continued to the tree but it was too big and too established to dig out and transport. I was sent to another tree on a path that winds up behind the house. It too was established but it was willing to go. I found myself digging and working hard … the rich clay soil is saturated with water … and the tree has strong roots. I had to bring an axe to cut through some of the roots. I got it out … the root system was large with two large stems growing out of it. I dragged the tree with me to the swale and continued digging a larger hole to accommodate the large roots. It was an elongated hole. I placed Efi’s body gently in on one end, covered it with some soil, then added the tree and covered it all.

I got home tired, wet, sweaty and dirty (I had only planned to step out for a short/soft morning round). I got out of my clothes and had a short shower. I dressed in a random selection of mismatched colors. I then resumed my breakfast plans … centered around an omlette with freshly harvested after-the-rain-mushrooms, wild nettles and spinach leaves from the garden. An abundant experience … an abundance which Efi is now a part of.

During all this I was wondering – why? What was so special about Efi? I am not an animal lover … certainly not an emotional one. Why would I delay my breakfast, go out in the rain and mud, carry a dead chicken and an uprooted tree up a hill? Efi’s behavior was not a result of my caring for her … it was Andreea’s relating to her … and THAT was why. Efi was and continues to be a reminder of a quality of relationship that Andreea nurtured. A vibration I deeply appreciate. I didn’t put Efi in the compost pile (where she would have been recycled into nutrients which would have nourished the Bhudeva ecosystem) because I wanted that vibration to cycle more deeply into the ecology of Bhudeva.

An acacia tree signifies a deeper relationship than a prune tree. The prune tree may have have produced fruits for me, but the acacia tree will nurture the soil it grows on and its surrounding ecology creating longer lasting effects. The location is at an experiment of healing and restoration. The tree has two stems sticking out in a V shape … a shape of expansion that Andreea introduced into our life and Bhudeva.

All those vibrations (and more than I am conscious of) resonated through me, through Efi, through Andreea … and into the earth here at Bhudeva … on this delicate, rainy spring morning.

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Matt Mullenweg on GMO’s

n

Matt on GMO’s a comment about a pro-GMO article. I commented on it and am reposting the comment here:

If that is scientific then it would seem that science is broken … and science doesn’t seem to know it.

Science has a clear view on one aspect of climate change: the past. Scientific community is able to study effects of our past actions on the present state of climate and ecosystems. It has much less to say and even less paths-of-action to offer about how to meet and act on the climate change front (and some of what little it has to offer is ecologically even more dangerous).

GMO’s are a relatively new scientific domain. Science and scientists have no way to scientifically say much about the effects of GMO’s because there is little evidence to observe and research. In a generation or two (or ten), assuming of course that GMO’s proliferate, we may have a body of evidence with which scientists can work and draw conclusions about the effects of GMO’s.

Saying that GMO’s are safe / healthy / ecological is speculative and wishful thinking … not scientific. GMO’s are an experiment … and should be treated and presented as such. It is one thing to tell a farmer that we have developed a genetically modified plant that is pest resistant. It is another thing to tell a farmer that we have developed a GM plant that is pest resistant but that we don’t yet know its effects on human health, on soil fertility or on a wider ecosystem.

What about inquiring into why the pests are there in the first place? What if the proliferation of pests is an indication that the ecosystem is out of balance and it needs to be treated. What if that is a signal for us to change our relationship with land and ecology? The GMO intervention, regardless of its biological merit, represents an attitude of manipulating, controlling and overpowering.

That attitude also treats weeds as “pests” … but what makes them weeds is the fact that they are growing where we don’t want them to grow or we want to grow something else. A different view of weeds is that they serve two complementary and valuable functions. First they are indicating that the soil ecology is out of balance… there is too little or too much of something(s) … looking at weeds can tell a knowledgeable about the condition of soil and the life in it. Second they are, by growing in those conditions, working to create a healthier soil ecology by adding missing elements and removing excesses.

It gets even more interesting when you learn that some of those weeds are edible and much more nutritious then cultivated foods. In my climate, at this time of year (early spring) there is still very little cultivated food and what is available comes from greenhouses. However I can go outside and pick a salad from 4 or 5 different “weeds” that are growing abundantly … without me having to plant a single plant.

That shift in attitude toward “weeds” represents a shift away from a deeply rooted underlying mentality of control, manipulation and subversion of nature (and ourselves!) to our will, towards a mentality of co-creation. Working with nature rather then dominating it.

There is scientific evidence that we have been mistreating our soils for a long time. A long time ago someone realized that plowing fields resulted in better yields (the “scientific explanation” was that plants have little mouths and the broken up soil is easier for them to eat). Over the years it became clear that the initial improvement was a short term effect … that the yields did not improve the same way year after year … they actually got worst. So we invented more and more technological interventions to increase yields. Modern agriculture is this stack of interventions … one technological patch on top of another … leading up to petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides … and now that those are failing we are applying more force in the form of genetic modification.

Since then (but fairly recently) microbiology has revealed that plants get their nutrition in chemical exchanges with life in the soil (fungi, bacteria, etc … there is an entire living food chain in soils.). Microbiology also teaches us that every time we plow our soils we injure the life in it. Most agricultural cycles are therefor cycles of soil fertility depletion … and whatever we are giving back (such as cow manure is some of my neighbors do) is not enough … or even causing further destruction of soil life (as is the case with petro-chemical fertilizers).

