Sunday, December 25, 2016

Permaculture and/or the Deluge

I just viewed a very recent (2016) and sobering address by Geoff Lawton, the charismatic, internationally known teacher and proponent of Permaculture, who has traveled the world over the last 25 years, teaching and demonstrating Permaculture design principles and techniques with astounding successes in every imaginable climate and bioregion--even in the parched deserts of Jordan. (See Greening the Desert)

His address was given at this year's International Permaculture Conference in London, and in stark contrast to his usual ebullient enthusiasm, his tone in this latest address is quite melancholy--a clear and sad assessment of the desperate and disintegrative state of our global ecosystems---but it is not hopeless. He clearly sees, as I now do, that Permaculture design has the potential for being our last, best hope for propagating the spontaneous remission of the Cancer of the Earth--the next phase of human evolution, into a symbiotic, rather than parasitic, relationship to the Biosphere. He points out, however, that less than .01% of humanity has ever heard of Permaculture.

Should we therefore be discouraged, and simply give up? Never!  In times of encroaching darkness, such as now, with the global corporate oligarchy on the verge of taking over completely and destroying the last vestiges of real democracy under a neofascist Trump regime, I often contemplate this poem by the pious 17th Century Anglican divine, George Herbert:


Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridall of the earth and skie:
The dew shall weep thy fall to night;
                                    For thou must die.

Sweet rose, whose hue angrie and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye:
Thy root is ever in its grave
                                    And thou must die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet dayes and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie;
My musick shows ye have your closes,1
                                    And all must die.

Onely a sweet and vertuous soul,
Like season’d timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
                                    Then chiefly lives.

  Herbert was, of course, a devout Christian, whose hope in the face of impermanence lay vested in the Afterlife, beyond even Judgment Day when the "whole world" would "turn to coal"  But the poem has resonance for me nevertheless, even as, in another sense, the world is "turning to coal" due to Trump's renewed and enthusiastic embrace of fossil fuels, climate be damned.

The resonance derives from the image of a "sweet and vertuous soul" as being resilient, like "seasoned timber."  And that, I think, is the key. If all hell breaks loose, whether from accelerating climate catastrophes, tyrannical crackdowns on dissent, global nuclear conflict, economic collapse, swarms of refugees, religious fanaticism, and roving bands of brutal and predatory marauders, those who have quietly mastered the arts of permaculture--growing regenerative gardens, restoring damaged ecosystems, exchanging skills, designing for the long term, and building community--will still be better off than everyone else, still be able to share their abundance with those in need and propagate their skills. Even if we are only .01 per cent of the population, if a handful of seeds survives a forest fire, they can still regenerate the forest.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Diamond in our Minds

After the Catastrophe—that is the election of Donald Trump on November 8—as I joined most of the rest of the (sane) world in paroxysms of dread and despair, I found myself again and again singing a refrain from a song by Tom Waits:

Always keep a Diamond in your mind;
Always keep a Diamond in your mind;
Wherever you may wander, wherever you may roam,
You’ve got to Always keep a Diamond in your mind…

Somehow, I find this refrain very healing, a kind of mantra, whenever the next horrid headline afflicts me with waves of dread about the future. But what is this “Diamond in your mind”?

In Buddhism, the Diamond Sutra is one of the essential Prajnaparamita sutras of the Pali Canon. In his translation and commentary on this sutra, Thich Nhat Hanh refers to it as “the Diamond that cuts through illusion.” It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to explain what this is “Diamond” is, for it is inherently paradoxical; it refers to the ultimate insight that “this is because that is,” from which we may logically deduce that neither “this” nor “that” has any intrinsic existence. But this paradoxical way of thinking is likely to be too abstruse to be of much comfort to most of us.

Another way of thinking about the Diamond in our minds is to consider the physical characteristics of diamonds themselves.  They are the hardest known substance; they can cut through anything else. This is why this ultimate insight in the Sutra is compared to a diamond (Vajra). In this sense, it is cutting through all the illusions that keep us bound to Samsara, bound to the wheel of suffering that we create when we assume (1) that things have separate existence from each other, and (2) that we ourselves have a separate identity from others.

The first delusion is relatively easy to penetrate intellectually; we can readily understand, for example, that without topsoil, oxygenated air, solar energy, fresh water, and inherited genetic information, we would not have any flowers, trees, insects, or even people. But the second—the delusion of a separate self—is deeply ingrained in both our biology and our consciousness, and hence we are emotionally attached to it as well.

It is a lot harder, therefore, for us to be able to look at Donald Trump and see ourselves in him, and him in us—to see that there is, in reality, no separation between ourselves and everyone else. Yet we affirm this connection every time we take a breath, exchanging CO2 for oxygen, as trees inhale CO2 and yield oxygen again, and that oxygen in turn is breathed by everyone else—even Donald Trump—becoming incorporated into his metabolism in the same way it was in ours. 

And this delusion of separateness that I share with Trump (though not, I hope, to that extreme!) and everyone else is the source of all the suffering on the planet: our shared ignorance gives rise to greed, which gives rise to hatred, denial, and despair.

But again, because it is so hard emotionally to let go of this delusion of separate self, there are other, more palatable ways of conceptualizing the Diamond that could be shared with those, like my students, who know nothing of arcane Buddhist doctrine, and may inhabit a mindset informed by Christianity, Islam, or Judaism, or indeed no religious affiliation at all.

For example, a Christian may wish to conceptualize the Diamond in his or her mind as the Holy Spirit or Grace—the indwelling of the Divine or Christ Within, a Jew will conceptualize it as JHVH, the One True G-d, while a Muslim will naturally conceive it as Allah.  Whatever religious language they wish to use, the important thing is that the Diamond is, as Stephen Gaskin used to say, “the highest and holiest part of ourselves,” however we label it.

                The important thing about the Diamond metaphor, again, is that diamonds are indestructible. If like me you are a Gaian—that is, if you adhere to both science and the insight of William Blake that “Everything that lives is holy,” you also might consider the fact that diamonds are pure carbon—an opaque, pure black element that is the very basis of organic life, which, when concentrated and reorganized into a tight molecular lattice, turns clear and brilliant, capturing and refracting light. That is an apt metaphor as well—that a Diamond is the stuff of life itself, concentrated into its purest form.

So for practical purposes, we may contemplate the Diamond in our minds as the very essence of who we are, the essence we share with all other living things, and with the entire Cosmos. And in times of political oppression and social disintegration, as we are likely to see in the coming years under this egomaniacal despot, it is very healthy to keep in touch with the Diamond in our minds, however we conceive it.  

