Faith to Practice Radical Acceptance

In my book, “Faith to Practice: Foundations of Happiness,” I introduce the concept of “radical acceptance,” and the beliefs I used at the time of that writing (2012) to support me in this practice. The main goal of the book is not to give the reader “all the answers” in the form of beliefs and detailed rationalizations for adopting them, but to provide examples of beliefs and practices which will inspire the reader to discover and craft their own.

In this time of social / political upheaval, vast divisions of world view, and pressing environmental problems, many people are living in fear for the future of our world. If we are to raise our consciousness in this challenging cultural environment, the practice of radical acceptance is more needed than ever! So in this post I’m offering beliefs at many levels of understanding, so that at least one of them will be “acceptable” by the majority of people, and adopted to support this highly effective practice.

In the process of writing the book, I gained an understanding of the problem of non-acceptance of spiritual truths / beliefs. If people changed their belief systems and behaviors by simply giving them wise information, we would have been living in peace from the time that aspect of human nature came into being! Our true nature however is more limited. In the chapter “Faithful Evolution,” I describe how we can adopt new interpretations of teachings as we raise our consciousness through spiritual practices. We can only live by beliefs that we can feel in our hearts, which are those that come from a slightly higher level of consciousness than our own. Thus spiritual teachings that can be interpreted in many ways are valuable to the largest number of people, that span a range of levels of capacity for understanding.

In our consumer culture, many people seem to be looking for others to tell them what to believe, rather than do the work of contemplating their own beliefs and understandings. Perhaps this also comes from our emphasis on science, where we often understand that there is only one correct answer to a question at any given scale of reality. We are used to 1 + 1 always equalling 2! Witness the success of fundamentalist churches, where interpretation of scripture is largely prescribed and one set of beliefs are held above all others. I believe the success of these organizations depends on finding people at similar levels of consciousness and then “selling them” belief systems that are “within their reach.” I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this! If a person lives by the same beliefs their whole lives and does their best to follow any wholesome interpretation of the teachings of Jesus, the world benefits greatly. However, when those loving practices are done very devoutly, they tend to raise consciousness and shift the person towards higher and higher understandings, so they will eventually feel like “a fish out of water” in a fundamentalist environment that caters to more mainstream modes of thinking.

The question addressed below can be stated as, “Many spiritual teachings recommend a practice of ‘non-judgment.’ How can I accept the horrors of the world?” Here are a range of beliefs / understandings:

  1. When we judge, we spend a lot of energy that is better spent in a process of loving thoughts and actions at whatever level of understanding we currently have of love. Even the process of working through the energy of individual self love, (to improve your own personal life, “selfishness”), is disrupted by the energy of judgment against others. Leave the burdensome process of judgment to others (and God, if you are so inclined)! Simply notice your different opinion and act on it in positive ways when you are so inspired, without giving any energy to people / organizations that do not hold that opinion. (Meta level, helpful at all levels of consciousness where there is some access to the rational mind.)
  2. Every person / organization is doing the best they can, based on their own past emotional traumas, fears of death, their understandings of human nature and how the world works, and so on. Judging a person / organization (based on their behavior) as “evil,” “bad,” or even “less than” based on any hypothetical standard is presumptuous at best. In the process of judgment, that standard could fall anywhere on the behavior spectrum. “Drawing the line” just creates more conflict. So for example, we can see that all wars were fought in the name of “good / righteousness” as that was understood by both sides! (Paradigm of nurture / historical causes of personal / organizational proclivities.)
  3. Each person / organization has their own level of consciousness from which their ability to adopt belief systems and their behaviors arises. Every person / organization is on a spiritual journey from lower consciousness (fear based energies of shame, hate, exclusivity, and even pride) to higher consciousness (love based energies of courage, willingness, inclusive generosity, etc). For a person / soul this spiritual journey spans multiple lifetimes. Each of us has lived through the lower energies of fear to various degrees in this and former lifetimes. Thus we can identify compassionately with the challenges faced by those that are dominated by lower energies than we are currently enjoying, even when their actions seem to be harming us, because we know we have all been there and really are not so different from them. (Paradigm of karma & spiritual continuity of each soul / reincarnation.)
  4. Passing judgment against other people / organizations is tantamount to judging yourself, because there is no actual separation. This is a high consciousness interpretation of the teaching on judging from Jesus, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3) Would you judge yourself “bad” if a part of your body became unhealthy or broken? Jesus can be understood to use the “log in your own eye” metaphor to describe the very process of judging as blocking our vision from seeing through God’s unconditional Love. Thus he teaches that we must love every part of the body of creation as a sacred aspect of ourselves, through our thoughts and practices. We can “fake it until we make it” to the realization of the Unity of our true nature. (Paradigm of Unity, Oneness and immanent Divinity.)

It is important to note that anyone that is already asking this profoundly important question, has come to a level of consciousness / understanding from which they are already able to find their own answer, or personal articulation of an answer, if they give the question enough contemplative thought. However, I seek to shorten that process with this post.

 

 

 

Faith Foundations, Original mini-sermon 4/19/2007

Faith Foundations”
Dartmouth Weekly Prayers 4/19/2007
by David Gaia Kano

Reading – [1 minute ]

From “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran

And an old priest said, Speak to us of Religion, And he said: Have I spoken this day of aught else? Is not religion all deeds and all reflection, And that which is neither deed nor reflection, but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul, even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?

Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?

Who can spread his hours before him, saying, “This is for God and this for myself; This for my soul, and this other for my body?”

Here ends the reading.

Message – [7.5 minutes]

What is faith? One definition is, “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” You may know people who claim, by this definition, not to have “faith” in anything. They need scientific proof to believe.

To them, “facts” are fundamental, while “faith” is more ephemeral. For example, they may have faith in a friend, but only until that friend betrays their trust.

But I’d like to offer you another way of defining faith. One that I think is true for everyone: “Faith,” is a foundational belief, upon which all our other beliefs depend. As such, we all depend on our faith. The question is, faith in what?

Lets take science. Most of us, and even those with no religeous faith, still believe in the Newtonian laws of physics, Einsteins E = MC2 and many other scientific facts. What this means to me, is that we havefaith, in the scientific method of discovering truth. We believe that the world is ruled by certain laws that we can ascertain, by posing a hypothesis and then designing a scientific means of testing it, to determine if it’s true.

But what if this faith turns out to be misplaced? What if it turns out, that reality is not made up of immutable laws of cause and effect? What if the very idea of the hypothesis, the belief that it is true, determines the truth for the experimenter?

