Reaching Into the Universe

Activism in conference form

Having been at the ERIE conference on Monday made me have the fantasy that if my college friends and I were still in academia, we could have another conference... we had one my sophomore year, called Y2Queer, our version of the Queer Ivy Conference.

It was totally the conference we needed to have at the time for ourselves, personally. It was such a period of crystallization for me around values, identity, etc.

But it got me thinking, what kind of conference do I really need most now?

I feel like it would be an integral Solutions For the World type of event. Mental health, spirituality, shamanism, personal health and fitness, social and economic justice, environmental sustainability, and resilience in all of those things. What would it be like to bring the best in all of those together?

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Stop buying sickness

If we look, all around we find example after example of sickness being sold to us for profit.

We eat it in restaurants and grocery stores, rub it on our skin, pump it in and out of our cars, install it in our homes and institutions... and pay for the "privilege" all along the way...

So many of us are complacent and complicit. And really fixing it means completely changing almost everything about life as we currently know it.

Ready? Set. Go!

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Gratitude for life

Gift BoxOver fall equinox, huachuma helped me confront and deal with the powerlessness I felt during my grandma's dying process. In that, I recognized that the powerlessness we feel over someone's death is not different than the powerlessness we have over their lives. This is the corollary to the idea that we die the same way we live. How we live is our choice, and in some senses how we die is, often, our choice as well.

If I value letting go of trying to control other people's lives then I get to let go of all of the regrets I've entertained thinking that if I had only done something different, pressed harder, helped more, she might have lived healthier and died later, or at least better. My grandma died the same way she lived; she lived "by the book" and she died by the book too. The helpful measures I suggested weren't in it.

Talking with a friend Saturday night, I found that those regrets, while false, turned upon something true. The wish for her to live longer was and is a true and good thing. It's when it becomes expectation or demand that it crosses the line. I came to the conclusion that it's best to think of a person's life at each moment as a gift.

When a person gives us a series of precious gifts, we don't balk when they spend some of their energy elsewhere. We don't harangue them to reorganize parts of their lives so that they may enable themselves to give us even more. Nor do we consider it proper to resent them when they stop giving.

That leads to the realization that if I looked in the mirror, it would be best to relate to my own life as a gift as well. This strikes me as the kind of "heart opening" effect the huachuma curandera said grief could have.

One day later and I'm talking with a different friend on Sunday night, who tells me about a dream he had about death, the punch-line of which is the appropriate response to having received a gift such as life : gratitude.

Next was my own dream, in which I felt a particular feeling, a feeling that I would soon read about in a blog post written by a cute bearish man in response to a question I asked him on Scruff (smartphone chat app for scruffy gay men). In my dream I remember thinking that if my life was a gift, being grateful for it would involve taking better care of myself. As his post says, "[G]ratitude is not just a mental exercise.  Gratitude is both attitude and action." He writes about the actions he takes in response to his gratitude for his car. What kinds of actions would most appropriately reflect your gratitude for your life? This 3-minute Uzazu practice video I received in my email recently might help you embody it.

I'm enjoying how these learnings are unfolding over a series of different conversations and synchronous events, across various relationships and media. It's like my life is a novel and the cosmos has introduced a new theme.


Peruvian bone throwing regarding 2012

Came across this video of a woman doing a form of Peruvian divination involving the throwing of bones across a symbolic image or map, and then interpreting the pattern that results. I'm not big on 2012 stuff, but was interested enough to watch. Of note to me, she talks about reaching into the universe for new ideas.


Notes on saying you’re sorry

Sorry on Australia Day-sky writingFound good information on apologies and forgiveness today. First, this blurb from a Greater Good research digest:

Researchers found that a person is more likely to forgive when they see a relationship as higher in quality, when they have a greater personal investment in it, and when they see the transgression as less negative. However, a person is more motivated to retaliate when they’re less invested in the relationship and see the transgression as intentional. These findings shed light on why we are more likely to give our close family and friends a second chance but may hold grudges against those who are less meaningful in our lives.

Second, the article How to Make an Apology Work, in which we learn that researchers found that three basic types of apologies work best for three different types of people, and if you don't know what type a person is, include all three types in your apology -- basically, offering compensation, expressing empathy, and acknowledgment of violating group rules/norms.

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Shiva/Vishnu on Family Guy

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Out of town for Integral Spiritual Experience

ISE logoA good friend and I are headed to Pacific Grove for the Integral Spiritual Experience Year 2. Last year's daily schedule was a bit grueling, so I don't expect to be posting until the week after January 2nd.