We are doing something similar to ourselves. I recall that you once posted about research into bacteria. It turns out that our excess technological intervention in our own ecosystem (a living bacterial pool) via antibiotics have left us bacteriologically deficient. Your post linked to a long research paper which, if I remember correctly, stated that because of a drastic increase in c-section, births there is a generation of human beings which are bacteriologically deficient because they have been deprived of exposure to bacteria that takes place during vaginal birth. A technological solution was of course promised … someone will develop a magic pill filled with missing bacteria. Another approach would be to inquire why we are drifting away from natural birth, is that a direction we want to go and if not can we change course?

I worry about GMO not so much because of genetic modification (for which we have little evidence either way) but because of the underlying attitude that leads to simplistic manipulation of complex ecosystems which we are just beginning to grasp. If scientific truth is inherently temporary (science is a process of constantly challenging our theories and replacing them with better ones) … why do we like to treat it as permanent with “truths” such as “GMO’s are safe” or “plowing increases yields” or “antibiotics are god”. Doing so is scientifically wrong!

… and there are other expressions to the GMO story that are worth addressing. A social one … for example: thecompanies that are lading the way in GMO’s are also working to lock in their discoveries with patents. They are trying to take over one of the most obvious commons resource we have been gifted with … nature and food. There are places (like here in Romania) where they are also actively working to pass legislation that will outlaw traditional seed saving and trading. They are working to create a world where it would be illegal for me to save seeds from my own tomatoes and grow tomatoes from them next year. They want to force everyone to buy seeds from them … and those seeds cannot be saved because they have been genetically modified not to grow from second generation seeds AND they (the seeds) are patented and “legally” owned by their producers.

There are other solutions to care for the health and livelihood of peasants in poor countries. Solutions that come with long term vision of human, social and ecological well (and inter)being. A mono-culture crop of a genetically modified plant is one of the poorest technological solutions that mankind has to offer.

… for more on the systemic faults in science I recommend Rupert Sheldrake and The Science Delusion:

… for more on the transformation from a story of controlling and manipulating nature (and ourselves) to a story of interbeing I recommend Charles Eisenstein and Sacred Economics:

“In our journey of separation, we have developed amazing creative tools of technology and culture that would never have existed had we not departed from our original wholeness. Now it remains to recover that wholeness and bring it to a new realm, to create with nanotechnology and social media things of the same life, beauty, and soul that the old masters created with adzes and song. Let us insist on nothing less. For what purpose have our forebears sacrificed, if not to create a beautiful world?”

I also believe that there are interesting examples of how these worlds come together in the ecosystem that makes and is WordPress … but I think I’ll stop here.

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to add your comment

Decades of Introverts

n

In this interesting commentary on Mozilla’s intention to deprecating non-secure HTTP I came across this example of a “developer profile’:

 “In the last couple of decades, the answer to the introvert’s dilemma was easy: get a computer and learn to code. Like a novelist (another popular introvert career path), you can create a new world using only words. Being an introvert is even beneficial here, because writing good code is time-intensive and you don’t have idle socialization competing for your time.

This is where I was as a kid. I couldn’t build physical things, because I’m a klutz and we didn’t have the money for parts. I was socially inept, to say the least. But I could spend time at the school computer lab, and I could borrow time on the PC of a friend who probably only put up with me because we’re both named Ben.

I sometimes worry that I’m stuck in fifth grade, where I got lots of positive feedback for being good at solving little problems and writing code-like things. I certainly still spend most of my time doing things along those lines.

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Is Social Change (in the USA) Accelerating?

n

from This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind
speedofsocialchange

via Matt Mullenweg

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Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft

n

A good article about the technologies we use in our day-to-day lives and how we can bring back value, consciousness and choice into selecting our relationship with them:

“More important, I’ve moved to these alternative platforms because I’ve changed my mind about the politics of technology. I now believe it’s essential to embed my instincts and values, to a greater and greater extent, in the technology I use.

The tools I use now are, to the extent possible, based on community values, not corporate ones.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

MyBubba

n

These two beautiful vibrations toured with Damien Rice in the USA:

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Cyanogen and the future of Android

n

I’ve been told that to activate an Android phone you have to have and sign in with a Google account. I hope that isn’t true but I haven’t confirmed it. I think it would, sadly, be difficult to confirm because most people have google accounts and think that having their phone logged in to Google is a good (or at least not a bad) idea (so I haven’t asked people about it).

When I hear of Android being referred to as open-source I cringe. While technically it is (the code is freely available for anyone to review / change), the version of it most people use it code written by Google with honey-traps set by Google. That is not in alignment with the spirit of open-source as I understand it.

CyanogenMod however is an open-source (in fact and spirit) project. It, as I understand it, is a version of Android that has stripped of its Google trappings. I have only heard of it, not used it. Today I came across this bit of news:

” … Microsoft would partner with the truly open-source, Android-based Cyanogen OS to provide a bundled suite of apps … “

Granted I have difficulty thinking of Microsoft being involved in anything as good news … this story has an interesting twist:

“… failure to gain traction may be why Microsoft has recently embraced a push to put its software on its more popular rivals … By working closely with Cyanogen, Microsoft now essentially has its own Android OS, which gives it a potential reach far greater than its own homegrown platform has found so far.”

