What Is A Sustainable Person? ~ Blog Action Day!

What is a sustainable person?

The Five Foundations

1.) Divinity – a connection to “Source,” “Universe,” “God” or “the Absolute” that is personal and known through experience.

2.) Intimacy – a felt sense of dependent co-arising or co-creative contactfullness with the human and more than human world verging into active interdependency, trusting and feeling how we are collaborating with everything as everything is collaborating with us simultaneously.[7] In this intimacy with the life impulse, we simultaneously live in accord with Joseph Campbell’s famous dictum to “follow your bliss” while responding to the calling of the world to us to share our gifts and energy in a unique service to the whole.

3.) Love – contexting ourselves within a co-creative fabric of beauty celebrating itself.  Eros was the child of Resource and Need.  We are children of Resource and Need.  So, let us become the living spirit of Eros.  We are called to resourcefully birth beauty out of the need expressed through our common plight.  Love then becomes the experience and expression of our own capacity to embrace what is and to harmonize the seemingly irreparable.  We have this capacity, so let us create as love.

4.) Ecologically Integral Values – opening to a more complex, multi-valent and inter-related way of seeing the world than any generation before us.  We practice and flower through a values structure that aligns with the interconnectivity of individuals, families, communities, countries, biospheres, the planet and spirit.  Interdependence trumps individuality.  Harmony and Beauty supercede progression.  Truth is experienced universally as a generator of authentic expression, deep collaboration and peaceful interactions.  Markets contract as relationships expand.  We learn how to deal with and transcend our aloneness.  While the dominant spirituality of the last 2000 years has taught us that we are radically alone, the emergent values system begins with the fact that we are radically together.  Responsibility and action emerge from our felt sense of the dependent co-arising of all that is. We are emerging from a fog of isolation, and finding that we are interdependent.  This is true at every level of our experience, from the most mundane to the most sublime.  As Julia Butterfly Hill says, “When you throw something away, where is away?”  Available working models include Ken Wilbur’s integral model, Louise L. Diamond’s Global Systems Initiative, Lawrence Ellis’ model for co-creating a culture of Peace, The Biomimicry Institute’s Design Spiral Process, and many, many more.

5.) Co-Creativity or Alchemy in Action – embracing death, preservation and birth as initiatory opportunities for maturation of the soul and spirit, we embody a fundamentally life-centric world view that rejects nothing and embraces everything.  We become co-creators, living as the “I am that I am.”  We embody the principle “as above so below, as below so above” by recognizing that the living god moves in us and through us as we act in accord with our interconnectivity with all that is.  This, in turn, moves us towards community and embrace of the constant change and non-fixity implied by showing up in deep relationship.

Child Dreaming

Where We Have Been and Where We are Going

History abounds with apocalyptic narratives.  “The end of the world” is not a new story.  It is a recapitulating theme in human experience, emerging in cycles of decimation and resilience that have shaped the givens of our world-view and the ways in which we imagine and experience meaning in our lives.  The Western, feminine concept of wisdom arose through the crucible of annihilating experience.  It appears throughout the weave of history to sustain and uplift the spirits of people surviving against all odds, to explain the greater workings of worlds in tumult and recreation, and to anchor hope and beauty in the face of death. In these contexts, Wisdom is a redemptive force operating in opposition to the degenerative and destructive forces of fear, greed, ignorance, illusion and habituation.  Wisdom becomes a goddess/healer who weaves the fabric of meaning behind and through the seemingly irredeemable. But, is this all that she is?  What is wisdom, really?  How do redemption and gnosis fit together?  And might there be a progression from redemption to gnosis to sustained empowerment?  I choose to ask this question both in the context of history and in the context of our unfolding future.

In a world where we have actually reached the edge of our planet’s capacity to support life, can we afford to believe in a mythos that presupposes apocalypse? Can we find the answers we need in the halls of history?  Can we rest in a past voice of wisdom that has emerged from constant cycles of war, strife and dominion and expect that voice to define a future that requires a new evolutionary leap, a pragmatic leap that is utterly necessary if we are to survive?  In this time, the question, “what is wisdom as a way of life?” has particular urgency.  The question begs another question: “what is a sustainable way of life?”  “What is a sustainable person?”  And, “how can wisdom birth and support a sustainable human existence in an ongoing future?”

