“The life of a warrior cannot possibly be cold and lonely and without feelings, because it is based on his affection, his devotion, his dedication to his beloved… The Earth knows that he loves it, and it bestows on him its care. That’s why his life is filled to the brim and his state, wherever he’ll be, will be plentiful. He roams on the paths of his love… This Earth… Only if one loves this Earth with unbending passion, can one release one’s sadness. A warrior is always joyful, because his love is unalterable and his beloved, the Earth, embraces him and bestows upon him inconceivable gifts. The sadness belongs only to those who hate the very thing that gives shelter to their beings. This lovely Being, which is alive to its last recesses and understands every feeling, soothed me, it cured me of my pains, and finally when I had fully understood my love for it, it taught me freedom. Only the love for this splendorous Being can give freedom to a warrior’s spirit; and freedom is joy, efficiency, and abandon in the face of any odds.”
Tales of Power Carlos Castenada
This is the fourth book in the series and was published in 1974. Carlos Castaneda was a mystic and the content and style of his descriptions of Don Juan’s teachings in no way detract from the value of his ideas. We tend to like those ideas that fall in line with our present beliefs. His stories about Don Juan and the experiences he describes hold great value to me. After all, who decides what truth
I also think it is safe to say that Carlos was not influenced by Lovelock and Margulis. At the time of Castaneda’s 4th book preparation, the Gaia Hypothesis had not been published. Even if it had, Lovelock and Margulis did not describe Gaia as “a living Being” They spoke of the Earth as, I paraphrase, acting as if it was a living organism. I suspect they were not game to venture that far from mainstream science. I do respect their desire to publish within the confines of what would be interpreted as “sound science”.
What’s with Ozymandias?
Roman-era historian Diodorus Siculus, who described a statue of Ozymandias, more commonly known as Rameses II (possibly the pharaoh referred to in the Book of Exodus). Diodorus reports the inscription on the statue, which he claims was the largest in Egypt, as follows: “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” (The statue and its inscription do not survive, and were not seen by Shelley; his inspiration for [the sonnet] “Ozymandias” was verbal rather than visual.) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/238972 View Shelley’s sonnet here.
This paper is a commentary on the book; Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth
The book is Edited by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler. Published by the Foundation for Deep Ecology in collaboration with Island Press, 2014, Washington D.C.
With Friends Like These, Wilderness and Biodiversity Do Not Need Enemies
“Those orchestrating and profiting from the ever-growing transformation of the natural world into commodities have always had apologists.”
In this essay, David chooses five of what I think are the most outrageous pronouncements by major figures in the HCC crowd. He starts with:
1) Wilderness and biodiversity protection goals must be curtailed and clearly tied to human interests in order to be achievable.
Johns responds with an explanation of how foreign this statement must sound to those who have understood the science findings of how the planet takes care of itself and how much work in cooperation has already been achieved.
I am irritated to see such a blatantly pragmatic and anthropocentric statement. Earth is not all about humans. How much wilderness is left has no bearing on the intrinsic value of habitat undamaged by humans. As for biodiversity, it should not be coupled with wilderness. Biodiversity is our name for the fecundity of the planet. Even if we don’t understand the whys, recognising its existence as a celebration of Earth’s energy is enough to merit working with it rather than wiping it out as a by-product of our colonisation of all life.
2) Humans have always been everywhere, [ridiculous, blatantly false. We are a recent and deadly result of what we call evolution.] have fundamentally changed virtually every place on Earth, so there are no pristine lands (wilderness) to protect. [Again false, humans have not fundamentally changed anything. Fundamentally, all we see around us IS the Earth. We have only diminished Gaia’s health and eliminated much of Gaia’s protection implementations. Yes, we have destroyed but not fundamentally. The non-existence of wilderness is a worn, tired and thoroughly bashed concept whose day has come and gone. Just because the wilderness of history has been abused almost beyond recognition doesn’t mean that we have to cease all effort to reserve adequate habitat for other-than-human beings. Johns devotes several pages refuting this statement.
3) Humans are part of Nature [this is absurdly obvious unless one believes that we are aliens or that we have been genetically modified by aliens] and so our effects on other species, our efforts to dominate, and our attempts to turn the world into a garden are all natural.
I find this attitude almost complete unbelievable. It seems to me that it must have been issued from the ravings of insanity – seriously. This is tantamount to the following belief: Thousands upon thousands of humans kill other humans; humans are part of Nature, so killing each other is natural. I could go on with other examples but they are too absurd to write down. We have sound environmental ethics that are accepted by subject matter experts as sound and in tune with an ecocentric worldview. No other living being kills and destroys out of what we have labelled as greed. Rapacious, especially insatiable killing is not and never has been seen as natural; let’s don’t go there!!!
4) Humans are part of Nature, and reserves of various sorts separate us from the natural world.
This statement seems to me to be rather weak. Violent fathers are separated from their wives and children so they will not be harmed or killed. Humans who kill, rape and steal are separated from the innocent and peace-loving others in a society. I recently saw a photo of what was claimed to be the last remaining West African black rhino. It seems obvious that black rhinos were NOT separated from humans soon enough. I think I’ve made my point.