 If we practice the Buddhist discipline of Tonglen—giving and taking—we can visualize the Diamond in our minds as that which, 
  • on the inbreath, takes in all the darkness--our suffering due to Ignorance, Greed, Hatred, Denial, and Despair--which we feel in ourselves and see all around us, and 
  • on the outbreath. transforms it into the radiant, healing energy of Benevolence, Compassion, Shared Joy, and Equanimity, sent out freely to our suffering selves, our loved ones, our acquaintances, those we don't know, our enemies, all people, all of life...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A message to my students

Since this is my last year of teaching at TCC before my retirement in May, this seems like a good time to leave a farewell message to all my students, past and present.

Dear Students,

As you all know, our collective future prospects have recently taken a wrenching turn for the worst, with the election to the Presidency of a clownish, boorish, cruel, pathologically narcissistic demagogue--a man whose elevation to this position of unimaginable power and prestige has traumatized the entire world community. This means, of course, that the brighter future for which you are all preparing through your education may never come to pass; instead, we appear headed into a long dark night of neofascist bigotry and violence, especially toward minorities; corporate domination of all branches of government; and the vindictive use of unprecedented surveillance to seek out and punish or brutalize all who resist or speak out against his agenda. The horrific possibilities boggle the imagination, as his daily capricious actions and tweets--and his appointments of thuggish yes-men and corporate cronies to positions of power--bring us wave after wave of dread...

So how will we cope? I first wish to refer you to a superb, though sobering, article by Bill McKibben: "How the Active Many can Overcome the Ruthless Few."

McKibben pulls no punches in laying out the terrifying details of accelerating climate change, and he stresses that our window of opportunity is steadily closing for redirecting our collective course away from global catastrophe.

And yet, in the final paragraphs, he gives us some hope, by paying tribute to the grand 20th Century tradition of Satyagraha, Mahatma Gandhi's brilliant principles and techniques for collective nonviolent resistance to evil and oppression.  He then cites many of the Bodhisattvas who have followed in Gandhi's footsteps, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Thich Nhat Hanh, Wangari Maathai,  Aung San Soo Kyi, and Vandana Shiva. His point is that such massive nonviolent resistance techniques are the only sure way to curb the abuses of corporate and state power. They do this, above all, by changing the terms of the debate.

For example, even though the Occupy protesters were crushed by massive police power in the service of corporate interests, they changed the conversation by introducing the concepts of the 1% and 99% into public discourse, and thus brought to light the criminality of the banksters and the obscene gap between the billionaire class and all the rest of us; this widespread awareness of systemic corruption and injustice in turn enabled Bernie Sanders to mobilize massive support, while at the same time, it enabled Trump to exploit the same reservoir of widespread resentment and discontent for his own pseudo-populist agenda, by directing it against scapegoats (i.e. minorities and immigrants) rather than against the super-rich (like himself and his cronies).

I am not saying, of course, that we should all hit the streets, wave protest signs, or get tear-gassed, tasered, or arrested for trespassing. Public protest and voluntary suffering are tools, but to be effective, they must be strategically planned for greatest effect. And as protests increase in frequency, the corporate media pay less and less attention to them (unless they turn violent--only then do they see it as newsworthy). There are many other, subtler ways to practice Satyagraha. In fact, Gandhi divided Satyagraha practices into three categories:

  • Ahimsa (righteous nonviolence--refusing to stoop to the level of our aggressors);
  • Satya (speaking truth to power)
  • Swaraj (cultivating self-rule and self-reliance).
While Ahimsa requires the kind of moral courage and discipline shown by those on the front line, such as the Civil Rights marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge or today's Native Americans at Standing Rock, most of us lack the inner fortitude to stand our ground in the face of brutality without either running away or lashing out violently in turn. For such people--the majority for the most part--the latter two strategies remain open.

Satya means speaking truth to power, and doing so mindfully, strategically, and relentlessly. This can be done by writing Op Eds or letters to the editor, or by speaking out at city council meetings or public hearings. You have considerably more clout from writing a well-crafted letter to the editor than from being a face in a crowd at a mass demonstration that is likely to be ignored by the media and contained or brutalized by riot police. So this is an acceptable and very effective choice for the great majority of us who have no stomach for martyrdom.

Finally, Swaraj is for everyone, even if you are neither brave nor articulate. Its root meaning in Sanskrit is "self-rule," and it originally referred to the colonized Indians' quest for self-government and freedom from British colonial rule. But Gandhi extended the definition to include both "self-control" and "self-reliance." Its symbol was the Spinning Wheel, so chosen both because it is a symbol for the eightfold Wheel of Dharma (referring, of course, to self-mastery), but also because it was a literal means by which Indian peasants could declare economic independence from the British Empire, simply by spinning cotton cloth to make their own clothing.  In our time, Swaraj can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Good Buy: assuming responsibility for the social and ecological effects of the money you spend. This means, before buying anything, to ask three kinds of questions: (1) Where is the money for this going? (2) What am I getting in return for it? Is it useful or addictive? (3) Does this product constitute a responsible use of the Earth's resources? 
  • Good Work: assuming responsibility for the social and ecological effects of your choice of livelihood. To what extent is it Work (doing what you know best for the best interests of yourself, your community, and your planet--learning, teaching, healing, or creating) or Slavery (serving the interests of your own or others' greed, ignorance, or denial; working for "the man" in return for nothing more than a paycheck).
  • Good Will:  Taking care of everyone and everything, and abandoning no one and nothing. Making this an asymptotic goal in all of your relations with others and with your world. Cultivating benevolence, compassion, selfless joy, and equanimity.
It is in this way that Satyagraha connects to the other two essential disciplines: Tonglen and Permaculture. Let's consider these briefly:

  • Tonglen: in order to achieve Ahimsa, to become truly nonviolent, to root out hatred (which is the enemy within, along with denial and despair), one must learn to cultivate compassion for everyone, perpetrators and victims alike. This is difficult, but the Tibetan practice of Tonglen meditation is a powerful training technique for cultivating Ahimsa. It consists of engaging your imagination on the breath:  breathing in suffering, both the outer suffering for the victims and the inner suffering that gives rise to the violence of the perpetrators, and breathing out healing, relief, and inner peace, both to the victims and the perpetrators--along with a prayer that the latter see the light and abandon their violence (as many sheriffs and other police have already, resigning rather than brutalizing the Native Americans at Standing Rock). It takes practice, of course, but as it becomes habitual, you can use it on yourself (when something fills you with rage and despair, just breath it in to the Diamond in your mind, and breathe out inner peace, firm resolution, and equanimity)--but also do "Tonglen on the spot" with anyone else you see or anyone whose suffering enters into your consciousness. For an excellent discussion of Tonglen,  see this article by Pema Chodron
  • Permaculture: In the same way that Tonglen practice enables us to practice Ahimsa--to confront and resist evil without violence or hatred--so Permaculture is the fruition of Swaraj; it involves creating a whole new, ecologically harmonious culture from the ground up, according to tried and true principles. If you are interested in learning more about Permaculture, there is an excellent short online course at Oregon State University, available on Youtube at this address

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Green Tara manifests...