Or, more fundamentally, what if it turns out that we humans are not even “real” at all, but that each of us is actually a part of a huge computer simulation, designed by some super intelligent beings for their own experimental reasons? How can we know? After all, every observation, scientifically proved or not, is still experienced through our senses, which could easily be fooled. So how can we know anything at all, for sure? I claim that we can’t: we need faith in some kind of foundational beliefs, to enable and support everything else that we believe! Some call this “world view” or “paradigm” but even they rest on our faith.

How would we interpret the world around us, if we did not have faith in gravity pulling down, light displacing darkness, or our taxes needing to be paid? Without our foundational beliefs, we would be hard pressed to learn anything new or make the myriad decisions of daily life.

Once you accept that all beliefs are supported by faith in something, you may want to test your faith, to see if it supports the kind “house” you would want to call your “home.” Since all beliefs, and the actions they inspire, sit on top of your foundations of faith, you would be wise to chose your faith very carefully.

Faith in science helps us navigate the physical world, but what of our relations with each other? What of our personal and spiritual growth? Lets look at some examples of religious faith.

You (may) say you believe in God. But if your God sits on high, inherently separate and greater than we humans, your faith supports beliefs that require a foundation of separateness and hierarchy. This in turn, may support an “us vs. them” mentality, instead of “us and them,” or even “us with them,” or simply just “we,” as inclusive of all.

If your God sits in judgment, then your foundational belief will support you to make judgments against yourself and others. If your God is angry, and seeks justice through punishment, your faith is supportingyour anger and vengeance.

You may have accepted Christ as your savior. But what do we need to be saved from? Your faith foundation may support a belief in the inherent evil of mankind, including yourself.

You may have guessed by now that my personal faith can not described well by many traditional Christian religious terms. My primary faith foundation is simple, and yet profound: It is Love.

Not merely the romantic (and often possessive) state of being “in love.” But the love that is foundational to forgiveness, compassion, acceptance, and vision. Love as the feeling of profound joy that we experience as we move closer to God, as we return to our source.

Christ taught love. Christ lived love. To me, God is best described, in this world of words and ideas, as unconditional love. When you have love as your foundational belief, upon which all others must rest, then can you shake off the beliefs that bring you pain and suffering. They will have no foundation on which to sit. They will be unsupported by your faith.

With love as your foundation, you can hold God as most high and yet see God as integral to all. Through the eyes of love, will you distinguish good from evil, and yet forgive all. For all is a blessed creation of God and each element of that creation holds a lesson for spiritual growth. Thus, we can replace anger, with peace within.

In the life and love of Christ, do we all find salvation, not from the wrath of God, but from the suffering we met upon ourselves, in ignorance of his love!

But these examples of faith are really just to illustrate my main point: we all need faith, at many levels. Everyone depends on faith in something, to interpret and live their lives. The question is, faith in what? It’s up to each of us to decide. The spiritual will is strong, we can use it to improve our lives.

So think carefully before you design your faith. Choose a foundation of faith that will only support the kind of house in which you want to live this life! For me, that foundation is unconditional love. Amen.

 

Joyful Choice Making – Koinonia Chapel Lesson, December 15, 2015

 

Some of you that are my Facebook friends may have seen my status Monday. It read:

“The more you remember and regret things you have done in the past, the more troubled you will be when making decisions that you believe will affect your future. In this context, memory is a curse! I think this is why babies and the elderly, with no ability to make new memories from this moment, normally live in bliss. For those with fully functioning memories, we can practice forgiveness to come to peace with the past and meditation to cleanse our karma, freeing us to live fully in this moment with faith in a joyful future.”

I’d like to pick this apart a bit, because lots of us are in the process of making decisions about where we will go in January, and that day is just around the corner. In the meantime, you members will have plenty of decisions to make in the process of finding new interns and discerning how to continue your lives here at Koinonia. So I’m hoping you will find these ideas helpful as well.

Of all the illusions we live with and through every day, time is perhaps the most challenging one. Physicists tell us that time was created, along with the matter that makes up the universe, by the big bang. In other words, before the universe was born, there was no time either. Regardless of your understanding of time at that level, it seems that just about all our fears stem from our relationship with time.

When we regret or feel shameful about things we have done in the past, or when we worry about how the future will unfold, we take ourselves out of the current moment and project our fearful selves through time. I actually can’t think of a fear that is not related to time, so it follows that if we heal our relationship with time, we would free ourselves of all fear!

The monastic answer is to live in the current moment only, but I’m not going to talk about that today. Most of us have not mastered the art of releasing unhelpful thoughts about the past and future, so I’d like to talk about how to heal our relationships with time, through forgiveness and faith.

When we are plagued by our choices and actions because we are unhappy with the consequences, we naturally want to avoid the same kinds of “mistakes” in our current and future choices, so our lives will be more fulfilling. All regret is an error, because to truely love ourselves and those around us, forgiveness must always follow judgment. As Jesus taught us, we will be forgiven to the degree that we forgive others.

When looking at our relationship to time, if we forgive our past selves, our current and future selves are automatically forgiven as well.  Every decision and action we have ever taken in the past was the best we could muster at that time. When we consistently accept that, even when we hate the consequences, we can trust that choices we make today and in the future will also be acceptable to us too.

So once you have forgiven yourself for the messes you have made the past, what is the best way to make new choices? Some of us like to analyze all the options and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each using reason and logic. Others like to dive in based on gut instinct, with little regard for the facts. I prefer the middle road of learning about each choice and then following the advice of Depok Chopra, from his  book “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.” He writes about heart based decisions in his chapter on the law of Karma:

(I read from the last paragraph on page 42 through the first paragraph on page  44, which I don’t include here but is in the audio recording.)

So to review, all our fears are anchored in our relationship and sense of time. Our fearful judgments of mistakes in our past are projected into our futures, leaving little comfort in the present moment. If we consistently forgive ourselves for ALL the so called mistakes we have made, we project unconditional self Love into the future, which allows us to make joyful choices in the present moment.

The most reliable way to make choices that are best for us and all the people that will be affected by them, is to pay attention to the feelings in our hearts. There are actually more neuron cells in your heart than muscle cells! The heart is just as much a thinking organ as your brain and they work beautifully in concert.

There is one more belief that is very helpful when healing your relationship with time, which comes from the sermon on the mount. God always provides everything we need. We don’t have to worry about the future, just keep your attention on today and leave the future to God. Even if we don’t like some things about our lives, with faith we can see that we are learning from our troubles, so they are actually just as much a divine gift as those moments of joy and pleasure. If you fully believe what Jesus said about the lilies of the field and so on, you will be able to accept this moment as being exactly the way it needs to be in order to meet our needs, even when the reasons are a total mystery!

So I encourage you to forgive your past and joyfully follow your heart into the future, with faith that it is impossible to make a bad decision!

