Tag Archives: Tipping Points

The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, Climate Change, Voluntary Simplicity

The Buddha practiced Socially Engaged Buddhism giving dharma talks wherever he went in society.  His first dharma talk emphasized the Four Noble Truths, the Middle Way and the Engaged Nature of mindfulness practice.  He formulated the Five Wonderful Precepts for lay practitioners, which evolved into the Five Mindfulness Trainings. In the 4th Century AD in India, the Brahma-Net Sutra was recorded.  It was known as the “Moral Code of the Bodhisattvas.”  It was translated by the Indian monk, Kumarajiva, into Chinese during the 4th century AD and contained three groups of precepts:

  1. Do not what is evil (Do not create suffering)
  2. Do what is good (Do wholesome actions)
  3. Do good for others (Be of benefit to all sentient beings)

Contained within the Brahma-Net Sutra are the ten major precepts of wholesomeness and forty eight minor precepts.  This was practiced in China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea as an early expression of Socially Engaged Buddhism.

In 14th century Vietnam, the Bamboo Forest Master (formerly King Than Nhan Tong, 1258–1308), went from village to village teaching the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Ten Wholesome Precepts derived from 4th century India, strongly influenced by the Brahma-Net sutra and the Buddha’s initial dharma talk. In the 20th century, Socially Engaged Buddhism was renewed in Vietnam and extended to the West. Thich Nhat Hanh ordained the first six members of the Tiep Hien Order in February 1966 during the Vietnam War.  The Fourteen Tiep Hien Precepts (The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing) contain the Five Mindfulness Trainings, the Noble Eightfold Path and are a renewal of the earlier Bodhisattva Precepts.  Thich Nhat Hanh brought them up to date to be in tune with our times, in step with modern historical, socio-economic and cultural developments yet resting on the foundation provided by the Buddha and 4th century expressions of socially engaged Buddhism.  “Tiep” – one meaning is to continue, as when we tie two strings together to make a longer and more durable string. “Hien” – means to realize from direct experience, to make it here and now, totally in the present. Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Lotus in a Sea of Fire and the fourteen ethical statements that he carefully sculpted, presented a revolutionary statement of Engaged Buddhism.

The World is Burning.

The Buddha taught: “The world is always burning, burning with the fires of greed, anger and foolishness; one should flee from such dangers as soon as possible.” The fires of greed, anger and foolishness refers to the three poisons said by Shakyamuni to lie at the root of samsara. He taught that one should “flee from such dangers.” Although this passage might be used to support a world-denying attitude toward life, it is important to note that what the Buddha taught was that it was the kleshas, the unskillful, unwise forms, feelings, mental formations, perceptions and consciousness that burned, and not the world itself. The Hopi people referred to this state of imbalance as Koyaanisqatsi. We are not the first people to experience this. The difference today is that without our commitment to wise intervention, we could be the last.

Question: Do the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of Thich Nhat Hanh provide an adequate response to Climate Change?                                   

The 2015 Paris Accord on Climate Change was an exceptional step by the international community, dedicating their intent to prevent global temperatures from rising a further 1.5 degrees. The signatories returned to their respective countries to find the wherewithal to “Change Climate Change.” The latter is the logo of the Canadian government. What is missing from all the deliberations and press releases was a candid recognition of the “Cascade Effect” – a notion well known in biology. Tipping points in sea level rise and temperature connect to tipping points in air pollution, which connect to tipping points in polar ice melt and trigger further tipping points in deforestation, desertification and so on in a cascade that cannot be stopped. The reality is not the reversal or change of Climate Change, the question and strategy is about learning how to adapt to the consequences of Climate Change.

The obstacles preventing the general public taking wise action with regard to Climate Change are a mixture of fear, despair, sheer laziness, disempowerment and a sense of hopelessness. These apply to all forms of a burning world – war, poverty, resource inequality, ideological extremism, hatred and bigotry. “What on earth can I do to make a difference?” is a phrase muttered all over the world in countless languages. Followed by “So why should I do anything?” There is certainly global awareness, but also fear about our future place on Planet Earth. This is understandable. The overwhelming terror of Gaia crashing down on us is unbearable, as there is evidence that we may be a primary cause.