In Tibetan Buddhism, Tara is a Tantric meditation deity, a mythic female bodhisattva, who is a metaphor for Buddhist virtues, to be envisioned and contemplated by practitioners as a way of internalizing and strengthening these virtues. Tara manifests in many forms, each reflecting different characteristics of enlightenment and each associated with a color reflected in her iconography: White Tara, Red Tara, Yellow Tara, and Green Tara.

The latter, Green Tara, is the bodhisattva of enlightened action. In her iconography, she is characterized as lifting up one leg as if to step down from her Lotus cushion in order to take action in an afflicted world--to do what needs to be done in the face of injustice, cruelty, and Adharma.

How apt it is then, that out of the courageous standoff of the Native American water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota, and the brutal response of the hired thugs to their nonviolent bearing of witness, a spokesperson has emerged who is named Tara--I see her as an incarnation of Green Tara, the Bodhisattva of enlightened action on behalf of our living Earth.

Tara Houska is a Gaian goddess and bodhsattva, a highly articulate, pure-hearted, and inwardly and outwardly beautiful young Native American woman, who was just arrested and brutalized in North Dakota. Her story of being hog-tied, strip-searched,and thrown in a kennel by these fascist thugs has filled me with blinding, sputtering rage, which I am now trying to breathe and observe, so that I can channel it into mindful, strategic, and relentless action against Trump and all the other corporate fascists...wish me luck, and let us all say a prayer for Tara and her incredibly courageous people in North Dakota.

Her mantra is

Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Svāhā / Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha

But if mantras don't work for you, simply practice Tonglen:

Breathe in, and take upon yourself, the horrific suffering now being inflicted on Tara and her people.

Breathe out, from the diamond in your mind, compassion, relief, and a good hot meal to her and the courageous people she represents on the front line.

And then, like Green Tara, get off your cushion and take action that is mindful, strategic, and relentless against Trump, against this corporation and their hired thugs, and against all who would put their own profits before the health and future of our sacred planet.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Only Castles Burning

Catherine Larson is a long-time friend of mine from my earlier life in Oregon. She has been paralyzed from the neck down since she was 15 (and is now over 60), but her disability has never prevented her from leading a culturally rich, politically active life. She is one of the most resilient and amazing people I have ever had the privilege to know, and--like all of us--she was devastated by the Trump catastrophe.  So here is a letter I wrote her this morning, that I thought I'd share with you...

Hi, Catherine--

I was never much of a Neil Young fan, but this song was in my head as I awoke this morning:

"Don't let it bring you down; it's only castles burning/Find someone who's turning, and you will come around..."

The castles are burning indeed. This flaming asshole lunatic Trump has already surrounded himself with thuggish yes-men (e.g. Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani) who will pander to his worst instincts and block all counsel from wiser souls, and the upshot is, the entire fragile global order of diplomacy, trade, and alliances will collapse into tribal, xenophobic nation states as the global economy goes down the toilet.  Wars will follow soon enough thereafter, coupled with internal strife, unrest, and violence at a level of intensity that no one can yet imagine.  Our global industrial civilization is finished. Kaput. The collapse will be slow and painful, but gaining speed and momentum as one system of checks and balances after another fails.

Unfortunately, the burning castles will also bring down much of their foundation--our biological support system--as the voracious fossil fuel industry, given carte blanche by the Trump regime and their clueless accolytes in the vicious, bought-out Republikan congress, rides roughshod over environmental regulations and local opposition to drill, frack, blow up mountains, and string pipelines over public lands and rivers everywhere, defacing and polluting the planet...

I wish I could be more optimistic, but quite frankly, I think we are fucked.

What now? "Find someone who's turning, and you will come around..."

For me, the broader view is this: Global industrial civilization was doomed anyway by the fact that its major premise--the maximizing logic of money ("more is better")--makes it a cancer on the Earth, and cancer, by definition, in devouring its biological support system, necessarily destroys itself sooner or later. The election of Trump is simply the trigger--the efficient cause--of a global collapse for which both the material and formal causes were already in place and primed: the upward concentration of wealth, our addiction to fossil fuels, and our culture of rampant greed and consumerism ("you are what you own")  All these premises of Glomart culture are radically at odds with the operating principles of Gaia: Enough is enough, you are what you do, and value inheres in relationship and interconnectedness.

So Glomart has been doomed for quite some while--all it needed was a triggering device, and there is no more effective trigger than a clueless, cruel, narcissistic blowhard taking over the show. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

The question now, of course, is--what do we do? Here is my short answer:

To survive the collapse, and prepare the groundwork for a life-affirming Gaian culture to arise, phoenix-like, from ashes of Glomart, we need to cultivate and propagate three essential disciplines:

Tonglen--the discipline of cultivating insight and compassion, on the breath, for ourselves and for all other living beings, on a regular basis, in order to develop the resilience, compassion, and equanimity for...

Satyagraha--we need to stand up to, and neutralize,  the violence of Trump's Amerika and of Glomart generally against people and the planet by practicing and organizing nonviolent noncooperation with evil that is mindful, strategic, and relentless. That means studying and emulating the lives and work of Gandhi, King, Mandela, Wangari Maathai, Vandana Shiva, and all other such valiant and charismatic Gaian warriors. But Satyagraha also involves unplugging from the Glomart money machine by cultivating self-rule and self-reliance, which Gandhi called "swaraj." And the best technique for this that I know is the study and practice of...

Permaculture--the discipline and skills needed to create a Gaian culture literally from the ground up, by growing gardens, growing community, and sharing knowledge and skills, in keeping with the three Permaculture ethics of Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.

May Gaia rise, phoenix-like, from the burning castles of Glomart!

