I have felt clogged up over the last few months - energetically, mentally and otherwise. I know what will help me open up: Meditation, yoga, change in diet, being outdoors, aligning my choices with my passions, and acknowledging that I always choose.
Dream - Intentional Life
I had a dream yesterday where one of my housemates, who I perceive as living a strongly intentional life, asked me about my intentions about an aspect of my life. I became uncomfortable, realizing that where I previously had strong intentions and awareness - it is now more in the background. The last several weeks weeks in particular has changed my focus from the big picture to the day-to-day, sometimes the hour-to-hour, details of my life. The big picture, and my intentions for my choices in that context, has been placed on the shelf. Now, in my first break in the architecure program I started in June, I have an opportunity to refresh my intentions.
Online Audio & Text
Some of the online audio I currently listen to:
BBC World Service - mostly solid news reporting
NRK - Norwegian news and in-depth reporting
As it Happens - Canadian perspective
To the Best of Our Knowledge - stories on a theme from Wisconsin Public Radio
This American Life - Deeply human stories on a theme
The America Project
Third Coast Audio Festival
And what I read:
Google News - world news from a range of news sources (good opportunity to compare reporting)
The Guardian - British newspaper
BBC - World News
New York Times
NRK - Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation
Dagsavisen - Norwegian newspaper
BBC and NY Times both have a strong "modern" bias in the Cultural Creatives terminology: Belief in salvation through scientific progress, strongly supportive of neo-liberalism (and disparaging towards its critics) etc. BBC is sometimes surprisingly patronizing when reporting from former British colonies.
Common Dreams New Center
United Nations News
Outlook India - range of international views
IPS News - international news
Islam Online - Islamic views
Al Jazeera - Arabic view on world news
Some thoughts about our future:
1. Hope and Fear
Hope and fear reflect blind projections. We see in the future that which we are not fully aware of in ourselves - that which we are not fully familiar with or comfortable with. This takes our attention away from life manifesting right now - the only way it can manifest. Past and future do not exist apart from in our memory or ideas. There is only a continuously changing present.
Scenarios are nevertheless useful. They help us think about our choices right now, and what they may lead to further into the future. Which scenarios are my current choices consistent with? Which futures may they contribute to?
3. Current Trends
There seems to be a few current trends that will impact our future more than other. Of course, this is in flux and there will be strong trends in the future that are beyond our current horizon.
In the larger picture, our current blindly dualistic perceptions is a strong factor. We split and fragment the world, and see the fragments more than we see the whole they are embedded in.
We perceive certain characteristics in ourselves (our group) and not in others, and other characteristics in others (other groups) and not in ourselves. Seeing desirable characteristics in ourselves and undesirable characteristics in others, lead to aversion and dehumanization. Seeing undesirable characteristics in ourselves and desirable characteristics in others, lead to blind attractions. (What is seen as desirable and undesirable is mostly dictated by our culture and subculture.) These blind attractions and aversions lead to the actions that typically follows these (as we are all too familiar with), and finally to collective and individual suffering. On the other hand, when we recognize in ourselves what we see in others, we open up for compassion, recognition of our common humanity, and to clearer and more free choices. Attractions and aversions are the guideposts for us to become aware of projections, and recognize in our inner world what we see in the outer world.
Similarly, we fragment our world in an ecological sense. We see ourselves and human culture as mostly separate from the Earth. We have created and support an economical and industrial system that is based on an idea of unlimited resources. A system that does not take into account our intimate connection with ecosystems and their limited capacity. We spend most of our time indoors, and do not recognize how vital a daily connection with ecosystems is for our well being and health. We make daily life choices, and do not fully realize how they create our common future. We have one set of ethics for how we behave towards one species (the golden rule), and another set of ethics for how we behave towards most or all other species (dominance).
The dualistic phase of human evolution is still strong, although there is more and more recognition of what lies beyond - a more transdual view. It is possible that the evolution of mind goes from unaware oneness (plants), via half awake duality (most animals), to a more fully awake transdual experience (expressed by prophets and saints of many traditions). If humanity as a whole will ever go beyond mostly blind duality is an open question.
Ecology is another strong factor, already mentioned above. Humanity has an ecological footprint larger than the Earth. (An ecological footprint is the area required of bioproductive land/sea to support our current lifestyle.) Living within our means is similar to living of the interests of an investment. This overshoot is similar to living off the principal - there is no obvious effect until we reach the bottom of the account. We know how to live within our means, while maintaining or possibly increasing our quality of life.
