Systems change from an ecocidal civilization to a more life-centered civilization

When I see dynamics that hold our current ecocidal system in place, I see expressions of universal systems dynamics.

SYSTEMS SEEK DYNAMIC EQUILIBRIUM

Systems seek dynamic equilibrium, and they have dynamics in place to try to maintain that equilibrium. It will resist anything that’s destabilizing. That’s natural and healthy. That’s how any system exists and that’s how we are here.

SPECIFIC EXPRESSIONS OF THESE UNIVERSAL DYNAMICS

In our ecocidal system, we see many expressions of this. Some ridicule those who question the sanity of our current system. Some want to continue with business as usual because it’s comfortable or it serves their short-term interests. Some deny that we are in an ecological crisis. Some think it’s hopeless. Some misdiagnose the problem and blame corporations or the government. Laws and courts sometimes protect those who destroy ecosystems and punish those who seek to protect them.

These are all expressions of our current ecocidal system, and they are expressions of dynamics seeking to maintain the equilibrium of this system.

It’s not personal. It’s not really about the individual. It’s all expressions of systems dynamics, often expressed through the attitudes and behaviors of groups and individuals.

SYSTEMS CHANGE

So how does this system change? How does it shift into another state, hopefully, one that’s more life-centered?

It shifts the way any system shifts. It shifts due to a build-up of dynamics pushing it out of equilibrium and into another state.

It shifts because too many things induce it to shift, overcoming the dynamics seeking to keep it in equilibrium.

A SHIFT OUT OF OUR ECOCIDAL SYSTEM AND INTO SOMETHING ELSE

In our case, it will shift because the dire situation we are in will become obvious to more and more people, the necessity to shift into a more life-centered civilization becomes obvious to enough people, and enough people are taking action to make those changes.

The other option is a collapse of our current civilization. A small portion of humans may survive and create another culture. Or humans may collapse with the system. Either way, our global ecological system will continue and find another equilibrium that deals with the changes our civilization has caused.

Note: These are the things I was passionate about in my teens and early twenties, in the ’80s and ’90s. I haven’t really kept myself up to date with systems views since then, but I assume the essence of this still applies. For the last 10-15 years, I have been unable to read much or take in much information due to my health.

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What’s insane? Destroying our life-support system or protesting against the destruction?

I am watching the recent episode of True Detective. At some point, Jodi Foster’s character says that her daughter’s protest against the mine is “insane”. (Then retracts it.)

It’s clear what’s insane in that situation. Destroying our life-support system is insane.

It’s an insanity facilitated by a system that does not take ecological realities into account. A system where what’s easy and attractive to do is also often destructive for our ecosystems and our own life.1

What’s sane is to (a) do anything we can to stop it. What’s even more sane is to (b) shift into a more ecological and life-centered worldview and (c) to live and promote pragmatic life-centered and life-supporting alternatives. All three are needed to change our civilization into a more life-centered one.

Why do so many get it topsy-turvy? Why do they think that protesting is insane while business as usual is sane? Probably because business is usual is what we are used to.2 It’s normal so we think it’s sane. In this view, protesting is not normal so it’s not considered sane. It’s ridiculed. Pushed back against by our legal system. Marginalized. That’s how the current system tries to stay alive.

(1) This system is inherently insane. It’s also understandable how it came about. It was created at a time when our population was small enough and our technology simple enough so we could, for most practical purposes, assume that nature is infinite.

(2) There are also many incentives to maintain business as usual. It’s profitable to some. It may seem more comfortable than change. It’s predictable even if it’s destructive.

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Valuing old age

Yes, that’s true. Our civilization generally values doing and not being. It values production of any kind.

There are a lot of wrinkles here.

IT’S CULTURAL

These views are cultural and not inevitable.

It’s easy to imagine cultures that value old age. Most non-Western cultures do just that.

WESTERN CULTURE VS OTHER CULTURES

Why does our Western culture value youth while most other cultures value old age?

It may be because our society is in rapid change. “Old” knowledge and experience becomes outdated and less valuable. Young people have better quality knowledge than that of old people because it’s more current, relevant, and useful.

Other societies are more stable and highly value old knowledge and wisdom because it’s still relevant. What people learn over a lifetime is still useful and relevant. Old people have better quality knowledge than young ones.

Why is our society in rapid change? Likely partly because we value doing and innovation. (It’s also driven by consumerism. We need innovation to have an excuse to sell and buy new things.)

TIMELESS WISDOM

Even in our rapidly changing society, the wisdom that comes with age is valuable. It’s a timeless wisdom that has to do with being human, and that’s always valuable.

In our society, it’s not always appreciated. Perhaps partly because our focus is more on technology, and partly because we value innovation and new ideas even when it comes to understanding ourselves.

Of course, these “new ideas” are often timeless wisdom packaged in a new way.

QUESTIONING AGE-RELATED IDEAS

We can question any age-related ideas we have absorbed from society. What ideas do I have? Is it true?

Is it true that youth is better? Is it true that old age is useless? What happens when I hold those ideas as true? Can I find genuine examples of how the reverse is as or more true for me? How is it to live from the reversals that are more true for me?

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Water in Barichara

Barichara has wet and dry seasons. The dry season is usually December-April, with two or three good rains within that period. Some years, it rains a lot through the year. In other years, the dry seasons last longer.

We are in the dry season and just had a very welcome early morning rain here. I measured it, and it was around 5cm. I imagine many beings are very happy for it – people, animals, birds, insects, and plants.

The roof of our small house is about 100m2. 1mm of rain on one square meter gives 1 liter of water. 1mm of rain on this roof is 100 liters. This rain gave 5,000 liters of water from the roof. That’s quite a lot.

There is no lack of water here, and it is important to manage it well.

FINCA MILAGROS

We collect water from town in one large and one smaller tank. That means we have water for a while even if the water from town doesn’t flow.

We will install a several-step water filtration system (from sand filter through eventually UV light) for clean drinking water. The alternative is water from large plastic bottles, which is terrible due to all the microplastic particles in the water (200,000 in small plastic water bottles from a recent study).

We will soon start collecting rainwater from the roofs here. I am not sure how big the tanks will be, and we may expand. For now, we are thinking of 2×15,000 liters for the larger house that’s being built (220m2 roof surface) and one 15,000-liter tank for our small house. These tanks will be filled up quickly with some good rains, and we will use the water to water plants. (Perhaps also for showering etc., not sure yet.)

Finca Milagros has one large pond and 3-4 smaller ones. We want to channel rainwater better into these ponds, and make them deeper, so they can hold more water. This is important for the birds, animals, and insects relying on that water, it helps the vegetation and life in the areas around the ponds, and it also helps to replenish the groundwater.

The land here has been grazed so only the area around the big pond has a more mature forest. The rest is various degrees of young forest and arid land. Vegetation helps slow down the flow of water and helps the water absorb into the ground, so that’s one of many reasons we are planning to reforest the area with native trees and bushes.

Bare soil is eroded when it rains. That’s why we are planting cactus and succulents there, mostly native. We are also planting hardy native trees there, mostly boca ratón right now. And we are doing some simple landscaping, mostly with rocks, to reduce erosion.

There is a dry river going through Milagros. It’s dry because of deforestation. Forests bring water into the ground (slows the water flow and makes the ground more porous) and reduce evaporation, both of which give water to the river. With reforestation, there is a chance we can bring the water back into the river, especially if we are also able to help reforest the land higher up.

BARICHARA

As far as I know, there are no groundwater regulations here. That’s enormously important. We need to prevent too much use and contamination of groundwater. (Many houses here use septic fields that leach blackwater into the groundwater.) Depleting the groundwater reserves has a huge impact on the ecosystem. Both depleting and contaminating it has serious and devastating consequences for the very long term. Protecting the groundwater is hugely important.

The water that comes from the municipality (aqueduct) is contaminated. That’s another important thing to work on since not everyone can afford good purification systems or to buy drinking water separately. It’s a vital public health issue.

Reforestation is also hugely important. Forests hold humidity and create rain. The other side of Cañon del Chicamocha has more forests and there are always clouds there. I assume they also receive more rain. They (partially) create rain for themselves.

The photo is of the other side of Cañon del Chicamocha at sunset

agua, barichara, santander, agua subterránea, protección del agua

AI-assisted social media groups

Facebook is rolling out AI assistance for groups.

The admin of one of the groups I am in (for the healing modality VH) asked if we should use it. Most seemed to get caught up in the “answering questions” side of it, and it was rejected by a clear majority.

That’s fine. We can choose what we want for whatever reason we want or for no reason at all.

And yet, the reasons people gave didn’t make so much sense to me.

HOW WOULD IT WORK?

The first question we have to ask ourselves is: How would it work?

I don’t know but I have some (educated) guesses.

AI answers would be marked “AI answer” or similar.

The moderator(s) will have to approve any AI answer before it’s published.

The AI response would be based on the top past answers to similar questions. It would offer the essence of the most valued answers from within the same group. (This is similar to how some news sites, for instance the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK, use AI to summarize articles.)

This is all likely since it’s in Meta’s interest. They want to offer a service that makes sense to people and that would be reliable and useful.

THE QUALITY OF THE ANSWERS

Some were concerned about the quality of the AI answers. I understand that concern, and I don’t see it as a reason to reject it. Why not try first? If Meta wasn’t confident the AI could give good answers, they wouldn’t roll it out.

As mentioned above, the AI response would likely be a summary of the top answers to similar past questions.

The moderator(s) will approve the answer before it’s published.

It would be one of many voices and we, the group members, would add to it as we normally do.

One said that we would need to know that the AI answers would be “factual and accurate”. If that was the criterion, we would have to exclude humans from commenting in the group. What we humans say is often not all that “factual and accurate”. The group discussion on this very topic is an example since some of it didn’t seem grounded in reality.

PRIVACY CONCERNS

Some had privacy concerns. I understand those concerns, although it seems based on the assumption that there is privacy in the first place.

To me, it makes sense to assume that nothing on social media is private, including in groups.

AI would be the least of my concerns here. Most of the time, AI is a “black box” and we are not able to access the content of the neural network apart from through the usual interfaces. It’s not a database where you can go behind the scenes and look up info.

REJECTING WITHOUT KNOWING MUCH ABOUT IT

As so often, I see people rejecting a possibility without taking time to understand it.

In the discussion, not a single person asked how it would work. They didn’t seem interested in learning more before making a decision.

Many dermed to reject it based on assumptions picked up from movies and media hype. In reality, the workings of AI are pretty boring. It’s based on statistics and it’s not “intelligent”. We decide how and when to use it. As with any tool, it has strengths and limitations, and it’s useful in some situations and for some purposes.

A MISSED EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY

Would I want AI assistance in this social media group?

The main reason to not adopt it is that it’s not really necessary. Members answer questions, often by referring to past discussions.

There are also some reasons to try it out.

It wouldn’t hurt. If it doesn’t work, we can just disable it.

It could be fun and spark interesting conversations.

It could make the job of the moderators and group members easier. Many questions are repeated, and the AI could provide the essence of the most valued answers from the past.

As group members, we would comment on, evaluate, elaborate on, and add to the AI answers.

In general, it would be educational, and highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of AI.

To me, that’s a missed opportunity. And that’s fine since the group is not about AI. We can learn about that outside of this one group.

Note: There is a personal side to this for me. I often feel that when I share something I see as relatively informed and grounded, it’s overlooked. That happens in life as well as in these kinds of groups. It’s been a pattern for me my whole life, including in my birth family.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Imagined futures & an alternate timeline where a collective of popes guide us into a more ecologically sound civilization

I cannot help imagining different futures and alternate realities, including the ones I would like to see.

When it comes to desired changes in society, imagination goes before transformation, so these imaginations can be hugely helpful and important.

I imagine something that will almost certainly not happen as I imagine it, and yet, these imaginations serve a purpose. They highlight what’s lacking in our current institutions. They offer an alternative. And that imagination may guide us. It may be a seed to something different.

For whatever reason, I imagine what a future institution of the pope would look like. What if ecological overshoot brings about a radical transformation of civilization? What if we realize that all our structures and institutions need to radically transform? What if we realize that most religions need to radically transform to take ecological realities into account? What if we want religions to be among what guides us into a more ecologically informed civilization? What then? How may it look? How would I like it to look?

What if an alternate reality of the institution of the pope looks radically different? What if it’s free from any particular religion? What if it is far more inclusive? What if its purpose is to guide civilization in a more ecologically sound direction? What if it’s earth-centered, life-centered, and future-centered? What if all life is considered sacred? What if it’s a collective of people from around the world? What if each is there for only a limited time?

Here is one vision.

I notice a part of me thinking that this is silly. It certainly won’t happen this way. It’s naive. It’s not grounded in reality. And yet, this is how social change happens. It happens through imagining possible futures and alternative timelines. It happens through imaginations most see as naive and unrealistic.

It happens not only through the imagination of writers, poets, artists, or philosophers. It happens through the imagination of people like you and me.

Images by me and Midjourney.

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Harmful effects of vaccines

I saw an article on NRK – the publicly owned news source in Norway – about people organizing to bring attention to how the corona vaccine harmed their health.

That’s understandable. And it’s a complex situation.

We know that vaccines – like any medicine – can harm our health. Even the most apparently innocent medicine, like painkillers, can seriously harm our health. In a few out of a large number of cases, it does. That’s well known. The authorities and doctors need to make this clear since it seems that some are surprised by this. (I also understand they don’t want to unduly worry people or induce them to make decisions based on what happens to only a very few people.)

I assume that often, the harmful effects of the vaccine come from the body’s reaction to it. If so, that’s a parallel to what happens when our body reacts to the virus itself leading to the post-viral syndrome/CFS form of long-covid. It seems that the body can respond to either vaccines or the actual virus in a way that harms our health. (For me, an interesting question is whether these two groups are the same people. If someone’s body responds strongly to the vaccine, would their body have responded equally strongly to the actual virus? I imagine it’s difficult to figure this out.)

As many will point out, correlation is not causation. Some of the ones who think their health was damaged by the vaccine make a wrong connection. What happened with them would have happened anyway, vaccine or no vaccine. It had a different cause. We don’t know how many this applies to.

So yes, it’s important to take this group seriously. They have health issues, these need to be addressed, and it’s important to sort out what’s going on with them. (Likely a diversity of causes.) It’s also important that people understand that any medicine can cause serious health issues in rare cases, and that includes vaccines as much as any other medicine.

I imagine anti-vaccine folks and conspiracy theorists will jump on this. And, in reality, they have little to no reason to. In rare cases, any kind of medicine causes serious health problems. That’s well known. There is also the usual correlation-versus-causality discussion which is valid and important to take seriously. (It’s equally important to not use it to dismiss valid concerns.)

Image by me and Midjourney

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What they thought they knew was a lot, what they actually knew was very little

From our perspective, what they actually knew and was factually accurate was very little. But what they thought they knew, or what they believed based on earlier generations of scholarship, there was actually a surprisingly large amount of that. […] They had a good amount of knowledge about Egypt, but the knowledge they had is not knowledge we necessarily would acknowledge as still being valid. 

– William Clark from Grey History, at 32-33 minutes into Bonus: Napoleon in Egypt, The History of Egypt Podcast

I listened to a podcast where one of the hosts said this about what late 1700s/early 1800s European scholars knew about ancient Egypt.

