Transforming our old debilitating stories into new empowering and generative ones.
We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.
It’s been almost 2 weeks since I bought my new MacBook Pro and it still isn’t up and running, in spite of countless hours with technicians from Apple, Microsoft, and Native Instruments. Almost everyday I have been on the phone consulting with technicians and pushing buttons, which seemingly takes me one step forward and two steps back with each call. Those who know me know that this is an old story for me. In spite of the fact that computers, which support my writing, DJing, radio producing, broadcasting, coaching, learning, and online webinars, surrounds me, it seems like things are constantly breaking down. I’ve contemplated suicide, beating my computer with a stick, becoming a Luddite or joining a monastery, none of which seem a satisfactory solution without giving up too much.
Still the story goes on and I remain feeling victimized, frustrated and blaming my irritability on my technology. So when one of my students challenged me to use my own teaching to deal with this ongoing source of irritation and frustration, I thought ah, s!*#, busted. For the past week I have been meditating, journeying, journaling, contemplating, diagraming and cogitating on how to transform this old story once and for all. It might have been easier to write a book, but I will try to capture my process for those who would like to transform old debilitating stories, that just keep reappearing, into new life enhancing narratives that support, empower and inform a more peaceful, evolved and fulfilling way of being in the world.
The human spirit must prevail over technology.
The first thing I did was to distinguish the story. Which goes something like “technology is unreliable, always breaking down, wasting my time and a constant source of frustration, irritation and upset!” Then I journeyed (if you aren’t familiar with journeying you can go to my site at http://centerforshamanicstudies.com/classes-programs/the-shamanic-journey/ ) to discover the origin of this conversation. If you can’t find the originating conversation, just trace back through earlier repetitions and variations on the theme. Find the pattern. What I found was an interaction with my father when I was about 8 where he found me playing with his tools and he yelled (my father, the Colonel, could be quite loud), “Don’t touch my tools, you’ll break something!” At that point, in the face, of fear, embarrassment and shock, I made a decision, “I’m not good with tools and if I use them things will break.” This is, in shamanism, a classic example of soul loss. The part of little Mickey, that was innocent, curious, playful and wanting to make things, was shut down and replaced by a strategy for being safe.
We create strategies to compensate for our soul loss at the cost of our human wholeness. My strategy became to be clever and creative to compensate for my assumed lack of competency with tools and technology. Once that story started, it shaped how I saw the world and I began to gather evidence for what became my unexamined reality. Neural pathways were created that always led me to the same conclusion. Unexamined, it became what’s so! “Michael is just not good with tools and technology”, became the context that shaped my relationship with technology and became the way others also viewed me. The irony is that Spirit has a way of continually giving us opportunities to heal those wounded parts of ourselves by increasing our opportunities for healing. So here I am at 70 years of age, surrounded by the tools of my trade; they call them technology! I could spend the rest of my life affirming this story and being irritated and dissatisfied or, because I have the power to choose, I could stop and imagine a new more empowering story.
Live out of your imagination, not your history.
To create a new more empowering story we need a new larger context. Context gives meaning. To create a context worthy of my soul’s journey it needs to be based in my values, which include making a contribution, being kind (to myself and others), and teaching through example (which is why I am writing this month’s newsletter on this subject.) I want to be clear here that I am not trying to suppress or change the old story as this will cause more persistence of the drama. Outside of time you would never try to change something that wasn’t and shamanism is a practice that lives beyond the illusion of time. Whatever happens to us happens in the present, everything else consists of a remembered past or imagined future.
So after much thought, journeying and walks in nature I came up with a new context. “Technology is my partner in my commitment to supporting the emergence of a world that works for all life and future generations.” Now do my triggers from the past suddenly disappear? Of course not! But a new possibility arises in my expanded value-based awareness and commitment to a new narrative. When I get triggered into my old pattern, I have a choice between reacting to the pattern and getting upset, or I can choose to use it as a portal, a reminder of my commitment to new overarching possibilities. This allows me to reclaim my power to create my life and the way I respond to the circumstances that arise.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frankl
So creating a context gives us the opportunity to pause between the trigger and reaction and choose to act consistently with our new narrative. My triggers then become reminders of the larger story that I have invented for myself. Kind of like mental post-its! Conversations are stories being unfolded as we speak, but we act as though they are reality and beyond our creative intention. In effect what we are dong in this process is creating new neural pathways, freeway to freedom.
Now there is a problem here, because it is not only our personal story. It has become embedded in the conversations of our community and we have trained our friends and family to know that this is what Michael does, he gets upset with and has problems with technology. So, we now have a new opportunity to demonstrate to our community that we have actually stepped into a new story. In this case it is celebrating technology as my partner in bringing forth a life friendly world. In order to do this we must change our actions and conversations to be consistent with our new narrative. We need to do the work of literally changing our mind!
The other problem is that our stories are like a big ball of knotted string and when we pull one out, it is often connected to many other strings. For instance in my case this part of my narrative had become connected to the story that “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t”, and “I’m unworthy of love”. Revealing these other threads allows us to deepen our exploration of our Master Identity Narrative – the stories we tell others and ourselves that constitutes the “I am” of our existence in greater depth. To dive into the examination of the fabric of our own being takes courage, humility and a willingness to be constantly pulling the rug out from under our sometimes smug certainty about what we think we know about life and the world, which gives us greater power to have a say in the evolution of our own life and humanity itself. This takes us into the entanglement of the Morphic field, or thought pool we draw from for the so-called original thoughts we have, but that’s a discussion for a later newsletter.
