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Archive for the ‘personal development’ Category

This post is specially dedicated to those who want to convince us that the material based progress and the global economic system we have is the best and the only one we can have.  I am often the critic of such manipulative assertion, but I am going to let someone respected by millions be the critic this time.

Not being a particularly religious person I often have my ear on what religious leaders have to say, particularly the Dalai Lama whom I regard as being light years ahead of most religious leaders.  He speaks deep truth and high wisdom. I believe the commentary below is not just a brilliant critique and analysis of today’s reality but a daring look at the world calling it for what it is.

Few individuals today have the courage and the critical mind to recognize, let alone face such reality. But guess what? The number of people waking up to this often uncomfortable and even scary reality is growing. People are slowly but surely stepping up to face these planetary compounded challenge. However if we want to make a timely difference we need such growth to be exponential, and to me it still feels linear.

I cannot wait for the growth of consciousness to become a runaway (ever growing) effect, a positive feedback loop so that it can keep up with and counter our runaway global crisis.

 

Dalai lama

Source: Dalai Lama Daily Quotes

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Internal view of the Stanford torus

Internal view of the Stanford torus. Source: Wikipedia.

From all the modern crises we face and suffer, there is one no one suspects of. It is the big elephant in the room of our challenging future ahead. I am referring to the unsuspected crisis of imagination. Since I was a child it bothered me and bored me why adults would not stop until they managed to strip away our dearest fantasies, imaginative ideas and any dreams that would not fit into the pathetically tiny box of possibilities for supposedly a successful career and life like doctor, layer, salesman and a just a few other professions. If we did not aspire to any of those limited possibilities, we were considered immature and childish, or living in La La Land.

Imagination is a word that has often become pejorative in our highly manipulated society as it often associated with kids or adults who cannot be taken seriously and therefore are pushed away from society being regarded as naïve, unrealistic or crazy.

We lose half of our humanity as we grow up and expose ourselves to the conditioning that annihilates our precious boundless and connecting child mind. Family, society and school make sure those ideas and attitudes that represent a threat to society’s narrow and fragile order are eradicated quite often ridiculing, marginalizing and even physically abusing those who dare to think outside the box, let alone those who question the system and the status quo. I know this not so much because of the dozens of passages where I have read about it, but because I have lived this painful truth in my own being.

Let’s be honest. Creativity is rewarded in just a relatively few exclusive circles, most of them not even available to the public at large. A few folks in the arts are allowed and even encouraged to think more creatively than anyone else but even then they are often subject to the same prejudice, criticism and antagonism as everyone else who dares to question The Establishment.

Even when creativity is made available to the public such as through activities like arts, crafts and cultural events, such creativity represents a mere narrow band in the vastly wide spectrum of possibilities available to re-define and re-live reality, and quite often such activities are nothing but an embellished repackaging of traditional outdated cultural icons and views thus offering a false and deceiving creative outlet.

A big inhibitor of creativity is the prevailing prejudice that creative activities are secondary in importance. They are generally thought of as a good hobby, a way to relax. They are usually played down by parents, teachers and neighbors as respectable career paths as an engineer or a sales executive are, simply because they are not perceived as ‘bread earners’.

A bigger detractor of creativity which reaches the rank of malicious is the prejudice and mental hijacking exerted by religious and political ideologies. These preconceived views of reality are mental strait jackets that keep individuals in a highly reduced universe whose limits cannot even be defined because they cannot even be imagined. The manipulative nature of these ideologies is so potent that it keeps the minds of the subjected believers unable to consider any idea outside their mandated conception of reality.

In this day and age creativity is still not taken seriously enough. The irony is that it will be our creativity, not traditional thinking, what will allow us to survive and thrive in this brave new world. No, this is not just a minor nuisance or even a loss of talent and potential but a cause of complacency, ignorance and ultimately inaction regarding the global crises we face including climate change, environmental degradation, resource depletion, food and water scarcity risks, world financial and economic instability, and all the other global challenges ahead.

Our lack of imagination to (1) conceive an alternative healthier world and (2) develop an alternative sustainable way to relate to ourselves, our species and the earth, results in our lack of ability and will to take the action. And of course I am referring to the action required to correct our accelerating collision course with the planet.