Much love,


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Spontaneous Remission, Step by step

As most of us who are honest with ourselves already know, the world we have known is going to hell in a handbasket--environmentally, economically, and politically. The great unraveling has already begun (e.g. "Brexit," the rise of toxic nationalism and xenophobia throughout Europe and the Americas, and the rise of ISIS and other forms of toxic fundamentalism and sectarian violence through the war-torn Middle East, the acceleration of global climate disruption and its horrific consequences, failed states that have collapsed into chaos and violence, etc. etc.). It is bound to continue, accelerating as civil society disintegrates, and the symptoms of breakdown--craziness, terrorism, tribalism, old and new hatreds, poisonous cynicism, etc.--continue to be amplified and broadcast nightly by mass media and the Internet. Not a pretty picture.

But in systemic and ecological terms, this is the inevitable overshoot and collapse that is bound to result from a cancerous system rooted ultimately in the runaway, self-accelerating feedback loop: the Agricultural revolution,  dramatically accelerated by the Industrial Revolution (i.e. more and faster food leading to rapid population growth leading to the need to convert more diverse ecosystems into grain-based monocultures and the need for imperial conquest to seize yet more land and labor to drive the process). We stand now at the climax of this runaway loop--a planet that has been used up, and can no longer support the endless growth of production and consumption upon which the global tumor of industrial expansion depends. From here, there is no escape, it seems, from the hellish chaos of overshoot and collapse that has already started.

Or is there? As I continually tell my students, cancer has only two possible outcomes--death (systemic collapse) or spontaneous remission. The first is, of course, the most likely by far--there is no getting around that.  But the latter can and does happen, when somehow the cancerous cells "wake up" and are able to process, and act upon, the biochemical information that has hitherto been blocked--that they are, in fact, a part of the system they are consuming as a "resource" for their own self-accelerating expansion (the body). Whereupon they accordingly shrink back spontaneously and once again become functional elements within that system.  We don't know how this happens--we only know that it does.

So is it possible for the Cancer of the Earth--the global market economy and the social and cultural premises that support it--to go into spontaneous remission?  For years, my rather feeble short answer has been "I hope so."  But now I am more optimistic, for I have discovered a viable mechanism which, if propagated effectively, could conceivably trigger the spontaneous remission of our global cancer.

That mechanism is called the Permaculture movement. It is more viable than any of the myriad other ecovisionary ideas I have seen over the years because it is theoretically rigorous (based on systems theory), non-ideological (i.e. there is nothing you need to "believe" or commit to philosophically that cannot be proven scientifically and demonstrated in practice) yet eminently pragmatic, teachable, scalable (from homes and backyards to whole farms, communities, cities or states), adaptable to any and all bioregions, open to, and encouraging of, continuous feedback and innovation, and consistently proven viable in practice.  Sound too good to be true? Check out this hour-and-a quarter introductory video by Geoff Lawton, the charismatic Australian permaculture teacher who has now gained a global following, as he lays out the basic design principles, and shows how well they work in practice. It is no wonder that the Permaculture movement has now spread around the world, although--for obvious reasons--it is well below the radar of Glomart media.

Having immersed myself in Permaculture theory this past year, I am more and more convinced that it is the master key to spontaneous remission of our global cancer. The challenge is, of course, in how to propagate this brilliant, adaptable, scalable, and innovative way of thinking, designing, and practice--before it is too late.

Here is one possible approach.


--we convene our own circle of students or anyone else interested. I will call mine "Dharma Gaia Circle," of course, reflecting my own interest in the deep connection between Buddhist practice and ecological thinking and action. But Christians could call theirs "Mustardseed Circles" and Jews could call theirs "Tikkun Circles," for example. ) We then predicate the circle on cultivating, in ourselves and others, practices that promote the health, competence, and resilience of ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

--In my Dharma Gaia circle, I would focus the efforts of the circle on three interrelated disciplines: Tonglen, Satyagraha, and Permaculture:

1. Tonglen--starting with basic meditation and advancing to the active cultivation of compassion or Ahimsa.
2. Satyagraha--the integration of the three Gandhian disciplines--Ahimsa, Satya, and Swaraj--as our tool for promoting the values of compassion, truthfulness, and self-reliance among our peers, and taking strategic, nonviolent action against all forms of evil and oppression.
3. Permaculture--the deliberate cultivation of self-reliance, coupled with ecological responsibility (Earth Care), social compassion (People Care), and redistributing the surplus (Fair Share).

My idea is that the teaching and propagation of meditation practice, beginning with the basic practice of breathing, observing, and letting go, could form a solid and proven foundation of the self-healing which is the essential prerequsite to nonviolent noncooperation with evil (Satyagraha) and creating an adaptive, compassionate, and ecologically intelligent new culture from the ground up (Permaculture) to displace the cancerous Glomart culture as it goes into convulsions and collapses all around us. Christians could employ their own approaches, along the same lines, to what Martin Luther King called "self-purification."

--In this way, we all would integrate Vertical Healing (of body, mind, and spirit) with Horizontal Healing (self-community, planet),  based on what I call the Gaian Categorical Imperative: to assume responsibility for the health, competence, and resilience of ourselves, our communities, and our planet simultaneously.

So be it.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Gaia: Myth, Model, Metaphor, Movement

For many years, I have been threatening to write a book, though I have been derailed from this intention, as usual, by my lifelong tendency (call it what you will--obsessive-compulsive, ADD, dissipation, or whatever) to get easily distracted, and to flitter from one obsession to the next like a butterfly.  I therefore make no promises that my present intention will be any more enduring than all the others. Nevertheless, I am 66 years old now, and if I don't do something to set down my ideas, nurtured and refined over most of my adult life, into permanent form, these ideas will die with me. This may or may not matter--that is not for me to decide.  I started this blog, in part, as a way, of preserving at least the flavor of these ideas in a form that has, at least, the questionable durability of cyberspace.  Nonetheless, unless I set an intention, nothing at all will happen.

So here is my intention: most of the ideas I have nurtured could quite easily be organized under the rubric provided by my cross-disciplinary definition of Gaia, which has already gained some currency among my like-minded Internet friends--that is, my definition of Gaia as simultaneously a Myth, a Model, a Metaphor, and a Movement. So here is what I propose to do, starting in the coming year:

I intend to start, right here on my blog, notes toward a manuscript of this book, providing entries under each of the four categories--Gaia as Myth, as Model, as Metaphor, or as Movement--as they occur to me.  Today, for example, I have been thinking deeply about the challenge of religious fundamentalism, given the intimate connection between monotheism and violence in all Abrahamic religious traditions. This amounts to an argument for Gaianity being, among other things, an argument for religious tolerance, since the notion of life on Earth as sacred is a trope around which all the authentic spiritual paths of the planet can coalesce--and in fact are often coalescing already.
So there's a start.

