The Painful Labor of Emergence

090622-gpeace-wI’ve been having fierce debates with neo-liberal conservatives recently, people that keep up the faith that the climate catastrophe is just ‘leftist propaganda’, that the recent and still going financial-turned-economic disaster is caused by big government, or by Marxists or similar. At the same time a report was published by the United Nations Environment Programme that climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century even if the world’s leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges (here), which hardly anybody believes they will – unless We The People force them to; and are you willing to bet, say 25% of your year’s salary that We The People will force them? Ah, right, you probably won’t.

In the mean time some wonderfully willing and amazingly well-connected people embark on a journey to change all that; I think it’s a couple of Million world-wide. Good people. Wonderful people. We would all love to hug them. And then we go into the next super-market and buy…. ah well, we didn’t make much money last months so we cannot afford any fancy stuff, we need to buy the cheaper things; not produced sustainably or ecologically.
We would love to do the good thing, but what choice do we have given our income?

130659051_e78c6596a1On another note, but connected – bear with me -,  just a week ago I met an amazing person, a man who remembers being in the crowd around Jesus… got crucified himself. And the way he talks about this in conversations is so very low key, and at the same time with such certainty, that it has made me reconsider some of my base assumptions which doubt reincarnation to contemplating what it would mean if the soul is indeed eternal, coming back again and again to the planet – for whatever may be the reason for this; if indeed it has a reason.
My new friend is not an airy, fairy New Age person – he made his first million by the age of 24 – and he’s also not the slick marketer of any esoteric stuff either. He’s smart, has a very good working intuition, is also quite down to Earth and with an intelligent heart. Can’t just dismiss his stuff off hand. And he reminded me of some very interesting material I unearthed years ago where reincarnation would be the simplest, most plausible explanation (some BBC stuff published years before the archaeological proof of the memory someone had from a previous life; the content of that memory not being recorded anywhere before).

Maybe all this stuff strikes an emotional chord… Almost a year ago one simple question changed my whole relational life – and started me on a deep emotional experiment. In January this year my father died. Recently the other grandfather of my son died. Last weekend a former student from the time I used to be an enlightened teacher, died of cancer – a woman the age of my girlfriend; one of the students I loved for her rebelliousness, for really wanting to know.

What is going on in the world at large and in my own life’s context seems to be about life and death, and on the grand scale it concerns the whole of humankind – and from how I respond emotionally to the active ignorance of much of the elites I take it that I’ve started to take the inactivity and the downright denial – except maybe in some lip-service of no real consequence to ‘doing something about it’ – personal.

budhaIf I still were an enlightened teacher I could easily transcend all of this; “I am not the body, I am not my thoughts and concepts and beliefs; not this, not that; net-neti.” I would simply stay with “Now”. And in a way this still holds true. There is a private way out. It’s effective. Just ask, “Is this true? Can I really know it is true?”, and since an honest answer will always transport you to the transparent Here and Now, the Still Point at the Center of Everything, and since remaining there for a while will let you taste non-dual presence, this private way out still works. I can take it. And so can you. But for whatever reason this isn’t really satisfactory to me anymore – meaning, “I don’t wanna go there, really.” Maybe this whole enlightenment thing is a much too private paradise – utterly real when there, and always good for a shot of transcendent joys. But then, really, I think the dice have fallen and the choice is… “I’m here to incarnate – become and truly be flesh, be fallibly human, be pretty much like many others; probably like you in most respects.”

That is how I keep on arriving time and again on the scene of desperate humanity, of molested humanity, of experiencing-lots-of-atrocities humanity; a bit of an activist, maybe. My contribution are concepts and practices around “collaboration ecology”, teachable experiences around “embodied collective consciousness”, and practical and implementable insights into the “living field“. And over the last couple of years through the Web and its social communities I’ve been embedded in networks and ‘meshworks’ (which I’m very much co-creating at this moment in time with Gaiaspace; that’s a disclosure, I think). And increasingly the most divine question that a friend of mine heard from Gods mouth on Mount Shasta seems to be, “So what?