Grueling or not, last year's first ISE was also the most well designed event I have ever attended. Ever. I'm told that's thanks to the work of Diane Hamilton. Leave it to a Zen master to get something organized.

Happy New Year to all, and see you in 2011!


Grandma, the planet, life

GrandmaBoth this and yesterday's post are in honor of my grandma, who died a year ago today.

Last December I had just gotten home from the final day of Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream facilitator training when I received the last call I would ever receive from her. It was to tell me she was in the hospital and not doing well. I drove up to Sacramento that night; less than three weeks later, she died on December 24th, 2009. It was somehow fitting for her, a woman who was so Christian, to pass away so close to Christmas.

The ensuing tumult and long transition—that I'm still making—into a world without her has thus far prevented me from engaging with the ATDCTD symposium the way I had envisioned. My grandma was the most important person on the planet to me. She was the first person after the doctor to hold me when I was born. She was the rock of our family and my ultimate safety net. She was always there for me, and now she's not. I'm getting a helluva ending to my Saturn return and it feels like everything in my life is changing.

I've been empowering the story that this is for the best, that the end of this transition will find me in a better place to fulfill the intent with which I took the facilitator training: to do my part to help heal the planet. My grandma, a Southern Baptist Christian, would understand this as "doing God's will." Above all, that is what she wanted me to do in this world.

I wish she had lived to fully understand and celebrate that with me. Discerning one's call and following it is something to share with those close to you! I did try to talk to her about it, but my own understanding of it all was so new, and my ability to speak about it in ways that made sense to her also new.

In the year or so before she died, we were just beginning to bridge some of the deeper gaps between us as I learned more and more how to translate things into the language of her perspective, how to meet her where she was at, thanks mostly to tools like NVC and Spiral Dynamics. These efforts did result in what was possibly the most wonderfully authentic conversation we ever had. I'm grateful for the things I've learned if only for that single conversation.

My grandma never believed the world would get fundamentally better. She believed in a rather static human condition that would persist until the second coming of Christ. I don't think she believed that the world would continue to exist after that. I don't believe those things, and have mostly chosen to act as though the world can fundamentally improve.

I do not know which opinion is true or false. What I do know is that those who subscribe to a relatively unchanging human condition seem to have given up without really trying. I prefer to take a cue from Robert Anton Wilson's 8th Basic Winner Script which says, "In the province of the mind, what is believed to be true is true, or becomes true within certain limits to be learned by experience and experiment." If the human condition is to be changed dramatically, it will only be done by those who haven't already decided that it's impossible.

Besides, there may be reason to think otherwise. In Ascent of Humanity, Charles Eisenstein traces the entire history of the present human condition and presents a compelling case that separation—from the mind/body split to our addiction to technological control of nature—has been the core mistake humans have been making all along. We've been making it for so long that it almost feels like an unchangeable part of human nature, but that's an assumption worth challenging. What if separation were in fact the root of the global problems we now face? Could we not successfully envision and live into what Eistenstein calls the "Age of Reunion"?

Whether she believed in its possibility or not, my grandma could at least imagine a better world. She died not having seen that better world. Will we have that same experience or a different one? How much effort are you willing to put into seeing a better world before you die—better because you helped create it as such.

The first step is simply to accept that it could be possible. The second is to realize that there's only one way to find out: try. My grandma understood this as in the words of Mother Teresa: "We are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful." We may not succeed, but we must at least act as if we can.


DADT repeal: overdue

combativesSome Marine says of DADT repeal, "I think if they wanted to change the policy, now was not the right time to do it, if at all."

You're absolutely right, Captain. Now was not the right time, "now" was WAY overdue. It would have been much better to repeal it a long time ago. Heck, it would have been best not to have enacted the policy in the first place.

Unfortunately, your fearless leaders did not do what would be best, or even what would be better. They enacted an unconstitutional policy, and then they dragged their feet on repealing it until almost the absolute last minute, until forced to act by the specter of a federal court ruling that would have set precedents helpful to the gay rights movement.

I will countenance no blame cast on gays and lesbians for any fallout from this situation. If you want someone to blame, you've got politicians from Clinton through today to blame for it. Any trouble the military will have with this transition is the result of not doing things right in the first place, and then being inexcusably slow to correct the situation. As the class of citizens harmed by this policy, it is NOT our fault that those who would harm us have dragged this situation out for so many years.

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A magical look at corporations

Ghostbusters SignI sure do love Dale Pendell, author of the Pharmako trilogy. He has an article over at the Huffington Post on the magical basis of corporate personhood, identifying corporations as a type of "hungry ghost". Brilliant.

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