Gaia as Model is rooted in the science of general systems theory, as pioneered by the likes of Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Norbert Weiner, John Von Neumann,  Gregory Bateson, and many others.  It was given concrete expression by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in their Gaia theory, modeling the biosphere as a self-organizing, self-regulating, evolving complex adaptive system of which humanity is a part (though currently that part is cancerous, due to the dysfunctional "man vs. nature" ideology which coevolved with the runaway positive feedback loops of the agricultural revolution, which were dramatically amplified by the industrial revolution).

Gaia as Metaphor follows directly from its status as both a myth and model--a trope for a new way of thinking about humanity as a part of, rather than apart from, its biological support system (formerly known as "the environment" or "nature.") It refers, in general, to all intellectual formulations that begin from this latter premise--of humanity-within-nature as a single system--whether we call these formulations Green Economics, Biocentric thinking, Integral philosophy, Holism, or whatever.

Finally, Gaia as a Movement refers, first, to any and all efforts to stop the corporate juggernaut from its feeding frenzy on the planet--that is, the "environmental" movement (though I reject the word "environment" as part of the old "man vs. nature" paradigm). But secondly and more importantly, the Gaia movement refers to all efforts to model, develop, and establish sustainable or regenerative alternatives to the cancerous status quo--a movement that finds its most concrete, focused expression in Permaculture theory and practice.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Welcome, Glomart Shoppers

The following is a two-part satiric fantasy I wrote back in the mid-Nineties, and recently updated. It provides two alternative looks at the future. The speaker in the first is the tour guide to the new planet-sized mall called "Glomart"  (This is where I originated the term, which I have used ever since).

Welcome, Glomart shoppers!

Glomart (short for Global Market) is our new planet-sized Mall, formerly known as “Earth,” where you can buy anything you want from anywhere you want, and (with some exceptions) go anywhere you want to go--on credit!
Whereas the old world was divided into thousands of different languages, making communication all but impossible, here in Glomart, everyone speaks English--everyone who is someone, that is.

Let me tell you a bit about the population of Glomart, currently about 8 billion and growing fast. We are divided into four categories: the Owners, the Consumers, the Help, and the others.

The Owners--about the top .1 percent--own everything. They live in well-fortified, domed, super-affluent neighborhoods, well out of sight of everyone, except when they occasionally appear on television. They are fabulously wealthy, and in constant competition with each other to get even wealthier. You know very little about them, and they will see to it that you know as little as possible, since they all sit on each other's Boards of Directors. They are our bosses, and we love them because they pay our salaries. We used to have governments that nobody liked, but the Owners now take care of all that.

The Consumers--that's me and you, folks--the next 30-40 percent of the population (estimates vary, depending on the country and region). We’re happy. We live in the Suburbs, work hard at the mall or the office, and all have computers, cars, and televisions. We are free go out after work and on weekends to the local branch of our Glomart Mall. For entertainment, we have TV, movies, cell phones, or video games. What we know, by and large, is what the Owners want us to know—we can have it all at our fingertips on the Web, on Fox News, CNN, and an endless proliferation of "local" newspapers and magazines (all of which, likewise, are owned by the Owners). For exercise, we go to the local Spa or the golf course (if we're rich enough for the latter, as we all hope to be some day). For those interested in Nature, we have parks with paved walking paths, and zoos where we can see actual wild animals up close. (No, Miss, there aren't any left outside the zoos; that would be a waste of real-estate).

Yes, sir. You want to know something about the Help? Why? They do what they’re told, stay out of sight, and most don’t even speak English. Yes, of course they get paid, as long as they do a good job and stay out of the way. Unions? No need. We take care of our Help. They have a Right to Work—unless they’re fired.

The others?--well, the less said about them the better. They live in the Inner Cities and the Third World; there are far too many of them, they are often homeless, they have too many babies, and they fill our prisons. Bleeding Heart Liberals tend to fuss whenever we propose simply to exterminate them, but sooner or later we will prevail. It's a matter of overcoming all these obsolete 18th Century ideas about "human rights" that keep getting in the way, but old ideas die hard.

Oh yes--then there are those pests called "environmentalists" who keep scaring everybody by talking about global warming, deforestation, desertification, topsoil loss, toxic pollutants in the land, air, and water, the fact that birds have disappeared outside of zoos, and that rats are the only wild animals left (but only in the Third World and Inner Cities).
Don't worry, folks; it's all tree-hugger nonsense. We have replaced the so-called "woodlands" that these folks used to pine for with fast-growing, genetically engineered tree farms, that are much more efficient for producing wood pulp. Global warming is irrelevant since we all have air-conditioning (except in the Third World and Inner Cities, and they are used to hot weather anyway). And all that useless ex-tundra in the north is being drained for new corporate farms. Those former neighborhoods along the coast that are now underwater are creating new opportunities for waterfront real estate.
Despite what these alarmists squeal about topsoil loss--(90% in the last 50 years), we have wonderful Hydroponic methods for growing genetically engineered fast-growing vegetables as well, and we're even learning how to synthesize the nutrients. So there'll be plenty of food from all over the world to fill the shelves at your local Walmart.
Tropical Rainforests? Well, to be sure, they're long gone, but who needed them anyway? Now that they're gone, the price of mahogany and other rare woods is skyrocketing. A good stock option.

What was that, Sir? Something the rising cancer rate, especially among children? Of course we are concerned, but everybody dies sooner or later. And with modern medicine, a cure is just around the corner--for those who can afford it.

You are quite right, however, ma’am.  Glomart is far from perfect. We need more police, more prisons, less welfare, fewer cumbersome regulations. We plan to relieve the endless traffic jams by building even more highways. And because the oil at the former Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge is running out, we are drilling new fields recently discovered in Siberia, the Arctic Ocean, Antarctica, and the ocean floor (since there are no longer any fish to worry about). And new deposits of natural gas, now opened up by Fracking, promise us abundant energy well into the future. Overall, leading economic indicators suggest that prospects are excellent for continued positive, dynamic, economic GROWTH.
Even the steady decline in fresh water and free oxygen is no big problem, folks. Bottled water is for sale everywhere, and soon you'll be able to buy your own portable liquid-oxygen tank, lifetime guaranteed--on credit. For those who can't afford water and oxygen...well, that's one reason we need more police. In a true Market economy, nothing is free.
Oh--and those Gaian eco-terrorists who sneak messages to you, telling you to join their insidious "quiet revolution"--to renounce consumerism, stop watching television, cultivate mindfulness and solidarity with the poor, restore a sense of community, work with each other rather than for the Owners, plant your own organic gardens, stop using pesticides, preserve and restore forests and wetlands, and assume responsibility for the social and ecological consequences of every dollar you earn, spend, and invest--pay them no mind. Our Security Task Force is in the process of hunting them down.