If humanity and our civilization are still around in two hundred years, they will likely say the same about us: What they thought they knew was a lot, what they actually knew was very little.

PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

Of course, having this bigger perspective is part of science. My teachers in middle and high school had an academic background and would mention it now and then. I read about it in the books of Fritjof Capra and others in my mid-teens. It was the first I learned at University. (The first semester at the University of Oslo focused on the history, philosophy, and methods of science.)

So it is slightly amusing and baffling when scholars and professionals don’t seem to have this perspective. They seem to assume that the same doesn’t apply to us from the perspective of the future.

This also came up for me when I studied psychology. A lot was presented as “this is how it is” when it was based on flimsy research and could be interpreted in many other ways, and in general was part of a field of study that’s still in its infancy and is only barely and tangentially a “hard science” no matter how hard they try to be a hard science. I assume many did have this perspective, and would talk about it in that context if asked, but put it aside partly for convenience.

WE DO THE SAME IN OUR OWN LIFE

I assume most of us do this in our own life as well.

I sometimes pretend to myself (and others) that I know a lot, while in reality, I know very little.

This not just what I think I know about the world. It includes anything I think I know about life, myself, and others. The most basic assumptions I have about myself and life. (I am a human, an object in the world, a doer, an observer.) Whatever painful stories that I – somewhere – hold as true. (She should understand me. I am not good enough. Life is not kind.) 

HOLDING IT ALL MORE LIGHTLY

For me, this is freeing. It helps me see our civilization in a bigger perspective, and it helps me see my own worldview and ideas about life, others, and myself in a bigger perspective.

I can use ideas and pointers as guides for orienting and functioning in the world, and I can see it all in the bigger picture and hold it more lightly.

There is information and experience that would turn how I see and understand anything upside-down and inside-out. There are whole worldviews that would make as much or more sense to me than the one(s) I have now.

POINTING TO MY NATURE

Thoughts do not provide any solid ground to stand on. So what can I do?

This is something that points to my first-person nature.

I find that my only metaphorical refuge is to notice my more fundamental nature, and to rest in and as that noticing. And really, what’s happening is that my nature notice itself – to the extent that’s possible – and rest in and as that noticing.

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT WE COLLECTIVELY ARE MISSING?

What do we miss in our current Western civilization and worldview?

Of course, I don’t know since I am part of and embedded in this time and civilization.

But I can make some guesses, based on my own biases and filters.

We don’t make much use of an understanding of holarchies, systems theories, and integral models and perspectives. They are out there but not adopted by most scholars, researchers, or people in general. In an imagined future, I see us collectively making use of these and updated versions and understandings in this same family of modes and thoughts.

Awakening and our more fundamental first-person nature are not part of our Western mindset or academic study to any significant extent. There is some research into it and some discussion about it, but it’s all on the margins. To ourselves, we are consciousness, and the world to us happens within and as that consciousness. That has profound implications which our Western civilization has only barely begun to explore. In an imagined future civilization, this is far more central to psychology, philosophy, and many other fields of study, and far more part of our worldview and daily life.

Western medicine doesn’t understand much of how other approaches to health and healing work. As a whole, it’s not interested and the few who are exist on the margins. There is very little understanding of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic and similar approaches to medicine. There is very little understanding of energy work and energetic approaches to healing. There is very little understanding of shamanic approaches to healing. And so on. This is a huge gap in the current worldview of Western medicine. In an imagined future, there is a much larger integral perspective that includes and holds it all, and explores and tries to understand it all from many different perspectives and worldviews.

As I often write about, we are in a global ecological overshoot. We use the metaphorical savings account of Earth, which looks OK until we reach the bottom of it and our lifestyle and everything else – our planetary ecosystem and our civilization – comes crashing down. Very few take this seriously, including scholars and researchers who should know better. Even the ones talking about climate change are missing this bigger and far more important picture which is global ecological overshoot. In an imagined future civilization, they understand and take this seriously. It’s part of the fundamentals of their worldview and how they organize themselves collectively and individually. Their social systems function within ecological realities, and not on a fantasy as in our current civilization.

Similarly, we live within an ecocidal civilization. We have set up our systems so that what’s easy and attractive to do is also destructive to our health, the health of our ecosystems, and the health and even the existence of future generations. This is largely not understood, and most people only grasp small pieces of it. In an imagined future civilization, what’s easy and attractive to do – individually and collectively – is also what supports life and the health and well-being of ourselves, the ecosystems, and future generations. (Of course, they will get a lot wrong but the intention is there and the willingness to learn and make changes.)

We see ourselves as separate entities. That’s not wrong but we are missing out on a bigger and far more meaningful, nurturing, and guiding perspective. In an imagined future civilization, we know in our bones that we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness. (Quotes from Carl Sagan in Cosmos.) Looking back, our current civilization looks poor, lost, and profoundly misguided in its small and fragmented view.

We see ourselves as alone in the universe, largely because we don’t have solid evidence for anything else. That’s OK and understandable. But there is an imagined future where we have made contact and we know we are part of a cosmic society. (There are many ways a contact can be made, from distant astronomical observations to direct contact. And who knows if any actual communication or exchange will be possible, at least at first.)

Note: This is one of the many articles I normally end up not posting. Something about it doesn’t feel quite right. It doesn’t feel as personal or juicy as I would like. It was written when my brain fog was stronger than usual. The content seems a little too obvious, with no surprise twist or layers. I thought I would post it anyway.

Image is by me and Midjourney

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I love Western medicine

I love Western medicine. It has certainly saved my life. I wouldn’t be here without it.

I love the germ theory and sanitation. It has improved the lives of millions, including me.

I love antibiotics. (And phage therapy even if I have not tried it.)

I love the diagnostic methods.

I love epidemiology and what we learn from epidemiology.

I love that the learnings from epidemiology were put to good use during the recent pandemic.

I love the doctors and nurses who have helped me through the years.

I love the limits it has. It has limits like anything else.

Why am I saying this? I went to the hospital last night after a cat bite and received wound cleaning and antibiotics and am profoundly grateful for it. I know from experience how terrible an infection a cat bite can cause. Twice this morning, I heard someone saying they hate something related to Western medicine. One said he hates antibiotics. The other, that he hates hospitals and doctors.

I love it. I love what it has done for the world, especially in terms of sanitation and the prevention of illnesses. I love that it saved my life. (Although if I had died, that would have been OK too.)

In daily life, I don’t make active use of Western medicine. (Apart from benefiting hugely from the germ theory and sanitation.) I don’t take any medicines. Instead, I much prefer herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, energy healing, using food as medicine, bodymind practices, and so on. And when I need it, when there is a health crisis, I love Western medicine and make use of it. I love that it’s here, even if it’s imperfect. (Just like anything is imperfect.)

Western medicine has a lot to learn. It operates from a very limited worldview. It doesn’t understand much of how other approaches work. It’s very young and in its infancy. As anything else, it’s caught up in our current economic system and there are a lot of terrible things in how it works and how the pharmaceutical industry works. That reflects our current economic system and not medicine itself.

And yet, I love it. It has done so much for us, and it has a lot of potential.

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At the start of every disaster movie is a scientist being ignored

At the start of every disaster movie is a scientist being ignored.

– Paraphrased tweet by Neil deGrasse-Tyson

Yes, that’s true for many movies.

It’s also true for us collectively in real life right now.

When it comes to climate change, scientists are being ignored in two different ways. One is that some deny the findings and think they know better. The other is that we accept it but collectively don’t make the required changes.

Similarly, scientists talk about global ecological overshoot. That’s a bigger picture that includes climate change and is far more serious and important. We support our civilization by using the metaphorical savings of Earth, which looks fine for a while until we hit the bottom of the savings account and all – ecosystems and our civilization – come crashing down. This too is being ignored by most people.

This has been one of my main concerns and focus – and sometimes work – since my teens in the ’80s. For a while, I thought society and humanity would be smart enough to take it seriously before we were in the middle of the crisis. Now, I am not so sure. And really, I cannot know. I cannot know how it all will unfold. All I can do is to be a small part of the solution and act in my own life in the ways I can – voting for parties taking this seriously (in my case, the Green Party in Norway), protecting and helping to regenerate the land we have here in the Andes (and also collect water, use solar energy and create a food forest), talking with people about it if they are interested and receptive, eat mostly local and organic, and so on.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Rural challenges

We all live within an ecocidal civilization, and we all notice and are marked by it in different ways.

SNAKES IN PARADISE

In my case, I have a regeneration project in the Andes mountains. We built our tiny house here. We will plant nearly a thousand native trees in the next few weeks. We wish to make this land into even more of a paradise than it is. We live in a peaceful and magical neighborhood with just a few small farmers and people like us with regeneration and rewilding projects.

There are snakes in paradise, as so often. In this case, the main snake is a huge hotel project being built right across from where we are, in full sight of our house, and where we had more buildings imagined. They are planning an open party and event building right there, which will likely produce a lot of noise. They are also planning the hotel with three-digit rooms, swimming pools, a replica of a traditional town, and a shopping center with chain stores.

To me, this is all madness in this neighborhood. It will create a lot of noise. It will increase the traffic here, on a tiny road where two cars already have trouble meeting. It will take business from innumerable small family-owned businesses. They will deplete the groundwater which will impact all of us in the neighborhood and the ecosystem here. (The trees and vegetation are dependent on a good groundwater level.) Almost nobody wants them here. And the project was approved through what people say was a not-so-transparent process.

These kinds of destructive projects are symptoms of our ecocidal civilization. None of us can escape it. (Unless we are apparently very lucky or have enough money to buy our own island, and even then we are impacted.)

HOW AM I DEALING WITH IT?

How am I dealing with it?

It’s not just one way.

We are in conversation with lawyers, community organizers, and the new mayor.

We are looking at our own personal options and a range of options. (Including at our land.)

I know that this, to me, is all happening within and as the consciousness I am. The consciousness I am is forming itself into it. I am doing ho’oponopono for the hotel project and the ones behind it, and also the distressed parts of myself. (Of course, that it’s happening within the consciousness I am doesn’t mean it isn’t also happening in an outer world in a conventional sense. I have to assume that’s the case. And I am open to the possibility that it’s all happening within and as the divine. No matter what, it’s lila. It’s the play of the consciousness I am. It’s the play of life and the evolution of this living planet and the universe. It’s the play within the divine forming itself into all of this, whether we call the universe the divine or assume all of existence is divine consciousness.)

I am also using tonglen with the people behind the hotel project.

We are using a lot using different Vortex Healing tools and approaches to move the situation in a direction better for the neighborhood and nature here.

I am working on the issues in me that reflect and mirror these kinds of situations. Since the dark part of the dark night started 10-15 years ago, projects and my life in general have repeatedly fallen apart in amazing ways. Something happens that’s a dream for me, it’s starting, and then it falls apart. That has happened over and over in many areas of life. (I lost my health. I lost my dream job. I lost my house and all my belongings. I lost the opportunity to do an amazing PhD in exactly the area I wanted. I lost an amazing relationship that looked perfect. I lost the opportunity to become a US citizen and even lost my residency due to a weird combination of a vital project I needed to finish in Norway, the pandemic, and because Norway was one of the last countries in the world to allow dual citizenship. If I buy something I really like, it often gets destroyed almost immediately. (For reasons outside of my control.) And so on and so on. It seems endless. What parts in me have a charge around this drama and loss? How is it to invite in healing or those parts of me?

How do I see these people? The people behind the destructive project? Can I find it in myself? Can I take the stories I have about them, turn it to myself, and find specific and genuine examples for how it’s true? Can I relate to it with kindness and understanding in myself? Can I find peace with it in myself? Can I relate to it more intentionally in myself?

LILA & MORE

As mentioned above, I see this as lila. The play of the consciousness I am. The play of this evolving living planet and universe. The play of the divine, in whatever way we understand that. (As the universe, as a consciousness that forms itself into all there is.) It’s an opportunity to deepen into that recognition.

It’s also an opportunity to ground even more in my nature as consciousness and all of this happening within and as what I am, and temporarily forming itself into all of this.

It’s an opportunity to find genuine love for the parts of me coming up (reactivity, sadness, grief, anger) that want to protect me and are forms of love.

It’s an opportunity to take action in my personal life and the community.

It’s an opportunity to invite in healing for issues in me mirrored in what’s happening. (Anything in me that has a charge around and connects with loss and drama.)

It’s an opportunity to find in myself what I see in them and relate to it with more kindness and more intentionally.

EVERYTHING IS INVOLVED

Everything is involved in this situation – our ecocidal civilization, the worldview behind it of separation and power-over orientation, politics, corruption, sustainability, community, emotional issues, taking action, prayer, divine support, and it’s even a small part in how our civilization and how humanity unfolds.

The question is: How do I deal with it? How do I wish to deal with it?

UPDATE A FEW DAYS LATER

We have received amazing support from the Vortex Healing community in working with the land and situation here energetically. I am very grateful and curious to see how it unfolds. Amma has also been involved in an amazing way.

Making regeneration valuable

Regeneration and rewilding is obviously immensely valuable to the beings making their home in that location, for the local and regional ecosystems, for our living planet, for our climate, and for future generations.

So how can we also make it valuable to locals and the people owning the land? How can we make it more valuable for the owners and the locals to keep the forest rather than cutting it down?

One answer is food forests and silvopasture. We set it up so it produces enough food to give a good income. Another answer is ecotourism. Many tourists and visitors are interested in seeing these projects, especially if they are diverse and include different types of ecosystems. Yet another is to have a nursery within the forest to sell trees and food plants to neighbors and others.

We set it up so the interests are aligned between the owners and the locals, and the many beings living there, ecosystems, and future generations. So that what’s easy and attractive to do is also good for life as a whole.

It’s not only very possible, it’s happening around the world. The next step is to do this with our economic system and civilization as a whole. That’s also possible if we can find the collective will.

Image by me and Midjourney, a food forest in Cañon del Chicamocha.

The princes in the tower: Buying into Tudor views on Richard III and what it says about us

I have been following Philippa Langley’s work for about a decade now, after initially hearing about her fascinating story of how she found Richard III in a car park in Leicester. Yesterday, I listened to a Gone Medieval podcast episode where she talks about her research into what happened with the princes in the tower.

For centuries, historians and the public at large have largely bought into Tudor propaganda about Richard III, including that he had the princes in the tower killed because they were rivals to his throne. While all the time, there was an absence of contemporary documents suggesting they died at that time, and other documents strongly suggesting that the princes lived for years later.

WHY IS THIS INTERESTING?

Why am I interested in this?

It’s not because I am particularly interested in Richard III, although I am generally interested in history.

It’s because it says something about us – individually and collectively.

BUYING INTO PROPAGANDA RATHER THAN LOOKING AT REALITY

In this case, we have the Tudor family that violently took over the throne of England. They were concerned about their perceived legitimacy, so they wanted to bolster their image by depicting Richard III – the king they disposed of – as a shady character. They received support in this project from many who saw the benefit of being on their good side, including Shakespeare.

Historians apparently largely bought into this propaganda, including the story of Richard III having the princess in the tower killed. They were happy to base it on works of fiction and the popular view without closely examining the data supporting or contradicting that story.

