Time to Act

2021 has arrived!   Holidays and celebrations are over.  It’s time to resume working!  The important work, however, has changed with the year. This time, our work is not simply to do a job to earn money. It is the work of healing our planet, restoring respectful and nurturing connections among our human species and between humans and the denizens with whom we share our planet and developing a social order supportive of these goals.  It is becoming a renewed kind of people, each of us the kind of people with whom we would like to live. It is the work in which each of us has a part, and which without each part, the chances of manifesting lessen.  This is the most important work we have ever had.  It is time to get started.  Time is running out.

There is so much to accomplish – work which takes physical activity, mental effort, emotional processing, spiritual energy. It is easy to hide one’s head in the sand, and pretend that all is well, and our government will do what is best for us and achieve the goal.   Opting out in such a way is abandoning the task and increasing the chances that we will all face either destruction, or an outcome we do not wish, possibly even one which negates our humanity. Why?  First, the work to be done cannot be accomplished from a top-down stance.  Big anything will not be able to get it done.  Big politics, big government, big technology, big business, big media, and the like will never, ever create a healed Earth or a healed web of life.  The “bigs” create what supports the “bigs”; Big Brother may take care of us, but will also tell us how to be, what to do, how to live, what to think.   That is the first reason.

In addition – perhaps this should be first, as it underlies the former – we are each responsible for who we are, how we grow, what we do and how we live.  For this, we do not answer to Big Brother or any “big”.  We answer to life itself, and to the results we produce for ourselves.  If one is religious, we answer to God.  Because we are responsible, we also have the power, individually and especially collectively, to affect our goals.  In microcosm, if we are adult, we can no longer blame our parents for our ills, because we possess within ourselves the power to right them, if we wish to exercise that power.    On a larger scale, we cannot blame the government, the opposite political party, religious organizations, people we think are maliciously trying to control us, people who we perceive as enemies, careless other people, being too young or too old, or anything else for what we dislike.  Each time we do that, we are giving away a bit of our power to create harmoniously, to make things right.

We need to heal our Earth, reforest, and renew her.  To that end, we also need to, among other things, adjust our economies, our lifestyles and consumption of resources.  We need to balance our consumption with our production and our capacity to renew that from which we take.   We need to create a social order that assigns equal humanity to each human being on the planet.  Note, that does not mean “same”.  Each of us is unique.  It means that we extend equal value, consideration, and use of resources to each human being, whether they are like us or not. We need to think about giving “rights” to others, not about how to get them. We need to wean ourselves from killing, especially knee-jerk killing, and replace that with respect and love.  We need to learn to listen to each other.  We need to learn to govern ourselves effectively, without relying on any of the “bigs” to tell us what to do.  We need to learn to grow food and medicines respectfully, in ways which replenish the Earth which nurtures us.  We need to eliminate war.  We need to learn to grow ourselves so that our actions, visions, and responses are rooted in the loving essence from which we all come.  We need to learn to express that essence and recognize the oneness between not only us humans but also each expression of life.

That is only the beginning, and already the task is huge.  It will take all of us to accomplish, but it is absolutely possible, despite the pull from entropy.  We can use our inner vision to project – what would the world look like if we achieve our goal?  What would it be like, if it survives at all, if we do not?  Here are two easily-read resources to check out: Brave New World combined with Brave New World Revisited, both by Aldous Huxley, and the entire Celestine Prophecy series, by James Redfield.  There are others, but those are good starts. 

Each of us has his or her own unique talent, his or her own thing that he or she loves or does well.  Large or small does not matter.  Current standards of pay do not matter.  Leading, supporting, or working independently does not matter.   Excuses to not act do not actually excuse; they only indicate an unwillingness to participate.  Even the bedridden can participate; the power of prayer and vision holding is great.  The power of extending love is infinite.  

Are you one who cares for the land, who grows food and medicines?  Are you one who can use tools and build?  Do you do best at designing structures?  Can you understand and translate the processes of nature into harmonious human activity?  Are you a cook, a teacher, a nurturer?  Are you a visual artist, a musician, a storyteller? Are you a philosopher, a priest, one who can perceive the surrounding world most of us find invisible?  Are you a healer? Are you an activist?   Find your talent and commit to the task.  In such a way, 2021 can be the year in which we respond to the challenge to grow, heal, and become.