Trial by Fire
There’s a common occurrence when you start to try to change familiar patterns in your life. When you are looking to have a breakthrough, it’s likely that what you will encounter is a series of breakdowns. It makes sense that your identity, whose primary purpose is survival, will push against your resolve to change an old, engrained identifying pattern in your life. The universe is testing our resolve!
After I wrote this on Saturday, I thought, after 10 days of suffering and resisting, we were nearing completion and I had an appointment to finish up with my senior Apple tech at 9am Sunday morning. I was feeling grounded in the new context “Technology is my partner in my commitment to supporting the emergence of a world that works for all life and future generations.” Well, she didn’t call, even though I called early and then several more times over the next hour. I started to get pissy and go into, “I can’t believe it, they stood me up again.” Oops, reboot, act from the new story. So I calmly called Apple, got a new person and started all over again. So nine hours of more breakdowns and holding them as my teacher. I learned so much about computers and myself. I can honestly say that, even when I got triggered again, I was and am well on the road to building new neural pathways with my body, emotions, thoughts and conversations with others all creating a new relationship to technology. I’m actually excited about expanding my understanding of computers and technology in my quest to have my life be a contribution to the world. In fact I am even talking with some friends about starting an internet radio station. Seems like a good way to support my overall purpose and intention.
I invite you all to join me in this practice of using our triggers and complaints to access and support the creation of a new you (and a new type of human) as we recognize and implement our power to create a new and evolving master identity narrative for our lives. Our descendants are counting on us to come through for them and ourselves.
with Love and Blessings,
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
George Bernard Shaw
Being a Light in the World
Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.
As we enter into 2016 I feel called upon to invite us all to step fully into our Divine Purpose in being here at this time in our evolution, and to shine our light as brightly as possible. It is time to remember our own song and sing it out to the world. This is what the planet needs at this time of change and transformation. This is what it means to be human and express our contribution to life, honoring our relationship to the web of life. The luxury of whining and complaining about our circumstances makes no difference. The transformation of our inner world is the only thing that is going to alter the outer world. The year of the universal human is upon us. It is time to let our heart shine light brightly into the universe.
Given people around the world have been celebrating the birth of Jesus, perhaps it is a good time to explore what he has said about light. In the Christian teachings, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on Mount Hermon is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself acting as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth. Jesus “was transfigured before them; his face shining as the sun, and his garments became white as the light.” We all have the capacity to be that bridge. Jesus said “You are the light of the world.” But, what does it mean to be the light?
As we are a reflection of the creator, light is who we are.
There is nowhere to go to experience our radiance.
We just journey within toour true nature.
Light connects us with the universe. Through light we can experience the beginning of existence, creation, by simply looking at the stars. Visible light, what we see, is only a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We are made up of photons that can manifest as form or transfigure as wave. One could say that we are essentially stardust from the beginning of time. Working with light gives us the power to transfigure, which is defined as a : a change in form or appearance : metamorphosis, b : an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change. Sandra Ingerman has spoken often of the practice of Transfiguration, which means to transform, heal or cause a change using the power of light. Throughout history shamans, healers and mystics have used light as a medium of healing.
Transfiguration is an embodied experience! By journeying to a star, as Sandra has taught in her books, and experiencing ourselves as starlight, absorbing the light into every cell of our body, we can transfigure any darkness. Or you can go to your own inner flame and experience it igniting ever cell in your body, as is my practice. I practice this every morning before arising and every evening before going to sleep, as well as when I am waiting in traffic or a line somewhere. It is also what I often do when I am coaching or working with clients. It helps me to be more fully present with them, and aids in the healing which wants to be manifested. I like to imagine that there is a flame in the center of my heart and my in-breath acts as a sort of bellows that makes the flame get larger and brighter. I then see the flame moving through my figure, illuminating each and ever one of the 34 trillion or so cells in my body. If you practice this every day you will have amazing healing experiences in all areas of your life. You will find that this process will help you to be more present in this world of distraction, chaos and confusion.
Presence is the Presence of Spiritual Light.
The first step in becoming the light of transfiguration is to cultivate presence, to stop and become aware of the breath and body. Retrieving our attention from the outer world of form and circumstance. To be present is to find that moment that exists between the remembered past and the imagined future, where things are the way they are and not the way we would like them to be or feel they should be. Then we engage all of our senses; sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation and our thoughts. Just becoming mindful of what’s happening right now, letting each sensation arise and appear as a story, mirage or dream that you are experiencing. Let it come and let it go… As you let it go, just let it be. Don’t add or subtract anything. Be it without separation. Let whatever is moving through you, move without restriction, suppression or commentary. Now that you are present you are ready to experience your whole being filling with light. Bathe your whole being in this light and keep your focus on watching it move and expand through your whole body. If you loose the connection, just gently bring yourself back to absorbing the light into every cell resting in your own innate spiritual radiance…
I hope you will join me in letting our light shine into the world, now and through all time… To be light is to be love!
