“I love you, but I love our ecocidal civilization more”

For decades, we have been in a global ecological overshoot.

If we continue, it can only end one way: A dramatic ecological collapse, and with it the collapse of our civilization. (We are in an escalating phase of that ecological collapse now.)

So why don’t more people take it seriously?

Why do so many, in effect, say to their children: “I love you, but I love our ecocidal and suicidal civilization more”?

THE CRUX OF THE SITUATION

The crux of this situation is not – as many think – greed, corporations, governments, lack of technology, or similar. These all exist within a system that’s out of alignment with ecological realities. People are just fulfilling their roles in this ecocidal and ultimately suicidal system.

The crux is the system itself and the worldview it comes out of.

We have a civilization out of alignment with ecological realities.

For instance, our economic system assumes unlimited natural resources and an unlimited ability of nature to absorb our waste and toxins. This system was developed at a time when we had few enough people and simple enough technology so we could make those assumptions. These days, with billions more people and far more advanced and effective technology, it’s ecocidal and suicidal.

What type of worldview does this come out of? We have a worldview that assumes separation. We don’t viscerally get that our own health and well-being is intimately related to the health and well-being of our larger social and ecological whole. We assume, as mentioned above, unlimited nature while we live as part of a limited planet.

Even more fundamentally, we have a civilization that reflects a power-over orientation. We seek power over ourselves (just look at the orientation in many self-help books), others, and nature. And one that assumes that divinity is a sky-god removed from us, nature, and the universe. By removing divinity from ourselves and nature, we open it all for abuse.

The alternative is a power-with orientation where we seek partnership and cooperation with ourselves, others, and nature. And seeing divinity in nature and the universe, which leads to relating to it all with more reverence, respect, and gratitude.

There are workable alternatives. It is fully possible to have an individual and collective worldview that treats ourselves, others, and nature with reverence. And it’s very possible to have a system where what’s easy and attractive to do, individually and collectively, is also what supports society, ecosystems, and the lives and well-being of other species and future generations of all species. It’s a matter of priorities and collective will.

WHY DON’T WE TAKE IT MORE SERIOUSLY?

So why do so many – through their words and actions – prioritize supporting this clearly suicidal civilization over the lives and well-being of their children and grandchildren? Why do they continue to vote for the same politicians? Why do they feed themselves and their children food grown with poison? Why do they clean their houses with toxins? Why do they use pesticides in their garden? Why do they have a sterile lawn instead of a natural garden that supports life? Why do they continue to live as if we are not in a massive ecological crisis?

As usual, there are many possible answers.

We live within this system so it’s difficult to break out of it and live very differently. Our system makes what’s easy and attractive to do also, often, damaging to our life-support systems.

Many have enough with their daily lives. We don’t feel we have the resources to deal with the bigger picture or long-term thinking.

It requires intention and effort to change our worldview, way of life, and who we vote for with our money and ballots. It’s easier to put it off.

The change required may go against our identity. We have built up an identity around a certain political orientation and way of life, changing it all requires us to go outside of that identity, and that seems difficult and scary.

We live in denial in different ways. We tell ourselves that…. nothing is happening, we have time, others will take care of it, we’ll find a technological solution. We distract ourselves (being busy, entertainment, scapegoating, going into harebrained conspiracy theories, and so on.)

Many misdiagnose the situation. As mentioned above, they think it’s about greed, human nature, corporations, governments, lack of technology, and similar things existing within the system. In reality, it’s about the system itself and the worldview it reflects. Some also seem to think our crisis is mostly about climate change while it’s far more fundamental than that. In theory, we can solve climate change, and we’ll still go into ecological collapse if we don’t solve the overshoot problem itself.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

I don’t know. We can just do our best and see how it unfolds.

Our current civilization will end, as they all do. In the best case, it will transform into a more ecologically sound civilization.

Very likely, we’ll have to live through a massive ecological collapse first. It seems difficult to avoid, considering how far we already are into it, and how most people distract themselves with literally anything else.

