Monday, June 29, 2015

Thích Nhất Hạnh: Understanding the Pain

The important mindfulness practice of cultivating understanding means first of all understanding suffering: the suffering inside us and the suffering of others. A human being without understanding is  a human being without compassion, utterly alone, cut off, and isolated. To connect with others, however, we first have to be willing to look deeply into ourselves.

- Thích Nhất Hạnh
Excerpted from No Mud, No Lotus:
The Art of Transforming Suffering 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Václav Havel: A Global Revolution In Human Consciousness

Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better ... and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed, whether it is ecological, social, demographic, or a general breakdown of civilization, will be unavoidable.

- Václav Havel 

Václav Havel: Something Else Is Being Born

I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out, and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.

- Václav Havel

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe: None Are More Hopelessly Enslaved

None are more hopelessly enslaved 
than those who falsely believe they are free.

- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

David Suzuki: Pope’s Encyclical Is a ‘Scientifically and Morally Valid Call for Radical Change’

dsuzukiEarth has existed for 4.5 billion years, humans for somewhere around 150,000. But in my brief lifetime—less than 80 years—human populations have exploded exponentially, from two billion to more than seven billion. In that short time, we’ve created consumer societies and decimated the planet’s natural systems, used up resources, filled oceans with plastic and pollution, altered water cycles and upset the Earth’s carbon cycle, disrupting global climate systems.
Our impacts on this small blue planet have been so rapid, widespread and profound that many scientists call this the Anthropocene Epoch. Much of it has coincided with the discovery and exploitation of fossil fuels, which showed great promise when I was a child. They were abundant and we didn’t understand the consequences of recklessly burning them. Cars were designed to use lots of gas and propel oil industry profits, not to conserve energy. Factories were built to create products and increase distribution efficiencies.
No longer confined to growing food and providing agricultural services, people moved to cities and, freed from the constraints of limited access to resources, grew rapidly in number, dramatically increasing consumption.
Because our technological prowess has grown faster than our knowledge, wisdom and foresight, much of what we’ve created is now crashing down around us—battered by pollution, ecosystem collapse, species extinction, resource scarcity, inequality, climate change and overpopulation.
Pope Francis recently put humanity’s situation in context—and offered hope for the future. Regardless of how you feel about religion or the Catholic Church, or even some ideas in thePope’s encyclical, there’s no denying it contains a powerful, scientifically and morally valid call for radical change that will reach an audience far beyond the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
In his June 18 address, the Pope called on the world—not just Catholics—to recognize the need for change in the face of ecological crises such as human-caused global warming and the failure of growth-fueled market economics to facilitate human survival, happiness and prosperity. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years,” he said.
In his wide-ranging address, Pope Francis spoke about pollution, climate change, water,biodiversity, inequality, poverty, economics, consumerism and spirituality. “The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world,” he said. “The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now.”
He also called out those stalling or preventing action to confront environmental problems, especially global warming: “Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions.”
Connecting the dots between environmental degradation and inequality, he urged people to “integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.”

Powerful Quotes From the Pope's Encyclical

"We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one human family."
 "We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it."
"There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself."
"We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental."
"What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?"
"What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?"
"Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start."
"I would like to enter a dialogue with all people about our common home."

Almost $200 Million Donated to Representatives to Pass TPA

Money in Politics
(image by Economy In Crisis)

Many think our government is for sale. However, by taking a look at the facts below provided by the Open Secrets, it is easy to understand where they are coming from. Looking back at Friday the 12th, the House voted on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the controversial bill that gives power to the executive branch to negotiate treaties. TPA limit's Congress' ability to better a trade deal by subjecting members of Congress to 90 days of reviewing the trade agreement, prohibiting any amendments on the implementing legislation, and giving them an up or down vote. TPA passed with a mere 219-211 vote with only 218 needed to pass. The real shocker comes from the amount of money each Representative received for a yes vote. In total, $197,869,145 was given to Representatives for a yes vote where as $23,065,231 was given in opposition.
  • John Boehner (R-OH) received $5.3 million for a "yea" vote and was the highest paid legislator.
  • Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) received $2.4 million for his "yea" vote.
  • Paul Ryan (R-WI) received $2.4 million for a "yea" vote and came in at the third highest paid legislator.
  • Pat Tiberi (R-OH) follows Paul Ryan, coming in the fourth spot having received $1.6 million for his "yea" vote.
The fifth highest paid legislator is somewhat of a "hero" in comparison to others. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD) received $1.6 million for a yes vote and only $282,710 for a no vote. Despite of his high contribution from those in favor of TPA, he still voted a solid nay.
We also have other hero stories.
  • Joe Crowley (D-NY) received 1.3 million for a "yea" vote and only $72,550 for a "nay" vote and he still voted against TPA.
  • Patrick Murphy (D-FL) received 1.1 million for a "yea" vote and only $213,360 for a "nay" vote and still voted against it.
  • Richard Neal D(MA) received $1.1 million for a "yea" vote and a mere $47,625 for a "nay" vote and still voted against it.
Democrats are not the only heroes in this voting session. GOP members spoke very loud and clear.
  • Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) received $541,746 for a "yea" vote and no money at all for a "nay" vote and he still voted "nay!"
  • Andy Harris (R-MD) received $254,803 for a "yea" vote and no money at all for a "nay" vote and he still voted "nay".
  • Thomas Massie (R-KY) received $250,328 for a "yea" vote and no money at all for a "nay" vote and he still voted "nay."
  • Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) received $180,832 for a "yea" vote and no money at all for a "nay vote" and she still voted "nay."
Where did this kind of money come from? Those in favor of TPA were Security Brokers and Investment Companies who donated a whopping $11.3 million dollars for a "yea" vote. Or big banking companies who donated $10.1 million dollars. In other words, Wall Street hashed out millions and millions of dollars to push for the passage of TPA.
Those numbers are absolutely staggering. Corporations are taking control of what policies are approved or blocked in the U.S. We cannot sit around while corporations decide what is "good" for America or not! This is a democracy, not a plutocracy! Contact your representatives and let them know that you do not want them to vote in favor of TPA!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Buddha: See Yourself In Others