With love and blessings,
There are two ways of spreading light:
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
For those of you intrepid souls who want to explore more and are willing to look at a darker (and admittedly in some ways more realistic) perspective on the Paris summit, I have included below the analysis of my friend and colleague Lawrence Wollersheim and his deep research into what he appropriately calls Job One For Humanity. Since it is copied and pasted, the indicated links here no longer work; if you want them, just let me know.
Subject: The dirty secrets behind the new Paris Climate Conference (COP21,) agreement they don’t want you to know…
Strong smart adults do not want to be fed false hopes, false targets or misleading facts. They want to know the way things really are so that they can adapt to or effectively manage what actually is there. If you would like to quickly cut through the Paris media spin machine as well as other greenwashing from the poorly informed concerning the Paris climate conference agreement and results, keep reading…
The big Paris results in a nutshell:
They set a target of keeping global warming below 2°C with an honorable mention for 1.5°C,
They set a target of the planet becoming carbon neutral by 2050,
200 nations pledged to meet these goals,
They agreed to come back in five years and review their progress on their pledges.
The really bad news about the Paris Climate Conference results:
1.) They did not declare the long-overdue global warming State of Emergency.
2.) They did not publicly state or agree upon the most important global warming end-goals, which are:
to prevent going into irreversible global warming and crossing any climate tipping points that would get us there. and,
to immediately institute policies that would get carbon parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere back down to 350 ppm or less as fast as possible.
By setting these two clear global warming end-goals as the criteria for all of their remedial policies global warming damages and threats would be first minimized and then eliminated In the absolute fastest possible way.
3.) They set a goal of Staying below 2°C. Current science shows that if we stopped all carbon and methane pollution today it is already a virtual certainty that the temperature will rise to 2.4° C (about 3.7 degrees Fahrenheit,) and that rising to a temperature of 4°C is also growing toward a near certainty. Setting a Paris conference target that science tells us is impossible to make makes no sense at all!
4.) Setting the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 will not work and gifts the fossil fuel industry an additional 25 extra years to get more carbon and methane out of the ground when the real target should have been carbon neutral by 2026! (To preserve a rational and reasonable hope we will not go over critical climate tipping points into irreversible global warming we absolutely need to be reducing global carbon and methane toxic pollution by 10% every year until 2026.)
5.) There is no concrete plan to achieve even the inappropriate and inaccurate agreed upon goals of the Paris climate conference. At Paris the world needed a concrete plan for the greatest mobilization in human history to leave fossil fuels behind and move to green energy generation within 10 years. Paris failing to have a concrete plan is Paris’ concrete plan for failure.
6.) Paris produced no effective, practical or transparent verification processes to see if any nation does in fact meet its carbon and methane reduction pledges.
7.) Paris produced no penalty or penalty enforcement of any kind for failure to meet national pledges. Evolution is taught us over millennia that unless individual or national self-interest are regulated by both clear and powerful rewards and penalties individual or national self-interest becomes a near unstoppable power unto themselves.
8.) Instead of requiring every nation to meet again every year to declare their progress and to adjust and adapt their targets as needed (and as is inherently appropriate to the critical emergency that we are in,) the conference attendees agreed to come back once every five years.
Coming back once every five years in this escalating global warming emergency is incomprehensible. We have wasted 30 years in 20 previous impotent conferences with the only result being even more toxic carbon and methane pollution continuing to rise even faster when measured in parts per million in the atmosphere. If we are very, very lucky and we do not cross any critical climate tipping points, we have at best, 10 years to get to carbon neutral.
Big winners at the Paris conference:
The fossil fuel industry. They now have decades to get the rest of their fossil fuels priced so low that switching over to green energy generation will be cost prohibitive and delayed for most of the developing world. (Watch for the new fossil fuel industry strategy of keeping fossil fuel prices low to extend the lifespan of their industry during the green energy transition.)
Big losers at the Paris conference:
You, your family, a stable future and the future of humanity itself. At our peril, the results from the Paris Climate Conference fake success in progress is now becoming the popularly accepted false global warming targets and hopes of the masses. Most of the society will be lured into uncritically accepting the dangerous false security that there is actually someone at the global and national “steering wheel” driving the rapidly accelerating vehicle of escalating global warming away from the climate cliff of irreversible global warming and extinction level climate destabilization.
These false hopes and targets also create a false sense of safety and security. By doing so they have taken away the most important thing that is needed to deal with the global warming emergency and the massive resource mobilization that also needs to take place. What has been stolen from us by the Paris Climate Conference is the appropriate fear and sense of urgency about escalating global warming.
What should have happened at the Paris conference:
The delegates should have:
1.) Declared an International global warming State of Emergency,
2.) Stated the critical end-goal for all plans to fix global warming is to prevent the planet from going into irreversible global warming and crossing ANY critical climate tipping points that would bring that about.
3.) Agreed to the goal of becoming carbon neutral globally by 2026.
4.) Agreed to come back every year to review pledge results because of the still escalating emergency.
5.) Agreed to a concrete plan that put a price on all global carbon and methane toxic pollution. The most effective current plan is called the Fee and Dividend plan. Without the Fee and Dividend plan implemented globally disincentivizing fossil fuel generation and use and incentivizing green energy generation and use we will not be able to get to the life critical 2026 carbon neutral goal. Fee and Dividend would also be able to address climate justice by providing funds for damage and developing nations to transform to green energy generation.
