From DON SANDERSON
A few years ago, I was associated with the Ukiah Community Center and had a reason to write an essay explaining the complexity of homeless issues. I’ve been bringing it up to date and intended to blog it shortly. It is filled with negative comments about community involvement in the causes of homelessness and behavior toward those so trapped, very often through no fault of their own. This is related to our community’s contributions to a long list of other issues in unhealthy, unhealing, ways. I’m thinking of our wasting culture: we throw away packaging, wrapping, cans, and bottles, our children, our elderly, our health, the frogs, song birds, polar bears, and blue whales, the oceans, the Earth with hardly a notice ….. who cares? I like to leave every essay on a positive helpful note, but could find none here. This situation left me very dissatisfied, depressed.
Then, the other night, I had a dream. The setting was a large playing court, open to the sky and with high stone walls. I and my opponent were on opposite ends. The apparent rules were that one would serve the ball and the other would attempt to return it by hitting it with one of their hands before it hit the ground or wall. The ball was about the size of a softball and black. The first serve to me was over my head. Though I jumped high, not high enough. The second serve was almost straight up and was coming down directly at my head. I stepped aside and waited for it to fall to me before hitting it, and again missed. At this point, an older man, maybe my coach, stopped the game and came out to discuss the situation with me – at which point I awoke. As I did so, I was greeted with a buzzing in my chest, which those of you who know about chakras are familiar with.
Most of my dreams have the character of theater, absorbing but not worth remembering. However, a few have carried important messages. This seemed to be one such. My usual response is to later write the dream down and immediately notice the feelings generated. My feeling was that my opponent was the world, that is the human-related world filled with one catastrophe after another. It was tossing balls at me and I was not successfully fielding them. I then spent an hour wondering why so and how I might do better, how I might return each ball of the many coming my way.
One of my interests, maybe primary interest, is healing – of myself and other humans near to me, but more especially to, as the Sioux say, all my relations, in other words the Earth and all its wild inhabitants that are being devastated by too, too many never-satisfied always-unaware humans. Somehow or another, this wild Mother Earth seems holy to me and I must respond to what is happening.
The central tenet of healing is a positive frame of mind, a certainty of results. Any negativity only interferes and may block healing. How can we possibly not view what is happening negatively? It appears there is a way.
We humans have been blessed with unusually creative minds. Well over two million years ago, we began to chip rocks and learned to throw them for protection. Almost two million years ago, we discovered we could control fire. Over subsequent many millennia, we mastered fire, stonework and a variety of other wood and bone tools, buckskin, basketry, and pottery. Somewhere in here, we became skilled in using language. Along the way, we drove predators away and became mighty hunters. At least forty thousand years ago, we began painting figures and scenes on rock walls. Ten thousand years ago we discovered a wheat variety that had ripe seed heads that didn’t shatter and we discovered agriculture. A short time later, we invented first villages, then cities, and finally kingdoms. Then, we mastered metal work – and empires exploded in size, Twenty five hundred years ago or so, we mastered writing, which twisted our minds in amazing new directions. Then came mathematics, books, printing presses, libraries, architecture, science, and accounting. Finally, only yesterday, fossil fuel-derived energy was tapped and the industrial/engineering age and the world’s human population exploded. It is now estimated that 98 percent of the living mammal biomass consists of us humans and our domestic animals, while this was negligible only a few thousand years ago.
An insight was given me that in all this human time, we have been like children playing with this new toy, creativity. As children do, we scattered pieces randomly everywhere and were always hungry to try others. Children are ordinarily self-centered and naturally selfish, traits which seems to have become imprinted in our culture. Messes and squabbles abounded. Vast piles of wastes, old toys in which they have lost interest, accumulate: the packaging, wrappings, and containers. the homeless, elderly, and mentally ill, the frogs, songbirds, polar bears, blue whales, rainforests, and oceans, the wild Earth. If some adults were present, they were enthusiastically ignored or their counsels were metamorphosed into yet other toys. What is wrong with this picture. Actually, nothing. Children will be children; it’s the way they learn. But, there comes a time when they must grow up, become mature, cleanup the messes, and start taking responsibility. I urge that that time is now. Yet, there is another conundrum with which we must contend.