Another Future
Historians trace the origin of the Gaia Movement, also known as the Quiet Revolution, to the tumultuous years at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st Centuries, but its roots go back further, to include Gandhi's Satyagraha Movement in India, early in the century, and Martin Luther King's Civil Rights Movement in the Sixties, along with the blossoming of the "Hippies," the "New Age," and the Environmental Movement in the Seventies.  The crucially important Gaia theory of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis-- scorned and largely ignored by Big Science and the corporate- controlled mass media at the time--provided a cultural catalyst for a gradual but irreversible epistemological shift from dualistic reductionism--the dominant ideology of industrialism and consumerism--toward the holistic or systemic Gaian paradigm that we now all take for granted. Many people are surprised to learn that as late as the early 2000s, the vast majority of people in the industrialized world still believed that "man" was separate from, and sovereign over, "nature"--despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The Quiet Revolution arose out of the largely suppressed despair and discontent among the middle classes, just at the time that the corporate "New World Order"--later known as Glomart (for Global Market)--consolidated its grasp on the world economy, through GATT, NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The billionaire-funded Tea Party movement, fueled ironically by popular discontent with big government, signaled the complete take-over of the United States Government by Glomart, and other governments soon fell in line, slashing social programs, eliminating environmental regulations, liberating "free-market" forces, and creating a socially segregated 4-tier society--the Owners (top 1%), the Consumers (30% and dwindling), the Working Poor (known as the “Help”) (30% and growing) and the Marginalized Others (39% and growing). But Glomart failed to realize that through creating the Internet and World Wide Web, connecting people all over the world, ostensibly to facilitate the marketing of consumer goods and entertainment services, they were also sowing the seeds of their own demise, by creating a conduit by which the ideas of the Quiet Revolution could quickly find a receptive audience among the middle classes (the Consumers) all over the world.

Despite the success of the Glomart-dominated mass media in marginalizing environmentalism by using demagogues of denial like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to turn public opinion against the public interest, the brute fact of rapid environmental degradation became harder and harder to hide, or to gloss over with marketing hype or Rush Limbaugh's sneering contempt. Denial, as a psychological strategy for dealing with growing anxiety, can never last. The anxiety about the future was still there, expressing itself in the rapidly expanding use of alcohol and drugs, the escalating crime rate, and the violent cynicism and nihilistic popular culture of youth. Something had to give, sooner or later.
Meanwhile, violence and chaos escalated rapidly throughout the world, as feedback loops arose between economic, social, and environmental collapse--as food prices rose due to topsoil degradation, as new and unpredictable epidemics swept through the population, as fresh water--no longer freely available--became more and more expensive, and as food shortages spread from the inner cities and third world into the supermarkets of the middle class. Soon, open class warfare arose, as affluent neighborhoods barricaded themselves and hired armed guards, while less affluent neighborhoods fell prey to the marauding of the desperate poor. In response, resurgent militia groups in rural areas took control of whole communities, rounding up and shooting anyone who opposed them, and the greatly weakened Federal Government was powerless to stop them. Only in the Malls were people safe (due to the heavy police guard placed around their periphery), but even here, acts of terrorism and sabotage became commonplace.

Amidst this maelstrom of social disintegration, just in time to avert a complete collapse of social order, the Gaia Movement arose, disseminated over the Internet, and deriving its strength from its luminous simplicity.

At its heart was the Gaia concept--the view of the living Earth as a single, self-organizing, and interdependent system embracing humanity and the rest of nature alike. It was symbolized by the famous NASA photo of the shimmering blue-and-white living Earth, which started to appear on flags, posters, and decals all over the world, as the movement grew. The Gaia concept was also embodied in the now-famous quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, which became the central slogan of the movement:
"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

The Gaia Movement differed from the earlier Environmental Movement in that its emphasis was not on protest or on calls for regulation per se, but rather, on social transformation from the ground up; not on prescriptions for policy, but on personal and community empowerment. It focused its efforts on the very life-blood of Glomart--the Money System--by encouraging its followers to assume responsibility for the social and ecological consequences of the money they earned, spent, and invested. This was accomplished through the "Quiet Revolution"--a nonviolent grassroots campaign based on three themes: Good Buy, Good Work, and Good Will.

GOOD BUY: The first theme, a deliberate pun, emphasized the fact that spending money is a political act--that every dollar people spend is a "vote" for the processes of manufacture and distribution by which the product came into the consumer's hands, and for the effects of that purchase on the community. Prior to this, most people believed (as Glomart-style economics insisted) that personal short- term self-interest was the only relevant criterion for spending money. But when people began to deliberately and mindfully cultivate an "ecological self" under the influence of Gaian theory, they became more willing to link their own self-interest with the larger interests of their community and the shimmering blue planet, whose iconography dominated the movement. And so, in increasing numbers, they said "Good Buy" to Glomart, choosing instead to spend their money on locally produced, ecologically responsible merchandise and services whenever possible. As a consequence, local cooperatives and local economic diversity flourished, while the megamalls and vast parking lots closed down, disintegrated, or were transformed into low-cost housing cooperatives and vegetable gardens for the poor.

GOOD WORK: This theme took longer to implement, but cut even deeper, by encouraging people to re-examine the concept of "work", upon which Glomart relied for its employees. Gaians drew a clear distinction between "Slavery"--working for others' vested interests, whether as a sales clerk or as a corporate attorney--and "Work" or working with people on tasks that serve the best interests of the community and the planet. In Gaian theory, Good Work consisted of learning, teaching, healing, and creating. At first, the doctrine of "Good Work" appealed only to those who were well-educated and affluent enough to make a go of self-employment, community- building, and cooperative enterprise. But then, as they created new opportunities for the "working poor" in these cooperatives, the working poor began--in droves--to abandon their dead-end jobs in the factories and malls, and join cooperatives instead, where they had more respect and greater outlets for their creativity. As more people began to consciously distinguish between "good work" and "slavery", Glomart found it harder and harder to attract even the most talented people, who chose instead to form cooperative enterprises, and to work--not just for a fat paycheck--but rather in service to their larger, expanded "self"--their community and the planet.