In failing to penetrate the market with its own operating system and hardware Microsoft is turning to an alternative strategy based an open-source project which is an extension of Google code. Reading this (together with this: Microsoft may open-source its code) made me feel that good is an inevitability. As if no matter how much big companies try to twist things around to serve themselves, they are, in the end, going to get spat out … unless they come into service of something greater than their own profits.

Though I do feel the article is poorly titled “Microsoft Just Took Android’s Future Out of Google’s Hands”. It is Cyanogen that took Android’s future out of Google’s hands and gave it, and maybe Microsoft, a shot at a better future. Cheers to open-source.

You may want to check if your smart-phone is compatible with Cyanogen and step into your own better future.

 

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Open Source, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Hey

n
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Suggested Price

n

Iulia has communicated to me that there is an issue with money around the upcoming Yoga workshop, specifically that some people have expressed a feeling that the price is too high. I am going to try to speak to that in this post.

If you are looking for a short answer that will give you immediate satisfaction then you are probably going to be disappointed. If you are interested in reflecting on this subject with me then I invite you to read on.

I’ve been reflecting, thinking and inquiring a lot into money in recent years and I am, as I write these words, in my 2nd reading of Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics (which has been translated to Romanian) and before that David Graeber’s Debt: The first 5000 Years.

Personally …

My relationship with money has been difficult for as long as I can remember it. When I opened my first bank account I put in 100 shekels (the Israeli equivalent of the lei) and, following my father’s advice and common wisdom I put it all into a short-term savings plan … and immediately found myself in debt of 20 agorot (the Israeli equivalent of bani) due to the cost of the transaction. Though even by then I was under the impression that money is hard to get, that you can never have enough and it is an endless source of worry and anxiety.

Even when I had a good career and I was getting paid a good salary and living a modest life I felt insecure. I felt I had to carefully measure how I spent money and I was always worried what would happen if I were to lose my job … how would I manage financially. I ultimately ended my career when I realized that 1) no matter how much money I was making it wasn’t enough to meet anything that felt remotely close to financial security and 2) that I was unhappy in my pursuit of this ghost called “financial security”. So I decided to set it aside and give myself a chance at happiness.

To make a long story short (er) … happiness found me (at least for a while) but living even a modest life in a western-priced country continued to be expensive and insecurity took over once again. This time with a sharper bite … money was running out … and then it did … run out.

By then my questions about money had transformed into a single very different question. In my mind money came to represent a relationship between me and the community or society I lived in. Not having money meant not having a relationship with the society I lived in. Offering my gifts and being rejected meant that the society I was living in didn’t need or didn’t value my gifts. Either way it became a question about relationship and community … it was no longer about money itself.

To make an even longer story short(er) … my hope in coming to Romania was to create a life in which money would have a smaller role. For the most part, that has, in a surprising way and via a demanding journey, happened. Now I am in a place where insecurity is slowly starting to be replaced by security (though that journey is far from over). However one of the few things missing in this new life is me being able to express my gifts.

Gift

Charles Eisenstein (and others) speak about a gift-based economy. My impression is that many people interpret this in a superficial way to mean an economy in which things are given as gifts … “for free” … as in without an exchange of money. I think that is misunderstanding and can be misleading.

I believe that a gift-based economy describes a world in which people live their lives in their gifts. Underlying this view is a belief that we are all gifted in some special way, that we are here to manifest our gifts and that doing so brings us to an experience of fulfillment and alignment with a sense of purpose.

One of my gifts is Yoga and living in a Romanian village (with a basic grasp of the Romanian language) doesn’t offer me an opportunity to express that gift. Iulia’s invitation to give a weekend workshop in Targu Mures is an exciting opportunity to be in my gift.

That still leaves us with a question of exchange and how money fits into it.

Giving as a Means of Exchange

Before diving into money I do want to touch a bit on “gift” as an act of giving. Though we are typically taught that before money came barter (10 chickens for one goat) but it turns out that is not true, it is a disproved assumption (there is evidence that proves otherwise) at the heart of modern day economics.

A more typical form of exchange was an a network of giving that creates debt(!) within a community. This form of exchange taps into an interesting human quality: responding to generosity with more generosity … wanting to give back more than you are given. The reason for this, it turns out, isn’t some deep sense of altruism but rather an intuitive understanding of indebtedness (very different than money-based debt because it doesn’t have to be quantified). If I help you in your time of need, you will want, in return, to help me.