 

Responsible Happiness – Koinonia Chapel Lesson January 8, 2016

This is the first of a series of posts I will be making to share my monthly contribution to morning chapel at Koinonia Farm this past year. I recorded a few of the “lessons” or “mini-sermons” but never found the time to post them here. This post contains my thoughts from the last chapel I spoke at on January 8, 2016.

Prepared text

This morning I’m going to share some thoughts that are excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Faith to Practice.” The chapter is titled
“Responsible Happiness.”

Happiness is 95% interpretation and 5% circumstance.

We want to “be happy” but our culture teaches us we must “do happy” or “experience happiness” through our circumstances. This morning I’d like to discuss the art of “being happy” in it’s purest meaning.

A happy interpretation of your circumstances takes two things: wholesome beliefs such as faith in a loving God, and the mental discipline to release unwholesome thoughts and feelings that are inconsistent with your faith.

For example, there was the time that I needed to get myself to the car rental office. My car had been rear-ended so it was in the shop. I walked down to the bus stop and climbed onto a red line bus, which was waiting for its scheduled departure time along with a few others. When the driver came back and I told him where I was going, he informed me that I was on the wrong bus. The one I needed had just left. The next bus that was scheduled to stop at my destination would not depart for two hours.

I got off and started walking back home. It was a beautiful summer day, so I decided to enjoy the extra walk back to my condo. I had not been getting as much exercise as usual anyway, so I did not mind. As I happily arrived at my home, I noticed my friend Al sitting alone in the community gazebo, so I went to visit with him for a while.

I believe that we create our own realities. I could have been really mad at myself for not paying enough attention when I boarded the wrong bus. I could have spent the entire walk back home thinking about all the other things I would have done with the extra time I had “wasted.” But that would not have been the responsible interpretation of my situation, given my faith. I believe that every situation is given to us for a reason, to provide an opportunity for us to grow in love, so it was easy for me to remain grateful and happy. I fully enjoyed my extra walk and the chat with my neighbor.

Meditation, prayer, acts of loving kindness for a stranger, and finding ways to give of yourself in every situation are all examples of spiritual practices which nurture your ability to respond in positive ways to any situation. You are literally practicing happiness, from within.

Happiness can never be sustained through (increasing) the quantity of anything (eg:consumer culture) it stems rather from the quality of your experience of everything. It is the interpretation of your situation that matters. That is all. Most of us spend our lives “making ourselves miserable” through negative judgments of others and our circumstances. The most satisfying combination, to our ego selves, is to blame others or even the universe (eg:Murphy’s Law) for our difficult situations! Your ego wants to deny responsibly for your misery, so you must be a victim.

To be truly happy, you need to be the master of your mind. Unfortunately, our minds are often the master of the moment and if we are victims, the real “perpetrator” is our own fearful, unhelpful thoughts! Worry, anxiety, anguish, disappointment, jealousy, frustration, regret, you know the thoughts I mean. Yet most people have received no training in the process of thought awareness, discernment and release. Contemplative practices such as meditation and mindfulness help us to be self aware enough to experience thoughts, or at least trains of thoughts, as discrete events. Events that we can decide, at the level of conscious awareness, to reinforce and nurture or to gently release to the universe.

Thoughts deserve our attention, but many can be gently dismissed as unhelpful. If you found a sight disturbing, such as a dead animal on the side of the road, would you force yourself to continue to look in that direction? Thoughts are like that. There is no need to beat yourself up over a negative thought, but you can allow yourself to let go of that thought once you realize it is causing distress. But it takes practice!

Buddhists masters teach that the mind is the 6th sensing organ. Thus thoughts occur in our minds just as light and sound are sensed by our eyes and ears. Because so many thoughts are unhelpful, we need “eye lids” for our minds. These can be nurtured through practicing meditation, mindfulness or silent prayer.

The many benefits of meditation are well researched and documented, so I won’t list them all here. Perhaps the most significant benefit is an opportunity to practice thought awareness. For example if you meditate through conscious breathing, you are taught to notice when your thoughts are taking you away from your breath and gently return to feeling it coming in and out of your body. Invariably thoughts occur many times over the course of a meditation session. That is actually good, because each time you “catch yourself thinking” you are practicing this very important life skill. It hones the ability to become aware of and let go of a thought, until we get to the point where the act of following a train of thought becomes automatic. It is like having a remote control for the “programs” in your mind!

The conscious awareness from which we can discern thoughts is a mystical connection to the mind of Christ. True self awareness requires access to this conscious awareness that is the ocean on which the waves of thoughts flow. We are each already aspects of the mind of Christ, most of the time we just don’t realize that fact.

Through mindfulness, you can practice accessing this awareness while doing the dishes, picking up sticks in the orchard, sorting pecans or just walking between buildings. First turn off the radio, music player and TV. Then just do your repetitive task mindfully, noticing your breathing, your simple motions and task experience. When your mind drifts to other thoughts, gently notice that and go back to your task and your breathing. The fruit of this practice is no less than the ability to chose your thoughts, so you can live a happier life!

Happiness is 95% interpretation and 5% circumstance.

We can take responsibility for our happiness through clarity in our faith in a loving God and mastery over our troublesome minds. You don’t have to sit in silent meditation every day to start to practice, although it will accelerate your progress to a rock solid inner source of happiness. You can practice every day while doing what you are already assigned to, right here on the farm.

Song Lyrics

Perfect Love

Our God is perfectly loving
but how am I to prove?
I see the gift of all my pain
inspires me to move

Chorus:

Our love is God our God is Love
The Circle is so neat
My faith in all providing Love
has made my life complete

We are all one with our God
Our Unity is true
The miracle of karma is
reflecting all we do.

Chorus

This faith enables my vision
to see my life anew
God always gives me what I need
to help me see things through

Bridge:

But when I stray with faltering heart
and my judgments rule the day,
my vision dims my world grows dark
and then I loose my way.

But every leg on our journey
both back and forward parts
are perfectly designed to help
hold lessons for our hearts.

Chorus

repeat last line as:
My faith in all providing God
has made my life complete

Some additional thoughts

Since this talk was written to fit into the 10 minute time slot we try to stick to for morning chapel, I had to focus it as much as I could while still hopefully conveying the main message. Thus, some important points had to be “givens,” such as the kinds of beliefs you may or may not hold and what to do when unhelpful thoughts keep recurring despite your best mindful attempts at release.

