Sunday, July 30, 2017

Angelus Arrien: Reflections On Why We Are Here

The Soulful Wisdom of Angeles Arrien

There comes a time in the spiritual journey when you start making choices from a very different place. And if a choice lines up so that it supports truth, health, happiness, wisdom and love, it's the right choice.

We must shift our allegiances from fear to curiosity, from attachment to letting go, from control to trust, and from entitlement to humility.

The Four Ways reflect a pervasive belief that life will be simple if we practice four basic principles: 
- Show up or choose to be present, 
- Pay attention to what has heart and meaning, 
- Tell the truth without blame or judgment, and 
- Be open, rather than attached to, the outcome.

Many native cultures believe that the heart is the bridge between Father Sky and Mother Earth. For these traditions, the 'four-chambered heart,' the source for sustaining emotional and spiritual health, is described as being full, open, clear, and strong. These traditions feel that it is important to check the condition of the four-chambered heart daily, asking: 'Am I full-hearted, open-hearted, clear-hearted, and strong-hearted?' 

The visionary is the one who brings his or her voice into the world and who refuses to edit, rehearse, perform, or hide. It is the visionary who knows that the power of creativity is aligned with authenticity.

I trust the mystery. I trust what comes in silence and what comes in nature where there's no diversion. I think the lack of stimulation allows us to hear and experience a deeper river that's constant, still, vibrant, and real. And the process of deep listening with attention and intention catalyzes and mobilizes exactly what's needed at that time. 

In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: "When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?"

One day, a woman found herself standing at Heaven's gate. The angels' only question to her was, "Zusai, why weren't you Zusai?" Within that simple question lies the heart of all our soul work. If you are David, why aren't you fully David? If you are Susan, why aren't you completely Susan? We are here on Earth to become who we are meant to be.

We often feed the critic gourmet meals and starve the rest.

Rarely do we realize that if we simply take time to marvel at life’s gifts and give thanks for them, we activate stunning opportunities to increase their influence in our lives.

The field of creativity that exists within each individual is freed by moving out of ideas of wrong-doing or right-doing. If we can answer 'yes' to the question. 'Is my self-worth as strong as my self-critic?' then we are ready to engage our creative expression. 

Healing does not take place in the fast lane.  

The portal of healing and creativity always takes us into the realm of the spirit. 

Human beings are essentially here for two purposes - to learn about and express love, and to create. We learn about love in all our relationships.

In the sweet territory of silence we touch the mystery. It's the place of reflection and contemplation, and it's the place where we can connect with the deep knowing, to the deep wisdom way.

That which we witness, we are forever changed by, and once witnessed we can never go back.

There is a fundamental spiritual quality to gratitude that transcends religious traditions. Gratitude is a universal human experience that can seem to be either a random occurrence of grace or a chosen attitude to create a better experience of life; in many ways it contains elements of both. Grateful people sense that they are not separated from others or from God; this recognition of unity with all things brings a deep sense of gratefulness, whether we are religious or not. 

Many of the tribal peoples of the world recognize that there are four places in nature where you can find deep peace and remember who you really are. One is in the deep woods; one is in the desert; one in the mountains and one near the ocean.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

David Korten: The Choice Is Ours

We will prosper in the pursuit of life,
or we will perish in the pursuit of money.
The choice is ours.

- David Korten

David Korten: To Create a World In Which Life Can Flourish

I have learned so much from David Korten and so many other wise, loving, and courageous authors, activists, teachers, and visionaries who have blessed my life and those of millions of others. Deep bow of gratitude. May we all find our ways, large or small, of contributing to a more caring and awakening world. - Molly

With David Korten, Green Festival, Seattle, Washington
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.

- David Korten

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David Korten: A New Zealand River Has Human Rights. Now Will Modern Law Come to Its Senses?

Our system of law has the rights issue exactly backward. But humanity is slowly reawakening to the simple logic that Mother Earth’s rights must come before human rights.

It was a stunning breakthrough in a rights issue that could be a crucial step toward ensuring a human future. In March, New Zealand passed theTe Awa Tupua Bill making New Zealand’s Whanganui River the first river in the world to hold the same legal rights, responsibilities, and liabilities as a human person. For the Maori people, it was the culmination of a 140-year struggle to gain recognition of the river as an ancestor of the tribe.