6.) Agreed to provide immediate additional funding for a massive increase in research on critical climate tipping points. We already may be at, very close to or even unconsciously over critical climate tipping points that will rapidly bring us to irreversible global warming and temperature levels in which humanity cannot exist. It is mission critical that we become more certain as to where the critical climate tipping points exist.
Failing to face the facts in any situation might temporarily delay the pain and suffering, but this failure to face things as they are will eventually only make the pain worse and make it last longer.
Make no mistake about this. There will be great pain in resolving this global warming emergency. It will require radical, costly changes and difficult suffering and sacrifice for most of humanity in order to save humanity and future generations. As strong smart adults it is time to get honest with ourselves and each other about what is ahead and what is necessary to resolve this emergency.
Unfortunately, there are many well intended individuals within the global warming education movement who will try to spin the Paris conference as progress or add some other incremental positive spin. There are also those within the movement that believe that even an unworkable or false hope is far better and more motivating than having an extremely difficult slim hope to sell. Acting on or spreading these false or unrealistic hopes and beliefs does a great disservice to the future of the planet and humanity.
It is time to get real. It is not global warming progress by any means, definition or measure when you are aiming at avoiding the wrong target destination or using a vague or nonexistent plan that will in truth not keep you from going over the climate cliff before it’s too late.
No matter how you spin it the Paris climate conference was false progress disguising the actual urgency of what really is needed to be done. We are not safe!
We are not secure and what happened at Paris was not progress towards the correct goal in time to save us
The greatest single disservice of the Paris Climate Conference has done is that it has acted to keep us asleep to the real urgency of the actual time-critical global warming dangers we need to face while acting like it is waking us up (but only to a watered down, impotent version of those dangers.) Because of this disservice and the delays it will cause in adopting real global warming targets and solutions almost all of us will eventually suffer and, many of us or our descendants will die —- just because few of us we’re unwilling to say the Paris Climate Conference emperor was naked.
What to do next:
1.) We have a slim chance and difficult road in front of us to get to carbon neutral by 2026 and hopefully not cross any critical climate tipping points before then. If you want to be part of the solution and help organize the greatest global mobilization of humanity’s resources in human history, learn more about the Job One For Humanity Climate Re-Stabilization Plan.
2.) Start preparing back up supplies for you and your family for escalating global warming and climate destabilization catastrophes that because of the Paris climate conference failure, will increase in scale, frequency and severity.
3.) If you’re under 50 consider how are you can develop an emergency migration plan to get into the northern most countries before they close their borders to the masses of new “Climagees” like Europe is now closing its borders to the massive middle eastern refugee migration.
Be like the global warming well-informed and ultra-wealthy. They are already buying northern lands and setting up escape compounds so they their families and their massive assets will be safe and don’t get caught in the escalating crisis.
Other helpful information:
For more information on the false targets, misdirection and incorrect facts presented to the Paris delegates please click here. This article also goes into the critical climate tipping points that we are playing with at our peril.
Please note: our organization Job One For Humanity anticipated the Paris climate conference failure. In light of not knowing the full scope of that failure until just recently, we are now rapidly updating our Job One For Humanity Climate Re-Stabilization Plan to help compensate for what the Paris Climate Conference failed to do.
Wishing you Happy Holidays and a sustainable prosperity,
Learn about the greatest adaptive challenge & transformational, evolutionary adventure in human history; The Job One For Humanity Climate Re-Stabilization Plan.
As many of you know, I had the great fortune to be able to be in Paris for the 12 days of the UN COP 21, the Conference of the Parties focused on climate change—more accurately termed climate destabilization, though for the sake of brevity I’ll refer to it as climate change.
My intention in being here was to get a broad experience of everything that was going on here, since it is all an important part of the issue and how we deal with it—so it begins with the scientific understanding of what’s causing it and what’s needed to remedy it, but we also need to understand the cultural, economic, psychological and political implications. In the course of being here, I did get a wonderfully diverse immersion that included each of these 5 domains.
To begin with, it’s important to understand the scope of the challenge. The greenhouse gases that we have already loaded the atmosphere with, along with those already in the economic pipeline, will alter the planet for many thousands of years, making life here much more challenging for many many generations to come.
Many scientists agree that we are now in a new geologic era, termed the Anthropocene, defined as a human-caused shift into dramatically new planetary conditions, once which includes the sixth mass extinction of species and a shredding of the web of life. That’s what happens when one tampers in substantial ways with the exquisite balance that has been achieved by millennia of natural evolution. The Earth was able to handle the effects of humanity up until the industrial revolution, in the late 1700’s, when we were still under 1 billion and most work was being done with the energy of humans themselves or with animals. Now that we are over 7 billion and altering the planet via huge numbers of powerful machines of all kinds, which have functioned primarily on climate-altering fossil fuels, we’re overwhelming the natural processes and are pushing everything beyond the limits of what’s safe and healthy for living beings.