One of the main themes of my forthcoming book is on faith based beliefs being foundational to our lives. Since they are so foundational, it is very important recognise what you belief already so you are better prepared to choose new beliefs that will be even more helpful to supporting happy interpretations and fruitful spiritual practices. In the Koinonia context, I hoped that most of the listeners believed in a God that is loving and that provides everything we need to be happy. I actually talked about that a bit in the previous month’s “lesson” which I’ll be posting on this blog at some point. For the wider audience on the web, it will be up to you to develop “wholesome beliefs” that are supportive of your happiness. When I do publish the book “Faith to Practice” you can read more about what I think about that process.

It is important to understand that when I say “gently release” a thought, I really mean gently! If you find yourself back at a thought or train of thought that just won’t go away, please don’t struggle and attempt to force it out of your mind through concentrated effort. Just stay aware of the thought(s) and the feeling(s) that they evoke and accept them as part of how you are experiencing yourself in that moment. Know that with practice, any unhelpful thought or feeling can eventually be released and be very patient with yourself in this process.

This post, “Responsible Happiness” by David Gaia Kano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Koinonia Farm One Year Internship

It has been a long time since I posted. Now I have an especially compelling reason to do so again, as I’m starting a one year internship at Koinonia Farm in Americus, GA. I’ll let you read about the farm on their website and use this blog to reflect on my experiences here for any interested parties, friends and family back home. I want to thank all my supportive upper valley friends and my loving daughters, who have made this new beginning possible. I love you!

The one year commitment started on January 31, 2015. I drove my ’97 Honda Civic down (it was very full!) to Georgia again, having visited the farm the beginning of December 2014 for a week. That visit, plus what I’d learned from their representative at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference in September, and their website convinced me that a year here would be a wonderful way for me to begin the exploration of living in an intentional community.

I’ve been practicing group meditation and mindfulness with the support of the Heart of the Valley Mindfulness Practice Center in Norwich, VT. This Buddhist group, which follows the teachings of Tiche Nhat Han (who we just call Thay), has been one of three spiritual communities I’ve frequented, along with the Prayer of the Heart centering prayer group in Thetford, VT and the Center for Transformational Practice in White River Junction, VT. So only one of the two groups which I call my extended spiritual family identified formally with Christ, although Thay references the teachings of Jesus quite a bit in his books and dharma talks.

So this first trial in living a communal life will be a great way for me to immerse myself in the Christian roots of my Grandfather Kano. I need to see if I feel called to a longer term commitment to service through the traditions and language of Christianity. I already know that I’m inspired by the teachings of Jesus as I understand them from the gospels, what I’m exploring is my relationship to this “experiment” as Clarence Jordan (founder of Koinonia) called it, in creating a “demonstration plot of the kingdom of God.” There are other “New Monastic” Christian communities using this model, and I already know this one is wonderful, but is this or another of them the best choice for my new home in community? I’m excited to be here to start to inform my heart in that process of discernment.

As I arrived here with the other 3 men I had already been told were also starting their internship, I was delighted to learn that a 4th person was going to be able to share the experience with us as well. Alanah has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and had thought it impossible to do the internship program for which she had been accepted, but a new plan was forming to allow her to come to orientation week, return home for further doctors appointments and then be back on the farm sometime in March, God willing. So by the end of March my internship group will be 5 people strong. Meanwhile we pray for her healing, and I’m sending her distance Reiki some mornings for a few minutes during the silence at the start of our chapel service. Please add your prayers to ours!

The bell in the center of the main campus is rung three times a day to signal a moment of silent prayer. The new dining hall and common kitchen is in the background.

The bell in the center of the main campus is rung three times a day to signal a moment of silent prayer. The new dining hall and common kitchen is in the background.

The first week was dedicated to orienting us to the “New Monastic” life, Koinonia style, which we would be trying on for the coming year. We were taken on tours by each of the department heads of animal & garden farming, pecan farming, hospitality, bakery (where the products, mostly sold through the mail are made), and community outreach. We had sessions on community life and spiritual life here at Koinonia and we started to get into the rhythm of going to chapel every weekday morning, devotional worship and prayers at lunch and dinner and the moments of prayer when the bell is rung at 10 am, 3 pm and 8 pm each day. We also learned about a process called “examen” that everyone living here uses to share our experiences with others once a week. The week culminated with each of the new interns sharing a 20 minute summary their spiritual life stories with the rest of the community on Friday afternoon, followed by a party and campfire.

One aspect of the new monastic life here for interns is that we sign a covenant that includes the promise not to date or start any new romantic relationship for the year. If one of us does feel attracted to a person in that way, we are to avoid one-on-one interactions with them in order to honor this agreement. The reasoning is that the internship program requires our full attention and a new relationship typically also takes a lot of time and energy; one or both would suffer if attempted together. We also agree to work through disagreements directly and gently and refrain from negative chatter, rumors and gossip. All very sensible and at times challenging things to honor!

These 2 new potato beds are being created out of 4 narrow beds were before.

These 2 new potato beds are being created out of 4 narrow beds. Brandon and I both prefer working the earth with hand tools over the tractor pulled disc device that created the old beds.

I’ve been particularly interested in the state of the annual garden and will be excited to see what the “kitchen garden,” which is planted permaculture style, looks like in the spring and summer months. I actually got started in the garden just a bit back in December when I visited and have continued to get more involved over my first intern month. We have been harvesting lots of turnips and a bit of kale and working to plant peas. Carrots were also planted just before we arrived and we are starting work to prepare beds (photo right) for potatoes. Tomato and other seeds will be ordered so we can start some things in the green house as soon as we can.

Steve and I are getting along fine

My apartment mate Steve and I are getting along fine!

My apartment, which I share with fellow new intern Steve, is in the south east corner of “Jubilee house” right next to the main garden. Each apartment has it’s own outside entrance and an inside entrance into a central common room with two good sized tables, shelves full of games and jigsaw puzzles, musical instruments including a piano and a couple of couches. The screened in front porch will be great for hanging out, once we start to get warmer days again. Most apartments have mini-kitchens with hot plate, microwave, toaster oven and coffee pot.

We are responsible for our own breakfasts every day. Monday night is reserved for house dinners informally organized in small groups of your choice. Friday and Saturday night dinners are left overs from community meals or trips to town to eat out. Sunday lunch you are on your own and Sunday night is a pot luck to which friends from the wider community are invited. The rest of the meals, Monday – Saturday lunches and Tuesday – Thursday dinners are prepared in the main kitchen and eaten in the main dining hall. Short devotional services follow all community meals.

Sunrise over the chapel (lower left) and the Elliot pecan orchard.

Sunrise over the chapel (lower left) and the Elliot pecan orchard.

Every weekday morning starts with a 20-30 minutes service at the chapel at 7:50am. We start with about 5 minutes of silence and then our director Bren reads from the old testament, followed by a few minutes of silent reflection and a hymn. Then we stand for another short reading from the gospels, followed by a 5-10 minute talk by one of the resident members or interns, usually related to the gospel reading. The service ends with one more hymn, followed by a morning check-in and announcements circle and it is off to morning work assignments with the department head to which each of us are assigned.