I wrote in 2008 in Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves that a critical mass of 2% will be satisfactory as a tipping point, the catalyst to get things moving in the right direction. But I underestimated the impact of the carbon fuel cabal, a complex web of powerful corporate and government interests. Not just in the energy industries of oil and gas, this carbon economy extends into the manufacturing and servicing sectors, supported in an insulated ecosystem by financial institutions that control the marketing and advertising sectors. This collective power, when extended into the media, has attempted to make science and ecology into public enemy number one. It is supported in the United States by strong and well-funded political action committees with immense resources. This powerful, intermeshed cabal can easily circumvent the Climate Change accords agreed to by the international community.  They have also tried to influence other public policy such as rights of women and children, clean air and water, the efficacy of education and even the wars that show no sign of abatement. People everywhere are aware – but feel helpless in the face of this power. So what are we to do?

In terms of action, we have data-based evidence (and the voice of the Buddha telling us) that we must cut back, simplify, make-do with less and implement a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity. Reduce meat consumption, walk or cycle more, drive less, create an organic garden, plant a tree – just do it! Reduce our ecological footprint by conserving energy with one eco-friendly act every day, then global consciousness as a collective human phenomenon will change. Different questions will be asked and different solutions found, as a new mind-set of shared consciousness emerges to make the necessary decisions for change.  Mass awakening, however, does not mean that everyone “wakes” up right away.

Here is my task and it draws on the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. The challenge is to be in society, but as a still island of mindfulness.  Take small steps at first, then larger ones.  The small steps are to realize that many cannot drop present lifestyles or make dramatic changes cold turkey. But we do not have to be caught by the fast pace of consumerist madness.  We just need to make essential changes in energy use, diet, language, media and outreach.  Voluntary Simplicity is a good starting place.  It means being more aware of our consumerism, making deliberate choices about how we spend time and money rather than living on the automatic pilot of busyness. Free up time – be television free for several evenings, write in a journal, meditate and sort the clutter of the mind. We support environmental causes with the excess clutter in the basement, always thinking about whether we really “need” to buy something more.  Enjoy being simple and living modestly by shifting our perceptions just a little bit.  See clearly that commercial meat farming is a larger contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and resource overuse than any other cause – not to mention the suffering of factory farmed beings. This catalogue of things we can do is not a big deal really – just look deeply into what we do with time, money, clutter and our choices, and change.  Then see whether the consequences are peace and happiness for YOU. The world will follow.

Where do we start? Of course we must think globally and be aware of the bigger picture and step beyond the smaller pictures of ourselves created from fear and disempowerment. Yet we can also act locally with great vigor in our families and communities. Our intentions then spread as ripples from a pebble dropped in still water. We cannot truly hold officials, politicians and corporate culture to account, until we have mindfully begun the small things that we can do. At the same time we can alert the political and corporate decision makers that we do mean business as voters and consumers deeply concerned about the planet and our location on it. This is very important.  Our leaders are a manifestation of our collective will, when the collective will changes, our leaders will surely act differently.

I write about this in my book New Planet, New World, which will be published in 2016. Intertwining plotlines arc into the epiphany of the final chapter, which muses about human survival anywhere. The inclusiveness of science combines with Tolstoy’s vision, Pope Francis’ Climate Change Encyclical and not repeating the mistakes of the carbon cabal. The underlying message is from Tolstoy, the ‘Conscience of Humanity.’ He described humanity’s bottom line as the cultivation of love, the mainspring for authentic and responsible living to create enduring ethics that would thrive. In this sci-fi story the pioneers on the new planet decide to create communal villages and eco-towns based on self-sufficient neighborhoods of elegant architecture and easy access. It has a public transport system without personal vehicles, eco-towns engineered to be ecologically friendly and socially inclusive. Also neighborhoods full of community gardens and eco-landscapes with permaculture zones, with green tech industries a priority. They endorse a set of financial regulations crucial to the new venture of expanding communities. Education, medical care, music and recreation are a responsibility supported by the companies. No company is permitted to get too big and the emphasis throughout is on preserving ecology. Business operations plough thirty per cent of profits into a communal fund for the eco-communities in addition to taxes. The energy source is a lattice of sophisticated solar units – and one company furnishes this. Furthermore, any search for carbon based fuels is forbidden.