And that means a massive loss of different types of species, and – again in the best case – a massive reduction in the size of humanity.

So what do we do individually?

SOME THINGS WE CAN DO

Here is some of what I have done.

I have educated myself about the situation. Early on in life, I learned about overshoot and ecological footprints, studied systems views, and so on.

I aim to orient myself to reality. I try to take a sober and informed view of our situation while also knowing I cannot know for certain how it all will unfold.

I find joy and meaning in my connection with the larger whole, through the Universe Story, the Great Story, the Epic of Evolution, Deep Ecology, and the Practices to Reconnect.

I am working on transforming my worldview – intellectually and viscerally – in the same way, and also through different forms of inquiry.

I have made myself somewhat familiar with what happens when civilizations decline and end. What we see in the world today is partly typical for our civilization, and partly what we would expect when it’s in decline. (That includes people distracting themselves with conspiracy theories, or attaching to super-optimistic views of a coming golden age, lots of people waking up, and so on.)

I take small actions in my daily life. I eat organic, local, low on the food chain, and with the seasons as far as possible. For many years, I only bought (very cool and high-quality) second-hand clothes. When it’s possible, I buy food from local farmers. And so on. Doing this helps me feel that it’s possible to change and that I am contributing, in a small way, to the solution.

I have also been involved in other ways. For several years, my self-created job was to coordinate a relatively large group of people with a passion for sustainability. We used a consistent partnership-oriented and solution-focused approach. These days, I am the steward of 15 hectares in the Andes mountains and we work on a long-term regeneration project there to help the land back to a more diverse and vibrant state.

I remind myself of what I am grateful for. At times, I have done a daily all-inclusive gratitude practice. (Write and send a list to a partner that includes what it’s easy to find gratitude for and what’s challenging, this helps open the mind to find the genuine gifts in anything that’s happening in my life.) Other times, it happens more spontaneously in daily life.

I know that endings, change, and death is what opens space for something new. The early relatively uniform state of the universe gave way for particles and matter. The death of stars provided more complex molecules that formed themselves into this planet and us. The death of species opens space for other species. The death of previous civilizations created space for ours. The death of individuals creates room for new individuals. Another civilization may come after ours. Eventually, after humanity is gone, other species may develop their own civilization. And so on. I know this intellectually and am deepening into a visceral knowing of it.

I have sought out communities of like-minded people. I was involved with an amazing sustainability organization in Madison, Wisconsin. I was active in natural building and permaculture groups. I did a work trade at an organic CSA farm in Wisconsin.

I notice my more fundamental nature. I bring my more fundamental nature to the foreground of attention. I find myself as what the world – to me – happens within and as. I find myself as capacity for it all. That helps to release some entrenched identification with this human self, a sense of doer or observer, and so on. I sometimes use Headless experiments or the Big Mind process to explore this further. In the past, I did a lot of basic meditation (notice and allow what’s here in the field of experience) to invite my more fundamental nature to notice itself and rest in and as that noticing. This too is something my system is viscerally deepening into.

I have done a lot of inquiry on stressful beliefs and identifications (The Work of Byron Katie), and on my sense fields to soften the charge in identifications (Kiloby Inquiries).

I use heart-centered practices to help shift how I relate to whatever is here – thoughts, emotions, sensations, others, situations – and so on. Mostly ho’oponopono and tonglen.

I have done a lot of body-centered practices like taichi, chigong, yoga, and Breema. This helps shift how I relate to my body and myself and life and helps me find more nourishment and grounding.

I have also done a lot of practice to train a more stable attention. Mostly, bringing attention to the sensations in the nose from the breath.

I have done and am doing healing and trauma work to help shift how I relate to whatever is here in experience and invite healing for issues in themselves. I find Trauma and tension Release Exercises (neurogenic tremors and movements) very helpful. And these days, I mostly use Vortex Healing.

I am sure there is a lot more that doesn’t come to mind right now.

Adyashanti: You don’t have to be someone to have infinite worth

You don’t have to be someone to have infinite worth. To be bestows infinite worth upon you.