There are many reasons why we have not moved more strongly towards a more sustainable and rewarding way of organizing our lives. One of them is multinational corporations. These corporations, some with a cash flow larger than that of many countries, have one goal: maximizing profit for their shareholders. Everything else takes second place. These same corporations are in corporate conglomerates that include most of the mass media in the world, which means that the views of the corporations and the views of the media are mostly aligned. Stories and views that support the interests of corporations are likely to be promoted, and those conflicting with the interests of corporations sifted out. Corporations also control, or have a strong influence on, the political systems around the world. In the US, few politicians can hope to be elected, even on a local level, unless they are backed by corporations. Election to national office requires a politician to support policies that benefit corporations, and set aside policies that may hurt them. (It follows that the police and military are used to protect the interest of corporations.) This leads to a situation where multinational corporations, media and politicians share common interests and aligned views.
4. Possible Futures
It seems that the unraveling of ecosystems and dominance of corporations will continue for a while. It will lead to massive suffering around the world (natural disasters, famine, diseases, wars, mass migration) - even more than what we see today. It seems that it may lead to one of two different scenarios. One where our social system unravels with the ecological system (leading to a significantly reduced human population). Another that leads to an awakening and change of course. Maybe the most likely is an awakening that is just enough to help us keep going longer, but one that also will not respond fully to all of our challenges.
I have been listening to archived audio from NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation).
One of the statements that resonated with me was Anne-Cath. Vestly talking about one of her reasons for writing children's books: Modelling interactions between adults and children that are primarily an interaction between human beings - where people do not fall into the predefined roles of "adult" and "child".
It seems that this is good to keep in mind for all our human interactions. Do we interact as human beings - open for each other as we are - or do we fall into predefined roles?
After several years in Utah and Wisconsin, learning to live with long periods of warm temperatures (90-100 F, 30-40 C), I find it interesting to observe how Europeans are dealing with their current heat wave. For them, it is difficult to live with temperatures that people in other places around the world are used to and relatively comfortable with.
It is a reminder of how adaptable humans - and life - is.
We adapt biologically, mentally and with our behavior. In terms of heat, I noticed that during the summers in Utah where worked outside daily in temperatures up to 100F/40C, I adapted physiologically to the point where it seemed relatively comfortable. Being in a cooler space, especially air conditioned buildings, was very uncomfortable. This summer, I have spent much time in an air conditioned space (not my preference), and notice that I have not had an opportunity to adapt to even the low 90F (30-35C) temperatures we typically have here east of the Cascades.
There are also many behavioral tricks to deal with the heat: Getting up at or before sunrise and get most of the activities done by mid-day. Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Stay in the shade. Use a hat. Find a breezy spot or use a fan. Cool the house during the night by opening windows and doors, close everything during the day. Use external shading for windows. Build buildings that stay cool without air conditioning: external shade (deciduous trees, louvers), good insulation, designed for airflow (low - incoming cool air - and high - outgoing hot air - openings for cross ventilation), cooling towers, etc. Plant trees in the city to reduce the overall temperature (hard surfaces and lack of vegetation raises the temperature of cities 6-8F).
Choice and Energy
I had something very close to chronic fatigue syndrome for several years, and it finally cleared up after discovering NAET and going to a practitioner in Salt Lake City for some months. In addition to diet (I had strong food intolerances, and still have traces), I noticed that my mental state has a significant impact on how fatigued or energetic I feel. It seems that choices seems to be at the core - my relationship to the choices I make.
If I pretend that I do not have, and do not make, choices, but still act as if I made the choice (which I obviously did), then I tend to experience fatigue. If I recognize the choices I make, and take full responsibility for them, I feel lighter and more energetic. To me, it seems that the difference is dramatic. One is a victim mode, the other is taking charge and seeing this aspect of our life more clearly. When I realize that I always make choices, I am able to make more conscious choices. When I realize that I do something because I want to do it (aware of which needs it meet), resistance drops away. It also seems to be an effective way of letting go of habitual patterns.
This is a useful technique for bringing awareness into our choices:
(a) Make a list of our ten least favorite activities (pay taxes, work, etc).
(b) Write down our habitual statement we make about them ("I have to ... because...").
(c) Turn each around to a choice statement ("I choose to ... because").
This exercise, if done sincerely, can have several consequences:
(i) We drop a certain action, because we realize we do not have to do it, and it does not meet our needs.
(ii) We change our attitude about the action by realizing why we do it and what needs of ours it meets (we drop our complaining or victim attitude).
(iii) We change the behavior to better meet our needs.
Fragments of Life
Not only is life stranger than fiction - it is more complex, grounded and often far more fascinating.
Two of my current media favorites are Found Magazine and This American Life). Found Magazine publishes found fragments from people's lives - notes, photos - including the card above. This American Life uses brief radio documentaries - often with a similar "found" character.
I find these glimpses into people's lives facinating. They gives us a sense of our common and shared humanity.