I believe we must look to a yet unimagined, unproven future, as well as to the past, as we seek to understand wisdom as a way of life.  Whispers of another possibility abound in Prophecy, New Age spirituality and the discourses of empowerment and ecological leaders around the planet.  What they are all saying is the same:  life celebrates life when it aligns with life. It is not enough to redeem ourselves from catastrophe and death. Yes, we need this.  But we need something more, something so compelling and actual that we act BEFORE we fall, or regardless of the cycles of rising and falling.  We need to somehow heal or transcend our trajectory towards destruction.  We need a mythos of sustained resilience, empowering the possibility that beauty, creativity and harmony might actually prevail within the imagination, emotion and action of individuals and the collective.   We need a mythos that aligns us with our divine co-creativity within the fabric of reality.  We need gnosis without the hubris of destruction and empowerment that focuses us in the continuous process of “whole-ing” the world.

In this new, co-creative paradigm, we are called to feel and act on the fullness of our capacity to respond to change, challenge and crisis from a place of self-empowered choice – not denying the conditions of reality, but not being disempowered by the sheer weight of bad news.  There is a vast opportunity to “get bigger,” to expand to hold all of experience.  Not just some people, but every person is called to be a leader – self-reliant, sovereign and self-motivating.  To maintain this requires a deep and personal connection to the divine.  Whether we can do this in a sustained way is entirely a matter of attention, of choice and perspective – so where we look for guidance really matters.  We can look to a movement that is already happening, in the cracks, in the crevices, in just about every place we look, if you are willing to hear the voices and see the actions of people and organizations in every sector of society coming together to help people and to heal the earth.

In Paul Hawken’s words: “If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.”[1] We can look to the grassroots, to a movement more vast, self-less and diverse than any ever known in the history on this planet, to see Wisdom at work.  The World Spirit is speaking through millions of every day people around the planet, and her message is clear: “You are the ones you have been waiting for.  Let that gnosis IN, and choose life.  Align with the intelligence of ecology, biology, beauty and co-operation.  Go on, it’s up to YOU.  Get busy with the Great Work of compassionate co-creation.”

We are witnessing the emergence of a new, forward looking wisdom view that demands a focus on creativity above crisis.  It embodies a collective maturation in the human psyche, a new loop on the spiral.  It is a movement integrating a concept of self that can embrace death while choosing life, that can serve others while embodying self love, and that can dissolve fear while holding space for trauma and transition.  It posits the possibility of peace, ecological harmony, spiritual fulfillment and abundance for all beings, and invites a constancy and harmony for human civilization and relations unknown within the scope of our written history.

“The next Buddha will not take the form of an individual.  The next Buddha will take the form of a community; a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living.  This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the Earth.”  -Thich Nhat Hanh

tree of life circle web

As we reach the “end of the world” in a truly collective and physically absolute sense, we arrive in a unique context that bridges the boundaries of time, space, culture, race, creed, language and nation. Quite beyond ourselves, we have architected a situation so extreme that a new paradigm MUST emerge.  In the face of global warming, systemic economic collapse, species extinction and cultural leveling, we are revealed to ourselves as an interdependent, global family and community.  While previous ages and wisdom teachers have posited and taught this interconnectivity, the human race has never before been unified by conditions that confront every single person with this interdependence as an ultimate, material reality.  For any person who is at all contemplative, this revelation invites the release of convenient illusions about separate markets, separate bio-regions, separate peoples, and separate paths to survival, justice and wholeness.  As my friend Carolyn Shafer, who founded the Santa Cruz County Sustainability Coalition here in my hometown of Patagonia, says, “You don’t have to think about the issues for very long before you realize personal survival is really meaningless, here.”  Acting on this perspective, we begin to orient towards a collective process in which we are co-creators rather than consumers. We are all together in one small boat.  It’s up to all of us to take care that we don’t capsize.