GOOD WILL--This theme formed the inner core of the Gaia Movement, based on the luminous examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Gaians drew no distinction between means and ends; therefore (among other reasons) they completely eschewed violence, and sought to teach by example. They posed no enemies, claiming instead that even the CEOs of Glomart and their Republican servants in Congress were Gaians as well--breathing the same air and dependent upon the same ecosystem--who needed only to wake up to their own higher self-interest in serving life, rather than the abstraction called "money."
Gaians cultivated good will by practicing mindfulness and compassion, following the teachings and example of great teachers like the Dalai Lama and the venerated Vietnamese buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (whom many likewise regard as a founder of the Gaia Movement). They did not try to "convert" people; rather, they sought to serve them--to share their wealth and time, and to heal them emotionally by teaching them how to restore equanimity by following their breath, and then, for those who were receptive to it, to impart the Five Precepts which originated in Buddhism, but are the foundation of every other system of ethics as well: Reverence for All Life (Nonviolence); Generosity and Loving Kindness; Sexual Responsibility; Mindful Speaking; and Mindful Consumption.
As a consequence of the Gaians' quiet and unobtrusive dedication, the Gaia Movement spread far and wide--in neighborhoods, in schools and churches, and over the Internet--long before the Glomart-dominated mass media even took notice of it. By the time they caught on, it was too late to stop it, and--quick to jump on any bandwagon where money is to be made--they attempted to co-opt it by marketing Gaian Flags, Quiet Revolution Posters, and Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, and MLK posters. But the Gaians went their quiet and incorruptible way, buying only those flags and posters that were printed on low-impact unbleached cotton or recycled paper. The Gaia movement was here to stay.

And so today, while the healing of the planet has a long way to go, we are off to a good start. Gaianity--the identification of self with the sacred web of all life--was such an obvious psychological improvement over the grasping and alienated mentality of Glomart consumerism that the Glomart system had no choice but to adapt to it, in order to survive: to decentralize ownership, and to re-invest money into community development and ecological healing. As a consequence, people no longer even use the word "environment" since they no longer think of Gaia--of the natural world--as something outside of themselves. Instead, ecology and systemic thinking have become the core curriculum in every school and college in the world, poverty is decreasing, and we are well on the way to a diverse, healthy, and sustainable planet.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Gaian Future--or No Future

I just finished reading the latest book by the venerable Harvard biologist, Edward O. Wilson, entitled (somewhat presumptuously) The Meaning of Human Existence.  Wilson, who does not shy away from controversy, is unapologetically biocentric in his outlook, insisting that both the potential and the constraints of human nature are accidental products of our biological heritage as a branch of large primates who stumbled onto language and symbolic thinking, which coevolved with a larger cranial capacity to allow such distinctively human traits as complex socialization and self-consciousness.

The constraints he mentioned are, above all, tribalism--the strong inclination to identify with a group, and to treat all outside the group as potentially hostile outsiders--as it combines with religion, by which he means, above all, religious fundamentalist ideologies that serve to rationalize a group's sense of superiority by viewing themselves as the Chosen People of God, and to suppress critical thinking that challenges their ideological orthodoxies.  Wilson has a thinly disguised contempt for all forms of tribalism, nationalism, and fundamentalism, but sadly sees them as "cultural parasites"--an endemic bad habit of human nature based on our socialization.  And I agree entirely with his judgment on this.

The potential, of course, is the capacity of humans, especially those who are scientifically literate, to transcend such tribal ideologies and (what Blake called) "mind-forged manacles" of religious or nationalistic orthodoxy, in order to recognize and celebrate both our common humanity and our total dependence on the health and resilience of the biosphere that sustains us at all. This potential, which blossomed during the Scientific Revolution and the European Enlightenment in the West, and in the rise of Buddhism in the Far East, is alone what makes a Gaian future possible. But only if we can find ways to propagate it so that it does not threaten people's cultural, religious, or nationalistic tribal loyalties, causing a murderous backlash of hateful fundamentalism.  Tall order!

So what, then, do we mean by a Gaian Future?  I'll begin with what it is not. It is NOT a world in which a single ideology triumphs, so that we all happily abandon all our prior identifications and call ourselves "Gaians" while singing "Kumbaya" around a solar-powered campfire. To be sure, I would not mind this a bit, just as a committed Muslim ideologue dreams of an entire planet subjugated to the Will of Allah, living under Sharia law, or a committed Christian Fundamentalist sees everyone on the planet kneeling down to Jesus and the Absolute Truth of the Bible.  But it ain't gonna happen for me, any more than for them. Tribalism, as Wilson observes, is too deeply rooted in human nature to allow for any such global utopian fantasy.

Rather, I see a Gaian future as one in which everyone is entitled to his or her own religious or political belief system and the communities that share it--but through systematic efforts at universal education in science and the humanities, everyone cultivates and shares a common understanding of what is real and what is not.

And what is real is, above all, the following understandings:

  1. That we, as humans, are a part of, not apart from, the biological world (Gaia) that sustains us.
  2. That all living organisms and communities, ourselves included, are driven by the urge to eat, survive, and reproduce.
  3. That we all, therefore, depend for our survival on three basic, asymptotic values: health (internal homeostasis); competence (ability to compete, within and between communities); and resilience (ability to adapt to unpredictable changes in our shared environment, both biological and cultural).
  4. That "we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality," in which "whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." (MLK) 
  5. That we are therefore ethically obligated, by both scientific understanding and the shared wisdom traditions of all religions, to "take care of everyone, and abandon no one" and to "take care of everything, and abandon nothing."(Lao Tzu)  In other words, to constantly cultivate and practice tolerance, compassion, and understanding for others, including both other cultures and other beings, with whom we share this unique living planet. To work together, whenever possible, to take care of our common home--our land, air, water, and biota--and restore it to health and resilience, for the benefit of all future generations.
That's it.  In every other respect, the communities, cultures, and tribes of the planet are free to believe, to be and to do whatever they wish.  This is the Gaian Future, to which I pledge myself, right to my dying breath. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Obama's Buddha

I just saw an interesting clip from the Lion's Roar, a Buddhist E-Zine, about Obama's Buddha, which I highly recommend. Apparently, President Obama has a variety of keepsakes--gifts from admirers--that he carries in his pockets as talismans, to remind him of his larger purpose of serving humanity. Among these are a rosary from Pope Francis and a tiny Buddha, a gift from a monk.