I love the variety of work. Here is my schedule from my first week, after the orientation was completed week one, which is typical:

This is my calendar for the second week of my internship, which is typical!

This is my calendar for the second week of my internship, which is typical!

While the schedule is quite packed, the atmosphere is pretty relaxed and easy going. We get coffee breaks at 10am and 3pm, right after the bell has rung for a moment of prayer. Many of us head to the coffee shop, a ferro-cement dome-roofed building at the edge of the main campus. There we often find bags of chocolate, peanut brittle and other treats that did not make the high standards of size or shape for product sale but are still just as tasty! Typically 3-10 people are there on break, providing another time for fellowship and comparing notes on the days work or the currently assigned reading for the study facet of the intern program.

We are starting our study by reading about the early years after Koinonia was started. We take notes inspired by the reading assignments in shared journals, which are handed from person to person each week. Each of us will respond in writing to the notes made by the previous person and add new notes for the next. This process is in addition to our weekly study sessions on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, at which we discuss the readings and answer questions posed by Elizabeth, one of the stewards (long-term committed members) who is our study facilitator. The founder, Clarence Jordan is quite the inspirational minister, biblical scholar, and author who often traveled to preach. We are learning to appreciate this man and some of the other key members of the early “experimental demonstration plot for the kingdom of God” as we fondly call Koinonia.

Wednesday mornings we have breakfast (prepared by we interns) together with Bren, followed by a simplified version of the traditional “examen” practice This is a process of sharing the experience that challenged us most, and another experience which brought us closest to God in the past week. Sharing these “desolations” and “consolations,” as they are called, is a great way to get to know each other better and support each other as our spiritual lives unfold in community. After we listen to a person share, the floor is opened for questions and comments. Bren does a nice job of facilitating and it seems our intern group is fairly willing to open up and share in this fairly intimate process.

We have over 100 egg laying free-range chickens that are moved twice a week. No, that van does not run, the whole rig is towed by a tractor and  the van serves as a mobile storage shed!

We have over 100 egg laying free-range chickens that are moved twice a week. No, that van does not run, the whole rig is towed by a tractor and the van serves as a mobile storage shed!

For the past 2-3 years I’ve been in the process of switching to eating almost all organic food. As my daughter Rose says, I’ve become a “food snob” of sorts! Now that I’m used to eating quality, highly nutritious and delicious food, I no longer enjoy what I call “dinosaur food,” because it is grown with so many petroleum based chemical fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides that by some accounts, it takes 10 calories of oil for every calorie of food grown! This strong preference for organic has even taken much of the fun out of going to restaurants, because 20-30 minutes after I’ve eaten I just don’t feel that great. Organic food leaves me feeling solid and satisfied, whereas the “conventionally grown” stuff leaves me feeling a bit hollow and unsettled. I’m sure some of this difference is due to my understanding and feelings about the different sources and impacts of the growing process, perhaps more than the nutritional effects of the extra minerals, vitamins and protein, but I do believe both are in play. I’ve learned from my practice at the Heart of the Valley to eat many of my meals mindfully, without reading, listening to music or watching video at the same time. Thay encourages us to look deeply into our food to see the non-food elements that have gone into it’s production and preparation. Doing this with “death food,” (as I’d really like to call it, but it would be too impolite), would cause me to lose my appetite (at best) or become depressed (at worst)!

Production of this food is killing the planet: dead zones in the ocean are growing, soil is being depleted and desertified, rain forests are being cut and burned to make new farms, insecticides are killing the bees and research shows the main ingredient in the herbicide “round-up” (when consumed with aluminum, a part of our diet from naturally occurring sources) is probably causing a startling rise in the number of cases of autism in children. As soils are depleted, they release carbon into the atmosphere, significantly contributing to climate change.

The raw milk from our grass fed cow is amazingly rich and delicious. Look at that cream!

The raw milk from our grass fed cow is amazingly rich and delicious. Look at that cream!

So I was disappointed, to say the least, when I learned that Koinonia has not yet made the switch to using organically grown ingredients in it’s community meals. The intention is there, but it has not yet been implemented consistently. Evidently they had made some progress in the past, but the intern that was helping to lead this cause left when his program was over and they slipped back into buying  conventionally grown food from the local supermarkets. By the time I got here, there were no USDA certified organic products in sight. The good thing is that there is plenty of meat, eggs and milk grown here on the farm. The raw milk is amazing and makes wonderful yogurt! While the animals are technically not organic because we use chemically grown feeds and some locally available chemically grown hay, at least they all have wonderful, happy lives. I’m happily eating these.

To a person that wants to eat local and mostly organic, Americus is a food desert. The grocery store that carries the most is Harveys. They have a handful of organic products including 3 types of cheese in 8oz packages, white semolina spaghetti and some other pasta, baby-cut and juicing carrots, 2 lbs bags of organic flour (for $3.76), apples and a few others. Surprisingly, their little organic island display has many Red Mill items that are not organic, even though that brand has organic versions of those products! The only other current option to Americus residents is to join the “Picky Eaters Buyers Club” which allows you to order from the UNFI website, requesting a case split when you don’t want to purchase the large amounts that are required for most items. If enough other members buy from your case, it will be purchased, with any additional packages offered to others after delivery, during “market day” when folks come pick up their orders. Koinonia also orders from UNFI once a month and I’ve been told used to get much of it’s food that way, so I’m hopeful that process will restart soon.

I baked organic bread for the whole community to share using flour I brought from home.

I baked organic bread for the whole community to share using flour I brought from home. I also bake and freeze my own bread every week or two, just like I have been doing back home.

In the meantime, after eating the chemically grown food, (plus the farm raised meat with I am happy to eat) at the community meals for two weeks, I decided I just was not comfortable continuing. In the following examin, I shared this as my “desolation” for the week. Ever since, I’ve been taking my own lunch sandwiches and leftovers to the community meals and going through the buffet line only for the farm raised meat and occasional dish that was made mainly from the produce from our winter garden: turnips (and their greens), seminole pumpkins, kale and collards. Obtaining and making most of my own food has been time consuming, but I still feel good about the decision. I don’t judge the farm for slipping back into buying from the mainstream stores, because they have so much they are doing and are still developing workable systems for everything that can be sustained with a somewhat transient workforce of interns. Some day they will have enough stewards (long term committed members) to head up all the most important leadership roles in the spiritual, educational and operational work of the farm, but they are not there yet.