Remember that top down does not work; top down most often gets in the way.  Big anything does not have the power to do anything for us.   Each of us is responsible for the outcome; each of us has the power to affect it. 
We can choose to give up our power, and declare ourselves helpless, or victims that need rescuing.  That sinks us deeper into the quicksand.  Each of us needs to listen to the other, and each of us needs to work.  Let us be the people who rise to the challenge.  Let us choose life.     Happy New Year!

Peace, Diane

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Dreaming Our New Reality

The old man sat quietly alert on the rock outcropping near the top of the hill.  The dry air, warmed by the late morning sunshine, stirred lazily around him, ruffling his white hair, and caressing his closed eyes.  Behind him, at the foot of the hill, the tribe patiently continued daily tasks as if nothing were going on.  They were awaiting the old man’s return.  Before him spread the expanse of grassland.  In the distance, a herd of bison nibbled on the sere grass, vainly searching for a few green blades.  None of this caught the attention of the old man.  His focus was inward, away from the arid, heat-permeated landscape surrounding him.  The old man was sensing rain.  Within his trance, he could see the dark clouds approach, feel the damp breeze on his skin, notice the slight drop in temperature, smell the droplets of a deluge, hear distant rumbling thunder.  The rains were coming.  He KNEW that, knowing in a way that belied the logic of drought surrounding him, of grass waiting like tinder to catch the first spark.  The old man had been there since dawn, going ever deeper into his trance, sensing ever more strongly the coming of rain.

Towards sunset, the grazing bison looked up.  The breeze had stilled for the moment; dark clouds began to form on the horizon.   The bison stopped grazing.  They began to circle, calves in the middle for shelter.  The old man paid no attention. The dark clouds grew, and the wind began to pick up.  Lightning split the sky, and thunder rumbled over the bison.  Clouds obscured the setting sun as the storm increased its force, soaking the dried grass and the parched earth.  The bison lifted their heads in welcome to the rain.  Now the wind blew strong over the old man, who was still sitting quietly.  A clap of thunder woke him from his trance.  A deluge from the sky washed over him as he stood up and began the walk to the encampment.  Dancing children approached him, frolicking in the rain.  The old man entered among the people.   “It rained,” he said.

The old man had been dreaming rain.  He was the tribal shaman, trained from adolescence in the ability to enter the invisible realms the aborigines call “dreamtime”.  From those spaces he would heal, divine, and call to the tribe what was needed.  Rain was needed at the moment.  He was an expert in these skills.  

These skills are not, however, potentially limited to shamans.  Each of us possesses the possibility of using our focus, our imaginations, our understanding and creative inner gifts to do, individually or collectively, what the shaman had done.  We can create ceremony, sing what we wish to create, draw it, sculpt it, write it, or sit in focused meditation.  We can even simply speak the truth we wish to see.   We do not need to be trained shamans operating alone.  Collectively, our smaller individual acts coalesce into a larger effect.

There are certainly many intertwined issues that face us in this moment.  An election is over, but we cannot all sit back and relax and assume that the “old normal” will now return.  The “old normal” is gone; what will ensue from the current chaos will be the result of what we collectively dream.  We have work to do.  What do we wish to see?  For example, most of us wish to be free of the coronavirus.  Do we wish to see everyone mandated in masks?  Do we wish to see everyone required to receive experimental vaccines and tracked to make sure we do?  Do we believe that governing from the top to “take care” of everyone, controlling them even as they are relieved of responsibility for addressing things themselves, will be desirable? 

One priority is the well-being of our planet.  The coronavirus is one virus. Even if it is manmade, as some say, more are in waiting from nature if we do not address the healing of the earth.  It is interconnected.  I believe we wish to see ourselves, generally, healthy, free to interact with each other, living in cooperation with nature on a healed earth, inhabiting a healed social order in which we can care for and trust one another.  I believe we would like an economic order in which everyone can provide for him/herself and his/her family with the work of hands, heart, or mind.  If these things are what we wish, we need to envision these things instead of trying to figure out what we need to require others to do and how we will make them do it.  We need to cooperatively envision the result, not the means.

There is temptation to turn passive, believing that there is nothing we or anyone can do to affect the present or the outcome of things.  Such a stance leads to being taken over as a source of energy for ways which are not ours.  There is also temptation to believe that raising anger and marching in the streets, perhaps rioting, will change things in the direction we wish them to go.  The fact is that if the negative challenges are met directly, head on, the result will be more of the same, perhaps dressed in different clothes.  We must use the indirect way, the way of the old man who “saw” the rain and then it came.  Each of us has a piece of the future to imagine. Each of us has a creative way of expressing that (and yes, even cleaning a house can be a creative expression, when it is done with the loving consciousness we envision).   What is your thought?  How do you wish the world to be?  How can you dream that and express your dream?  It takes us all.

