2016-11-30

To nobody in particular

"I've thought hard on what was emotionally so different about McPherson's short timeframe versus my unquestioning belief in a much longer one. Obviously, the longer timeframe means I'd get to live out my natural life.

I had never, for one second, consciously entertained the idea that human extinction was conceivable in the near term.

In other words, I'm basically okay with the sadness and anxiety about some far-off future generation seeing the collapse of humanity. Just not this one. My one." --Rachel Stewart: What to do when your days are numbered. We carry on, as humans are no good at facing up to possible extinction. New Zealand Herald, 30.11.2016

A great introspective piece by a journalist, mentioning a few thoughts I had as well in that first moment of dawning, showing that, even as we are expected to stay professionally distanced and objective, we are still human beings wanting to live, wanting to thrive and be happy.

I recently cought a few questionable remarks from the Aurobindan community which really make me think that the stage of ossification into a religion has been reached. Something along the lines of, "XY foresaw another future, so it cannot be true", or, "If you do this kind of yoga you cannot believe this pessimistic stuff", or even, "You are doubting The Master. What are you doing here?"

Well, I'm not a pessimist; I don't live in the physical world alone. I don't "believe" in that stuff because believing is really a bad idea when it makes you stop looking for yourself. Read your master's works; s/he will tell you a word or two on "a life divine, but no religion."
Scientific data, as well, can only take you so far before you are on your own. Words, figures, opinions, predictions, holy scriptures -- none of those is truth as such, At best they can point at the truth. Every time we try to limit reality to a guru's, a teacher's, a politician's, a philosopher's, or anybody else's words we step off the path of truth.

I see what is going on around, and inside of me - not just since this morning; I do that because I have a rotten gut feeling about people's ways as far back as I can remember. I look at the world, I look at the data, and I think to myself, "Hm, that McPherson fellow got a point. Thanks for offering this perspective" -- which means I go about finding out what it means in relation to my life.

Does it mean I cannot enjoy a joke? Does it mean I despise people with a different opinion? Does rejecting "The Master" as my supreme master mean I am off the Path? -- No, no, and again no, quite the opposite in each case. I am still among those of goodwill; more than ever, I'd say, because this thing literally shook me up.

Do I fail sometimes? -- Yes, absolutely. Quite often.
Can my assessments be inaccurate, or otherwise wrong? -- Absolutely. It wouldn't be the first time, either.
Yet it is I who has to find my way, like you have to find yours, and no one else can walk the walk for any of us.

2016-11-26

Good grief!

Tamil Nadu stares at water crisis as rain fails

“Tamil Nadu is staring at one of its worst water crises. Going by data put out by the public works department, the major irrigation reservoirs in the state have a combined storage of only 15% of its total capacity, which continues to dwindle. The northeast monsoon has been deficient in most districts with the meteorological department recording a 66% deficiency. The state had [already] suffered a deficit rainfall during the southwest monsoon between June and September this year. 'Both agriculture and water supply will be adversely affected given the present scenario,' said a senior government official, seeking anonymity.” --Times of India, 16 Nov 2016

India has severe problems with a Monsoon that has become increasingly erratic over the last two decades. Two months after the Winter Monsoon's regular starting date, 1st October, the local plateau here has seen but a handful of rainy days, only one of which resembled somehow seasonally normal conditions.
Yesterday we had a full-day powercut which low pressure in the hydroelectric powerplants may have contributed to. As the farm is allowed to pump water from the well only every other day, and as – thanks to a biased arbitration decision – we have lost all storage capacity to neighbours who are making no proper use of those, nor of the land we had to hand over to them, this poses a threat to the existence of the place. And it is just the beginning of what seems to be part of a steep decline into global destruction. Forget about food security in a town where the little farming we have receives an abundance of contempt from a society in which a sizeable fraction of the population believes tourists' money and government grants equal sustainable living.
I know that the Californian drought is going on for more than five years already, causing almonds and nuts shortages and price spikes in farwaway Germany. I know that places on the American plains and elsewhere in the World have been hit much earlier and much harder already than Southeast India, but that newspaper article, which I read only yesterday in the evening drove it home; drove it home to the deeper place where it belongs, beyond the mind.