Source: Inhabitat

 

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As much as I feel riled up by atheists for instance denouncing the abuses and manipulation of religion, and liberals ripping on the repressive conservative right, at the end of the day, I sadly realize, we are all one single species rid with hopeless fragmentation. As offended as I may be when compared to the Bill O’Reilly’s of the world, a deeper side of me argues I am not that different from him who I have always been considered a despicable individual representing a lot of what I think is evil in society. The fact of the matter is that demonizing no longer brings any value to me. After a short moment of identifying or honoring truth and justice, I immediately feel a sad vacuum in my soul. A vacuum I am learning to fill in with compassion. Not an easy task to perform, May I add. In my last years of sustainability study and reflection about the nature of this planet and its human inhabitants, I have solidified my belief that we are destined to raise our consciousness sharing the pain and suffering of the global crises that will sweep us in this us planet leaving us no place to escape to. We will be stuck with one another being forced to survive together and cooperate. This is going to feel like a sinking boat where we will all have to lean on each other’s efforts if want to tell the tale. It is a well-known fact the planet is shrinking for all of us, and that the consequences of our actions, and I would dare to say even our thoughts have an unavoidable impact on everyone and everything else. In this quickly shrinking planet where we are increasingly forced to co-exist in harmony with our approaching neighbors, human and non-human, we cannot afford to feel, think or act in isolation. Even our emotional state has become a responsibility to our living environment. More than ever before we have the right and the duty to cherish LIFE, starting with our own and continuing with every life form in this rare cosmic jewel called Earth. I find Ken Wilber’s philosophy somewhat persuasive and aligned with my view of reality and human beings. Grounded in objective historical study of human behavior, he conveys a message of hope in the face of the overwhelmingly complex, interconnected and challenging reality.

The time of culture wars has become obsolete and significantly dangerous. Although I will never buy into the inherent hypocrisy of political correctness or religious self-righteousness, I am awake enough to realize we are just one single humanity which at the end of the day is completely dependent on itself and the natural system that keeps it alive. We are altering the living conditions of this biosphere so quickly that we do not even have the time to argue or keep us apart based on our cultural or ideological differences. Our petty human dramas and cultural issues become dwarfed by the need to cooperate and assist one another in the face of the upcoming planetary disruptions, which we have already started to experience. The times of ego-centrism, ethno-centrism and other excessive individualism are essentially over. Survival and thriving will depend on our willingness and ability to serve the planet.

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Before you read the lyrics to the song below please know it is not intended to be a neo-ludite manifesto. The song in this post is not written to persuade folks the only way to reach sustainability and save the planet is to go back to pre-industrial times thus giving up on technology and progress.

The need to take a hard look at the risks and consequences of our existence on Earth and the even greater need to understand what it will take to inhabit this planet sustainably is not in conflict with honoring our inescapable technological and overall creative nature.

I agree with the common view that human progress based on science and technology cannot be stopped unless our species perishes. And I believe our ability to investigate and even shape the world is one of our greatest strengths. However this virtue needs to be checked by a higher human strength which is our values, also known as human consciousness.

Our capacity to shape the environment at the planetary scale brings an equal planetary sense of responsibility. We have been lured by our technological might and in that episode we have made a serious mistake. We have forgotten the responsibility and the respect we used to have for the land. We forgot how to interact with the environment in a harmonious non-disruptive manner. And now we must realize we have created a situation that is destabilizing our life sustaining system with the potential of irreversible consequences for the whole planet.

Let’s get completely out of our comfort zones; let’s stop pretending we are greening the world when quite often we are pursuing our own selfish profit driven but green marketed agendas; let’s for once stop putting our interests before anyone or anything else on Earth; let’s honor truth and justice by taking responsibility of the situation we have created; and let’s use our creative passion to transform our socio-technical environment into a truly sustainable one.

This will not be possible until we can correct our perception of reality and our relationship with Nature. Until then I will sing this song.

The howl of the wolf is the soundtrack of wilderness
And wilderness, the ferment of the soul
Primal humans knew what modern humanity has forgotten,
that life is balance
The world endlessly consuming itself
and joyously making love to itself through its constituent parts
Every species equal, with an inherent, intrinsic value
sacred worth, sacred worth
Civilization is a mere 16,000 year imbalance
after the shared adventure of three and a half billion years of ecstatic evolution
Now called Deep Ecology,
this sacred worldview was the life and practice of all primitive peoples
and it will be the worldview once again of any peoples to survive the Earth’s cataclysmic cleansing

– Lone-Wolf Circles and Friends (Oikos – Songs for the Living Earth)

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I set my priorities and direct my life driven by one single but critical motive. I ask myself how I want to feel when I reach my old age.

I take myself to that moment and imagine how self-satisfied I would like to feel; what kind of legacy I would have like to have left; what positive impact in the world I will have want to give myself credit for.

When I get to my old age I will have realized how every second of my life will have been precious and unworthy of being wasted; how much time I should have spent serving the planet making full use of my creativity, skills and talents fueled by my passion for truth, justice and ultimately preserving and restoring life.

When I grow old I do not want to have regrets for the time I may have wasted indulging in consumption, materialism and other modern distractions. I do not even want to feel like I spent too much time and personal resources in what has been called the human drama, the material of soap operas and one of the greatest human addictions.

When I grow old I definitely want to have the only two valuables that nothing or nobody can take away from us, our experiences and our legacy.

Despite the argument that we must live in the present I find I need to allow myself to visit the future, at least briefly, so that I can set my life compass that will guide me to the future while grounding me in the present. I cannot avoid addressing the consequences of my feelings and actions to steer my present towards the future I dream of. One of inner peace and satisfaction with myself.