The victory quickly had a major consequence far beyond New Zealand’s borders.
Only two weeks later, citing the New Zealand law as precedent, a court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand gave the Ganges River and its main tributary, the Yamuna River, the status of living human entities. Henceforth, polluting or damaging these rivers will be a legal equivalent to harming a person.
I learned of New Zealand’s breakthrough from my longtime friend and colleague Shannon Biggs, executive director of Movement Rights and co-founder of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. Biggs and her Movement Rights co-founder, Pennie Opal Plant, traveled to New Zealand last November as guests of the Maori to learn and share with the world the lessons of their historic victory. Biggs further elaborates those lessons in her report published in Earth Island Journal.
Humanity is slowly reawakening to the essential truth that nature—the living Earth—is the source of human existence and is essential to our nurture. It is simple logic that the needs of Mother Earth must come before ours.
That, in turn, implies that Earth’s rights must come even before human rights.
This logic has sweeping implications for a modern system of law that gives corporations more rights than people and nature no rights at all. Just as our human existence depends on the health and well-being of a living Earth, the existence of corporations depends on the health and well-being of human society.
So at its foundation, modern law has the rights issue exactly backward.
Significant as New Zealand’s action is, it represents only a first step in an essential rethinking and restructuring of a system of law crafted by the rulers of an Imperial Civilization to secure their own power and privilege. The system is ill-suited to the needs of an Ecological Civilization that is expected to meet the needs of all in a balanced, co-productive relationship with a living Earth.
In our transition from Imperial Civilization to Ecological Civilization, we have much to learn from indigenous people as humanity’s elders—keepers of our human memory of a time when we saw ourselves clearly as part of nature.
Earth cared for us, and we cared for her. We organized around the rivers, forests, and prairies. We depended on them for our means of living. We honored them as our ancestors. This was a time when no one had yet invented an exclusive claim or right to own, destroy, or sell a portion of nature’s territory in disregard of the present or future needs of others.
Living in balance with nature came easily when our dependence was self-evident. Now that, despite our technological sophistication, we have reached and exceeded the limits of Earth’s capacity, shouldn’t our dependence once again be self-evident?

To the Millions Who Have Stood Up to the Trump Administration: Thank You

 My gratitude goes out to the millions of Americans who launched a resistance that has slowed or stopped many of Trump’s policies.
The Republican health care bill is dead. Good riddance. The bill was so harsh that even Donald Trump called the House version “mean.” And yet, this legislation was stopped at a time when Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency. How?
The answer is ordinary people, acting without a lot of credit.
After the election, millions of Americans launched a resistance that has slowed or stopped many of Trump’s awful policies. They showed up at town halls and airports. They contacted politicians and advertisers on right-wing media sites, educated themselves and their neighbors, filed to run in local elections, brought food, blessed the water, and sat down in bank lobbies and in congressional offices.
Though they achieved much, few will receive any acknowledgement for the efforts. Most were just doing the behind-the-scenes work that gets stuff done.
I’m thinking about these unheralded heroes as I prepare to leave with the Suquamish Tribe on this year’s canoe journey. This annual event is also built on the work a lot of people do with little fanfare.
Every year, the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest set out on a journey ranging from days to weeks, depending on the year’s destination. They paddle through ancient waters, traverse riptides, waves, and wind in the ocean and inland seas, stopping each night on land belonging to one of the coastal tribes.
I am not Native, but because I collaborated for some years with the Suquamish Tribe, I was invited in 2012 to paddle with them, and I continue to do so. It's an honor I don't take lightly.
For most, the journey is about reclaiming traditional culture and connecting the tribes. For some, it's a deeply personal odyssey, as each confronts fatigue and their own demons during the long hours on the water.
And it’s a lesson in gratitude for each person who chooses to show up and contribute to reaching the destination.
People contribute in many ways: the singer who lifts the spirits of tired paddlers, the young person who stays up late cleaning after a meal, and the elder who wakes early to make the coffee. Sometimes, it’s just a joke at the right moment to break the tension.
No one person can make it happen alone. Each small effort adds up, making it possible to to carry an 11-person cedar canoe overhead above the high-tide line, or to feed 3,000 people using only camp stoves. At the end of each day, paddles are raised, and one person from each canoe asks representatives of the hosting tribe for permission to come ashore. The next morning, paddlers from that tribe join the flotilla on its way forward. Over the course of weeks, thousands join in, some by canoe, others by support boat, car, or truck.
During that time, almost no money changes hands—the currency is hard work, generosity, and gratitude. And it is enough. The only celebrities are elders with long histories of contributing to the common good—but only a few.

