Saturday, September 29, 2018
written 22 September 2018
published 29 September 2018
One of my favorite science books is "Spontaneous Evolution", written in 2009 by Bruce Lipton, a nationally recognized cell biologist, and Steve Bhaerman, a comedian, known for channeling Swami Beyondananda. This educational and uplifting book presents a positive future, and a path to get there from here
Their basic thesis is that life, over the last 3.5 billion years, has faced a series of extinction-threatening situations, each demanding a spontaneous evolution to resolve. We are facing such a challenge today. The good news is that we don't need an evolution of biological form, but simply a shift in fundamental belief patterns, the programming that determines behavior. This is like a computer systems upgrade, rather than a new computer, a change that can be very rapid.
While the book describes how we got to this crisis point, the crux of the discussion is four false beliefs, fundamental to our dominant culture, leading to lethal consequences.
The first of these myth-perceptions is: only matter matters. For centuries, European culture held that reality was primarily spiritual, dogmatically defined by the Catholic Church, which killed people who disagreed with their definitions. The Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, one of the first rebellions against the secular corruption of the Church, diminished that power, and allowed investigation of alternative descriptions of reality. The scientific world view arose in the 1700s, avoiding conflict with the still powerful Church by considering only material aspects, ignoring the unseen completely. The success of this materialist perspective, and the technology it developed, has transformed civilization, but led to the erroneous assumption that materialism is the totality of reality.
Corollaries to materialism are reductionism, the linear assumption that the whole can be understood by examining the dissected parts, and determinism, the assumption that, when everything is measured with precision, the outcome of processes can be predicted with certainty. The world was reduced to a purposeless machine, and acquisition of material goods was the only measure of success. This became the new cultural dogma, as oppressive as the rigid spiritual dogma of the Church had been, resulting in destruction of planetary resources and the rise of corporate domination.
But the integrity of the scientific quest for understanding led to continued discoveries, showing that materialism, reductionism, and determinism are incomplete descriptions of the real world, and are therefore incapable of addressing the multitude of crises facing humanity today. Matter is now understood to be a form of energy, shaped and directed by unseen forces known as fields. Most systems, especially living systems, are non-linear, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and a reductionist analysis misses important truths. Quantum physics shows that matter is a probability function, in conflict with deterministic certainty. At the particle level, qualities such as position and velocity are paired, with an inherent uncertainty. The more precisely one quality is measured, the more indeterminate the other becomes. Finally, the act of observing affects what is being observed, suggesting that the unseen nature of consciousness is central to reality.
The unseen energy fields that affect matter, and unseen patterns of consciousness, both appear to be non-local, bound together in dimensions that transcend the four dimensions of space/time that constrain the original Newtonian physics, stretching our conventional understanding, and putting us into a realm previously considered spiritual. The war between the dogma of the church and the dogma of materialist science is a false division, born of rigid attachment to limited perspectives. It is like arguing whether a coin IS heads or IS tails, rather than understanding they are two sides of the same coin.
By embracing the reality of this inclusiveness, we open new areas for investigation, particularly in health and healing. The body is not simply a material mechanism, but an expression of interconnected complexes of energy systems, affected by conscious beliefs, and it can be healed by changing those beliefs. In the same way, the healing of the planet may be addressed by changing consciousness.
Chapter five of "Spontaneous Evolution" ends with: "We can realize that humanity is operating on a unified field of dreams, and we can rejoice that the field is a playing field, not a battlefield."
Saturday, September 22, 2018
written 15 Sep 2018
published 22 September 2018
I stated in my last article that it will take a miracle to address climate change. Miracles are simply the operation of systems beyond our awareness. As we finite beings contemplate the infinite unknown, everything we "know" is wrong, or at best, incomplete. A new perspective can appear like a miracle. Einstein said, "you can't solve a problem with the same mindset that created it." The mindset behind the climate problem is the conviction that matter has its own autonomy, the illusion of dualistic separation.
This materialist perspective sees problems "out there", thus solutions require action "out there". This disempowers the individual, since one person doesn't appear to have much effect. Group action seems necessary, but getting people headed in the same direction is difficult, requiring time, energy, and money.