My own spiritual life here has been very rich. The readings we are assigned stimulate very interesting discussions that inform some things I’ve been exploring before I arrived, such as belief in reincarnation vs a single life followed by heaven (or hell) and why prayer for another’s healing works so well (in many controlled studies) when God already knows what we want and need before we ask? Some new insights are making it into the book I’ve been writing for the last few years, with the current working title “Faith to Practice.”

I’ve had no trouble fitting my twice daily sitting meditation into my schedule. Now I’m helping another person to start a daily meditation practice and we are going to sit together each morning for 30 minutes before the regular chapel service! I’ve given him a short tutorial on the use of the EM Wave biofeedback device to help him find a technique that keeps his heart coherent. As a meditation evangelist who loves group practice, this is one of the most exciting developments since I’ve arrived!

I’ve been having a wonderful time in the garden, where I usually get to work whenever I’m assigned to help Brandon, who is in charge of the farm animals and vegetable gardens. We are still planting only cold hearty crops like radishes, mustard greens and kale, but by the time these seedlings are fully mature, it will start to get hot enough that they will bolt (shoot up and go to seed) and their beds could be replanted with summer season crops that can stand the heat of southern Georgia.

It remains to be seen how I stand up to that heat, come summer! In the meantime, I’ve been happy to miss the brutal cold of this winter up north. I would have loved to use my snow shoes in all that snow though, when temperatures allowed!

Thanks for your interest (you made it to the end of this fairly long post!) in my experiences here at Koinonia. I’m going to try to post once a month or so. If I post on another site some months, I’ll at least post a link here to let subscribers know.

If you can make it down to Georgia, I’d love to have visitors! Just contact Elizabeth Dede by calling the farm at (229) 924-0391 between 9 am – noon or 1 pm – 5 pm. We have plenty of space for guests. Come immerse yourself in a loving community where we all do our best to follow Jesus!

Paradigm of Presumed Safety

We live in a paradigm of presumed safety. We believe that modern, highly developed (economically) societies are, or at least aught to be, inherently safe places to live. Towards the realization of this belief, we have air bags, airport security checks, and foam pads on ski lift uprights.

When I first saw those foam pads appear years ago, I had to laugh. I thought, are we really trying to make it safe to ski into a metal column? What if you ski off the trail and hit a tree, will we put foam pads on them all? Years later, as this false paradigm is making its way into my favorite family camp, I’ve started to cry. We are becoming more and more impoverished by the belief that life should be safe.

Like life, downhill skiing is inherently dangerous. This is actually part of the attraction: the thrill of speeding down hill on two little boards comes from knowing that if you lose control, you could run into a tree and die. I’d like our camp, and eventually our society, to recognize the value of calculated risks in life, like many downhill skiers do in their sport. Life is inherently dangerous, which is actually good! Some degree of danger is part of what makes life such a rich experience.

I’m not against air bags, or other safety enhancing devices and rules, for which the costs are appropriately balanced with the benefits. I always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle and my life jacket when I kayak. These increase my safety at a very reasonable cost: the devices don’t significantly reduce the enjoyment of the activities, nor do they cost much money to purchase. So I don’t disagree with mandatory helmet or seat belt laws. The benefits are high in relationship to the costs.

My camp now has a rule, quite common in daycare settings, to proactively eliminate opportunities for sexual abuse. No adult councilor is allowed to ever be alone with a child. I’m quite aware of the terrible consequences of sexual abuse, but I also highly value caring, generous relationships between people of all ages. This is an important aspect of high quality childcare! These relationships are based on trust and yes, that trust entails risk. Some examples of the costs of this rule have already presented themselves.

Yesterday I was working in Alphas with Neily and 4 children, ages 4 & 5. Three of the children wanted to do some gymnastics with Kim and the other did not. So I conferred with Neily and we agreed she would take the gymnastics kids and I’d stay with the other. The camper and I brainstormed a bit and decided to take a walk around our beautiful camp facility. As we came out of the building, she reached up to hold my hand as we walked. I could tell that this felt like “special time” to her and I was grateful for the opportunity. We wandered briefly and came upon an empty hammock.

We were not tired, but the hammock still looked pretty inviting. I told her I had not even used a hammock yet that week. I laid cross-ways in the hammock and she joined me a foot away, as we started to rock it side-to-side. This was a change of plan, if we did not get up to resume our walk, but spontaneity and flexibility are one of the benefits of one-on-one time, especially when one is an adult who’s job it is to cater to the other’s needs. So I went with the flow. At the time I did not realize that the rule applied to outdoor, public spaces as well as secluded ones. I’ve had this kind of interaction with kids at camp every year since I started coming in 2000 and it felt natural and safe to me. Until Veronica spotted us.

She came over and asked if we were okay and reminded me of the rule. She told me, right in front of the camper, that I was not supposed to be alone with her. I responded in my defense and we started to discuss the situation, rule and how I was supposed to behave when I realized that the conversation was best deferred to a time when it could be discussed without campers present. I asked Veronica if we could please continue the discussion at another time. Now I know. The rule does not just apply to enclosed spaces like bathrooms. It applies to anywhere on campus. To correctly respond to the situation, I should have invited another adult, or perhaps an older camper, to join us on our walk. This rule has a very high price!

Extraverts relate well with people in groups. On the other hand, the introverts among us require one-on-one time to really get to know another person. Many toddlers start out their childcare experience fearful of leaving their mom & dad and safety of their homes, introverts and extraverts alike. Can we serve the introverts well within the confines of this rule? As we implement and honor this rule, do we feel love or fear?

The next day, after Veronica reminded us in our staff meeting about the no one-on-one and the no photographs by staff rules, Connor tried to soften the mood by restating that the week had been going very well with no parent complaints. I really appreciate his effort, but these rules are so counter to our camp culture that his affirmation did little to appease my displeasure! I suspect others may have felt the same. While these rules may not be unusual in many day care settings, they just feel uncomfortable here.

Let’s imagine that the camper I was walking and resting with in the hammock is an introvert. I don’t know her well enough from a few days to know, but the hand holding when we were one-on-one, which had not happened in a group setting, is evidence in that direction. If I’d known the full extent of the rule, this young person would have missed out on an important opportunity to connect with me on a one-on-one basis, to grow in trust and love. An opportunity to feel special, because I was willing to spend that time with her when the opportunity arose, would have been lost. Instead, she would have heard me make a request to another person to join our walk. If that person refused for any reason, I would have had to request another, and another. Soon she would know for sure that I just did not want to take that walk just with her. I might have been motivated to actually tell her the rule. To me, admitting the rule to an Alpha would feel like a betrayal of our camp culture.

