longer see any point in singling out individual
aspects of the human experience for special
attention or criticism. Population growth, climate
change, global corporatism, chemical pollution,
resource depletion, species extinctions, ocean
overfishing and acidification, global financial
instability, mounting social disparities and
injustices are all merely symptoms of a system that
has been out of control for centuries (despite our
earnest attempts to convince ourselves otherwise.) We have no choice left - or
perhaps we never really had any other choice - but to ride
the dragon until the human overshoot corrects
itself, as overshoots always do.
The silver lining I see is that all the pressures coming from this process of correction can be useful goads toward personal self-development. "In all matters, strive to do the right thing." What does this mean to each of us? What does mindful living in the midst of the whirlwind entail, what does it require of us in terms of personal growth, in the development of wisdom and self-awareness? How might each of us resolve our alienation - from each other, from our societies, from nature, from our own place in the universe? How may we find the re-connections that are essential if we are to emerge from this tumultuous, careless human adolescence into individual and collective adulthood? These are deep questions for dark times.
Most Recent Articles:Articles that outline the core of my views:
The Many Faces of Denial (November 14, 2013)
Thermodynamics Reading List (November 9, 2013)
A Thermodynamic Answer to Fermi's Paradox (October 29, 2013)
A Thermodynamic Critique (October 19, 2013)
The Evolutionary Psychology of Fukushima (September 13, 2013)
Paradise Lost (July 25, 2013)
The Dawn of Cybernetic Civilization (July 16, 2013)
Thermodynamic Footprints (Updated March 23, 2013)
No Really, How Sustainable Are We? (May 16, 2013)
The Thermodynamics of Civilization (May 17, 2013)
A 50,000-Foot View of the Global Crisis (July 8, 2011)
Population: The Elephant in the Room (May 2007)
Is Peak Population Almost Here? (February 22, 2011)
The Neuropsychology of Climate Change (December, 2009)
The Guardian Institutions of Hierarchy (July, 2009)
Carrying Capacity and Overshoot: Another Look (May 12, 2012)
Climbing the Ladder of Awareness (October 19, 2012)
Enough! (November, 2010)
Bearing Witness to Collapse (April 26, 2011)
Introducing the Cultural Psychopomp (February 14, 2012)
Finding The Gift (September 29, 2012)
Climbing the Ladder of Awareness
When it comes to our understanding of the unfolding global crisis, each of us seems to fit somewhere along a continuum of awareness that can be roughly divided into five stages:
How people cope with despair is of course deeply personal, but it seems to me there are two general routes people take to reconcile themselves with the situation. These are not mutually exclusive, and most of us will operate out of some mix of the two. I identify them here as general tendencies, because people seem to be drawn more to one or the other. I call them the outer path and the inner path.
If one is inclined to choose the outer path, concerns about adaptation and local resilience move into the foreground, as exemplified by the Transition Network and Permaculture Movement. To those on the outer path, community-building and local sustainability initiatives will have great appeal. Organized party politics seems to be less attractive to people at this stage, however. Perhaps politics is seen as part of the problem, or perhaps it's just seen as a waste of effort when the real action will take place at the local level.
If one is disinclined to choose the outer path either because of temperament or circumstance, the inner path offers its own set of attractions.
Choosing the inner path involves re-framing the whole thing in terms of consciousness, self-awareness and/or some form of transcendent perception. For someone on this path it is seen as an attempt to manifest Gandhi's message, "Become the change you wish to see in the world," on the most profoundly personal level. This message is similarly expressed in the ancient Hermetic saying, "As above, so below." Or in plain language, "In order to heal the world, first begin by healing yourself."
However, the inner path does not imply a "retreat into religion". Most of the people I've met who have chosen an inner path have as little use for traditional religion as their counterparts on the outer path have for traditional politics. Organized religion is usually seen as part of the predicament rather than a valid response to it. Those who have arrived at this point have no interest in hiding from or easing the painful truth, rather they wish to create a coherent personal context for it. Personal spirituality of one sort or another often works for this, but organized religion rarely does.
It's worth mentioning that there is also the possibility of a serious personal difficulty at this point. If someone cannot choose an outer path for whatever reasons, and is also resistant to the idea of inner growth or spirituality as a response the the crisis of an entire planet, then they are truly in a bind. There are few other doorways out of this depth of despair. If one remains stuck here for an extended period of time, life can begin to seem awfully bleak, and violence against either the world or oneself may begin begin to seem like a reasonable option. Keep a watchful eye on your own progress, and if you encounter someone else who may be in this state, please offer them a supportive ear.
From my observations, each successive stage contains roughly a tenth of the number people as the one before it. So while perhaps 90% of humanity is in Stage 1, less than one person in ten thousand will be at Stage 5 (and none of them are likely to be politicians). The number of those who have chosen the inner path in Stage 5 also seems to be an order of magnitude smaller than the number who are on the outer path.
I happen to have chosen an inner path as my response to a Stage 5 awareness. It works well for me, but navigating this imminent (transition, shift, metamorphosis - call it what you will), will require all of us - no matter what our chosen paths - to cooperate on making wise decisions in difficult times.
Best wishes for a long, exciting and fulfilling journey.
Bodhi Paul Chefurka
October 19, 2012
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