Be the change 2012

IMG_1102It is a dark, cold, winter’s morning, gray with a pelting mixture of sleet and freezing rain that has even the birds huddling for shelter in the thickest fir trees they can find.

I’ve just gotten up, lit the fire and the lights on the Christmas tree, made myself a cup of strong coffee, and thought to myself: where do I put my focus?

If I focus on the warmth and coziness inside the house right now, this seems like a wonderful morning, a perfect opportunity to curl up on the couch and make some progress on grading the papers students turned in to me before they left for the holidays.

If I focus on the sleet and wind outside, and begin to fixate on the way the trees are blowing around the icy power wires, I feel threatened, rather than protected, and start to worry in advance about whether or not I’ll be losing power later today.  Should I rush to take my shower and do some cooking before the power goes out?

Small dilemmas, and yet in the daily crucible of making these choices w of how to focus our attention, a lifelong habit is born of seeing the glass half-empty or half-full.

I must recognize that I have a tendency to see the glass half-empty.

I was a fearful, cautious, worrying sort of child, and I have not changed much as an adult.

In today’s age of aggravated climate change, random violence and the immediate potential for it all getting a whole lot worse in the near future, this attitude can make for a great deal of depression and anxiety.

But does it have to be that way?

Back in the 1980s, I spent a fair amount of time listening to recordings of Esther Hicks channeling the group of spiritual beings who called themselves Abraham.  The crux of their advice for us humans is to focus on what you want, with as much intensity and lavish detail as you can muster, and watch the Universe deliver it to you.

“You can have anything you want, if you exercise the Law of Attraction and call it to you,” Abraham would say over and over and over.

This idea has been picked up and popularized by others as well, and it is guaranteed to appeal to our can-do, feel-good American society.

We want to believe that we have the power to improve our lives, and it seems to happen often enough to keep the belief going.

But I always wondered, and wanted to ask Abraham, what about the people who were having terrible life experiences?  Did they “attract” these horrible situations to themselves too?

Did the 20 children who died in Newtown “attract” their destiny?

I cannot believe that they did.

It could be, however, that the killer’s vision was so strong that he was able to enact it, to make it come true.  Maybe he did what Abraham suggests, and replayed over and over again in his mind the details of what he wanted to do, until it was so well-thought-out and planned that he was able to unroll it in reality with no problem at all.

We need to pay more attention to the power of the human mind to affect reality.

It happens on an individual level, as when I can transform this gray, nasty morning into a warm, cozy one just by focusing on the peaceful interior of my house rather than the storm raging outside.

Focus on the outside

Focus on the outside

Focus on the inside

Focus on the inside

And it happens on a societal level, as when so many of us feel unsafe that we all start buying handguns and assault weapons, with the result that our feeling of peril becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: with all those weapons circulating among our neighbors, we really are unsafe.

If we all settle into the mindset, amply seeded by the steady beat of the sci fi/disaster movies that have come out in the past decade, that the Earth is doomed and we are doomed with her, we will collectively give in to despair and simply go about business as usual while waiting passively for the end to come.

On the other hand, if we begin to collectively dream an alternative future, one based on respect for the Earth and respectful stewardship of her life systems, it is still possible that we may be able to manifest this positive vision.

The popular author Don Miguel Ruiz, whose book The Four Agreements has sold millions of copies worldwide, ends a recent interview by asserting that “We all came into this beautiful planet with a mission. The only mission, and it’s the same for every single human that we have on this beautiful planet earth, is to make ourselves happy.”

The only way I could agree with that principle of the human mission on Earth is if it is understood that we cannot be happy on an unhappy planet.

In other words, it is impossible for us to achieve real happiness when the dominant paradigm of human existence on the planet is based on oppression, suffering and violent destruction.

We may be able to achieve temporary “highs,” shelters in the storms of our lives, but real abiding happiness will elude us, at least those of us with enough sensitivity to be aware of the suffering always going on beneath the surface.

Events like the Newtown massacre break through the veneer of our superficially happy existence, here in the comfortable USA, and send many of us spiraling into depression.

And not just folks like me, who are habitually attuned to the malheur of life, but many more of us, who suddenly wake up and ask Why?

Why did this senseless massacre happen?

Perhaps it happened to remind us of the daily massacres of innocent wild creatures and feedlot animals, lab animals and vast flocks of birds, tons of fish in the sea and endless miles of coral and forest, all going down in a relentless bloodbath of human making.

Perhaps it happened to remind us of the children who are being trafficked into sex slavery or forced labor every day, of the children dying daily of hunger and preventable diseases, of the wasted lives of children whose poor-quality early education dooms them to lives of struggle and want.

When great tragedy strikes, survivors have a tendency to affirm to each other, Let their sacrifice not have been in vain. Let us learn from what happened and vow never to let it happen again.

Hence, in the wake of Newtown, the great outcry for better gun control laws, which may indeed, finally, be enacted in the coming year.

Abraham would say that you have to know what you don’t want in order to get clear on what you do want.

But the emphasis has to be on the positive; on building the vision, both personal and collective, of what we want for our society and our future.

We do not want an America where any random psychopath can get ahold of an assault weapon and wreak havoc in the neighborhood school or mall.

We do not want a lifestyle based on unsustainable consumption, oppression and callous disregard for the welfare of other living beings.

Now: what do we want?

We must get clear on our positive vision for a just and sustainable human civilization on our beloved planet, and then do the work of dreaming it into reality, day by day.