WE ALL DO IT

We all do this. We all buy into certain stories because it’s a popular view or because it gives us something. We often do it without closely examining the stories and what supports or contradicts them.

We do it collectively, and we do it in our own life.

Fortunately, we all also have a Philippa Langley in us. We have a part of us willing and able to investigate to find what’s genuinely more true for us.

WHAT ARE SOME COLLECTIVE EXAMPLES TODAY?

I’ll give a couple of examples of how we collectively seem to be doing this today. These are my typical bee-in-the-bonnet examples (!).

WHAT WE MORE FUNDAMENTALLY ARE

One popular view is that we most fundamentally are this human self. We are fundamentally this person, a doer, an observer, and so on. Even most philosophers and psychologists seem to buy into this view without apparently examining it very closely through phenomenology or logic. It may or may not be accurate in a third-person view, but is it what we most fundamentally are in a first-person view?

What I find is that to myself, I am more fundamentally consciousness and the world to me happens within and as that consciousness. And I am capacity for all of that – I am capacity for the consciousness I am and all that it forms itself into.

We can find the same through logic. If we “have” consciousness, then to ourselves we must BE consciousness. And if the world to us happens within and as consciousness, it happens within and as the consciousness we are. The consciousness we are forms itself into our whole field of experience. It’s all we have ever known. This consciousness has no outer edge. To us, we are oneness and the world happens within and as oneness. We are even more fundamentally capacity for all of this. And so on.

GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL OVERSHOOT

Another is a set of collective assumptions about our ecological crisis. For instance, that it’s mostly about climate change, we still have time to deal with it, someone else will do it, and we can solve it through technology or peripheral tweaks to how we collectively organize ourselves.

This is obviously a naive view. We have been in a global ecological overshoot for decades. We would need more than two Earths to support our current collective consumption. That means that we are spending from our ecological “savings account”. This looks more or less OK for a while until we hit the bottom, and then our lifestyle collapses. In this case, it’s the planet’s ecosystems that collapse and our civilization with it. It’s inevitable when we are in ecological overshoot. There is no other way it can end.

WHY DO WE BUY INTO THESE STORIES?

Why do we collectively buy into these stories even if the data is available to show us something else?

I assume it’s similar to why historians have bought into the Tudor propaganda about Richard III.

It’s the popular view so it’s more convenient and comfortable to buy into it. We may be socialized into these views and don’t find a reason to question them.

Going against it is often inconvenient and uncomfortable. We’ll find ourselves in the minority. We’ll meet resistance. Our views may be dismissed and ridiculed.

We may not feel we have the time or energy to investigate closely. Something else seems more important, interesting, comfortable, and so on.

We have other priorities. We may prioritize agreeing with the popular views and being included. We may prioritize living our life without adding extra revolutions and changes. We may prioritize something else over what we would find is more true for us. We may prioritize comfort.

HARNESSING OUR INTERNAL PHILIPPA LANGLEY

How can we find and harness the Philippa Langley in us?

One is to examine our priorities. What’s most important to me? To hold onto my views or to find what’s more true for me? To stay with what’s familiar or to open myself up to something new and different and something my mind may not be able to predict in advance?

Another is to examine my fears around it. What do I fear would happen if I prioritize what’s more true for me? What do I fear would happen if that happens? And so on. How likely is it to happen? Am I willing to have it happen? Would I be able to deal with it?

In general, I find that inquiry is very helpful here combined with sincerity and a willingness to prioritize reality over my personal preferences and wishes and fears. Of course, that’s not something I can always do in all areas of life. But I can investigate one area and one line of assumptions at a time, and do it with as much sincerity I can find in me. And I can use my experience of friction – discomfort and stress – as a pointer to when and where I am holding onto assumptions that are out of alignment with reality. In find that the Work of Byron Katie is very helpful here, as are the Kiloby Inquiries.

Why would we do this? Isn’t it more comfortable to just go along with our current ideas of how things are?

It may seem more comfortable. What I find, through examination, is that it’s actually more comfortable to find what’s more true and honest for me. Living is a fantasy is inherently uncomfortable. It’s something my mind needs to create and defend. It’s out of alignment with reality so there is inevitably friction between my views and reality. Finding what’s more true for me is more peaceful since there is less to defend and there is less inherent friction. (There will always be some friction since there is always more layers and and more to examine.)

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 68

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

ONE OF THE FLAWS OF MANY CONSPIRACY THEORIES: OVERLOOKING THE OBVIOUS

Yes, it seems that many who are into conspiracy theories don’t know much about history or society. They seem to overlook the well-known and obvious, or they present it as if it weren’t universally known. (Likely because they didn’t know about it before so it looks new to them.) And they often overlook far more serious things than what they are focused on. For instance, they may think that the problem is some group of people or corporations, while the actual problem is in the system as a whole. The system that we all are part of. We all participate in it. We are all part of the problem. It’s not just someone else.

There is something real and well-known that’s far more serious than what just about any conspiracy theory is about, and that is our ecocidal and suicidal civilization. We have lived in global ecological overshoot for decades, and at some point, we’ll hit the end of the metaphorical savings account and it will all come crashing down. Nothing is more serious than that. It’s well-known and out in the open. Why not be focused on that instead?

PEACE -> LESS RELIGIOUS

I see some folks on social media posting this and implying or assuming that the directionality goes less religion -> peace. To me, that seems a bit simplistic. Getting rid of religion is not only impossible, but it’s very unlikely to bring more peace. Most conflicts that go along religious lines have little to do with religion and everything to do with ordinary politics and history. For instance, the conflicts in Northern Ireland are not about religion, it’s about the Irish wanting their country back from English occupiers, and they just happen to have different religions. Similarly, when you see Islamic extremist groups, it has little to do with religion and a lot to do with understandable desperation and anger due to the effects of Western imperialism. (I am sure there are some examples where religion is more at the core as well, but they are not so common and even there, it’s often really about politics and history.)

To me, the other directionality makes a lot more sense. Peace -> less religion. In more peaceful countries with better education, less poverty, and better social safety nets, there is less need for religion. People tend to be less religious because they don’t need it so much in their lives. They are doing fine without it.

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Wanting to be saved, waiting to be saved

Hindus have been waiting for Kalki for 3,700 years.
Buddhists have been waiting for Maitreya for 2,600 years.
The Jews have been waiting for the Messiah for 2,500 years.
Christians have been waiting for Jesus for 2,000 years.
The Sunnah has been waiting for Prophet Issa for 1,400 years.
Muslims have been waiting for a Messiah from the line of Muhammad for 1,300 years.
The Shiites have been waiting for the Mahdi for 1,080 years.
Druze have been waiting for Hamza Ibn Ali for 1,000 years.

Most embrace the idea of a “savior” and claim that the world will remain full of wickedness until this savior comes and fills it with goodness and justice.

Maybe our problem on this planet is that people are waiting for someone else to come and solve their problems, rather than doing it themselves.

– Imtiaz Mahmood

Why do we feel a need to be saved? It must be because what’s here is uncomfortable, sometimes even apparently unbearable. If we envision something as big as divinity saving us, it must be because our discomfort appears equally big. (I am obviously talking very generally here.)

SAVED BY SOMETHING OUT THERE

It’s also interesting how our human mind often wants to be saved by something “out there” – somewhere else and/or in the future. It’s understandable, of course. It would be nice. And most of us did experience something similar in infancy so it is perhaps deeply ingrained in us.

There is some truth to it too. We may find something or someone that makes us feel better for a while. We may find some comfort, love, safety, and so on. That’s wonderful.

And yet, it comes with some inherent drawbacks. It won’t last. It’s dependent on circumstances. It doesn’t go quite as deep as we really wish for. And it may not happen in the first place.

SAVING MYSELF HERE AND NOW

So what’s the solution?

I can only speak for myself and as it looks to me now, and as so often, the answer may appear a bit boring and sobering.

The answer is that I am my own savior. I am the one I have been looking for. My mind is projecting this part of myself out there in space or time, while it’s here all along.

Why can it seem like a disappointing answer? It may not seem true to us. We may think there is some truth to it, but we don’t know how to do it. We try and it doesn’t seem to do much. Or perhaps our mind has invested so much energy into images of saviors out there that anything else seems pale in comparison.

Yet, it is true in my limited experience. (Our experience is always limited, no matter how much we have explored something.) And it’s also what others report.

HOW DO I SAVE MYSELF?

How do I save myself?

It depends on the situation, to some extent.

In some situations, action is required to make a change. In this case, I can (partially) save myself by taking action or asking someone to take action on my behalf. Sometimes, I save myself by asking for help.

And parallel with that, it’s in how I meet my own experience.

When I experience distress, I often ask myself: How would a good – wise, kind – parent comfort a child in this situation? What would she or he say? How would he or she meet the child? And then relate to the suffering parts of myself in that way.

These parts of us are here to try to protect me. So I say: Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. You are allowed to be here. Stay as long as you want.

I sometimes dialog with these parts of me. How do they see me? What function do they have? How would they like me to treat them? What do they need from me? The Big Mind process is very good for this.

I have done a lot of heart-centered practices, including towards myself and these painful parts of me. Two of my favorites are ho’o and tonglen.

What I am trying to be saved from is typically stressful thoughts and associated unpleasant sensations, so I can identify and investigate these thoughts (The Work of Byron Katie) and notice and allow the sensations. I can also investigate more thoroughly how thoughts and sensations combine, and how the mind creates identifications out of it, for instance through the Kiloby Inquiries.

I invite in healing for these parts of me – the wounded, scared, traumatized parts – in whatever ways work for me.

I notice my nature and rest in and as it. I can notice that these parts of me, the scary thoughts and uncomfortable sensations, have the same nature as me. It’s consciousness, the consciousness I am, forming itself into all of it. What happens if I rest in and as that noticing?

There is usually an immediate shift from these explorations. And my experience is that it also takes time. My system mirrors a culture and family that trained me to look outside myself for solutions and did not always show me how to meet myself and my experience with kindness. So it takes time to turn the ship. It’s ongoing. But it does get fuller, deeper, and richer over time.

SAVING MYSELF IN A VARIETY OF WAYS

None of these are mutually exclusive. I can save myself in a variety of ways.

If I find some of what I am looking for in someone or something, I can enjoy that. (Knowing it depends on circumstances and may not last.)

And I can also give myself more directly what I need and be my own savior in that way. I can take action, and I can be a better friend and parent to myself and my own experience.

Image by me and Midjourney

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How do I keep my heart open with all the terrible things happening in the world?

Finding it in myself is one path to keeping my heart open.

If I only see it “out there”, it’s difficult to keep my heart open. It’s too easy to go into judgment, separation, self-righteousness, and so on.

If I recognize in myself what I see in others, with concrete examples and viscerally, my heart opens to myself and others.

HOW CAN I DO IT?

The Work of Byron Katie is one of the most effective ways I have found, especially with the guidance of an experienced facilitator. (When done with sincerity and specificity, and allowing ourselves to take in what we find.)

Tonglen is also effective, as is ho’oponopno.

Other forms of inquiry can also be helpful like the Kiloby Inquiries or even the Big Mind process if skilfully facilitated.

WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO IT?

For me, the answer is that it’s more comfortable.

It’s more comfortable to have an open heart to myself and others.

It also helps me respond with more skill and discernment, and less from reactivity. It makes me slightly less annoying and more effective in the world.

REAL LIFE

Is it easy? No, obviously not.

It’s easy when I feel generally good and somewhat removed from what’s happening, and I am doing these practices in the comfort of my home or a spiritual center.

And it’s not so easy when I am in the thick of it and my own hangups, traumas, and painful beliefs are triggered. Going into my old habitual patterns is sometimes easier, at least for a while until the storm fades and I can relate to things with a little more clarity and kindness again.

That’s part of the process. It’s messy.

I can open my heart to that too – to my own struggle and the struggle of others. There too, we are in the same boat.

Why do we focus on climate change and not global ecological overshoot?

Why do so many focus on climate change these days?

It’s good that ecological issues get attention, of course, and it is an important topic.

At the same time, it is a kind of distraction.

GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL OVERSHOOT

The bigger overarching issue is global ecological overshoot.

We have been in overshoot for decades already, and we haven’t seen the real consequences of it yet since we have been living off the “savings” provided by our planet. (To not deplete our ecological “savings” we would need two Earths to support our global population, and more than five if everyone lived as Westerners.)

We have not yet reached the bottom of the savings account.

When we do, we can expect massive unraveling and collapse of ecosystems and human civilization.

There is no other way it can end.

WHY DON’T WE FOCUS MORE ON OVERSHOOT?

So why don’t more people focus on ecological overshoot?

After all, overshoot is easy to understand. It’s undeniable. It’s far more relevant and serious than climate change and just about any issue imaginable.

I honestly don’t know. A superficial answer may be that people don’t know about overshoot, which is true enough. But the fundamental idea of overshoot is very easy to grasp, it is something anyone with a bank account knows firsthand and relates to on a daily basis. And many in the world do know about it and talk about it, but it does not make it into mainstream discussion.

The real question is: Why doesn’t it make it into mainstream discussion? Why is there an apparent resistance to it? It’s obviously a hugely important topic, more so than just about any topic already in our collective mainstream dialog and conversation.

Maybe it’s too big? Maybe it’s obvious that our usual solutions are not enough?

Maybe it’s more comfortable to focus on something more peripheral and less serious?

That may be one reason why climate change is getting so much attention. It’s apparently more debatable, more peripheral, and less serious. We can tell ourselves it has easier and more peripheral solutions. (Of course, none of that is really true. Climate change itself is serious and requires a profound transformation of our civilization and the worldviews we operate from.)

THE ESSENCE

We live in an ecocidal civilization that assumes infinite nature – infinite natural resources and infinite capacity of nature to absorb waste and toxins.

One of many expressions of this is climate change.

Global ecological overshoot is far more fundamental and far more serious.

And the only real solution to all of it is a deep and thorough transformation of our civilization and our most fundamental assumptions about ourselves, nature, and our relationship to this living planet.

(One practical expression of that would be a transformation of our economic system to take ecological realities and the limits of nature into account.)

Image created by me and Midjourney

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How we align ourselves in international conflicts, and with international law & human rights

It’s interesting to see how people respond to the current wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Some align themselves with the official mainstream US view. They support Ukraine and Israel.

Some align themselves with the reverse and support or justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and support the Palestinians.

Some align themselves with the underdogs – Ukraine and the Palestinians. (I tend to have sympathy with the underdogs and it’s also a common Norwegian view.)

Some may even support Russia & Israel. I imagine some jews in Russia would.

The above is more of a tribal orientation. Our priority is to support one or the other for ideological, identity, or strategic reasons. And it leads us to sometimes overlook or minimize clear violations of international law and human rights.

Some align themselves with human rights and international law and prioritize these over any other sympathies and affiliations. All sides in these conflicts have likely committed war crimes and human rights violations, and it cannot be justified. This is, obviously, more of a modern orientation.

Where am I in this? It’s probably clear from how I write. I am definitely in the last category. I am on the side of international law and human rights, and on the side of the civilians.