So it’s hard to overstate the threat and magnitude of climate change—there is no historical precedent for something this big. But Paul Hawken invites us to reframe it, asking “what if climate change is being done for us rather than to us?” What I take from this is an invitation to see the issue as one that requires us—for the first time ever—to work together as all of humanity to deal with our common threats of environmental degradation and social injustice (the latter driving the former). This is a transformational shift from humanity’s historical stance of one group in competition with other groups, be they tribes, cultures, nations or religions, and an opportunity to finally usher in the golden age of a unified human species—this is a huge paradigm shift for humanity.
But back to Paris… I was able to secure a lovely apartment on the outskirts of this magnificent city of Paris, belonging to a friend of a friend who was away during this time, so it was a perfect base for me during this time. On the efficient metro, I was able to get to the many climate-related events that were happening all over the city. These events included workshops and trainings, indigenous ceremonies, negotiation briefings, exhibitions, awards ceremonies, documentary films, art performances and installations, demonstrations and activist “actions.”
In the course of these diverse experiences, I learned, was inspired, met kindred souls from around the world, added my prayers in sacred ceremony, and truly felt a part of a global species, a planetary family that was doing their best (aside from the significant presence of industry lobbyists) to wrestle with the rising temperature—the fever—that we have given to our beautiful home planet. In this sense, we are the immune system of the planet, we are nature healing itself.
And we were closely tracking the progress of the official negotiations, the herculean attempt to get the 195 countries present to a consensual agreement of what they collectively would commit to doing about keeping their own emissions as low as possible. Fortunately, much of the commitments being made to climate action are on the part of cities, regions and corporations (rather than only nations), and these entities were having their own meetings to support each other thru collaboration, sharing best practices, establishing their own goals and commitments, etc. (California’s progressive policies and Jerry Brown was a big player there). But global cooperation between nations is of course hugely important, so a great deal of pressure were on the official negotiators, both from within their ranks and without—from civil society and the general public.
Although this is the 21st time that the climate change summit has been held (hence “COP21”), it is generally felt that nothing accomplished so far has been ambitious or even close to what is needed, and not much was secured as a consensual outcome. It’s easy to see why it is so difficult:
1) these are exceedingly complex negotiations, involving virtually all aspects of the economy and society
2) getting any combination of countries to be in consensus about anything involving strong economic concessions and consequent surrendering of “national sovereignty” is nearly impossible, let alone 195 of them
3) arriving at such a challenging agreement in only 12 days is unthinkable
4) the agreements made by each country much usually be ratified by their respective parliaments, so countries will have that additional hurdle to clear
5) politicians are notoriously focused on the short term of an election cycle—what will please voters while they’re still in power—rather than on the long-term good of their society
The clean, streamlined 37-page “impossible agreement” was finally completed on Saturday, Dec. 12, a day after the intended goal. The reason it is being hailed as “historic,” despite it’s signifiant shortcomings, is the fact that this is the most ambitious collaboration yet of virtually all countries across the globe to deal with a gigantic issue that indeed affects all of us, and signals now a new era of global cooperation going forward to continue to work on it and tighten it, and one that involves a host of other issues embedded within it. Virtually all environmental orgs consider this a big win to have gotten this far, despite the amount of work still lying before us.
Big acknowledgments of the heroic work of key players who worked tireless for many months (as well as the high-pressure final days) to make this happen, foremost among them: Ban Ki-Moon, Laurent Fabius, Christiana Figueres, John Kerry, François Hollande and Ségolène Royal.
Here is an analysis of the 7 main points, extracted from Carbon Tracker’s analysis, with my comments inserted in brackets:
The text provides essentially a two-stage process to increase ambition over time, acknowledging that the current provisions are not going to be enough to reach the long-term 2 degrees C. temperature rise limit, let alone the much safer limit of 1.5 C.
In 2018, there will be a facilitative dialogue to take stock of the collective efforts of countries, which should inform the efforts of future commitments. Countries which have submitted targets for 2025 are then urged to come back in 2020 with a new target, while those with 2030 targets are invited to “communicate or update” them.
This process will essentially be repeated every five years, with the first post-2020 stocktake occurring in 2023 [this should happen much more often, but some developing countries were pushing for every ten years].
The agreement places a legal obligation on developed countries to continue to provide climate finance to developing countries. It also encourages other countries to provide support voluntarily—a compromise between the highly polarized positions that have taken centre stage at the negotiations [read: US resistance].
Many of the details have been moved out of the legally binding agreement and into the more flexible decisions [we will need as much legally binding agreements as possible]. This includes the provision that, prior to 2025, countries should agree a “new collective quantified goal” from the floor of $100bn per year, which is the current aspiration. The notion of short-term collective goals has been cut from the text [unfortunately].
Binds Parties to prepare and regularly update climate commitments. Each subsequent pledge must be more ambitious, and developing countries are “encouraged” [and will need to be pressured] to move towards stricter goals.
Countries would be required to “pursue…policies…with the aim of achieving” their climate pledges (INDCs), a tougher than expected provision. The decision text “invites” countries to write long-term low-emissions strategies by 2020, while the legal agreement says they should “strive” to do this [again, this language needs to be much stronger, and will be soon with the continued devastation that will be coming].
- Loss and damage
Loss and damage has its own Article in the agreement—an important political statement that it is now seen on a par with mitigation and adaptation. It sets out important details about what needs to be considered under loss and damage, but the clear trade off appears in the decisions: liability and compensation are explicitly excluded [again, this was at insistence of the US, given current Republican control of Congress].