– Adyashanti

How can we find this?

The simplest may be to notice that any sense of worth comes from our ideas about it. We adopt these ideas from our culture and people around us, don’t question it too much, and we then feel that they are true. We perceive, think, feel, and live as if it’s true. Even if we cannot find worth outside of our ideas.

That’s a good start, and to the extent we examine this in detail, it can be transformative. We can examine any stressful thought we have about our own worth, see where it comes from, see what happens when we believe it, find the validity in the reversals, and find what’s genuinely more true for us.

We can also find what we are and explore how this looks from there. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as. Here, we see that our human self is not what we ultimately are in our own experience. This softens identification with it. We also find that, to us, anything has the same true nature as ourselves. This and more helps us recognize the infinite value in whatever is here, including who and what we are.

Heart-centered practices help us find genuine love for ourselves, others, and whatever we experience. And here, we may find that we viscerally experience the infinite worth of ourselves, others, and anything.

Body-centered practices tend to help us shift how we relate to our body and ourselves. We find a more intimate, gentle, kind, and loving way to relate to our body, ourselves, and our experiences. We find our infinite worth.

To the extent this is lived and visceral, it tends to color how we perceive others and life in general. We find our own infinite worth and the same in others and life as it is.

Lao Tzu: kindhearted as a grandmother

When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

How can we become kindhearted as a grandmother?

How can we become kindhearted as a grandmother to ourselves?

Many of us have internalized an unkind way of relating to ourselves. At least to certain parts of us, and in some situations. So how can we invite this to shift into a more kindhearted way of being with ourselves?

NOTICING WHAT WE ARE

As Lao Tzu suggests, one way is to notice what we are. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as. That’s a start.

Here, we may notice that the true nature of all our experiences is the same as our own true nature. It’s all stillness. It’s all what we can call consciousness. It’s all a flavor of the divine.

WAYS TO REPATTERN HOW WE RELATE TO OURSELVES

There are also other ways to repattern how we relate to ourselves and our experiences, and we can do this whether we notice what we are or not.

We can engage in an intentional dialog with these parts of us. We already do, and this dialog is not always so kind. So why not engage in a more conscious and kind dialog? A part of us surfaces – as fear, anger, sadness, discomfort, reactivity, or something else. We can ask it how it experiences the world. How it sees us and how we often relate to it. What advice it has for us. We may get to see that it comes from a desire to protect us, and that it comes from care and love. (Even if how it goes about it is a bit misguided, although also understandable and innocent.) When we see this, we can thank it for being here and for it’s love and care. We can find ways of dialoguing with these parts of us as a kind and wise parents would with a child. And this is a learning process, it’s ongoing.

We can use heart-centered practices as a kind of training wheel. We can use ho’oponopono towards ourselves or these parts of us, and also whatever in the world triggered these parts of us. We can also use tonglen, or Metta, or any other similar approach.

We can explore the painful beliefs in how we typically react to certain parts of us. What are these beliefs? What happens when our system holds them as true? How would it be if they had no charge? What is the validity in the reversals of these thoughts? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

We can explore our fears, identities, and compulsions around this, and how they show up in our sense fields. What sensations are connected with it? How is it to notice and allow these, and notice the space they happen within and as? What do I find when I explore the mental images and words connected with this? What is my first memory of feeling this, or having those images and words? What happens when I notice how these sensations and mental representations combine to create my experience? And so on. (Living Inquiries, a modern form of traditional Buddhist inquiry.)

We can allow our body to release tension around this, for instance through therapeutic tremoring. (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, neurogenic yoga.)

We can find a gentler way of being with ourselves through body-centered activities like yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema, and so on.

We can learn to say YES to the NO in us. We can learn to welcome the parts of us that sometimes desperately don’t want to us to have a certain experience. These parts of us want to protect us and come from care and love.

We can learn to be with the energy of what comes up in a more gentle, kind, and loving way. With patience. Respect. Gentle curiosity. Allowing it to be as it is and unfold and change as it wishes.