It is their sacred duty to create and foster a caring, sharing community and apply the same in equal measure to the environment they are located in. I also draw on Pope Francis and his powerful call in 2015 to protect Planet Earth. This is a moral and ethical imperative, for without it the pioneers would certainly die. Everyone is a good steward for this new planet – and see it as sacred and worthy of respect. Tolstoy framed his writings within a reference to Christianity, yet his views are best described as a humanist spirituality – without archaic church structures and without oppressive state militarism. His refreshing solution was to create the conditions for people to be authentic and responsible. This begins with a co-operative style of community that encourages personal example as the driving force. Combined with a strong work ethic to bring a sense of responsibility to the fore, the pioneers use their imagination to co-operate and invent ways to make things move smoothly. The drive is to create a tangible spirit of co-operation, the willingness to share and be supportive and intuit how to cross the bridges of misunderstanding.

In this 2016 sci-fi novel I am able to take liberties and choose mentors, yet my intention is to provide a scenario reflected in the real world today, for soon the uber-rich will only be able to live in heavily guarded compounds. The rich and wealthy will likely inhabit armed, gated communities – and they will all be targets for eco-militias and popular uprisings drawn from the impoverished masses – intent on revenge. (Shades of Stanley Kubrick’s The Clockwork Orange.) To avoid this likely outcome for all citizens it is wise to take the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings very, very seriously. They are the necessary prior training for the emergence of Voluntary Simplicity and Community Ethics. The trainings are sound as they address that toxic mixture of fear, despair, sheer laziness, disempowerment and sense of hopelessness that I wrote about at the beginning of this essay. The trainings were updated in 2012, yet attention to more skillful wording is necessary in a few of them and I would like to see more of a sense of urgency expressed. Nevertheless, the Fourteen Trainings infuse the direction and action of Pine Gate.

Building Epicenters at Pine Gate as a Revolutionary Act

Pine Gate Mindfulness Community in Ottawa, Canada encourages Voluntary Simplicity and Community Ethics as a way of life and creates epicenters to bring this about. Starting with the Earth – our organic garden produces an abundance of vegetables, apples and flowers that are shared with neighbors and sangha members. It is a solace for me to spend time with the Earth, observing bumblebees and butterflies while gardening with assistance from neighborhood children. They once went into hilarious laughter when they saw that the plant I had carefully nurtured turned out to be a giant weed and not a tomato plant! We had great fun returning it to the compost bin. At the back of the garden is a beautiful fountain that murmurs amidst the flowers that are gathered and sent to the elderly folk living on our crescent. A simple underground economy arises from the sharing. A solar panel fuels the hot water system. Everything else is as eco-friendly as we can make it for our fifty year old bungalow with a meditation hall in the basement. This eco-effort became an example for other friends as they did the math on how much cash we were saving.

In December 2015 I spoke to the Pine Gate Community about the plight of the Syrian refugees as being very similar to the Christmas story. Joseph and Mary were a Middle East couple and had nothing but a cattle shed for their child to be born. With their mystic insight the three wise men could locate and honor them. The Syrian refugees and their families are in the same boat – they have nothing. I put it out that we all have the opportunity to join the three wise men as there are Middle East couples and children on the run that we could help. I tend to think that the Christmas story applies to everyone, not only to Christians. And so we became an epicenter for fund raising for Syrian families relocating in Ottawa. How? By becoming informed, by sharing our monetary resources through responsible relief organizations and even by opening our own homes. This was similar to our efforts to support Tibetan re-settlement in Ottawa over the past few years. The community also organized a fund raising concert to support the rebuilding of the Galai School in Liberia which had been destroyed by the civil war. Yet, perhaps the most significant epicenter is a deliberate focus to empower women.

I have always thought of the present millennium as the century of the daughters. Not so much as a gender separate thing, but as attributes of a holistic, nurturing presence of mind. This is why I began my exploration of the Sedona region of Arizona with Oak Creek River – the feminine face of Water. This was one component of the Five Great Elements in Buddhist thought I was familiar with: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Consciousness. I understood the sequence as the correspondence of all things to each other driven by the feminine vessel of enlightenment.