The deal would set out “flexible” rules on reporting for “those developing country Parties that need it in the light of their capacities.” However, all countries would be bound to report “regularly” on their emissions and efforts to reduce them.
A “facilitative, non-intrusive, non-punitive” system of review will track countries’ progress. The rules on transparency are a top priority for the US and EU, which are keen to ensure China faces equivalent scrutiny of its efforts.
The deal establishes a “global goal” on adaptation of “enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change”. This is linked to the temperature goal. It binds countries to engage in an adaptation planning process, and says that countries should “submit and update periodically” adaptation communications.
- Carbon “Trading”
The draft would allow voluntary use of “international transferred mitigation outcomes”, in other words emissions trading, with provisos including “environmental integrity” and no double counting. The text does not mention international aviation or shipping emissions [thanks to industry lobbying].
The deal would enter force once at least 55 parties, covering at least 55% of global emissions have signed up. In 2012 China, the US, India, Brazil, Russia and Japan topped this minimum alone.
So there are some reasons to celebrate the outcome in that it goes farther than anything so far and farther than expected—but as stated before, it is still far short of what is needed, and any complacency coming out of this would be very misguided. We still have the fight of our lives coming up to steer away from or simply try to adapt to the predicted catastrophes and degradation that are even now in the atmospheric pipeline: we’ve already locked in at least 25 years of continued worsening climate disruption no matter how fast we act.
toward a healthy planet
Changing Our Story: Changing Our World
There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.
It seems like every day we are being bombarded with stories of bad news from every corner of the earth. Wars, bombings, climate calamities, raping’s, wronging’s, economic and social disasters – it appears that we are headed over a social, economic and environmental cliff and all will be lost. That’s just what they thought before Columbus had the courage to test the prevailing story of his time…. the story that the earth was flat! If you sailed too far you were doomed to a terrible death of falling through space for eternity. Seems like a silly story now that we know the earth is roundish. What is it that we don’t know now, that the knowing of which could transform our lives and our future?
What if we knew we had the power to change the story of our time? Would we have the courage to go against the prevailing world-view of death, disaster and destruction? Would we let go of our complacency, complaints and collusion with the forces of stagnation, separation and eco-suicide? Well the truth is out! We can change the direction we’re headed, by changing our story. The evidence is overwhelming on a personal, relational, communal, national and global scale. The wisdom of the earth is awakening within us and the story is transforming before our eyes (especially if we keep them open for the miraculous). So how can we support the manifestation of the transformation of our prevailing reality into a earth friendly, egalitarian, and inter-connected species of earth caretakers and protectors of the web of life?
If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course,
on where you stop your story.
Neuroscience is finally catching up with truth that indigenous wisdom keepers have known from the beginning of time, that everything is story. As Dr. Lewis Mehl Madrona, Cherokee, MD, Psychiatrist says, “Stories are social neurotransmitters that facilitate communication between humans in the same way that neurotransmitters facilitate transmission between neurons.” Our brains are little more than organs of story that we use to map our external world, and yet they give us our world. Changing the story changes the map. Healing is about changing our story to one that overcomes the disempowering stories or illnesses by expanding the story to reclaim our power as storytellers. To heal the sicknesses of our time, (greed, separation, disconnection from nature and the web of life, war and aggression…) we must change the prevailing story of our relationship to the world. We need a larger context for our lives and living… It’s the context of our story that gives meaning.
Stories live us, not the other way around!
Dr. Jerome Bruner
To change the story of our time we must start with changing our own personal narrative, creating a larger context for ourselves and our world. Where do we start? Right where we are! We start in the present and recognize the remembered past and imagined future stories we are telling about ourselves. Who are we that family, relationships, people, men, women, money, nature, bodies, health, spirituality, are? Yes, it’s all story. Those complaints we have been carrying forever – no you weren’t cursed – you were just born into a story that limits you. Our stories shape our brains, determine our biology, and give us the quality of our lives, or the lack of it. So the first step to wholeness as a storyteller is to begin to deconstruct the stories that are living us. Oh yeah, its not that easy because our stories are held in place by the people we interact with on a regular basis, our community. We begin by truly inquiring into and identifying what they are and how they are living us. Then we have the task of living into our new story and demonstrating the truth of it to our community.
Recognizing that it’s all story begins to give us some freedom, some access to loosening the binds and boundaries of our behavior. Journal writing is a great asset in this process. Approaching the task like a person writing a novel we can identify the character we call “I” or “me” by writing down our story. Take a tip from Steve Martin in the movie, The Jerk: “I was born a poor black child…” What were you born into, what happened to you, how did you get to this, what is this? Taking apart each part of your life as a story makes it more fluid and flexible. Start with your complaints. See if you can go a week without complaining. That will bring up your story and you can begin to deconstruct it by asking, “Is this real?” No, it’s a story and you are the storyteller, which means you have the power to change your story! Our stories have a cost and a payoff. What are they? Write down and explore what keeps you bound to this story. Expand the story to a larger context, into a hero’s journey, an epic transformation, a rebirth. Get over your old self and imagine a new one! Language is the medium with which we paint our lives and generate our reality.
Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality.
Language creates the reality it describes.