However, the threads that tie a community together are not the actual exchanges but the resulting (unquantified) debts. A community is a collection of debts – when everyone owes everyone else something. All those small (or large) debts create a continuous sense of dependency and relatedness. An exchange based on money is one in which all debts are canceled and there is no need for further relationship. If I bring bottled water to my neighbor when I go drive to the village center she wants to give me something in return … maybe eggs … and she will give me a generous number of eggs … and I will want to help her again … and so on and so on. If I buy eggs from an old woman in the village market there is no need for relationship between us beyond that limited exchange. (Do you care about your supermarket, who owns it, who made the produce, who stocked the shelves, the woman at the checkout counter?, etc …)

For an exchange based on giving there needs to be relationship – a community. There needs to be a web of continuous, trusted relationships over time for giving to be able to flow. Such an exchange is not likely between strangers who may never see each other again. Indeed, the evolution of money is tied in numerous ways to wars. A debt based giving exchange may have existed in historical villages but when a soldier passed through a village, you wanted him to pay in coins … you may never see that soldier again, he may be dead by tomorrow … he is not someone with whom you want to form a long-term reciprocal relationship.

I am recalling two realizations that surprised me here in the village. The first realization surprised me in its obviousness: that it is easier to give something of which you have in abundance. If I have a generous yield of pumpkins it is easy for me to give pumpkins. The second realization struck me as disappointing … most giving in the village is indeed a means of incurring (or paying) debt … there is very little gifting.

So it seems that “gift economy” is a misleading name  because it is really based on debt which is incurred through giving so maybe it should be called a debt-economy?

… which brings us to money as a means of exchange.

Money as a Means of Exchange

There are many definitions and applications of money. One of them is as a means of exchange. This can be a slippery subject to approach because we take money for granted without really knowing what it is and how it is created. I would like to try to see money in a different way … money as an expression of giving which does have a sense of community and gifting … lets let the rubber meet the road and apply this to a real scenario … a Yoga workshop in Targu Mures.

We are going to come together … I don’t know any of you and you don’t know me (though some of you may know each other). Hopefully the workshop will be a good and valuable experience for you. I am looking forward to sharing with you teachings that are precious to me and to do it in a way that will make them precious for you. You will naturally want to give something in return and you will want to do in a spirit of gift … you will want to feel generous and you will want to maintain a sense of continuity, relationship and community. How to do this?

Since we are not (yet!?) part of a continuous living community you are not likely to have something that I want or need (you barely know me, how can you know what I want or need). Therefor, suppose you could give me a token of your appreciation – something that says “this is to indicate you have given me something valuable and I am indebted to you”.

That token could be symbolic … to you. I could hold on to it until a time in the future where we met again and you gave me something I want or need and I would return the symbolic token to you. Or maybe you have a friend which is indebted to you (you have a symbolic token that friend gave to you) and your friend gave me something or did something for me and in return I gave your friend the symbolic token you gave me. Now you and your friend each hold a symbolic token from each other … and this is where things can get interesting. You can exchange your tokens and cancel your debts to each other … and bring that flow to an end. Or you could hold on to those tokens, stay indebted to each other and trade those tokens with others … allowing your giving (debts) to continue flowing.

Now lets say we want to “go with the flow”. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have tokens which are symbols that we all agree one … that represent a shared sense of value? These tokens could flow farther, smoother … they would be easier to exchange … that could touch more people. Money is such a token … or it can be … if we can gently move away from the less pleasant qualities we associate with it.

Suggested Price

To make this experience softer for me and for you I have chosen to do experiment … to transform an exchange of money into a softer token … to give us all an opportunity to reflect on our relationship to each other and our relationship with money.

This is why the workshop has a suggested price and not a fixed price. A suggested price communicates to you a reflection of my valuation. A suggested price invites you to make your own choice. This reflection will be much more relevant after the workshop … when you have a direct sense of experience. Setting your own price gives you an opportunity to reflect not just about a number, but about value, giving … and money itself. It is an opportunity to inform a relationship with me, with Yoga, with your own practice, with money, with giving.

I realize that this may be challenging for you … it is for me too. The world we currently live in feels out of alignment in many ways. The money system we live in has made money scarce and stuck instead of abundant and flowing. I am opening myself to exploring a new story and new relationships and by offering a suggested price I am inviting you to join me in that exploration.

If this workshop shimmers for you but you are thinking to yourself “I can’t afford this” … then think again … it isn’t true … it is a limitation you place on yourself. Though there is a registration fee, how much you give is ultimately up to you. At the end of the workshop you can decide how much to give. You can give the suggested price, you can give more, you can give less. If you feel it is right you can ask for a refund of your registration fee and pay nothing. I trust myself, I trust my teachers, I trust the teachings I have been given … and I trust you.

 

Posted in Expanding, inside, Money, outside, Yoga, Yoga & I | Tagged | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Yoga Teacher

n

“What do you do?” is one question (of a few) I don’t look forward to encountering. The question seems to imply that I should to be doing something. It also seems to imply that if I am doing something it needs to be something specific that fits into a coherent, preferrably short & simple title. Even when I had a “career” which I could have leaned on for a clear answer I never felt comfortable with the question nor the answers it provoked. I felt that I was being asked to put myself into a nice, clearly defined box which always seemed to leave out some parts of who I am.

For the last … I would say third of my life … I feel I’ve been blessed with diverse and rich experiences. I’ve had opportunities to experience myself in different contexts, to see myself from different perspectives. I (and I think people who know me well) can sense there is a thread that brings it all together … however it is elusive and very difficult to put into words.

