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Maxfield Parrish, The Pirate ship

“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”
— Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


“There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan


“To know ‘who I am and who I am not’ is called Absolute knowledge. “
— Dada Bhagwan


The danger of civilization,
of course, is that you will
piss away your life
on nonsense.

― Jim Harrison

When we moved to the French countryside, we settled in a small village of fewer than two hundred people where the French ecological movement started over a hundred years ago. The people who lived there had a surprisingly cavalier attitude toward trees. We were shocked early on when they took down a whole grove of big trees in the center of the village. We compensated by planting the biggest trees we could find around our house.

Of course when we sold our house two decades later, a lot of those trees were removed by the new owners.

If trees are sacred to you, it’s hard to live in a culture of pirates. It’s common in our Western culture to look at nature with the eyes of killers. Anything and everything is valued on the scales of utility and profit, the devil takes the hindmost. We export this mindset around the world.

Those of us who notice how nature and our own bodies suffer in this civilization teach ourselves to thread our way through it as we try to avoid poisons of the body and mind. It’s not always possible.

These depredations begin in our inability to feel connected and protective of the life forms around us. Is it any wonder so many of us are ailing? Being cut off from nature cuts us off from the innate wisdom of our bodies. We ask our bodies to perform repetitive and joyless work while we sit too much and feed it low quality food.

Is this an advanced civilization, would you say?

Eckhart Tolle is quoted as saying he thinks humans have a chance to survive now because ten percent of humanity is waking up. I don’t know where he gets that figure but I hope he’s right. We’re sleepwalking toward a big cliff.

We live in the midst of what David Korten calls The Great Emergency. We are required to see ourselves and the world perhaps for the first time. Unless we can see what kind of beings we are and what that implies, the world is in for some hard times.

We don’t need to rape and pillage the world. There are other ways to live, but we’re addicted to our comforts and distractions and we can’t imagine another way. Some very inventive people are also sociopaths. It looks like we are approaching a “dark night of the soul “ en masse.” The wrong people are sailing our ship.

The mob psychology we saw take hold at the US Capitol recently is worrying. You wonder if humanity is evolving or devolving. Will we really build back better or will we just tinker around the edges?

I would feel more confident if our so-called leaders weren’t criminals and cowards. It would be a relief to see some real kindness and wisdom crop up occasionally without being attacked by the jackals. The underlying logic of hard heartedness is so pervasive in our culture that we don’t even notice it.

We’re on the cusp of something. I just wish I knew what it is.

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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