This care is welling up, as a great tide, through the largest social, political and spiritual movement in history.  This movement, I believe, is the evolution of wisdom.  It IS the world spirit embodied in millions of individuals, the voice of Gaia and of Sophia together, expressing through the sovereign will, brilliance, excellence and purpose of hundreds of millions of people simultaneously. Each and every independent actor listening, contributing to, and collaborating with something much bigger than the individual self, yet moving through a coherent sense of self-taking-responsibility for the creative role each of us plays in co-creating our collectively experienced universe.  It is a deeply responsible position, a marked maturation in the expression of humanity, where we emerge from a long phase of wandering and take ownership of our place in the greater family of being.[2] Wisdom becomes both the goddess/healer and the living response embodied in each and every person’s actions woven within the context of a greater whole.  The context is the intelligence of earth herself and of the Human Spirit, separate from and greater than any religion or the experience of any particular people.

In his sociological research and book, Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken documents “the first time in history that a powerful non-ideological movement has arisen.”  In a 2006 speech at the Bioneers Conference in Marin County, he shares:

“The origins of this movement are in indigenous cultural, environmental work and social justice.  There are over 130,000 groups involved – minimum! There is no precedent, no center, no spokesperson… This is where our salvation will be found.  It is found in diversity.  We know that as biologists.  We know that as community organizers.  We know that as ecologists. This movement is humanity’s immune response to resist and heal political disease, economic infection and ecological corruption caused by ideologies.  So, it is up to us to decide:  how we will be? who we will be?  This is what we are building – the capacity to respond.  It is about possibilities and solutions.  Human kind knows what to do.”[3]

“Knowing what to do” and acting on it requires a mature spiritual and emotional approach to life, an “intelligent optimism” that nests within a basic trust of our creative and co-creative capacities within the greater web of life.  It requires a deep toleration for difference to support unity in diversity, and a focus on where energy wants to move in accord with life, not against it.  Being a sustainable person is all about possibilities and solutions.  When we think in a deep ecological way, we see all the parts of the puzzle relationally.  We thenn explore how we can harmonize the whole from our unique place in consciousness.  Nature creates no dross, no waste, no ultimate disharmony.  It is time for us to live in accord with this wisdom, so abundantly present all around us, and ignored for the last 2,000 years in favor of the gods of expansion and dominion.  That said, I am not advocating some romantic return to a time before agriculture and technology.  Rather, the invitation is to a Gaia-centric integration of technology, knowledge, industry, economy, culture, local and non-local networks, planetary consciousness, and an emergent spiritual intelligence that can hold all of it in luminous compassion.

How we think about “problems” is literally shifting.  We are beginning to see every challenge as an opportunity.  We are beginning to look mindfully at individual issues in the context of the total picture and recognize that right action emerges out of compassionate embrace, harmonic response, systems based analysis and trust.  Though “some problems can not be solved,” the new wisdom spirit is not concerned with insolubility.  Rather, its focus is the creative capacity of the world to heal itself through the brilliance of individuals and communities.

A problem is a question.

A question is a solution.

A solution is an action.

Action is a way of life.[4]

This is the way of life of the “sustainable person.”

All of this is happening concordant with the turning of a great 26,000 year-long astrological cycle.  The end of this cycle represents a decisive window of opportunity for our evolution, the scope of which is far greater than our written history.  We are leaving the age of Pisces, defined by the rise of the Christian Church and doctrine in general, in which the dominant archetype is the leader and the led.  We are entering the Age of Aquarius, in which the dominant archetype is the self-reliant co-creator, in which mind is capable of moving and transcending matter through the harmonization of technology and love.  This converges with the ending of the Kali Yuga, or “age of vice,” of the Hindu calendar.  At the end of the Kali Yuga, it is said that the window of opportunity for individuals to become enlightened is vastly expanded simply because things are so bad.  In other words, wisdom is easier to access and embody when the squeeze is on.