Humanity at the beginning of the 21st Century is coming to know and understand it’s suffering. Some of this state of affairs has been predicted by many, me included: The financial collapse (caused by, basically, unbridled egotism and greed), the climatological disaster (only we thought it wouldn’t come so fast), societal break-down (the neo-liberal and conservative break-down into myopic pubescence in the US is just one visible sign of that), and I could go on and on singing the apocalyptic blues.

complainThis is the demons we face, the shadows that humanity must incorporate instead of polluting the whole cosmic environment with it.

What have we done to the earth?
What have we done to our fair sister?

Ravaged and plundered
And ripped her
And bit her
Stuck her with knives
In the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences
And dragged her down

(Jim Morrison/The Doors, “When the Music’s over” [I exchanged ‘they’ with ‘we’])

Maybe I’m too much entrenched in German history, the apocalypse we as a people (even though father was in the Resistance) brought upon the people of Europe and the world in World War II. Maybe the tears I cried in the Spanish Synagogue in Prague over the atrocities the Germans committed in Theresienstadt were not mine to cry, and Rabbi Löw’s laughter I heard in my soul when I prayed for forgiveness for my people’s monstrosities at his grave seemed to tell me that much. Maybe also, lying on the ground of one of the major battlegrounds, not being able to stop sobbing for hours has shown me that mourning over our collective murder, pillage, rape, plundering, imprisoning and hurting each other and much of nature is needed.

21fa2We cannot fix this. We cannot undo the damage we’ve done to each other. The European people and nations have massacred the North- and South-American inhabitants, we have enslaved Millions of Africans – to just name some non-Germanic monstrosities that have shaped the world many of us profit from – this is the shadowy past, and its consequences are what we experience today – the sins of our fathers and all the generations that have come before. Are those that profit from a crime and do nothing to stop the criminal behavior not also guilty?
The egotistical, anti-social behavior of our elites that have led to the ecological and societal disaster we witness (and that we all are part of and support by much what we do day to day) has to be faced, and we have to do what is natural when seeing all of that – mourn, and see that what we need is a true metanoia, a change of heart, a change of our core… and mourn, for this true transformation is not something we can make happen. It’s out of our hands. We cannot fix it.

We cannot fix this as we are. We cannot fix this with the systems that have supported the disaster in the first place. We need to simply face our enormous shadow, a shadow that has built up in centuries of denial and turning a blind eye. Yes, maybe, it is overwhelming. Yes, I would also love to squirm out under the weight of it and point a finger at those that are much more guilty, the captains of industry, reckless bankers, compromising politicians, inhumane bureaucracies. And as I said in the very beginning of this blog, there are those that are extremely resistant to any kind of change that would profit any larger group than their clan or political tribe. But those of us who can face this, be assured, that is what we need to do.

We need to forgive before any kind of real healing can happen. And then, having faced how we’ve become as we are as humanity at this day and age, having forgiven ourselves by the powers of our very core-nature, Beauty happens – I know, it happens again and again when I face the shadow, when I’ve mourned the unfixable past, when I’ve felt the loss of so many good, beautiful and true people, when I’ve looked our “fair sister” in the face disfigured by humanity… and she smiles on me.

And then I “hear a very gentle sound” beyond what Jim Morrison could hear, beyond wanting the world, and wanting it Now!

pregnant with EarthThe very gentle sound I hear are the beginnings of a new symphony, an emerging culture that is being born in the midst of humanities mournful and painful labor. And since it is a global being, a world-soul emerging from the womb of our defeat, a humanity like it has never before existed in history, we cannot say anything about it. We can state our hope, we can say that we expect a society that will look much closer to a non-egoic paradise than the most enlightened societies that have ever existed on Earth before. But we can neither hasten this birth nor can we stop the labor.

Knowing this the dark age of ecological disaster, societal challenge and financial-economic debacle all of a sudden doesn’t need anybody fixing it. It needs open hearts and minds doing and being what they’re called to be and do. We need humans courageously facing life as it unfolds in the flesh, in the body, in our societies so that they can lend a hand, an eye, a foot where they see a real need. We need people waking up to their embeddedness in the webs life has been weaving in and around them. We need people to hear the calling to be alive, now, wherever we are, just exactly the way we are – and having faced, and whenever it appears facing again, our individual and collective shadows we open to the incarnating emergent humanity and what it brings.