However, during this last third of my life (even longer) I have also been in a relationship with Yoga – studying, practicing and to some extent teaching.  While still living in Israel I taught a few groups, but felt that I was being asked to be more of a “Yoga entertainer” then a “Yoga teacher”. Most people seemed to expect me to provide an experience that confirmed with what they wanted Yoga to be, few seemed genuinely interested in inquiring into what Yoga is. There was a gap between my interests in Yoga and the expectations I faced as a teacher … a gap I had difficulty bridging. So I stopped trying (except for, over the years, one-on-one students with whom I’ve had precious interactions).

And yet … I am surprisingly comfortable describing myself as a Yoga practitioner and teacher. When I do teach Yoga, or even just find myself in a conversation where someone is interested in Yoga, I feel vibrant and alive … as if I’m doing something good … something I should be doing … with a clear sense of purpose … and actions that flow smoothly from me. I’ve done (and do) other things too … but almost everything I do is either in alignment, or comes into alignment, with my Yogic views. Yoga shapes and is expressed in almost everything I do. And so … if I have to be something, at least for now … I am a Yoga practitioner and on occasion teacher.

… and suddenly I find myself facing a new invitation … a first of its kind … I’ve been waiting for it so long that I have sometimes forgotten that I am waiting. Iulia asked me “When are you coming to do a weekend workshop in Targu Mures?” … not “if”. And so for the first time I’ve put together an offering that is in alignment with me. An offering that I feel respects my teachers and the teachings they have offered me. An offering that I feel respects the people who come to share in the teachings I have been given. I am touched and excited to have been asked to offer this weekend Yoga workshop. I am intrigued that it is taking place in what may well be my karmic-home-town of Targu Mures.

IntroductionToYoga_FacebookBanner_03b

Introduction to Yoga: a Living Practice

Purpose

This weekend workshop will cover basic concepts of Yoga. It is intended to provide a core understanding and experience for people who are interested in welcoming Yoga as a regular practice integrated into their lives.

Previous experience of Yoga is not required. Practitioners with past experience are welcome to join and revisit foundational ideas of Yoga and their own practice.

The weekend will be guided by Ronen Hirsch. Ronen has been practicing Yoga for over 15 years. His teachers are Paul Harvey (UK) and Ziva Kinrot (Israel) who carry forward a Viniyoga tradition developed by T Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar.

If you can breath and are curious about life or yourself you are welcome to join.

Topics

The weekend will include practice and conversation around:

  • Yoga views on philosophy and psychology: mind & body come together in practice.
  • Viniyoga: adapting Yoga practice to individual needs, circumstances and abilities.
  • Yoga and life: taking yoga beyond a practice mat and into daily life.
  • Basic asana: learning to move correctly, safely and effectively.
  • Basic breath: ujjayi breathing and its relationship with movement.
  • Basic pranayama: introduction to breathing practices.
  • Practice planning: lightly touching on the potential of creating practice sequences.
  • Yoga as meditation: nurturing meditative qualities in practice.

The program will be given in English (with some group support in translation to Romanian when needed).

Please address questions about workshop contents and practices to iamronen@iamronen.com.

What to Bring

  • Stationary
  • Yoga mat & 2 sitting blocks*
  • Comfortable clothes,(layers for regulating warmth)
  • Food for yourself

* It is useful to have two blocks sized ~ 20 x 20 x 5 cm that can be stacked or used individually as needed. There are standard (thicker) fitness blocks available online in Romania (here and here). We were able to find a local foam producer who is able to provide us with blocks cut to size for 12 lei / block. If you are interested in these blocks, please let us know when registering how many blocks you wish to purchase (recommended 2 per practitioner).

Schedule 3-5 April 2015

  • Friday,3rd of April, at 11:00 – 17:00
  • Saturday, 4th of April, 09:00 – 17:00
  • Sunday, 5th of April, 09:00 – 16:00

Registration

  • Location: Targu Mures. Exact location will be communicated in time to confirmed participants. If you come from outside Tg. Mures, we can arrange sleeping places here (informal, welcoming friends, for free). When you register, please let us know if you need this.
  • A suggested price is 540 lei / participant. If you choose to come together with your partner / a friend the price will be 900 lei for both. Please send a registration fee of 180 lei to reserve your place no later then 20 of March, 2015. At the end of the program you are invited to adjust the price accordingly to your experience.
  • To register contact Iulia at iulia.sara@gmail.com. Please include your name, email address and phone number, for keeping in contact for further details (location, registration fee, etc.).

1 On 1

The workshop will lay foundations for taking up a personal practice in day-to-day life. On the day following the workshop Ronen will be available for face-to-face 1 on 1 consultations for individuals that wish to introduce a tailored daily practice into their lives.

It will be possible to schedule consultations during the weekend workshop.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Greek Leadership – Fruits of Austerity?

n

Though the Greek prime minister in this video describes austerity as a failure. I would argue that at least in one sense austerity has been a success … there is a new Greek prime minister who is direct, realistic, able to address painful truths and to do softly (even when facing an ultimatum). He is subtly saying that like austerity, ultimatums are also irrelevant – that no forceful attitude will change the difficult and unrelenting financial reality Europe has gotten itself into. He has realized that the old story has failed and is trying to invite his European colleagues to co-create a new story.Regardless of the fruits of actions, his effort is refreshing.