This creativity coevolved with increasing brain size and complexity. In order that such potentially large heads can make it through the birth canal, we are born with brains that are exceptionally undeveloped. Subsequently, while they develop, we are exposed to and copy our dominant cultural behaviors throughout our neurological systems; for all practical purposes, we lock them in to such an extent we find it nearly impossible to comprehend any other ways of thinking, of seeing, of acting. Thus, we mostly place our creative drive in a childish straight-jacket. There appear, however, to be ways to escape this tyranny of the brain and our childhood programming.
It would seem that shortly there will be nothing left to clean up. Rationally, from the point of view of mechanistic science, this appears to be so. Like the U.S. military, science has attempted to subdue the world. But, as in that case, failures are becoming more and more obvious and a new contrary holistic science is rearing its head. It is increasingly becoming apparent that the universe is not only far more complex than we know, it is very likely more complex than we can know. This has been repeated in various forms time after time by others far more knowledgeable than I. For example, try as they might, old science has been unable to find the location of consciousness, of the major forms of memory, of awareness and perception, of mind as some say, in the human brain or elsewhere in the body. Some more radical scientists are beginning to conclude, as a succession of radical adults have over the ages, that that search is hopeless – they aren’t there. We are much more, much, much more.
Stories of, as modern medical science dismissively calls it, spontaneous healing flourishes. In a not untypical example, someone is discovered to have a non-operable cancer and is sent home to die. That person refuses to prepare for death by mourning, but by celebrating what life they have left. And, they live, and live, and live. When it is again investigated, the cancer has disappeared. Certainty seems to be a prerequisite. Not unusually, answers come in dreams. Indeed, it is difficult to differentiate lucid dreams with being awake. However, note that this doesn’t imply that we might live forever; bodies do eventually run down, it is hoped with the acceptance of those residing there within. Even the Earth will die someday, but let us trust not prematurely from this human plague that is infecting and devastating all its creatures.
Is it now time for Mother Earth to die? I and quite a few others think not. Healing of the Earth’s wild living shell is being contemplated as a certainty. How so in any detail, I only don’t know and very probably can’t know. Let us celebrate that tiny fraction of this wild Earth that remains. Let us turn our amazing creativity toward healing its wounds. Let us grow up. Suppose we fail? Would you rather that we die behaving like crybabies?
As you may be aware, I’ve extensively documented my findings about the state of the human world and its effects on the Earth to my own dissatisfaction and scattered them out to others. The latest to catch my attention are the U.S military’s attack on the Earth’s climate in addition to all the suffering it is heaping on Afghanistan and Pakistan. How does it help me to know this? I expect it to be true anyhow, given the past. What can I do to constrain it? Write a letter, sign a petition, vote, march, contribute to some association or another, serve on a committee or board, write an article? Been there; done that. Has that ever helped?
So, my first resolution for the new year is to stop heaping ashes on my head about what is happening in the world, almost none of which I can affect. Yes, there is much human suffering and I and those near and dear to me seem likely to suffer in the near future. But, that has been the human lot at least throughout most of the agricultural age. That seems to be the price we must pay for our immersion in childish games. Why should we expect to escape and, if so, how? As a corollary of this, I shall seek to avoid spending any effort in maintaining currency with the “news”, essentially all of which is the same old stuff repackaged. Yet, I intend to continue my interest in the emerging holistic sciences.
I add a second resolution, to focus on healing in all its aspects for the remaining time I have left. This is a subject of surely infinite scope, so I don’t expect to ever exhaust it; I won’t harass you with the details, since I’m certain you have thought much about this yourselves and I’m a spiritual anarchist (not original with me) who would surely shock you if I would do so.
Thirdly, I resolve to practice a sort of austerity, to attempt to live not just without harming the Earth, but by aiding its healing in every way I can do so effectively beginning with planting trees and promoting a sustainable necessarily-anarchist (I conclude) community. Finally, I resolve to be constantly thankful for all my mountain of blessings, for this truly incredible human body, all my relations, and this Earth.
May your new year be filled with beauty, mystery, wonder, love, and dreams.