How to be? What to do?

Listening with the heart in the immediacy of music’s presence and its melodious flow [“A Fine Frenzy” & “Sigur Rós” while writing this blog post], every question is an answer as it dances into being and sometimes also into action. Then, “How to be”, or “What to do”, is not a question but a feeling-focus within the living mystery of awareness. Choices are made intuitively without appearing in the mind’s “I” – right and wrong are not considered.

Yet when we reflect on this and try to embed our behavior within our sense-making at large, what is natural to us needs unpacking and unraveling. At least in communication and collaborative meaning-creation. So let’s have a go.

(In the video: Sigur Rós – Glósáli)

Our ethics and mores are those guidelines, the deep symphonic structures as it were, that steer how we are and what we do in our streaming-moment life. Dave Pollard, whom I had an inspiring conversation with the other day, touching on these matters, says, “We do what we must, then we do what is easy and finally what is fun.” I don’t really know if I agree with this sequence as I haven’t been studying it in real life very much, but it seems clear to me that we indeed do what we must, and what we must is most likely determined by our true ethics, the moral that we have – partly in spite of ourselves; which means, well, we do what we must. So really, the ethical powers forcing us to do just that are stronger than our own power of decision, or we’d go for the easy way or for the fun. Most likely.

instictsMaybe what some call instincts are just these powerful ethics… But you don’t think that our instincts are ethical, do you? You would want to reserve ethics for some loftier rules?
Consider this: Ethics is really all about what is right and what is wrong, how to be and what to do. And aren’t instincts just those forces which compel us to do so? Fixed, imprinted action patterns that move us in the right direction? If you believe that instincts are real – which is open to debate afaik – than certainly survival and, consequentially, procreation (which is what instincts are concerned with officially) are right. They, and some luck and whatever else, have helped us to still be around on Mothership Earth.

Ah! You say, “Not every form of survival and certainly not every fashion of procreation is right, and instincts don’t care.” Well, now you force me to disclose that I’m very certain that we’re a bit more free than the theory of instincts allows. I believe that there is some freedom of movement on every level of life; even bacteria moving towards food and away from danger have some degree of freedom in the paths they take… we’ll come back to this later, I think.Right now we’re concerned with human beings, right?

When considering how to be and what to do for you and me, for human beings, it seems our choices and the forces that determine these are based on one of two possible ways to think about what we “must” do and what is right, and consequentially what is wrong. Most of us, even if we don’t do much thinking about this (which I don’t usually), we derive what is really the right thing to do from some transcendent source, a source beyond us – if not divine then similarly lofty, some higher authority. You will see how much you are ‘married’ to this way of thinking when I say that all real ethics emerges from the body, from nature, from what you are as a bodily living, breathing being. And to derive what is right, good, beautiful, true from some transcendent or disembodied source is, frankly, part of the the disaster that is upon us ecologically, economically and also socially. [So now how do you feel, what do you think?]


78_mainWhat we are and what we do is part of a larger context. I’ve been contemplating the folk wisdom “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” In my last blog entry I expanded this to a more specific, “A living whole is exponentially more than the sum of its members.” And since we are members of a larger whole, a society, we should expand it even more to “A living field whole is incomparably more than the sum of its wholes”.

Living wholes determine what is right, good and beautiful, or to use Dave’s terms, what we must, what is easy and what is fun, for all its parts and members. So clearly, our society and the groups we belong to – families, clans, other groups – have very particular “ideas” about that. I put “ideas” in parenthesis here because these are often not obvious or conscious to a family’s or group’s members. They might even deny that they have these ideas – to them, when pointed out, they would be simply part of reality, like the air we breathe. But we can know them as ideas nevertheless, these forces constellating a living field.