The alternative to dualistic materialism is non-duality. The ground of reality is not matter, but consciousness, putting the aware individual in an empowered position. Climate change arises as the lethal conclusion of the belief in separation. Two weeks ago, a packed house viewed a Climate Action of Mendocino presentation of Paul Hawkins' video, "Drawdown", which suggested that climate change is an opportunity. Like a cancer diagnosis, near-term human extinction can focus our attention on awakening from the separation illusion, embracing our human birthright.
"The New Consciousness", by local author Jakeb Brock, proposes we have been misled for six thousand years, believing humans represent an evolutionary peak. He suggests we are still evolving, and Christ embodied and taught unity consciousness as the way forward. But the Christian religion misunderstood the teaching and worships Jesus as the unique son of God, rather than as a man who awakened to unity consciousness, a possibility available to us all.
"Our Compassionate Kosmos", by local author Ricardo Stocker, presents a similar message. "We are not bodies with a soul, but souls with a body." There is wisdom all around us, and we can adjust our perspective to tune to that wisdom, just like tuning a radio to a different channel, which is already broadcasting.
"Science and Spiritual Practices", by biologist Rupert Sheldrake, gives seven practices to help us tune to these other channels, starting with meditation and gratitude awareness. By learning to notice and respond to wisdom and information that is always present, we begin to experience "out there" as an extension of "in here". When we change our beliefs, the larger world is transformed.
"Zero Limits", by Joe Vitale, describes the work of Dr. Hew Len, a clinical psychologist, appointed to a Hawaiian clinic for mentally ill criminals. Within four years, he changed a dysfunctional facility, hated by both inmates and staff, into a desired workplace. Patients were healed to the point the entire facility was no longer needed. Dr. Len accomplished this with no patient contact, but worked to change himself, using the Hawaiian spiritual practice called Ho'oponopono, which teaches we live in a shared consciousness. Change in one person's consciousness changes the whole. "Total responsibility for your life, means that everything in your life, simply because it IS in your life, is your responsibility. In a literal sense, the entire world is your creation."
The first project by the Institute Of Noetic Sciences was a directory of spontaneous healings recorded in medical records. These were cases diagnosed as terminal in the near term, but went into complete remission as people changed their attitudes about their illness. Medical science knows the placebo effect is real. Any substance has healing affect about a third of the time, because the person believes it is so. Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the effect of mind on the body.
What we believe affects our health and how our material body manifests. What we believe affects the material world we experience. Whatever outward actions we take to address climate change, we must also notice the thoughts and limitations we hold, because we are powerful creative beings. To whatever extent I feel disconnected from the world, I am contributing to the world's disconnection from me, in the form of climate induced human extinction. We are divinity manifesting and need to embrace our power, using it for the good of the whole, of which we are part.
Saturday, September 15, 2018
written 8 Sep 2018
published 15 September 2018
Radio Curious (www.radiocurious.org) recently posted two interviews with Guy McPherson, about abrupt climate change producing human extinction within a decade, updating information from 3 years ago. McPherson represents an extreme position on this subject, but even if his timing is in error, the science of the unfolding events is solid.
With the president denying man made climate change, it is comforting to believe that if there is a problem, the effects are decades away. To protect profits, fossil fuel corporations continue to spend millions of dollars creating doubt about the science. Reality ignores these political and economic fantasies.
For almost a million years, the planet went through a series of ices ages, broken by warmer periods, called inter-glacial. The average Earth temperature during the last ice age was 12°C, which warmed to 13.5°C for the current inter-glacial, during which human civilizations arose. Since 1750, CO2 emitted by industrial activity has warmed the Earth to 15.25°C. We have changed the Earth temperature more than the difference between an ice age and the present inter-glacial period. The steady addition of atmospheric CO2 increases the temperature slowly, but other forces in motion are massively non-linear, with abrupt consequences.
The most sensitive area is the Arctic Ocean basin, which has been covered in ice for most of human existence. The Arctic is warming 3-5 times faster than the rest of the planet, and minimum coverage in summer has declined 75% since 1980. In 1984, 61% of Arctic ice was multi-year ice, crunched into thick, dense ridges, and resistant to melting. This year only 34% is multi-year ice, and only 2% is over 5 years old. Last month, warming winds broke up the oldest ice, and much of it moved into the Atlantic, causing iceberg problems in the shipping lanes.