We live in a world bounded by time.  Humans have created this concept and been caught in its web.   Time cannot run backwards.  We cannot return to the time before COVID-19, or the time before 9/11, or the time our grandmothers tell stories about.  We must live in and act in the present, with all its problems that surround us, and also with all the beauty that still exists if we pause and relax long enough to notice it.  What our future will be depends on how we orient ourselves now.

May we awaken to the creative power we all embody, and to the focused, reverent application of that ability.  May we all dream a world which includes a healed Earth restored to its beauty and harmony, and a social structure which recognizes the full humanity of all of us and supports just, compassionate, and reverent ways of interacting.  We are the shamans.   It is time we worked. 

Peace, Diane

Be the Change; the Way of Love

For more than a week now, the death of George Floyd via police brutality and the resulting widespread, vocal, and persistent call for police reform and the end of racism has pre-empted the prioritized space of the Covid-19 in the news.  Most of the protests have been peaceful; some have been violent and destructive.  Protests have been held in small town parks and cities worldwide.  Protests are still continuing, politicians have weighed in with their stances, and proposals have been put forth for completely eliminating the police, to demilitarizing the police, to more anti-racial attitude training.  Serious thought is also being given to increased funds being allocated to issues such as homelessness, mental health, food deserts, education disparity, and other issues which effect the poor, but mainly the poor of color.  We have yet to see if any or what will be a permanent outcome.

Protests are necessary, but they are only the beginning of change.   They serve to wake people up, to make as many as possible aware of the change that is needed and desired.  That is as far as they go; protests are dramatic, but they do not in themselves create change.   Political action and legislation can be helpful, but they, too, are limited.  Legislation can control specific actions, such as stopping for a red light.  It cannot govern attitudes, thoughts, and emotions, such as road rage.  For permanent change to occur, the perceptions, thoughts, attitudes, and emotions of people must change.  These are what underlie conditions; they create the conditions that the protests and laws are trying to change, and they create the change.   Negative emotional pressure, such as guilt, shame and fear cannot alter underlying conditions; in fact, they reinforce them.  Logic can inspire people to want to change, but the change must come from inside people themselves.   Change is truly a grassroots endeavor.

Most of us are familiar with the adage, “Be the change you want to see.”  Jay Shetty, in an interview in the September/October 2019 issue of Unity Magazine, explains, “When you start with being, you end up doing more effectively, but when you start with doing, you sacrifice being.  Everything is a byproduct of being.”   He advocates making to-be lists, rather than to-do lists.    Achievements, then, flow not from what is done, but from the being that underlies them.  The concept is not too difficult to understand; the application, however, can be a bit more confounding.
For example, it can be quite clear that one’s home needs organizing, but understanding what it means to be the organization, to be organized, is a bit less clear.  Being organized does not come from doing organizing; it is the other way around.  Yes, one can require oneself to do some organizing, and even achieve the result of an organized house.   However, if the being organized is not there, the result does not last.   Exactly how to change oneself from not being organized to being organized is still a mystery to me.  However, I know it does not come from shaming or guilting myself for disorder or fearing judgments or results of the disorder.  I can accept the logical desirability of being organized, and on rare occasions can even feel organized for a short while, but I have not yet learned to make organizing a central part of my being.  (It is also a virtue to be able to respond spontaneously, even in no visible organized order.)

To return to the topic of social order and social change, let’s pick three topics to explore.  Racism, the underlying motivator of “Black Lives Matter”, the practice of war, and the restoration of life and health to our Earth are three good examples.