A group’s ethics is sensed immediately by all its members. When you deviate you feel uncomfortable and when you go against it you feel very uncomfortable. (Not that we necessarily feel comfortable with what we must do or be, but that is a different. We do what we must if we want to belong for longer, because if we don’t we risk being cast out, which is much more uncomfortable than any discomfort we might presently be experiencing by being who we have to be and doing what we must.) Our conscience is really the a ‘proximo-meter’, the instrument that by the strength of certain feelings tells us the degree of belonging to our group. Conscience, far from being a transcendent or divinely given something, is a finely tuned sense of the super-social animal we are. What, for instance, instantly causes a bad conscience in your family might not even activate in your chosen group of heart-friends…

The result of our historical cultural development so far has, despite everything I’ve so far suggested, led to the situation that transcendent ‘laws’ that tell us what we should do are part and parcel of every groups ethics. These moral rules have usually been created by some greater authority, traditionally by a religious entity through the mouth of its prophets and/or mystics. This can be a deity, several deities or more recently in history also some lofty concepts brought to that group or society by scientists, philosophers or other experts on transcendent content (Jesus, Mother Kali, Immanuel Kant, Ken Wilber, Albert Einstein, to name a few). You know these are transcendent ideas when you can easily get away with paying lip-service; actually often, if you really practice them and put them into real-world behavior you get into trouble and become really uncomfortable as you are pushed towards the perimeter of the group and are threatened to be cast out.

people towerReal ethics are always embodied ethics, they express in how the whole is and what the whole does in everyday life, transcendent ethics are disembodied and lip-served only. Real ethics are practices, transcendent ethics are mostly theories of what is right and true, their real-world consequences are caused by the debates, the struggle, the fights (and sometimes wars) between their adherents as to which is the right theory and doctrine. Surely, some tenets of transcendent ethics are actually embodied by groups and put to (rigorous at times) practice. But that is, I would venture, because it meshes so well with a previous and prior embodied ethics in the first place.

It seems to me that any whole’s prime directive of its real ethics is connected with its existence and duration, with its sustainability to use a modern word. You’ll only call this egotism if you believe in the economic version of Darwinism; you know, the one that relates all evolution-value to ownership (my genes, my turf), to separate being, to competition for scarce resources and what derives from that. But if you really understand that at the very root every living whole is first of all metabolic, which means that it turns what is outside into ‘building blocks’ of itself and gives away some of itself to the outside, you see that that “egoic Darwinism” is real rubbish (gibberish coming from a elite-group of alpha-males and those that lick up to it).
A whole’s metabolic relationship with its ecology – the whereabouts it is embedded in – means: the whole changes its ecology by being around for a longer time. So the prime directive of a living whole by it’s very nature is not egoic but altruistic: it will ‘want’ to change the ecology such that all others except direct enemies will flourish, simply because then it flourishes also. Any living whole is nourished by other wholes, and in turn it’s feeding other beings that feed other wholes that feed other beings and so on. This is living nature bootstrapping itself towards greater and more diverse wholes by metabolic relationships since a couple of billion years on this Mothership, and I’m sure all over this Cosmos. The thrivability of any living whole is contributing to the thrivability of life as a whole – which, en passant, explains beautifully the richness and diversity and creativity of life…

As strange as it may seems, a real ethics, one that helps you and me, takes its clue from exactly this – from living wholes prime directive, “Keep on thriving”, and from the simple fact that we are metabolic by nature.Consider, for a moment your body. It’s an amazing and large ecology of uncountable collaborating and also symbiotic species. In our intestines countless micro-organisms help break down the food we ingested with their own metabolism; we actually live from their ‘waste’; on our skins countless micro-organisms keeping us covered well with their metabolic acts…

So what is our body’s ethics? How to be this amazing wonder of collaboration between a large number of different cells plus countless micro-critters that live inside and on us, this immense ecology that forms the living whole that is you and me, and what to do?

MARCH-3My guess would be, to let go of the hold of transcendent ideas and disembodied theories us, and helping our friends and neighbors to see them for what they truly are useful for: marvelous playthings and clever tools wherever their use is appropriate. And also to simply be our feeling and take the emotionally intelligent way. In the 21st Century, it seems to me, we are learning to trust the inherent wisdom of whole living beings as intrinsic members of living ecological wholes. We’re letting go into the music of life that reveals its beauty in its flow in time.

Playing it by ear…
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