All beings tremble before violence. 
All fear death. All love life. See yourself in others. 
Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do? 
- The Buddha

Pema Chödrön: A Kind Heart

Kuan Yin, photo by Molly

If one wishes for suffering not to happen to people and the earth, 
it begins with a kind heart.

Pema Chödrön

Pema Chödrön: Touching Our Hearts

Kuan Yin at our patio pond
When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, 
you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn't have 
any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. 
You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, 
as well as how much space.

Photos by Molly

Thursday, June 25, 2015

David Korten -- Obama’s Push for Corporate Rule: A Moment of Opportunity

Call it populism versus corporatism or democracy versus corporate rule. Either way, it is a far more meaningful political division than the current division between two big-government political parties debating big versus small.

Photo by Pete Souza

Only a few months ago, President Barack Obama was at loggerheads with Republican members of Congress intent on destroying his administration. With bewildering speed, Obama has since turned against his own political base to form an alliance on trade issues with those same Republican members of Congress.
Obama’s most vigorous opposition now comes from progressives, including most of the senators and representatives of his own party, who only a few months ago were his most loyal political base. The few corporatist Democratic members of Congress who still support Obama face the threat of opposition in the 2016 primaries, as Democratic voters mobilize to defend democracy, workers, and the environment.
TTP will strengthen corporate rights.
The goal of Obama’s surprise alliance is to finalize a series of international agreements—the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)—each of which will strengthen corporate rights at the expense of human rights, democracy, economic justice, peace, and the healing of Living Earth.
Leaked text from the secret negotiations that are crafting these agreements reveals that contrary to the claims of proponents, virtually every provision would weaken democracy and undermine the ability of nations, people, and localities to shape their economic destinies. Americans from across the political spectrum have been stunned by the sudden emergence of this unholy alliance. In historical context, however, it may be less unlikely than it seems.

America’s bipartisan corporate political alliance

U.S. corporations have been actively advancing an agenda of corporate rule since at least 1971. That was when Lewis Powell, soon to be a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, submitted his infamous memo “Attack on the American Free Enterprise System” outlining a grand strategy for a corporate takeover of U.S. politics. The resulting actions rapidly played out as a global corporate colonization of the world’s people and resources. I spell out this history in detail in When Corporations Rule the World, released this month (June 2015) in a 20th anniversary edition.
Corporations have been advancing an agenda since at least 1971.
As the corporate agenda unfolded, the Republican Party quite proudly branded itself as the party of big business and, more deceptively, of small government. The Democratic Party became seen as the party of big government, corporate restraint, and social programs for those the corporate state excluded.
But there has long been more cooperation between the two parties in support of big business than either is inclined to acknowledge. Democratic President Carter began the deregulation of the airline industry. Democratic President Clinton rolled back welfare programs, expanded corporate rights with the passage of the WTO and NAFTA agreements, and sponsored the Wall Street deregulation that led to the financial collapse of 2008.
Democratic President Obama carried forward the bank bailouts started by Republican President George W. Bush, shielded senior bank managers from prosecution and prison, and made no effort to restrict the continued growth and consolidation of the biggest Wall Street banks. His campaign for fast-track authority to push through a series of new international corporate rights agreements removes all ambiguity as to where his true loyalties lie.
The public, however, is catching on. Awareness of accelerating consolidation of global corporate rule and its implications for peace, equality, and the environment began to emerge in the mid-1990s about the time When Corporations Rule the World first launched. For many people, that book helped them connect what they were experiencing with what they were beginning to suspect.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mary Oliver: Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith

Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith
Every summer
I listen and look
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear

anything, I can't see anything --
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green
stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,
nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,

the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker --
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.

And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing --
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,

the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet --
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.

And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in the dirt

swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?

One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.
- Mary Oliver 

David Korten: A New Level Of Species Consciousness

Living capital, which has the special capacity to continuously regenerate itself, is ultimately the source of all real wealth. To destroy it for money, a simple number with no intrinsic value, is an act of collective insanity -- which makes capitalism a mental, as well as physical pathology.

To create a world in which life can flourish and prosper we must replace the values and institutions of capitalism with values and institutions that honor life, serve life's needs, and restore money to its proper role as servant. I believe we are in fact being called to take a step to a new level of species consciousness and function.
The proper goal of an economic democracy agenda is to replace the global suicide economy ruled by rapacious and unaccountable global corporations with a planetary system of local living economies comprised of human-scale enterprise rooted in the communities they serve and locally owned by the people whose wellbeing depends on them.

- David Korten