This connection with the feminine was naturally carried into my peace activism. I have been musing about this, reflecting on the annual Ottawa Friends for Peace Day, which is put on by Pine Gate. I realized fifteen years ago, when I founded Friends for Peace as the engaged arm of Pine Gate that I was making a conscious choice to focus my energy and work on the local, my home city of Ottawa.  Pine Gate’s focus was on mindfulness in schools, city environment, youth at risk and above all else – on the empowerment of women. I am astonished by the results – more true to say “blown away.” For at the local level there was continuity with great women who helped make things happen.  There is now a two week Peace Festival in Ottawa that precedes the Friends for Peace Day.  It has all grown in ever increasing concentric circles. The foundation of mindfulness and the empowerment of women through the fifty organizations we partner with have taken root in our northern city. All use some form of the Friends for Peace mandate – peace, planetary care and social justice – voluntary simplicity and community ethics at work.

Each year Friends for Peace presents Peace Awards to Canadian citizens who have devoted their lives to securing peace, planetary care and social justice.  The majority of the Peace Award recipients are women. The funds raised from the day are used to issue Peace Grants to organizations, in Ottawa and internationally, and we make a point of honoring women who run organizations that make a significant difference. In particular we have supported youth organizations to burst on to the local scene guided by magnificent women – I refer to these particular friends as Canadian Kick-Ass Women! Founded in 2007, Orkidstra is led by Tina Fedeski. www.leadingnotefoundation.org. It gives children from under-served communities the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, play as an ensemble and sing in a choir. Three hundred and fifty children now arrive with thirty three different languages and cultures. This mosaic of diversity learns together and Orkidstra is creating good kids and splendid citizens for the future. Furthermore, they are building a quiet social revolution in city schools and neighborhoods. The Dandelion Dance Company is the creation of Hannah Beach. An Ottawa based youth dance company, which explores social issues through movement. Their repertoire is driven by the experiences, reflections and passion of young women who range in age from ages thirteen to nineteen, and include children’s rights, hunger, authenticity, bullying, stereotypes and inclusiveness. This program has entered the curriculum of many Ontario schools. Both youth organizations perform regularly at the Friends for Peace Day. www.hannahbeach.com/dandelion

The drive behind Pine Gate Mindfulness Community is to foster a strong cadre of people in Ottawa who make a difference for the betterment of society. Women are in the forefront of this endeavor. They are the heart that holds the living waters and that heart is the dynamic epicentre of the mind/will/emotions that lead to action. That is how we get things done differently in our northern city with an evolving Manifesto to create a different course of action and living. We draw on the Fourteen to prepare the pathways and keep ourselves steady.

Acknowledgements

This essay benefited greatly from insights, prompts and corrections from two good friends. I offer a deep bow of gratitude to Maggie McLeod and Bob Allen.

 

Are We Stupid?

Oscar nominee Pete Postlethwaite plays the best role of his acting career in the film “The Age of Stupid.” The movie fast forwards us to the year 2055. Pete plays the only fictional character in this riveting film. He stars as an old man living alone in a world totally decimated by global warming. His location is the High Arctic. How prophetic this makes James Lovelock’s conclusion from his 2006 book Revenge of Gaia. In an interview about this book, Lovelock provides a dire prediction for humanity: “Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”

The process that brought this about is one where we allowed the environment to become an extension of human egocentric needs and values – an ego-sphere rather than an eco-sphere. In this ego-sphere we consumed mindlessly in the global economy without regard for ecosystem balance or concern about creating inequality, poverty and ecosystem imbalance. Planetary care is not on this agenda, as the film graphically shows. We see the old man in the High Arctic watching archival video footage, carefully preserved from 2008. His stark question to the viewer is: “Why didn’t we stop climate change in 2008 when there was a chance?”

The character played by Postlethwaite is the curator of The Global Archive – a digital storage laboratory located in the Arctic – the last habitable place for humans on planet Earth. The footage he views shows how global warming reached tipping points and runaway effects while at the same time humanity’s achievements are also saved for posterity. How could the human mind capable of such monumental achievements neglect to take care of the destruction happening to their lived in ecosystem? The old man shakes his head in disbelief looking for an answer. The film gives us an answer – OIL! Our dependence and addiction to it; our refusal to move away from a carbon fueled lifestyle – this is what propelled the downward spiral of devastation.