We must be intentional in where we focus our attention, not to ignore negative realities, but in order to put the power of our creative energies to work in manifesting the world we want to see.

In other words, as Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in the world, starting with your own thoughts and radiating outward.

Be the change.

IMG_1083

Dancing in the end times

And so here we find ourselves, finally, on the cusp of a great turning in solar time, the fabled 12-21-12.  It is a dark, wet, windy, wild morning here in the hills of western Massachusetts.

Since I started this blog back in the summer of 2011, with the optimistic URL “bethechange2012,” I have found many others who have beckoned to me like beacons of strength and inspiration on my somewhat lonely path of inquiry and discovery.

In the early days of Transition Times my own light was quite tentative and often overwhelmed with fear and distress, the product of my dawning realization of the tremendous gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves.

We cannot pretend to each other that the news is good for humanity, any more than for the rest of the living beings on the planet.

These are the transition times: the end of a long era of existence, as the ancient Mayan shamans rightly foresaw, and the beginning of something new.

I cannot and will not shy away from diving into the heart of the wreck that is our human civilization on this planet in the early 21st century.  Exposing what I find there is part of my mission with this blog.

However, it is also my purpose to be a channel and a beacon of hope for others who are searching for  meaning in these troubled times we live in.

We are all caught up in a vortex much greater than any individuals among us could produce, an accelerating forward surge that is hurtling humanity, and the planet we share with so many other life forms, towards a new era.

We cannot know what this means for each of us as individuals.  But I am coming to realize that the most important thing we can be doing in these transition times is to serve each other, and the other beings on the planet, as a form of shelter and anchor in the storm.

I will close with an image taken on one of my many thoughtful rambles over the past few months.  To me it represents the planet calling to me, and to all of us who love her, to continue to push back against the forces that would despoil and blight her.

The rocks, earth and waters of the Earth remind us that geological time is slow and very, very long.  Our dance on the planet as humans is so brief.  Let us enjoy our time here passionately, and turn our dancing to good works.

Benedict Pond, Monterey, November 2012

Benedict Pond, Monterey MA, November 2012

Protest and social transformation–what do Uranus and Pluto have to do with it?

I said when I started this blog that I’d be open to all kinds of explorations of the transition times we’re living in.  Recently, after a long period of just reading his open-source work, I subscribed to the astrology reports produced by Eric Francis.  I am wondering: could it be that the motions of the planets have a real impact on how we think, feel and act here on Earth?

Francis just produced a terrific reading of the history of American protest movements since the Sixties, grounded in his knowledge of astrology and inspired by his visit to the Occupy Wall Street protest last weekend.

Apparently we have just returned to a period of astrological alignment of Uranus and Pluto.  Francis writes: “the most passionate and sustained uprisings are reasonably predictable: they tend to happen when Uranus and Pluto come into alignment. When the planet of revolution (Uranus) and the one about evolution (Pluto) get together, there is always an international revolt. The alignments spread out over 10 to 12 years, and we are still toward the beginning of this one.  The last time these two planets got together was between 1960 and 1972.”

Francis describes the “vibe” at Liberty Plaza Park as quite different from the militancy of the 1960s.  “The feeling was nothing but friendly. There was not the fist-in-the-air sensation that Sixties demonstrations are remembered with.…The vibe was open but also introspective. People were expressing concern and anger about the economic situation and there was a clear sense of understanding that Wall Street holds a lot of the responsibility for that — but no sense of rage being projected onto anyone. My sense from many things I’ve read and heard is that among this generation of activists, there’s the awareness that we need to change ourselves and change the world in the same gesture.”

So true—because there is only a difference of degree between the protesters’ privilege and that of the corporate and financial leaders they’re criticizing.  All of us Americans have benefited hugely from the corporate globalization of “free trade” and the easy accessibility of credit.  The problem is that now the chickens have come home to roost, and the same havoc that we–as a nation and as a leading member of the global elite–wreaked so thoughtlessly on the rest of the world is now coming back to haunt us.

When I listened to the news this morning and heard of the extreme hardship being forced down the throats of ordinary Greeks in the name of “fiscal austerity,” I remember the same scenario going down in Mexico and Argentina and so many other nations, as we continued to party here in the U.S.  Well, the party is over here too, at least for the 99% of us, and it’s not fun at all.

 But, as Eric Francis notes, there is a lot of potential in this moment of crisis.  “As you think about what this aspect represents,” he counsels,  “remember that the personal awakening process of Uranus in Aries is about to meet up with the changes in society represented by Pluto in Capricorn. There is potential for wide-scale cultural change, but it starts from the inside-out. That approach, if we follow it, will help us avoid many of the really huge mistakes that were made during the protests of the Sixties.

“Uranus in Aries also connects people to groups, but from the perspective of being an individual. Pluto in Capricorn turns over the soil of society’s institutions, bringing out their frailty and their fertility. It will be exciting to see what happens as this aspect builds to its first peak in June 2012 and then develops for the next three years.”

“Exciting” might not be the word most of us would choose for the crazy lurching of our society, both national and global, towards the tipping point forecast long ago to arrive in 2012.  It’s exciting the way a roller-coaster ride is exciting, and I have never in my life allowed myself to experience that thrill.

But maybe part of what is being asked of us now is that we let go of our fears and inhibitions, and allow ourselves to try something new—something other than what has been expected of us as we grew up and docilely took our place in the structures that had been established for us by previous generations.

It’s pretty plain to see that those structures have outlived their functionality, and were never good for this planet to begin with.

It’s the transition time, folks.  What are we going to become?

 

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