Is this telling of a new emerging flavor of leadership? I enjoyed this.

source

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Armies as Market Makers

n

In Debt: The First 5000 Years David Graeber highlights a recurring historical pattern that emerged in different cultures around the world: armies as market-makers. When  a conquering army is sent out it needs a lot of supplies to keep it going. Instead of having to provide supplies kings / emperors / what-nots would 1) pay the soldiers with coins; 2) require peasants (food suppliers) to pay taxes using only those coins; 3) which would force the peasants to provide supplies to soldiers who would pay with said coin which could then be used to pay taxes. As a result, successful conquering armies were correlated with control of mines which would provide the metals needed to press coins.

Then it includes this quote from Kautilya‘s Arthashastra (over 2000 years old):

“The treasury is based upon mining, the army upon the treasury; he who army and treasury may conquer the whole wide earth”

That neatly summed up why I feel Bitcoin is a failed currency from its inception. Bitcoin is a highly centralized system where the kings are engineers. It is bound to become more centralized as mediators such as online-exchanges make the technology available compete for added-value market share.

But more then than, I feel that the most challenging aspect of currency (mainstream or alternative) is the question of backing. I feel it is the most neglected aspect of innovative new currencies. What backs a currency? Time-banking exemplified a good answer (hours of work can be exchanged) but limited in its application because it tramples value (not all hours are equal).

 

Posted in AltEco, Money, outside, Tech Stuff | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Greece: The End of Austerity?

n

It is a somewhat refreshing video … maybe a preview of what is coming when social and political systems are pushed to extremes? There is hope in it … but I also have doubts. Nationalism makes me uncomfortable, passion and slogans don’t last long … but the effects of separation that are built when they are used in politics do accumulate and last.

I don’t trust solutions that are based on an us and them mentality. Us of the south and them of the north … is not a good starting point … and probably incorrect. If there is an us and them in this story … them is more likely to be IMF and other hostile banking institutions that exist beyond nationality. They are hostile everywhere (north and south) and they have vested partners with vested interests everywhere (north and south). And if we are shifting from a nationalistic view to an economic them … then we are all in this together … we are all participants and co-creators (even if passively and by default) of the economic system. As tempting as it may be to think of an “evil them” … I don’t believe that can lead to substantial change.

I would like to see a new kind of awakening. An awakening that is soft-spoken, that looks inwards, that takes responsibility, that sees connection and relatedness, that demands inner change (in addition to outer change). Can existing socio-political systems manifest and carry such expression? I don’t know.

One thing is for sure … what is happening in Greece may be a potential beginning of an end to austerity … at best.

GREECE: THE END OF AUSTERITY? from Theopi Skarlatos on Vimeo.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Money, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

A Glimpse into the Dark Web

n

From Deep Web Marketplaces

“One user put down the address of his local post office as a shipping address instead of his home. As a recipient, instead of his name he submitted “Holder of Federal Reserve Note number #NNNNN”, #NNNNN being the serial number of a dollar bill in his possession. Apparently he went to the post office holding the bill, correctly identifying himself as the holder of that federal reserve note, and was given the package”

I don’t think this is a glimpse of the future. It’s a glimpse of what the future may look like if we stay on the course we are on now. I hope that course will change and the future with it.

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Money, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Love and Pain

n

My grandmother finally parted with her body on Tuesday the 20th of January 2014. She suffered a lot, not just in her last years, but over the course of her life … is it alright to say too much? She was a fighter, a strong woman … and in the end that strength worked against her. It coincided with her fear of dying and kept her fiercely attached to a withering body.

I don’t have access to childhood memories (I am not a very good rememberer at all). I was her first grandchild and she was with me a lot during my early years … when my parents were still getting started in their own adult lives and had me too. I don’t remember that. I do remember that in my teen years, she brought it up … a lot … too much. At one point I got the impression that she (and my grandfather) were doing some kind of accounting … that their investment in my early life was supposed to pay off in my mature life. That accounting turned me off. It also came during a time of intense and painful awakening … and so I distanced myself. I did not want to be in an accounting relationship.

I was never a “good grandson” … I was never a “good anything”. I was raw. Later, with time and distance, I also became present and honest. Later, direct. She loved me, she loved my eyes. She didn’t know how to say it … she always said, with a cynical twist that “she hated me so much”.

I saw her only a few times in recent years, she lived in Israel, I in Romania. My parents often spoke of her deteriorating clarity, though that was not my impression when I communicated with her. She became more distant, conversations were shorter, there was less outwards moving interest … but I did not feel less clarity. I felt her present, I felt her joking … I felt her fear … I felt her pain.

A few months ago, during a Skype conversation, I asked her how she felt. The only answers she had to give were about her physical condition. Feeling, as in what is in your heart, was not part of her story and expression. The last time I saw her was ~10 months ago. As her situation continued to deteriorate my parents asked /suggested that I come and see her. Whenever I held that question inside the answer was no. I am not keen on traveling, I am not keen on traveling to Israel … but mostly I felt connected to my grandmother. I was with her, she was with me. Whenever I passed air through the Shakuhachi it was with her, for her … a vibration I sent out to the cosmos as a bookmark … so that we may find each other again. I felt that going to Israel would have narrowed that experience down to a limited physical interaction.