Given that the more gradual method of being the change is the surest way of making lasting change, how would we proceed to change subconscious institutionalized racism into a social construct supporting the humanity of all and granting an equal status to both the needs of all and the peaceful expressions of all? How could we change our own being in such a way as to support the larger change we wish to see?   Perhaps, if one is white or of a group perceived as privileged, one way would be to make a true friendship with someone who is black or of another color.  By this, I do not mean befriending someone who is black.  That is the stance of the privileged helping the lesser person.  It is not bad to befriend someone, but that will not end racism.  By friendship, I mean becoming vulnerable to that person, in an equal emotional relationship.  Becoming a true friend means hearing the hurts and anger of the other person without judging, and appreciating even if not participating in the cultural expression of that person.  It means taking joy in the achievements of that person, and letting that person know of your joy.  It means accepting and acknowledging help from that person, as well as enjoying activities together.  It means feeling the human connection between you and recognizing the dignity of the other.  It means learning to love the other.   Conversely, if one is black (or of another underprivileged group), it means setting aside the assumption that someone who is white is not trustworthy (a kind of reverse racism when broadly applied) and making a true friendship with someone who is white.  In the movie Remember the Titans, the coach understood this when he integrated the team.   It is this kind of thing, multiplied many times over, that will bring about lasting change.  I think it has already begun.

War has plagued humanity since tribal groups encountered each other and competed for what were perceived to be scarce resources.  Over the lifetime of humanity, war has increased in virulence until it now can destroy not only humanity but Earth itself.   It is time for this to change – but how?  Agreements and treaties have been made, but because the underlying perceptions have not changed, the treaties have been manipulated, ignored, broken and betrayed innumerable times. That method is not viable.  War persists, more destructive weapons are developed and distributed, and more people are being trained to kill.  Here is something many people do not know; in order to be able to kill another human being without overwhelming damage to oneself, one must first become convinced that the ‘other’ is somehow less human than himself.   Boot camp sergeants are well aware of this.  The soldiers in any one army are taught that the soldiers in the other army, the ‘enemy’, are somehow less human than themselves, and permission is given to kill them.  This is the underlying assumption – that the ‘other’ is evil, barbaric, dangerous or in some way lesser, and therefore, it is OK to kill him and take what he has.  How, then, would one who wishes to transform war into peace go about this Herculean task?  How can one be peace, on a deep level?  It is easy to see how this is related to the root of racism – the idea that another human can be less human, less valuable than oneself.   Being friends with an enemy is certainly a possibility; there are stories about this which involve almost any war.  But the instances are presented as exceptions, not the rule.  In addition, the “enemy” keeps changing, depending on the era and the circumstances.  Somehow, we must give up judging the other entirely, give up the idea that we are better or more valuable than anyone else. On a personal level, this would mean not judging the person one considers to be one’s worst enemy or biggest threat.  It would involve not wrong making the backbiter who one perceives is destroying one’s reputation, or the one who cheated to get the higher grade on the test or the desired promotion.  It would mean finding compassion in one’s heart for such a person.  That is a tall order, but it is the underpinning of lasting peace.  Be the peacemaker, be peace; do not expect a government to negotiate and implement lasting peace without the underlying change in the majority of people, starting with oneself.

Healing our Earth is now of critical importance, to the extent that the survival of our own species is at risk if we do not do it.  The topic has been discussed, debated, and pronounced upon for nearly a century without any appreciable progress being made.  Yes, protests are held, activists are persistent, volunteers plant trees and examples have been made by communities who have discovered sustainable living.  Laws have been created and rescinded.  Yet, the Earth is in even more danger than before.  How can one be the change of a healed Earth?  Everyone can do something – even small children can raise their voices and remind adults of what needs to be done.  How, though, can we be the change?  Others wiser than I may have better answers, but it seems to me that the start of being the change of a healed Earth is to love that Earth – to spend time in nature, to enjoy and appreciate wildlife, to treat the Earth with respect, as one would a friend, to feel the earth under bare feet, to feel the energy of the Earth inside oneself.    How can one be the change of something of which one is unaware?  Secondly, a being agent of change would mean looking upon the Earth with the vision of Earth in its state of glorious wholeness, as a lover looks upon the face of the beloved in all its perfection.  The objections to the perfection – the scars of pollution on the Earth, for example, or the blemishes on the face of the beloved, would not be the central focus of perception.  That does not mean an unawareness of what needs healing; it means the vision would not be of the wounds, but of the wholeness.  We need more people who can do and are willing to do this.  No, the being is not the doing; it is the wellspring of the doing.  When we can be the change, the steps will be taken and the change will be done, and it will be lasting.

For most of us, this being is difficult; for many, it is also counterintuitive.  We have been trained to accomplish, to do.  It is time, now that doing has seemed to accomplish little, to raise our awareness to the level of being, and to begin our creations there.  It would seem to me that the level of being is also the level of love – not romance, but that love which considers the other as equal to and at one with oneself.  The time is now to go within and call upon this awareness.  In this way, we can make lasting desired change.

Peace, Diane