Russia is clearly breaking international law by invading Ukraine and committing war crimes. (I am all for supporting Ukraine in defending itself, that’s what I would want for Norway if we were attacked.) The horrific Hamas attack on Israeli civilians is clearly against international law. Israel has committed systematic human rights violations against Palestinians for decades. (Which has fueled a lot of resentment and hatred.) The international community has allowed them to do it, which is clearly very problematic. And Israel is violating international law and committing war crimes in their current and equally horrific attacks on civilians in Gaza. We can understand some of the background for what’s happening – for instance, historically and through a collective trauma lens. And there is absolutely no justification for these actions.

Of course, I am a child of my culture as much as anyone else. These views reflect the views of many in Norway. We tend to be on the side of the underdogs since we often have been the underdogs historically. International law and human rights are highly valued. We want to support Ukraine since we would want to be supported if we were invaded. And there has been a long tradition of sympathy with the plight of the Palestinians in Norway.

Why do I write about this? It may seem obvious to me and many others and it’s still a vital reminder. The essentials cannot be repeated too often, and it’s especially important at a time when tribalism of different types seems to thrive. And even more so because we live in a time when our civilization is under increasing pressure, especially from collapsing ecosystems, and we can expect even more tribalism in response.

This is a time when valuing human life – and prioritizing it over tribalism, ideologies, identities, and desire for revenge – is more important than ever. Not just for their sake, but for our own sake. And not just because escalating the cycle of violence eventually comes back to hurt us, but because it hurts us immediately.

We dehumanize ourselves when we dehumanize others. We hurt ourselves when we hurt others. That’s not just a poetic or wishful way to look at it. It actually happens and we’ll find it when we look.

Image by me and Midjourney

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 67

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

ISRAEL & PALESTINE

I posted this quote on social media without any comments and (unsurprisingly) received a comment about what’s happening between Israel and Palestine now. The question was: What would you do if you were the prime minister of Israel?

Here is my response:

There are many layers here.

First, I have posted this quote before (years ago, I think), because I love it and it’s a helpful pointer for me. I initially posted it again for that reason, then realized some may take it as an indirect commentary on what’s happening in the Middle East, so I unposted it, and then posted it again because I am not responsible for how other people interpret things.

I have also written something about how I see the situation.

As for your question, I would not be prime minister there for many reasons, including that my views are too far removed from those of the majority living in Israel. If I – through a miracle and against my will – was prime minister there, my first move would be to respect international law and human rights, and remove some of the reasons for the current hatred against Israel and the Israeli people. I would work on prevention, first of all, by trying to improve the lives of people both within Israel and also Palestinians and those in Gaza.

If I woke up today as the prime minister there, what would I say to those who want revenge? Probably, go screw yourself ? You won’t get it from me. (In the form of: “I understand your anger and pain, I am also angry and in pain from what happened, but more violence is not the answer”.)

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“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.

The bigger picture of what’s happening in the world today: the fall of empires and ecological overshoot

The main teacher (RW) in a healing modality (1) I am involved in sent out an email yesterday where he talks about humanity’s tendency to violence, and how humanity may be at a tipping point.

HUMANITY AND VIOLENCE

I am also concerned about humanity’s tendency to violence, especially in our culture and especially after we got nuclear weapons. There is nothing new there.

We have been at this tipping point for eight decades if not longer. We have gone through innumerable collective crises. Humanity could have wiped itself out at any point.

In this context, one of my concerns is missing nuclear weapons from the fall of the Soviet Union.

OVERSHOOT

But I am honestly more concerned about the bigger picture. (2)

For decades, we have been in global ecological overshoot – we use far more resources than Earth can replenish and keep up with. We would need two Earths to provide for humanity’s use, and it’s going in the wrong direction.

This is like spending money from our savings account. It looks more or less fine until it runs out and our lifestyle cannot be supported anymore.

In terms of ecology, it means that it all can come crashing down relatively fast, and there is no way to easily recover from it.

We are seeing the beginnings of that crash today.

(Climate change is just one aspect of this crisis, and that discussion is often a distraction from this bigger picture.)

FALL OF THE US EMPIRE

Since RW mentioned the US mass shootings in his email:

In the ’80s, the Norwegian peace researcher Johan Galtung studied the fall of empires. Based on the patterns he found, and what he could see happening with the US, he predicted that the US empire would fall within a few decades. (3)

We also know some things about how it is likely to look.

Towards the end, there will likely be increased polarization and insanity – also in politics – and increased violence and even the possibility of a kind of civil war.

That’s what we are seeing in the US today. It’s what tends to happen when empires go downhill.

MISSING THE BIGGER PICTURE

As I see it, the email from RW is obviously well-meant. He sees something in the world he is concerned about and wants to share it with his students.

But he does take an anthropocentric view and even a quite US-centric view. He is missing the larger historical context, and he is missing the larger ecological context.

It’s important to include the bigger picture. (4)

NOTES

(1) The healing modality is Vortex Healing. He is obviously a very good teacher in energy healing.

(2) This is something I have studied since the 1980s and I have also connected with some of the leading experts in the field in my professional work.

(3) If I remember correctly, in the early 1980s, he also predicted the imminent fall of the Soviet Empire. It fell about a decade later.

(4) Ecological overshoot and the possibility of an imminent ecological collapse is the overarching crisis we are in today. And there is no lack of significant sub-crises: Poverty and massive inequality. Lack of clean water. Millions dying from preventable or curable diseases. Missing nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union. Use of chemical or biological weapons. Plastics and toxins in just about every living being. Species extinction. Insect collapse. The list goes on.

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Israel & Palestine: Hurt people hurt people

The drama in the Middle East keeps unfolding. These days, with the horrific attack by Hamas on civilians in Israel, and the response by Israel inflicting larger-scale horrors on the Palestinian population in Gaza.

Why is this happening? It’s obviously very complicated.

And yet, the essence may not be that complicated.

THE ESSENCE

The essence is that hurt people hurt people.

The Jewish people have undergone a lot of traumatic experiences throughout history, including the unimaginable horrors of the holocaust.

The creation of Israel displaced or made a minority out of the non-Jewish people living there. (Of course, the Jewish people deserve and need their own country, but it still has consequences. Nobody likes to be displaced from their own country or be made into a minority.)

Since then, Israel has engaged in ongoing human rights violations and violations of international law. They got away with it because the US and large portions of the international community largely have turned a blind eye to it.

The Palestinians have been hurt for decades by this treatment. They respond to this hurt and mistreatment in different ways, often through silent suffering. And some of them respond with violence. What Hamas did is not surprising. And the equally horrific response by Israel is equally predictable.

Many have hurt the Jewish people throughout history. The international community hurt Arab people by creating Israel. Hurt Israeli people continued to hurt Palestinian people over the decades. Some hurt Palestinian people hurt some Israeli people. Hurt Israeli people respond by hurting Palestinian people even more severely. This hurts new generations of Palestinian people who, likely, will continue to hurt Israeli people. The cycle of violence continues.

TRAUMA / FEAR / ANGER / REACTIVITY

Trauma creates fear and this fear is often expressed as anger and reactivity, and sometimes by hurting ourselves and others. (We cannot hurt others without hurting ourselves, and the way we treat others is a mirror of how we treat ourselves.)

This happens everywhere in human life – in ourselves, in families and other small groups, and in large groups and politics.

THE LAYERS

How do I know about this? It’s not just because it’s been part of my training and work. It’s because these dynamics play themselves out in me and my life as well. The world, as it appears to me, is a mirror of me. I am a mirror of the world.

And how do I respond?

A part of me wants to speak up for the Palestinians – especially the civilians living in Gaza in a horrific situation – since they are the underdogs in this situation.

More essentially, I see traumatized and scared people hurting others and themselves and responding in confused and very understandable ways.

More essentially, I see myself in what’s unfolding.

Even more essentially, I tap into love for all of us and all life, as confused and hurting and amazing as we all are.

Image by me and Midjourney.

Note: When I hint at the history here, I know reality is far more complex. For instance, the creation of Israel was messy and complicated, as is the history of Gaza.

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Earth from ISS

A suicidal / ecocidal civilization: Finding a more real, grounded, and kind way to relate to it all

All civilizations rise and fall, and ours is no exception.

An interesting twist is that ours is the first global civilization that rises and falls and we don’t know how that’s going to look.

INDEX

What comes together falls apart | A civilization fatally out of alignment with reality | Sudden change | Familiarity with systems dynamics | We have the solutions but do we have the collective will? | What will collapse mean? | What can we do individually? | Collapse acceptance | Power-over vs power-with | What’s my history with this? | Notes

WHAT COMES TOGETHER FALLS APART

How can we know that our current civilization will fall?

In terms of history, it’s because all past civilizations have risen and fallen. It’s what civilizations do and ours is no exception.

In the bigger picture, it’s because everything does. What comes together falls apart.

We can notice it here and now. Every moment, what was is gone and something new and fresh is here. And it happens at more obvious and larger scales, including at the scale of humanity, culture, Earth, and the universe. It will all be gone.

Everything we know – collectively and individually – has come together and will fall apart.

A CIVILIZATION FATALLY OUT OF ALIGNMENT WITH REALITY

We can also look at specifics of how our civilization creates its own fall.

The most obvious may be that our civilization is fatally out of alignment with reality.

We operate on a worldview that’s out of alignment with reality. For instance, we assume and emphasize separation in a world where everything is intimately connected. We assume the superiority and rights of humans over other beings. We prioritize the current generations over Future generations. And, crucially, we assume that the Earth has unlimited resources and unlimited ability to absorb waste. (See more below under “Power-over vs power-with”.)

This is reflected in all aspects of our culture and all our systems. (1)

Let’s look at our economic system.

We have created an economic system that assumes an infinite ability of nature to provide resources and absorb waste, and that our health and well-being is not dependent on the health and well-being of the larger ecological systems.

We made those assumptions because it fits our general worldview, and because we practically could at the time it was developed.

At the time, our population was relatively small and our technology relatively simple so we didn’t receive immediate feedback from nature. For all practical purposes, nature was infinite.

We still use that economic system. The problem is that we now have a much larger population and a far more efficient technology, so Earth cannot keep up.

Globally, our ecological footprint would require two Earths to be sustainable. And for the Western world, our ecological footprint would require around five Earths to be sustainable.

We are also putting more waste into the Earth’s system than it can easily deal with. There are plastic particles and toxins in just about every living being. We are in the middle of an insect apocalypse because we (insanely) grow our good with toxins. Our climate is changing dramatically from all the heat-trapping gasses we release into the atmosphere.

We are in overshoot and we are not doing anything significant to change it.

And that overshoot has serious consequences.

SUDDEN CHANGE

Ecologically, we are doing the equivalent of living on our savings. If we lived on the interests – the surplus produced by the Earth – it would be sustainable. But we are digging into the savings. That looks OK for a while. We have what we need. Then we suddenly realize the harsh reality. We are out of funds.

Our climate is similarly set to undergo sudden change. Any system tries to maintain equilibrium for as long as possible. We put heat-tapping gasses into the atmosphere, the system maintains a kind of stability for a while. And at some point, it shifts into a new state, and that tends to happen quickly. In the case of climate, it shifts into a more chaotic and unpredictable state.

That’s what we can expect with our global ecological system as a whole. In the coming decades, we can expect to see a series of sudden and likely dramatic shifts. These shifts feed into the system to trigger a cascade of other shifts.

What may happen?

Several moderate changes are already happening: More extreme weather. Stronger storms. More drought. Heavier rain and flooding. Crop failures. Species extinction. Mass death of insects impacting the whole ecosystem. Mass human migrations away from areas that become unlivable from drought, flooding, and rising ocean levels (eventually tens of meters). This, in itself, is serious but manageable, at least initially.

We may also see more extreme changes: Changes in ocean currents may significantly impact regional climates. The oceans may die due to rising water temperatures, acidification, and low oxygen levels, and this – loss of oxygen production from plankton, etc. – will seriously impact land life. Forests may collapse in large regions due to drought or they may lose their ability to produce oxygen because of increased temperatures. And so on. These are all things experts in the field say can happen, and will likely happen if the current Earth changes go far enough. If any of this actually happens, it’s not realistically manageable for us. It may not be compatible with human life.

FAMILIARITY WITH SYSTEMS DYNAMICS

If we are not familiar with big-picture thinking or systems theories, we may assume a kind of linear and gradual progression. That means we have time. Things look mostly OK so far, so why change too much too soon?

If we are familiar with overshot and systems views, we tend to see it differently. Then we know that things may look mostly on for a while, then there is a sudden shift, and we are screwed. We don’t have time to wait. Changing things within our current sudden is not enough. We need a deep transformation of our civilization as a whole.

WE HAVE THE SOLUTIONS BUT DO WE HAVE THE COLLECTIVE WILL?

We have the solutions.

We know some (humane) ways to reduce our population. (Educate women, provide economic safety nets for everyone, and so on.)

We have many technological solutions that are part of the puzzle.

We know how to create an economic system that takes ecological realities into account, and where what’s attractive and easy to do – individually and collectively – is also ecologically sound. (We have the big picture and know in what direction to move, and the details will be worked out.)

We have the worldviews necessary for a more sustainable civilization. Some elements may be ecospirituality within each of the major religions, the Universe Story, the Epic of Evolution, deep ecology, systems views, integral views, and so on.

The question is: Do we have the collective will? Will we find it in time?

We are already too late to avoid massive changes to our planet which will impact all of us, so we have minus time in that sense.

Will we be able to create an ecologically sustainable civilization in time to prevent the fall of our civilization? We have to work towards it as much as we can, but it is unlikely.

What we tend to see at the end of civilizations is what we see in the world today: A few who recognize what’s happening, take it seriously and sincerely work towards creating a better and more functional civilization. Many who go into denial, continue much as before, or wait for others to do something. Polarization, infighting, distractions, and the privileged holding onto their privilege even if it’s suicidal. Of course, all of this is common anyway.

There is also a great deal of simplistic misdiagnosis of the situation. Ideas that focus on aspects of what’s happening within the system but not the system itself. Some blame greed, governments, or corporations. Some think there is a technological solution. Some assume it’s mainly about climate change. Some think we still have time because the changes will be gradual and incremental. And so on. All of it is simplistic and myopic. This misdiagnosis reflects and comes out of the worldview that created the situation in the first place. And the misdiagnosis is part of the problem.

WHAT WILL COLLAPSE MEAN?

I don’t know.

What we know is that it will look different from the collapse of past civilizations. They were regional and this one is global. People in those civilizations continued to live their lives, just in a slightly different context. A lot from those civilizations was passed on to other and emerging civilizations. In our case, we don’t have another place to go. We have destroyed our global life-support system to the extent that it may no longer be able to support us, or at least very many of us.

The best scenario may be significant ecological changes, a significant reduction in the size of humanity, and a new emerging civilization – hopefully with some lessons learned. This requires that the more extreme Earth changes – like the death of the oceans – don’t happen.

The worst, from our perspective, is the end of humanity. (Along with many other species and ecosystems.) The Earth’s system changes to the extent that it’s no longer compatible with human life. In this case, the end of humanity happens sooner rather than later. If the changes are as dramatic and rapid as some scientists – and especially those familiar with systems views – think, it may even happen within one or two generations.

In the bigger picture, these are not disasters. This is just what happens. It’s how reality is set up. Things come together and fall apart. Death is the price of life.

WHAT CAN WE DO INDIVIDUALLY?

The question then is: What can we do individually and in small groups?