100 Years Ago, Black People Marched Down 5th Avenue to Declare That Black Lives Matter

 The “Silent Protest Parade” was the first mass demonstration of its kind and marked a pivotal moment in civil rights history.
The only sounds were those of muffled drums, the shuffling of feet, and the gentle sobs of some of the estimated 20,000 onlookers. The women and children wore all white. The men dressed in black.
On the afternoon of Saturday, July 28, 1917, nearly 10,000 African Americans marched down Fifth Avenue, in silence, to protest racial violence and white supremacy in the United States.
New York City, and the nation, had never before witnessed such a remarkable scene.
The “Silent Protest Parade,” as it came to be known, was the first mass African American demonstration of its kind and marked a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement. As I have written in my book Torchbearers of Democracy, African Americans during the World War I era challenged racism both abroad and at home. In taking to the streets to dramatize the brutal treatment of black people, the participants of the “Silent Protest Parade” indicted the United States as an unjust nation.
This charge remains true today.
One hundred years later, as black people continue to insist that “Black Lives Matter,” the Silent Protest Parade offers a vivid reminder about the power of courageous leadership, grassroots mobilization, direct action, and their collective necessity in the fight to end racial oppression in our current troubled times.

Racial violence and the East St. Louis Riot

One of the great accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement has been to demonstrate the continuum of racist violence against black people throughout American history and also the history of resistance against it. But as we continue to grapple with the hyper-visibility of black death, it is perhaps easy to forget just how truly horrific racial violence against black people was a century ago.
Prior to the Silent Protest Parade, mob violence and the lynching of African Americans had grown even more gruesome. In Waco, Texas, a mob of 10,000 whites attended the May 15, 1916, lynching of a black farmer, Jesse Washington. One year later, on May 22, 1917, a black woodcutter, Ell Persons, died at the hands of over 5,000 vengeance-seeking whites in Memphis, Tennessee. Both men were burned and mutilated, their charred body parts distributed and displayed as souvenirs.
Even by these grisly standards, East St. Louis later that same summer was shocking. Simmering labor tensions between white and black workers exploded on the evening of July 2, 1917.
For 24 hours, white mobs indiscriminately stabbed, shot, and lynched anyone with black skin. Men, women, children, the elderly, the disabled—no one was spared. Homes were torched and occupants shot down as they attempted to flee. White militia men stood idly by as the carnage unfolded. Some actively participated. The death toll likely ran as high as 200 people.
The city’s surviving 6,000 black residents became refugees.

The Law Is Irrelevant to Donald Trump

This has never been clearer than in his latest New York
Times interview.

On Wednesday, in an interview with the New York Times, President Trump attacked everyone involved in the Russia investigation: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former FBI Director James Comey, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It’s one of those tirades that tell you more about the man flinging the insults than about the people he’s insulting.

Trump makes several claims that invite investigative scrutiny: for example, that he never “made money from Russia” or did “a deal in Russia” and that he didn’t “shoo other people out of the room” before talking to Comey in the Oval Office on Feb. 14. But what comes across most is that Trump doesn’t seem to consider, understand, or care about anything that was written or said by others before he sat down to be interviewed. To Trump, the truth is just what he says in that moment, and the law is irrelevant. Here’s a breakdown:

1. The Sessions recusal. Trump begins by complaining that Sessions should have told him, prior to being appointed, that he would “recuse himself.” Trump doesn’t specify what the recusal entails, but he says that if Sessions had warned him, Trump would have picked somebody else for the job. At one point, Trump refers to a confirmation hearing at which Sessions falsely denied he had met with any Russians. Trump implies that this is why Sessions recused himself.