I read it, and I cried.
I remembered having looked at sea ice graphs and global temperature figures and jetstream projections and polar weather maps just a few hours before, and I cried.
I looked up at the starlit raintree canope in front of my hut, and I cried.
I am not afraid of dying, and I know that all things shall pass; yet I cried for the untimely demise of all that beauty, considering how each of us has contributed – and is perpetually contributing – to its impending extinction. The cows, the crickets; the goats, the grass; the hares, the humans; the paddy birds and the palmyra; this beautiful, garbage-strewn, sun-baked land of India which in the not-so-distant future might face civil war over precious water crossing hate-based state borders.

I can feel how quite a few believe that I'm nuts (likely not those who made it this far into the text; thanks for still being with me). I am very aware of the fact that I am standing in a millennia-old tradition of doomsayers, all of which have been graced with being spared the real thing; 2012, after all, has come and passed not that long ago. And this as well is part of why I am crying: because the writing's on the wall, in capital letters, everywhere around us, still everyone carries on as if those were just minor glitches on a TV screen. Seen it before; won't happen to me. It's a conversation you can't have unless you seek to run into a wall of escapism, denial, and unfounded hopes.

I have been grieving before and I have been crying before. Understanding the inescapability and necessity of it all leaves no other choice, apart from closing my eyes. I do close my eyes sometimes, though not for a childlike kind of hiding; it is to connect to the joy of being alive, to focus on the love from which right action will come, and to be present for what needs to be witnessed.

2016-11-24

Talking about aliens



"Donald Trump says he believes there is ‘some connectivity’ between humans and climate change in major U-turn”, the Independent reported yesterday.

Have you seen the SciFi film “Independence Day”? Do you remember the scene when... you know, the moment when the US president is being confronted with the truth about Area 51 and the existence of alien invaders?
I think with Trump, it must have gone like this:
Trump (on being briefed on evidence for abrupt global warming): Since when do we know about this?
Staff: Since the 1970s; Big Oil did some pretty thorough research on the effects of burning fossil fuels. The UN also figured it out, in the late 80s.
Trump: And this is definitely going to kill us?
Staff: Yes, we did some research of our own. The Pentagon, in 2003, got a report saying, climate change was not going to be a walk in the park, and in 2009, the Alliance of Small Island States briefed the UN that, at the current atmospheric concentration of CO2, we are already locked into a 6°C temperature increase, and sea levels are bound to rise by 23 meters. And that's just for starters.
Trump (baffled): And why did nobody ever tell me???
Staff: Five words – one hundred percent credible deniability.
Trump: !!!

2016-11-23

Fermi paradox resoloved


"I have enough trouble predicting the plans and reactions of people closest to me. I am usually baffled by the thoughts and accomplishments of humans in different cultures. I’ll be damned if I can state with certainty what some extraterrestrial source of intelligence might do."
--Stephen Jay Gould
Our culture is just one out of innumerable cultures, past and present, here on Earth. Its existence is based on some peculiar premises it shares with no other culture that ever existed. (see The story of B, by Daniel Quinn) Therefore it is quite unlikely that there ever were many similar, or any, societies like ours anywhere in the universe.

The rule regarding civilizations – and I am tempted to say, Q.E.D., as (to be) seen by example – might be,
All cultures sufficiently advanced to develop interstellar travel inevitably destroy their habitat.

Cultures wise enough to foresee this do not engage in space flight, or long distance communication. The reason we cannot make contact is, they are not ready yet, they were ready but now dead, or they are not interested. This means, nobody will be coming to save us. They just can't.
"Perhaps we can hope intelligent species develop to the stage where they have no urge to own every star, inhabit every planet, and populate the Galaxy with beings just like themselves."
--Stephen Webb: If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... Where Is Everybody? Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life, p. 83
Such intelligent beings do exist – here on Earth; we call them Primitives, or plants, and animals. They are as intelligent as the people of our civilization but they managed to avoid some of our worst mistakes; foremost the urge to spend energy on expansionist ideas.