We can do what we can in our own life.

We can find what we are most drawn to, and do that. Joanna Macy talks about three categories: Stopping actions. Creating and living alternatives. And developing and spreading new worldviews.

In my case, I eat organic and local as much as possible and do a few more things in my personal life. I used to be actively involved in local sustainability organizations. I do healing work for myself and others. I currently have 36 acres in the Andes mountains I am helping regenerate and make into a food forest. (I realize the last one is not everyone can do, and I didn’t expect it in my life.)

We can all find something we are drawn to that’s meaningful and a small part of the solutions. We may not be able to save the world. But we can save our world. We can save ourselves by doing something meaningful.

We can realize that we live within a *system* that’s not ecologically sustainable.

That means that what’s easy and attractive to do is not ecologically sustainable. We all, inevitably, contribute to the destruction of ecosystems, just by going about our own lives. That’s not our fault. It’s inevitable. We don’t need to beat ourselves up for it. (And we don’t need to use it as an excuse either.)

We can find ways to nourish ourselves through our connections with the larger whole.

We can explore the Practices to Reconnect (Joanna Macy), the Universe Story, the Epic of Evolution, Deep Ecology, ecospirituality, systems views, integral views, and so on. Whatever we resonate with.

We can spend time in nature. We can connect with and nourish our physical body and sense-oriented animal self.

We can get familiar with the bigger picture.

Through the Universe story, the Epic of Evolution, systems views, Big History, and so on, we can become familiar with the bigger picture.

We expect what comes together to fall apart.

During the end of a civilization, we expect an amplification of what we generally see in society: Polarization, infighting, distractions, denial, people holding onto privilege, and so on. It’s what humans do.

We also expect some to do the work to create a better functioning civilization.

And we expect to experience grief, anger, hopelessness, and a wide range of emotions as a response to what’s happening.

We can find more peace with death and change.

Change happens. What comes together falls apart.

It happens continuously, which we notice if we look closely. And it happens at a more obvious and larger scale, sooner or later.

Change and death are what allow something new to exist. It’s what opens up space for something new and different. It’s what allows experience. It’s what allows evolution. It’s how we are here. It’s what allows anything to exist at all.

Everything and everyone is born to die.

It’s meant to be. It’s perfect. It’s how this universe is set up.

We can find gratitude.

We can find the gifts in death and change. As I have mentioned above, it’s what allows anything to be at all. It’s what allows us as individuals to be. It’s what allowed humanity and our current civilization to exist.

It’s what opens the space for something new. When our civilization is gone, who knows what will come in its place? Perhaps some humans will survive and create something new, and even something more aligned with ecological realities. And when humanity is gone, who knows what will come in our place? Perhaps the descendants of the octopus will create a new and amazing civilization that would not be possible if we were still here.

We can allow and welcome our grief, anger, and other responses.

It’s completely natural to experience grief, anger, hopelessness, and a range of other emotions in the face of what’s happening with our world. And it helps to make friends with it and even welcome it.

It’s natural. It’s healthy. It’s something we can channel into action.

We are, in a very real way, a local part of the Earth grieving itself. We are the Earth grieving itself.

These are universal emotions. All humans experience it and many or most species likely experience it in one form or another. It’s one of the things that tie us together. Even what triggers these emotions is universal in its essence.

We can find gratitude.

There is a lot to find gratitude for here.

We are an expression of all of existence. We are part of this amazing and beautiful larger whole.

We are alive. We are alive at the peak, in some sense, of our civilization. We have the basics for life and often a lot more. Many of us live beyond what anyone could have imagined in the past, and better than 99.9% of all humans that have lived in terms of healthcare, food availability, convenience and so on.

We are aware of the larger context of impermanence and can allow it to inform us in sobering and beautiful ways.

By viscerally getting impermanence – including of ourselves and all we know – we can find deep and equally visceral gratitude for our life and what’s here now.

We can find kindness towards ourselves.

We can learn to relate to ourselves and our world with more kindness.

That, in itself, makes a big difference.

It makes our life easier, and we are giving ourselves something essential we all wish for. It’s what we often are really looking for when we think we are looking for something else.

It’s something our civilization doesn’t really teach us and something we don’t learn unless we are lucky with our parents and upbringing. So this work is also part of changing our civilization and our individual and collective worldview.

One of the things I do for myself is to aim at being a good parent to myself, especially when thoughts and emotions visit that it’s difficult for me to meet with kindness. And I also use the befriend & awaken approach.

We can find kindness towards others.

We all do our best with the cards we are dealt. When people go into denial, short-sightedness, and so on, it’s their way of dealing with living in this world. A lot of it, or all, comes from fear.

We can be of service.

We can find meaning and joy in being of service, in whatever form that takes for us. Whether it is supporting humans, non-humans, or ecosystems.

We can find fellowship.

We can find others like us. We can find and create communities. We can support each other.

I did this in the past and lost it to some extent (apart from what I carry with me) due to illness and other life circumstances. Now, it may be time to refind and rebuild community.

We can find our nature, if we are drawn to it.

What do I mean by our nature?

It’s true enough that I am this human self in the world.

And if I look more closely, I find that in my own immediate experience, I am more fundamentally what my field of experience happens within and as. I am, more fundamentally, what a thought may call consciousness, and the world, to me, happens within and as this consciousness. This is what mystics across cultures and throughout time have described. (And talking about it this way is compatible with a range of worldviews.)

Just about anything is an invitation for us to notice and explore how it is to live from our nature. And these types of more dramatic and massive change even more so.

Of course, many won’t be drawn to it. But if you are, then there are ways to explore this. The ones I have found that seem most effective are: The Big Mind process. Headless experiments. Kiloby Inquiries. Basic meditation. And supportive practices like training a more stable attention.

What does this do for us? Not much, necessarily. But it does feel like coming home which is a relief. And it does change the context for everything.

COLLAPSE ACCEPTANCE

What does collapse acceptance mean?

It means accepting that what comes together falls apart.

This civilization will come to an end. Human civilization will come to an end. Humanity will come to an end. Each of those deaths will leave space for something else, which could be a new human civilization or new species eventually developing a new civilization.

It also means accepting the possibility of a more imminent collapse than many expect.

It’s a possibility, it’s not inevitable. We don’t know for certain.

To me, it also means using this to fuel our life – our gratitude, zest for life, engagement, connections, and so on. We can use it to deepen our conscious connection with our life, the life of others, and life in general. We can use it to be good stewards of our own life and life in general. It’s immensely precious as long as it’s here.

POWER-OVER VS POWER-WITH

A few more words about worldviews.

The worldview of our civilization (post-agriculture) has a power-over orientation where we seek power over ourselves, others, nature, and so on. We have a transcendent sky-god out there somewhere and not in or manifesting as everything, including ourselves, others, and nature.

That allows us to see nature – and ourselves and others – as primarily a resource and something to use (and abuse). This is internalized in all of us, and we can train ourselves to recognize it and support and emphasize alternatives ourselves and our culture.

The alternative is a power-with orientation where we seek partnership and cooperation with ourselves (different parts of our psyche), others, nature, and the universe. It’s also to see all of existence as sacred, as the divine or an expression of the divine. (This includes ourselves, others, nature, the universe.)

When this is internalized, it leads to a very different life individually and collectively. We’ll still need to use natural resources to support our own life, but we’ll do it from a different place. We’ll do it with more gratitude, reverence, and seek to find ways to do it that supports not only our own life but the larger living system, future generations, and life in general.

Of course, there will still be times when a more narrow view takes over – times of crisis or when we are caught in trauma, and we’ll make mistakes because we don’t know better – but that will still happen within a larger context of a general power-with and immanent Spirit orientation. And there will be systems in place to protect the interest of life – our own and the wider living systems – to prevent the worst anti-life behaviors.

This is not idealism. It’s what’s necessary for our own survival. It’s how we protect our own survival and the survival of our descendants.

WHAT’S MY HISTORY WITH THIS?

I loved nature from a very early age. As a child, I always said I wanted to become a zoologist. (What I really meant was ecologist but I didn’t know that word then.) I loved being in nature. I loved the hiking, skiing, and cabin trips with my family. I loved sleeping under the stars in the mountains of Norway. I loved the nature documentaries with David Attenborough and Sverre M. Fjelstad. I loved Cosmos by Carl Sagan, which had a huge impact on me and – in many ways – changed my life. (“We are the local ears, eyes, thoughts and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness.”)

In my mid-teens, I got deeply into Fritjof Capra, systems views, and the people he references. I also got deeply into Deep Ecology (Arne Næss, a fellow Norwegian) and eco-philosophy, and I got deeply into Jung. I read all the books I could get my hands on from these authors.

Climate change became a big topic in my later teens, in the ’80s, and even then, I saw it as just one expression of the problems inherent in our civilization. We need to make the changes anyway, climate change or no climate change. (Discussing the details about it and whether it’s human-caused or not is a distraction and sometimes an intentional distraction.)

In my twenties, in the US, I read everything I could find about ecospirituality (from any and no particular tradition), ecopsychology, the Universe Story, the Epic of Evolution, and so on. I used the Ecological Footprint a lot in my work with sustainability. (I was the initial paid coordinator for Sustain Dane in Madison, Wisconsin.) I organized several projects where we used the ecological footprint as a central theme, and also several events and workshops (and one longer retreat) where we used the Practices to Reconnect and the Council of All Beings.

These days, I work on a regeneration project (15 hectares) in the Andes mountain. It feels deeply rewarding to help this land become more vibrant and healthy again and support the lives of innumerable beings. An integrated food forest will provide food for non-human beings and humans. And it may also eventually be part of local eco-tourism. We’ll see. Anything can happen.

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My personal relationship with AI-generated images

What are some of my personal relationships with AI-generated images (text to image)?

I LOVE IT

I love it. I apparently find it endlessly fascinating to see what comes out of it.

I also love it because it allows me to generate images similar to the ones I wanted to make back when I did art full-time – in my late teens and early twenties. (The sacred portraits – sculptures and paintings – are one example.)

I love it because it allows me to create something that I want to see now.

I love it because it feels like tapping into the collective image production of humanity and seeing what comes out of it. To me, it’s very much a collaborative process between me, Midjourney, the people across cultures and times that created the images it’s trained on, all of humanity since the totality of humanity is necessary for all of this to happen, and really Earth and existence as a whole – in its fullest extent and going back to the beginning of time – since all of it is necessary for any of this to happen.

SADNESS AND HOLLOWNESS

There is also another side to this.

I am hoping it will help me get back into a more old-fashioned and hands-on image-making. I would love to get back into drawing and perhaps painting or even ceramics.

It taps into some sadness of having abandoned something I loved so much and was so passionate about. I used to be unable to not draw daily and would draw for hours at a time and often through the night. It helped me come alive and connect with something deep and full in myself.

There is also a kind of hollowness in it. I love what comes out of it. I tap into my knowledge of art and art history when I make the images. I typically spend a lot of time refining the prompts. I create a lot of images and select the ones I like the most. And so on. So there is work going into it. But it also feels a bit hollow. It’s “just” a digital image and not something you can touch, hold and smell. It’s not something I created with my own hands. And that makes a difference.

THE SOCIAL ASPECTS OF AI

And there is more, which has a personal component since I live in this world.

I don’t like the term “artificial intelligence“. The program can mimic intelligence to a certain extent but it’s not intelligent. It’s based on statistics. When it comes to image generation, it predicts what elements typically go together. To me, AI is a misnomer.

It’s trained on a huge amount of images, so what it produces is a kind of average based on that material. The images are, at best, solid and good but not exceptional.

AI will take the job from some people, but not those very skilled at what they do. And AI will also make a lot of new kinds of jobs. I imagine that what we’ll see is similar to CGI in movie-making. It’s one tool among many others. And we’ll see a mix of AI and more traditional approaches, and interesting processes and dynamics between the two.

As with so much, it will likely not be as good as we hope and not as bad as we fear.

Image: An example of what I make with Midjourney that I would like to see. In this case, an imagined bronze sculpture with a certain expression and light.

Anti-science?

Some seem to take a general anti-science orientation. They think they don’t like science for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t like some of the content of current science as they see it. Or the way it’s being used. Or they don’t like the elitism they see in it. Or they cherry-pick and like some fields of science and not other fields of science.

To me, much of that seems misguided. Some of it lacks differentiation, and the last one lacks consistency.

THE TWO WINGS OF SCIENCE

Science has two wings. One is the methods of science, the approach to finding out things. The other is the content of science, the worldviews and the ideas you typically find within it.

THE METHODS OF SCIENCE

The methods of science are common-sense approaches to get an idea of what’s going on. We observe. Find and describe patterns. Have some thoughts about what’s happening. Test it out. Refine our thoughts. And so on.

If you are generally against the scientific methodology, it means you are against figuring things out and doing so in a sincere, honest, and grounded way.

And there is always room for grounded discussion about specifics. There is always room for improvement in how we do things.

THE CONTENT OF SCIENCE

The content of science is different. It’s colored by our culture and typical worldviews in our culture. (And it, in turn, colors our culture and worldviews.) It’s always changing. It’s always up for revision. It’s provisional.

Much of the current content of science will be seen as obsolete a few decades or centuries from now. And a different culture may understand a lot of the content differently. They have their own worldview and understand it in a different context.

SOME IDEAS ARE MORE SOLID THAN OTHER

That doesn’t mean the content of science is arbitrary or doesn’t have value or that other ideas are equally solid.

The content of science comes from research. It’s typically backed up by solid logic and solid data, and it’s tested over and over. It’s not equal to any random idea someone may have about something.

THE PEOPLE IN SCIENCE

The people performing science are trained and they check each other’s work. Scientists are invested in proving each other wrong, and they will if they can.

What scientists come up with is not equal to what any random person comes up with, and that includes people in other fields of science. (If a microbiologist makes a comment about climate change, it’s not worth more than what any random person would say about it. It’s not their field.)

This is the same in any area of life. We give more weight to what people with expertise in a field say and do. (Which doesn’t mean they are always right. They are humans and biased as we all are. And the content of science changes with changing worldviews and new information, experience, data, and context.)

Most people in science want to do the right thing. They do their work with sincerity. They speak up when they see something that’s not right. They are like you and me.

And, of course, most are not at all the stereotypical lab-coat type of scientists.

THE POLITICS OF SCIENCE

Then there is the social and political dimension of science.

Science is a tool. It’s done by people and used by people. And sometimes, the way it’s used does not align with our personal or collective values. That’s to be expected. It’s inevitable.

It’s something we need to be informed about and involved in. We can spread information. We can organize and take them to court. We can create attractive alternatives. We can vote with our money and ballot.

IS IT OBVIOUS?

It seems that this should be obvious. Don’t we all learn this in school?

And yet, when I look online and in society, it seems that many don’t quite get the basics of science and how it works in society.

Image: Created by me and Midjourney

Conspiracy theories – why people get into them & a few more reflections

I see people getting caught up in things that – even if true – are typically far less important than what we know is happening in the world. We know our civilization is in the middle of a massive ecological crisis. We know our civilization is currently ecocidal and suicidal. We know we need a deep transformation to survive. So why choose to get caught up in something more peripheral?

I have written about conspiracy theories before and thought I would briefly revisit the topic.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Why have I taken time to write about conspiracy theories?