Open water warms more quickly because the darker water absorbs sunlight and heat the white ice used to reflect. Without a protective ice cover, storms mix the water, transporting heat deeper into the ocean, which slows ice growth the following winter.
While climate models predict an ice-free Arctic summer in the mid 2040s, current warming trend suggests an Arctic ice-free summer by the early 2030s. In an interview podcast on September 4th (www.tucradio.org), Arctic scientist Peter Wadhams said Arctic warming is accelerating, and an ice-free summer could happen in the next few years.
This is worrisome, because the Arctic basin is shallow, with a large Russian continental shelf less than 150' deep. Buried on that shelf are 1-10 trillion tons of frozen methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas almost 100 times more potent than CO2. A release of only 50 billion tons, a tiny fraction of what is there, would raise the Earth temperature .6°C within a few years.
As long as there is ice in the water, the ocean can't get much warmer than freezing, but an ice-free Arctic would quickly warm, and a massive methane release could happen at any time, which has scientists very worried. This temperature spike would heat the Arctic first, releasing even more methane, a tipping point for thermal runaway. Methane plumes are increasing, from none in mid-1990s to 150,000 in 2012, indicating thawing of the Arctic seafloor has begun.
In addition to more wildfires, rapid temperature increase threatens humans in two ways. We are exothermic beings, giving off heat as a result of our biochemistry. We cool our bodies through evaporation. When the combination of temperature and humidity is too high evaporation becomes impossible, our vital organs cook, and we die. Some areas of the planet hit this lethal heat each year, and thousands die. With more heating, more territory will be uninhabitable by people or animals.
The crops we depend on, primarily wheat and rice, die when the temperature gets too high. The current warming is already causing local crop failures and contributing to the rising cost of food. A large, rapid temperature increases would devastate global agriculture, leading to wide spread starvation and migration, and probable economic collapse.
At a recent conference in Rome, convened to advise the Pope on climate issues, world famous physical oceanographer, Walter Munk, was asked for his solution to the climate challenge. He said it would take a miracle and involve love.
Saturday, September 8, 2018
written 1 September 2018
published 8 September 2018
Economist Paul Krugman, in an August 28th, New York Times interview, stated that illiberalism has risen in Poland and Hungry. The process of popular election was used to kill democracy as we know it, creating a one-party rule by destroying an independent judiciary, suppressing freedom of the press, institutionalizing large scale corruption, and delegitimizing dissent. Trump, with Republican support, is taking America in the same direction. There is a critical election coming up. Consider what you support.
Regulations protecting clean air, water and food are being repealed, supposedly to stimulate the economy and create more jobs. Are you willing to allow corporations to poison the food your children eat, and the air and water needed to live, to increase stockholder profits? Do you believe this is the only way to create jobs?
America is a representative democracy, with equal rights under the law. We fought a major war against the fascist use of state powers for corporate gains. Do you believe that democracy is an outmoded failure? Do you want a strong leader who demands complete loyalty?
Partisan gerrymandering and voter roll purges thwart majority rule. Large majorities in both parties support legal abortion. Do you accept the majority will should be denied by a powerful minority?
Trump's misogyny and racism allows these dormant views to come out of the shadows and flourish. Do you believe that Christ's instruction to love our neighbor as ourselves meant only people that look like us? Does the Golden Rule apply only to those who agree with us? Are men really better than women?
Despite promising to "drain the swamp", officials at every level in the current administration have massive conflicts of financial interest. Do politicians have a right to enrich themselves by using the power of their office? Should public service simply be an opportunity to fleece taxpayers?
The Republican tax cut disproportionately benefited the very wealthy. Do you believe that the rich are better and deserve a different set of rules? Should the wealthy pay a smaller tax rate than a secretary? Do you believe the elite create all the jobs?
Republican law made it difficult to forgive student loans, and the Secretary of Education sides with the predatory loan companies and fraudulent for-profit schools. Should a good education be limited only to the children of the rich? Must victims of school loan fraud be saddled with debt for life?
Trump campaigned on killing ObamaCare, but Republicans have never suggested a viable alternative. Do only the wealthy deserve good health care? Is our country strong when the poor must die, or go bankrupt getting care?
Trump has declared the press "enemies of the people", because they have the audacity to criticize him. Reporters have been banned from press conferences for asking questions he didn't like. Protestors have been arrested. Is free speech, as defined by the Constitution, really a crime? Is a free press really a threat to the nation?