This also coincides with the ending of time according to the Maya.  Using immensely refined skills of observation and shamanic interpretation, the Maya predicted “the end of time” precisely at the Winter Solstice of 2012, when we will see the death of the Old World and the birth of a New World.  Similarly, the Hopi prophesied the “Dawning of the Fifth Age” at this same time. Other indigenous cultures speak with reverence and awe of this same portal.  It can be no accident that within many indigenous cultures and almost every mystery school lineage across the planet, we find reference to this time as a massive window of opportunity.  With certainty, we know that our planet will enter alignment with the “dark rift” at the center of our Galaxy in December of 2012. Christine R, Page, M.D., intuitive and healer, states, “This road leads directly to the Galactic Center, or heart of the Great Mother, and it is through this portal that we will gain access to the eternal source of all existence, the Mother herself.”[5] Whether this is true or not, we can be fairly certain that, if we pay attention, we will experience “something significant” as we ride through this mysterious point of heightened possibility.  Prophecy says those who are prepared to align their hearts and minds with the alchemical process of graceful death and blissful birth will experience the dissolution of duality, separation, fear consciousness and density.

The archetypal pattern of wisdom that emerges is a ‘”future memory.”  For those of us who work with visionary and shamanic states, it is know through its shape, feeling and telepathic resonance throughout time-space, and is felt as a destination we are moving towards that is utterly different from the place where we currently find ourselves.  Its patterns are gridded into the historical wisdom lineages of the world.  They have been worked at, seeded, taught and shared by masters known and unknown.  They have been handed down by Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu.  Yet, their potential was but latent – until now.  The blossoming pattern can be called collective avatar, or Maitreya – the Buddha that is mindful community.  It is represented by leaders like Obama, but more importantly, it is an essentially “leaderless” movement that is being stewarded by uncounted numbers of self-elected change agents.

earth

As the stability of human existence on planet earth gets shakier, something is happening that is allowing for each and every person to “see” for his or herself without mediation or intersession, the truth, beauty and potential of mature service to the whole – and to choose to be empowered in that service through action. The very word wisdom comes from the Sanskrit root vis: to see or to know, also to be wise.  It is the same root as for the words vision, visual and advise, the same root as see-er or vizier.  What are we being called to see in this time?

The turn on, or tune in, happens in ways as varied as there are people.  Imaging the Silicon Valley CEO whose daughter’s ultimatum over a company dinner calls to his very soul to do something about climate change.   See Dune Lankard, an Iyak Indian native to the Alaskan Copper River Basin, who was named by Time Magazine as a “Hero of the Planet” for his work restoring Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdeze Spill and his ongoing work to turn conservation into economic and political opportunity, whose moment of realization came when his sister called him to “come home and take care of our people’s fishing grounds.”   Vision Muhammad Yunus in the process of conceiving micro-credit and the Grameen Bank, which to date has served a total number of 7.87 million borrower/owners, 97 per cent of them women.[6] Picture the single mother who loses her mortgage and decides to begin a sustainable community housing project, the un-named people hard at work building permaculture farms and communities in bioregions across the globe, scientist researching planetary outcomes that need to be known and understood (despite the difficulty the public, industry or governments might have in receiving the information), bloggers writing into the wee hours to avert election fraud, the countless hundreds of thousands of social, political, ecological, cultural and spiritual organizations engaged in all sectors of society in a singular process of healing and whole-ing an interconnected human species and planet.  The ah-ha is the beginning, and countless factors are contributing to this happening.  Sustainability arises as “an inside job” that is then expressed on the outer as the service, selflessness and brilliant collaboration of ordinary humans.

So, how does “human kind know what to do?” After all, it is only the exceptional individual who has already chosen to act.  How can we amplify the archetypal voice of the interconnected world in such a way that more and more people hear and respond?  On one level, the Collective Consciousness and the energies of the cosmos are doing the work for us.  On another level, the lesson we are being presented with, is that each and every one of us needs to take responsibility as we birth into a feminine way of sharing power that allows for exponential empowerment.  As individuals translate this gnosis into action, and SHARE it with others, we grow together into “the next Buddha of community”.  Together, we can cultivate a sustainability of personhood that is held in the arms of practice and pragmatic action.