5) Human wants must take priority over needs of other species, even to the point of extinction.
Well, this takes the cake. Perhaps this is why Michael Soule, as I interpret his statements, does not consider HCC as a conservation group. I fully agree. That’s why I say that they are a human centred conservation group. I suppose I’m meant to come around to the idea that being natural, I should expect to encourage people to have as many children as they like because that is ‘natural.’ Being that we are natural, then it follows that we should grab every available square inch of planetary surface to house and feed our children. Then if one goes further with this hubris and sees oneself at the pinnacle of Evolutionary development and decides that humans are the hope of the planet or that humans are Gaia’s way to become aware of itself. [I’m at a loss for words here as our language is confined to a subject being a person, place or thing and our grammar 3rd person singular as a he, she or it. Where do you fit a living, loving, conscious planet? He, she or it?]
So, being natural does not justify an attitude that it is acceptable or right livelihood for us to crowd out so many other beings. For that matter, we do try to crowd out our gut and stomach microbes that are essential to our health. We swallow medicines that indiscriminately kill both harmful and beneficial microbes instead of looking at the whole system as a balanced, living organ and working with it rather than poisoning it.
Before I continue digging a hole for myself, I must go back to the idea of justifying our behaviour. Morals and ethics are human concepts. When we preserve a human centred perspective, then it is logical that we promote human centred morals and ethics. However, over the last 500 years or so, our scientific evidence points out that we have essential dependencies, unavoidable dependencies. We don’t even know how our heart keeps on beating. We don’t cause it to beat. In fact, we might even start to question whether there is actually a ‘me’ in our body controlling everything. Peter Russell, an evolutionary futurist http://www.peterrussell.com/index2.php] wrote a paper that I once possessed which contained a fascinating thought experiment as follows: Suppose you placed your five senses in one room and the rest of your body in another room. Now where are YOU? Our body is composed of several highly developed organisms made up of highly specialised cells and millons of microscopic beings living both within these cells and swimming around outside them both inside our bodies and outside on our skin. Where is the controller located? Where is the me? I don’t know and even if I did know, we have not developed a language for me to explain it. Why, because we are caught in an inadequate worldview that doesn’t incorporate our 21st century spiritual and scientific experience. When HCCs advocate human priority over other species, do they consider that that priority shift might take the form of eliminating necessary beings that make up the cooperative venture we call ‘my body’? Furthermore, what’s with ‘my body’? What gives us ownership of these millions of beings and complex organisms? Enough said.
David johns closes with a brilliant quote from D.H.Lawrence:
“We are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the Earth and the sun and the stars, and love is a grinning mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the tree of life, and expected it to keep on blossoming in our civilized vase on the table.”
‘A Propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, in Phoenix II, ( London: Heinemann, 1968), 504. Johns continues:
“This is the great sacrifice we have made, and it need not be.”
We participate in the Universe as Earthlings
Space, Time & Medicine by Larry Dossey
Chapter Four Bell’s Theorem
“The mystic’s vision of a world in which man participates in a seamless existence, indivisible, united with the universe around him, resonates through a discovery called Bell’s theorem.”
Man, an Earth creature, is enveloped not in the universe, but in the loving and sustaining cloak of a great and powerful being called Earth. Our seamless and indivisible unification is with the Earth. Although we are a multifaceted organism composed of subsystems within subsytems – resonating parts within a whole- we are entirely dependent on the composition of Earth’s outer few thousand feet of sustenance. Earth is the next higher holon in a vast holarchy extending outward into the cosmos. We are inextricably bound in a vast community of beings – all earthlings. Our sense organs, along with other Earthlings, both physical and psychic, are fine tuned to Earthly structures from which we evolved.
I am weary of reading about my cosmic connection. Obviously, I’m part of the Universe; so is everything else. Yes, I am made of the material of stars that exploded long ago but knowing that does not comfort me as I choke in the smog and wretch from fracked up drinking water. I have no desire to check out my connectivity to other galaxies or even Mars for that matter. Interesting, yes, but knowing that an elephant is killed every fifteen minutes by ivory hunters severely limits my appreciation. Perhaps more emphasis needs to be placed on our Earthly connections.
29 March, 2014
The living Earth – Life is a Property of Planets
“No individual organism can exist in isolation…..According to the Gaia theory of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, the evolution of the first living organisms went hand in hand with the transformation of the planetary surface from an inorganic environment to a self-regulating biosphere. ‘In that sense,’ writes Harold Morowitz, ‘life is a property of planets rather than of individual organisms.’” Fritjof Capra, The Hidden Connections, 2002
Sky: I believe this statement of Morowitz is more in line with systems theory than the mainstream view of life ON the planet. My view is that there wouldn’t be “life” on the planet if the planet was not itself alive.