We have speaking and listening. Within that we have many distinctions in language expressed in the ways in which we listen, or don’t, and the choice of words that come out of our mouth. What comes out of our mouths creates our reality. Conscious speaking can be like a chess game, I request something, you accept it and it becomes a promise (if it has the proper ingredients – time, place and conditions, plus the community agreement of position to make that promise – because of our interconnection with its members). We can declare something into existence if we are willing to alter the prevailing reality, which is created in the listening of your community of storytellers. Or we can just make uninformed assertions, blah, blah, blah and watch absolutely nothing happen in our lives or the world. This is the language of distraction, avoidance and resignation. It maintains the story of the status quo.
The performance of our stories lives in the cellular language and memory of the body. The reality of our stories plays out in the physical world. Our bodies react to the stories we tell ourselves. Our health or lack of it, is a function of the stories we have been telling ourselves and others. In rewriting the narrative of our lives we must bring all of our senses to bear witness to the new story. We must hear it, see it, feel it, smell it and sense the emergence of its reality in our lives. The ancient story of the human race is embedded in the cellular memory that has been handed down to us by our ancestors. The story goes on, generation to generation, beautifully unfolding towards union and oneness. The fact that some 34 trillion cells in our body have cooperated for decades, giving rise to a single human body instead of a chaotic war of selfish microbes, is miraculous. We must listen beyond the words into the void, which is the pallet of creation. It is the source of manifestation and transformation and lives in deep listening.
When we listen with our mind, we understand more of life.
When we listen with our hearts, we feel more of life.
When we listen with our whole being, body and spirit,
We are transformed and joined with life itself.
Listening is a transformative act! When we realize that we never really have been listening, because we are judging whether the speaker is right or wrong, preparing our rebuttal or are just being triggered and listening to our past or reminders from it. Something new is possible. Rather than listening from our heads we begin to listen from our hearts. The head voice is what Lewis Mehl Madrona calls our Master Identity Narrative. It is always reinforcing the “I” that we think we are, but the soft gentle voice of the heart knows who we are… We are the wind against our skin, the brightness of the morning sun, the gentle waves lapping at the shore line, the first buds of spring wanting to burst forth into our fullest potential of blooming. We are the storytellers and it is time to reimagine our own story as we embrace our blossoming God and Goddess nature, as we listen to our celestial calling, as we attune our heart with the heart of the earth.
Unless rooting and opening, unless listening to what is near but beyond us,
We will forgo the soul’s birthright to blossom.
A New Year is upon us. Let’s make this one a truly happy one by dismantling our disempowering stories about ourselves and the world and begin to believe that what the prevailing story says is impossible is actually our birthright; that we can have peace on earth, goodwill towards all life and love for our own beautiful powerful hearts…
May this be the best year ever!
With love and blessings to all,
“One can’t believe impossible things.” said Alice
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.
“When I was your age, I always did it for a half an hour a day.
Why, sometime, I believed as many as six
impossible things before breakfast.”
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
Jacques Yves Cousteau
After a long drive from California I have landed by the sea on the shore of Gibson’s Landing on the Sunshine Coast in BC. I’ve effortlessly flowed into this place of exquisite beauty, to the costal lands of the native Shishalh Indians. A warm, cozy home found me here before I even arrived. It looks out peacefully over the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island; such loveliness to once again be soothed by the rhythmic music of the waves caressing this visually stunning coastline. As I have steeped my self in the world of nature here, I am urged to write this month about the elements and our deep inner longing to belong and find communion with the Spirit that lives in all things.
Water is life. Where there is no water, there is no life.
Every life form on this planet must have water to survive.
There is something about water and the rhythms of its movement that stimulate the imagination. When I journey to the Spirit of water I remember that we all come from the water world. It is the heart of evolution and the source from which we drink life. Our ancestors crawled from the sea and we, in innocent arriving came from the watery world of our mother’s inner sea. A new born child is 78% water, while an adult male dries up to a mere 60%, so it is not an exaggeration to say that we are water. Throughout history water has been a metaphor for consciousness and unity, because it can reveal the depths of our intuition and its seamless, shapelessness surrenders to things as they are and effortlessly gives way to its container.
Water is formless, its shape can never be broken, it finds its home in the lower places and teaches us about humility, patience, surrender and freedom. It dissolves contradiction. It does not resist rocks or barricades and simply flows around all obstacles. Without water there is no life, nothing can grow or sustain. Water is in constant relationship with the other elements and dances with the moon and the celestial rhythms of the universe, just as the water within us pulls our emotions from the inner sea. Like we humans its cycles are circular, birthed from its source beneath the ground, it flows forth into the rivers which carry it to the sea and then in marvelous cooperation with the air and fiery sun, it evaporates and hangs in the air, until once again it falls to the earth in the form of rain filling the aquifers and so it goes. We belong to water and the spirit of water is a part of our essence.
A tender shower has begun to fall and the fluid drops of water are dancing on my rooftop becoming a symphony of sound harmonizing with the gentle waves at my doorstep. The water element reminds us of our thirst for union with the Divine, that thirst to be seen, to be whole and the intimate longing to belong. If we could just give our selves to Spirit the way that rain or a river gives itself to the sea, to surrender our false sense of separateness, we would remember that we have always belonged to the web of life. I am grateful to the teachings of the spirit of water.