There are several reasons.

If a number of people are caught up in (poorly supported) conspiracy theories, it threatens our collective ability to make grounded and informed decisions.

Conspiracy theories generally distract us from far more important issues. What we know is going on in the world today – unraveling ecosystems, massive overuse of Earht’s resources, grotesque social inequalities, and so on – is far more important than what most conspiracy theories are about.

The phenomenon is interesting from historical, social, and psychological perspectives. It tells us something about how we function individually and collectively, including in times of crisis.

Analyzing conspiracy theories is a great way to learn history, psychology, valid reasoning, scientific methods, evaluating the solidity of data, and so on.

What I see in people, including those caught in conspiracy theories, mirrors something me. It mirrors dynamics I can find in myself. It won’t take the same form, but the same dynamics are inevitably here in me. It’s an opportunity for me to discover more about myself.

Questioning my judgments about conspiracy theorists helps me find clarity around those and similar thoughts, and find what’s more true for me. This helps me relate to myself, others, and conspiracy theories in the world in a more clear and effective way.

SOME EXAMPLES OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES

What are some of the conspiracy theories?

Here is just a small selection of the old, recent, or current ones:

Flat Earth. This ignores a huge amount of data that shows that the Earth is round, including people flying and sailing around the world, the curved horizon and things disappearing behind the horizon, the simple stick-and-shadow experiment of Eratosthenes that anyone can do for themselves, the shape of the shadow of Earth when it falls on the moon, the shape of all other large objects in space and what gravity inevitably does to large masses (make them round), and so on. It also ignores that a huge number of people will have to be in on the conspiracy, including pilots, sailors, astronomers, astronauts, and so on.

The Covid vaccine is designed to kill off most people in the world. It hasn’t happened yet, and there is no reason why it should.

Covid doesn’t exist. It’s a variation of a well-known type of virus. There is nothing about it very much out of the ordinary. Also, pandemics happen about once a century so this one was right on schedule. There was nothing surprising about a pandemic coming about this time.

The pandemic measures implemented by governments are designed to remove people’s freedoms and will not be reversed. These are common-sense pandemic measures that we know from history work. They are standard recommendations from epidemiology. There is nothing unusual or surprising about them. And there is absolutely no reason to assume they are anything but temporary. (Most if not all have already been removed.)

Climate change is not happening, or it’s not generated by human activities. What we see in the world today closely fits climate change models from the early 1970s. Nothing about it is surprising. The general physics is also simple: We collectively put a lot of gasses into the atmosphere that allow sunlight in, this light is converted to heat when it hits the Earth, and these gasses then trap that heat. That’s why they are called greenhouse gasses, it functions like a greenhouse.

The sexual allegations against Russel Brand are staged to discredit him since he speaks truth to power and is a danger to those in power. What he says is nothing new and nothing unique. It’s pretty banal and he is often missing the bigger picture. And no matter what, he is certainly no threat to the current system. There is no need to fabricate any allegations against him. Also, what happened was broadcast and captured on tape minutes after it happened. And fueling these kinds of conspiracy theories only makes it more difficult for women to speak up against sexual abuse, and it’s already more than difficult enough for them.

Vaccines are dangerous. This is perhaps not in itself a conspiracy theory but it’s often mixed in with them. Yes, of course, vaccines are dangerous. All medications are. Some bodies react strongly to vaccines, as they likely would to the actual virus, and they can get seriously ill or even die. Anybody who is minimally informed knows that. It’s a matter of weighing the risks and benefits and making up your own mind. Nobody is forcing you to do anything. It’s up to you to be informed and make the best choices for you.

The Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t work. Again, not exactly a conspiracy theory in itself but often mixed in with them. If you live in the uninformed illusion that vaccines always prevent a disease 100%, then I understand why you may see it that way. But in the real world, they definitely work. They prevent serious illness, which innumerable studies show. They protect the ones most at risk for serious illness and death.

Anti-woke views are similarly not a conspiracy theory in itself but are often mixed in with them. They come from the far-right and are adopted by some who generally have a left-wing or progressive orientation.

I know very well that any and all counter-arguments or counter-data to these conspiracy theories are expected by the ones into them and they have their own counter-counter arguments and counter-counter data. The question is, how solid is the logic? How solid is the data? Would it hold up in a court of law? If not, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong, but it may be good to examine it more closely and perhaps hold it more lightly.

Of course, some conspiracy theories turn out to be true. When conspiracies have been revealed in the past, it’s been through the work of diligent reporters and historians. And they have been uncovered through finding a good amount of solid data that can be verified by anyone.

WHAT DO I SEE IN CONSPIRACY FOLKS?

What do I see in people caught in conspiracy theories? What are my judgments? What do I imagine is going on?

Here are some examples, and not all apply in all cases.

Some seem not very well informed about history. For instance, we know from history that times of collective crisis tend to fuel conspiracy theories. Pandemics inevitably lead to conspiracy theories. There is scapegoating and attempts to blame someone for the pandemic. There is denial – it’s not happening or it’s not as serious as people say. There is resistance to the common-sense measures implemented to reduce the impact of the pandemic. All of this is typical and predictable, and yet people repeat patterns from history without knowing that that’s what they are doing.

Some may go into conspiracy theories to feel better about themselves. They can tell themselves they know, while others don’t. They know something most others don’t. They see through the scam while others don’t. In this way, they can boost their self-esteem.

Some may prefer a simple answer over the complexity, unpredictability, and messiness of the world, even if that simple answer is a stressful story. They prefer to have someone to blame rather than admitting that a lot of problems are systemic and we are all part of it, or that life sometimes is just random.

Some may go into conspiracy theories because it fits their identity. They have created an identity for themselves as an outsider, against the mainstream, critical of power, and so on. Conspiracy theories fit into this, so they adopt them because they fit and reinforce their familiar identity. (Conspiracy theories become mainstream to them.)

Some may want to poke at the “elite”. Their main motivation is to go against the political, academic, and scientific community and get a reaction. That’s more important to them than reality and grounded arguments and data. Reactivity trumps reality. (They don’t bother doing the work to argue against the “elite” in a more grounded and solid way that actually could bring about more lasting change.)

Some may follow someone they trust. They may know and look up to someone, for instance, a media personality, teacher, or friend. That person goes into it. So they go into it too.

Some may have a desire to split apart communities. For whatever reason, they seek to split apart families, friend groups, organizations, and even whole countries. This may come from reactivity. It may be a strategic political reason. Or a combination.

Some may paint themselves into a corner, and find it difficult to back out. They may realize, at some point, some of the craziness of the conspiracy world, and they find it difficult to leave. They would have to leave a community. They would have to admit they allowed themselves to be duped. They would have to admit they based it on poor data and reasoning. They would lose a certain identity. And so on.

Some may not be very familiar with the dark side of how the world works. They take little pieces of information that are new to them and blow up their significance. They don’t see it in perspective and the bigger picture. For instance, corporations and commercial media are obviously in it for profit. That doesn’t mean they are part of some grand intentional conspiracy to mislead people. Biases and misleading people inevitably happen anyway for a variety of reasons.

Some want to blame individuals and organizations instead of looking at our systems. A lot of what’s happening in the world comes out of the way our systems are set up. There is no need for individuals and organizations to do anything intentionally to make it happen. For instance, our economic system was set up at a time when nature was – for all practical purposes – limitless. With our current numbers and technology, this system is inevitably destructive to nature and suicidal to ourselves. Similarly, our social system (politics, economy, education, etc.) is set up to largely preserve the status quo, including the privileges of the already privileged. That’s how any system works. No grand scheme is needed. (And all of it can and will change, that’s inevitable too.)

Some may wish for community. They find a community of like-minded conspiracy folks. They feel they belong. They feel seen and understood. (Even if the seeing and understanding are mostly just people reflecting conspiracy theories back to each other.) They have an outer enemy which reinforces and justifies their community and cohesion.

Some may go into conspiracy theories for entertainment, either consciously or because they are compelled to seek entertainment (and distraction from something in themselves or their life). They like the sense of discovery, drama, and excitement.

Some may feel their mind has been opened up to things outside of the “mainstream”, so they get into anything outside of what they see as mainstream. They don’t realize they have joined a new mainstream.

Some base their arguments on weak data without realizing how weak the data is. They latch onto outlier data and assume these are true while 99.9% of other research and data are not. They ignore that outlier data exist in all fields of science and that these are 99.9% of the time based on faulty data and interpretations. Or they find articles that sound and look scientific but are written by non-experts in the field and published on questionable websites and then pretend these are more solid than research and articles done by experts and published in reputable journals.

Some seem unfamiliar with valid reasoning and logical fallacies. They typically commit a series of well-known logical fallacies in their reasoning. For instance, some said that limited and common-sense pandemic measures (that we know work from history) are a violation of human rights. Human rights have nothing to do with wearing a mask or quarantining yourself if you are sick. You already accept a large number of guidelines and laws created to make our society work. These are just a few minor and temporary ones, so why get upset about them?

Some use pieces of information from science without understanding how little they understand. They pick up bits and take them as solid data or solid logic because they are not familiar with the bigger picture. They are not experts in the field. They don’t know how to examine data well. They don’t know how to detect fallacies in the arguments. They don’t examine the source well enough. They don’t have the maturity in the field to realize how little they know. In short, they assume they understand more about a field than experts who have devoted decades of their lives to it

Some may not be aware of the inconsistencies in their views. If they need their car repaired, they go to a car mechanic. If they need a kidney transplant, they go to a kidney specialist and surgeon. If they need a bridge designed and built, they go to an engineer. And yet, when it comes to whatever their conspiracy is about, they suddenly distrust a whole field of experts. They don’t trust climate scientists if they are into a climate change conspiracy. They don’t trust epidemiologists about pandemics. They don’t trust geographers (and many other fields of science) if they think the planet is flat.

Some may start with the conclusion. They fit whatever comes up into their existing conspiracy worldview. For instance, someone pointing out weaknesses in their logic is obviously brainwashed or part of the conspiracy.

Some seem to live in an apparently horrific worldview. For instance, how do you experience the world if you assume that normal airplane condensation trails are meant to poison people? (And that pilots, airlines, and so on are in on it.) Or if vaccines are meant to kill people? (And again, where a large number of people are in on it. In this case, diverse governments around the world, WHO, pharmaceutical companies, and perhaps even doctors and nurses.) What kind of world is that? What kind of view do you have on humans?

Some may not personally know the types of people they have conspiracy ideas about. If they knew more of these people, they would probably realize that they are people just like them, and most of them would never agree to be part of anything like it. It’s easy to project the shadow onto a mostly blank slate, and far more difficult if you actually know these kinds of people. (And these kinds of people are the normal kinds of people, like you.)

Some don’t realize the immense privilege they have, and that the privilege allows them to go into certain views and conspiracy theories. For example, we live in a society (relatively) free of many serious diseases because of vaccines. And the people currently holding anti-vaccine views benefit hugely from decades of vaccines without apparently realizing it.

Some may be caught up in blind shadow projections. They imagine terrible things in the world without recognizing it’s a projection. They don’t recognize the characteristics and dynamics in themselves. (Of course, it’s often in the world too, one way or another, although perhaps not exactly the way we imagine it.)

Some may use conspiracy theories as a distraction. They get into conspiracy theories because they are compelling and distracts them from their own discomfort and what they don’t like about their own life.

Some may use conspiracy theories to intentionally mislead others. Either because it gives them some personal satisfaction. Or as a more intentional strategy to confuse a social issue and create division between people. (Sowing doubt is often effective in preventing or slowing down collective action. We see that with climate change, as we saw it with the tobacco industry a few decades ago. Polarizing a population is an effective way to weaken a country, as we see with Russian troll farms targeting the US and Western democracies.)

Several conspiracy theories and certain related views (anti-vaccination, anti-pandemic measures, anti-woke, etc.) start at the far right and are then adopted by people with a traditional left-wing or progressive orientation. This is well known, and people still adopt these views as if they don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know that they, in many cases, are intentionally being duped and manipulated. (See “Everything you have been told is a lie!” Inside the wellness to fascism pipeline,
The dark side of wellness: the overlap between spiritual thinking and far-right conspiracies, and other articles on this topic.)

Finally and more to the point, I see people getting caught up in things that – even if true – are typically far less important than what we know is happening in the world. We know our civilization is in the middle of a massive ecological crisis. We know our civilization is currently ecocidal and suicidal. We know we need a deep transformation to survive. So why choose to get caught up in something more peripheral?

WHAT DOES THIS MIRROR IN ME?

The question then is, how does this mirror me? How and when do I do the same?

The short answer is that I can likely find all of this in how I see and relate to conspiracy folks

Just writing this list helps me recognize when I do something similar.

I have done more systematic inquiries, mostly using The Work of Byron Katie, and plan to do more.

Images: Created by me and Midjourney with the exception of the cartoon

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Yokai AI images

A collection of yokai sculptures imagined by me and Midjourney. Click on the images to see the full image. And click “Read More” below to see a few more yokai sculptures.

Yokai are supernatural entities and spirits from Japanese folklore and come in a great variety of forms, from silly to helpful to scary.

For more of my AI imaginations, see my AI Instagram account.

A FEW NOTES ON AI IMAGES

I see these AI images as not so interesting in themselves, but more as: “Wouldn’t it be cool if these were real sculptures?”

Also, I see them as a joint creation of not only me and Midjourney, but all of humanity (the AI is trained on images created by innumerable people around the world) and really all of existence. Without all of existence and the evolution of the Universe, they would not exist. That’s the same with any human creation and made even more obvious with AI-generated images, text, and music.

AI images or AI in general will never replace good artists. They are statistical programs predicting what’s likely to go together (in the case of images) and what comes next (in the case of text). The AI is not in any way intelligent. They are trained on a large number of images and texts so produce something that’s average good, not exceptional. They are tools.

And yes, AI will lead to the loss of some jobs (less skilled image-creators and writers) and it will create a lot of new jobs (people who know how to use AI effectively and well).

As usual, the consequences of this particular tool and revolution will likely not be as bad as some fear, and it not be as good as some hope.

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Why do I love woke?

I love woke.

I know it’s popular to criticize woke these days, even among progressives and liberals. *

So why do I love woke?

LOVE IT WITH WARTS AND ALL

I could say that I don’t love all of it. I don’t love some of the weird and obviously misguided and overzealous expressions of it. But that’s not completely true.

I even love the misguided parts of it. It’s what always happens when something new is adopted on a larger scale. It’s something for people to digest and process. And it’s something for us individually and collectively to learn from.

WHY I LOVE WOKE

Why do I love it?

It’s a huge step forward compared to most of what we have seen in human history and most of what we see in the world today.

It may be just a glimpse of a more radical inclusivity in human history. Who knows what will happen in the future.

And I love inclusivity.

It allows for a far more rich society and for us to benefit from that richness. I love seeing minorities respected and included.

It feels good to treat people as I would like to be treated, with respect, welcome, and an acknowledgment that I too am valuable and have something to contribute.

It allows me to feel more included with my own peculiarities. And we all have those peculiarities. Even if we think we don’t, we may. And, at the very least, we have a very real potential to be in the minority in the future in one way or another. (In my case, it’s a disability.)