She was a powerful spirit. Though she could not speak her heart, in the 24 hours that came before she left her body her spirit traveled the planet and touched her kin. She visited my older sister in the night. She asked Andreea to light a candle. She removed, from my younger sister’s neck, a necklace she gave her that my sister never takes off. She summoned her son, my father’s brother (my father is a more mind-centered person and like his father, his brother is a more heart-centered person and like his mother) to a short “unplanned” visit to her bedside, during which is when she exhaled for the last time, with him at her side.

The evening before (or possible the evening before that) I felt compelled to listen to music in Hebrew … specifically to this song:

Empires Fade Slowly

A child sits in the living room doing his history homework
He doesn’t hear the doorbell ringing
While Athens invades Troy
Father arrives holding a box of cookies and a newspaper

Mother whispers secrets in father’s ear
A child picks up fragments of the conversation
Alexander the Great has conquered half the continent
Father says that half of the salary has gone

And in the pages of time that has passed
People end abruptly
Empires fade slowly

Everything will be OK Father assures
Mother responds with a smile
A soldier of the empire has arrived at the edge of the continent
A child dreams of battles that have been and battles that have yet to come

And in the pages of time that has passed
People end abruptly
Empires fade slowly

It’s a song that has always touched me yet this time tears started pouring … leaving me drained and settled. The next day Annelieke and I were outside cutting wood and my phone rang. My phone rarely rings. It was from Israel, it was my grandmother’s home phone. I knew it wasn’t her. My father was on the other end of the line already supported by the technicalities of dying,  police had just walked into the apartment so he was brief, he said to me “grandmother isn’t suffering anymore”.

In a time where I feel found inside and lost in the world, my grandmother’s passing is making me feel a little bit lost inside and a little bit found in the world. All I could / can think of when connecting with my grandmother since then is Andreea and Ma’ayan.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Israel, Romania, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

What causes addiction?

n

“The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them.”

source

 

Posted in AltEco, Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Charlie Hebdo

n

I was still living at home … late teens or early twenties. It was a Saturday morning. I was still in bed in my room. I could hear my father helping my younger sister with her math homework. He was explaining vigorously (both my sisters and I ended up crying more than once under the burden of my fathers helping explanations) and she wasn’t getting it. It was escalating. I heard him raise his voice, almost shouting to her something like “how can you not understand?” It concluded with my sister not understanding … and crying. I jumped out of bed, sped out of my room and went to yell at my father. I was angry at him for attacking her.

HE was the more mature, more knowledgeable, more experienced, more responsible, more evolved human being. HE wanted to help her. HE failed to do so … he couldn’t find an explanation she could understand. HE was confused and frustrated because she wasn’t understanding him. HE chose to escalate, using more force thinking that would lead to understanding. HE chose to blame her for not understanding. HE failed to take responsibility for not being able to explain himself. HE tried to blame a young girl for his failure.

Almost all the views I’ve met (from what little media I consume) about the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris seems to dance around Islam. I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo before so the first time I had a taste of some of its published works was in this article. I was disturbed by the images … not of the attack … but of the cartoons.

In my reflections on Israel I have stated that I believe that a cultural struggle is taking place. It isn’t just between Muslims and Jews. In Israel itself I see it between orthodox Judaism and secular people too. In my current village I see different flavors of Christianity as a limiting force (brings thought and debate to dead-ends). Islam seems to be gathering more attention on the global stage than other religions (though that may be a function of global attention rather then Islam), but the struggle that is taking place is beyond religion. It is also not about civilization (as this article frames it) … but about older civilizations and newer civilizations.

I believe the makers of Charlie Hebdo come from a newer and better civilization than the civilization that the three murderers came from. I do believe that a civilization that upholds free speech is better than a civilization that does not (and that a civilization that uses free speech responsibly is better than a civilization that uses it callously). I also believe that a more advanced civilization has a responsibility towards a less advanced civilization. I believe it is the more developed civilization that is responsible for caring for the less developed. It is up to the people who have learned the value of free speech to communicate it to those who have not.

The cartoons of Charlie Hebdo tell me that responsibility was neglected. Their cartoons are a violent form of communication. It doesn’t matter how true or noble or valuable their ideas are if they are violently communicated. It didn’t matter that my father knew mathematics, it did matter that he was unable to communicate his knowledge to my sister.

The struggle that is represented in this tragic event is very real. It is a battle between ideas and the outcome is inevitable … old, obsolete, irrelevant ideas are going to die. But does this struggle have to be violent, do we have to live within violent metaphors of war?

Can we choose to live in a story where we are all part of a continuous evolution of human society? Can we choose to treat each other (especially those less privileged to live in circumstances that induce evolution) with respect? Can we collectively remember that the more advanced forms of civilization we are striving for rest on the shoulders of the civilization we are leaving behind? Can we care for our older ideas (as we care of our elders) and put them to rest peacefully instead of murdering them violently?