With great humility I am thrilled when I contemplate what would happen if everyone made a least effort to transport themselves to the future and imagine and how they would feel about  the value and consequences of their actions across time and in space. Such personal effort would take us to new unprecedented heights of responsibility, integrity, and ultimately consciousness. Imagine what could happen if many of us took such an approach. The effect of those modest single efforts would accumulate and  grow exponentially knocking down so many of the barriers that keep us in the status quo, most of them created by our current fear, comfort and complacency. I am excited about the possibilities.

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Metropolis film poster (1926)

Metropolis film poster (1926)

Continuing on my previous post on trans-humanism I recognize this is a complex subject where a one size fits all analysis could risk the required understanding of and engagement with this movement.

On the one hand I am convinced repressing our human capacity to create and develop technology goes directly against human nature, self-realization and purpose. Subsequently I vehemently oppose the demonization of trans-humanism and by default, the demonization of human progress.

On the other hand I cannot stress enough the urgency to (1) raise awareness of the risks inherent to the trans-humanist agenda and (2) to manage such risks.

I am probably less optimistic or idealistic than most people in our society’s ability to manage the impact of these new powerful life altering technologies effectively and timely. We have been indoctrinated by modern society, primarily by corporations and universities into a blind faith in technology. Such faith keeps us complacent believing technology will save us all in the end. This inability to question technology’s limitations and safety keep us powerless in the face of considerable risks.

History has shown society does not wake up to major risk until we have come to the very brink of the crisis. An example of such human behavior was the insane arms race escalation which drove the US and Russia to the so-called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) scenario. It was long after both super powers had made enough weapons to destroy several planets like earth that both parties realized nuclear war could not be won by either side. No nation could escape the enormity of the resulting nuclear holocaust. It took such an overwhelming and terrifying realization before the parties recovered the common sense to reduce their nuclear arsenals.

I am still looking for a way to manage the challenges that trans-humanists goals like human life extension will bring to a world where the carrying capacity of the Earth will have been exceeded several times over. We would need fantastic technologies to compensate for the extra people who would live by immediately reducing the ecological-footprint they would add.

And that is where my main argument arises. What will take to remove our anthropocentrism (human centeredness) from technology and from the human perception and interaction with the planet? That achievement would allow us to approach reality with a true consciousness that will call for the most ethical, rational and responsible use of technology. Such level of consciousness would enable us to prioritize our never ending list techno-wish list accordingly and allow us to better manage our development. It comes down to prioritizing planetary threats such as water scarcity over saving 40 year-old women from wrinkles.

It is amazing to see how the egotistical obsession with ourselves can cloud our judgment so much that we can completely detach from reality and  the urgent growing list of planetary issues which make such self-indulgent trans-humanist goals not just unimportant but shamefully frivolous. Resolving the global threats upon us, assuring the health of our life sustaining system and ensuring social justice and equality should take priority over any other goal by humanity. I will support trans-humanism in as much as it may contribute to the progress of sustainability.

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DSC00789We would not damage the environment if we realized it is a part of us in the same way we will avoid hurting our hands as they are part of us.  Humans need to expand their identity beyond the levels of individual, social group, and even species. The day we learn we are one with the rest of the Biosphere and learn anything else alive is after all a cousin, we will reconnect with Nature.

What barriers do we need to remove at the psyche’s level to understand the fact that we are still an element of the Natural Ecosystem? One of the most erroneous and deeply held believes is our socio-technical environment being separated and autonomous from the natural world. Despite the comfort, convenience and resources our manmade environments may offer, they all result from our life-sustaining system, Nature.

If we saw the myriad of interactions between our man-made environment and the natural environment such as the air we all breathe and the food we eat, we would realize the notion of separation is nothing but an illusion. But our Western cultural heritage makes us believe we are isolated egos fighting and surviving a world outside of us. Such notion is not just unhealthy but false. We are connected by blood, ethnicity, faith, ideology and other cultural bonds. Those who were at the Occupy movement protests in New York this year experienced something that cannot be reduced to a mere collection of individuals but far more than that: a collective psyche emerging from the interaction of the crowd and its protesting leaders.

Unfortunately despite how popular protests are in the environmental movement, they are still a long way from enabling humans to reconnect with Nature. The fact is that the same connecting factors that connect us in groups are ironically the very same ones that create the fragmentation that separate us from other human beings that belong to opposing groups. We make the old emotional and intellectual error illustrated by the expression ‘you are either with us or against us’. But in Nature and by default, in the outside reality beyond the human drama, it seldom is ‘either or’. Most times it is ‘both’ and ‘many’. Reality is a highly complex, multi-dimensional and interdependent living system where each one of us has something to share and build with every other human and non-human being.

Disciplines such as deep ecology and eco-psychology use the facts above as premises for their work raising (environmental) consciousness.

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