The director of the film – Fanny Armstrong – creates a montage from live news and documentaries saved from 1950 to 2008. The video record charts the steps taken by humanity into global devastation – devastating that is for human habitation and for all other species. In an artfully created mosaic, six real life characters play out the dramas of their personal stories. Their humanity and their stupidity are extant in this brilliant tapestry of human folly. What is so gripping is that we who view it are made to feel distinctly uncomfortable. Because their shadows and myopia reflect our own shadows and myopia, especially those of our political and corporate leaders. After watching this film we can no longer hide from these shadows. We are forcibly held to account. If we do not act now – this film becomes our story and the evidence is in about the question “Are We Stupid?”

Evidence

In Part Two of Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves(2008) http://www.failsafebook.ca/ I write about A Failed Genetic Experiment, though I do put a question mark after Experiment. Yet if we continue to turn our beautiful rivers into sewers because of our endless greed and neglectful ignorance, there is no place on Mother Earth to sustain our present civilization. It will join the trash heap collectively created by mindless generations of humanity. If consciousness is too slow to change and make the quantum leap to a culture of sustainability then there are drastic consequences to contemplate, which are starkly portrayed in the film. The ancient ecologist on Mars studying a million years of earth history would surely note a parasitic infestation of Planet Earth that was not very intelligent. An intelligent parasite would ensure the good health of the host that supports it. And so the Martian ecologist would factor in an inevitable elimination date for our species in her star date log and may well view our civilization as a failed genetic experiment.

“The Age of Stupid” is a watershed film. You will not be the same after you have seen it. It is impossible not to be moved, and in a constructive direction of immediate action. For the latter, I refer the reader to Appendix I of Failsafe: Simple Steps To Empowerment, which provides guidelines and an action plan for the global ecological emergency. If only we can get it right – and get it right now! The best case scenario is that we get on with the task of reining in our ego and greed driven mind. This permits a Failsafe in Consciousness to kick in because the conditions and opening have been created by our choice to cultivate different patterns within our minds. Thus consciousness expansion can no longer be held back as the radical internal Climate Change has taken place. Our innate knowledge is manifest. We interconnect with a vast counter culture that is no longer a minority, no longer asleep or disempowered. We become another light shining in the quiet revolution that has over two million organizations world-wide pursuing constructive change.

Our diligent mindfulness has changed our brain structures in the direction that permits new paradigms of behavior to come into form. As cells in the ecosystem of Gaia it is as though humanity has aligned their neuronal networks with principles of ecosystem balance, ethics and responsibility. The critical mass has arrived and it amounts to a collective tipping point for our species. Once the wild, ego driven, greed driven mind is reined in then clarity and compassion are suddenly there to provide the basis for how we can be with the planet and with one another in a totally new way. This is what happens if we “Begin It Now” – the concluding words to Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves. http://www.failsafebook.ca/

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I finish with Dave Hampton’s passionate thoughts about this film (Resurgence May/June 2009: 66). “The Age of Stupid” is not just a film that could change the course of humanity. I hope it will be the catalyst that gives us a second chance to create a sustainable future. I hope it will promote a mass collective awakening globally such that we are not stupid and that we choose life and reclaim our children’s birthright – the right to expect a future”

I have fourteen grandchildren. In the same vein as this film, I wrote Failsafe: Saving The Earth from Ourselves. Consider this book as archival footage from 2008 that provides hope and an action plan so that my grandchildren can enjoy a habitable planet.

CREATING FAILSAFE: Saving The Earth From Ourselves

CREATING FAILSAFE: Saving the Earth From Ourselves

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Available from Amazon Kindle for $4.99

http://www.amazon.com/Failsafe-Saving-Earth-Ourselvesebook/dp/B006DLB4AK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329677682&sr=8-1

 Many of the ideas expressed in Failsafe were presented to students – both at the university and in the meditation hall. Their feedback, helpful suggestions and sometimes boredom prompted me to refine the basic ideas.  I first talked about a Failsafe in Consciousness in my 2002 book The Essential Spiral: Ecology and Consciousness After 9/11, drawing on the post Enron crash where financial analysts actually talked about responsibility and ethics.  I also drew on the writings of E.O. Wilson – that despite all that was happening around us there was still an unmistakable link with nature’s systems in the human psyche.