The interview gives us a refreshing insight into the essential decency and warmth of President Obama as a person, and I have no doubt that he is sincere in sharing this private side of himself with the young woman who is interviewing him.

Still, I have many good friends who are bitterly disappointed with, and even hostile to the President, for very good reasons, and in many instances I share their disappointment, though not their hostility. My friends complain, rightly, that Obama has continued, and even expanded, the horrific Bush-Cheney policies in the Middle East, especially the ghastly Drone program that is murdering countless innocent people throughout that desperate region in a vain and heartless effort to snuff out suspected "terrorists." And he is enthusiastically pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is essentially selling out our democracy to Glomart, giving a global corporate tribunal veto power over any and all legislation or policies to protect the public interest in environmental protection and labor laws--that he is, in effect, nothing but a finger puppet on the claws of the Glomart Godzilla (as my acquaintance Aditi Gowry from the U. of Texas at Austin described the role of corporate executives during a conference I attended).

All this may be true, yet it is also true, as E.O. Wilson has noted, that good people do bad things, simply because of the inherent constraints of the position they are in and the culture whose interests they uphold. (His own example of this, from growing up in Alabama, were the decent, solid folk he knew who nevertheless were staunch upholders and defenders of the blatantly racist social order in which they all lived).

My guess is that President Obama's power is largely illusory; he is constrained on all sides, but above all, I suspect he is terrified of the Imperial Secret Government--i.e. the Military Industrial Complex, the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, FBI, and corporate elite who actually run things behind the scene--who are heavily invested in the status quo of global domination, rampant consumerism, fossils fuels, the endless wars and expansion of military power and surveillance throughout the world--the same massive criminal syndicate that doubtless staged the 9/11 fraud and offed both John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. when they threatened their power.  President Obama knows well, I'm afraid, that if he tried to challenge or undercut this monster regime, they would not only kill him, but would destroy his family as well, and would wreak untold harm everywhere by backing the ascent to power of another poisonous monster like Cheney.  And so he has no choice, from his own perspective, but to enable them, while doing good within the severely limited domain of influence he actually has (e.g. the Affordable Care Act, which was the best that the combined Glomart powers of the Insurance Industry and Big Pharma would allow him).

But underneath it all, I am convinced that he is still a good, decent, gentle, and compassionate man. May that tiny Buddha in his pocket (and his friend--Pope Francis's Rosary) continue to whisper to him...

Saturday, January 2, 2016


A new year has begun, and as is often the case this chilly time of year, I am a bit despondent. Our future prospects on this planet give us little reason for hope--the steady, meteoric rise of a vulgar, shameless, self-obsessed lout like Donald Trump, who now seems on an unstoppable path to the Republican nomination for the presidency (not that any of his rivals, though marginally more civilized in their demeanor, are any better); accelerating climate disruptions, seemingly past the tipping point where they are irreversible; the worldwide proliferation of psychotic religious terrorist movements like ISIS on one hand, and lone psychopaths living out their sick fantasies by mass murder in public places on the other; the growing swarm of refugees worldwide from war-torn lands and other places rendered uninhabitable by droughts and floods, or by poverty and violent, genocidal tyranny--the list goes on. Our global commercial/industrial civilization (Glomart) is obviously drawing toward its inevitable demise--an incremental descent into chaos, violence, despair, starvation, and death that is simultaneously ecological, social, political, and economic. Not much to hope for.

Still, I dream. Of what? you ask. Let us (once again) imagine...

Imagine a seed group or Sangha--a Dharma Gaia Circle, that meets periodically--once a week, say--with the specific purpose of integrating vertical (body-mind-spirit) and horizontal (self-community-planet) healing, through the cultivation, in diverse forms, of three essential disciplines: Tonglen, Satyagraha, and Permaculture. The circle would be rooted in Buddhist practice, but open to anyone of any culture or faith tradition, and its meetings would follow this protocol:

  1. Begin with "checking in"--self-introductions and/or brief updates on our lives and practice.
  2. The Facilitator then asks a participant to offer an opening benediction in his/her own faith tradition--or to read a poem from Earth Prayers or a similar Gaian anthology.
  3. This is followed by a period of formal meditation practice, beginning with a guided meditation using the 10 Breath Dharma Gaia sequence: Breathe, Observe Let Go; Be Well, Do Good Work, Keep in Touch; Learn, Teach, Heal, Create. (This is the core practice that constitutes a Dharma Gaia Circle).
  4. Following a period of silent meditation, the Facilitator passes around a Talking Stick, allowing each participant to share any insights that have arisen from his or her meditation session--or to simply pass the stick on. On the second go-around, participants could optionally respond, mindfully and skillfully, to anything that others may have shared about their practice.
  5. Participants could then (either) watch a Dharma Talk, or discuss a portion of a book they have decided to read together, or both. 
  6. Thereafter, participants could share healthy snacks and socialize.
  7. In addition to the above meetings, participants would periodically meet for Gaia Walks, which are a hybrid of formal walking meditation and a casual hike, in some refreshing locale, whether urban or rural. The rules for a Gaia Walk are as follows: (1) Breathe mindfully while walking, coordinating breath with walk, but walking naturally, and deeply observing the life that is all around; (2) Keep conversation to an absolute minimum, only to draw others' attention to something worth seeing, right then and there (e.g. a blue heron). (3) Walk in a normal, casual manner, smiling and making eye contact with passersby, but minimizing interaction. The idea is that no one outside the group should be able to guess that you are doing walking meditation; if you should meet someone you know, who has something to talk about, feel free to withdraw and chat if necessary.  The goal of Gaia Walking is to practice integrating mindfulness with our day-to-day existence in the world. But it is also simply to enjoy the sacred beauty and diversity of a living planet.
Now imagine that Dharma Gaia Circles catch on, budding off, and proliferating, staying in touch via the Internet. Soon people everywhere are meditating, reading good Gaian books,  taking Gaia walks, and practicing Tonglen, Satyagraha, and Permaculture in Dharma Gaia Practice Centers that form the nucleus of urban ecovillages and permacultural communities, while providing growing ranks of peaceful activists, speaking truth to power, organizing nonviolent noncooperation with evil in all forms, and cultivating local self-reliance and withdrawal of their financial support for Glomart.

Imagine, that is, the Spontaneous Remission of the Cancer of the Earth, starting right here, right now!

May it only be so...