Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Impossibly Beautiful

A Makah Maiden (Photo by Edward Curtis, 1916)
Each day, at dawn, the universe offers us a clean sheet of white paper; and on this clean sheet of white paper, we endeavor to render what we know of the divine reality within which we live. It is an impossible task, but in pursuing it, we generate something impossibly beautiful, which, if we allow it to, will transform our lives into a priceless artifact of that divine reality we cannot capture in our words or images.

Subsequently, each nightfall, the universe offers us the warm solace of its dark embrace.

If we allow ourselves to release our worries, judgements, rules, limitations, thought constructs and anticipations into that indigo blue fire - in the ensuing silence, we can hear the true stories of our lives unfold to us, chapter by chapter.

Yes, and no, like Yin and Yang, nourish and sustain each other.

Out of their love-making, the truth arrives.

Welcome it.

-- Richard Power

Power's eighth book,  Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril , is available now in soft cover and Kindle versions, from Amazon and elsewhere.

Secret of Happiness

Edward Munch - Madonna (1894)
Sadness has no home.

She wanders among us, clutching to the lost artifacts of nameless others.

Through the long dark hours of the night, she holds these artifacts to her ear, one by one, yearning to hear their true stories.

When you meet Sadness on the road, invite her in for a pot of tea.

When she is waiting on the door step of your mind, let her in to take a hot shower.

She has no existence of her own, she is simply the sum of all that is lost but not yet liberated.

Sadness wanders ceaselessly between Heaven and Earth, but as long as those two abide she is never forsaken.

Remind her of this, when she comes to you on the wings of a morning dove.

Welcome her, she carries the secret of happiness, she just doesn't know it yet.

-- Richard Power

Power's eighth book,  Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril , is available now in soft cover and Kindle versions, from Amazon and elsewhere.

Four Critical Questions, Four Appalling Answers

Darfuri Child Artist (Source: Mia Farrow, http://miafarrow.org)
 Casino capitalism - aka turbocharged neoliberalism - is ruthlessly destroying the last vestiges of the welfare state and the egalitarian consensus in the industrialized West, possibly with the odd Scandinavian exception. It has established a "New Normal" consensus, intruding into private lives, dominating the political debate and institutionalizing for good the marketization of life itself - the final act of fierce corporate exploitation of natural resources, land and cheap labor. Integration, socialization and multiculturalism are being corroded by disintegration, segregation, and widespread de-socialization - a direct consequence of the David Harvey-coined notion of "dis-accumulation" (society devouring its own). This state of things is what Flemish philosopher and art historian Lieven De Cauter, in his book Entropic Empire, calls "the Mad Max phase of globalization". It is a Hobbesian world, a latent global civil war, a war of all against all; the economic haves against the have-nots; intolerant Wahhabis against "apostate" Shi'ites; the children of the Enlightenment against all manner of fundamentalists; the Pentagon militarization of Africa against Chinese mercantilism. Pepe Escobar, Post-History Strip Tease, Asia Times, 4-26-13

The idea behind the report was simple. Tally up all the world’s natural capital — land, water, atmosphere, etc. — that doesn’t currently have a dollar value attached to it, and figure out the price. But the next step was where it got interesting. Figure how much of that natural capital is being consumed, depleted or degraded without the responsible party paying the cost for that use. The number the study hit on was a staggering $7.3 trillion in 2009 — about 13 percent of global economic output for that year. ... Jeff Spross, Climate Progress, 4-23-13

Four Important Questions, Four Appalling Answers

By Richard Power 

I have very little to say anymore about the fate of this nation, or its sorry lack of leadership.

But just to keep the timeline going, here are four critical questions to ask yourself, along with some worthy commentary to provide context for the appalling answers.

Tell me, do you truly comprehend what is happening in the world around you?