These statements completely trample Sessions’ account of the recusal, which presumably can be backed up by the Justice Department lawyers who worked on it with Sessions. In sworn testimonybefore the Senate on June 13, Sessions denied that he recused himself because of what he said at his hearing. He testified that he recused himself from matters related to the 2016 campaign simply because he was an adviser to Trump in that campaign. Sessions also denied that the recusal bars him from doing most of his job—including his decision, on May 9, to give Trump a letter of recommendation to fire Comey, who was investigating whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia.

Trump’s remarks to the Times indicate that he either didn’t watch, read about, absorb, believe, or care what Sessions told Congress. The president seems baffled that a man who served in a campaign would recuse himself from supervising an investigation of that campaign. Trump also implies that the recusal has blocked Sessions from doing what Trump wants most: maintaining control of the Russia investigation. Trump doesn’t care about legal principles or distinctions. All he cares about is what might hurt him.

2. The Rosenstein memo. Trump says Rosenstein, who assumed supervision of the investigation after Sessions recused himself—and who subsequently appointed Mueller to run the investigation—has a “conflict of interest,” because on May 9, Rosenstein gave Trump a memo criticizing Comey, which Trump used to fire the FBI director. The memo directly opposes what Trump has asserted about Hillary Clinton (Trump wanted her locked up; Rosenstein says Comey persecuted her), but Trump doesn’t bother to square his account with the deputy AG’s. And while Trump doesn’t think Sessions had too much of a conflict of interest to warrant his recusal, the president simultaneously uses the “conflict of interest” charge to attack Rosenstein—not for controlling the investigation but for handing it off to Mueller. Everything Trump says in the interview is an attempt to steamroll legal safeguards and regain political control of the inquiry.

3. The Mueller interview. Trump expresses dismay that Rosenstein appointed Mueller on May 17, just a day after Mueller—accompanied by Rosenstein, if I’m reading Trump correctly—was interviewed in the Oval Office as a candidate to be the next FBI director. Trump says that Mueller “wanted the job” and that they “had a wonderful meeting.” But afterward, according to Trump, “He leaves the office. Rosenstein leaves the office. The next day, he is appointed special counsel. I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts.”

There’s an obvious reason why Rosenstein appointed Mueller on May 17: because on May 16, the Times reported that Comey, in a memo, had documented pressure from Trump to go easy on Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who had lied about conversations with Russia. Trump doesn’t mention this reason. Nor does he seem to care that the conflict of interest he’s attributing to Mueller is based on a job interview that, by Trump’s account, suggests good relations between Mueller and Trump. If Clinton had been president and had reported such a job interview with Mueller, Trump would have denounced Mueller as her lackey. In this way, Trump’s recollections confound the right-wing portrayal of Mueller as hopelessly biased toward Comey. Trump simply can’t fathom that Mueller, after such a nice meeting, would take a job that Trump sees as disloyal.   

4. The Comey memos. Trump charges that Comey “illegally leaked” his memo about Flynn to the Times. Trump says of the memo: “It looks like it’s classified and all that stuff.” The intermediary through whom Comey leaked the memo, law professor Daniel Richman, says the memo wasn’t classified at the time. Politico’s sources say it may have been “retroactively classified,” which could be a way of burying it. But what’s odd here is Trump’s allegation that it “looks like” the memo is classified. As president, he can find out what’s classified any time he likes. Why, instead, does he talk about how the situation “looks” and “all that stuff”? Because Trump doesn’t care about classification or national security. He just wants to smear Comey.

5. The Don Jr. emails. The Times asks Trump about the secret June 2016 meeting between Russian representatives, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. Don Jr. accepted the meeting based on an email—which he forwarded to Kushner and Manafort—that said a “Russian government attorney” would bring the campaign “sensitive information” against Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Times reporter Peter Baker asks the president: “Did that email concern you? That the Russian government was trying something to compromise—”

Trump replies: “You know, Peter, I didn’t look into it very closely, to be honest with you. I just heard there was an email requesting a meeting or something—yeah, requesting a meeting. That they have information on Hillary Clinton. And I said—I mean, this was standard political stuff. … It’s a very unimportant—sounded like a very unimportant meeting.”

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