Envisioning a Healthy Future
One of our most difficult problems as a culture and a world is that we have almost no positive vision of how we could live differently from the way we do now. When we think about the future, I hear people say all the time, ‘There’s nothing I can do about climate change. So I’m just getting on with my life.’ My vision is what keeps me going through thick and thin, staying in a positive creative state even though I’m well aware it may be too late. So here’s a practice to give us a bit of space to envision what kind of different world we could have.
When we practise compassion – how does this work – change the way I live – how could it change the world – how would the world be – whatever I say, explore your experience – don’t think about it – percolate it through the depth – how could the world live if we lived from compassion – if we saw the preciousness of all creatures – rather than thinking about how to dig up forests to get money – what would it be like?
One quality of compassion is, it’s connected – we feel it because we’re interconnected with all things – we’re not separate selves – who have to defend ourself – we’re interconnected – what’s the feel – get the feel of being interconnected rather than an isolated person.
What would the world be like if we were aware of those interconnections – if we ruin the fish life in the oceans – what does it do for humans – if we as a world saw the world in that way – how fish and bees – phytoplankton – all these things we’re wrecking – support our lives too – feel how the bees support my life – the plankton in the ocean produces the oxygen I breathe – the miracle of that.
The miracle that tiny creatures in the ocean are part of my life that I depend on – how grateful do I feel to the phytoplankton – gratitude is a big key – what does it feel like when you feel grateful to the plankton and the bees – how does it change how your heart responds to them – do they seem even more precious – heartfelt precious – these tiny creatures support my life.
Have a feeling of our whole culture – Europe America New Zealand Africa Asia – all pulling together to support the plankton and the bees – don’t get into what laws we might have to change or how we might do it – just the feel – what would it be like for us to cooperate – so we could feel our governments cooperating too – we could support what they did – they’re supporting us – we’re all supporting the phytoplankton – what’s the spirit of that?
How exciting would it be to have the government producing a law that helps this – that we could all implement instead of the anger and frustration that arises on both sides at the moment – anger is so divisive – imagine the excitement if we ll could pull together.
Imagine – you don’t have to have images – what would it be like to live in a culture which saw happiness was not to do with money – people’s priorities were to support life – each others’ life – the life of nature – what would it feel like to live in a world like that – what does it do to you to imagine this – do you feel excited – hopeful – enspirited – or what – what’s the physical feeling – does it raise your energy – inspire you?
Have a feeling of the kind of community spirit that might arise – if we were all pulling together – you might have a terror of a future in which things will get tough because of climate change – that will happen – it’s too late for it not to happen – sometimes you hear that after an earthquake as in Christchurch – people pulled together – their community strengthened – because people saw that helping each other was good – made them happier.
Imagine that feeling – when you help people in crisis – it makes you happier – get a feel for that in your gut – or your heart – the other side is fears people will loot and steal from each other – kill each other for food – dire scenarios.
Imagine that community could come together and realise these other ways of living – of being happy – by being interconnected – when we help others we feel the interconnection – their happiness makes us happy – we’re so connected – not just at a physical level of the air we breathe – how we emotionally respond to each other – get the feel of what a wider community doing that might be like – where that was valued – not people saying he’s got lots of money that makes him better – more secure – or you should earn more.
Have a feel for the work we’ve done with Tara and other gods and goddesses – when we’re more interconnected we see the deity in each other – even in the nasty politicians who are behaving so rottenly – they also are gods – mainly gods, not goddesses – if only we could reach that – what kind of god is inside the nasty politicians?
They think they’re gods getting more and more money – doing terrible things without consulting the people – bringing out the tanks – that makes them feel like gods – what is the real god within them – the real deity – the same as the real deity within ourselves?
Get a feel for how precious this kind of imagining is – in our culture where hardly anybody has the vision of what could lie beyond economic growth – beyond the hierarchical nonsense we suffer from – that’s killing the planet – what is beyond that – how precious it is to try to get a feel for that – however vague and confused – this is the treasure we need.
It may seem idealistic – maybe you see gardens en everyone’s back yard – full of veggies – lovely vision may seem idealistic – find the deep driving force behind that that can lead us to health if we can envision that – and do it – the driving force of compassion that makes us want to preserve life – where do you feel that in your body in your spirit.
Enjoy it – feel the preciousness of that – the treasure you have there – the gift you can make – just by having that treasure and treasuring it – feel how that treasure enhances your own life how it makes you feel to have that vision of creative possibilities for the world – how does it make you feel – now let it go.
System change, paradigm shift
In our intentional community we’re creating a way of living that’s sustainable, both for us as people, and for the land. We need to cooperate with Nature, so life may flourish on earth into the future.
To manage our land, we’re using the permaculture model: that means we design our food growing on the principles of Nature’s ecosystems. We’re creating a food forest, that operates just like a natural forest, and is full of food-bearing trees and plants.
To build our community of people, we’re also using ecosystems principles: we use consensus, seeing all the people as equally participating, and contributing from their own wisdom. It’s a life-affirming way – affirming the life of our relationships and our personal experience, ad the life of the group, appreciating beauty, creativity, love, and the shining being within all of us.
This culture shift is what Joanna Macy calls the Great Turning – the most exciting thing we can do in this time of danger and change. This ecosystems model is a different way of doing things from the way our society works at present: hierarchical, valuing money more than people or nature, greed, selfishness and aggression more than cooperation. It’s a complete system change, from the system of our industrialised culture; we can’t just make a few tweaks in the way we live. SYSTEM CHANGE NOT CLIMATE CHANGE
say banners in climate demonstrations. We need to apply this ecosystems model on every level: to establish lasting change, we must shift our values and attitudes in our personal life: body, mind, spirit; our community relationships, the land, up to our wider vision of how the world could work like this as a whole.
Riane Eisler calls this model the Partnership way, as opposed to the Dominator way. She lays it out in a way that makes it clear and easy to apply it to all the different areas of our life. Our creative task is to explore the ways this different way of seeing the world can work in all the areas of our inner and outer life. We do every year a skill-building day to explore a further aspect of it.
I use her model when thinking about how to work with our community in a partnership way, and I use it in my meditation work. The Tibetan Buddhist system trains us in exactly these partnership principles. Meditation develops them in our innermost experience of who we are, and our interdependence with all nature. It helps us live in the natural state, or natural mind – our fundamental nature, which is not separate from the rest of nature. This is ecosystems principles at the deepest level. It also offers a lot of practices for community relationships.
dirty methods of fossil fuel extraction