The world is likely days away from a "sobering milestone" in our planetary history. Concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide will likely reach 400 parts per million (ppm) for first time in human history, say scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and unless drastic action is taken, we're on track to hit 450 ppm in the near future. "I wish it weren't true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400-ppm level without losing a beat," said Scripps geochemist Ralph Keeling, whose father Charles David (Dave) Keeling began the "Keeling Curve" to track daily CO2 levels recorded at Mauna Loa Observatory. The last time the greenhouse gases were at 400 ppm was likely the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago. The current reading is at 399.72 ppm -- far past the 350 ppm level many, including noted climate scientist James Hansen, have warned is the upper safe limit before the planet hits a tipping point. Andrea Germanos, Climate Collision Course: CO2 Levels About to Hit 400 PPM, Common Dreams, 4-29-13

Do you understand why your political leaders are not doing anything about it?

If you want to see why the public approval rating of Congress is down in the sub-arctic range — an icy 15 percent by last count — all you have to do is take a quick look at how the House and Senate pay worship at the altar of corporations, banks and other special interests at the expense of public aspirations and need ... Sadly, such is the way of Washington, home of the scheme and the fraud, where the unbreakable chain between money and governance weighs heavy and drags us ever deeper into a sinkhole of inaction and mediocrity. Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, The Worst Congress Money Can Buy, Moyers and Company, 4-27-13

In other ages, states sought to seize as much power as they could. Today, the self-hating state renounces its powers. Governments anathematise governance. They declare their role redundant and illegitimate. They launch furious assaults on their own branches, seeking wherever possible to lop them off. This self-mutilation is a response to the fact that power has shifted. States now operate at the behest of others. Deregulation, privatisation, the shrinking of the scope, scale and spending of the state: these are now seen as the only legitimate policies. The corporations and billionaires to whom governments defer will have it no other way. Just as taxation tends to redistribute wealth, regulation tends to redistribute power. A democratic state controls and contains powerful interests on behalf of the powerless. This is why billionaires and corporations hate regulation, and – through their newspapers, thinktanks and astroturf campaigns – mobilise people against it. George Monbiot, Guardian, 4-22-13

Do you understand that the mainstream news media, the Fourth Estate, is now nothing more than a Fifth Column, engaging in disinformation warfare in the service of your Corporatist overlords?

And, the likelihood now is that the Right will consolidate its dominance of the U.S. news media in the years ahead. In the very near future, some of the country’s most prominent regional newspapers may fall under the control of right-wing ideologues like Rupert Murdoch or the Koch Brothers. Koch Industries, a privately owned oil and gas giant which has provided the means for Charles and David Koch to lavishly fund libertarian think tanks and Tea Party organizations, is now exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel, the Hartford Courant and the Chicago Tribune ... Without major investments by honest Americans in honest journalism – whether the Old Media of print or the New Media of electronics – the United States will continue to drift into a made-up world of right-wing paranoia and pretend facts. And that is a danger for the entire planet. Robert Parry, It's the Media, Stupid! Consortiumnews, 4-26-13

Do you understand that in this once great nation there is more political will to bestow the trappings of imaginary personhood on giant corporations and tiny fetuses than there is to acknowledge the systematic annihilation of an entire population?

There is in Darfur no end in sight for conflict, murder, rape, assaults on displaced persons camps, agricultural and village destruction, brutal extortion schemes, and continuing violent human displacement. The primary targets of this mayhem overseen by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime in Khartoum continue to be primarily civilians from African tribal groups surviving tenuously in an increasingly chaotic Darfur; it is the cruelest of counter-insurgency strategies, since the military opponents of the regime are rebel groups that refuse to accept a peace agreement contrived in Doha (Qatar), not ordinary farmers and landholders. Moreover, for several years an increasing number of Arab tribal groups have been drawn into the fighting, often pitting one Arab group against another; this has produced rapidly growing “collateral damage” as Khartoum seeks to subdue Darfur by means of a war of attrition in which impunity, chaos, and inter-ethnic violence serve the regime’s ultimate military and political purposes. The insecurity consequent upon such polices threatens international relief organizations, many of which have already withdrawn or been expelled, and many more are contemplating withdrawal. International civilian protection—publicly called for since 2003—has been disastrously inadequate. The international community, long unwilling to act meaningfully, pretends that a raft of ignored UN Security Council resolutions—filled with “Chapter 7 authority” and various “demands” that have gone entirely unmet by Khartoum—is an adequate diplomatic response. Peace negotiations, under myriad auspices, produced first the disastrously ill-conceived and ill-fated “Darfur Peace Agreement” (2006, Abuja)—an agreement that ensured the fragmentation of Darfur’s rebel movement. More recently (July 2011) the “Doha Document for Peace in Darfur” (DDPD) has served as the diplomatic point of departure, and touchstone for all comments about ending violence in Darfur ... This is so even as the DDPD has been overwhelmingly rejected by the major rebel groups and Darfuri civil society, and whose terms have been almost entirely ignored by the Khartoum regime since the time the agreement was signed twenty-one months. Eric Reeves, THE DARFUR GENOCIDE AT TEN YEARS: A Reckoning, 4-19-13