Fact checkers have found that Trump lies an average of 7 times a day. Is truth really not truth? If the president believes something, does that make it true for you? If Trump disagrees with something, does that make it "fake news" for you? If he changes his story about an event, are you willing to believe each new version as the "real truth"?
Consider how many times you have answered "yes" to the 23 questions posed above. The more you answer "yes", the more likely you are pleased with the direction of our country, and should vote for the Republicans who are working to further those goals. However, if you mostly answered "no", and feel our country is drifting toward disaster, then make sure you are registered (https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/), and commit to voting. Speak to your family and friends, especially those in other states. Because of fraudulent Republican voter purges, urge them to check their registration and then commit to vote. This election, all our voices must be heard to show that we really are a nation that believes in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for everyone. We still have the opportunity to vote, use it or lose it. Vote as if the future of the country is at stake!
Saturday, September 1, 2018
written 26 August 2018
published 1 September 2018
Early in August, a grand jury in Pennsylvania reported that for 70 years, more than 300 priests abused at least 1000 children in just 6 dioceses. This follows a Boston Globe expose of sexual abuse in the Boston area in 2002, which was the source for a major motion picture, "Spotlight". These indictments are only a small part of a global problem for the Catholic Church. Wikipedia shows more than 29 countries have exposed this problem, and as many as 4% of the clergy worldwide have been involved.
As they age, all organizations suffer from mission creep and corruption toward simple preservation of their structure. The Catholic Church, being one of the oldest bureaucracies in the world, is an excellent example. While the original mission of the Church was spiritual guidance for their parishioners, it is clear that the real priority is preservation of the power structure and the finances it controls. The Church has shown it is willing to sacrifice the well-being of thousands, covering up sexual abuse which is condemned by its own rules, by shifting priests around without informing anyone, until the stature of limitations runs out on the crimes.
Consistent with this policy of corrupt repressed sexuality, the Church has lavishly lobbied to criminalize abortion and deny access to affordable contraception. A compliant Republican party has packed the Supreme Court toward this goal, rushing to finish the job by confirming Kavanaugh before the midterms.
Corruption of original intent is not limited to the Catholic Church. Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was recently convicted of various felony violations. The same day, Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pled guilty to felony campaign contribution violations for paying hush money to influence the outcome of the presidential election, with the full knowledge of candidate Trump. This makes the sitting president an unindicted co-conspirator in a felony. Yet the entire Republican party stands solidly behind "their" man, putting power before principle.
At the same time, Republican Representative Duncan Hunter has been arraigned on 60 counts of felony misuse of campaign funds, allegedly spending $250,000 in donations to fund a lavish lifestyle. This seems like petty cash compared to the millions Trump is pulling in through his access-for-sale presidency, but it is probably not what Republican donors had in mind.
Republicans used to have principles that were the foundation of their integrity as a party. Rule of law, balanced budgets, and free trade were cornerstones. Even if a person disagreed with their stand, it was acknowledged that these were true convictions. Every one of those ideals has been thrown over by this administration. Clearly the only principle left is maintaining power, even if the entire foundation of the country and economy is eroded. Integrity is no longer a Republican virtue.
It seems that integrity is no longer a business virtue either. Monsanto was recently fined $289M because their lucrative Roundup product was judged to have caused cancer. After decades of Monsanto insisting that Roundup was safe, funding compliant scientists, harassing those reporting troubling data, and spending millions lobbying regulators, the truth is finally coming out in court. Monsanto does not care that their product kills people because their only goal is maximizing shareholder value. Even that may take a hit as stock value of Bayer AG, Monsanto's new owner, lost 20% value on news of the verdict. This judgment will probably not be the last, since the weight of scientific evidence has been building for decades.
In each of the cases mentioned above, all values have been sacrificed to money and power. America is not alone in confronting this collapse of values, but we have to start from where we are. We are fortunate that we still have a judiciary that is committed to the rule of law, as limited as that may seem at times. Republicans are busy stacking the courts with compliant judges who will prioritize wealth and corporations over people, furthering the fascism of state power used for corporate profit. This next election is an opportunity for each of us to determine our own values, and then vote for people who represent those values. Vote as if this is the last fair election, because it just might be.