Harold J. Morowitz (born December 4, 1927, in Poughkeepsie, New York) is an American biophysicist who studies the application of thermodynamics to living systems. Author of numerous books and articles, his work includes technical monographs as well as essays. The origin of life has been his primary research interest for more than fifty years. He is currently the Robinson Professor of Biology and Natural Philosophy at George Mason University after a long career at Yale. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_J._Morowitz
The next time you become irritated by an event such as a tireless, relentless barking of a neighbour’s dog or a human behaviourism, consider remembering that there are 350 billion large galaxies in the observable Universe. What’s your problem? The Quantum Universe: Everything that can Happen does Happen, Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw
“The best estimate of the age of the universe as of 2013 is 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years but due to the expansion of space humans are observing objects that were originally much closer but are now considerably farther away (as defined in terms of cosmological proper distance, which is equal to the comoving distance at the present time) than a static 13.8 billion light-years distance.The diameter of the observable universe is estimated at about 28 billion parsecs (93 billion light-years), putting the edge of the observable universe at about 46–47 billion light-years away.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe
Humanity’s Second Spiritual Age
In this new post, Duane Elgin speaks eloquently and forcefully for the ideals of the living universe. For those who wish to read further, they might find his 2009 book, “The Living Universe” helpful.
Although I am aware and appreciate the high ideals and emphasis on love of neighbour within the major religions, I can’t ignore that the two largest major religions have manifested almost continuous warfare and contention. In a little over 300 years after the death of the Christ, King Constantine made the Christian God a God of war; even placing the sign of the cross on his war banners.
Only 10 years after the founding of Islam and the Hijera in 622, Muhammad’s successors began their campaign against neighbouring empires. By 732, they had threatened Europe as far north as Poitiers and were stopped by Charles Martel just south of Tours, France. Islam’s last thrust into Europe occurred at the second Siege of Vienna in 1683 which lasted over two months.
Love of others has always been and still is trumped by politics and economics. There are even state churches like the Anglican church and the church of Sweden. One of the goals of the English settlements in the New World was the separation of church and state and resulting religious freedom.
Although I honour the effort of all major religions, what I am saying is that the “the need to put compassion at the forefront” as Duane has stated has not brought peace on Earth.
Will knowledge that we are not separate from the living universe be enough to bring us to peaceful intents and the end of our raging ecocide? Will this knowledge really bring us to “communion with the living universe,” and an “experience of unity and intimacy within the universe”?
I find Duane’s writing inspiring, especially the paragraph quoted below and find myself wanting desperately to believe that it can happen, but I have grave and serious doubts. “When our aliveness consciously connects with the aliveness of the universe, a current of aliveness flows through us. At that moment — when life meets life — a direct connection between the living universe and ourselves is realized and we have an awakening experience. We no longer see ourselves in the universe, we experience that we are the universe.”
Our aliveness is and has always been connected and has always flowed through us. A current of aliveness is and always has flowed through us. My question is: Will just reading about this or being told this “cause” an awakening experience? Perhaps the trouble with me is that when I look out onto the Milky Way or think about star systems and galaxies, I don’t receive a “direct experience” of the aliveness of that part of me. I cannot develop a closeness with a group of stars or even Rigel, the brightest star in the constellation Orion and the sixth brightest star in the sky. It is too big, too distant, too remote for me to form a loving relationship with.
What I can and do feel and enjoy is that part of me that is the Earth, Gaia. So, for me, the love of the Earth is the direct experience that has been the awakening experience of my life.
The other day I received a url (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/duane-elgin/living-universe_b_862220.html?ref=email_share) to a posting by Duane Elgin. You may remember him from his wonderful book in the 1980s – Voluntary Simplicity.
I especially liked the posting because it highlights the idea that we live in a living universe. He gives four examples where science has discovered evidence of how it sustains itself which is obviously an attribute of living systems. Further, he cites several spiritual masters from the wisdom faiths who speak of a living universe.
My attitude is that the universe is just too big and the energy too potent for me to get my mind or soul around it. I prefer to look at Gaia, mother Earth, and feel that Gaia mediates the energy of the universe in ways that we can feel, touch and find sustaining both physically and psychically. So, yes indeed, the universe is alive, but the living earth is where we must start in order to access sustaining energy and well being.
Another very well written paragraph – clear and concise – is about materialism. I like the following: “Materialism is a rational response to living in a dead universe.” and “Consumerism and exploitation are natural outcomes of a dead universe perspective.”
Along with Duane, I suggest that materialism does not keep its promise. Having “things” usually result in boredom and then the desire for more things or replacement that are bigger, more powerful and red instead of the tired old blue ones. Then, in short time, these no longer satisfy. The church of consumerism with the god materialism leaves us with the same fate as Ozymandias or Ramesses the Great, the Egyptian Pharaoh. On the base of his statue is: “King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works.”
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Duane says it far better than I here:
“If we regard the universe as dead at its foundations, then feelings of existential alienation, anxiety, dread, and fear are understandable. Why seek communion with the cold indifference of lifeless matter and empty space? If we relax, we will simply sink into existential despair. However in a living universe feelings of subtle connection, curiosity, and gratitude are understandable. We see ourselves as participants in a cosmic garden of life that has been patiently developing over billions of years. A living universe perspective invites us to shift from indifference, fear, and cynicism to curiosity, love, and awe.”
Thank you Duane for this great posting.
So if Gaia is truly alive and we are in and around and integral parts, then who dies?