Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Aspiration for Retirement.

Right now, my wife and I are in the midst of a hectic and exhausting process of packing up and shipping our belongings so that we can stage and sell our house for a move from Hampton, Virginia all the way out to Salem, Oregon later this summer, where we plan to move into my stepdaughter's house, since she and her husband are planning to buy a larger house.

In addition, I just retired from a 30-odd year career as an English professor, and so am looking forward to a dramatically changed lifestyle, based on a rather slender pension (most of which will go for health insurance), along with ample free time.  So what, people ask, am I going to do with all this time on my hands and so little money to spend?

My short answer, as always, is to follow the Dharma Gaia mantra, as faithfully as possible, for all my remaining days:

1. Whenever I find myself distracted, depressed, distraught, desultory, or demoralized, I shall go back to my breath and breath, observe, and let go.

2. I will endeavor to shape my daily agenda each day around Garrison Keillor's magnificent sign-off:
Be well, do good work, keep in touch.

3. I will organize my time and activities around the following standing goals:
Learn, Teach, Heal, and Create.

Specifically, I wish to learn Permaculture design above all, but also, if possible, become fluent in Spanish, and learn to play the piano, as well as learning Web design skills.

I wish to teach a volunteer meditation course at Oregon State Penitentiary (if possible) and--if money gets short, teach one or more online English courses at Chemeketa Community College or elsewhere.

I wish to heal my aching back and aging body, to the extent possible. But also to get active healing our wounded planet and our corrupted democracy.

Finally, I wish to create a vehicle for integrating Buddhism and Permaculture, tentatively called a Dharma Gaia Circle.

My slightly longer answer is this:

I envision Dharma Gaia Circle as an ecologically focused Sangha, and as the first step in eventually (if possible) creating a Dharma Gaia Practice Center, whose mission will be to develop projects, events, workshops, and publications that integrate three essential practices for healing ourselves, our communities, and our dying planet:

1. Dharma Practice, including meditation, tonglen, and all other contemplative body-mind-spirit disciplines that enable people to let go of attachments, calm their minds, and generate wisdom and compassion.  This may include instruction in yoga, tai chi, meditation, and so forth. It might also include ongoing instruction and practice in the holistic healing arts, such as massage, reiki, acupuncture, and ayurveda.

2. Satyagraha, Gandhi's discipline of nonviolent social engagement, speaking truth to power, and when necessary, engaging in nonviolent noncooperation with evil, through the cultivation of the three goals of Satyagraha: Ahimsa (total renunciation of violence, in thought, word, or deed), Satya (the courage to speak truth to power), and Swaraj (individual economic self-reliance, leading to communal self-rule). These skills will then be applied to political activities aimed at resisting Trump's  and Glomart's all-out assault on the planet and its inhabitants in every way--local, state, national, and global--that we can.

3. Permaculture, the discipline of regenerative design, to reintegrate humans into their biological support system in an adaptive, regenerative way, thereby healing the wounds we have inflicted on ourselves, our communities, and our planet due to our collective ignorance, greed, hatred, and denial. My ideal goal for a Dharma Gaia Practice Center would be to acquire a Permaculture demonstration site as the location for our activities in learning, teaching, healing, and creating. This, of course, would entail collaboration--and fundraising.

All my goals will be predicated on the Gaian Categorical Imperative: In everything we do, we strive to promote the health, competence, and resilience of ourselves, our communities, and our living planet simulteneously. 

Pursuant to this grand plan, once I am resettled in Oregon, I shall begin by creating a social network--that is (1) joining an existing Sangha in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh; (2) joining the local Unitarian Church, and in particular, participating in their Permaculture Club; (3) Getting active with the Sierra Club out there ASAP; (4) creating within this network a focus group committed to such a project; (5) acquiring the necessary media skills (e.g. web design, video capture) to establish a website promoting Dharma Gaia Circle worldwide and providing a downloadable packet to enable local communities to start their own Dharma Gaia Circles.

We'll see how far I can get with this--even if I just plant the seed, and have others carry forth the work after I die, it will be worth the effort.

So be it.

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