Since the beginning, camp has been a counter cultural haven for people that want to live richer, healthier lives. We hope that the experience of the loving, cooperative environment we create will carry into the rest of the year, creating ripple effects to strengthen our wider communities.

So I don’t buy that we have to go along with these high priced rules just because they are becoming common place in our fear-based, mainstream culture of presumed safety. We can do better. Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water!

Getting To “No.” Questioning Language of Negativity

“Would you mind doing the dishes tonight?”
So requests seem to be phrased these days. The only way to properly agree to the request, when you are willing and able, is to respond “No, I don’t mind.”

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A few months ago I went on a campaign with my teenaged daughter, asking her to make her requests in a more positive light. After all, I reasoned, I mostly am willing to help when asked, so why not try “Dad, would you like to ____?” or “Dad, would you please _____?” The answer then, more often than not, would be “Yes.” But I’ve given up. This use of language is so common that I can’t expect her to accommodate my preference when she hears requests like this all the time. But I think it is worth exploring more publicly. I’ll write (rave) about it here, then I’ll just accept whatever language is used as gracefully as I’m able!
When and why did the word “mind” start to be associated with a negative thought or experience? “Mind your Ps and Qs!” just means pay attention, but in these “requests for a ‘No'”, “mind” is associated with “dislike” or “undesirable.” That is an unfortunate use, considering our minds play a staring role in every one of our thoughts! The implication seems to be that when we “mind” something, it is spoiled with thoughts of distain and regret, if we think of it at all.
As a regular attendee at the local Mindfulness Practice Center, I find this trend in language rather troubling! Our sangha strives to support each other in mindful living as a primary spiritual practice. This certainly does not mean we want to have negative thoughts about the things we do! When we do the dishes “mindfully,” we are grateful for the convenience of hot running water. We lovingly clean each item to make it ready for our future use. The rhythmic motion of our hands over the dish lends itself to a meditative, peaceful state mind.
When I asked my daughter about the benefits of this mode of request, she said it was just being polite. By asking if I “mind,” she is communicating no presumption of agreement. But the presumption must also be that the agreeing to the request is undesirable. Since it is, the question is not just if I accept, but also if the reaction of my mind while filling the request be amenable to my agreement? I suppose in some respects that is being polite. But the underlying negativity seems clear.
I’ve been thinking about giving and receiving quite a bit lately. I’m on the core team working to strengthen our local Timebank. The basic idea of which is to use a website to communicate needs and offers of assistance and track the exchanges of time in electronic accounts of “hours.” If you think of these hours as money, then this system allows everyone to play the role of the Federal Reserve (and other banks) to make the stuff as needed. Pretty cool, right?
The problem is that many people in our culture are loath to receive anything without a monetary exchange. I once spent the better part of a whole afternoon trying to give away 7 one dollar bills to total strangers. Most people simply looked at me strangely and walked away without a response, when I held the money in front of them and simply said “Here, take this it is yours!” This exercise was homework for a course I was taking on abundance. It was a powerful lesson that I’ll never forget. If you don’t believe me, give it a try. It is worth the time and you meet some cool people by the time you have managed to find 7 that will accept!
I’ve also been thinking about giving and receiving in the context of my spiritual communities. The subject came up at the Mindfulness Center recently, in the form of the word “generosity.” So I had to mention the issue of willingness to receive in that discussion.
Jesus taught us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I wonder how that thought was seen in his day? I suspect his disciples, who were by most accounts spiritually advanced people themselves, interpreted this teaching quite differently than many people in our modern, consumer culture. If we see a blessing from God as the highest goal, and we follow the primary teaching of Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves, we would naturally want to see our them blessed. Thus, requesting help from our neighbor provides them a blessed opportunity! This was also the logic, perhaps described in different words, behind the tradition of Buddhist monks going from door to door with their begging bowls for their food.
So next time you ask someone for a favor, remember that it goes both ways. If they agree, you will receive the gift of some time saved (or other benefit) and they will gain the good karma from their blessed generosity! Most people with whom we have meaningful relationships feel good about helping us, even if they are not Christians or spiritual people that would resonate with this post. So don’t presume that their minds are full of distain and regret. If you can find it in your heart to assume the best, you can use phrase a request that can be answered with a “Yes!”

Crash Course and Sacred Economics

I originally posted this on wordpress.com before I decided to serve this blog on my own site.

I’ve read and highly recommend the book “Sacred Economics” by Charles Eisenstein. It is available free from his website. Now I’ve taken the Crash Course (CC) (also free) by Chris Martenson. This post will reflect on the intersection and differences between these two important “era change” resources.

In Crash Course chapter (CCC) 12 “Debt”, Martenson states that debt that generates additional prosperity is “okay” or good debt, as compared to debt that pays for consumables like bombs. This is an important difference from Eisenstein, who states that there is no such thing as a socially conscious interest gaining investment. The problem with any expansion of money, is that it all engenders taking “something” that we have been doing or getting for “free” via our community interactions, and creating products / services that cost money to take their place. The easy example is music for entertainment. Before the pressure of exponential money growth helped to inspire the invention of the phonograph, people had to entertain themselves and their communities with live music. Just about everyone sang and many played musical instruments of some kind in the process. Now that we can easily obtain and listen to recordings of the best musicians in the world, only a small percentage of our modern culture considers themselves a “singer.” The cost of these recordings has become very low in terms of the money we have to spend. In terms of the loss to the health of our communities, it is very high!

Given this view, Martenson’s Key Concept #6: “Debt is a claim on future human labor” becomes “Debt is a claim on future human labor and destruction of our communities.” The phrase “our communities” in this concept includes our natural environment.

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics” Greek philosopher Plutarch. A quote from the CCC 13 “A National Failure to Save” worth remembering, even though I know next to nothing about the author!

In CCC 14 “Assets & Demographics”, an asset is defined in terms of money. Items convertible into cash. Eisenstein discusses other, more important kinds of assets which we have lost as we have grown our money economies. It is these non-monetary assets that we must strengthen for civilization to survive the coming decades. For me, watching the CC is reinforcing this belief!

In CCC 15 “Bubbles” Martenson states that people have not changed and implies that they will not going forward. Eisenstein’s optimism rests on the view that we are changing our fundamental view of who we are from separate individuals (that caused and burst past economic bubbles) to parts of a unified whole. “Human nature” itself is a moving target, thank God!

At the end of CCC 15, Martenson states that conventional investments of stocks, low grade bonds and real estate are all likely to go down in value in the coming years.