It’s a mirror for inner inclusivity. It’s an invitation for me to embrace more of my inner diversity. To get to know and consciously embrace more parts of me, which makes my own life far richer and opens up new possibilities for how to live my life in the world. If I want to explore and embrace my own richness, how can I not also do it in society?

A NAIVE VIEW?

Is this a naive view?

Perhaps, but I don’t think so.

I am very aware of many of the misguided and slightly ridiculous expressions of it.

And I am certainly not naive about how rare it is in human history and culture. It’s rare to find that kind of humanity and intentional inclusivity.

NOTE

* This is an example of how something starts at the far right, and then for whatever reason is adopted by liberals and progressives. Are they aware that they are adopting ideas from the far right? Are they aware that they do exactly what the far right wants them to do? Are they aware that they often, perhaps without noticing, allow themselves to be shamed into it?

Are they aware that the right-wing folks who started with the woke-bashing do so in order to try to maintain their (often white male) privilege? And to justify continued bigotry and marginalization of large groups of people in society?

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How CFS feels

This perfectly captures how it feels to live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

I may look fine or OK to others. I am often able to mobilize for short periods and appear relatively normal. And my experience of myself is very different.

HOW IS IT TO LIVE WITH CFS?

How does it feel? It’s almost impossible to describe, but here are some attempts:

It feels like having severe influenza minus the congestion and fever. It’s equally difficult to think and get up from bed and do things.

I have strong brain fog: It feels like cotton in and around my head. It’s difficult to remember things. It’s difficult to make good decisions. (Sometimes, it’s difficult to make even the simplest decisions.) It’s difficult to take in information. It’s difficult to stay focused for more than five or ten minutes. (I typically have to watch movies in short segments over several days.) It’s difficult to string together words. (which is why these writings are short, choppy, and feel like a list of points.) It’s often difficult to find words. In bad periods, it’s difficult to relate to life and what comes up in the way I do when I have more energy. In short, the executive functions are impaired and it gets worse the worse the CFS is.

I get worse after just about any activity, and sometimes a lot worse. Any type of “explosive” activity (walking fast, heavy lifting, etc.) is just about impossible since it causes a severe crash. And any type of activity at all worsens the symptoms and requires a period of recovery. Simple and essential daily life activities are often all I can do. And, in periods, even that’s very difficult.

I have to schedule extra rest before, during, and after any planned activity. If I am meeting someone, or if I have an appointment of any type, I typically have to rest for days before and after. I have learned to do things slowly.

It takes a long time to recover from infections and other illnesses.

In short, my system lacks resources. It lacks the resources to do things. To have conversations. To take in information. To process. To think. To consciously and intentionally relate to life and what’s coming up in me. To recover after other illnesses. And so on.

At an energetic level, I and others have found a pattern: My system seems very disorganized when I have a crash. That’s perhaps not surprising. It takes energy to keep a mind-body system organized. When it’s energized (using Vortex Healing), my system again becomes more organized.

SOCIAL, MEDICAL & POLITICAL ASPECTS

This is challenging enough in itself. On top of this are the social, medical, and political aspects.

Most people don’t understand it very well and may assume it’s just mild tiredness. They typically see me when I am able to mobilize for a few hours, or in the better periods, and they don’t see what’s happening the rest of the time. Some get upset that I have to cancel appointments, and don’t realize how much effort I put into trying to make it happen. Or they think that my long periods of not staying in touch mean I don’t value the connection.

CFS is a kind of “pariah” illness. It’s poorly understood. There isn’t much research. Politicians and policymakers don’t take it very seriously. Many doctors don’t know much about it. There is no mainstream medical treatment. (In Norway, the largest newspaper – Dagbladet – seems to have a campaign to show that CFS is just a matter of “pulling yourself together”.)

This will very likely change. I am sure they will understand the mechanisms better. (The trigger seems to often be a combination of physical and/or psychological stress, often involving a viral infection.) They may even find an effective treatment or cure. If or when that happens, CFS will be included among the acknowledged and understood diseases. (There will still be diseases in the pariah category going through a similar process.)

HOW I HAVE EXPLORED IT

I have lived with this since my teens, and I have tried a wide range of approaches.

I have found a diet that works for me. (Eating low on the food chain. Reduce or avoid sugar, wheat, and dairy. Drink lots of water / herbal teas. Have bone broth daily. And so on.)

I have found that sun and moderate to warm climate work well for me. (Cold weather impacts my system strongly, as does very hot weather. Both place an extra demand on the very limited resources of my system.)

I have learned to rest before, during, and after activities. I have learned to portion out tasks over time and move slowly.

I have used a wide range of herbal medicines. For instance, a combination of Siberian ginseng (eleuthero) and echinacea seems to work well. (I fill my own capsules and have around five large ones daily. Siberian ginseng gives energy and echinacea helps my immune system. I have used this for long periods, and am now taking a break.)

I discovered that hyperthermia treatment seemed to help me greatly for several months. (I would like to try it again but it’s expensive and I need to travel quite a distance for it.)

I have tried a wide range of alternative treatments. What seems to work the best is Five Element Acupuncture. (Helps for a day or a few days.) Breema. (Gives an amazing sense of health and wholeness beyond the struggles of this human self). And Vortex Healing. (Energization and removing pathogens.)

And I have also found different forms of inquiry to be very helpful. (The Work of Byron Katie, Kiloby inquiry, Headless experiments, Big Mind process, and so on.)

UPSIDES

There are also upsides. It has been an invitation for exploration and transformation. It’s an invitation to find my value independent of my resume or activities in the world. To be more authentic and transparent. To find value in rest. To find the gift in asking for and receiving help. And so on.

In many ways, CFS is an invitation to examine and see through many of the assumptions in our society and find what’s more true for us.

It can bring a correction to some of the lopsidedness of our current civilization. (Including valuing people according to their resume or activities, valuing doing over resting, and so on.)

Climate change or not: We need to transform our civilization anyway

THE ESSENCE: WE NEED TO TRANSFORM OUR CIVILIZATION ANYWAY

There is a simple common-sense approach to climate change:

These are changes we need to transform our civilization no matter what. Human-created climate change or not, we need to shift our civilization into being ecologically sustainable. We need to take ecological realities into account in every aspect of how we collectively live.

We use nearly two Earths’ worth of resources at any moment, which means all of the resources will eventually be depleted unless we make drastic changes. We use more resources than Earth has the capacity to regenerate, and we depend on those resources for our life and survival.

AND SOME ADDITIONAL POINTS

The discussion about whether climate change is happening (it is) and whether it’s created by humans (it is) has little to no practical relevance in this context. It’s a distraction and a side track.

That said, I will pretend it does mean something in the following points:

It makes sense to follow the precautionary principle. If something has potentially serious consequences, we need to take it seriously. We need to prepare for it. We need to act as if it’s going to happen. That’s what we do in other areas of life, so why not with something as potentially disastrous as climate change?

Experts in the field all agree: (i) We are in the middle of climate change. (ii) It’s created by human activities. And (iii) it likely has severe consequences for our civilization. In other areas of life, we listen to and generally trust experts, especially when they all say the same. So why not also here?

The ones disagreeing are typically not experts in the field, they are amateurs. Many are on the payroll of the oil companies. And we know that the oil companies have had an intentional disinformation campaign going for decades. So why trust what they say?

The changes in climate we currently see closely fit predictions from the early climate change models from the 1970s. They fit what we expect to see if (i) there is climate change, (ii) it’s human-created, and (iii) we don’t do much to change it. It does not fit natural cycles explained by solar activity etc. It does not fit what we would expect if it was natural and not created by civilization.

Although the climate is immensely complex, the basic principles of climate change are simple. Even a child can understand and observe it, and people predicted it more than a hundred years ago. In a greenhouse, short waves (light) enter through the glass, hit a surface and become longer waves (heat), and that heat is partially trapped by the glass. There is a net gain of heat. And greenhouse gasses do the same. Short waves (sunlight) pass through our atmosphere, hit a surface and become heat, and the greenhouse gasses trap the heat. Just like a greenhouse heats up because of the glass, the atmosphere and planet heats up because of greenhouse gasses. Our civilization produces a lot of greenhouse gasses and changes the composition of the atmosphere. What we are seeing is exactly what we would expect to see.

NOTHING NEW

This is not a new or uncommon way to look at it.

To me, it’s just common sense, and I have seen it this way since my teens in the ’80s. I remember a conversation with a teacher about this in my high school where I pointed out that climate change is irrelevant since we need to make the same changes anyway. (He disagreed and I probably remember it since it seemed odd to me.)

CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL TAKES DIFFERENT FORMS

For whatever reason, there is still a lot of denial around this.

In the past, some denied climate change is happening but that’s not possible anymore. (Unless you want to deny the climate data and what you can see around you with your own eyes.)

These days, some like to deny it’s related to human activity.

Why do some deny that it’s human-created? Because it’s too scary? Or require a deep transformation of our worldview and our civilization? Or because it’s a threat to your identity to admit that scientists and progressives were right? None of those seem a good reason to me.

WHY THE SLOW CHANGE?

Even if most of us agree it’s happening and it’s serious, we collectively don’t do much to change it. We deny its seriousness and that we need a profound transformation in our collective and individual lives.

Why don’t we collectively do enough to change it?

There are many reasons for this.

Systems inherently try to keep stable. Systems stay dynamically stable until they reach a tipping point, and denial is an expression of the system trying to maintain its current (outdated) state. The denial and complacency are expressions of this dynamic inherent in all systems.

Election cycles are typically between two and six years, and addressing climate change requires planning on a much longer timespan – decades and centuries. If politicians do something now, we won’t see the effects until decades later so even if they personally would like to work on it, they don’t have systemic incentives to do so.

We think someone else will take care of it, either other people alive today or future generations.

We think the crisis will happen in the future, so we push the problem onto future generations. (Even if we are right in the middle of it already.)

Many are voiceless in our system. Non-human beings and future generations don’t have an effective voice in our society, in our politics, and in business decisions. The ones who have the strongest reasons to want a change have no voice. (We can give them a voice by appointing advocates for them who have a real say in politics and business decisions.)

We think someone will come up with a simple technological solution, so we don’t need any fundamental changes in our worldview and how we collectively organize ourselves. (We may find technological solutions, but they will never be enough on their own.)

Collectively and individually, we are busy dealing with our day-to-day life and challenges We may end up using most of our resources to deal with immediate climate crisis challenges, and find it difficult to make the real and systemic changes required.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 66

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

SUPPORTING MILLIONS OF BEINGS

My wife and I have land in the Andes mountains, and we are in the process of helping the land become as vibrant as possible. We are planting native flowers, bushes, cactuses, trees, and more. We are creating a food forest that will provide food for birds, animals, and humans. And we are doing some very limited landscaping to collect water and prevent soil runoff.

On these fifteen hectares, millions of being live, and many more will live there in the future. To me, supporting all those lives is immensely meaningful. I cannot imagine much that’s more meaningful.

That, in itself, will make my life more than worth it.

DEATH IS BAD?

I saw a video with Tom Scott where he says that “death is bad” and he implies that (scientifically) striving for eternal life for humans is a good thing.

I can understand that from the perspective of your own life or those close to you.

But in the bigger picture, it’s different. Death is why we are here. Without death, we would soon run out of space on this already overcrowded planet, and we would run out of resources even more quickly than we already are. Death is what allows for new generations, new species, and new life. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the death of past species, past generations, and – going even further back – the death of early stars in our area of the galaxy and universe.

We are made up of dead stars. The death of previous species gave space for new species, including our own and those leading to our own. The death of individuals gives space for us. Our individual death gives space for new individuals, the death of our species will give space for new species, and so on.

Without death, no evolution and no life.

Even more essentially, without the metaphorical death of this moment, there wouldn’t be the next moment. What’s here dies and allows for something fresh and new. That’s happening always.

(How do I know this moment dies and is reborn as something else? It’s because I notice what’s here in. my sense fields, make a mental image of it, and compare that mental image with another mental image I call “previous moment” or “recent past”. And there is no “I” here apart from in other mental representations, it’s just happening.)

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 65

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

OUR MANY ANCESTORS

And imagine the many non-human ancestors going much further back… to the first one-celled organisms. Our earliest ancestors are the ancestors of all of us alive today of all different species. We are all intimately connected.

PRIDE MONTH

June was Pride Month, and there were lots of rainbow flags outside of stores, government buildings, and homes.

I overheard a conversation where they said things along the line of: “It’s a bit too much”, “Why make such a big deal about it”, and so on. It was not directly queer-phobic, but obviously disapproving of pride month and the limited way it’s been marked in Norway.

To them, as heterosexuals in Norway, it seems like it’s too much. It shouldn’t be such a big deal.

To me, it looks very different. Historically, queer people have been oppressed and even killed, so having pride month is the least we can do to show that they now are included and accepted. Around the world, queer people are still oppressed and killed in many places.

From a sheltered Norwegian perspective, perhaps it seems a little much. But from a historical and global view, it’s the least we can do.

I love living in a country that’s inclusive and accepting in this way, and I love Pride Month and people putting up rainbow flags.

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Meat, health, and ecology

The Norwegian government released new dietary guidelines with the health of humans and the ecosystems in mind.

In short, they recommend eating whole foods, eating low on the food chain, avoiding processed foods, and avoiding alcohol (there is no safe lower limit to alcohol intake). (This is the way I have mostly eaten since my teens.)

To me, this seems like basic common sense. It’s what makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. It’s the type of food our ancestors lived on and our bodies are designed for.

And, predictably, to some, it seems highly offensive. Are you telling us we can’t eat meat anymore? That we shouldn’t enjoy alcohol? That I can’t have my snacks and pizza?

There is also a discussion specifically about meat. The guidelines recommend reducing the meat intake as much as possible. Some point out that there is disagreement among scientists about whether red meat is problematic for our health. And although that’s an important point, it’s also missing the point.

Meat production is one of the biggest causes of deforestation, and it generally has a huge impact on our ecosystems. Our obsession with eating meat is one of the largest contributors to our collective and individual ecological footprint.

The guidelines explicitly take both health and ecological sustainability into account. Reducing our meat intake won’t harm our health. And it will help us reduce our ecological footprint. That’s more than enough reason to recommend reducing our meat consumption.

And in the bigger picture, our meat intake is intimately connected with our health. Without healthy ecosystems, we cannot be healthy. What happens with the Earth happens with us.

Although the finer points may be up for discussion, the bigger picture is not that complicated.

Image: Created by me and Midjourney

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Own inquiry: He should be more balanced (he is trying to convince me of conspiracy theories)

I did this inquiry a couple of weeks ago, with a facilitator, and thought I would share some from it here. This is a very abbreviated version.

SITUATION & STATEMENT

Situation: An acquaintance turning a friendly check-in to a lecture on why the Earth is flat, why everyone who received the covid vaccine will die within two years, and so on. (Trying to proselytize about conspiracy theories to me.) This happened in an online chat maybe one and a half years ago.

Statement: He should be more balanced.