We can spend time in nature. Nature shows us a gentler way. An allowing.

TRAINING WHEELS

These approaches are all training wheels.

They can help us shift from an unkind way of being with ourselves, to a more kind way.

They help us find something that’s simple and natural.

They mimic how our mind naturally functions when it’s more healed and clear.

And they do so whether we notice what we are or not.

Spiritual practices mimic awakening

Many spiritual practices mimic awakening.

Some mimic noticing what we are, which helps us actually notice.

And some mimic living from noticing what we are.

NOTICING WHAT WE ARE THROUGH POINTERS

Pointers that help us notice what we are tend to mimic what we naturally notice when we notice what we are.

This may sound obvious, but there is more to it.

Some pointers help us notice some of the characteristics of what we are. We may notice that what we are does not have a boundary, it’s timeless, it’s what space and time happen within, it’s what our experiences happen within and as. Looking at each of these, one at a time, we get a sense of what we are. It becomes more familiar, easier to notice, and the center of gravity of what we take ourselves to be can shift more into this. The Big Mind process is an example of these types of pointers.

Some help us relate to the content of our experience a certain way, and through that notice what we are. We find that the content of our experience happens within and as what we are. Some Headless experiments do this, and some of them do the first one.

In awakening, we notice the characteristics of what we are, and that all our experiences happen within and as what we are. And these pointers help us notice this here and now. We find it for ourselves. We notice what’s already here, and notice that we notice.

NOTICING WHAT WE ARE THROUGH BASIC MEDITATION

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here.

Notice and see how it is to allow it. See if you can notice it’s already allowed – by space, mind, life.

See if you can notice that what’s here is already noticed and allowed.

This helps us find ourselves as capacity for our experience as it is, as that which our experience happens within and as.

It softens identification with the content of our experience. We get to see it all lives its own life. And this allows us to more easily find ourselves as what we are.

LIVING FROM NOTICING WHAT WE ARE

When we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, we notice that all our experiences happen within and as what we are. Another word for this is oneness.

There are two aspects to living from oneness. One is living from it here and now, to the best of our ability. And that includes inviting the parts of us still operating from separation consciousness to join in with the awakening.

When we notice what we are, several things tend to happen.

We find that the world, to us, is one. We are oneness.

Another word for oneness is pragmatic love. It’s a love not dependent on states or feelings, and it’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

We recognize thoughts as thoughts. They have a valuable pragmatic function in helping us orient and function in the world. And they cannot reflect any final or absolute truth.

PRACTICES THAT MIMIC LIVING AS ONENESS

Several practices mimic how it is to live from oneness, and they mimic the characteristics mentioned above.

Heart-centered practices help us shift how we relate to ourselves, others, situations, and existence in general. (Tonglen, ho’oponopno, metta, inner smile.)

Some forms of inquiry help us see through beliefs, identifications, and what creates and upholds separation consciousness patterns in us. (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries.)

Body-centered practices help us shift how we relate to our body and the sensation-component of beliefs and identifications, and through that life in general. (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema.)

Guidelines for living help us avoid distractions and notice what in us is not yet healed or aligned with oneness. (Precepts etc.)

Whether or not we notice what we are, these practices help transform our human self to be more intentionally and consciously aligned with oneness.

PRACTICES MIMICKING AWAKENING

The practices that mimc awakening seem to have a few things in common.

They tend to be more universal, simple, and essential. Variations of them are found in many spiritual traditions. They are not overly complicated. And they focus directly on the essentials of awakening and embodiment.

They also tend to be useful through the awakening process – whether it’s preparation, noticing what we are, living from this noticing, or supporting the unawake parts of us in joining with the awakening.

See below for a couple of drafts where I lost focus and they got overly intricate. I chose to include them to show the process, and since they have relevant pointers not included in the final version.

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Rewilding ourselves

Rewilding prioritizes untamed ecological processes, in which species may be reintroduced, but where human interference is kept to a minimum.