When I posted this image I did not know it related to the Charlie Hebdo incident … I thought it was a good metaphor for much of what is breaking in the world.

yesterdaytodaytomorrow

It seems to be a popular meme  that a pencil is mightier than a gun. If that is the case then can it be that a cartoon that murders an idea is as if not more violent than a gun that murders a man?

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

Pema Chödrön

Posted in inside, Intake, outside, Quality | You are welcome to add your comment

Information in Transition (IIT) Workshop

n

This workshop was an idea that Annelieke and I wanted to bring to life during my visit to Portugal in the summer of 2014. It didn’t take place. However this document continues to tell a story that has been slowly circulating in email channels. It is published here to make it more accessible and relatable.

Click here to download a PDF version

A 3-day workshop exploring how to support information communication in our local and national Transition hubs. Bringing together “Transitionists” and “Technologists” in service of our community.

Context

Flow of information is at the heart of Transition. Local hubs generate information that travels both within a community and to other national and international hubs.
Currently information flows sporadically and inefficiently, much like rainfall washes over a desolate landscape:

  • Powered by gravity – information flows mostly when an outside force dictates necessity (application, fund-raising, etc.)
  • Following a path of least resistance – information is collected and stored on separate computers (usually on those in which it is created) in diverse document formats (word processors, spread-sheets, etc.)
  • Draining away rapidly – documents are quickly forgotten and archived , fading out of memory and consciousness.
  • Carrying away precious soil fertility – those who create the information are worn down by a recurring and inefficient effort of having to recollect and recreate lost information.

Strategic water design involves:

  • Capturing water – harvesting information when it is fresh and vital.
  • Slowing it down – providing information a controlled path towards safe storage.
  • Storing it – keeping information where it can be organized and easily accessed.
  • Directing it when and where it is needed – making information easy to find when it is needed.
  • Giving it time to absorb into the soil – presenting information in effective and diverse way to different people in different contexts.

As water is at the heart of landscaping, so information is at the heart of Transition. Correct harvesting, storage, absorption and delivery of information can lead to a healthy and vibrant ecosystem.

Objective

To bring together diverse skills from within our community (members of Transition, web developers and designers) into a focused workshop during which a co-creative information process will be born.

The workshop will explore how an existing and abundant information flow can be harvested and utilized in service of the purposes of local and national Transition hubs.

Landscape design is founded on a view in which a designated purpose for that landscape brings it into harmony with its inhabitants (people and wildlife). In a similar way an information landscape design requires a similar foundational view of purpose and people. We will explore this idea of “People & Purpose” to guide us in forming and executing an information strategy.

Purpose: Coming Together

When it comes to information and information technologies there seems to be a divide between those who create & consume it (namely “transitioners”) and those who are able to manipulate it (namely: “developers”).

“Transitioners” interact mostly with people and nature, dealing with malleable and unpredictable dynamics. “Developers” work mostly with computers and code, dealing with well structured, well behaved and predictable dynamics. “Transitioners” drown in information. “Developers” contain and organise information.

These worlds do not mix well on a functional level. Is isn’t for lack of motivation. It is more like oil and water (that have nothing against each other) that are of different qualities. Yet when making a delicious soup it is not uncommon to find oil and water “collaborating”.

What if instead of trying to get “developers” to understand “transitionerts” or vice versa we could find a way to come together around shared interests to which we can all relate (and make a great soup)? We do not have to be confined to a view in which “transitioners” organise community projects” and “developers build websites”.

We can choose to be members and co-creators of our community collaborating towards a shared purpose. We can evolve to be “transitioniers” who appreciate how well-structured information can support our efforts. We can evolve to be “developers” who appreciate how structured information has no value unless it serves a purpose.

That is the gift of purpose. If you are reading this document then you probably have an active interest in your community, specifically about making your community better, more pleasant and more resilient.

During this workshop we will explore how clear, shared and stated purpose can transform our differences into valuable complementary assets.

Format

Each day will be made up of sessions. Each session will include:

  • Introduction of (a) task(s) and a discussion about how to approach the task.
  • Separating into groups who will take on the task(s).
  • Regrouping, presenting, integrating and prioritising results.

Over the course of the workshop we will explore:

  • Personas: who are the people we wish to support using information technology.
  • Purposes: what roles do these people fill in our community and how do we perceive their purpose in the context of Transition.
  • Information Structures: viewing information as building blocks.
  • WordPress: introducing WordPress and how it views information.
  • Website or websites?
  • Information sources: how and where is information generated.
  • Information uses: how and where is information applied.

Outcomes

  • Working website(s) for local and national hubs.
  • Content strategy & knowledge how to use it.
  • Raising mutual awareness and appreciation among Transitioners and developers.
  • Establishing collaborative processes which can support a continued process of refinement and evolution.
  • Exploring technological innovation as a community building activity.

Participants

The workshop is an invitation for diverse skills from within the Transition movement to come and work together:

  • Transition members
  • WordPress developers
  • Web designers

It is open to people who are committed, driven by purpose, have good collaborative and communication skills. Participants are asked to make themselves fully available for the entire 3 day workshop and to bring with them clarity and enthusiasm.

A few places are available for observers from other social activist circles who wish to witness and learn from the process.

Posted in AltEco, Design, outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to add your comment