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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-09-08 12:16 PM
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Crisis precipitates consciousness
Here are some excerpts from an article I just updated, describing how the immense pressure of understanding our global existential crisis has led me to a profound spiritual awakening. It appears that many people are responding to the pain and fear of a looming collapse of civilization by "breaking through" into their spirituality. This is my description of that process.

The Spiritual Effects of Comprehending the Crisis

(The first part was written in May)

The single most shocking thing that has happened to me on my journey to a full understanding of the World Problematique has been a thunderbolt recognition and acceptance of my own spirituality.

I'm 57 years old, the son of scientists. I'm a lifelong "strong atheist" in a family full of them - in fact my family boasts four unbroken generations of strong atheists, from my maternal grandparents down to my nieces. I have called myself a "hard-assed rationalist/reductionist", and all my life would have no truck nor trade with "spiritual" ideas.

A couple of years ago I truly understood the calamity facing the world, in all its grim glory. Peak Oil, fish depletion, soil fertility depletion, fresh water depletion, Global Warming, ocean acidification, pervasive chemical pollution, the fragility and brittleness of the global economic system - and especially the genetic underpinnings of human behaviour that make it utterly impossible for us to respond to the crisis appropriately as a civilization or species. My conclusion is that humanity is facing an imminent, inevitable and irrevocable collapse, incorporating both a severe population dieoff and the loss of most of our technological civilization. This process has already started in various places and will be complete before the end of this century. The journey from here to there is going to be harder than any of us can imagine. This frankly apocalyptic conclusion is disputed by many and accepted by few. Nevertheless, in the face of the evidence I have been convinced of its truth.

It goes without saying that this is a very bleak perception. Notwithstanding the occasional rays of hope provided by the theories of resilience and adaptive cycles, it is enough to throw a Pope into despair. That was where I was stuck for many months. I had traversed Kubler-Ross' five stages and arrived at "acceptance". I asked myself "Now what?" but found no answer.

Very recently that all changed. I'm still not sure exactly why or how, but I realized that what was missing from my understanding of the universe, nature and humanity was reverence. I have always felt a sense of abstract scientific wonder when contemplating the size and complexity of the universe, but had actively rejected any notion of reverence or worship - probably due to the associations with Abrahamic religions and their fundamentally anti-human, anti-nature dogmas.

As soon as I realized that I needed to feel reverence for nature and was able to summon a sense of the sacred in the earth and all its constituents, my lingering, intractable despair suddenly vanished. What is, simply is. We have injured our Earth Mother grievously through our intentional but unaware actions. The best we can do now is to tell her (or perhaps we are just telling ourselves) that we know we hurt her, are sorry for the hurt, will do as much as we can to put it right, and will do everything in our power to ensure that it never happens again. This acknowledgment can reinforce a sense of our accountability and focus us on our responsibility to act.

As is so often the case, my spiritual transformation preceded my intellectual comprehension of it. I quickly realized that I was probably feeling a pantheistic sensation.

Here's the update:

I've had some months now to further explore my nascent spirituality. Along the way I have had many remarkable experiences that have confirmed the validity of this shift in perspective.

I now realize that the feelings I describe above are more properly understood as Deep Ecology rather than pantheism. While I no longer identify my new world-view as pantheism, the perceptions it gave me are still the same. The principles of Deep Ecology are very similar to pantheism, though focussed explicitly on the natural world. Humanity is but one part of the web of life that embraces this planet. We are not above it, in the center of it or separate from it in any way. We have just the same inherent value as any other part of that web, no more and no less. We are a part of the web of life, not apart from it. We do have a responsibility to govern our actions because we can reason, but we are still subject to the same influences as any other species on Earth.

More personally important, however, has been the continuing development of my spiritual awareness. It began with a profound transformative experience though an organization called The Inner Journey. This experience was not so much an awakening as a stripping away of several layers of perceptual filters that had been keeping me from directly experiencing myself and my true relationship with the world I live in. The Inner Journey is based on a combination of Eastern philosophical and Western psychological techniques. The processes its founder has developed opened my understanding of how personal awareness and spiritual perceptions can work hand in hand to give us access to a truer understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

As I have continued the journey since that seminal experience, I have come to accept several spiritual principles that give meaning and hope to my actions:

* The ego takes its sense of identity from the structure of the world around us.
* Changes in the world threaten the ego's sense of identity, giving rise to fear.
* Because all of reality is change, egoic attachment to the current state of reality leads to intense suffering.
* By understanding that our essential nature is one of Being, we are able to move beyond this illusory sense of identity based on the state of the world. That change automatically alleviates the suffering that springs from the ego's fear of annihilation.
* The more accurately we are able to perceive ourselves, the more fully we are able to perceive the world around us.
* The purpose of all consciousness is to allow the universe to become conscious of itself. The more conscious we become, the better we fulfill this essential role.

And the key to the whole treasure chest:

* The universe exists only in the present moment, not in the unreachable past or the unknowable future. By bringing our awareness fully into the Now we can align ourselves with all that is and experience the truth of Being.

The journey continues...
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mtf80123 Donating Member (488 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-15-08 08:19 PM
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1. Welcome to Reality
Edited on Fri Aug-15-08 08:24 PM by mtf80123
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Viva_Daddy Donating Member (142 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-20-08 11:42 AM
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2. Interesting "transition"
But I'm a little confused by your last statement:

"the key to the whole treasure chest:

* The universe exists only in the present moment, not in the unreachable past or the unknowable future. By bringing our awareness fully into the Now we can align ourselves with all that is and experience the truth of Being."

It seems to me that "the present moment", "the Now", "all that is", and "the truth of Being" are all just different ways of pointing to the same "thing" ...i.e., the Intelligent Awareness-Presence (or "God" or "consciousness") in which we all "live and move and have our being".

Don't worry about the ego. It's just a mental concept and never really existed. Once the baselessness of the ego is seen, everything falls into place .
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-21-08 07:47 AM
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3. The way I view it
Edited on Thu Aug-21-08 07:48 AM by GliderGuider
"The present moment" of course means just what it says. "The Now" is pretty much the same thing, but I use that term to emphasize that the experience has more internal significance than the quotidian usage of "the present" might imply. To me "all that is" conveys the sense of the unity of everything that is accessed through bringing one's attention into the moment. And finally, "Being" refers to the sense of being part of that unity of everything, of taking one's identity from the simple fact of one's existence as a part of the "all that is" as opposed to what one does or thinks.

So while all the terms are related and do point to the same moon, I see subtle but useful distinctions between them.

My perception of the ego is that is is the key to our being able to function in reality as aware beings. Without it there would be no way to distinguish between self and other. So while it's a "just" a mental construct, I don't see the ego as baseless. Rather, I see it as an aspect of human makeup that needs to be understood and put into proper psychological context in order that we can use it and not have it using us. Self-awareness implies a self/other dualism, and that's what the ego is there to manage.
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Pharaoh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Very nice
Thank you for sharing :toast:
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vanlassie Donating Member (826 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 01:38 PM
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5. There is a weekend course
called "More To Life" which I think is brilliant in it's distilling of the principles you described. In 35 hours there are tools taught which allow one to cut to the chase and get the clarity that allows us to choose our life. What you describe as "crisis" they call a "lifeshock."

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westerebus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 04:49 PM
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6. If you met the Buddha, kill him. n/t
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Fire Walk With Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-28-10 01:06 PM
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7. "Moment of terror is the beginning of Life." -Front 242
I agree with what you have written, and yes, it is occuring. Cheers.
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