– Phoebe Hamilton-Jones in On the Literature of Rewilding… and the Need to Rewild Literature

How can we rewild ourselves?

Finding ourselves as capacity for the world

The best approach is to get out of the way.

We can do so through finding ourselves as capacity for the world – including this human self with its thoughts, emotions, choices, actions, and so on.

Here, we notice that this human self lives its own life, as does everything else. The whole world, including this human self, lives its own life. Life lives itself.

Releasing beliefs and emotional issues

We can also get out of the way in another sense, which is by gradually freeing our human self from the impact of beliefs, identifications, and separation consciousness. These are the product of culture and history, and they limit our perception, choices, and life in the world.

Even if we notice what we are, parts of our human self still operate from separation consciousness, so we can investigate the beliefs behind this and find what’s more true for us, we can invite healing for our emotional issues, and we can shift our relationship to these bubbles of separation consciousness through dialoguing with them and heart-centered practices.

Finding ourselves as nature

There is another aspect to rewilding ourselves, which is to find ourselves as nature. We are part of the seamless whole of this living planet, and part of the seamless whole of the universe. We are a product of the evolution of the universe as a whole and the Earth. As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe locally bringing itself into consciousness.

We can deepen into this, and into our connection with past and future generations, through the Practices to Reconnect. And we can also deepen into our connection with this human body through body-centered practices like yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema, TRE, dance and a myriad of other approaches.

Trusting the process

It takes time to rewild ourselves. Our whole life, we have been civilizing ourselves. We have taken on the beliefs and identifications of our culture and civilization. We may even believe that this is necessary for us to not descend into savagery.

As we notice what we are, and become more familiar with it and living from it, we get to see that it’s OK. We may notice that our human self and the world as a whole lives its own life, but it always did. And it’s going as well as when we thought an imagined separate I was in charge. It may even go a bit better with a bit more flow.

As we question our beliefs and identities and find what’s more true for us, we learn to trust this process as well. We get to see it is safe. What we find that’s more true is a gentle and kind truth, even if it can be sobering as well. And living from it is also more kind.

As we find ourselves as nature, we see that this too is safe. We find a deeper belonging with all of existence. We connect more deeply with this human body of flesh and blood. We find the softness and home in it, even if it’s a temporary home.

Shifting our relationship with ourselves

What does it mean to shift our relationship with ourselves?

At first, it can seem it has to do with shifting our relationship with ourselves as a whole and the different parts and subpersonalities in us. But it goes beyond that. It includes all our experiences, as they are, and that includes the whole world.

Ways to shift our relationship with ourselves / our experience / existence

How do we shift our relationship with our experience, as it is?

At the risk of repeating myself to a ridiculous degree, for me, the most effective approaches have been…

Curiosity and sincerity in the exploration. Our orientation to the exploration is essential and includes honesty with ourselves.

Inquiry into beliefs and identifications (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries). Beliefs and identifications are innocent and natural, and they also split our world and split what’s inherently whole.

Imagined dialog with subpersonalities, experiences, and so on.

Working with projections, using the world as a mirror. For me, inquiry is one of the most effective ways to work on projections.

Body-centered approaches (tai chi, chigong, yoga, etc.). This helps me get a visceral experience of the wholeness of who I am as a human being, including body and psyche.

Heart-centered approaches (tonglen, ho’o). This helps me befriend myself, the different parts of me, others, and the world as it is.

Inquiry to notice what I am (Headless experiments, Big Mind process). Here, my relationship to all my experiences naturally shifts. I notice all my experiences happen within and as what I am.

Basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here. This too helps soften identification with the content of experience (really, the viewpoint of thoughts saying I am this or that, or the world is this or that), and it makes it easier to find myself as what my experiences happen within and as.

When we notice what we are, there are also some variations of this. For instance, when an experience comes up and I notice my personality reacts to it and wants it to go away, I can ask… Is this too the divine/ What is the true nature of this experience? Is its true nature the same as what I find for myself? I can also ask it, what is your true nature?