What are the foundations of practice and worldview that can sustain an ongoing wisdom process of empowered and wise action?

• • •

The Five Foundations:

1.) Divinity – a connection to “Source,” “Universe,” “God” or “the Absolute” that is personal and known through experience.

2.) Intimacy – a felt sense of dependent co-arising or co-creative contactfullness with the human and more than human world verging into active interdependency, trusting and feeling how we are collaborating with everything as everything is collaborating with us simultaneously.[7] In this intimacy with the life impulse, we simultaneously live in accord with Joseph Campbell’s famous dictum to “follow your bliss” while responding to the calling of the world to us to share our gifts and energy in a unique service to the whole.

3.) Love – contexting ourselves within a co-creative fabric of beauty celebrating itself.  Eros was the child of Resource and Need.  We are children of Resource and Need.  So, let us become the living spirit of Eros.  We are called to resourcefully birth beauty out of the need expressed through our common plight.  Love then becomes the experience and expression of our own capacity to embrace what is and to harmonize the seemingly irreparable.  We have this capacity, so let us create as love.

4.) Ecologically Integral Values – opening to a more complex, multi-valent and inter-related way of seeing the world than any generation before us.  We practice and flower through a values structure that aligns with the interconnectivity of individuals, families, communities, countries, biospheres, the planet and spirit.  Interdependence trumps individuality.  Harmony and Beauty supercede progression.  Truth is experienced universally as a generator of authentic expression, deep collaboration and peaceful interactions.  Markets contract as relationships expand.  We learn how to deal with and transcend our aloneness.  While the dominant spirituality of the last 2000 years has taught us that we are radically alone, the emergent values system begins with the fact that we are radically together.  Responsibility and action emerge from our felt sense of the dependent co-arising of all that is. We are emerging from a fog of isolation, and finding that we are interdependent.  This is true at every level of our experience, from the most mundane to the most sublime.  As Julia Butterfly Hill says, “When you throw something away, where is away?”  Available working models include Ken Wilbur’s integral model, Louise L. Diamond’s Global Systems Initiative, Lawrence Ellis’ model for co-creating a culture of Peace, The Biomimicry Institute’s Design Spiral Process, and many, many more.

5.) Co-Creativity or Alchemy in Action – embracing death, preservation and birth as initiatory opportunities for maturation of the soul and spirit, we embody a fundamentally life-centric world view that rejects nothing and embraces everything.  We become co-creators, living as the “I am that I am.”  We embody the principle “as above so below, as below so above” by recognizing that the living god moves in us and through us as we act in accord with our interconnectivity with all that is.  This, in turn, moves us towards community and embrace of the constant change and non-fixity implied by showing up in deep relationship.

• • •

The final frontier is our stamina on the journey.  This will be the ultimate measure of our success as “sustainable people.”  Here, we can lean on an ongoing theme in the crisis and creation cycles of history.  “Resilience arises as a result of the collapse of orthodoxy and normative cultural structures… The way to endure this dark night is to align with the ordering principle of creation itself.”[8] As we align with the ordering principles of creation as we are uniquely experiencing them in this time, we are seeing a shift from what eco-psychologist and cultural visionary Bill Plotkin calls an ego-centric developmental progression to a soul-centric progression.  In this progression, we move beyond the Wanderer phase, where we strive for identity, ego definition and resolution of our shadow, and into the truly adult phases of our own creative capacity: The Apprentice, the Artisan, The Master and the Sage.  The key qualities embodied in each of these phases respectively are visionary inspiration and action, seeds of cultural renaissance, wholeness, and grace.  Their “tasks” respectively are learning delivery systems for embodying soul in culture, manifesting innovative delivery systems for soul work, caring for the soul of the more than human world, and tending the universe.[9] These are the tasks we need served and fulfilled in the ongoing creation of a sustainable culture.  To consistently embody these stages of human development, and initiate through them, requires loving kindness, deep practice, and embrace of whatever stage one is already in.  Earth herself, and our blossoming awakened communities, are showing us the way into these initiations.