To be loved means to be consumed in the flame,
To love is to shine with inexhaustible light.
In the heart of the ocean there is a cauldron of boiling sulphur heated by the molten core that burns at the center of the earth. Above our heads is the fiery sun, the source of all life giving energy on our planet. “As above so below!” And it is said that at the center of our hearts is a flame that burns and gives light, that is a mirror of the eternal flame of the Divine, the flame of pure love. Fire is a reminder of the light within and as we cultivate our inner flame we become a light unto the world.
At the heart of human evolution, consciousness and culture is fire and the burning desire for union with the Divine. What separates us from the rest of the animal world is our mastery of fire. Beginning with our ability to employ the use fire for warmth and to ward off threatening predators, we have used it to produce weapons, cook our food, provide us with energy for our growing population and it has had a major role in forming communities. Fire brings us together! It teaches us about freedom, boundaries and intentionality. Fire has the power to cleanse, consume, destroy and regenerate. Since the beginning of history shamans have performed fire ceremonies to offer that which is no long necessary to its flames, send prayers to the Spirit that lives in all things, and perform healing rituals. The spirit of fire is alive and passionate, it can burn right down to the essence. It is the source of light and illumines the darkness.
When we burn through the myth of separation and experience our interconnection with all life we gain a renewed sense of awe and wonder. It is here that we discover love! Our inner fire becomes the fire of passion towards another, a project or any longing, which in turn ignites the heart and allows our inner light to shine through. It allows us to take our longing beyond the safety and comfort of our culturally tranquilized lives and express our soul‘s deepest longing into the world. When we give ourselves to our fire we are transfigured into our essential essence.
You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer.
Thich Nhat Hanh
The earth is our home. Her lush, verdant landscapes reflect back to us our own inner beauty in the deep silence of her soul. She nourishes us and gives us a place to stand. For Four and a half billion years she has harbored life and birthed diverse populations of sentient creatures. These ancient landscapes hold the memory of time and all that has come before us. The echo’s of our ancestors footsteps live on in the tabernacle of stone, their songs ride the winds of time and sorrows are contained within the deep mysterious depths of her oceans. The clay that dances in our bodies contains the remains of our decedent’s blood, bones, breath and bodies.
To belong one needs a sense of place. This is perhaps the greatest gift of the earth. Our human identity lives in the “whereness” of her landscape. Everything that is human, language, culture, meaning, thought and beauty, could not exist without a sense of place. When we desecrate, abuse and pollute the land with our greed and blindness we tear apart the very fabric of our own existence. As a human civilization we have become dissociated from the source of our maternal creator. It is no wonder that human madness is the governing principle of our time. How else can we explain the putting profit before life, starvation in the face of the earth’s abundant offerings, and endless war over profit and ownership of that which we can never own in our transient existence?
To find our way back to belonging to the earth family we need to recognize what John O’Donahue calls our “cosmological elitism” and allow ourselves be humbled by the silent offerings of our provider. When we recognize our mother and honor our place in the web of life we will truly know what it means to belong. As we look to the horizon ahead with clear eyes, silent mind and a grateful heart we can experience our Divine calling and know our soul’s path. Walking this path is our destiny and the future of life on this magnificent planet is in our hands.
Air is not as innocent or as unaware as we might believe.
Despite its invisibility, it seems to register everything
that happens within it.
Air reminds us to attend to our unique, invisible and precious interior habitat. The brutalization of our natural world is merely a reflection of the neglect and abuse endured in our own hearts. It is time to honor, respect and love all that arises in the secret chambers of our own heart of hearts. In our Cartesian, Newtonian, Scientific world-view we have come to respect only that which has form and can be measured. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince reminds us, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Air contains the space of all possibility and is the center of possibility is the heart. By dropping down from the head into the heart we can hear the still silent whisperings of our heart’s longing. It is only in this invisible temple of belonging that we can experience what it means to belong.
Our habitual focus has been on what Alan Watt’s called our “skin encapsulated ego” and we have neglected to recognize that the space of air surrounding us gives us our shape and form. Like water it is fluid and gives way to our movement. While each human body is separate from every other, the space around us contains the blueprint for our existence and connects us with all life. We live in a world of boundless air that allows us to move freely through our lives. Our dance through life is a kinetic sculpturing of the form that houses our intentionality. Movement is life and all growth is movement. Life is an ongoing process of experiencing sensation and responding to it as we move through space.
We need air to live. We are born into breath and die when the breath is extinguished. The Latin word for breath is Spiritus, and as in many other languages, it points to the relationship between air and Spirit. Breath allows up to let go of the remembered past and imagined future. Attending to our breath allows us to enter into the eternal presence and connect with the Spirit that lives in all things. Our in-spiration comes from our interaction with the space of air that surrounds us. We are nourished by the trees and plants that provide us life giving oxygen as we feed them Carbon Dioxide with our out breath. All of life is a circle and every breath is a prayer.
As I sit here in this place of beauty, feeling the connection to the elements and the web of life I have a sense of belonging like never before. In the stillness of nature I am overwhelmed with gratitude and a feeling of belonging to all that is and all that arises in my heart. May you too experience the power of embodied presence and take a moment to be grateful to the elements for the essential and absolute gift of teaching us how to belong to the universe.
With love and blessings,