CCC 16 “Fuzzy Numbers” is most illuminating. The economic indicators published by the US government have become stilted enough to be seen as propaganda! “The measure of inflation (used by the Federal Government) no longer measures the cost of living, but the cost of survival!” Hedonics is one of three mechanisms used to calculate inflation. It decreases the cost of a product used in the inflation calculation, whenever the features have been enhanced as compared to the previous model. Evidently the time saving features will save us money as well somehow. I guess that is true, if you use the time saved to take another part time job, which many people have done.! Hedonics are used to adjust prices on 46% of the consumer price index (CPI)! These calculations are based on the old value system, which we must change in the transition to the new era. Another example fact: 35% of the government reported gross domestic product (GDP) figures do not represent actual money exchanges.

At this point, if I was to recommend you watch just one of the CC chapters, it would be 16. I had heard bits and pieces of this information before but it is important to understand the magnitude of the propaganda coming out of Washington and when each major mechanism of deception was adopted shows that this is a bi-partisan tendency!

In CCC 17b “Energy Budgeting”, he introduces key concept #14: Social complexity is built upon surplus energy. The examples he uses of this complexity are highly specialized jobs and a myriad of products. When taken with Eisenstein’s emphasis of modern “progress” destroying our social and communal capital, the reduction or elimination of surplus energy could actually start a trend to celebrate! Chris assumes the technological complexity of the modern era is desirable, whereas Charles does not. Martenson has no charts or discussion about the social costs associated with the “Ascent of Humanity.” (another of Eisenstein’s books)

All true “progress” reflects a raise in the collective consciousness of humanity. To the extent that comfortable modern lifestyles provide opportunities for spiritual practices, the social complexity of our society has had “true” value. I don’t know how to estimate or measure that extent.

A recurring theme in Eisenstein’s books has humanity making the identity shift from separate to unified beings. He believes that we will renounce the old identifications of separation as the economic and social structures that they engender fail. I don’t know how he comes to this belief. Will more of us make the shift to identification as all because of said failures? Or is he just reporting a trend he sees happening in spite of the physical and culture shift challenges that we are starting to feel as the multiple measures of exponential change run up against their respective limits?

For my part, I think the economic, environmental and energy crises we face could, at least for some people, make it more challenging to raise their consciousness and start to identify with unity. This could add a negative growth factor to the naturally reinforcing system of collective consciousness. On the other hand, the physical hardships caused by these crises will provide huge opportunities for compassionate, selfless people to inspire the less fortunate with their service! They will show by their actions the power of their faith. Will demonstrate the grace and joy that faith provides in their lives. This could in turn allow the crises of our transition to propel us into the new era all the more rapidly! Maybe this is at least part of Eisenstein’s vision.

In summary, the crash course is a valuable resource for analyzing and understanding the magnitude of our crises, in mainstream terms and paradigms. Martenson’s world and self views as represented in the course are consistent with those that got us into this situation in the first place: “We are a collection of separate humans who rightly view and use the rest of the world as natural resources for our consumption.” In other words, from the perspective that Eisenstein calls the “program of control” that started with the age of agriculture. This course is a good place for mainstream people to get a serious dose of our out-of-control economic and natural resource realities. It is not a good resource for inspiring a change in your definition of self /world view. The actions he suggests largely stem from this old world view that created the problems in the first place. The idea of strengthening your communities and the possibility of the end of credit based money are mentioned as footnotes.

I think both the Crash Course and Sacred Economics are important sources of information and ideas for our time. But even when taken together the story is incomplete.

I believe that the world is the physical manifestation of our collective consciousness (spiritual energy levels) and karma. Thus everything in creation, which is a continuous process that is happening in every moment, results from our collective spiritual progress. This spiritual progress is the systemically reinforcing, exponential growth trend that is not addressed in either Martenson or Eisenstein’s work. Thus I feel some important questions are:

  • How do people make the paradigm shift of self from separateness to unity? Can they simply come to believe this on faith, or must they also feel it as a result of their own practices and experiences? If both are needed at some level, how helpful to era change is a largely un-felt, faith based belief in unity?
  • How will the physically traumatic events that are likely in the near future impact the collective consciousness of humanity?
  • What factors will deter some people from to starting or continuing spiritual practices, when the physical challenges posed by era change manifest?
  • What factors will enable some people to start or enhance their spiritual practices in response to these challenges?
  • How can we each prepare ourselves to see physically traumatic events as opportunities to accelerate our own and others level of consciousness?
  • How can we inspire more people to pursue (or enhance their) spiritual practices?

Of the two resources cited here, Eisenstein’s work provides more ideas and information to find possible answers to these questions. I hope to find more helpful resources and explore some of these questions in future posts.

Please ask questions and comment on this material. If you have not already, check out the course and the book!

In faith,
David Gaia Kano

Downhill skiing no longer feels right for me

I originally posted this on wordpress.com before I decided to serve this blog on my own site.

For the past two or three years, I’ve been teaching downhill skiing at Storrs Hill in Lebanon. I just quit. I have felt for a long time that downhill skiing requires more energy (electricity) input than I’m comfortable with for the recreational benefits. I’m finally doing something about it at a personal level. I love the sport, but I guess I’ll just have to walk up the hill to enjoy it!

I’ll miss the students, but I trust I’ll find other ways to spend time with young people.

Starting a new chapter in my life

I originally posted this on wordpress.com before I decided to serve this blog on my own site.
I am moved to devote myself to serving “others.” The quotes are needed because we are a part of a unified whole.
I see our world in crisis, caused by fundamental problems with our spiritual assumptions, cultural norms and economic systems. But I also see an accelerated shift in consciousness that holds the promise of ushering in a new era of peace.
We live in a world of abundant resources, when we compare them to our actual needs to live happy, loving lives. The structures and assumptions of civilization are no longer sustainable. We must transform our paradigms to reduce the pain and suffering that will be caused by the engines of exponential growth that are reaching their limits.
Technological progress is accelerating. Some portend a world unimaginably different within the coming 2 decades, if civilization survives. Will we use the fantastically powerful technologies we are researching and creating today to make the world a more peaceful, happy place? I doubt it. True happiness is found within. Will we use these technologies wisely, to conserve and sustain our natural environment? Maybe, but only if we change. Today, our technology (over) use more often destroys.
I’ve given most of my professional life to developing software that saves people time. It was meaningful work for me when I started. But times have changed and thank God, so have I!
My calling is clear: find the ways that I can help us through this unprecedented era shift. Follow my heart, which is guiding me to give of myself and trust that God will provide everything I need.
Initially, I will be spending my time exploring opportunities to continue my spiritual practices (I meditate twice a day) while giving of myself doing things I love. These include caring for young children, teaching (reiki, sailing, windsurfing, skiing, unicycling, cooperative sports), writing poetry and songs. I’ve also started to write a book to be titled “Faith Foundations.” 
Update: the book is now published! Check it out at “Faith to Practice: Foundations of Happiness.”