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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pleasant dreams

It being Earth Day, I feel a little obliged to say something about the state of the planet. There’s really not much I could add, though, to what we already know about our common predicament. We are living in a civilization that is squandering the Earth’s bounty, threatening all life on the planet, and that has no effective intention of changing this dynamic.

This progression will continue until a critical mass of awareness changes the dynamic. Right now the dynamic is controlled by a combination of criminal government, a criminal level of business ethics and practices, a hysterical involvement of religious crackpots in public life, and an escapist cultural landscape.

Today leads to tomorrow, tomorrow leads to the next day, and the dynamics of human life change day by day. If global warming is a real phenomenon, as it very well seems to be, then the day will come that it can no longer be ignored and denied. That day is likely to come soon, and quite possibly this year. Other phenomena, such as weather changes, soil erosion, depletion of ocean life, air and water pollution, contamination of our food supply, invader species proliferation, "exotic" diseases, damage caused by genetic engineering, population explosion, habitat destruction, and species extinction all combine synergistically to hasten the day when criminality, crackpot religion, and escapism will no longer be options. Bush Yuga, the age of Bush, will be a short-lived one.

One of the heresies I speak when the chance arises is that we have an infinite growth economic system on a finite planet. Though an obvious truth, you won’t find a "leftist" saying anything about it. "Leftism" goes as far as condemnation of corporations and Capitalism, but nothing about the problem of growth. "Leftists" play ostrich with this subject because to face it means to deal with it. And to deal with it means the laundry list of "leftist" concerns has to change. A couple of decades ago "leftist" writer Robert Kuttner observed that "leftist" economists don’t want to talk about growth because growth is what allows resources to be directed towards poverty. They don’t want to talk about redistribution of resources within a steady state for reasons of political expediency and what I would call ideological inertia. Herman Daly has been writing on this subject for many years, and his latest book, Local Politics of Global Sustainability, co-written with Thomas Prugh and Robert Costanza, is a worthy read, and covers the subject of growth and human civilization in a truthful and timely way.

The only event I went to today had nothing to do with Earth Day, as such. A new temple is being constructed at Deer Park, the Tibetan Buddhist monastery established by the Dalai Lama’s former teacher Geshe Sopa. Today the groundbreaking ceremony was held. On a day dedicated to saving the Earth, I was lucky to spend my time with someone who embodies what a human being can attain in life. Geshe Sopa to me is a living Buddha, a humble, light-hearted, enjoyable person who embodies the highest teachings of all world religions. I needed that example today. If the human species is to survive and flourish we all need to have examples of what a person can aspire to, and how a being can be on this planet.

As well as Geshe Sopa, it was heartening to see all the Tibetans who came to the ceremony, families uprooted from their homeland, but living in America and maintaining their culture and spiritual life. There also were many Americans of European descent, reaching out to their brethren from far away, all because they wish to reach a higher level of being.

This was the perfect Earth Day for me. The future of the planet depends on human beings. Human beings seeking a higher level of existence. To be around a few of them was both a reminder and an inspiration. A reminder of what is important, and an inspiration to continue seeking a higher ground of being. If I can dream of reaching the level of Geshe Sopa, then other people can too. Dreams can spread. May we all have pleasant dreams.

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