Listen my friend, even if you won legislative victory after legislative victory on gay marriage, immigration reform and gun control, this once great nation would still be utterly lost in a wasteland of its own making.

Because of our collective failure to address the appalling answers to these four critical questions.

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to 350.org for the answer.

Richard Power is the author of eight books, including Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself and True North on the Pathless Path: Towards a 21st Century Yoga. Power writes and speaks on spirituality, sustainability, human rights, and security. He blogs at Words of Power and Primal Words of Power, and is a member of the Truthout Board of Advisors. He also teaches yoga.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Where We Are

King Mahajanaka announcing his decision renounce worldly life, Ajanta Caves, Sixth or Seventh Century.
Source: Wiki Commons

Boundless love and utter peace. They are unattainable. 

Because you cannot "attain" that which you already are. 

We live of our lives skimming the surface of these infinite reservoirs. 

Boundless love and utter peace. 

If you relax into them, their pulsating currents will rise to the surface of your life ever more clearly, ever more uninterruptedly. This is the neglected truth of our lives. 

The cup of every moment brims with this truth. 

We taste it with every act of kindness, we touch it in every instance of letting go. We move from it whenever we move with authenticity. We embody it whenever align to the innermost pole of our beings. 

This truth of boundless love and utter peace; it is always waiting just beyond the veil of forgetfulness. It is your own joyous, invincible nature. Become intimate with it. 

However much time you have spent in forgetfulness and fretting; there is still enough time to arrive at the place you have stood from the beginning, and to become the person you have always been. 

There is drumming and dancing in that place, there is feasting and pleasuring. Every loss is hallowed there, every sorrow is heard as beautiful music, every failure is celebrated a sacred vessel, every mistake is handled as a sacrament. 

Boundless love. Utter peace. Forever. Co-existing with chaos. 

Truth occupying the same space as illusion; each embracing the other as lovers. 

This is where we are.  

-- Richard Power

Power's eighth book,  Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril , is available now in soft cover and Kindle versions, from Amazon and elsewhere.

Some Holy, Rarified Secret of Existence

Vincent Van Gogh - Still Life with an Earthen Bowl and Potatoes (1885)

If you are a person who lives with open eyes and an open heart, you will encounter grief. Indeed, you will likely have a lifelong relationship with it. Sometimes you will dance with grief (a tango), sometimes you will be in a race with grief (a marathon), sometimes grief will cradle you in its arms, sometimes you will cradle grief in your arms. 

There are different strains of grief. Some strains do wear away over time, once they have been exposed to the elements of a healthy inner life. 

But there are other griefs that are like a some mysterious sector of the sea where it is always raining. It is as if it has always rained there, and always will rain there. 

Such griefs are sacred; they nourish the biosphere of your psyche, they replenish the waters of your tears, they provide the salt needed for living with open eyes and an open heart, they make laughter deeper and joy sweeter. 

When you find yourself out in one of these patches of endless grief rain on the sea of feeling, just remember it is all sacred, and that everything is as it should be in that space. 

Know that some holy, rarefied secret of existence has been stored there just for you. Know that it will always be there, but that you will only have to visit it every once in awhile (although often when you least expect it). 

Yes, when you find yourself out in one of these patches of endless grief rain on the sea of feeling, just stand up in the boat of your awareness and let that rain fall on you, it is a benediction; and as you stand there, listen to its sound, the sound of that rain will transform you forever.

-- Richard Power

Power's eighth book,  Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril , is available now in soft cover and Kindle versions, from Amazon and elsewhere.