2016-11-18

Why the planet goes to waste (Not a poem)


We defend what we love.
We love what we relate to.
We relate to what we know.
We know what we experience.

We fight what we hate.
We hate what we can't relate to.
We can't relate to what we don't know.
We don't know what we don't experience.

Living isolated from each other,
In human terrariums overlooking the park.
Working the office, digital illusions,
No tangible connection to what is real.

Our stories, values, thoughts, opinions
Are pulled from papers, TV, books, and web.
Useless information, mediated truth.
War on everyone and everything, that's why.

2016-11-14

Do it yourself


Some of my friends, and many folks out there in the world, dream of better conditions to live in; some of them could be called activists, though that doesn't necessarily include active work towards the realization of specific goals. I noticed that often times people believe their situation to be too constrained, too complicated to allow for actual and rapid achievements, or there is a doubt that things can function totally different from what they are used to, or that this was even worth wanting. 

I mean to encourage you to question your premises, especially when that which holds you back from acting fills you with a slightly bad gut feeling, or even anxiety. Despite numerous (including serious) obstacles that naturally accompany every period of transition I can clearly see how stepping out of the old setup into something different has turned an existence that felt caged and pointless into a life that is meaningful both to me and to my environment. This wasn't at all about courage, or sacrifice. It was about understanding what was important to me and then, consistently, systematically, steering the ship into a new direction. When one acts from a deep understanding, there are no feelings of fear or loss involved. You just do what has to be done.

Life, of course, is not a pony farm. If I emphasize here on the improvements made I neither intend to convince you of joining me in this place nor do I recommend its way of functioning being taken over; in my life, and in my town, there are too many unresolved problems as to serve as a model for others. I also believe in the power of diversity, in the feasability and beneficial effects of a multitude of paths. So just let yourself get inspired by what is possible when people dare to dream actively. No one knows better than you what you love.

2016-11-09

Twenty-three billion banknotes invalid


Google News Germany - Nine headlines on the US election, none on India. India's PM Modi has declared last night at 10pm that all of the 23 billion Rs500 and Rs1000 notes are demonetized as of midnight. Banks and ATMs stay closed for today, some places also tomorrow. This is supposed to have happened as a blow at forged and black money which have been used for terrorist activities and corruption, all of which are blamed on activities “across the border”, meaning Pakistan. One trillion two hundred fifty billion Rupees of black money have supposedly been found recently.

Gives me the creeps, because this is not only risking to destabilize the financial sector and the economy, but threatens social peace as well and fires yet another affront towards the fragile relationship with Pakistan, a country in possession of nuclear weaponry.
In the evening, people have stormed ATMs, and today nobody is accepting 500s and 1000s any longer. Transactions in cash, even big ones like for cars or shop equipment, are way more common in India than in Europe or America. Many people don't have bank accounts, just cash money. They pay hospital stays and medicine, for enstance, in cash, and are now facing treatment being denied to them. Farmers delivering to markets cannot get paid for their food – which will spoil now while people all over the place cannot afford a meal. Many shops won't make any money within the next few days because they cannot refill their stocks, or their customers have no valid money to spend – like me. I actually wanted to spend ten thousand Rupees today on printing my book and getting a water pump for the farm. It has to wait another week – provided the situation is not escalating. I doubt that there are enough Rs50 notes in circulation for bridging the immediate need, e.g. for paying wages. Civil unrest or an economic crisis in India may well destabilize the global system – which sure has to happen, and cannot be avoided anyway, in the not-so-distant future. It would be a witty end, though, coming from an unexpected angle, provided that there are at least a dozen or so elements that are more likely to break civilization's back. “It will cause some hardship to you….Let us ignore these hardships”, the PM said regarding his decision.

2016-11-05

Distributed denial of servitude


Browsing through the web, following links where they will take me, I notice quite a few people speaking up about abandoning the old system in favour of something more worthwhile, amiable, life-centered.

