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Archive for March, 2009

I am sure you’ve wondered how (or whether) the world will ever become sustainable? And I’m sure you’ve wondered what would change the trajectory of today’s civilisation?

There has been so much written and spoken about sustainability, but we seem no closer, and perhaps we are further away than ever. Why are we failing to keep our earth habitable for future generations? What is the real legacy we are leaving?

The path to sustainability is often talked about in global terms – global deals, carbon trading, UN conferences and declarations, policy shifts etc. What is not talked about much is the need for a new consciousness.

Why do we fail to talk about treating each other with love and respect as the foundation of a new society? Why are we scared to talk about our deepest needs? Victor Havel believes that to achieve the fundamental shift in our current direction, we must develop “a new understanding of the true purpose of our existence on this Earth.”

Gus Speth, Dean of Yale School of Environmental Studies, has said this about the changes needed:“many of our deepest thinkers and many of those most familiar with the scale of the challenges we face have concluded that the changes needed to sustain human and natural communities can only be achieved in the context of the rise of a new consciousness.”

There is a real need for a significant cultural change, a change in our worldviews, and a reorientation of what we value. Call this a spiritual awakening, or a new consciousness. If you prefer call it a rethinking of what is really important. (A recent report covers this in great detail – see Towards a New Conscioiusness: Values to Sustain Human and Natural Communities).

If we treated others with respect, generosity, kindness and fairness, would the world become a better place? You bet!

We certainly won’t get there if our fundamental values don’t change, or if we keep believing in endless growth, corporations, unbridled competition, aggression, excessive individualism and materialism. To build a sustainable world, we need a more mature human society based on nature’s templates, as Bill Plotkin reminds us.

If being green was more than just turning off our lights, but also involved switching on our hearts, we would be on the way to transforming our world and ourselves.

oceansunrise01bcompMany things happen at the edge. At the edge of our awareness. At the edge of our thinking. The edge is a place where things can be a bit fuzzy. In ecological terms ecotones, the edge of two ecosystems, is often a place of species richness, of variety.

To feel into my edge, to concretely connect to nature, (as opposed to talking about it) I woke early to experience the sunrise on a Sydney beach. The seashore is an elemental meeting place of earth and water. It is a place of shifting patterns, and a place to meditate on some of the meanings of the interaction of different forms, of fuzzy edges, of loose boundaries. Where do I begin, where does the other begin? Do I have hard or permeable boundaries? When do I choose to let others in?

The seashore fascinates me. It is the place where ancestral beginnings tug on my memories, with recurrent rhythms of tides and surf. And the vastness of the ocean overwhelms the sense of my own importance, reinstalls my sense that I am just one part in this great cosmos. The horizon, as a place where sky and ocean meet, beckons as a doorway of possibility.

I see the Sun rise out of the depths of the ocean to greet the world once again. New beginnings. New dreams being created. I watch the Sun peek over the horizon, as it starts to colour the sky. I am excited. I am filled with awe. I am captured by this moment. What a simple ritual to connect more deeply to the rhythms of this earth, and this particular place.

I am reminded of what a Huichol shaman Matsuwa said in the book  Shamanic Voices by Joan Halifax:

“we have forgotten our life source, the sun, and the sacred sea, the blessed land, the sky, and all things of nature.” He warned us, “you are not getting (your) love up to the sun, out to the ocean, and into the earth.  When you do. . . (it) brings life force into you.”

The sparkles on the face of the ocean capture my attention, as does all the ways in which the watery domain expresses itself – froth, bubbles, movement. All separate, but all part of the whole. Each drop has its own existence, but only for a while, and when it forms a wave its existence is as part of the greater whole.

My body hears the drumming of the waves, the way in which the ocean scrapes its watery fingers across the sand. This place is full of great compositions of art, music, drama and life.

The edge here is magnificent – the edge of solidity, the edge of watery. I stand between both, on the edge.