 

So I endeavoured to improve on the ideas floated in 2002 and tried it out on my ecology class at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I had the privilege of meeting two outstanding students – Eric Smith and Paul Schlissel. They took up the challenge of mapping my ideas into diagrams and re-arranged how I addressed the components of the emerging concepts. Failsafe, due to their promptings, became more than a set of ideas.  It had substance and a design based on three interconnected components. These were Innate Earth Wisdom; Counter Culture; Tipping Points in Consciousness – all of which intertwined with consciousness transformation. Can we fix the planet? This is the wrong question. Our present values and patterns of consumption are the architects of the present global ecological emergency. The right question is can we transform ourselves? My point in addressing Climate Change and Global Warming was that they were not the problem.  The real problem was the mind-set that created the ecological conditions for Global Warming to explode dramatically into the lives of every human being on earth.  I needed a set of interconnecting variables to link into the really crucial aspect of changing human consciousness.  I suppose it is an act of faith on my part, but I feel that once consciousness changes then different questions will be asked and different solutions found.  Out of the transformation will emerge the structures and institutions that can regulate global affairs without endangering all species – including our own.

 

Failsafe provides understanding of global eco-crises and issues a call to change the existing world order by arriving at a deep spiritual understanding of what needs to be done. Step by step methods to transform our existing mindset are laid out to usher in a new era of planetary care, social justice and peace. Failsafe is about hope and faith and the clear knowledge that we have the capacity to get things done. There is hope for future generations to occupy a healthy planet and faith in the human consciousness to change. There is faith that we beings can awaken to the miracle and beauty of all of life. Failsafe provides examples and guidance for transformation and change. Failsafe is a critical response to Lovelock’s 2006 book “Revenge of Gaia” where he argues that the present self-regulating mechanisms of Gaia cannot be controlled by human agency.  In the context of Global Warming and dire predictions for a habitable econiche for homo sapiens I present a Failsafe in Consciousness. I describe how consciousness expansion will be held in abeyance by wilful human ignorance until the global ecological situation deteriorates to a breaking point.  This breaking point will then act as a catalyst, penetrating such ignorance and activating consciousness so it is propelled into expansion, deliberation and change.

 

I drew a lot on the new discipline of Neuroscience, the Wisdom of Aboriginal Elders and the teachings of the Buddha about changing the human mind. Taming the human mind was a major issue, because to change external circumstances with technological fixes still leaves a damaging mind-set intact.  If our minds are not clear and at peace, we simply pass on our disturbance and selfishness to everything we create. In the final chapter – Taming The Wild Mind – I felt it necessary to include highly personal accounts to show that Taming the Wild Mind was not easy for me.  My particular journey is not for everyone – yet some form of journey is absolutely necessary for all of us – one that takes us beyond the superficial into the deep reality of our true nature.  This is nothing other than old fashioned goodness, caring and wisdom coming out to play instead of the greed and negativity that stalks the mind of humanity.

 

I started to give talks to the most unlikely audiences about all of this stuff, and found to my surprise that most of the folks listening got the drift of where I was going.  Their questions and requests for clarification enabled me to sculpt the Failsafe in Consciousness concept into a more understandable form.  I want to reach every man and woman in the street, as the sheer necessity of a bottom up revolution in patterns of consumption and behaviour is necessary for the Failsafe notion to kick in. Failsafe is taken from engineering, where the term is used to describe a stop lever or valve that comes into action whenever the machinery is in danger of exploding or breaking down.  As such, it is a useful metaphor for what is happening globally with Climate Change. I add to the Failsafe notion – particularly the idea of tipping points in consciousness.  This is akin to the Hundredth Monkey syndrome, where once a critical mass is reached then behaviour changes across the board.  In other words once a tipping point is reached there is a quantum leap of energy across the population.  For humanity I set this threshold at 2% of the human population. If 2% can truly commit to changing their minds and altering their patterns in the direction of voluntary simplicity, planetary care and compassion – then this is the tip of the spear that lances through the problem of Climate Change.  Let’s face it – Climate Change is very dangerous to us continuing to inhabit the earth, and still we do all kinds of senseless things to not face this reality.