Ultimately, a sustainable person is a being capable of this level of maturation of the psyche and this level of service to the whole in a continuous, self-evolving way.  A sustainable person embodies a deep connectivity to soul, earth and spirit that is manifested through an infinite variety of works.  Never before has such an invitation been offered to every person on the planet in one single wave of consciousness, nor have the conditions been so ripe for a collective process of gnosis, choice, empowerment and co-operative action.  Never in history has the entire human race experienced such a radical collision of catastrophic conditions with such powerful alignments of spiritual energy and cosmic opportunity.  We actually do not “know what to do,” yet we are called.  And, we are massively capable of responding to the spirit that is moving through us.  We are here, at the gateway.  Let us choose to enter in grace.  Let us continuously choose to harmonize with the co-creative potential that we are, building from the inner to the outer, the outer to the inner, from the bottom up, and from the top down,[10] a world that matches our dreams of peace, justice and spiritual fulfillment for all.

Bibliography

Beckwith, Michael. Speech presented at the Humanity Unites Brilliance, Actioning Your Brilliance, June 19, 2009.

Bloom, Alan.  The Republic of Plato.  New York, Basic Books, 1968.

Biomimicry Institute.  “Home Page.”  http://www.biomimicryinstitute.org/about-us/biomimicry-a-tool-for-innovation.html (Accessed June 23, 2009).

Casey, Carolyn R.  Making the Gods Work For You: The Astrological Language of the Psyche. New York, Random House, 1998.

Ellis, Lawrence. “The Mechanics of a Culture of Peace.” Speech presented as a part of the launch of the Cities of Peace Initiative, San Francisco, June 10, 2009.

Grameen Bank Official Website.  “At a Glance.” http://www.grameen-info.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26&Itemid=175 (Accessed June 23, 2009).

Hadot, Pierre.  What is Ancient Philosophy? Cambridge, Massachusetts:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2002.

Hawken, Paul.  “Blessed Unrest.”  Speech presented at the Annual Bioneers conference, October 14, 2006.

Hawken, Paul.  “Healing or Stealing.”  Speech given for the commencement address to the Class of 2009, University of Portland, May 3, 2009.

Hawkins, David R.  Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior. Sedona, Arizona: Veritas Pub., 1995.

Page, Christine R.  2012 and the Galactic Center:  The Return of the Great Mother.  Rochester, New York, 2008.

Plato.  Euthyphro, Apology, Crito. Translated by F.J. Church.  Upper Saddle River, New Jersey:  The Library of Liberal Arts, 1948.

Plotkin, Bill.  Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World.  Novato, California: New World Library, 2008.

Pinchbeck, Daniel.  2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.

Wickipedia. “Kali Yuga.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali_Yuga (Accessed June 23, 2009).


[1] Paul Hawken, “Healing or Stealing” (Speech given for the commencement address to the Class of 2009, University of Portland, May 3, 2009).

[2] Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (Novato, California: New World Library, 2008), 25.

[3] Paul Hawken, “Blessed Unrest” (speech presentation at the Annual Bioneers conference, October 14, 2006).

[4] Reverend Michael Beckwith (speech presented at the Humanity Unites Brilliance, Actioning Your Brilliance, June 19, 2009).

[5] Christine R. Page, 2012 and the Galactic Center:  The Return of the Great Mother.  (Rochester, New York, 2008), 2-3.

[6] Grameen Bank Official Website. “At a Glance.” http://www.grameen-info.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26&Itemid=175 (Accessed June 23, 2009).

[7] Caroline R. Casey, Making the Gods Work for You: The Astrological Language of the Psyche (New York: Random House, 1998), 15-16.

[8] Jim Garrison, “Wisdom As a Way of Life” (Lecture presented for course of the same title in New York, March 23, 2009).

[9] Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (Novato, California: New World Library, 2008), 60-61.

[10] Lewis Ellis, “The Mechanics of a Culture of Peace” (speech presented as a part of the launch of the Cities of Peace Initiative, San Francisco, June 10, 2009).