INQUIRY

  1. Is it true? Yes.
  2. Can you know for certain if it’s true? No.
  3. What happens, how do you react, when you have that thought?
    I notice I get reactive. I want him to go away. I want to speak from reactivity. When I notice the reactivity, I am concerned I’ll say something I’ll regret later. I know that I usually regret anything I do or say from reactivity. My chest, belly, shoulders, and jaw feel tight. I feel agitated. I get into fighting mode. I get defensive. I want to find arguments to shoot down his view.
  4. Who would you be, in that situation, without the thought? How would you be?
    I am curious. Receptive. Whole. I can see he wants to help and protect people and society. He is coming from a good place. I am able to say: “I understand you see it that way and that it’s important for you. I am not the right person for you to have this conversation with. And I am not interested right now, so I’ll go and do something else.”

TA1: He shouldn’t be more balanced. (Turnaround to the opposite.)
(a) There are likely infinite causes for him to have that view, and I can’t fight the whole universe. For me too, there are likely infinite causes for this human self to have the views I have. We are the same.
(b) It serves as a kind of feedback in society, and a correction or questioning of mainstream views. (The impulse to counter mainstream views serves as a correction and feedback, even if the content of the views may not always be founded in solid logic and research.)
(c) A part of me likes the fight and feeling right and righteous.
(d) My idea of balance is my idea. Maybe he is balanced in his own way. In any case, reality is free of shoulds and any ideas of balance or not.

TA2: He should be less balanced. (Turnaround to another opposite.)
(a) Maybe it helps him to complete a process in him. Often, impulses with a lot of energy behind them need to run their course before something else can come in.
(b) It would help me step back and not engage too much. I would go: “Wow, this is a little too much” which would help me return to my own sanity.

TA3:  I should be more balanced. (Turnaround to me.)
(a) It would be exciting for me to explore how to deal with the situation in a more balanced way. (Similar to what came up in question four.)
(b) It would help me speak and act from reactivity, and feel better about it after.
(c) It helps me see and discover more. I can find the genuine validity in more viewpoints, and a larger picture that holds more or all of them.
(d) It would help him feel more seen, understood, and supported. It could help him to relax.
(c) It would help me not burn bridges. Who knows, maybe that connection would be important later?
(d) It helps me set boundaries in a way that feels good and right to me.

TA4: He should be more balanced! (Turnaround to the same, the yay! turnaround. At that moment, how is it good for me that I have that thought?)
(a) It comes from a good intention in me. I wish for connection and understanding, and that’s easier if I see him as more balanced. Also, I wish receptivity for him, and an ability to explore a range of views, and that’s easier with some balance.

REFLECTIONS

I wrote this several days after doing the inquiry, and it’s difficult for me to get back into the same place. The session was one hour and went into a good deal of detail, and it did definitely shift something in me. For instance, it helped me get in a more visceral sense that most people into conspiracy theories come from a good place. They genuinely want what’s good for society and people.

I have done a series of inquiries over the last couple of months, after taking a break for some years. And it feels different to come back to it. It feels more fresh and more visceral. I notice that question number four now is what feels most powerful and transformative for me, while it used to be the turnarounds and question three. (They are still powerful, it’s just that number four seems to stand out more for me now.)

I did The Work of Byron Katie almost daily from the early 2000s to the mid-2010s, and then took a break from it while focusing more on sense field explorations (Kiloby Inquiry) and energy work (Vortex Healing), along with some prayer, ho’oponopno, tonglen, and mainly just noticing.

The beauty of common expressions (AKA “thought-terminating cliches”)

I saw this quote posted on social media, and thought I would explore it and see what I find.

What the quote calls “thought-terminating cliches” I prefer to call “common expressions”.

HOW IT IS FOR ME

In general, I love taking idea fragments – from quotes, book titles, or common expressions – and using them as a pointer for my own exploration.

I assume it’s like that for many of us, and for most or all of us sometimes.

I hear or think of a common phrase, and see what I find. Typically, I find the validity in it, in the reversals, in other ways to look at it and the bigger picture, and also that all of that are questions about the world here to help us orient and navigate in the world.

SOME COMMON EXPRESSIONS

What do I find if I explore the phrases in the quote?

It is what it is. For me, this is a beautiful expression. It reminds me that reality is what it is, and my experience of it and ideas about it are very limited. It is what it is, and I cannot know for certain anything about it. My thoughts are questions.

It’s in God’s hands. Yes, in a way everything is in God’s hands. Everything happening locally is the expression of movements in the larger whole. Everything has innumerable causes stretching back to the beginning of time and the widest extent of the universe. It’s good to be reminded of this now and then. (And not use it as an excuse for inactivity or harmful actions.)

YOLO. This too is a wonderful expression. I only live once. This moment will never return. What’s here in my experience is something I will never experience again. It’s something nobody has ever experienced before and nobody will ever experience it in the future. This moment, as it is, is infinitely precious. And it’s also all I have. My world is all I know, and I can only find the past, future, and somewhere else in my fantasies (sometimes very useful fantasies) happening here and now.

THOUGHT-TERMINATING CLICHES

What do I find when I explore the idea of “thought-terminating cliches”?

There is a valuable reminder in the idea of “thought-terminating cliches”, and that is that reality is always different from and more than our ideas about it. Reality is always far richer.

At the same time, the idea of a “thought-terminating cliche” can in itself become a thought-terminating cliche. We can agree with it and overlook the value and beauty of common expressions. We can overlook or reject the wisdom in them. We can overlook their value as a short hand to ease communication. We can overlook their value as a pointer and seed for our own exploration.

Perhaps most importantly, if someone hears or thinks of a common expression and doesn’t explore it further, then it says something about them. Not the common expression itself.

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Rumi: Things are such

Things are such, that someone lifting a cup,
Or watching the rain, petting a dog,
Or singing, just singing — could be doing as
Much for this universe as anyone.

– Rumi

Yes, that’s my sense of it as well.

VALUING PRODUCTIVITY

Does this poem have to do with value and productivity? It’s at least easy for us, in our Western culture, to see it that way.

There is nothing wrong with valuing productivity. We need some level of productivity to collectively and individually survive and thrive. (1) It makes sense that it’s part of our culture, and probably any culture. (2)

At the same time, if it goes too far it has downsides. In our Western culture, we have valued productivity to the extent that we often equate our worth with what we do in the world. We have lost sight of our value from just being who we are and being part of existence.

THE VALIDITY OF THE POEM

When I explore what Rumi points to, I find a few different things.

Doing simple things, or just being, does a lot for our universe. For the universe we each are. When I sit outside hearing the birds and looking at the trees and flowers, does as much for my universe as just about anything.

We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. So even the simplest of activities, or just the experience of rest, does as much for the universe as anything.

The idea of productivity or value is mind-made. It’s not inherent in reality. So anything does as much for the universe as anything else.

WHY IT’S APPEALING

So there is no wonder this poem, in this particular translation, is attractive to many in the modern world.

We are trained to (over-) value productivity and equate our worth with what we do. And that comes with downsides. It fuels over-work. It may lead us to ignore our deeper interests and passions. And if or when we are unable to be as productive as our culture tells us we should, our self-worth may take a hit.

So this poem is an antidote to that idea. It’s medicine for that particular condition.

NOTES

(1) And the right kind of productivity. The kind of productivity that puts food on the table, a roof over our heads, and so on.

(2) Although the form this value takes in different cultures probably varies enormously. It can take the form of degrading and devaluing those who are unable to be productive. And it can take the form of valuing everyone and each person’s unique contributions, even if they are not very active in a conventional sense.

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Archetypes and empire

King Charles III has his coronation today, and it brings up a few things about royalty and empire.

Why do some love royalty? Perhaps it has to do with tradition and familiarity. And it’s also likely because of archetypes. Royalty mirrors something in us, and something important. It mirrors the feminine and masculine dynamics in us that rule the country of our psyche. Or the captain of the ship. Or, said in a more democratic way, the conductor of the orchestra of our psyche. (1)

In the world, royalty represents the accumulation of wealth from the people and a history of tyranny. In the case of the British royalty, they also represent and reflect the empire. They reflect the extraction of resources from around the world, and the suffering and work of countless people from around the world. The empire, and the British royalty, are built on the sweat, blood, and tears of innumerable people.

Another side to this is that royalty is one of the few cases where people are born into an important role in society and don’t have much say about it. (Unless they abdicate, and there is a strong social pressure for them to not do so.) It’s a kind of modern-day golden-cage slavery. Historically, it was undemocratic for both the people and the royals, and now it’s undemocratic mostly for the royals.

NOTES

(1) Just like when it comes to royalty in the world, this part of our psyche can be more or less developed, and it can function in a more or less healthy and mature manner.

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When scientists are the doomsday sayers

Throughout history and across cultures, there have been doomsday sayers. Rarely are their predictions grounded in anything solid, and it’s even rarer that it’s accurate.

SCIENTISTS ARE THE DOOMSDAY SAYERS

These days, scientists are the doomsday sayers. (1)

This time, their predictions are grounded in something solid.

And there is every reason to think it’s roughly accurate. (2)

WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE TAKE IT SERIOUSLY?

So why don’t more people take it seriously? Why don’t more people change their priorities and life?

I assume there may be several reasons.

We think we still have time. (We don’t since the effects of our collective actions won’t be clear until decades later.)

We think it will impact others and not us. (It’s true it will impact those with the least resources the most, but it will impact all of us, and it will certainly impact the lives of all our children and descendants.)

We misdiagnose the problem. (They may blame greed, or assume that piece-meal efforts are sufficient, while the real problem is in our economic system. It was created at a time when we, for all practical purposes, had unlimited natural resources and nature had unlimited capacity to absorb waste. Because of our numbers and technology, that’s not true anymore. And what’s required is a systemic change so we have a system that takes ecological realities into account, and where what’s easy and attractive to do is also ecologically sound.)

We take our cues from others. (Others seem blasé about it so we assume there is nothing to really worry about.)

We are caught up in everyday living. (Most of us have a lot to take care of in daily life. We don’t feel we have time or energy to do much beyond that.)

We expect politicians to do something about it. (Most may not since they operate on a four- or two-year election cycle, and these problems are on the scale of decades and centuries.)

We prefer to not think about it. (It may seem overwhelming. It may seem that we can’t do much. So we set it aside.)

We go into denial. (We assume scientists are wrong. Instead, we put our faith in people who deny the findings from science, and people who are non-professionals or people who have a background in another field.)

WHAT AM I DOING?

What do I do about it?

I have always voted for parties that take this seriously. (I am a member of the Green Party in Norway.)

I learn about it. I look for solutions.

I have been passionate about the mind and culture side of this since my early teens. (Deep ecology, ecopsychology, systems views, paradigm shifts, the epic of evolution, the universe story, practices to reconnect, etc.)

I worked for several years in sustainability and supporting people (organizations and individuals) in making real changes in their life that are enjoyable, rewarding, and more sustainable.

I have land in the Andes mountains and work on regeneration and sustainable food production. (Food forests etc.) We are collecting water, and we hope to use solar power. And we make connections with others in the area, which is vital for transformation and mutual support.

This transformation is collective as much as individual.

NOTES

(1) Here is just one of many examples from the last several decades: Scientists deliver ‘final warning’ on climate crisis: act now or it’s too late, The Guardian March 2023

(2) The reality is that we don’t even need scientists to tell us. Logic and our own senses will tell us the same. We are part of the seamless living system we call Earth and our existence and well-being is intimately connected with the rest of this living system. As it is now, ecosystems are unraveling and we with them. And we can see this with our own eyes.

I am now back at my parent’s house in Norway, and nearly all insects are gone. When I grew up, the yard was buzzing with life: Crickets, butterflies, bees, bumblebees, golden wings, and much more. If we had the door or window open during the summer and then closed, the windows would be full of insects. Now, I hardly see any. Without insects, most of our ecosystem unravels. And that means we unravel as well. There is a delayed effect, but it will happen. And anyone with a brain can see this and knows it. And yet, very few people prioritize it and do something about it.

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If you don’t like the outcome of certain policies, blame the voters and yourself, not struggling minority groups

I heard someone today blame struggling minority groups (refugees) for the lack of funding for certain groups of people in Norway.

To me, that’s absurd. This is a question of policies and political priorities. That group is not helped sufficiently because it has not been a priority. And it’s not been a priority because people have voted certain political parties into power.

If you want to blame someone, blame those voters. Blame yourself if you voted for them, and for not getting engaged to make a change. Take a look at the real cause of the situation.

Don’t put the blame on other struggling groups. They are not in any way to blame.

The people who tend to blame minority groups in this way are often the very same people who vote for political parties that created the situation in the first place. They blame struggling minority groups for the policies they voted into place. (Often by voting for conservative and libertarian parties.)

And the more shameless political parties do the same. They blame minority groups for the consequences of the policies they themselves put in place.

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Psychology 101: My culture is inside me

Throughout my daily life, I notice parts of me responding to situations, people, and trains of thought. Mostly, these parts respond with judgments. They are not aligned with my “global” or conscious view. And they come from my culture.

I notice them. Flash on where they come from. Notice what’s more true for me. And they are gone.

WHAT ARE THESE THOUGHTS?

As mentioned, these thoughts are mostly judgments.

She is fat. (And that’s bad.) He is ugly. (Bad.)

She is young, slim, and attractive. (Good.) He is well dressed. (Good.)

If I eat fast food, I am one of those people. (Bad.)

They are at that restaurant, so they must be sophisticated. (Good.)

He is Muslim. (Dangerous.) She looks unkept. (Not good.)

And so on.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?

So why does this happen?

It’s because we learn from others. Our mind absorbs whatever is out there in the culture – from family, school, friends, media, movies, books, lyrics, and so on.

And the more often we are exposed to it, and the more charge it has (even if we just see it having charge for the other person), the more likely it is to go in and come up again.

The job of our mind is to absorb it all and then give it back to us whenever it’s relevant. (And sometimes when it’s not obviously relevant!)

It’s natural and essentially innocent.

RELATE TO IT MORE CONSCIOUSLY

Although if we join in with these thoughts and act on them, that can be quite harmful to ourselves (psychologically) and others (in life and society).

So it’s good to find a more conscious relationship to these dynamics.

I can notice these thoughts and reactions in me.

And I can find what’s more true for me than the stereotypes these thoughts typically reflect.

I can relate more intentionally to the way different parts of me respond to something.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

There is a bigger picture here.

The world is my mirror. Whatever characteristics and dynamics I see “out there” in others and the world are also here in me. They may be expressed in different situations and in different ways. And the essence is the same. (For instance, whenever I react with aversion to someone or something, the essence of that reaction is often the same as what I am reacting to. I am doing the same as what I see out there in that moment.)

And it’s all happening within my sense fields. To me, others and the world happen within and as my mental field and sometimes my other sense fields. It’s happening within and as what I am. It’s happening within and as the consciousness I am. “Out there” is really “here”. “He she it they” is really “me”.

INTERNALIZATION AND OVER-I

I like to use simple and ordinary language and avoid jargon, but I want to mention a couple of things.

This is often called internalization. We internalize our culture and it lives on in us. It’s how culture is passed on and it’s how we can have a culture in the first place.

And it’s also what Freud called the over-I or – through mistranslation – the superego. The essence of his insights is often valuable, although some of what comes from him are specific to his own culture, and there are simpler and more effective ways to do therapy.

Note: After writing this, a video on this topic popped up on YouTube. From 1-10 how racists are you (Cut). It’s good to see that many these days are aware of unconscious biases that we pick up and learn from the society we live in, and actively seek to be aware of them and counter them.

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