 

Failsafe is by no means finished. There will be bright minds who will take it further, find loopholes in it and re-fashion it.  All this I gladly welcome. I look forward to the dialogue as it helps us move on. My hope is that you enjoy the book and share it with friends.  I will keep you up to date with my continuing journey as it evolves.

 

Every blessing to each one of you.

 

Ian

The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey

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 My book Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves was written as a Hero’s Journey for our species. Available as an e book http://www.amazon.com/Failsafe-Saving-Earth-Ourselvesebook/dp/B006DLB4AK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329677682&sr=8-1

 Testimonials:

In Failsafe, Ian Prattis offers a way to a perceptual transformation that is absolutely critical if we are to find a truly sustainable future.   David Suzuki, author, environmentalist and host of CBC’s “The Nature of Things”

“Ian’s book respects and reflects on Aboriginal Prophesies about the Eighth Fire and care of the Earth Mother.  He investigates the spiritual lack in the modern world and proposes sound means to guide the course of humanity. For this he draws on the Wisdom of the Elders. This is a book for our times. It has his experience of Taming the Wild Mind, serving the Earth and the cause of Peace.”  Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin Elder, founder of the Circle of All Nations. Order of Canada.

Joseph Campbell’s ground breaking work on mythology, The Hero With A Thousand Faces way back in 1949, contained a highly radical agenda, which was somewhat obscured in his later works.  In the Epilogue of the 1968 edition he carefully mapped the reality of the Hero’s quest in modern times.  With the insight of impermanence Campbell shows that times have clearly changed, that meaning no longer resides in the community or nature but in the individual.  This makes the hero’s quest a radically different and more difficult venture as without the support of community, nature or religion the hero’s quest is to save the planet – not the bounded community or nation – and transform the entire social order of the world.  Campbell is adamant that the great religions of the world cannot assist with this task, as they are complicit in the partisan fracturing of the world carried out by factions that curry favour with outmoded expressions of cultural nationalism. Their “monkey holiness” is not the stuff that can aid the hero (1968: 389), who now has a somewhat solitary task because the center of gravity of mythology has changed from nature and locality so that humanity itself is now the mystery to be unravelled.

Yet despite all this, the hero has the “all” within him, within her.  The particular cultural and national characteristics do not tell us anything about what it is to be truly human.  And so the task is to step beyond these boundaries, discover through experience that there is no separateness, thus gaining the knowledge and insight that can transform humanity.  The influence of the Vedas of Ancient India and their non-dualism is clearly with Campbell in that he feels it is essential for humanity to see the same redemption in different forms – Truth is one and the sages call it by many names.  Thus the propagation of any form such as fundamentalist Islam or fundamentalist Christianity becomes highly dangerous.  Campbell is certainly correct about the world’s religions that require belief in a God, culturally and nationally defined – “monkey holiness.”  Yet the instruments of mindfulness practice in Buddhism with their intent on freeing the human mind from suffering may have some pertinence, as the practices are free of the stigma of cultural nationalism – or should be if the Buddha is listened to carefully!  Cultural nationalism is a redundant and obsolete force in the 21st century – that is for the task of transforming the social order of the world.  However, the religious right in America and their identical twin – the Taliban in Afghanistan – and other religious groups like them refuse to recognise that they are obsolete, still appealing to the ignorant and fearful.  Thus the hero’s task in the modern era is ominous and lonely.  Campbell (1968: 391) in the last paragraph of his classic states:

The modern hero…cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, of fear, rationalized advise and sanctified misunderstanding… It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse.  And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal – carries the cross of the redeemer – not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

My book Failsafe strikes chords with Joseph Campbell’s insights from over a half century ago.  Its genesis is in line with Campbell’s views, though I doubt if he anticipated the present global ecological emergency.  This slim volume endeavours to provide understanding, issues a call for the adventure of transmuting the existing world social order by bringing the reader to a deep spiritual understanding of what needs to be done, and finally casts the hero’s mantle on all of us.  Transforming the fabric of the entire social order asks citizens of the world to do the work of becoming spiritually responsible rather than remaining spiritual captives. This is so the revealed knowledge and wisdom gained from this adventure can be applied to society and the environment.

I ask of everyone, including myself, to be a modern hero and heroine for our time.

Understand the challenge

Accept the challenge

Listen to Nietzsche – “Live as though the day were here.”