I’m not promising anything we do will save us from climate disasters ahead. But becoming more authentic, sustainable, correcting the process of decision making, flattening the power structures, moving from corporations to worker owned cooperatives, and ending this multi-millennia rule by elites who live by might-makes-right is worth doing at any stage.”, says, for enstance, Jason Holland, self-described anarchist and blogger.

Maybe it is just that I happen to stir up more of that stuff because I am looking for it, but I do have the impression that it has become increasingly easy finding it, and that the time is right for a major shift. We still are a tiny minority heavily constricted by mainstream culture, yet the seed of change has taken root in the fertile soil of the human mind.

How can we bring about the manifestation of that which the mind still has to grasp and what our hearts know already since birth?
Small numbers call for guerilla tactics. We do not want to repeat the same mistakes previous revolutionaries have fallen for, though. Violence is not an option. Hollowing out the system from within is not an option. 'Green' consumption is not an option. Large organizations are not an option. Each of us stands profoundly alone in the face of an all-overwhelming machine, and the probability of a near-term failure of the Earth's biosphere.

It is from this standpoint of powerlessness that we can give up false hopes for change on a large scale, chuck out the notion of educating the masses, abandon the idea of pushing the right buttons to rectify what's 'wrong'. What we think, what we say, what we do, and how we relate to other beings cannot immediately trigger the drastic changes on a macro level most activists seem to be calling for; the real effect plays out in how it changes ourselves, and how it changes those immediately affected by our actions: our friends, family, pets, gardens, work results etc. The life in the immediate Now, the life in dignity, the life in servitude to Life – this is what the Real Revolution is about. It may make a difference in the long run, on an accumulated macro level, but I have the gut feeling we ought not even think about it this way.

It is a dire situation we are in –

If we don’t stand soon not only is the climate a done deal but as we slide into the gravity of collapse as a disparate group at each other’s throats we’ll become ever more barbarous if we don’t fight to end this culture of ego now.” (Jason Holland again.)

Like Jason, I don't want to make alarmism my standard notion, but that doesn't mean that the description of the situation as I perceive it has to sound like a preacher's vision of paradise. On a certain level, there are real threats some of which require instant action, probably even violence. I am not about discouraging anybody from doing whatever they feel is necessary.

Having said as much, I would go into a different direction: Let's ask the question whether we are acting from fear of what might happen if we didn't act. Are we seeking company in order to extinguish that feeling of being alone? Why not live up to the deepest understanding we can grasp, and implement that in every minute, every move? What about standing for what we aspire, rather than against what we despise?
We could stop selling our labour for money and instead be dedicating our time for free to our neighbours;
we could start educating our children ourselves, teaching them subjects and skills the schools keep under wraps: how to relate sincerely, how to find out things, how to sustain oneself, how to recognize truth;
we could start exploring our environment at walking distance, taking in smells and sights we never notice from within our cars;
we could give up listening to the telly and start telling our own stories; in doing so, we could give preference to listening to the person in front of us over the person calling in on mobile;
we could stop buying and start creating things ourselves, like food, music, jewellery, and housing;
we could begin gathering in small tribes of neighbourhoods and friends, exchanging goods and services for free, like caring for minors; we could value family bonds; we could value the land and bond ourselves with our blood to it. The land is us, and we are the land. This is how we can stand strong in the face of the violence this culture is engulfing us in.

Each moment lived in the spirit of not being afraid is a denial of servitude to the – whatever your preferred choice of words is – materialistic, utilitarian, short-sighted, imperialistic, exploitative, capitalistic, omnicidal, psychopathic civilization. Each individual following his or her heart contributes to the resilience of the 'attack' on the system by distributing the denial of servitude.
Keep in mind that our actions are not to be directed against dominant culture; they are primarily expressions of the different visions and worldviews we are beginning to manifest today. Then each of them is sending ripples through a culture that, though it has managed to overwhelm the whole planet, is built on false assumptions and ready to fall apart at any moment now, collapsing under its own weight. By refusing to act from fear we become like sand between the system's cogwheels.
But once again, don't think about it in these terms. Don't antagonize, don't anticipate. By being a builder of community, rather than a destroyer of civlization, life becomes worth living again. Let the 'problem' with the dominant culture take care of itself. It already does.